Monday, 29 December 2014

Autumn Skirt

Now, I know that autumn is quite a long way past, but there is something about this skirt that just screams autumn to me! Maybe it's the colours, and the texture, and the shortness, and the wear with tight-ness, but something about it just makes me think of kicking through leaves in a park, and the new feeling of being cold and wearing more layers than summer called for. Autumn through and through!

Well, after a hint a few weeks ago, here is what happened with Lekala 5048:
I apologise for the awful faces - the winter sun was low low low and shining in my eyes!

I envisioned a little sixties skirt - short and cute and flippy, and I've got pretty much exactly what I wanted. The pattern was nice and easy to follow, and the pdf went together nicely. I knew from the start that I didn't want the belt, however, there was no way of printing the other pattern pieces without the belt so all 20 pages were printed out.
I was worried about how it was going to come out, as once you put your sizes into the website, the pattern comes with no option for other sizes. As it was, it was fine. I have pulled it in at the waist a little bit, as it was a little too big, but it seems fine now, and I've worn it all day today with no issues.
Even though the pattern never called for a lining I added one to the bottom of the facing as I knew that I would prefer to have one. With a wool skirt, I can't see myself ever pulling on a slip to wear it, so I just don't think I would reach for it if I couldn't wear it with tights. The lining I already had (it's the lining for the non-stretch bridesmaid outfit that never happened. I am going to be lining stuff in that purple lining for the next 40 years, I have so much of it!) and it was fine. A bit fray-ay (word?) but not too bad. The zip was one I already had, and it's the first zip I've shortened, which was fun! The end is now encased in a pretty bit of fabric, finished before I realised that I would never see it again once the lining was on. Ocht weel, maybe it's the same feeling as wearing really nice undies - at least I know it's nice!
It's so easy to wear that I am delighted with the skirt really. The fabric was interesting to work with, shall we say. Some (all) of the darts are pretty chaotic, and the zip is just plain bonkers as the thick felty bits did not want to sew straight. The same with the hem. It's kinda crazy, but I don't think anyone would notice while it's on, so it's fiiine!
I'm going to try wearing it to work tomorrow so hopefully it will last the day. I don't know what I'll do when it comes to washing it - hand wash definitely, and then a very delicate spin? I never prewashed the wool (I know, I know), so I don't know how it will react. I'm a fool! I think I was expecting not to like the skirt very much, but I do, and now I wish I'd taken the time to prewash the wool and to make sure that it would go in the machine okay.
And bonus: it goes well with my woodland cape!
(Apologies for the face again!)

Thanks for reading, I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Trousers of Comfort and Doom

Doom? Well...there should be rule to having the most comfortable pair of trousers known to mankind, as it can lead to wearing them every day for the rest of your life (or until they fall apart).

Tis these (I apologise for the shockingly bad photograph):
 McCall's 6514. I love these trousers so much that they have become my go-to for sitting in front on the telly of an evening. They are worn shopping when I can't be assed to be uncomfy, they walk dogs, garden, do pilates... They have never been slept in (too precious for that, heh) or properly hiked in. That's all.

They're loose, and comfy, and very badly made and just wonderful. My first garment (made before I heard that trousers can be tricky), but they used only very simple techniques. The elasticated waist means there's no fastenings. The pockets are a dream to behold, and they are long for my legs (an absolute luxury for my legs are longeth).

I made them in the summer last year, and when I say that they have become my go-to item of clothing I do not exaggerate. I wear them many evenings, to the extent that the derrier is now starting to go rather thin (the beautiful cotton is probably not hard wearing enough for this kind of wear). I am bereft when they're in the wash, and nothing else is quite this comfortable, and they are what I wear to sew. Overall, I love them.

Their faults:

Due to french seaming the interior (I'm nothing if not ambitious), when I needed to take the leg width in, I couldn't work out how to do the crotch again, cut into it by accident, and so I now have a hole instead of a crotch. You can't see it, but it does make me slightly ashamed to wear them in public...though it certainly doesn't stop me!

The rear is becoming rather shiny and thin due to too much sitting.

The fabric drops wrongly on the outside of the leg due to me taking fabric away from the inside, but not wanting to mess with the pockets so leaving excess fabric on the outside leg. It's okay, but does make them look rather homemade!

Overall, for a first garment, they are my favourite thing, ever. I will wear them to their death, and love them forever. My most worn item is also my least photographed. Never mind! That's just the way it goes.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. :)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Lekala Pattern-ing

Wow, it's the weekend!

I've started a new job which I am absolutely loving, but because of that I haven't had a proper weekend for at least a few weeks. Now, I am planning on relishing this weekend like nothing else and what does that mean? Hey baby, let's get creative!!

I have bought (though at those prices, it feels like stealing!) a personalised patterned for skirt 5048 from Lekala, who I have never used before, but I am very excited about this! I found this incredible (felted?) wool fabric in the Cloth Shop in Edinburgh about a month ago, and knew immediately that it would make an incredible winter skirt.
Wowawowee, don't ask the price (because a. I don't remember
and b. I remember it being sliiiightly more than I would normally
spend on fabric!)
I normally wear skirts, especially for my new job, and all through winter skirts and dresses with tights are my go-to outfit. I see this fabric becoming a kind of short, 60s style, but we'll see what happens. I am planning on lining it as well, because the wool would just stick to any tights, and also I love a lined skirt!

As my current knitting pattern, the Anemone, is coming to an end (well, just the bottom ribbing and the sleeves to do...so almost done, yeah?) I'm planning my next. I've loved knitting Anemone, but it has pushed me almost to the point of quitting so I am looking forward to making something simpler. Please welcome the Cable Plait Hottie Cover (snappy title...) from Erika Knight's Simple Knitting. I have just ordered the Debbie Bliss Eco Fairtrade Cotton from Serenity Knitting, the first time I've ever used this site, but my normal go-to (Love Knitting) doesn't have this particular wool available, and I love it. I've chosen the Corn colourway, but I am worried as normally I would go for something brighter. I'm knitting Anemone in bright orange so it might be calming to work in a more relaxing colour! We'll see...


I am excited about all this! I've also been making a masquerade mask for my brother, and I'm almost finished a knitting bag for my sister's birthday. I'll write about it when it's completely finished, but in the meantime, here's a wee sneak preview (it's okay, she's already been gifted it ;)

And that's all from me just now, I still have tonnes of projects to be photographed and written about. I am really enjoying all the crafts that I am undertaking at the moment and am feeling much more comfortable in what I'm wearing. As a tall person I have sometimes been a bit too inclined to try to merge with the crowd, but I am really enjoying dressing for my shape and finding greater freedom in what I can make and wear now...Hooray! It's all good.

What have you been making recently, and do you find being able to make your own clothes makes it easier to follow your own style?

Heather

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Felting

Wow, how time passes!

Yesterday I attended a felting class in Penicuik, run by Doreen of Scottish Fibres, a company that boasts a wonderful cacaphony of everything wool related, and the extremely talented Jennie Louden. It was my first proper foray into felting, and I will be adding it to my repertoire of wonderful wool work!

We made three items, though had a choice of what to make. Firstly, we started with flat wet felting. This was the most simple make, and the choice was a mat or a scarf, due to it looking more complex, I chose to make a scarf, as did every one else in the class.

We had a large selection of dyed mohairs to choose from, provided as part of the course by Doreen, who was actually making slippers! (Really advanced angels, according to Jennie!).

 We dived into the treasure trove and each chose the colours for our scarves and were shown how to lay them out, with the first layer facing down the scarf and the second lying across the scarf. We then added embellishment, and this is what mine looked like before the felting started:
I allowed the green to overlap the edges of the red underneath as I wanted the green to show on both sides, and I added swirls and twists of other, brighter colours. It was interesting at this stage to see how differently everyone chose, some were very colourful, some experimental, some classic. Each one had a bit of our own characters in it, which was really lovely. And, as a bonus, because there were only five of us in the class we were able to spread out and really get messy! 

I have no photos of the inbetween stages, but it involves soapy water, and lots of rolling. You roll the wool, in plastic, around your rolling pin, and then roll the bundle in a towel and roll for 100 rolls. You then fold the wool in thirds, making sure that no sections are touching (the plastic keeps it all separate) and roll it out widthways. This is because it shrinks in the direction that you're rolling, so if you only rolled it one way you'd end up with a very short scarf, or a very thin scarf, but I don't think it would really bond properly. Better to make it 1/3rd bigger than you want it to be and allow it to shrink all over. 

And this is what the finished article looks like! 

Sorry - it was too big to put in one photo! 
The green edges are twisted and pulled out to create a freeform style (my words) and I love the effect of the bright pops of colour! This is how it will be worn:
On the model (also wearing my dress!)

For very chilly days to keep the wind out of my neck, brr!

And a more classic look, folded down.
I think it will normally be worn with it turned down, though I love the drama of it up. It may not be the most chic article ever, but I love it, and it's very comfy. In fact, I'm sitting wearing it right now! Yee haa!


Then we moved onto working in 3D. As it's close to Christmas the course did have a slight Christmas theme, and so we had a choice between making mini stockings or angels. Three of us, me included chose angels, and the other two chose stockings.
The flat angel, with separate wings. She has very long arms! 
It used the same wet felt technique, except inbetween the layers of the body, we put a 'resist' - a bit of plastic that the felt does not bond with - in the middle. This means that once you've layered up the felt you can separate the layers and end up with a gap in the middle. This can then be worked to create an object that can stand on its own.  Da dah:
The head was also wet felted, but it could have been needle felted if desired. The wings are made from a single layer of wool to give an almost translucent effect. Due to her arms being extremely long, Jennie suggested that I roll them up, fix them until they dry, and then let them out. They would then keep the shape. They look much better, and I kinda like the comic rolled hands! 

Once the head was completely dry I added hair and styled it, and she's complete, just awaiting a tree now! 
The wool at the bottom is unwashed, so does not felt. It gives a lovely skirt effect that I think looks great (it's not shown to absolute best effect when she's sitting on the ground!). At some point I'll add eyes to her, but that can wait just now, I think... 


The last item to complete yesterday was a needle felted robin. These were very funny, and mine, although being king of his tree, is very very  plump. All the better to survive the winter on, I think! 

It was a great day yesterday, brilliant to learn a new way of working with wool, and I can't wait to get some supplies in so that I can start making things!! I especially loved the wet felting, I think. It was amazing how things come together, and I love my scarf. I highly recommend doing some felting, and if you're in southern Scotland do check out the Scottish Fibres course list, as I think they have some exciting things going on. 

In other news: I
have loads of makes to upload, and my photographer brother is visiting just now so hopefully I'll get them photographed and up here soon!

Has anyone else enjoyed felting? I'd love to hear your experiences. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Green Dots Dress

Last year I attended a dress-making class, or rather, half a dress-making class, as work always called me away for field work just when I needed to be there. It meant that the dress I had started, the lovely V8723, was never finished. It sat in a pile, waiting for attention, and finally, for my parents' wedding anniversary in June this year, I managed to get it finished. 
The dress was pretty simple to make, though slightly more complex than a first make should be. It taught me a lot, however, and gave me many new techniques which I will remember now! It's a great little pattern, very handy, looks good with a cardigan, and very comfortable due to it being fully lined. It's made out of a green fabric with tiny cream polka dots and is lined in baby blue habotai, which is absolutely gorgeous (even though I think it's a polyester rather than the silk version!).
It doesn't fit absolutely perfectly, but I think it would be a miracle if it did, as I cut the wrong size of bodice. It's one of the 'Custom Fit' range, and that means that you cut the bodice depending on your cup size. I should have cut size a, but borrowed my friend's pattern for that evening, and cut b by accident. This meant that once the dress was all sewn up, I then had to unpick the sides of the bodice and the lining and take out about an inch either side. But....annoying though it was, it worked, and I ended up with a dress that I love and am immensely proud of!
Not bad for a first make, I think!

Well, the dress itself has a fitted bodice with small straps at the top. It's got pockets, which I love, a gathered skirt and it fully lined with a lapped zip. All of these, apart from pockets, were new techniques to me, but I found the instructions well laid out and easy to follow, the only difficulty came from my own error, and that would have helped if I had been able to attend the class as I had intended.

Has anyone else made this dress, or is anyone else intending to?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 3 November 2014

New Blog!

Hello, and welcome!

Crochet while camping? Yes, sirree!
I normally blog over at www.heatherybean.blogspot.com, but have been desiring a place to showcase my makes for a while. This is because I have two sides to me. I am an ecologist with dreams of being a conservationist, and that's what I write about over there, but I am also very creative and, to stop the other blog becoming too muddled, want a place to showcase and share my makes. I knit, spin wool, sew and am a beginner crochet-er. Knitting and sewing are definitely my loves though!

I am an avid reader of the current sewing blog network, and take much inspiration from those other pages. I want to be able to enter the conversation and stop being such a lurker in the background! Hopefully this will encourage me to make more, try more new things and keep pushing myself. Although, I do have a slightly ambitious turn. I attended a dressmaking class last year, and have been having lots of fun since then experimenting and making clothes and accessories to wear and share.

See you soon, with some clothes!!