Sunday, 22 March 2015

Knitting: Green rib knit scarf

My second knitting project this year - another scarf! This time for dad's birthday.

With the arrival of spring in the UK it might seem strange to be gifting somebody a scarf, but I Skyped with my family yesterday and they've got snow on the ground in Sweden. Luckily nobody in my immediate family has a birthday during the spring and summer aside from me, so I won't be tempted to give anybody any unseasonal knitted presents. My brother is next in September and while that is borderline summer/autumn he has actually requested a scarf, so there you go!

Anyways. For this scarf I chose a dark green Rowan worsted yarn with specks of red (colour Hawthorn). It has a lovely tweed look about it. Very interesting, yet understated. I used 3 skeins for the scarf and knitted it with 4.5 mm bamboo needles.

There's nothing much to say about this scarf really. It was a simple repetition of knit 2, purl 2 and therefore a perfect train commute project.

It took a while because the ribbing made it very dense, so each row contained something like 60 stitches, even though it doesn't look very wide. That means that as I was approaching the end this scarf was really heavy. And I was getting quite fed up with scarves and started itching to make something else. 

So I decided on...another scarf. You see, I really want to learn to knit cables, and when looking for a project I fell for the Brooklyn Tweed Kirkwood scarf. And well, when you fall for something you fall for something. At least I've got aaaages as this scarf is for myself and I have no intentions of wearing it before next winter. That means that there probably won't be any knitting projects on the blog for a good few months. Instead, bring on spring/summer sewing!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sewing: A little pastel quilt from Josh's shirts

So Josh and I had a huge argument and I cut up a bunch of his shirts and made a quilt from them to get back at him.

Just kidding. Imagine what a time-consuming revenge plan. Ain't nobody got time for that.

No, Josh and I are just fine. But I did cut up a bunch of his shirts and made a quilt from them, that bit is true.

Basically, when we moved into the house we currently lived in both of us went through our wardrobes and ruthlessly culled items we no longer wear. He perhaps more ruthlessly than me. I've got an emotional bond with a lot of my clothes after all.

Among the things he no longer wanted were a couple of beautiful cotton shirts in pastel tones and a couple white ones. Being the hoarder that I am I 'saved' these shirts and added them to my stash of pieces of fabric that might one day become a quilt. That was August. I finished the quilt last weekend.

Once I started cutting the up shirts it became clear that I would need a fabric to bind the pastel tones together, otherwise it would just look like a quilt made up of old shirts. So I ordered this lovely rose print on a mint green background cotton from Truro fabrics. Love it.

I didn't make the socks (I wish!), acquiring that kind of skill is more of a long term plan.

I finished the quilt top just before Christmas and was thinking about what to use for the back. Around that time a lovely friend of mine gifted me some beautiful mint green quilting cotton with a small floral pattern. Perfect! How she knew I'll never know, but oh boy was I happy!

The actual quilting took me ages because I find it just the dullest job ever. Actually, scratch that. I find sewing (by hand!) the binding on the dullest job ever. Quilting is the second dullest. I'm not good at it. My machine is not good at it (by hand? are you kidding me?). I might outsource it with my next quilt. 

But the quilt is finally done! It's only a little quilt, but I'm enjoying sitting wrapped in it with a cup of tea at hand writing this. (I can't tell you that it's exactly relaxing, because I'm having a nightmare with Blogger, but that's a rant for another day.)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sewing: Blue cotton chambray Grainline Archer shirt

If you had to choose one outfit to wear for the rest of your life, a uniform say, what would you choose?

For me the answer is easy, it would be a loose fitting shirt and skinny jeans. I can think of a variation of these two garments for almost any occasion.

  • Black jeans, crisp cotton poplin shirt and high heeled pumps for the office.
  • Black jeans, silk shirt, high heeled sandals, red lips and big earrings for dinner out or cocktails.
  • Blue jeans and a chambray shirt with ankle boots or plimsoles for running errands.
  • Oversized flannel shirt and knitted socks for spending a rainy Sunday in bed reading books or binge-watching shows on Netflix.

And so on....

So naturally it was just a matter of time before I made myself an Archer shirt. It is the perfect loose fitting shirt. Sufficiently androgynous for my taste.

I finally bought the Archer pattern during the Grainline Black Friday sale. I waited until Christmas to make it because I didn't want to rush. This pattern had the potential to become my new favourite pattern and I wanted to do it justice.

These photos were taken during Archer's first outing -  a little trip to Morocco. Lucky Archer.

I planned it so meticulously. I ordered my fabric, a light blue chambray from Stone Fabrics, weeks before Christmas, washed it, ironed it and folded it away nicely. I made sure I had interfacing and buttons at home. I kept my diary completely empty between Jan 1 and Jan 6 and planned to do one or two steps each day, starting with a muslin of course. Not for the fit, but to nail the techniques before attempting them with my nice chambray.

Day 1, Jan 1, I got to work. Taped the pattern and cut it out. This was such long, dull work that I gave up for the rest of the day. Jan 2 I cut the fabric. And decided to skip the muslin and get to work straight away. And it was so much fun I couldn't stop! I left the sewing machine at 8 at night having only the collar and buttons left.

And...well, it didn't turn out quite as terrible as I feared. In fact, not terrible at all. Sure, the topstitching could be better and I had to unpick one sleeve placket and both sides of the collar stand, leaving the fabric at those spots a bit damaged, but these are details and the overall look is great!

The blue chambray was so easy to work with! I couldn't have asked for a more well-behaved fabric for my first shirt.

I have to say just how amazing the sew along is. I have been terrified of making cuffs and a collar, but with the sew along it was kind of easy! In fact, there was nothing difficult about the construction of this shirt. And I have no comments on the pattern, it is a delight to sew.

The fit is a little bit off on me. But it's off all over, which makes me think I need to go down a size. That's annoying, because while I'm itching to make another Archer I can't face printing, taping and cutting another one. I should have measured more carefully.

Overall, I'd call this a success! I probably should have done the toile, but let's call this a very wearable toile. I feel so ready to make many more Archers! In fact, I have to. I managed to stain this one so badly and so extensively that it is no more.

So now that I have the perfect pattern for the top half of my perfect outfit I have my eyes on this Indian indigo blue cotton and this Irish linen from Merchant & Mills for my next Archers.

All photos by Josh.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

On not getting along with any sewing projects

I lost my sewing mojo. I think it's very slowly coming back, but for a while, everything I touched turned out terrible.

First, I sewed up the Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt, which I started ages ago, and the fit is disasterously bad. Which is such a fail on my part because with a flared skirt like that it's really not hard to get the fit right. I'm not even liking the fabric I made it in, so I have no motivation to try to fix it.

Then, I tried to make another Salme camisole. This time in lovely, luxurious silk. I don't even know where I went wrong, but literally everything about it is wrong. The fit is wrong. The drape is wrong. The construction is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Butchered silk. Unforgivable.

Finally, before giving up, I attempted to make a replacement for my first Salme skirt which I had worn to death. Should be easy enough, right? Two pattern pieces plus waistband and zipper. Plus I've made it before and been so happy with it I've literally worn it to pieces. Yet it went wrong. While cutting it out I accidentally cut the waistband in half. And of course I don't have any large enough pieces of the fabric left to cut out another waistband. I've since made a patchwork waistband, but I can't face finishing the skirt. Also, the fabric I've chosen is a bit whacky, so different from anything I'd normally go for, that it needs lining, but I don't have enough lining fabric. I suspect I'll hate the fabric and hence the skirt when it's finished, but I find it so hard to leave things unfinished.

I've been telling myself that I just have to finish the skirt, not even finish it well, and then I can move on to other sewing. But all that's resulted in is me avoiding any kind of sewing altogether.

Instead I've been spending my time with friends who are new to sewing but very happy and enthusiastic. And it's been so good! It's been a very pleasant reminder that sewing is meant to be fun! I can buy clothes if I want functional, flawless items. I sew clothes because I enjoy it. Flawless would be great, but I'm not a seamstress, I'm a (very!) amateur sewer.

So I went back to basics. And picked up this quilt again. Just straight lines. I'm going to finish the binding by hand and then I'll blog it. So should be a week or two. But in summary it's a bunch of Josh's old shirts cut up and mixed with some floral fabric for some pastel perfection.

That made me feel good about sewing again. So good that I ordered some dress fabric.

Both of these are from Croft Mill. The red is a viscose..something blend. I think cotton but might be wrong. I'm saving it for the spring, and then I will make the Deer & Doe Belladone dress with it.

The blue is a polyester crepe. I'm going to the ballet later this week and I planned to make a simple crepe de chine dress. These plans were formed before I turned into Edward Scissorhands around pretty fabrics. Since then however I realised I probably don't want to have more ruined silk on my conscience, so I ordered the polyester crepe to make a muslin first.

And this is the dress. Pattern Runway kimono dress. I made the muslin and didn't leave enough time to make the 'real' dress, so looks like I'll be wearing the muslin to the ballet.

So...some improvement, but I sure hope my sewing mojo returns soon.