Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another one...but not for me

It's my turn to shine my halo, I think, after a rash of sewing and knitting for others.

First up is another Crafty Mama's Lovely Layers Top. This time, it's not for me, but a birthday gift for my mum. It's in the size L and made from a gorgeously soft Metallicus knit picked up from The Fabric Store in Brisbane.

I just added a simple neckband, same as I have for all the other tunics, and turned and stitched the armhole hem with my coverstitch machine. You can't see it very well in these photos, but I did a rolled hem for the bottom.

Next, encouraged by my cousin to put more effort in to a fancy dress party that my daughter was attending, I sewed her a skirt. Now that might not seem like much, but this was a box-pleated, LINED skirt, complete with a waistband and invisible zip. The only reason I acquiesed to her request was that it looked like a fairly good wardrobe staple that she would wear more than once.

It was an Alice in Wonderland party and she went as the White Rabbit.

I used an Ottobre pattern (6-2012-32: "Jenkka") and made some modifications. Firstly, it's meant to be a loosely pleated skirt, but Miss10 wanted sharper pleats. That was no drama, I just topstitched down the first bit of each pleat and pressed a sharp crease. The only other change was to shorten it (dramatically from this apparently old-fashioned mother's point of view) by about 4 inches. I used a size 146, drifting out to a 150 at the hips. I tried to do a blind hem on the sewing machine, thinking that I'd be really clever, but it didn't work out so well. However, using the galloping horse test, it was good enough and the experience has motivated me to learn how to do it properly.

The skirt is a little twisted in this photo, the pleats are appropriately centred.

We even found a tail!

Finally, a friend of mine is getting married, and she's an incredibly generous person and a lover of handmade things. I've been working on a knitted lap blanket to give her for a wedding gift. It won't be ready in time, I severely underestimated how long it was going to take me to knit this monster...but I know she won't mind. I'm using Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic Wool in 12 ply in the colour Raffia. I like the colour. I don't mind the yarn, but it's unravelling a bit as I knit with it. I'm not sure whether that's just my knitting style, or a characteristic of the yarn or ply...but it looks fine in the finished product. I just have to be really careful not to split stitches.

I'm still working on a dress that I am sewing for my mother-in-law, then I'll be free to focus on some sewing for ME!

With that in mind, I started getting out my summer weight fabrics and putting them in my expedit shelves in my sewing room. I like to have the appropriate seasonal fabrics out on display (they don't get any direct sunlight). Mainly it's for inspiration, but it's also a means of keeping the stash somewhat under control. This time, I thought I'd try something a bit different. Typically, I organise by fabric type. This time, I'm going with colours. This pile of green fabric contains knits, cottons, linens, stretch sateen, georgette, you name it! I'm really keen to sew my way through this pile as green is my absolute favourite colour. I do have to be a bit sensible and balance it with a hefty dose of neutrals or I could end up looking a bit like Kermit!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I think I need an intervention

It's not that this is the third version of the Crafty Mama's Lovely Layers tunic that I've made in the past few months, but that I've still got plans for many more!

Quite simply, I'm loving the ease of it all - the sewing AND the wearing.

This time I made the elbow length sleeves. Seeing as though I have fairly full arms, I added an inch to each side of the sleeve. It turns out that I didn't really need to add quite that much. While the loose sleeves ARE very comfortable, I will remove some of that ease for my next version. Oh yes, there will be a next version!

In fact, after looking at the photos, I'm tempted to even go down a size over all for future tops/tunics. It's a very forgiving garment. I have a bust measurement of 121cm, which puts me right in the middle of the largest size. I loathe clingy garments, but I do think I could go down a size and still be comfortable in this tunic.

I used a beautifully soft jersey knit which I purchased from East Coast Fabrics at Springwood - fairly recently, too, so I can't even feel justified about using up old stash. But this fabric is to die for - I'm glad I bought several metres because I'm just about to cut out a t-shirt from the remains. Black isn't supposed to be 'my' colour, but I've decided lately that I don't really care. I like it, and that's what really matters, isn't it?

I made the leggings I'm wearing, too. They are made from an Ottobre pattern, 02-2008-16, graded up to my size (52). I know there's a pattern for leggings in a later edition, which comes in size 52, but I'd already established this pattern as a TNT and it didn't seem to be worth the effort to change. The fabric is a cute, soft royal blue and black animal print from The Fabric Store in Brisbane, also purchased fairly recently.

After finishing the tunic, my only problem was finding appropriate accessories to wear with the outfit. As luck would have it, TS14+ were having a 50% off sale on their necklaces, so I snapped up a few, as well as a gorgeous blue scarf (which I'm wearing in the picture below). I quite liked more, but thought I should show some signs of restraint. There'll always be another sale, right?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yarny Crafting

Lately, I've been working on a few yarny projects:

A simple ribbed hat to keep my head warm in the snow! I plan to make a matching cowl with the leftover yarn.

A Slouchy Bubbles hat made for a friend who's going through chemotherapy.

Another Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan. This one is not quite complete. I still have to add buttons and weave in the ends. I originally made this for my daughter, but it's a bit small, so it's going to my lovely niece.

My favourite project of the moment! A Windward shawl in lovely Noro yarn. It's quite a simple pattern (hasn't stopped me from making mistakes, though) but I LOVE seeing how the colours change. I'm about halfway through this one.

My latest cast-on...another Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn, this time a 12 ply Classic (100% wool) yarn. I'm making a Cable Blanket for a friend for her wedding in September. I've not used a 12 ply yarn for a while and can't quite believe how quickly this is knitting up. I think I may even stand a chance of getting this project finished on time!

As you can see, I have a few projects that are still in progress. I just can't commit to one project at a time. I get too bored! ;)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Clearly I'm not a bag lady...

I've wanted to make a project bag for my knitting for some time now. Being the queen of procrastination, it was quite possible that I would never have got around to it. But I was given a push when my friend, Sue, posted about sewing one of these bags:

So, I dutifully chose some fabrics from my stash and proceeded to put the bag together with much moaning over a couple of days. You see, not being a bag maker, I overestimated the thickness of interfacing I would need. I didn't want the thing to be flimsy, so in a complete overreaction, I used the thickest interfacing I had, effectively turning this cute little bag into a cardboard box. As I'm sure you can imagine, sewing cardboard doesn't equal easy OR fun. Oh well, lesson learned for next time.

This bag certainly does NOT represent the best sewing I've ever done, but at least it's finished. I'm not happy enough to use it as a knitting project bag, but it has been put to good use storing (secret) things in the bathroom cupboard.


I'm already planning my next version (using MUCH lighter interfacing) which I plan to use for my knitting. As well, I think these little lunch/project bags would make great teacher presents at the end of the year, and seeing as though I already have all the materials necessary to make them, they'd be virtually free!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thank you!

I just wanted to do a quick post to thank you all for the fabulous comments on my Lovely Layers tunic. I really appreciate you all taking the time to visit and leave a comment.

I also wanted to let Barb know (I couldn't find an email address, Barb) that unfortunately, the fabric was not a recent purchase. I've really been trying hard to sew from stash for a while now, and so this one would have been purchased over a year ago. I have my fingers crossed for you that they still have some in stock.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lovely Layers Tunic

After trying on a stack of TS tunics a few weeks ago, and just about passing out at the price tag, I decided that I could probably make one for myself. I settled on the Lovely Layers Top/Tunic from Crafty Mamas. I'd seen a few around the web, and thought they looked quite lovely indeed.

Typically, I wear a size 20 in RTW, but my measurements corresponded to the XXXL, so that's the size I chose. It worked. The tunic fit well without any alterations. The only issue I had was that the width of the longer tunic in the largest size did not fit on a standard 150cm wide knit. I chose to piece the front and back, knowing that you'd never be able to tell in the crazy print I'd selected for my test tunic. And I was right!

Not the sharpest photo I've ever taken, but it'll do for now. It was a wet and dismal old day here today.

It's a breeze to wear - which is a big plus in my books. I'm thinking I'm going to have to add another layer to go outside, though. It's a bit chilly here today.

Fabric: An ITY knit from East Coast Fabric

Construction Details:

2 hours tops! And I'm not a fast seamstress. This is one easy top to make. Yay!

It was almost exclusively stitched on the overlocker. The only time I used the sewing machine was to baste on the neckband, and to baste the second shoulder seam. I find I have real trouble getting a professional finish if I apply the neckband/binding to a shirt NOT in a circle if I don't baste that last shoulder seam before I stitch it properly. It ALWAYS shifts on me and makes this really messy looking join at the neck edge where it's really noticeable.

I did a rolled edge to hem the bottom, and a simple turn-and-coverstitch for the edge of the armhole.

For Future Versions (and there will be future versions!):
  • Redraft the armhole for sleeveless versions. I just like it a bit higher and a bit narrower at the shoulder when I'm layering it over other tops.
  • Adjust the side seam so that it fits on 150cm wide fabric.
Variations I'd Like to Try:

So, I've got lots of ideas for different kinds colour-blocked variations that I'd like to try. The motivation to try this pattern came from a bit of window shopping in the TS department at my local Myer store, so I thought I'd start there. Here are some of their styles that use colour-blocking. I apologise in advance for the visual overload, but I couldn't narrow it down any further. I can see a goodly pile of these tunics in my wardrobe this year. Now, I'd tweak most of these designs a little, but aren't there some great ideas for modifying this pattern?

All photos are linked to the relevant TS garment (as at 21 June 2013)...



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finally, a finished project!

Now, this is the not the garment previously discussed in the last post...BUT I'm taking it as a win anyway. Apparently yesterday, the gods were smiling, because not only was I showered, with make-up AND decent hair, I was also wearing a new, handmade dress AND I remembered to take a photo. Truly, a blessed day. Anyway, moving on...

Last month I needed a new dress for work, so I dug around in my stash and came up with this number. I used View C from Butterick 5794 - a fairly straight forward knit dress with a cowl neck, 3/4 sleeves and a slightly hi-low hemline. I used a polyester based knit from East Coast Fabrics. I like the colours, but wouldn't have been devastated if it hadn't worked out.

Seeing as though I don't have the same figure shape as the model, I did have to do a bit of modification to get it to fit me, and to move that waist seamline, but nothing too major. It was a very quick and easy garment to sew.

And here I submit proof that I actually can, and do, sew instead of just planning... :)

  • Bust 46.75", Waist 42.5" and Hips 49" - size selected 24W
  • Added extra width through the waist area - subsequently removed. This dress runs a little large.
  • Raised waist seam (to more of an empire line) by ~ 2"
  • Narrowed sleeve towards the bottom so it would stay up when I pushed the sleeves up.
  • Used serger mostly, although gathering done on sewing machine, coverstitch used on hems
  • Used seam tape on shoulder seams and a tiny spot of Fray Check on coverstitched hems as I've been having a little trouble lately with the hems coming undone.
  • Dress was a bit big overall, but that was easily rectified.
  • Neck/collar is a bit floppy for my liking.
For Future Versions:
  • Remove waist seam
  • Check notches on sleeves, I think they're twisting in the armhole (either I missed the notches or they weren't there. Not prepared to commit at this stage.)
  • Either use lightweight knit interfacing on collar to give it some body or reshape the pattern piece.
  • Raise front neckline by 1" (for work modesty).

Sunday, June 16, 2013 return to the sewing room.

I'm still crafting away although it seems as though I've lapsed into radio silence on the blog. That's OK. I'm sure no-one expired because of it...

While I've been all about the knitting lately, I have started to inch my way back into the sewing room. I managed to finish (but not take any photos of) a pair of summer PJ shorts for my daughter which I had cut out in November of last year. I know, right? I'm crazy fast at finishing a project!

Anyway, since that extraordinarily complicated project is now gone from my sewing queue, I'm excited to start something new. I actually bought some RTW clothes the other week. I had a few gift cards that were about to expire for Myer, so I trotted on in and found myself in the TS section. I tried on quite a few garments and decided that I liked some of them enough to spend someone else's money on them! ;)

To cut a long story short, I've decided to make a few garments myself that echo that style. Surely I can do for WAY less money than the ridiculous prices they were asking for relatively simple garments.

So, I'm starting with the Crafty Mamas Lovely Layers tunic. I thought I'd go with the scoop neckline and no sleeves so I could wear it with a layering tee underneath.

I'm planning to test it out with this fabric (second from the left) for my first attempt. This will go with some black leggings and a black layering tee that I already own, so it won't even be an orphan for a millisecond. I'm liking this plan already.

I happen to have some purple dry knit fabric from Spotlight that matches the print quite well. It's leftover from my Style Arc Creative Cate top. I'm going to make another layering tee to go with the tunic.

A TNT pattern for a tee-shirt is one of the things I've been working on since my last post. I'm close with the 2/2007 Ottobre t-shirt, but I need to double check my alterations before I cut into my gorgeous black linen knit that I bought from The Fabric Store last month.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Motivation Injection

I've definitely been finding it hard to get back into the sewing groove. Truth be told it's a combination of my new obsession with yarn crafts and a massive backlog of projects started but never finished for some reason.

Yesterday I stumbled across a group on Ravelry called Seven Wips in Seven Days. It's pure genius! Essentially, their philosophy is that if you spend a little bit of time regularly on each of your projects , eventually, they will all get finished and you won't get bored. To follow the basic system suggested, you pick 7 of your "works in progress" and assign them to a day of the week, and commit to working on each project on its assigned day. Like anything, there is as much flexibility in the system as there are people using it. There have been all kinds of variances mentioned in the discussion threads of that group, like choice days and theme days. Like I said, sheer brilliance!

Now, I don't have that many knitting works in progress, but I certainly have many more sewing projects that have stagnated for whatever reason, usually boredom or falling prey to the excitement of starting a new project. Now they're stifling my desire to get behind the sewing machine, so something drastic needs to be done.

Knowing that I am the Queen of Procrastination, I know that just doing one project at a time just doesn't work for me. If I run into a tough spot, I'll do anything I can to avoid working on it - even if it's meant to be fun! That's why I'm convinced this system will totally work for me. I'm only committing to sewing one seam or knitting one row of the assigned project. Of course, starting is often the biggest stumbling block and once I get going, I often want to spend more time. That's what I'm hoping for, but if it doesn't happen, then it's no big deal. It also allows me the freedom to spend the majority of my crafty time on whatever project is exciting me the most at that time, free of guilt. Win/Win, I say.

Anyway, I'm not going to make a massive list of all the projects I have "in progress". That would be pointless. But I am going to pick seven and get started. Here's my plan:

  • Monday: Sure-Fit Designs Dress (Sew)
  • Tuesday: Hey, Teach Cardigan (Knit)
  • Wednesday: DD's Colourful Cardigan (Knit)
  • Thursday: Burgundy Dress (Sew)
  • Friday: Marigold Bolero (Crochet)

Jenny King's Marigold Bolero
  • Saturday: Aqua Vogue Top (Sew)
  • Sunday: Embroidery on Brown Dress (Hand Sew)

I thought I would check back in here at the end of each week, and update the list, just to keep a record of whether this system is working for me.

When I finish a project from the list, I plan to fill up the 'empty' day with one of the remaining projects, until all seven are finished. Some people replace a finished project with another one, preferring to keep many projects in rotation. I'm not sure yet which approach will work for me, but I'm willing to give it a go.

What do you think? Would you benefit from a system like this?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick Update with Pics

Linen Dress Update

I know it's not very impressive, but at least there's been some progress. I had to give up yesterday. The lack of sunlight made it way too hard to see what I was doing.

I still feel like I'm all thumbs when I'm embroidering, but I don't think it looks terrible. I started at the back so I would have had more practice by the time I got to the front designs. I just have to remember it's at the bottom of the skirt. No-one's going to be peering at it up close.


As I mentioned yesterday, one of the stash areas I would dearly love to downsize is my collection of lingerie fabrics & laces and knit remnants. I'm posting a picture here of the piles as they currently are, so I can look back in 12 months and marvel at how far I've come (or not).

Lingerie fabrics and laces are on the top shelf and knits leftover from other projects are on the bottom shelf.

Stretch lace collection.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

First FO for 2013!

I normally slow down over the summer holidays, but this year it's taken me longer than usual to get back into my groove.

So, I wanted something easy for my first project. Combine that need with a pile of knit remnants and stretch laces, and I settled on sewing Ottobre's "Simply Basic" panties (5-2009-02).

I made a pair from chocolate jersey, leftover from my Sunshine Top. Luckily, I had some matching chocolate brown stretch lace in my stash. The fit was really good. I just needed to lower the front curve of the leg openings a little for subsequent pairs. To mimic that adjustment for this pair, I filled in that section with the lace.

To accomodate the lace insert, I didn't stitch elastic all the way around the leg openings, only the portion where there was no lace. This worked well for a seat-of-the-pants fix.

I've been wearing them all day and they are super comfortable - the ultimate test of underwear. I can see that pile of knit remants being put to good use this year. And, no, I won't be modelling any of them. You're welcome.

In related news, I've joined Cation Design's Stashbusting Sewalong to give me a little push in completing my 50 Stash Projects goal. I've committed to using 12 pieces of fabric from my stash. I really think I'll be able to do much better than that, but I thought it better to under-promise and over-deliver, than beat myself up over not meeting a goal.

The theme for January is "Itty Bits" - sewing up pieces of fabric which are less than one yard. Well, I can tick that off my list now, but I have many more smallish pieces that need to be used up. I can see myself happily sticking with this theme for the whole year!

Now I'm off to continue working on the embroidery for my linen dress! Wish me luck - this is a new venture for me, but I'm finding it quite fun so far.

(I'll add a more current photo when it's looking more impressive!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

News from a (neglected) Sewing Room

I'm back from my extended holiday (meant to be 19 days, but ended up being 24 due to car trouble), cleaned up my sewing room and am raring to get started with the creating for 2013. I've got a few creations from last year which remain unblogged (I'll get to them, eventually) and a list a mile long of the things, both knitted and sewn, that I want to make this year.

For our Christmas trip, to help me cope with being away from my machines for the better part of 4 weeks, I packed a couple of knitting projects. I'm still very much a learner, but I want to improve my skills this year. My favourite husband ever thoughtfully gave me some KnitPro circular needles and some gorgeous Noro silk yarn. I'm loving the needles right now, but need a bit of experience before I feel comfortable tackling the yarn.

Still, I've started off 2013 the way I mean to continue...

Projects currently underway include:
(1) Super Simple Cowl (from Tossing the Stash)  - knitted while on holidays and just need to weave in the ends and block.

(2) Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan (from Madelinetosh) - am making good progress on this one (This is an older photo, I've ripped that sleeve out and re-knit it three times, but I'm still a bit further on than this stage).

I didn't take this one away with me because I was up to a tricky spot and I just wanted some easy projects to work on in the car. It's at the very edge of my knitting skills and I'm learning heaps. Just today, I picked up stitches and knitted my first buttonband, ever. It's not great, but it'll do for this time round. I originally started knitting this cardigan for my DH's goddaughter, but apparently she's a bit bigger than I thought. I'm knitting a size 2 and she's just over a year old but is already wearing size 2 clothes. I think I'll have to get her actual measurements and compare them to the finished garment or find another baby to give this to. I'm loving this pattern, though, and I want to knit a bigger version for my daughter later this year.

(3) DROPS cardigan (in a colourful wool/silk blend yarn) for DD - this was the second of the projects I worked on while away. I made really good headway, but have put this one on the backburner while I concentrate on finishing the Tiny Tea Leaves cardi. I've got time. Winter won't be here in Queensland for a long time yet.

(4) My brown linen dress (aka the 'Nun' dress) - have finished all the machine stitching and have marked in the embroidery designs. Now I just need to do all the hand embroidery and stitch the hems. I am in love with the inside of this dress. I used an aqua polka dot polycotton to finish all the seams. I love this look so much, I've ordered a binder foot for my sewing machine. I anticipate using this finish a lot more this year. It's way more fiddly than a serged seam, but way cuter!

Embroidery designs are marked on...

...and will hopefully end up looking something like this. This is a fabulous book, BTW, and I plan to use it a lot this year. ETA: The book is called "New Crewel: The Motif Collection" by Katherine Shaughnessy.

The inside of the dress in all its Hong Kong finish glory. I love this view and am contemplating wearing it inside out.

(5) Another Hot Patterns Sunshine Dress - I have 3 of these in my wardrobe in constant rotation, but they're all prints. This time I wanted a simple black dress. Seeing as though all my other projects are portable, I needed a project that got me in front of my machines.

Well, that's the round up of current happenings in MY sewing room. What projects have you currently got on the table?