Secret Summer Sunshine

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This is not a pair of jeans. I have nearly finished my 5th Liana’s, but procrastination and life in general keep conspiring to get in the way.

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This is the scarf I’ve knitted my mum for Christmas, finally finished, ends woven in, blocked (kind of) and all ready to wrap. Not bad going considering that I bought the yarn at the beginning of January planning to make it for her mid March birthday.

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Yarn: 3 skeins of Rowan Alpaca Colour one each of  Emerald, Agate and Garnet.  The colours change subtly within each skein, which I didn’t realise at the start.

Stitch: moss (seed) stitch, cos I like the texture and who wants a scarf with a right side and a wrong side.

Inspiration: My Birthday Scarf, as several times whilst I was making it my mum said she liked the randomness of the stripes, but it wasn’t in her colours. I’m pretty sure these are more her colours and I hope the substitution of baby alpaca for silk is acceptable too.

Length: All the yarn. And with 3 skeins, rather than the two last time, it makes a proper scarf. In fact, she will probably complain this one is too long. Also, this is a tad narrower at 35 stitches rather than 42.

Top Tip: For moss stitch, use an odd number of stitches so you start each row on the same stitch. I made so many less mistakes on this scarf than the last one.

This scarf was knitted in so many different places, including a long winding journey at the top of the front of a double decker bus winding its way slowly through Devon on a  Sunny day in May (it’s a long way to the VW specialist garage), and I like to think a little bit of all those places is knit into the scarf.

Fingers crossed she appreciates it.

 

 

 

Black and Fourth

For my next pair of  jeans I didn’t want any denim that fell apart too quickly or was annoying to work with, so I took some advice from someone else in the Thanksgiving Jeans sew a long that you could get away with a little less than 20% stretch on the Liana and got a load of fabric samples sent to me from a very helpful woman at Ditto Fabric after reading Melissa sing praise to their denim on their Fehrtrade blog and eventually I ended up buying 2 stretch denims and a non stretch one, including some black stretch denim which I thought I’d whip myself up another pair of quick Liana’s in, but this time using the straight leg variation.

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Quick, ha, I forgot I’d have to tape the straight leg variation together, trace new fronts and backs and it turned out a couple of missing pieces too. Oh well, at least this denim was a lot nicer to work with than the metallic stuff and whilst only time will tell how it wears, it certainly feels a lot better quality than the stuff I bought locally.

So, interesting things about these jeans. Number one, cool fabric gifted to me by visiting sewing friend that I aused for the pocket linings, inside waistband and fly shield and also used as inspiration for my back pocket design. I loved how this bluey grey colour went with my denim and this is a real secret personal touch (as it won’t be seen when worn) that makes making my own so special. Amusing story about this gift?  She brought more of the fabric with her, but decided at the last minute that she couldn’t bear to part with it all and took the larger bit back home with her. Gotta love a fabricaholic. And it was all for the best as I had just the amount I needed.

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spot the topstitching

Fact Number 2, using upholstery thread instead of topstitching thread for the first time, another tip gleaned from reading the Fehrtrade blog. This made a big difference in how easy it was to thread my needle and worked well, apart from the epic fail of failing to notice that the charcoal grey thread I bought so exactly matched my not quite black (sold as grey) denim ,that my carefully chosen pocket design to pick out one of the seed heads (or whatever they are)  from the lining fabric doesn’t show up at all. Boo. Oh well, I know it’s there. Serves me right for not doing a test sample before sewing (in case you’re wondering why I didn’t spot this sooner, I made the pockets first, tracing the design onto paper and sewing through that and the denim before tearing the paper away).

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No 3 – don’t skim read that bit about clipping the centre front seam to a point below the circle on the pattern, or you will end up with a zip fly with a hole at the bottom that you have to end up zig zagging shut.

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No 4 – do not attempt flat felled seams with a half inch seam, not even if you find a tutorial saying it’s possible, not even if you try it on scrap fabric and it seems to work, or you will end up with unravelling inside leg seams that you need to mend with good old zig zags before you have even finished your jeans. (No, there is no pic of this, but trust me it’s ugly. Instead you have a pic of my waisband, after I had to rip it out and redo it as one side was significantly taller than the other. Now it is only slightly wonky. Note also, the prym popper thingy that I used so I didn’t have to mess with button holes.)

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However, that all said, they are jeans, they are finished, they didn’t sit in the naughty corner for months, the fit is good (although if making the straight version again I might slim down the lower leg a little, they’re wide enough to flap as I walk which I wasn’t expecting), they don’t look “home made” (not unless you examine my inner leg seam anyway) and they go with so many things.

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The moral of this story, if you’d like to make jeans, but it seems daunting, then know that it gets easier the more pairs you make and the hard work up front pays off as you start to be able to knock them out relatively painlessly.

 

 

Impulse Trousers (aka Unexpected Liana’s)

 

Ages ago I bought 2m of this lovely “gordian knot of tangled yarn in black on a grey melange background” jersey for myself with no particular plan in mind. It would make a great lady skater or a monata, but I’m not really a dress person.  I contemplated a maxi skirt or a full (circle?) skirt, but I’m not really a skirt person either. I kept thinking about making it into trousers, but I couldn’t find the right knit pattern. They were all to tight and jegging-y, or too loose and haremey, or too wide and palazo-ey, or too frumpy, or just plain wierd.

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And then I read about some most excellent looking Ponte Pants (not to be confused with Pont Y Pants, North Wales, nor indeed with Pontipines), or more preciesly, Pleather and Ponte pants. I remember that they looked fab and someone called Andrea had made them  with the Ginger jeans pattern (for stretch demin) that she already had in a beefy ponte and some plether but I cannot find the post now at all, so frustrating, I thought I had the link saved, sorry. Anyway they gave me enough confidence to  bite the bullet and try using my Liana stretch jeans pattern with my precious fabric. After all, I reasoned, I could always cut them down into leggings if it didn’t work, or wear them as pyjama bottoms. (A sensible person would make a toile before cutting into their precious fabric obviously, but you need a fabric with a similar hand, especially for a knit as they can handle so differently. However, my local fabric shops don’t have knit anywhere near as nice as this, so I’d have to buy more expensive knit fabric online to practise with, which seems a bit pointless).

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Using the Liana pattern was a bit of a (semi) educated guess, as it calls for 25% stretch denim, so I thought I might get away with jersey without sizing down.  This is what I did, in case you’re interested.  I hesitate to call it a “tutorial” as that might imply I knew what I was doing (I didn’t, I was winging it).

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In order to convert my pattern to jersey I taped the pocket facing piece behind the pocket cut out to create a pocketless pattern piece and I also folded over the fly, then I cut them out. I considered converting the back to one piece, rather than a yoke and a back piece, but I wasn’t sure how didn’t think it would be worth the effort, so I cut them out as they were.

I still wanted pockets in my trousers, because pockets, I just hadn’t thought that “proper” jeans style pockets would work in the jersey. So I took inspiration from the opening of the Domi short pattern, but tried to make them a bit more practical (as the round pocket option on the Domi’s is very shallow, as described in the pattern notes). To do this, I first traced the edge of my pattern piece and drew in the seam lines. Then I worked out where I wanted my pocket opening to start and drew round a handily sized lid to make a semi circle. I also marked another semicircle, half an inch wider, to show where the ribbing would end. I decided to have my pocket extend to the waistband and side seam, for added support and stability, and drew in the pocket line by eye. Then I cut this out and used it as a pattern piece to cut out two pockets. Next I marked a third (pink) semicircle on my pattern piece, 1cm smaller than the outer one, so that I knew where the seam line would be (yes, I want 1/2″ ribbing and I’m using 1cm seam allowance, that’s how messed up versatile I am). I cut along this pink line and then used the pattern piece as a guide for cutting out the indents on my fronts (lining the piece up with the top and sides, natch).

The “ribbing” was some black jersey. I cut a width approx 75% the circumferential of my semi circle, and the height was twice the finished ribbing width plus the seam allowance (so 1″ plus 2cm then!). This was pressed in half, then I matched the midpoint of the long raw edges to the centre of the semicircle (right side), matched the end points to the edges of the semi circle, stretched it o fit, pinned, sewed, pressed, turned it, pressed again, “coverstitched” my seam allowance down (because I thought that on the pocket the raw edges might show and also I was worried that the ribbing might fray). Next I lined up my pocket piece with my front and basted along the top and side in the seam allowance. Finally I “coverstitched” (a zig zag would do as well) the curve edge in place, from the back, so I could see what I was doing. And voila, a pocket. (And a pretty fine looking one if I do say so myself).

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After that it was pretty plain sailing, sew the pieces together, starting with attaching the yokes. (I did the centre front and back seams next and then the inside leg, so I could “coverstitch” them all for extra durability and left the side seams for last, but any order you like works, even the one that always seems needlessley complicated to me where you do the centre seams last and have to put one leg inside the other).

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I added a yoga style waistband as described in this tutorial (except I didn’t subtract only 1 1/2″ from my waistline for the length, as it was clear that my super stretchy rib would’ve been too big then. It was a tubular peice of ribbing  which I thought was the perfect size for my waist, so I used it as it was, ha. Then it turned out it was too big, so I went back later and inserted some elastic at the back).

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Then it just remained to hem them. [and get some decent photo’s, but as mentioned previously my photographer seems to be on a work to rule so dodgy selfies it is).

So, in conclusion, sometimes it’s good to do something on impulse….

(but maybe not stealing flowers and propositioning strangers with them eh)

(I feel I have to add this to balance out the creepyness of the ad, just incase anyone decides to give someone tea on impulse, plus its a great video in its own right).

Liana no 2 – the metallic ones

Right after I finished my first Liana’s I started a second pair. I was full of enthusiasm for the pattern, the fit, the instructions and the knowledge that it’s always quicker the second time around. WRONG. I hadn’t bargained on my fabric, which was a little too stretchy and WAY too Fraytastic and generally drove me a bit nuts. Oh and I also mysteriously lost all ability to topstitch during this project.

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After languishing in the corner for a few months,  I finally finished them during the jeans sew a  long. And since then I have been trying to get decent photo’s. And failing. So here they are anyway.

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The fabric, bought online, was described as silver. When it came I felt sure the silver was supposed to be the reverse and that it was made as a shiny metallic blue. I vacillated for ages on which way to go, could I be as sophisticated as Peter from Male Pattern Boldness, or should I play it safe?  In the end I faced up to the fact that my wardrobe was not going to reliable enable me to chicly style silver jeans with plain black or white items so I went blue, mainly, but with silver highlights.

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Part I’m most pleased with? The Penrose Triangle illusion on my back pocket.

Thing I hated the most?  THE FRAYING (cut waistband, sew waistband on immediately, press, look at top of waistband, it now looks like this, seriously?!)

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Do I wear them?  Yes, absolutely.(I seriously need a new photographer, he took these two shots then declared his job done)

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Did they live up to my expectations? Nope. (what’s going on with all those wrinkles at the back?)

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Will I ever buy metallic denim online again?  Unlikely.

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Overriding emotion upon completion?  Relief.

Liana Line Up – The Warm Up

So, Thanksgiving has been and gone and Cyber Monday is upon us (‘scuse my lack of enthusiasm for all things Salesy – I am, in theory at least, trying to lead a simple life and try and eschew such things) and I’m sure the burning question on your mind is “Did she make any jeans in the end then?”.

The answer is a resounding Yes and the count is somewhere between 1 and 3, which admittedly is a bit vague but I can explain. One pair started from scratch and finished during the Sew A Long, one nearly finished pair hoicked out the Box Of Broken Dreams and completed, and one pair oh-so-nearly-just-in-need-of-a-waistband-finished. And they are all Liana’s, which along with the Liana hack I made this summer, means I have 4 pairs to show you. So I thought I’d do a line up.

First off though, the reason why I needed so many new pairs (I have non stretch denim for 2 pairs of Morgans in the cupboard too). Namely the woeful state of my current jeans.   Here are the before and after pics of the  two pairs of jeans I tackled from the mending pile during the sew a long (I have taken my tacking stitches out now, don’t worry).    My jeans pile was really quite minimal before I started (yup, just 2 pairs plus my stripey trews), which mean they get a lot of wear, and the Liana’s were made from some locally bought denim that was a little on the cheap side quality wise. The red foxy jeans were made from some lovely soft red denim, but alas whilst I think the quality of that was good, it just wasn’t hardwearing enough to put up with the constant rotation it was under.

Anyway, at least it was easier  to get these two pairs mended as I had the denim needle in the machine anyway, plus I needed to do this to keep me decent whilst I made the other ones, and  as a bonus it served to remind me why it was sensible to try and make so many pairs of jeans.  I used this method to mend them and can heartily recommend it if you find yourself in a similar situation.

I’m a bit annoyed with myself for letting these jeans languish on the mending pile for so long. I think I was in mourning for all the effort put in to making something that started to fall apart so quickly (especially the Liana’s). However, I have given myself a good talking to, after all, if I hadn’t made the Liana pattern with some easy, cheap, local fabric I wouldn’t know how well they fit me, giving me the confidence to make some more in better fabric would I?  And if I’d bought the good/expensive/online stuff for the first pair it’d probably still be sat on the shelf with me too terrified to cut into it.

Anyway, enough wittering for today, I am determined to get some decent photo’s tomorrow (no easy task at this time of year in the northern hemisphere) and start showing you what I made…

 

 

 

The Next Generation

This young lady associates my house with sewing for some reason! Usually it’s monsters, but today hand bags for teddy bears. One to keep and one as a present for her cousin (she’s getting ready for Christmas already). I was looking after her for the morning but she asked to stay for the afternoon too so that she had time to sew!

Of course, The Girl had to do some sewing too. She designed a handbag for herself, complete with star on a ribbon hanging down, you saw this new trend here first! The star was cut from the reflective band on an old cycling vest and she drew around a pastry cutter for the shape. The pocket, I confess, was my idea, but she embraced it, and my mitred corner suggestion.

I even managed to knock up a quick bag myself, a little too quickly perhaps (the pocket isn’t quite centred and the ribbon, while very cool and matching, is probably too thin for straps).

All in all, quite a productive afternoon.