Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sewn Top

Howdy all! How about a wee summer top to brighten up these dull, dark days?!

I can't remember exactly when I did this, though the newspaper I used as a template does offer some kinda clue! It was after the 8th of September. Now, even though we in Scotland had an incredibly warm September, I could not say that I've had a lot of wear out of this top!

It's from a fantastic book of mine: Made by Hand by Lena Corwin and this top was the first thing I have made from the book. Most projects are really attractive though so I am sure there will be more!
I french seamed it and took care to match the pattern at the edges. It's not perfect, but good enough for me at the moment (not sure what that even means...I am sure not taking it apart to get it even better!) and apart from the top of one armhole not matching (whoops) I am pretty pleased!
It's made out of beautiful printed linen. I can't remember the name of the maker, but at the time I did try to find it online and couldn't. I think it's going to wear beautifully though. I love the colours and the feel of the top, although it is very voluminous, but it's a silhouette that I'm starting to like more and more!

Overall, a simple top to make that I am going to really enjoy when it gets a bit warmer again!

Have any of you made some very unseasonal clothing recently?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sparkly Gloves

I made a pair of fingerless gloves recently, to go with my woodland cape that was finished a couple of months ago. The thinking was that these gloves would increase the wearable period of my cape by quite a margin. I've only worn them together a few times, and oh the joys! Loving it.

The gloves came from the book Simple Knitting by Erika Knight, and I do love this book. I might do a review on it elsewhere, as I do have another item lined up from it, but I need to work on my Anemone more before carrying on with any other knitting.

The wool is Rico Design Creative Reflection in a sort of charcoal colour with a silver line running through it. It was a bit rubbish to knit, as the silver was tighter than the wool so the wool would start to pull. I did care, then I decided not to, and just kept pulling the wool taut.
I like the pattern as it's got a left and a right glove, which means that they are very comfy. I do need to put a wee bit of red thread on the right one (red = right) though, as I keep getting them muddled at the moment. The instructions were sometimes a bit bare, which seems strange for a book for beginners, however, thanks to my recent projects I just added my own touches. For example, when you start knitting the separate bit that becomes the thumb, Erika tells you to turn knitting, then increase twice knitwise into the next stitch. However (and this may just be me) it doesn't work unless you wrap the next stitch and then go back. I couldn't work out how to increase into a stitch that I had just turned on. My wrapped way worked well for me though, and I think it is fine to do that. Also, I couldn't get Erika's numbers to work out!
It was definitely a case of having the right number of stitches on the needles, knitting a certain number, then knitting the rest, but the numbers still being out. No biggy, I just figured she hadn't counted right, but a little confusing and annoying.
Another thing is that these gloves used hardly any wool! The pattern recommends 2 balls of lightweight 50g DK. I used a ball of wool that fitted that description, and still have a quarter of one ball left! Bonus. Although....what else do I want to knit out of sparkly black wool? I am not normally a black clothes person, or very sparkly... We'll see, I'm sure the right pattern will appear one day!

I enjoyed knitting these. Due to the stresses of the season, it's been so nice to have a lovely stressless knit to do as I go. Anemone is still a bit stressful (though getting less so after last night) and so it was lovely to be able to do some relaxing knitting in the evening.

Have you been knitting anything to relax recently?

The Cape of Woodland Strolling

I have always desired a cape. Always. There was a whole thing at university where my friend was going to buy me a cape as there was nothing else I desired more. Of course that never got past that stage of dreaming, but I have long held on to the belief that having a cape would make my life more me. 

And here, after years of desiring, here she is: 
I bought three metres of this wonderful wool when Mandors in Edinburgh was closing down to be refurbished. It was half price, and so £7 a metre, and I just loved it. It's so soft! I did not have a pattern in mind, but talking to the wonderful sales assistant (now, unfortunately, gone) she recommended that for a cape I would require at least three metres.

The wool sat for a wee while while I browsed the web to find a suitable pattern. I knew that the common cape patterns just weren't me. I can't see myself drowning in layers upon layers of fabric, and so I shelved the idea for a while. Until, dun dun dunnn, the Woodland Strolls cape by Leisl and co was featured in my Sew magazine. This was it, I knew, and I instantly ordered the pdf pattern. I must admit that this pattern was when other blogs really came into play. This was the one that I used other peoples efforts to confirm how much I loved the pattern. Nightingale and Dolittle's, Behind the Hedgerow's, Gloria and Me's... They were all hugely inspiring and it confirmed how much I love this pattern. 
It was the first time I had worked with a pdf and it was so surprisingly and wonderfully easy! The pattern pieces all matched and it was just great. I think on the whole I prefer paper patterns, though I realise that having the pattern stored on your computer comes with numerous benefits and I have actually ordered several more pdfs for the instant gratification that comes with them. 
The negatives with working in pdf for this pattern was that the paper with the fabric was too thick to put pins through, and that meant that I just had to weigh the pattern down and hope that it wasn't shifting too much. I think one of the sides did, slightly, but it's okay and I don't notice the unevenness now it's complete. The positives are too many to list. I highly rate Leisl & co. after this experience and love the modern patterns that Leisl is coming up with. Wish list includes the cullotes! Though I think Kirsty's pineapple version is the best advert Leisl could hope for. 

The fabric definitely called for stripes matching! And for a first attempt I don't think it was too shoddy at all. In fact, I think I am extremely pleased with my efforts all round. I lined it in this incredibly bright pink lining fabric from John Lewis. I knew I wanted something pretty astounding and this fits the bill nicely. It's very soft and adds a luxurious touch to the cape. 
It was bagged, I think the correct term is? So sewn outsides together then it all threaded through a small hole in the lining which was then hand stitched. Due to the thickness of the wool, I could not leave the edges unstitched as called for in the pattern. I actually like it stitched around the side, and rather than doing it in particular areas, I just stitched the whole way round to finish it off. This is probably the most obvious thing in the world, but pink thread on the inside and maroon thread on the outside created a lovely finish for me! I loved that detail and still do :)
I fastened the sides with heavy duty snaps that I've had for a while. I love these - especially the method of putting them on. So simple, and yet so effective! I love them joining the sides as they keep the look simple as opposed to more buttons on top of the stripes. There was a bit of a mistake here, in that the instructions asked for wrong sides to meet, but I accidentally created a flat join. I actually ended up preferring this look and how it sits.
I did make a real mistake where I put on my last snap backwards, which meant the right sides were pulled together by the snap. Obviously it did not work at all and after a momentary  (it may have been sliiightly longer than that...) panic I checked google, and phew, you can take off a snap. It required power tools and patience and the help of my dad but it worked! Without damaging the fabric at all, and no limbs were lost in the process either (always a good thing!). Thank you e-how! 
Overall I think this is my most successful make so far. It necessitated the creation of my woolly elbow length gloves, and I am immensely proud of it all. There is nothing about it that I would change - I even love the button choice and buttonholes. I love wearing it and have had compliments from several people (I am delighting in telling folks that I made it!) and it is just so me - exactly what I got into sewing to create, basically.
Of course, I never needed anywhere close to those three metres. I think I have approximately 1.5 metres left (maybe less as I had to carefully position the pieces to assist seam matching) but I am not rushing to create anything else with the fabric at the moment. The time will come one day, but for now I'm just enjoying my cape!

Have any of you tried this pattern? What do you think?

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Year Past and The Year Forward

I've been enjoying reading everyone's blog review of their sewing year so thought I would add a few thoughts.
2014 is the year that sewing really happened for me. I have really enjoyed having this escape from every day life, and as I become more conscious of the ecological and human impacts of what I do and wear, the act of sewing has helped me feel that my choices are more viable. Through sewing, I know that respect has been given to the maker (me!) although the fabric may still be dirty ecologically. This is something that I hope to look into further in the coming year.
Green dots dress, worn again on Christmas Day
Increases capacity for feeling good! 
It has also been freeing as my imagination is the only limit on what I can create. It's meant that I now feel more 'me' in my clothes than I ever have before, and that's really special for someone that's never felt quite right following trends. Also, because I am tall it means that the clothes actually fit me. One of the only RTW bits of clothing I've bought this year was a gorgeous corduroy dress. The dress is lovely, but it doesn't really fit me. The waist is too high, and the skirt is too short, just - it's okay to wear with thick tights, but it's not really comfy and I feel a little self-conscious in it. This is a huge advantage to making my own, as now they fit me perfectly! That's the aim anyway ;)
Sketches for my sister's knitting bag birthday present
As yet unblogged as I have no finished pictures, but I really
loved making this! (Actually, no, I didn't - at the time there were
many threats about this being the last knitting bag I was ever
going to make... I'm already planning two more!)
Without a doubt, the most crazy thing I made this year was my bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding. I have never blogged about it, but it was the second dress I ever made and I will always feel quite a lot of pride in it. Here it is:
I'm the one in purple!
You cannot see it all, but it was a joy to wear. Bamboo jersey from Truro Farbics, and just utterly delish. I self-lined it and made the pattern full-length with a split. It was a complete experiment and I'm astonished that I had the nerve. I think my sister getting married was a bit concerned, but it was lovely on the day. My other sister (there are three of us) also made hers, and it was also beautiful and a different style to suit her figure, and we were also congratulated on the day by so many people, including the waitress!
Trying to find the right colour, like a twit!
The dress was a success, and I did love it. It was my first jersey, my first invisible zip, many firsts for me (actually, it wasn't my first jersey. I stitched a dress in a weird jersey mix for a John Butler Trio gig and it felt great on the night, but oh my was it sweaty! I doubt I will ever wear it again...!). I did stretch the back fabric a bit when putting in the zip, and I did feel slightly conscious of it, but only once we were at the venue and I had amazing mirrors that showed me what I looked like from every angle! Damn those mirrors. Until then I had been oblivious, but I've since seen videos of me dancing....oh, why?!! and it wasn't as bad as it seemed on the day, so I just wish that I'd relaxed more then.
Wow, excuse the messy room! Not even mine
- my sister's, a couple of days before the wedding.
And also sorry for the poor lighting, I should
have done this better!
Overall a very exciting year for me. I have loved my makes and worn them all repeatedly (apart from the BMD, obvs). It has been quite a learning process as I have learnt what has worked and what has not. I'm getting better also, I think. There have been no crotchless trousers this year, and I hope there aren't any more to come! It's been a hard year in my private life, but sewing and knitting have been an escape from all that and have really lifted me at times when I was struggling to lift myself. If that's not a demonstration of the healing powers of creating, I don't know what is!

The things I've worn most have been my trousers of comfort and doom and my woodland strolls cape (to be blogged). There hasn't been much time to wear anything else much, though I have a feeling that I will be returning to my home-mades long after my RTWs have been forgotten. We'll see!


I aim to continue making most of my clothes.

I want to make a waistcoat, a Malvarosa dress, an Emmeline T-shirt, I was hoping to make jeans, but then remembered that I hate wearing jeans, so I might try and find an equivalent that I don't hate so much - cords? and whatever else may come my way. I want to get better at sewing knits so that I can start to make up items such as t-shirts and vests to go underneath things. That would be super, and I hope to start making underwear too!

I have several weddings already lined up this year, and so I hope to make a dress that will take me through all of them. I love this fabric, is this madness?! and also this. In fact, I think that second may be my favourite ever fabric, so we'll just have to see what happens there! I think this bolero would work nicely though I don't have a dress idea firmed up yet (and I'm not really sure that the pattern is worth $18!!).

I love knitting, and I really hope to finish Anemone soon. She has really tested me, and I am going to love her in all her tangerine glory! I hope thereafter to make something simpler, but have yet to figure out what that will be!

I have been so inspired by my favourite blogs that I would love to give something of that back. Every post I write helps me analyse what I learnt during the making, and I think I'm going to enjoy all this. As a test, I am hoping to participate in Me Made May this year. We'll see what happens, but I had better get making fast if I want to be in with a chance of succeeding!

So here's to a Happy New Year to you all. Sew long and prosper ;)

Thanks for reading!
Walking in a hand-knitted jumper. Sunshine!