Hello Goodbye

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This week the wonderful Jewel is hosting a pop up sew a long over on the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests Facebook Page to encourage us to finish up some UFO’s (Un Finished Objects, aka abandoned projects). Her enthusiasm is infectious and my 3rd finished UFO this week is this Jalie 3132 .

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Scuse the wet hair, this was a rather rushed “while you’re on your way to work could you just take a pic of this” photo shoot this morning, the reason being so that I could take it with me to a coffee date to donate to a friend.

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This top is just too tight for my liking (see concertina effect on my inner elbow). Yes, I can wear it, but I don’t find it comfy or flattering and rather than keeping it in the hope it’ll fit better at some stage in the future, or to wear as a base layer, I’m liberating it so that it can find a forever home where it is loved and appreciated.

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I got this fabric about 2 and a half years ago on a tourist visit to Guthrie and Ghani thinking I’d make something for my then 6 year old with it, but when I got the pattern from Katrin in a CSC sewing swap I decided to use it for that instead. I got as far as tracing the pattern and doing a FBA but only cut out the back. The reason being that this fabric is thin and shifty and I was struggling to match the stripes up. Well, this week I commenced Operation Lower Your Standards and Get On With It and the top was duly cut out. The make itself was fairly straight forward, I even managed the binding on the V neck as per the instructions without any tears.

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With such a big gap between tracing the pattern and doing most of the cutting out and sewing up, I can’t really comment on if the sizing issue was my fault in choosing the wrong size, the pattern drafting, or my shape changing in the meantime. The pattern came together nicely and had a sensible amount of notches for matching up. It’s drafted with a 2″ hem, wider than the markings on my sewing machine, so I had to use masking tape to help me line it up for sewing! The sleeve is cut on the fold, which is slightly unusual and I must admit as someone used to asymmetric sleeves I’m a little skeptical that this is the best way to go. My main conclusion about this top is that pretty as it is, I don’t like working with this fabric. It’s a bit see through and not that fun to work with. However, I think it’s made up into a lovely top and I hope it gets lots of wear with my friend.

Hello Goodbye it is then.

On a Roll

Two finishes in one week, I’m really turning my recent trend of making disaster around!

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So, hot off the press, I’ve just finished one of the pair of socks on the left, knitted with Regalia Snowflake (?!I’ve never seen a snowflake that colour)(or maybe it refers to the pattern, but snowflakes aren’t exactly stripey either). So now, along with the pair of the right (knitted last summer in the only slightly better named King Kole Zig Zag), I have 2 complete pairs of socks to post off to my brother. Cos, Christmas presents aren’t actually properly late if they’re posted while it’s still Jan, right?

They’re both knitted with the same free pattern (thanks Fiona) but the for the second pair I used a trick I saw at a knitting group and instead of a seperate rib section, the whole of sock above the heel is knitted in a 3 in 1 rib, as is the top of the main foot (easy to do with this pattern as it’s knitted on 4 needles).  Apparently they stay up better this way (but as these are my first ever sock knits this is not the voice of experience.

As they’re a sort of joke, because my brother is forever darning socks when he comes to visit (maybe its a damning enditement of our hosting skills?) I have made up little cards of spare yarn so he can darn away to his hearts content. And I threw a spare card of darning yarn I found in a second hand shop too.

And because I hate wasting anything, I started a pair of socks for me last summer in plain yarn (with a cable pattern so I don’t get board), the thought being that I may then have enough left over from the 3 pairs to make another pair. So I suppose I better dig them out at some point.

Inspired by this recent spell of finishing, I have ripped open the crotch on my latest pair of jeans, that have been languishing in the naughty corner all month for crimes against humanity with the aim to adjusting them. Next up, the collar is coming off my sweatshirt make, after all, when I said I was aiming for Jumper January, I was kind of thinking for me not Long Suffering Husband!

Righto, better go and find some wrapping paper before I loose these socks again.  Am I the only person still finishing off Christmas presents?

On the 6th Day of Christmas

I’m not sure any sewing will get done today. I’m coming down with a cold and catching up on sleep after having a bad dose of insomnia last night. Plus it is very wet here, which doesn’t technically stop an indoor activity like sewing, but does mean that most of us have been inside for nearly all of the day and sewing is harder with tired bored kids under your feet. (It’s now temporarily quiet as I had the cunning idea of getting them to round up all their books that were scattered around the living room to take upstairs and put them away in their rooms. Methinks at least one of them might have started reading said books, how totally unforeseen.) This part of the UK has had it relatively dry recently, I’m aware that further north where the ground is already saturated and many areas have already been badly flooded (such as where several of our friends live) today’s rain may be more than a minor inconvenience.

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Anyway, sewing wise, I can show you two dresses I made for Christmas presents that were under wraps before. In fact these two dresses were within knot bag wrapping, can you tell which way round they went?  The first is this pink and black number for my neice. IMG_3024

I decided to remake the super hero comino cap dress that went down so well this summer as the first was such a quick and satisfying make. Except this time I chose the sweatheart seamed bodice option, so it wasn’t so quick, as I had to reprint and retape the pdf, retrace 4 new pattern pieces (front and back bodice and yokes) and resize 2 of them before I could cut them out. Pattern placement for such a bold obvious pattern which isn’t actually straight was a bit of a headache too. (Those stars aren’t all the same shape and the grid they’re on is decidedly wobbly. This is all deliberate and adds to the charm of the print, but isn’t so fun when you want your lines of stars to flow from the bodice to the skirt and also from the front to the back.)

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Then I discovered that I’d used the t shirt bodice pattern for one of my pieces, so had to do the whole procedure again for that piece. Luckily I had enough fabric left. Then I had to sew the sweetheart seam, which while not the fiddliest piece of sewing ever wasn’t completely straightforward. I think it’s ok in the end and I like the spider placement. The observant amongst you will notice I pressed the seam allowance up at the front not down, which took some pressure off on the topstitching!

The pink ribbing doesn’t quite match the fabric, but they don’t actually touch so I think I got away with it.

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I also made a sidekick dress, for her sidekick, with some fabric that I’d bought with my daughter in mind but she’d rejected. The leftovers of the main fabric got used on a t shirt for the boy. The other co-ordinating fabric I only had half a metre of, annoyingly that half a metre started and ended half way through the panel design so my leftovers of this aren’t much use.

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I cut myself some slack and did the simpler variation, but I needed to trace a different size, reduce the length, and cut the skirts in two pieces so I could have the girl catching the coins falling from heaven a the bottom.

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I think the orange ribbing really makes this dress, so glad I went with that and not boring navy.

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There was a whopping 9″ difference between the finished dresses, which rather alarmed me, but that’s just how this crime fighting duo rock. I’ve seen photo’s of them wearing them and they both fit, hooray.

So watch out evil masterminds of Scotland, your plans to take over the world are doomed…..

Happy Christmas

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then the proof of the garment is surely in the wearing, and I got a 3/3 strike rate today!

After several hours of wear of the new dress I finally braved the subject of Octopodidae. Apparently we’re all wrong, they are neither octupi or baby cthulu, but a rather an animal with “funny hair”.  Who knew?

The boy liked his new t shirt, pairing it in his usual inimitable style with his starry trousers and his pirate hoodie  (the latter chosen over a new RTW fleecelined lumberjack shirt with hood so that he could be wearing all me made stuff (barring underwear)).

And amazingly, a last minute sewn reversibly buff thingy that I pieced together from scraps proved a big hit for the girl-who-feels-no-cold too, she’s even wearing it now in bed.

I hope any gifts you sewed were as appreciated as mine.

Sewing Goodies for Christmas

Well, today is 12th night, time to put all that Christmas stuff away. The Man and the Girl sorted out all the decorations on Sunday, but we still have piles of everyones booty in the living room and it really is time to put those away! (Hmm, I’m worried that that use of booty, as in bounty/treasure won’t read so well to anyone from the US). Most of the stuff is the kids of course, but I have a small pile and I realised I didn’t tell you about the amazing stuffed padda bag on it.

Back in December I signed up for the Curvy sewing collective holiday sewing swap (which has a cute little blog button that I’m darned if I can get to work). This was my first time doing something like this and I didn’t realise until I went to pick the present how nerve wrecking shopping for a total stranger would be. Also, I was paired with Katrin, which meant I had slightly less time (as my parcel had to reach Germany) and she doesn’t have a blog (yet) so I don’t even know what she looks like. Neither of these were a problem but it did make chosing slightly more nerve wracking.

Luckily we had a really helpful email exchange and I found out that she likes sewing retro style skirts and dresses. Which threw me, as I don’t think I’ve ever made anything retro and I don’t tend to wear or make skirts and dresses (I’m not counting my moss mini skirts, which I really use as a top extension so I can get away with wearing leggings outside, likewise my tunic dresses which are really long t shirts 😉 ). After a bit of pondering I decided to get her the Jenna cardigan from Muse patterns which has a retro feel and would surely go well with some retro dresses and skirts. It has a wide size range (upto 48″ bust) and it got a good review from Sophie Lee. The only down side is that the pattern is pdf, so I emailed Kat at Muse and checked she was happy for me to download it and then send it to someone else and she was fine with that, so I bought it, burned it onto a CD and printed out a little cover with the cardy illustration front.

My gift

My gift

The pattern used up nearly all of my $15USD budget, so I got a little creative to make it more interesting. (Admission time, I did buy a twin needle to go in the parcel, but I had relatives staying and it got lost somewhere in the chaos and I didn’t want to miss the last posting date for EU parcels). I dug out some retro style buttons that had come from my grandmother-in-law’s stash. There are some green rectangular ones (at the top) that I thought might work well on a cardy (but don’t tell the Boy, he’s had his eye on those) and a larger amount of grey one’s (at the bottom, they look pink in this photo but they aren’t) with a petal pattern carved (?) into them that I thought might look nice on a shirt dress (it’s so hard to pick when you don’t even know what colours someone wears). I also put 3 shiny cream (fake ivory style?) square ones with truncated corners and some groves in them, I’ve no idea what they could be used for but they were cool. Then I rudely sewed in front of my relatives and knocked up a quick bag out of scraps and using a retro ribbon from the same stash as a strap (lines with some satin binding as it had lots of floaty bits on the back).

I posted it on the last possible day, phew and then waited for my parcel. Which didn’t come. I was slightly disappointed but figured it had got delayed in the post. Then I discovered it had come and my husband had put it on one side as a surprise. So on Christmas day I got to open a parcel full of amazing stuff…

Wonderous goodies

Wonderous goodies

Katrin’s clearly been reading my blog as she got me a t shirt pattern: Jaille 3132. I haven’t used any Jaille patterns before so that will be interesting and it’s nice to have another t shirt pattern to try -I don’t think I could justify paying for one when the Birgitte fits so well, but this was a gift. Plus it has a hood. (It also has nursing options but I don’t need those).

Then there was chocolate (why oh why did it not occur to me to include non sewing gifts) and some really cool steam punk postcards. Plus a beautiful zippered pouch with 3 zips, some rainbow cord and some really fun buttons that I’m sure the kids will love (but I may keep the red stars for me). I was bowled over by the amount of stuff and felt a little guilty as I think this is much more inventive that my present. I just hope Jallie patterns are cheap (don’t tell me, I’d rather not know).

So thanks to Tanya for organising this and thanks to Katrin for the amazing gift.

Christmas makes revisisted

Well, Christmas has been now, so in lieu of a proper post (due to me still not having made anything, despite my fantasy of a week of sewing, ha ha), I thought you might like to see some of the Christmas makes being modeled…

Reading one of the many new books in her new spotty skirt (I also made the headband a while ago).

Reading one of the many new books in her new spotty skirt (I also made the headband a while ago).

The spotty skirt has been worn but as I suspected it is too big – not big enough to fall down but big enough to flash underwear. At my mum’s suggestion I tried putting a tuck in the waistband at the back. This has made it smaller, but it’s apparently bulky and uncomfortable. So I’m going to have to unpick the waistband and elastic and resew it, as by the time the waistband fits the skirt will be way too short.

Posing in his new t shirt at Grandma's (with me, collapsed on sofa in background)

Posing in his new t shirt at Grandma’s (with me, collapsed on sofa in background)

As the boy is watching over my shoulder as I type, here’s his review of the top “perfect. Not too outstanding,
not to dull(wearing right now.)” (I think outstanding is used to mean bright in this instance.)

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I think his long sleeve t shirt might be one of my favourite makes of late, and I’ve got the size a lot better this time than the one I made in the summer (which only just fit).

Princess Anna

Princess Anna

And the Anna dress has been worn to watch frozen, and to dance and sing in. But she’s requested a long sleeve blue t shirt to wear under it (who’d have thunk it).

Never Say Never

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be up late sewing presents on Christmas Eve this year, not after last year and the shirt for the boy.

In theory I didn’t need to be. I’d already made the boy a top and the girl a skirt and as I still haven’t finished that darn waistcoat I haven’t started a new thing for the man.

But then, not long before Christmas, the girl met Father Christmas and all she wanted to ask him for was an Anna dress. How could I let her down?

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ugh, bad photo of bad work, taken just as the skirt was falling down.

This sewing has not been my finest, I had to force myself to do it, I’m still feeling pretty ill. But, mainly on the 23rd, I cranked out a black velvet t shirt with puffed sleeves (all from good old Simplicity 1573), with an altered hemline and neckline (done by eye, it looked a better shape before the binding smoothed my curves out, oh well), trimmed with gold satin bias binding and with a really wonky badly applied vaguely Anna like ribbon design and some sparkly jewel like giant sequin things added in for good measure. Anna has a bodice on her dress and wears it over a pale blue long sleeved top (as far as I can tell). The girl does not do layers and I’m not mad keen on sleeveless items (as she will wear just this, even in January), so I made a t shirt and I thought the puffed sleeves (which I realised are an option in the pattern envelope) might make it more Princess like (she is a princess, right?).

And tonight, with 45 mins to spare, I ham fistedly put together a long blue skirt, rectangle, elasticated waistband, with pockets (last time I made her a fancy dress item she wore it for a whole day out and complained about the lack of pockets, not doing that again), made in lining fabric (2 layers, plus a 3rd layer around the top few inches as the fabric allowed to help keep things decent). The fabric was horrid to work with as each layer just wanted to roll up. Urghh. It has a shiny ribbon around the bottom, not very Anna like but I kind of hope that I can make a blue top and this can mix and match with that to be an Elsa dress. (I also have some fantastic Elsa cape fabric that I want to use).

So, I won’t say I won’t be doing this again next year, cos I probably will, (lets face it, if I’d’ve finished this earlier I’d’ve been making the boy trousers, or both of them pajamas, there’s always just one more thing to make) but I can dream….

Oh, happy Christmas to you all, may the sewing fairy bring you lots of time for making, ensure your bobbin never runs out at inopportune moments, keeps your seams straight and your stitches true.

The Good, The Bad and The Frantic

The Good:

The front - you can also see the hastily added hanging loop so he could tell which way round it went as I'd forgotten to sew a ribbon label in

The front – you can also see the hastily added hanging loop so he could tell which way round it went as I’d forgotten to sew a ribbon label in (and this time I lowered the front neckline slightly)

I made The Boy a top. Another thing crossed off my Christmas Makes List (which is good as more things keep getting added all the time). And he was very keen to have something made from the left over fabric from some mad leggings I made that I just realised haven’t been blogged yet – can you tell which of the two fabrics I’m referring to? I used the green as it’s a similar weight and toned it down a little. The pattern, a slightly modified version of a raglan t shirt that I drafted before, but a little longer and slightly wider and with long sleeves. I compared it to some long sleeve t shirts already in his wardrobe. I think it will fit. Oh and I curved in the raglan seams a little as suggested in this tutorial. I never knew you were supposed to do this.

The back, no that much difference. The neckline and caffs are just folded over and stitched down by the way, lazy me.

The back, no that much difference. The neckline and caffs are just folded over and stitched down by the way, lazy me.

The Bad:

I can’t find the leftover spotty cordrouy fabric. Which is annoying as I want to use a bit for something. I’ve searched in all my various piles of fabric. I must have put it in a safe place so The Girl didn’t see it. Grr.

The Frantic:

There are two extra big people staying in the house. They came the day after the last one left. This is good, I like family, but it does generate a lot of washing, more things to do and less time to do them.

Oh, and I nearly forgot The Complicated:

The Girl met Father Christmas today and told him that she wanted an Anna (from Frozen) dress for Christmas. I have already bought fabric to make an Elsa dress and worked out how to do it. Hurumph.

Maids a milking

So, what do you do when you’ve finally dusted off that work in progress, had a burst of energy on it and nearly finished it bar buttons and buttonholes? Why you put it on one side and start something new of course.

spotty cordrouy

spotty cordrouy

I bought some lovely spotty needle cord in my tourist visit to Guthrie and Ghani – I had the girl in mind when I got a metre (I nearly bought the pink). I decided to make a skirt like a shop bought one she already had.

The shop bought skirt she got for Christmas last year

The shop bought skirt she got for Christmas last year, also spotty needle cord. I always felt this one was too full for the length though

Luckily the Milkmaid skirt tutorial was just what I needed and I liked the look of Justina Maria Louisa’s pleated version.

So, some lovely toning needle cord from my stash for a bit of added interest, some pocket linings (the side you don’t see) squeezed out of leftover green satin from the waistcoat and a purchase of some bias binding later (oh and a bit of sewing) and I’ve completed something from my Christmas makes wish list. (Yeah, I know it’s possible to make bias binding, I’ve even tried the continuous loop method. I can make a halfway decent bias strip that way, but when I try and turn it into binding it ends up looking like a dogs dinner, trust me).

front view

front view – the purple binding is brighter in real life and looks lovely and brings out the purple dots in the fabric. I almost wished I had more to sew some peaking out of the bottom of the waistband but adding extra fabric there would’ve been madness anyway.

back view

back view

If anyone is interested, for the pattern piece – I drafted straight onto the fabric (hurrah for symmetric prints that make straight lines easier). I loosely based the measurements on the skirt she already has, as fittings were out of the question for a surprise present. The skirt front and back panels both had a length of 15″, were 28.5″ wide at base and 22.5″ wide at top with 17.5″ between the pockets at the front. (I did them the same width as I was planning on putting pleats in the front, the tutorial has the back panel 2″ wider than the front). I put 4 pleats in, after which my front was 14.5″ wide at the top. I sewed the pleats down for the first 2.5″ to help hold the line. (I was winging it a bit, I don’t think I’ve ever done pleats before, so these may not be “right”, but hey, they look like pleats).

Waistband wise I made the front 14.5″ section wide like my skirt (so it would have a flat waistband at the front like Justina Maria Louisa’s) and the back 15.5″, so the back of the skirt was gathered into that. I sewed elastic into the back section, I tried to work out how long to make my elastic from the existing skirt, but I think it’s come out a little big. Still I’m not going to adjust it until she’s tried it on as it might be ok and I might make it too small. I’ve never made a half elasticated waistband before, I found a very complicated tutorial and in the end just cobbled something together.

Waistband, folds pressed in, attached to skirt

Waistband, folds pressed in, attached to skirt

The front of the waistband was sewn on first, right sides together, all the way around. Then for the back section I fixed the elastic to the wrong side of the portion of the waistband that would be the inside. I zig zagged the ends in place and sewed through the middle too. Then I folded my waistband down (with seam allowance tucked under) and top stitched from the outside. I hope that makes sense if you’re trying to figure it out, or maybe you know a better way? Anyway, it looked ok to me, just a little baggy.

Elastic in place, ready to fold over and stitch down

Elastic in place, ready to fold over and stitch down

I’m quite pleased with this make, it just remains to be seen what the Girl thinks. I like the contrast colours and the finish. The pocket bags could do with being lots deeper though, they’re only 2″ below the bottom of the pocket opening so much more than a tissue is going to fall out of them (not that they really need to hold much more than that). Now I look at the tutorial photo’s again it’s obvious they should’ve been deeper, oh the perils of not drawing out your pattern piece in advance.

Mini version

Mini version

Oh and I made a matching skirt for one of her dolls (confession time, it was meant to be for a bigger doll but I messed the measurements out), hopefully that will win me extra brownie points and she wont complain I didn’t make a doll sized pocket. So we will have a quarter of the quorate number of maids decked out for milking.

Christmas list

Well, the waistcoat is nearly done bar fastenings (oh and working out what to do with a collar that won’t lie right, argh), so tomorrow I’m going to the local fabric shop to choose some buttons.

Once I’ve finished this waistcoat I should really start on 2015 Christmas makes, so I thought I’d better write a list out to stop me going off track and help me plan better (as I obviously want to make far more than I’ve time for).

So, dear Santa, this year I’d like time to make before Christmas:

  • some pajama’s for the boy and the girl- to make up for the dressing gowns that I was planning to make them until their Grandma decided she wanted to buy them new dressing gowns (which is a lovely idea, but slightly frustrating that she asked me to buy them so I had to go round the shops looking when I’d been planning on making them. Oh well).
  • A pleated milkmaid skirthttp://crafterhoursblog.com/2009/11/milkmaid-skirt-tutorial.html a bit like this one, which I may have started this evening (purely to work out how much bias binding I need).
  • Oh and I may have accidentally bought some stuff for making a vaguely Elsa-ish dress for the girl last time I went in the shop.
  • Something for the boy. I saw some great snuggly fake fur stuff and I’m tempted to make him a hoody of some kind (slightly less big than last one and hopefully zipperless). But then again, he has lots of jumpers so maybe I should make him a wasitcoat like his dad (and that pattern has some decent looking trousers with it so that would be a good buy, right?)
  • Something for the man would be fair. Thread Theory have just started a sew a long for their new Jutland Pants which is tempting me. But with 2 lots of family coming to stay in the next couple of weeks I just don’t have time. Maybe for his birthday.
  • I need to finish the scarf I was knitting for a present last year. It’s just about long enough but would be better with a bit more length.
  • I have a bag planned that was going to be a birthday present in the summer that I should make for Christmas.
  • Oh and I’ve promised to make another Presido purse/bag for my neighbour to give to her daughter to stop hers being stolen.
  • and a special door stop
  • That’s all of my wish list. Until I see the next thing that sparks another idea.

    Are you planning any Christmas makes (realistic or otherwise)?