Monday, 9 May 2016

FO: Belladone

I was unsure if I was ever going to write a post about this dress, frankly it's a bit of a mess and I was just going to sweep it under the carpet. However, it is a garment that I've made and now worn and I've decided I should be proud of it. Also it is useful for me to get down all of my thoughts so that I don't end up making the same mistakes next time, so please bear with me!
Please note this is linen, don't judge my wrinkles!
Deer and Doe's Belladone dress is one I've been meaning to make for ages, it's so simple and smart from the front, but has the lovely cut out detail at the back. It's taken me a while to get round to making it, partly because I was looking for the right fabric and partly because I was wavering on what size to make. I made their Sureau dress last year in size 40 and find it a little large but I was a little worried that this more fitted style would be a bit tight if I made it in size 38. In the end I decided to just go for it with this inexpensive pink linen and prepared to write it off as a muslin if it didn't fit.
To begin with this project seemed to be going ok, the instructions were a little vague in places but I prepared the back pieces and stabilised the diagonals with bias tape with no trouble. Once I got to the armholes, however, I found myself having to use my own judgement, which I was completely betrayed by. I really should know better by now! Basically I had no idea whether I needed to sew the bias tape on using a 1.5cm seam allowance or whether I was meant to just sew it straight on at the edge. I went for the 1.5 cm and ended up with a weird situation where my upper back pieces were very pretty much bisected by the armholes. I haven't bothered to take a photo of that though and it's a bit difficult to explain, but next time I'll just stitch the bias tape on at the edge instead. At that point I considered completely remaking the bodice but because I was beginning to worry about the fit I decided to keep going so I'd not made 2 bodices of a dress that wasn't going to do up!
From that point on things weren't too bad, I did the neck binding without incident and the waistband and skirt came together nicely. Then came the zip. I started by finishing the allowances where the zip would go on my overlocker as usual, I did one side just fine and then at the end of the second side I somehow lost all control and ended up catching the upper back and sewing (and cutting!!) into it for an inch or so. Disaster! I did a bit of a half hearted repair job and ploughed on. I was feeling a bit slap dash by then so I knew I wasn't doing my best work anyway, but because the upper bodice is already joined at the neck I found the whole thing really fiddly and ended up having to unpick a couple of times. Next time I think I might consider sewing the neck hole up last so that the back is completely open at the time of zip insertion. By this time I was thoroughly sick of the whole thing, but I went ahead and stitched on the hem facing, which is a lovely finish and so much easier than straight hemming in my opinion, and that cheered me up a little.
What I'm left with is a mostly wearable dress, albeit with a cardigan over the top to hide the overlocker accident and weird bisected pieces at the back. The bust darts need moving a little next time and I might consider using a slightly smaller seam allowance around the waist to give myself a little more room for a big dinner. Or I could cut down on the big dinners of course and give myself a little more space that way! Despite all of this it was all totally worth it, I know that if I can make a few changes and avoid making stupid mistakes I will come out with a dress that I love. I'm completely in love with the shape of it and, while I'm usually not that bothered by pockets in dresses, these ones are a really lovely feature which I would never leave off. Although I was left feeling like this was a bit of a fail at first it's actually far from it. Even though it is a bit rubbish I found that I really loved wearing it and was happy to tell people that I made it myself. I'll call that a win.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

FO: Tauriel

It's not been a great week in the Smith household, I'd hoped that dropping my brand new iPhone down the loo was the low point but on Sunday our poor little Izzy cat had to have one of her eyes removed and that kind of put things in perspective a little.  We're not entirely sure what happened but she probably got into a fight with another animal where her eye was very badly damaged.  Stu spent most of the weekend travelling up and down the motorway to a specialist vet who was unfortunately unable to save the eye.  Izzy is home now, merrily crashing into everything with her cone of shame and enjoying the fact that no one has the heart to turf her off their lap in her condition.
However, to lighten things up a little, I have finished a pair of socks that I have been working on since February.  This has encouraged the weather here to perk up again so I can't imagine I'll be wearing them much for a while, a shame really because they are so pretty!  The pattern, Tauriel, is exactly what I'm into at the moment.  Cute little cables knitted through the back loop which look super complex and time consuming but are really pretty simple.  I've actually got an idea for a pair of socks along similar lines floating around in my brain right now, I've put pen to paper but it may be a little while before I put needles to yarn.  Watch this space.....
My favourite little touch on these socks is the ribbing on the gusset.  I think it makes them just a little extra fancy and the way it is knitted makes it very easy to keep track of your decreases without actually having to do counting.  Not that counting is a particular struggle or anything, I'm just lazy!
The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer, which has really subtle little glittery strands in it.  They are maybe a little too subtle for this magpie, but the effect is quite tasteful.  I had to get in really close to get the glittery bits to photograph at all, but they are in there.  I really like the way the cables really stand out in the light coloured yarn and I think it was a really great choice for this project.
All in all, I'm really pleased with these.  They felt like a little win after a rubbish week and I'm sort of glad to be done with them after knitting them for so long.  My next project is a breezy cotton sweater, so hopefully more seasonally appropriate.  Oh, and for anyone that was worried, my phone has been thoroughly dried out and appears to be fully functional at the moment.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

FO: Simplicity 1693

Seeing as it was looking like spring had truly sprung here it seemed like it was a good time to start working on my warmer weather wardrobe in earnest.  The 2 t-shirts that I recently finished made a good start but I thought I'd go one better and make a sleeveless top in a floaty light fabric next.  Of course that was around about when the weather took a nosedive, so sorry about that England, this shitty weather is all my fault!  Seriously, it snowed yesterday I have no words.
Luckily this little top looks pretty good with a cardigan, is a perfect layering piece and so should get worn all year round.  The pattern, Simplicity 1693, is a one I picked up quite recently and had to sew up almost immediately.  I liked that it would be quick and simple to sew and I can see myself sewing up some of the other views fairly soon too.
I was a bit undecided on the collar for this version, I considered leaving it off but I thought that might be a little plain.  Then I thought maybe I'd make one in self fabric so it was just a subtle detail but in the end I figured I was making a top in orange fabric with floating lanterns on so I'd left subtlety at the door before I even started.  I'm really pleased with how it looks now, the contrast of the collar and ribbon detail works well, if I do say so myself.
Unfortunately the collar itself did give me a bit of a headache.  I dug out a scrap of black viscose I had leftover from a doomed project I recently abandoned and on inspection I decided it might be a bit heavy to work with the orange fabric.  So I ordered some black chiffon and got on with assembling the rest of the top while I waited for it to arrive.  To cut a long story short, the chiffon arrived, I cut it out, it shifted all over the place, my collar looked like I'd made it with my eyes closed and the viscose started to look like a good idea after all!  Other than that the construction of this top was really straightforward.  The neck and armholes are both finished with bias facings, I made some self bias tape which went round the armholes but it was a bit floppy and annoying so I used some black stuff I made ages ago to go around the neck.  The top is fastened with a loop and button at the back, but I can get it on and off without undoing it so I'll either just leave out the opening in future or stitch it shut at the top instead.
Despite thinking that I'd have been better off knitting myself a pair of mitts like my SILs rather than sewing this, I'm glad to have it in my wardrobe ready for when it warms up again.  I may make my next project a sweater though, rather than the summer dress I had my eye on!

Monday, 25 April 2016

FO: Commuter Mitts

I know I've mentioned it before but my Sister-in-Law is completely knitworthy.  As well as being generally awesome she always sends me pictures of my knits in use and often posts photos proudly on Facebook for all to see.  While I don't knit for appreciation and accept that I mostly hand my hard work over for it to never be heard of again, I do love getting little updates like that.  So, when Rachael asked if I'd be able to make her some gloves to keep her hands warm while she is pushing her pram I was only too happy to say yes.
About 3 years ago I made a pair of Dashing mitts for my brother and, as he was refusing to lend them to his wife in case she stole them permanently, I thought I'd make her a pair of her own.  Those of you who are familiar with that pattern will recognise that the mitts above are not all that Dashing at all.  My row gauge, which I'll admit I never measure, must have been way off because by the time I got to the thumb it was clear that they were nearly elbow length.  Not necessarily a problem, but it's April and not really elbow length glove weather.  So I ripped those back, stuck with Knitty and cast on a pair of Commuter Mitts by Stephanie Sun instead.
I've also knit these before, a couple of years ago for my sister (who is ably modelling this pair for me, thanks Jess).  I really like the way they look and  being able to undo the cuff and button it over the fingers is a nice touch.  I didn't bother with the little buttons on the underside with the last pair I made because Jess didn't think she'd actually bother ever using them, but I thought Rachel might really find them useful so I stitched on a pair of tiny hidden apples for her.
All in all, I'm really pleased with these.  They were a quick knit and economical too, made using some Cascade Hollywood leftover from Lissy's Abate sweater.  Rachael seems happy as well, a Facebook post praising their sparkly purpleness and hidden apples appeared with gratifying haste, cementing her status as one of my favourite people to knit for.
Soooo sparkly!

Monday, 18 April 2016

New Look 6216 (again)

With half an eye on MMMay I thought it was time to break out New Look 6216 again and make a couple more basic t-shirts. The grey one I made last year is still one of my favourite things to wear and I think these 2 will get a lot of wear too.

When we were at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year my sister bought some fabric to make her own version of this pattern. Because it looked like she was never going to get round to it I offered to cut out the pieces for her and while I was at it I thought I may as well cut out some fabric for one for me too. I figured that way we could make them together so I could demonstrate without actually messing with her project.
I bought this stripy blue fabric with this particular pattern in mind and I'm really pleased that I did. The stripes themselves are really sheer and slightly sparkly making this shirt a little bit fancier than your ordinary tee. Despite being very careful not to do so I managed to cut the back out slightly wonky so I was worried that the stripes would make that really obvious. I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut another back so I just left it and it looks just fine. My sister's T-shirt turned out nicely too, I'll have to see if I can get her to send me a photo to show off.
My second version was originally going to be another Briar tee, but in the end I decided I wanted a really, really quick project to complete while the fabric for my next project was in the wash. Obviously Briar is hardly a time consuming project but this doesn't even have sleeves to sew on and I already had the pattern out so it seemed even quicker. Of course it all went a bit wrong, but you can't plan for that unfortunately.
To make the project even quicker I thought I'd try adding a hem band, eliminating hemming and creating a cleaner finish. In principal this was a good idea but I need to fiddle with the length of the band a bit next time because it didn't look great. No biggie, I thought, I'll just cut it off (I'd overlocked it and I wasn't unpicking) and the shirt will just end up a little shorter. So I started to cut and got distracted by something or other.... insert your own toddler disaster of choice here... and had to go back to it later. Upon resuming I couldn't seem to find where I'd started cutting despite looking all the way round until I realised I'd have to look further afield and discovered I'd actually cut halfway around one of the sleeve bands. Oops! So I had to lop both of those off too and then sew them back on again before actually cutting off the hem band and hemming the bottom.

The end result is slightly shorter than planned, with slightly shorter sleeves and a wee slim sleeve bands but it looks much better than I'd feared. The fabric is the real star here, it's super glitzy and also really soft and squishy. It all worked out in the end, thankfully and now I have two more t-shirts to keep me from wearing nothing but Lady Skater dresses for the entirety of May!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Me Made May


Despite the fact that I very much disapprove of the phrase 'me made', I do however like the idea behind it and as I move slowly towards my goal of a handmade wardrobe I thought it would be nice to sign up this year.  So, throughout May I have pledged that I will wear at least one handmade item per day with bonus points if one of the kids is also decked out in something I've made.  I'm pretty sure that I shouldn't have too many problems finding something to wear each day, I have a Lady Skater dress for every day of the week for heavens sake, but it will be interesting to see how much variety I actually have in my handmade wardrobe.  And while panic sewing is not encouraged I will be leaning towards every day staples in the projects that I do have planned between now and the end of May.  The only exception being that I may make a dress for a wedding reception we are going to mid May.  Just because I don't have anything better to do I will be attempting to take a daily outfit shot which I'll be posting on Instagram (find me here if you fancy it) but I won't bore you to death with it here.  So, all the best to everyone else joining in, I think it's going to be fun!

Monday, 4 April 2016

A trio of Briars

Despite finishing all 3 of these tops a few weeks ago it's taken me until today to get photos of all them. Frankly the only one of us who was up for a prolonged photoshoot was Cassie so all of the rest of the photos are of her.

There's not a lot more to say about Briar and me. I wear the first one I made all the time and this version is becoming a wardrobe staple too. The only thing I've realised this time is that I need to reduce the sleeve length a little in future. I didn't really notice this with the first one because the fabric was really lightweight and bunched up a bit. The fabric for this one is much thicker so the sleeves do hang down a bit too far for me. It's quite Spring like round here now though so I'll most likely be making the short sleeved version over the next few months anyway.

Moving swiftly on to the girls T-shirts, both of which I made using Megan Nielsen's Mini Briar pattern. The first thing I will say is that both of these are really roomy. The pattern sizes each cover 2 years so I used 2&3 and 4&5. Both of my girls fall at the bottom end of the age ranges so there is a lot of room for them to grow. Aside from having to roll the sleeves up 3 times they are perfectly wearable and the girls love their cat shirts.

I'm looking forward to making us all some more Briars, the Mini version comes with loads of templates for cute appliqu├ęs (kitty cat elbow patches? Yes please!) which I'm excited to try out. For the moment though I'm getting stuck into jeans making again and hope to have a new pair to share in a few days. See you then!