Wednesday, 27 November 2013

We interrupt the scheduled selfish sewing...

... to show you a baby gift I made for my cousin's long - awaited newborn baby.

I made a receiving blanket which I originally found in a tutorial from Saints and Pinners (but Handmade Jane also has a good one). 

I usually use a metre of winceyette and a metre of cotton, cut in half lengthwise. This gives a good size for pram or buggy and is also great for swaddling if the baby likes that.

To make the applique letters I found a font in Word that was quite clean and chunky (you don't want fancy curls or serifs for this) and increased it to the size I wanted. I  drew around the letters on the reverse of the paper and traced these off onto the paper side of some fusible Web. I normally have to spend ages thinking about this to get them the right way round! Then I cut the letters out roughly and fused them onto the reverse of some fabric scraps. I played about with the placement to get them far enough from the edge to allow for stitching the layers together and top stitching. Then I ironed them on.

Using a fairly wide zig zag ( this was 4 mm wide and 1 mm long) I stitched around the edge of the letters. No fancy presser feet for this - I used my normal zig zag foot. My machine deals with this fine but if you want to try, go slow and practice on a scrap first to see how much you need to manhandle the fabric to keep the lines straight. I swapped the dot of the I for a button (sewn securely by machine).

Then i placed the top and backing right sides together (you can trim to size if you need to) and stitch, leaving a gap of about 4" for turning. I trimmed the corners, turned right side out and pressed. Finally I top stitched around the edge which closes the gap.

We were staying up in Scotland and managed to squeeze in a visit with them. My cousin was very appreciative but does anyone else get paranoid giving handmade gifts that the receiver has to say they like them even if they don't?

Monday, 25 November 2013

A definite autumn essential!

Here's another of my FESA items completed!

I had planned to make pyjama trousers later in the winter once FESA was finished but decided to get them done earlier after noticing the state of my old ones!

I used Maria Denmark's Laura lounge pants pattern after seeing Gillian's great versions. I used the medium size. I added 2" crotch length and the same to the leg length (but the extra leg length wasn't needed - these are long!)  You need to add seam allowances and as I like my pjs wider legged than the pattern pics, I added 1" to each side seam and the usual 5/8" to the crotch seam.

As usual with Maria's patterns it was easy to put together with clear photo instructions.

There is a wide waistband which you can either make from ribbing and wide elastic or stretch jersey and shirring elastic. I used ribbing and they are super comfortable! Can't work out if I could leave the elastic out of the next pair or if they would fall down!

The only change I'll make for the next pair (teal with a charcoal grey ribbed waistband) is to scoop out about 1/2" from centre front as they come up a bit higher than I'd like. But otherwise these are great! They only need just over a metre of fabric and 25 cm of ribbing so a pretty cheap make. These came together in a couple of hours including cutting.

You're only getting mirror pics this time as I'm not venturing out in the garden for pics in my pjs (and also I am in my dad's pretty house which is much tidier than my own!). What would the neighbours think? 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Bend over let me see you shake your tail feather...

I've made the Hummingbird skirt before. Twice. But not blogged either. I know, bad blogger! I'll get to it soon, I promise! 

You may have spotted my denim version on the Other Renfrew post. I wear these loads - what's not to love? A simple fitted pencil skirt with cute pockets (pocket-aholic is totally a thing, just ask Carolyn!). Much as I love the simple style of the Hummingbird Orange, I had a hankering for the fancier Pink version with tail feathers flounce.

The fabric was part of the haul that supplied my Hawthorn, from Remnant Kings in Glasgow. It was a remnant, about 1.7m and cost the princely sum of £4.00. Burn tests were inconclusive but it's a woven with a bit of stretch and there's a fair bit of poly in there. It's a lovely airforce blue with black and white flecks running through it.

I had already lengthened my previous versions to 22" which hits just above the knee. I knew I wanted mid-calf length on this so I made it 28". Clearly I messed up in the measuring as the back ended up longer than the front so I had to cut it down after sewing the side seams. I consulted Twitter, especially Katie about lengthening the flounce. Although I couldn't get my head around it, I trusted Steph's drafting and all was well.

I ended up doing quite a narrow hem as I didn't want to lose much more length.

I love the end result! I know I won't wear it as much as the plainer versions but it's like the denim one's posher cousin! It's so comfortable to wear as the flounce stops you being restricted as you walk, even while the front view is quite pegged. It's flattering even on those of us who are blessed in the bottom department.

I'm wearing it here with my Gertie Portrait blouse.  I love using a colour palette - everything matches so well!

I haven't seen too many flounce versions around the blogosphere. Have you made one? Link me up in the comments!

If I was Jo from Amazing Adventures of Taracat, you'd probably get a some pictures of me shaking my tail feather. Since I am not, you'll have to make do with Susannah Reid on Strictly Come Dancing.


This was the first week too - she's brilliant! This woman is a newsreader, not even a singer or actress. I have spared you the 5 year old shaking her tail feather in her pyjamas - you're welcome!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Autumn Kelly Skirt for Minerva Blogger Network

For my first Minerva Blogger Network garment I decided to work with my Autumn Winter wardrobe plans.

As part of my long term goal to build an entirely me made wardrobe, I had planned to make quite a few separates this season. I've made Megan Nielsen's Kelly skirt before (but never blogged - must get onto that!) It's a great pattern for both summer and winter as it works with so many fabrics.

When I was planning this I was looking for fabric with a bit of body as it really helps to keep the shape of the skirt and the pleats. I chose a cotton drill as it was a perfect weight and colour - it comes in loads of other colours too but I wanted to stick to my winter colour palette.  Of course by the power of Twitter I could check with Megan herself and Vicki from Minerva that it would work well.

When it arrived I was really happy with the weight and sheeny texture of the fabric - much nicer than the twill I used before.  I also got some perfect interfacing which has spoiled me for the cheap stuff I normally use! It's a woven interfacing that fuses really easily without wrinkling or stretching.  Perfect for keeping the wide waistband of this skirt in shape.

The skirt is really easy and quick to put together, especially since i had made it before. It would be a great beginner project or for someone who wants to practice buttonholes. I made a medium and lengthened by a couple of inches so that i could keep the nice deep hem.

Even the buttonholes came out well! I sewed the buttons on with my machine - if you have a button foot I highly recommend getting to grips with it as it's so easy! My el cheapo machine came with one so it's likely lots of others do too.

As I have terrible indecision when it comes to buttons, I was happy to get help from Vicki at Minerva. She helped me pick some great navy ones with a slight texture to them which look great.

If you want to stalk my Kelly skirt you can buy a kit with the burgundy twill, fab interfacing, buttons and matching thread from Minerva Crafts.

Pictures were taken on a recent trip home to Glasgow - it's such a great city for photo locations!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Winter knitting project plans

I'm not an especially speedy knitter. Some bloggers seem to knit up a jumper every few weeks alongside their sewing projects but this is definitely not my way!
I plan for one completed project each winter and this is the one I'm working on this year.

I wanted to make a cardigan and was checking out Andi Satterlund patterns on Ravelry after seeing so many cute Miette cardigans popping up across the blogiverse. Her newest pattern Hetty jumped out at me.
It's a gorgeous lacey pattern with a round neck. As it is knitted with aran /worsted weight wool it knits up quickly and doesn't use up vast quantities of wool.
I always find it hard to choose wool. I can't wear pure wool but the 100% synthetic yarns are generally not that nice. If I am going to the trouble to knit something I want it to be better quality than I could buy on my budget in a shop.
So of course I asked Twitter and SewBusyLizzy recommended I look at Malabrigo Worsted (thanks Lizzy! ). As we know, she is SewRightLizzy so I decided to try it. After much colour deliberation (my original plan was a burgundy colour but nowhere had enough of it to complete the project) I picked Sweet Grape - a dark greyish-purple.
When it arrived I was in love! This wool is so beautiful! It's very smooth and soft -I'll have no problem wearing it. It has a slight sheen to it which makes the stitches look gorgeous.  And as it's 100% wool I'll be able to block it well to show off the lovely lace pattern.
Based on a tension square I needed to go up a needle size (to 5.5 mm rather than 5mm) to get the right gauge. I'm a tight knitter so this is normal for me.
I'm knitting the medium size  (Andi recommends 0-2" of negative ease for this pattern) but am lengthening the body by a couple of inches - it's a fairly short style but I don't want it to look too cropped. I consulted the helpful Ravelry peeps about other fitting changes after doing a bit of measuring. I decided not to widen the shoulders on their advice as I will be able to block it a bit larger. I needed an extra couple of inches room at the waist so I'm going to skip a couple of decrease rows in the body.
Can't wait to get this finished so I can wear the cardigan instead of just cuddling the wool! And there will definitely be more Malabrigo in my future!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Some new favourite blogs...

As you know, I'm thrilled to be one of the new additions to the Minerva Blogger Network. 

You can see who will be joining me here. It's a most illustrious group with some of my favourite bloggers and Sewcialists including Emmie from My Oh Sew Vintage Life, Nicole from Nicole Needles and Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy.

Every month we'll each select fabric and notions from Minerva's huge range and make a garment which we'll show off on the Minerva Blogger Network page, our own blogs and the Look What I Made site. If you like what we make, you can buy a kit to make your own version.

My first post goes live in mid November so can't wait to show you what I come up with over the next few months!

Check out my fellow bloggers as I've found a few new blogs to add to my reader!