Buy Less, Share More

I like to think I don’t know any people locally that sew, but that’s not quite true. I don’t know anyone locally with a sewing blog and none of my friends my age sew clothes, but that’s not the same as knowing no-one who sews.

For instance I have a good friend who comes swimming with me and the kids each week, driving us there and back, helping me keep my patience whilst they’re getting changed, helping the kids build up their confidence in the “big pool” before their swimming lesson, lane swimming with me whilst they’re in their lesson and just generally being an all round good egg and an extra surrogate grandparent (so I can put up with her telling me off for wearing burgandy, just as she puts up with me teaching the kids to say “maroon” just to wind her up). She sews the most exquisitely executed cushion covers in gorgeous colour schemes. And I called in to pay her for a couple I’d brought as presents today, when I was on my way to the sewing shop to investigate pinking shears. As well as showing me her works in progress (how many cushions can I justify buying, I want them all, but at our house they end up on the floor as part of elaborate games), she also dug through her boxes of sewing things and dug out a pair of pinking shears for me to borrow. Hurrah. And especially apt as today is Black Friday / North American Buy nothing day (in the UK we get to take part in international buy nothing day tomorrow, but a lot of the blogs I read are north american and every little helps, eh ;)).

Pinking Shears of Nostalgia (these are very like some we had at home when I was a child that I loved cutting up paper with).

Pinking Shears of Nostalgia (these are very like some we had at home when I was a child that I loved cutting up paper with).

So, now I have been able to pink the seam allowances that will be on the edge of my waistcoat. And then I bottled out of trying welt pockets and made up the collar instead.

2 collar pieces and 4 lapel pieces

2 collar pieces and 4 lapel pieces, self drafted

I cut out the pattern pieces as I had done on the wearable muslin.

collar assembles and ready to turn

collar assembles and ready to turn

Not having just worked it out, something went a bit wrong when I sewed them together this time and the seam placement was off from the points, but I did some resewing and unpicking and I think I fudged it ok.

turned and pressed

turned and pressed

So. Now. Welt pockets. No escaping them.

Waistcoat update

About this time last year I had many plans of things to sew for Christmas. Well, the Girl got her PINK dress and the Boy (just) got his checked shirt but the Man had to wait until after his birthday in March for a wearable yet very purple muslin of his waistcoat. I did start the real thing, but it made it to The Pile and has been languishing there ever since.

Recently the Man (a.k.a. hubby) started dropping hints about waistcoasts. Then he got less subtle. Then he admitted to eyeing them up on the John Lewis website.

So, I burrowed deep into the pile and found a bag of stuff. I opened it with trepidation. I knew I’d started the waistcoat and not got that far, how to work out what was going on. I should point out at this point that this is not a straightfoward make. Hubby chose Burda 7799 view A. For the muslin I had to straighten the bottom of the pattern pieces (he didn’t like the style) and draft a collar piece as it had lapels that were at the front only and sewed into the shoulder seams, which was not approved of. Feedback on the fit is that the real thing has to be lengthened by 2″. Also on the design spec is that all the waistcoat, including the back, has to be in the main fabric (a grey wool), with a lining (green shiny polyester thing) on the inside but a facing of the main grey. Phew. So now you know where the Boy gets his fussy streak from.

Anyway, when I opened the bag I was pleasantly surprised at how organised I’d been. I’d drawn a clear list of what pattern pieces were needed in which fabric and put an order of construction together and done my own little japanese pattern style diagram. Go me. (I tried to scan them in to show you as this post is a little picture heavy, but then I became alarmed at the amount of time I was spending not getting them into the right format and decided I’d rather use that sewing, sorry). Hubby was also there at the time and he was dismayed at the number of pattern pieces, realising it looked complicated. Yes dear, it is complicated, that’s why it’s been languishing on the pile.

Initially I’d cut out the lining fabric and started sewing darts. I got hubby matching the various pocket linings to their pattern pieces while I started cutting out the main fabric, I stuck to the big pieces, the backs, fronts and facings. Then I attached the lining to the facing (hmm, facing is a couple of cm longer but apparently I have a 4cm hem allowance so I’m not worrying at the moment) and made up the lining for him to try on. Result.

Subsequently I have sewn and pressed the darts in the main fabric. This took a while as I was struggling to mark the fabric. But they’re now done. And I have a sinking feeling that I should’ve made the strap/belt things first and sewn them in. Oh well, maybe I can convince him he didn’t want them anyway.

Anyway, I’m aware that this waistcoat make is not perfect, but I keep telling myself it only has to be as good as the muslin and it’ll be better. As in, he wears the muslin, but only really around the house due to it’s extreme purpleness. As the real deal will be grey, if I can keep the same standard of sewing it will instantly be more wearable. Plus it will be 2″ longer. And it will be a heck of a lot more use than it is cluttering up a corner of my dining room (a.k.a. languishing on the pile).

So, now I have to do the welt pockets. Eek. Hence the prevarication of writing this blog piece. I know that the Oliver and S welt tutorial is supposed to be good but it seams to use different shaped pieces. I may do a trial run. Wish me luck. Or recommend me another good tutorial, but bear in mind I may have foolishly cracked on with the sewing in a fit of impatience before waiting to see what pearls of wisdom are offered (that’s what normally happens) so don’t be offended if I seem to disregard you. There’s always next time (I’m thinking, if i crack this pattern, I’m going to make it again if only to justify the effort needed).

Oh and does anyone know, am I supposed to finish the seams? They’re all going to be enclosed as the waistcoat is lined. I think I’m going to leave them but I’m slightly scared they’ll fray. I tried searching for expertise but I keep finding yet more explanations of how to bag out a waistcoat lining (which I understand already, having done it on a self drafted waistcoat for the boy previously). I’m thinking maybe pinking shears, but that means a trip to the shop down the road, which is dangerous….

Queen of Hearts

Yay for feeling better (and incidently boo for boys yo yo ing out of bed instead of staying there long enough to fall asleep, but you can’t win ’em all). I finished sewing another thing.

coming ready or not where are you

coming ready or not where are you

The original idea Use some left over very soft and lovely knit fabric from my prototype tunic dress to make some kind of long sleeved top for my daughter. This was fairly obviously to me the thing to do as it’s “her” colour, she likes the feel of it and I struggle to get her to wear long sleeves/layers and yet the weather round here (plus her tendency to asthma) means that even she needs to wrap up a little sometimes.

velvet ribbon hanging loop from great grandma's stash

velvet ribbon hanging loop from great grandma’s stash

The design brief A cardy was requested rather than a long sleeved top. She drew a lovely picture of a cardy, with round neck, buttons and two squarish patch pockets. I left it in the middle of the table carefully saved it to scan in for the blog but due to my carelessness despite my best efforts hubby threw it away when tidying up. It was a cute picture, honest.

Contrast cuff action plus hold the seam allowance down twin needle topstitching

Contrast cuff action plus hold the seam allowance down twin needle topstitching

The distraction I wasn’t going to buy buttons until it was finished, to check they were right. I was eyeing some up alright, but I was not going to buy any. And then I ended up in Guthrie and Ghani when I was away and my patient friend suggested I look at buttons and they had these amazing clear circular buttons with red hearts outlined on. I didn’t stand a chance. (They don’t seem to have them in the online shop. I also got some with turquoise cat heads on, which are much nicer than that sounds).

Button Love

Button Love

The pattern Simplicity 1573. Again. I used the long sleeved t shirt (technically a pajama top but hey), in a size 8 rather than the usual size 7 (so she can wear it over the other t shirts that I’ve made from this pattern) and hacked it after rather breifly looking at some tutorials on hacking t shirts patterns into adult cardies (sorry, links lost in the mists of time, but I’m sure you’d find something if you’re interested).

Pocket design to mimic buttons,. Note hand width plus ease lines I marked as my starting point to get the size right. The pockets are lined in the softer turquoise fabric for extra snuggle factor.

Pocket design to mimic buttons. Note hand width (plus ease) lines that I marked as my starting point to get the size right. The pockets are lined in the softer turquoise fabric for extra snuggle factor.

The design element I realised that I had pretty much all of the red t shirt left that I’d cut up to make a neckband for me and that the pockets could be heart shaped like the buttons. And before you know it it had red heart shaped pockets, red cuffs, collar, bottom band and cuffs.

Pocket and lining stitched together and clipped ready to turn. Then the top "M" shape was topstitched before placing on the cardy and sewing the rest into place.

Pocket and lining stitched together and clipped ready to turn. Then the top “M” shape was topstitched before placing on the cardy and sewing the rest into place.

Glorious pocket action (yeah, ok, they bag out a little, but I still like 'em)

Glorious pocket action (yeah, ok, they bag out a little, but I still like ’em)

The technical bits. The front was cut as two pieces (instead of on the fold) and extended slightly so the edges could fold over and be the button band. (Originally I was going to have the button bands as separate pieces added on. I think actually that might have been neater after all. I was swayed by what others had done). I also lowered the front curve of the neckline slightly and I stay stitched it to prevent stretching. The button band was reinforced with interfacing, as were the shoulder seams. I forgot to turn under the edge of the first button band I sewed down so it looks a bit messy, grr. The “ribbing” is standard t shirt fabric and I cut it 90% of the width required plus seam allowances, I was worried it wouldn’t cope with 85%, actually I think it would’ve but it looks fine as it is. The seams are all finished with my overlocker foot as I don’t trust the turquoise fabric not to fray. I had to trim the edge of the ribbing/main fabric seam at 45 degrees (as if you’re going to turn something) as it was poking out the front of the sitching band slightly, so then topstitched all the ribbing seam allowance in place with my twin needle, which makes the bottom a bit uneven as the overlocking had made the seam allowance wavy.

Interfacing the button band before folding it over and sewing it down.

Interfacing the button band before folding it over and sewing it down.

The finish Could do better. My cardy pattern hack worked fine but as my finished piece ended up more complicated than I orignally planned (no seperate ribbing bands) I hadn’t thought through how to hide the raw seams and on a cardy they may well show if it’s unbuttoned and flaps open. So I think a proper pattern could have led to a neater finish. (For instance, I realised after reading Sparkleneedles recent cardigan adventures that the side/shoulder/armhole seams would have been better as french seams, which would’ve been easy enough with the 5/8″ seam allowance). The top buttonhole messed up too (it would be that one) and is a little wonky. And why oh why did I decide to use turquoise thread and twin needles to topstitch a red heart pocket? That’s just asking for trouble, especially with the curved edges. So, I think it definitely looks home made to me. But it doesn’t scream home made to all and sundry, so I can live with that because it’s so fun.

Hiding the raw ends. Also the buttonholes in the middle, that were done flat rather than half over extra layers, worked much better, unsurprisingly.

Hiding the raw ends. Also the buttonholes in the middle, that were done flat rather than half over extra layers, worked much better, unsurprisingly.


The result Great, I’m really happy with it.

Ready for the big reveal photo(s)?….

The Girl likes pretty things

Cuffs folded over as the sleeves have growing room 😉

Now, where are those pockets

Now, where are those pockets

Ta Da

Ta Da


Here's looking at you kid. (and yes, she's wearing that over polka dot pajama's and with a skirt. Long story)

Here’s looking at you kid. (and yes, she’s wearing that over polka dot pajama’s and with a skirt. Long story)

Selfish knitting with bonus maths homework ;)

Recently I saw a lovely green Cowl Scarf on the Dressing the Role blog and wanted one for myself. Since I’d been furtling through my yarn stash recently I remembered that I had 2 balls of a mainly burgandyish yarn with subtle gold/purple highlights variegated through it (technical details: Attimo trends, colour 088, shade 001, 47% wool, 29% acrylic, 17% mohair, 7% alpaca, by Adriafil, the band suggests that 13 stitches and 18 rows on 6.5mm needles should make a square, I’m presuming that is supposed to be a 10cm/4″ square the bar code was printed over that information rendering it illegible) in my stash, which I’d originally bought thinking of making myself some kind of giant cowl scarf. I don’t think I had a pattern in mind, so decided this must be it.

Close up - loving the moss stitch texture, not so keen on the uneven edges that changing colour in moss stitch leaves

Close up showing the lovely colours in the yarn. I’ve fallen in love with the moss stitch texture (and have been daydreaming about knitting a jumper in moss stitch, like I have the patience to finish something that large, ha), but I’m not so keen on the uneven edges that changing colour in moss stitch leaves

I also used Jen Geigley’s GAP-tastic cowl pattern (free download from ravelry) which is basically just a large circular scarf knitted in moss stitch. I only referred to it at the beginning to know how many stitches to cast on. I did a short piece of swatching before casting on to check my tension. Unfortunately this was finished in the pub (hubby and I have an hour in the pub each week while the kids are at a club together) and I didn’t have the foresight to take a tape measure with me, so the swatch was evaluated by comparing stitches to our thumb widths and guesstimating (plus trying to remember the pattern instructions from memory as I’d not printed it out), so I’m not really sure you could say I followed the pattern, more was inspired by it.

another close up

another close up

In the end I had 134 stitches on 6.5 mm needles and I think I knitted 42 rows (if in doubt, stick to the Answer to Life the Universe and Everything, but really I was just trying to eek the most out of my 2 balls of yarn without leaving myself short). The pattern is for 131 stitches but that bugged me because whilst an odd number means that you can keep knitting alternating plain/purl stitches as you go round it also means that you end up with two stitches the same at the beginning/end of each row, so you’d have a stripe of matching stitches up going up the scarf marking the row ends. An even number of stitches makes the end product look right (if you’re bothered about these things, I suspect no one would ever notice if I’d used an odd number of stitches, but it really bothered me) but an even number of stitches means you have to pay attention and knit or purl two of the same stitches together each time you start a new row. It took me a couple of rows to figure out what was going on (I was out and about at the time), hence my row increased from 131 as in the pattern to 134. I used both balls of the Attimo for the cowl plus a leftover bit of some grey/blue yarn (band and details lost in the mists of time, I think it’s some wool/acrylic blend), which is less hairy and seemed the same chunkiness. I liked how the grey/blue looked with the other yarn, so I put a 4 row stripe of it 5 rows in from each side. As the Attimo yarn balls had been reduced to £2.40 each (from £3 something. the original price was obscured) this means this cost me under £5 to make, which I think is a bargain (if you discount all the knitting time, ha). Oh and the finished dimensions: a mere 7″ wide (not 15″ as the pattern suggests) and 53″ around, which I think is slightly longer than the pattern, so maybe I could’ve got a bit more width out of my yarn with more careful swatch measuring.

It got finished in about 10 days, which is quicker than I thought, due to me spending a day and a half in bed being ill and not feeling up to going downstairs to the sewing project I have on the go (sure sign of illness) but this is a good portable project that doesn’t require much brain power (knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, ….). (Except that The Boy cannot get his head around how you start a new row in circular knitting and got quite cross with me for it not making sense, it just aint lego).

Successful scarf for under coat on cold and windy day (I'm beginning to think the myseterious yellow glow is something to do with taking photo's near my front door)

Successful scarf for under coat on cold and windy day (I’m beginning to think the myseterious yellow glow is something to do with taking photo’s near my front door)

There is an obvious mistake variation I made. I started of on some cheap and cheerful circular needles from Lidl. They broke after a few rows, the plastic bit just pulled off the end of the needle it was attached to and obviously wasn’t going to stay back on. So I bought some new circular needles, Pony ones with interchangeable bamboo ends, that the woman in the shop said she uses all the time (even over her more expensive ones and for straight knitting as well as circular). I really like them and shall be buying more needles for them. Anyway, I decided I’d have to start the knitting again, so I pulled all the stitches off the broken needles and tried it on to check that the cowl was long enough (it didn’t seem so when bunched up on the needles). Then I realised I could pick them up on the new needles, so I did. At the time I was allegedly watching a fencing lesson and was fielding off comments from other non-knitting parents. I was concentrating on picking up my stitches, getting the purls and knits the right way around, knitting up dropped stitches and in all that excitement I didn’t notice until a couple of rows later that I’d picked them up twisted. So I then realised I was knitting a twisted loop, which I thought was a Moebius strip. Now, if this was a jumper knitted in the round that would be pretty catastrophic, but for a scarf that is meant to be worn looped twice around the neck, I decided I couldn’t be bothered ripping it all out and starting again that it would be fine. Plus I’m a maths geek, I like the idea of having a Moebius scarf, like a character in The Crow Road, one of my favourite books.

never mind the quality, check  out the length

never mind the quality, check out the length

Of course, once I finished, I realised it had a full twist in, not a half twist, so it isn’t a Moebius strip (and it isn’t a non-orientable surface, any fellow maths geeks may understand my disappointment). This is not really surprising as if I’d thought about it, as my stitches were hanging down from my needle, I had to have a multiple of a full number of twists. Making a proper Moebius scarf require a bit more thinking, hmm, maybe one for another day. (OMG, this page is from the home of mathematical knitting, I daren’t look, one for the Christmas holidays!) Also, the full twist is a bit bulky, it probably would’ve been best without it, but I’m not unpicking it now!

*********************************************************************

    Bonus fun maths idea’s (no really) to play around with at home:

Take a strip paper, put a twist in, glue/tape the ends back together. You now have your own moebious strip.

Things to try with your moebius strip:

Colour in one side of it.

Make another one by twisting the paper the other way. Are they the same?

What will happen if you cut it in half down the middle (ie think of it as a road and cut along the centre line)? Go ahead and try.

Now cut the result in half again.

Make a new moebius strip and cut it one third of the way across instead of in the middle.

Make a strip with 2 twists instead of 1, repeat all of the the above.

Now try with 3 twists.

Want more Moebius fun, check out this link for more ideas (or search for MoebiusMobius (the o should have an umlaut over it really) band/strip, but some hits will have quite a lot of techy maths stuff in, no, I don’t understand most of it either (not without sitting down with a pen and paper and some reference books), but the pictures are pretty).

Bonus photo of ridiculous fask mask option - for those of you who read through the maths ;)

Bonus photo of ridiculous face mask option – for those of you who read through the maths 😉

Housekeeping

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I’m just having a little clear up – my list of 4 sewing blogs saved on my browser has grown some what. Those blogs that are on wordpress I get in my stream here, but I wanted to be able to see new posts from the others in one place without having to open 30+ to check if anyone has posted anything new. While I’m at it I’m “claiming” this blog on bloglovin, hence the need to post the link above.

Random Hat of Kindness

I made another hat. But I’m not addicted. Honest.

Speckles and Zig Zags hat

Speckles and Zig Zags hat

I started this one on the train home, so technically it was part of my weekend away knitting. Also, it turns out its more socially acceptable to knit whilst watching Dr Who with your spouse than it is to use a sewing machine (who knew?). When I was searching for the right yarn for hubby’s hat I noticed that this blue Blue Faced Leicester Aran yarn and a half a ball of mystery soft pink with flecks in stuff (pretty sure there’s a fair bit of wool in there) went well together so I threw them in too in case I got his hat finished (I had no inkling I’d make a black cat hat at that point). I like to knit my hats with 2 strands, partly its an easy way to get chunky effect yarn, but I also like the look you get when using 2 different colours.

close up of the impromptu pearl zig zags

close up of the zig zags

Once I’d completed the crown the ball of pink started looking a little thin, so I swaped to two strands of blue for a while. But I was worried that would be a bit plain (plus I get bored easily) so I did an impromptu double zig zag effect by using pearl stitches. It doesn’t show up that well but I like it.

I just used the pink strand to cast of using the incredibly stretchy bind off method

I just used the pink strand to cast of using the incredibly stretchy bind off method

I swapped back to pink and blue for the rib. I considered adding a pom pom or some ears, but I decided it was more versatile in a simpler style. Then I took it round to surprise a friend. When I started knitting the hat I didn’t know who it was for, but then I discovered she was in Birmingham the same time as me (in a different place though, winning awards for her cake decorating skills) and she was admiring the hat’s I’d been making and it suddenly struck me that the colours would be good on her so hers it was.

I got invited in for a cuppa and she wore the hat the whole time, which I’m pretty sure is a sign she likes it. She’s also a knitter so she’ll appreciate it too.

Surprise hat went down well

The surprise hat went down well

Hat Addict

This weekend I have mainly been knitting hats.

OK, so that’s not exactly true, I did lots of other stuff too (especially eating), but I did have a couple of 3 hour train journeys to make and had some free time (without kids) when I was away and hubby did point out just before I left that the hat I knitted him about 3 years ago had shrunk and he needed a new one.

So I set off with a set of double pointed needles a ball of lovely green and black Monello trend Adriafil Wool/Acrillic blend, which is a yarn which is slubby and fat in places, plus the end of a ball of black acryllic aran weight, both from my stash, both approved by hubby. I’d dug out some rough notes on how I used to make them (pre sewing renaisance, pre blog) and I set to work on the train, hoping my fingers would remember what to do as the notes were pretty sparse. It became apparent before I arrived in Birmingham that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn (I was knitting it double stranded so the aran bulked the more expensive yarn out). My very patient, non sewing/crafting friend met me from the station and accompanied me round the rag market (there was one yarn stall which had nice stuff but nothing suitable for this emergency) and then escorted me out to Guthrie and Ghani. It was there I managed to pick up some plain black Rico Essentials Super Chunky virgin wool/acrillic (don’t be fooled by the Essentials tag, this was definitely not cheap and cheerful, more expensive and luxiurious) which was just the right weight. I had the hat finished well before the end of the weekend (bar some minimal darning in of ends, I love the lack of sewing up when you knit in the round) and had a few conversations knitters and non knitters about what I was doing too.

The boy has requisitioned the old slightly small purplish hat, hubby is modelling his new huge slightly pointy one (think hats are like pancakes, the first one comes out a bit wierd then you get your hand in)

The boy has requisitioned the old slightly small purplish hat, hubby is modelling his new huge slightly pointy one (think hats are like pancakes, the first one comes out a bit wierd then you get your hand in)

But then I had most of a ball of lovely soft black yarn left so I started another hat, which I finished on the train journey back. This one is going to be a present, so shh, don’t tell anyone.

very tired girl modelling an extremely soft black cat hat

very tired girl modelling an extremely soft black cat hat

Now I’m on hat number 3, not sure who this one is for. I’m sarting to remember how addictive hat knitting is. But I can stop anytime I want. Anytime. Honest.

Oh, and I may have bought a little fabric and notions whilst I was away too.

Modest Haul. Spotty Cordrouy, stripey jersey, clear elastic, cat and heart buttons all from Guthrie and Ghani. Lacey ribbon, fancy trim and what will hopefully be suitable purple knicker elastic, all from the Rag Market.

Modest Haul. Spotty Cordrouy, stripey jersey, clear elastic, cat and heart buttons all from Guthrie and Ghani. Lacey ribbon, fancy trim and what will hopefully be suitable purple knicker elastic, all from the Rag Market.

Now, where is that yarn stash……