Saturday, 31 October 2015

What do you wear to a wedding?

As you may know it was my brothers wedding last week, and of course I had to make my outfit for the day. I settled on a fit and flare dress with a v neck (Vogue 8997) in a navy and cream cotton.

The pattern packet States 'easy' on the front, but this was not entirely my experience while making this dress. The whole thing is fully lined, has princess seams, and a good mile and a half of hem. Was it nuts easy to make... Was it satisfying and did it produce good results? Hell yeah!

Ok so I don't look very smug, but trust me I am. Oh and just because I know you're wondering, the light from the hall window was shining on my legs making them (and the wall behind) a shade lighter, and photoshop I cannot, so lighter they stay.
Anyway back to the dress. There are four sections to the front and the back with a high waistband but the shaping disguises this, making it a wonderfully flattering shape. The lined skirt is really full and swishy.

The back of the dress has a deep v neckline too, but just high enough, and just wide enough to still cover bra straps. I really loved this detail!

I may have mentioned the mile and a half of hem, well this thing is practically, if not actually, a circle skirt. The hemming (done with my favourite method of bias tape) took an entire afternoon! But it has twirl appeal, which is best seen on the dance floor obviously!
I cut a straight size 10 from the pattern and the only adjustments I made was to shorten the bodice at the shoulders.

This was necessary as if not my dignity was in question from the rather low neckline. I lined the bodice with the same materiel as the rest of the dress, but used navy lining fabric for the skirt. Hand stitching the lining to the bodice was a pain, but worth it so it doesn't show on the outside.
To go with the dress, and because the wedding was in October... In Ireland... I needed a warm and very smart jacket. I decided on New Look 6799, ignoring the example picture which is awful, I thought would be great for the wedding outfit.

I found a lovely navy boucle online and came out with...

Which I am very proud of, even though it was a bit of a headache to make. I had researched using boucle online and had decided on a Channel type of construction, the main feature of this being the lining quilted to the outer. This means the boucle holds its shape really well and looks more tailored. I made a sample by quilting the two fabrics using my sewing machine, which left the fabric feeling really flimsy and thin. To create a warmer jacket I used a layer of thinsulate, this unfortunately looked really awful machine quilted so I was forced to hand quilt each pattern piece

This meant pinning it to follow the natural lines on the fabric, then hand stitching each line from the reverse... It took aaaaaaaaaages!! I went stir crazy before I even got to the sleeve part. But because of this long process the stitching (while still a bit visible) blends in very nicely on the right side.

It was also important to bear in mind the loose weave on the boucle fabric and its tendency to unravel I cut the pattern with an extra half inch border, and every seam and every edge was bound with bias tape (in a lovely soft and pliable satin), which also took some time, but was really worth it.

Each edge, cuff, and hem was closed with bias tape and hand stitched on the inside (more hand stitching... Yay!!) so the whole effect is just really neat and sharp. Because I didn't want to risk making button holes and cutting into (unravelling) the fabric I used press studs, which I finished off on the outside with some lovely vintage buttons.

And I shall leave you with some action shots at the wedding, top right outside the church with my sister (it rained), you can see my mums amazing skirt and her own handmade jacket bottom right. It was a beautiful day.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Twin Peaks... Unexpected clothing jealousy

So I have just recently returned from my brothers wedding (don't worry, outfit post to come soon), and I was feeling perhaps a little worse for wear. But that's ok, I have had the complete Twin Peaks saga on my 'to watch' list for some time, and what better way to spend some down days after a big event than binge watching a series (or two).

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last 25 years (yes people it really has been that long), this is a series about a prom queen (Laura Palmer) who gets murdered in a small town, and Kyle MacLachlan comes along to investigate... Then things get weird. That's the short description and really all you need to know to convince you to watch it. Everyone in that town has some shady secret, and they all get revealed as time goes on.

What came as a surprise to me, was how amazing it is visually... It was first released in 1990, the era of super baggy clothes and brown lipstick, so I never expected to actually experience wardrobe envy (I remember the 90s, it was not a good look for me!!). One character in particular stood out for me, the somewhat crazy Audrey Horne, who has the best collection of jumpers in the entire programme.

I'm not going to lie, bottom right aside I also kinda love her hair. Now this is not a series to watch if you want to see everyone in wonderfully fashionable clothes... Everyone remembers log lady...

And the outstanding perm of Lucy behind the reception of the Sheriffs office...

Then there's the 'some will like it, some probably not' fashion choices of Donna Hayward...

But some of Audrey's clothes did make me wonder whether I could replicate them in some way. One of my favourite of her jumpers is a red not quite polo neck with slight batwing sleeves...

I have decided I really need this jumper... And perhaps a kilt to go with it (or let's not get too excited and just stick to the jumper). I'm pretty sure I could make a frankenpattern after a good scour on Ravelry, then all I need is a deep berry 4ply.... Totally doable. 

I also really love her lace insert jumper... But not so much the toilet wall decorations..

I mean yikes!! That's pink!! But toilet aside, again this could be achieved. Seamwork's Astoria with some tweaking anyone? It's absolutely possible to create a lace panel on the front of this pattern, using a really loose knit fabric and perhaps poofing the sleeves out a little for that 80s-90s feel. The skirt she's wearing in this picture is a tweed like material in a below the knee wiggle skirt.

This blouse definitely has more of a vintage feel about it, I love the tie neckline. It feels very like a pussy bow blouse but in a heavier fabric, this would work really well in a jersey. Again she's got her signature wiggle skirt on with this, but it would also look great with cigarette trousers.

One of my favourite outfits is the tree blouse. This is just a simple pattern, what makes this special is the fabric print. This could actually be a blouse bought in top shop right now, it's such an up to date pattern!

It's just wonderful watching a really great, If not a bit odd, series and feeling so surprised with some of the beautiful clothes included. A great reminder that this era wasn't all about dungarees, double denim, and shell suits!

Now excuse me while I go any put on yet another disc, I'm determined to find out just who did kill Laura Palmer!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Old plans... With wool

SWinter is the perfect knitting season, curling up on the sofa is so much snugger when you have a half finished whatever on your lap to add extra warmth. I have very few hand knit jumpers that I can actually wear and I keep finding new and exciting patterns that I really want, so I have really had to show restraint when it comes to my knit list. I have narrowed this list down to two jumpers and a cardigan, with a backup cardigan in case I should run out of things to knit (ha ha, I know, not going to happen). And of course a snuggly new hat!

I obsessed a bit last year over the Pomme de pin pattern that has been made about a million times on Ravelry...

Photo poached from Ravelry

Well this year I get my very own! I've already started this bad boy and am nearly at the 'sleeve stage' already. This really is my kinda cardigan, it's big, it's squishy, it's cozy, it's relaxed, and it can be paired with both a smarter shirt or blouse as easily as a casual t shirt. I must have one!

So mine will be a lovely rich blue, a cheap and wash friendly DK that I'm hoping will mean it survives how often I can see me wearing this one...

Photo taken on my knee in the library

Next on my list is a jumper I had planned as soon as I had started knitting but haven't ever gotten around to... The also hugely Ravely famous 'Owls'

Photo taken from pattern

The pattern has beautiful grey example on it, and this is pretty much the colour of the wool I have stashed away for it. I'm hoping this is a relatively quick knit as its a bulky yarn being used.

Next on my list is a very versatile jumper which I hope to be able to wear to work... It's an Andi Satterlund pattern just called 'a cropped sweater' and it's free!! Woo hoo!!

Photo poached from Ravelry... Again

It's a very simple DK weight but with some colour contrasting which makes it look sweet. I'm undecided on my colour for this one... Which is why it is number 3 on my list... Gives me time to go yarn shopping. I like this one as its an all in one with no seams, I kinda want to try it to see how succesful I am.

And the accessories come in the form of a hat I spotted on Pinterest, whose link took me back to Ravelry again (joy! No pattern hunting required!) and is called the Lomond hat.... Also free!!

Picture snaffled from Pinterest 

EAR FLAPS! Have you ever seen cuter ear flaps... They don't even look the least bit silly... Plus I get to make a Pom Pom, which I haven't done since Brownies! I don't have an order in the knitting que for this little dude, but I do have some fuzzy alpaca blend stash to use up... It's like fate. I shall knit this when the chill in the air appears. And I will have cozy ears on my walk into work.

So that's it for the main list, not too heavy going I think, very do-able with Christmas presents interspersed along the way. So I decided to add a wild card. Something I'm allowed to start if I get all of the other things finished... Meet Agatha...

Yet another Ravelry theft.

This is another AndI Satterlund design, which looks super cosy and really pretty. I think I'd like it a little longer though, just an inch or two. So this is my 'just in case' pattern, cos, you never know.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

New beginnings and old plans

I recently looked back over the things that I have blogged about in the past on my old blog (North Knittery), I had begun NK to talk about my new found obsession with knitting and thought it would be nice to include some things that I made on my sewing machine too.As it turned out I talked about sewing much more than I expected. I suppose this is natural as sewing something takes a fraction of the time it takes to knit something. But it didn't feel quite right putting so much sewing onto a blog dedicated to knitting.

I decided to make a fresh start and create a blog which was dedicated to anything I made, one I wouldn't feel guilty about filling with dress patterns and fabrics alongside the wool and mittens. So welcome to 'Making with needles', I have begun this blog by bringing over all of my makes of the past year and a half, all of he things which, just like in real life, I cannot bear to just let go of. But I also wanted to start with my plans for winter...
Which is basically repeating myself from the old blog... But here it goes...

Looking at the gaps in my wardrobe has fuelled me onto doing some proper winter sewing. I think I have been guilty before of falling into the trap of summer dresses and blouses, and when I came to winter, just add a cardigan. Add to this the fact that I have pretty much only just mastered linings in skirts and dresses, I now have no excuse to ignore the winter wardrobe.

First up is a Hollyburn from sewaholic. I spotted this version on 'Rue des Renardes' blog a while ago and I basically want to replicate it. 

Photo from Rue des Renardes blog

It is just perfect! The pattern is designed for those of a pear shaped persuasion, which I am! And has pockets, which I can't seem to live without these days. I have a wool/suiting type fabric hoarded away from this one which I bought at Regency Rags.

I of course plan to fully line it (because I can do that now), and am already wondering if I might need more than one of these little beauties... But I've had a word with myself and I shall restrain planning more until I have actually used this pattern!  

Following on my success from summer of making my first ever shirt dress (and my first ever shirt collar!) I of course want another McCalls 6696! 

This dress doesn't come with a lining, it has a pattern included for a slip dress instead, but I hate wearing layers like that. Instead I am going to line the skirt only and have the lining attached to the button band down the front of the dress. I'll be honest, I don't know if it will work, but I'm willing to give it a shot! I'll keep you posted on its success/failure... And how well it resists clinging to my tights as I walk.
This dress has a cotton poplin in very deep navy blue put aside for it (it's a surprisingly heavy fabric so I decided against the summer dress I had bought it for).

Last year I made the 'Lady Skater' dress in a lovely grey Jersey, it was only my third foray into Jersey sewing and it had limited success. While I loved the dress and wore it a hell of a lot, it didn't hold up to washing very well. It shrunk around the body making the waist rather high. I also wondered whether there was something more flattering for my aforementioned pear shaped hips. Then I spotted Monetta from Colette patterns. A jersey dress with a gathered waist?! It has variations of collars?! Long, short, and no sleeves?! Yes please!!

Once again I may be getting a bit carried away as I have never actually made this dress yet, but I have two of these planned. I have a cream ponte jersey and a black textured Jersey put aside for this pattern.
Because let's face it, Jersey dresses are secret pyjamas (I've learned that from Pinterest and other people's blogs and adore the description) and I must have enough to get through the winter in comfort.

Ok so that's it for the dresses and skirts, but I also have other plans... And other wardrobe gaps, and a new fixation with white blouses and shirts. So while I won't treat you to repeated photos of white cottons, the patterns which will be produced using these cottons will be...

Perhaps not as exciting as the skirt and dresses, but imagine crisp white blouses under hand knitted jumpers and you have a picture of why I am getting excited about them!

Finally I am planning on a little experimentation, some pattern hacking. I saw an adorable little sweater in the Seamwork magazine which I really really liked, but I thought it was a little too short for how I would want to wear it. 

Picture from Colette 'Seamwork' magazine

I pondered getting it and adjusting the length, but then I thought, I've got a sweater pattern that I could adjust surely? So my tentative plan is to use the Plantain pattern from Deer and Doe, but to make it more fitted around the waist and add a waistband to it. 

Left picture from Deer & Doe

I'm using some of the black textured Jersey from the Monetta stash to make a, hopefully, wearable muslin, and then we shall see if my experiment was a success!
Anyway I could sit here all day harping on about the things I am getting rather excited about making, but this has already been a very long post. Next stop... Knitting plans!