Monday, 29 August 2016

Is it a kimono? Is it a 40s wrap? Who knows?!

The bargain bin in Fenwicks haberdashery has a lot to answer for. I seem to feel more daring with the fabrics I source there. A while ago I found what I can only describe as woven tweed like coat fabrics in navy and cream/brown, there was also only 1m 20 of it. In spite of wondering what the hell I was going to do with it I had to have it, so it sat in the fabric pile for quite a while. Then I had a thought, kimono! So I just went with it.

In my mind I pictured a sort of thick cardigan that would be a great coverup for slightly chillier days over the summer and maybe even into autumn. It was entirely experimental and I'm really chuffed to say it worked!!

I used a Butterick pattern (6176) which is meant to be made up in a loose flowing fabric. I also shortened it before cutting version b, there wouldn't have been nearly enough fabric, but I also wanted it to hang just at my hip.

The only other adjustment I made was to narrow the body, but this was after I had stitched it up. It was just too bulky under the arms, but I didn't want to loose any of the sleeve length so I just stitched another line up under the arm, this has left a drop sleeve kind of effect which I really like.

You can see the original sleeve seam just down from the shoulder.

Because the fabric frays very easily (it is a loose weave) I finished the edges with some bias binding, but the inside sleeves I zig zag stitched over with both layers of fabric together to make it a bit sturdier (I would normally have ironed them flat and done each side separately).

What I really love about it is the vintage wrap feeling to it, even with just a t shirt and jeans it feels glamorous! And it's lovely and warm too.

For an entirely experimental bit of sewing the whole thing was really satisfying. It was one of those really exciting projects that you take a step back from at the end and just say YESSSSSSSSS!!

I think experimental sewing might be the way forward, I see much more of it in my future.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The cutest little top in the world!!

I decided to be a bit daring with this blouse, well daring for me anyway. I spotted a lovely blouse a while back while browsing what people had done with the Scout T-Shirt pattern (from Grainline). On this particular version the blogger had added lovely dramatic sleeves. I'm very sorry that I can't refer you back to the original as I have completely forgotten whose blog I spotted it on, but it lingered in my mind. So after thinking about it for a good couple of months I decided to bite the bullet and make my own (slightly less dramatic) version.

As I don't have the Scout pattern I used New Look 6483 again

I extended the sleeves on version a. and then created that cute little cuff by cutting a rectangle wider than the end of the sleeve...

Then gathering it to fit the end of the sleeve... It's a really easy tweak which I think is really effective...

And if those sleeves aren't cute enough can we take a moment to look at the fabric! This was an amazing eBay find, it's a Korean cotton with adorable little bicycles and swings on it!!

Then when it turned up it had the name of the pattern and the designers name on the selvidge. I absolutely love it! It seemed perfect for this top... Although being cotton it does what cotton will do, it creases when worn...

Yep... Crinkle'r'us. But really, with bikes, swings, dinky little trees, and flared sleeves, is this not the cutest top you've ever seen? No? Well it's certainly the cutest I've ever made.

Friday, 19 August 2016

And ode to Pleats

So you've got a night out coming up (the hen do of a work friend), and you've found the cutest stretch cotton which arrived on your doorstep the day before, what do you do?

Pleat it of course!!

Ok I know what you're thinking, haven't you made this skirt before? Why yes I have, it comes in both Squirrel and roses. But hey, if it ain't broke...

This fabric I found on eBay and bought on a whim because of the lovely leafy butterfly-y print. It's a stretch cotton (which doesn't actually have very much stretch in it at all) and because it was a whim-buy I only got 1 meter.

So to make the most out of the yardage, and get the pattern the right way up, I cut it in half and sewed it into a tube... Added a 1" waistband... And box-pleated the hell out of it. I did add a lining to it before pleating, I guess I'll want to wear this come winter with tights so it made sense. The pleats themselves are around 2" each with one slightly smaller one on the right hip (to keep it incognito). I popped a centred zip in there and a button on the top, hemmed it to sit just on my knees, and hey presto!

It's swooshy too.

This has definitely become my go-to non pattern pattern for a nice full skirt. And I firmly believe you'll see another on here before the year is out... Sorry, I just can't help myself.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Some sweet Bloglovin

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This weird collection of stuff means I can now be followed on bloglovin... Widget to follow once I've finally figured out how to do that... Wish me luck

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

When I went to Paris

Last year over the summer I spent a lot of time out and about and took a bit of a mini blogging hiatus. I kept thinking that I wanted to write about my summer adventure, particularly about my surprise trip to Paris, but never got around to it. Then the news was full of horrendous things happening in that beautiful city and it didn't feel right for me to talk about holidays, it didn't feel respectful.
But Paris has healed and continues to be a stunningly beautiful place to be, so I thought why not write it now, a year after we set off for our mini holiday.

The adventure began with a weekend trip to Ireland with Mum to visit my brother and his (now) wife. It was my first trip there and I loved it! Dublin is really beautiful! And of course I've been back since.

The top left picture was taken in Costa Coffe, which I said looked like the UN consulate, hence the diplomatic meeting photo.

We flew back from there to Newcastle and me and Mum drove down to Berkshire for my usual week staying with my parents over the summer. But this time my parents had other plans and surprised me with a little jaunt through the tunnel and three days in Paris!!! 

Eurostar fun! Dad was excited too, but there was something interesting happening behind me. I was really excited when I found out they were going to feed us and give us wine!

I did take a mostly handmade set of clothes, which were luckily French weather appropriate (just remove the cardigan). When we arrived late afternoon we dumped our bags in the Campanile we were staying in which was near Place de la Bastille, and headed in the direction of Notre Dame.

Oh I love French cafes, especially right on the river... Which I chose not to include in the photo... Twit!

Oh there it is!

We walked along the river up towards the Louvre, just basking in the sunshine and beautiful architecture.

I wore my squirrel pleated skirt with a blouse on day one... I felt very chic wandering around with all of the Parisians. We were very content just walking for hours until we felt hungry, then Dad managed to scout us out a cute little cafe where I could have Confit du canard... Mmmmmm
Ok just a few more photos...

On day two we decided we would head up to the Eiffel Tower, because, you know, Paris. But Dad spotted Victor Hugo's house was on the way so we made a stopover. We managed to hit a morning market right next to the hotel too, full of flowers, fruit, and clothes (?!). The house itself was hidden through a little door which opened out onto a little park square lined with cafes and art shops.

The house was a lovely little museum of Victor Hugo's life, I really enjoyed it. Particularly when I walked into the room above and said to Mum 'wow he needed to sack his decorator' and the steward sitting behind me, who apparently spoke perfect English, began wetting herself laughing. Oops.

Boom! Eiffel Tower! Ok we also didn't actually walk this far. We hopped onto one of the river tours which turns out is a cheap and scenic way to get from a to tower. I had never been this close to the Eiffel Tower itself. Dad suggested climbing up to the first level, but as it was pretty gusty and I was wearing a dress I said maybe next time.

Speaking of which... On day 2 I wore my completely un-blogged McCalls 6696... The perfect dress for more swanning around the city.  I did spend quite a bit of time under the tower trying to find the centre.. That's a lot of wandering around looking up trying not to walk into all of the other people also walking around looking up.

Reckon I found it though.

After that we headed over to the Arc de Triomphe (actually walking it this time) and walked back down Champs Elysees, not daring to venture into any of the shops. I failed to take and photos of this stretch though. After another really good dinner (no canard this time) we headed back stopping off at Place de la Bastille for a late drink in the cool French night... I haven't been quite so relaxed since.

On day three we did more walking, just wherever our noses led us, with a bit of tourism shopping on the way (my poor sister was heartbroken she couldn't come with us so we made her up a little parcel).

It was an amazing surprise trip, really beautiful and the weather held out (well apart from a French rainstorm on the morning of day 2, but it was dry by the time we left breakfast)

Just for the fun of it, my parents trying to work out the Metro.

I loved it, and can't wait to go back again.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Finding inspiration... A hacked Olsen dress

Ah Pinterest, I fell down this rabbit hole a few years ago. It satisfies my age old need to collect pretty pictures (I used to cut up magazines and make collages), and it inspires me. I can loose hours to just flicking through the pictures and pinning the ones I like. Every now and again it throws up a little gem, something I really really want, and because I can sew... I can have it if I try hard enough...

Ok so it's not exact... But it feels pretty close. That's my version on the left if you're wondering. I've had this little black dress saved for quite a while, it was just recently that all the pieces fell into place and I realised I could actually make it. 

Let me introduce you to the ingredients for this dress...
Fabric: this is a really silky black viscose that I bought in Fabric Land (Reading) on my visit south a few months ago. It was intended to be a couple of floaty tops but, well, fate had other plans.
Pattern: I only stumbled on the free pattern from Salme recently (that was what galvanised this dress into action), the Olsen dress matched perfectly except for lack of sleeves...

Other Pattern: This is where trusty New Look 6217 came in...

I traced out the top for the Olsen dress and added the kimono sleeves from the New Look view B. Then I went to town sewing it up.

I did hit a few snags, the Olsen pattern is huge!! I sewed up a pretty small size and still needed to take some baggies out of the back, this has given the back neckline a v shape (because of course I sewed the bias binding on BEFORE trying it on... Twit! But I like the v effect so I forgive myself. Other than that it went very easily, the fabric is just wonderful to work with and even better to wear. I'm going to be back in Reading in October and I'm praying they still stock that viscose... You hear me Fabric Land?! Get it sorted!!

The dress is super comfy to wear because of its elastic acted waist and general flowiness.

Although I prefer it with a belt covering the elastic. I also love the midi length to it, I've already decided that if the length goes horribly out of fashion (please don't) I will just cut this dress shorter and keep on wearing it.

I LOVE this dress

So my Pinterest obsession has paid off. In your face all of the people who said 'but you'll never actually make anything from Pinterest'. Ok they might have been talking about recipes... But still.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

When knitting goes bad

So then, can you remember that lovely red Bailey cardigan I made up in a crappy wool yet grew to love (this is starting to sound like the plot to a Disney film)? And can you remember the sorry little photo I took of same said cardigan all shrunken and felted on my clothes horse (ok ok, enough with the Disney film storyline, in which the cardigan is befriended by some odd neglected socks and learns that it had the power to become un-felted and beautiful inside of it all along).

Well, here it is in all of its full horror.


Yes people, this is what happens when you accidentally put a hand knit in a regular wash (not even with delicates, the shame) with a poxy pair of jeans. Yes, I am still angry with myself for doing this. Well this particular little nightmare is now in the UFO box ready to be recycled into probably a hot water bottle cover... Or slippers, I've not decided yet... But they will be wonderful.

In the meantime, because I really loved the Bailey pattern, I raided my stash and made me another one! Woo Hoo!!

This version is in a lovely charcoal grey Aran yarn (Stylecraft special), which means some pattern tweaking was required. So I swatched like a good girl and it turns out the only thing I needed to do was to go down a size... Bonus! Because the pattern uses the 'knit until n inches long'formula not much was needed to adjust the length.

Asides from that absolutely no changes were made. And the cardigan came out nice and loose and smooshy... Which is of course a technical term for its level of comfort.

So let the photos commence!

I'm really happy to have another of these cardigans again. Now I'd better get back to finishing that Campside cardigan which got a bit sidelined for this one... Oops

Oh and on a side note... I have solved the washing problem... I have invested in a bottle of Soak wash! And by gum is it good, just a tablespoon of this stuff in a sink with warm water and no need to even rinse! Ha ha! I defy you shrunken felted demon of the washing machine!! From now on all my handknits are to be treated to luxury baths!!