Wednesday, May 30, 2012

casual grey day

i think i've mentioned on this blog before, that i love grey marle in all its lovely greyness. when it comes to casual sportswear, its the perfect shade. as my sporty wardrobe progresses, i've noticed i need some new trackie pants for serious walking. i know they are cheap as chips to buy, but when i tried some on in the shops i really felt like all i needed was a matching top and a blue rinse and life would be over!

urban fleece trackies

i used some dark grey marle fleecy from my stash and a knipmode pattern, model #5 from October 2011 to make these. i really liked the rib trim around the lined pockets and the fashionable carrot shape of these pants and they were really quick to make.

stripey rib waistband

as usual i ran out of the plain grey ribbing, and there was none to be found in the shops, so i improvised with some striped rib knit from my stash for the waistband. i could have even used a plain jersey as there is wide elastic sandwiched between the layers, making them very comfy.

while i was in the mood to make "at home" gear, i started on a long boyfriend sweater out of some black and silver striped sweater knit. i know in the photo it looks like a prison top, but in reality the silver is much sparklier.

striped boyfriend sweater

i used model # 111 from burda magazine October 2011 and left off the hem band so it wouldn't draw attention to my hips. burda has made this as a dress, which would be cute and cosy on someone with a straighter figure and its another quick pattern to make. the only thing to remember is to use quite a stretchy sweater knit, as you have to stretch the cuffs and hem band onto the garment. of course you could use a rib trim instead which would give a cool sporty look, especially a contrast colour at neck, cuffs and hem.
right, i've still got grey thread on my overlocker, so don't be surprised if the next few garments are also grey; really i can be quite slack sometimes!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

i feel a need for tweed

brrr its chilly, even though the sun is shining and the sky is blue, there is cold seeping up through the floor and into my woolly socks. on these days i feel a need for wool garments, the English show the way (well, on Poirot they do) by wearing country tweed jackets, hunting skirts and my personal favourite...deerstalkers!

tweed hunting skirt

i noticed that long skirts are back in fashion, and i know they are warm so i found some ancient burgundy tweed check just laying around at the workshop and chopped it up into this skirt from burda magazine September 2011, model #136. i graded it up at the necessary areas and shortened it a little, and it was super easy to sew because its just one piece! i had serious doubts about this but it fits perfectly and when i wore it with woolly tights and fur-lined boots i felt like an extra in Downton Abbey!

burgundy tweed check

another tweedy item that hopped off the needles recently is my long cable mitts that i knitted from Cleckheaton "Tartan" a beautiful soft wool that is in lovely retro colours. i used Patons Winter Warmers book 1310 for the pattern which is just a cabled rectangle, seamed into a tube leaving fingers free to knit or stir marshmallows into hot chocolate. aaahh, that's what chilly weather is for!

tweedy caramel mitts

Monday, May 21, 2012

mad cowl disease

its beginning to feel quite wintry at both ends of the day recently, and i've realised that although heavy jumpers aren't needed yet, it's the perfect time to wear scarves and mitts. they are easily slipped on and off, and can be stuffed into a handbag when the sun comes out. another bonus is quick finishing, by the time i'm bored the project is complete! after the success of last week's cream chunky cowl, i decided to make another one.

wild thing cowl

this time i sewed the cowl from some thin faux fur fabric from my stash; i just cut a rectangle the width of the fabric (150cm) by 50cm. then i sewed the long edges together to form a tube, leaving an opening of 15cm for turning. finally i sewed the short edges together, flipped it the right way out and hand sewed the opening. two twists around the neck and it was on!

aviator cowl

the next cowl was also sewn, this time from faux leather, lined with fleece. the pattern is from burda style magazine October 2011, design #154, but once again its just a lined rectangle with a chunky zipper inserted at the short edges. this is a very fashion forward look, and as such i haven't dared to wear it yet in case my family mocks me for it, but i'll have the last laugh when the cold wind blows because its really warm and cosy.

orange tulips cowl

finally, i got out the knitting needles again to make this orange cowl knitted from Spotlight's Moda Vera "Shiver" yarn. i bought this shade last year and never got round to using it but its a lovely soft acrylic that's perfect on sensitive skin. i used my Vogue Stitchionary to choose a pattern and this one is called "tulip leaves" which suits the national colour of Holland! the lace pattern creates a wavy cast on edge that sits beautifully on the shoulders and knitting the cowl sideways shows off the pattern nicely.

gobstopper hail

these cowls are so much easier to wear than scarves as they don't come adrift no matter what you are doing, and sit close to the neck to keep you warm even on days when the hail looks more like snow...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a trio of tops

over the past few days i have been making some jersey tops to extend my wardrobe. t-shirts are easy to buy, but i find them a bit too long and skinny to wear by themselves. t-shirts are also, luckily, really easy to make if you have a good pattern.

grey rugby top

the first top i made was from Butterick 5104 view C, from some fine jersey out of my stash. it has a tiny stripe in it and there wasn't quite enough (as usual!) so i used a matching grey to make the top of the sleeves. i'm really happy with this because it adds a sporty look and a bit of designer detail. this "rugby" look happens to be on trend also, as i discovered the next day when paging through a magazine.

rose tattoo top

i wanted to use the same pattern and change up the look with a different fabric, and found some ultra fine burnout jersey in my stash. i extended the side seams and hem out a few centimetres, cropped the sleeves to 3/4 length and added an afterthought cowl neck. because the fabric is so fine i overlocked the whole thing together with 3 threads and left the hems raw; quite acceptable going by similar $200 tops in the boutiques! this top is great with pants and jeans and when i tried it on, it reminded me of tattoos, especially when layered under sleeveless garments to give the look of tattooed 'sleeves'.

red licorice top

for my final trick i wanted to get my teeth into something more difficult. i have had this pattern traced for a while and both my sisters have made it already (Manz has made it twice). its from knipmode magazine April 2008 design #13, and i used a poly/viscose jersey from Spotlight that has a crepe finish. i'm really happy with this top, although i found it a little short in the body and sleeves. i cut the sleeve bands a bit longer to rectify this, but with the snug fit and the length, this will be best with skirts.

draping closeup

i didn't have any problems with the sewing of this top, but that's probably because i have looked at the one Manz made. we have a habit of looking at the inside of each others handmade clothing and inspecting all the details! if you do want to make this pattern and have trouble deciphering the instructions, many other people on the net have made it and i suggest  the pattern review site or the fehrtrade blog for extra information.
now that i've made some sensible clothing, it's time to turn my hand to more frivolous sewing!

Friday, May 11, 2012

drapey designer dress

i'm carrying on sewing the wardrobe plan again, and today i finished a dress. "but it's a casual wardrobe isn't it?" i hear you ask. well, when its a jersey dress it can be casual and it sure is comfortable! i first admired this pattern when i saw in the 'plus' section of Manz's August 2011 burda magazine and racked my brains as to how i could make it in my size.

drapey dress

i looked through my patterns and decided to 'frankenpattern' a bodice that i knew fitted well onto the burda skirt panel which is pleated and gathered onto the bodice anyway. i used New Look 6802 and because of fabric restrictions, chose a sleeveless style. this will be great for layering over coloured tops on those days when you get all four seasons at once, and is handy for crafting when you need your arms free!

side view

i used a mystery jersey fabric purchased at Textile Traders last year, it smells of silk, is a tiny bit prickly like wool and is a dream to sew with. i added some self fabric ties to cinch the waist a bit and i love the drape detail. really, its a lot easier to sew than it looks and i will definitely make this again in a bright colour with long sleeves next time. i recommend cutting the hem allowances a bit bigger than the 15mm suggested to allow for a double hem, clean finished on both sides because part of the back hem flips to the right side and you don't want to see the overlocking. ask me how i know...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

tis the season to be knitting!

tra la la la laa la la la laa...when the day is gray and rainy could there be anything nicer than snuggling up on the couch with a pair of needles and some new yarn guiltily bought last weekend? my big boy thought he would like to revisit knitting after quitting it a couple of years ago (its sooo uncool you know). i bought some fishnet yarn that seems to be a bit of a craze at the moment. after a quick tutorial from my 12 year old niece Krista, i was able to show him how to knit it up.

knitting fever

its good to know he hadn't forgotten how to knit, but he did have a little trouble with the fishnet yarn and kept making more stitches. by that time i was keen to have a go and took over the needles. by the end of the afternoon i had a new loopy scarf!

fishnet scarf

i used Spotlight's "metallic mesh" in black lurex; you only need one ball for a scarf and it looks harder than it is. i also managed to finish a scarf i have been making for a while, which goes with my casual wardrobe-in-the-making. i had run out of one of the colours (story of my life) but luckily Spotlight have finally filled up the shelves in the wool department. i made it in 8ply acrylic so it wouldn't itch me, and used the yarn double for a marl effect. i didn't need a pattern for this, it's just a rectangle of moss stitch about 2m long.

which footy team?

i was on a roll with the scarves, and paging through a mollie makes magazine i saw a nice double moss stitch cowl from quince & co. i rummaged through my stash for some chunky wool and came up trumps with some i bought at Spotlight ages ago; its moda vera "grace" and sadly not stocked anymore. i only had two balls so made up my own pattern based on the one i'd seen in the magazine. its another rectangle twisted into an infinity ring for easy wearing, and i made it in one night while watching tv. it looks quite luxe and got commented on the next day when i wore it out shopping, always a good sign when someone asks you for the pattern!

designer cowl

i really enjoyed spending some time knitting, and love these quick finish projects. these scarves have already come in handy for the cold snap we've had lately, and make up for the lack of warm clothes in the wardrobe. but now i'm sewing, i'm sewing!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

trendy trews

is it possible to love food and fashion? normally i would shout "yes!" however when faced with the new cropped skinny pants so fashionable this season, there is a but (or butt). i could never fit comfortably into any commercially produced skinny. so, if ever there was a good reason to sew your own clothes, its the fickle whims of fashion. that has to be my main reason for soldiering on all night hunched over the sewing machine, when it would seem so much easier to pop to the shops for a couple of hours.

red skinnies

once again i've had to photograph these pants flat which makes them look disgusting! (i feel "betty" might need an operation soon). i used another knipmode pattern from magazine March 2012 supplement, design #109. the fabric was purchased from textile traders and is a lightweight stretch cotton sateen, maybe a little too light for the colder months. the fit is quite good, with just a little gaping at the back waistband, a typical fitting problem for me.

waistband facing

as usual i used a piece of patchwork cotton for my contrast waistband facing. these "licorice legs pants" fit into my wardrobe plan nicely and i will wear them until it either gets too cold, or i find some heavier weight fabric in the right colour to make a new pair. now i need to make some longer length tops to wear with these...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

anti-perfectionist strategies

sometimes i suspect i have a split personality craftwise. i can whip up a fully lined tailored jacket or an intricate aran jumper, but then find myself knitting a garter stitch scarf or sewing a raw edged top from two pieces. i used to be a bit of a perfectionist and prided myself on it; after all being a perfectionist means that your points always match, your stitches are even and the toilets are always scrubbed!

 however, on the cusp of a big birthday ending in 0, i feel that i've learned a lot from my years on this planet. being a perfectionist also means procrastination over not having the right fabric, thread, yarn or enough time. it means solitary hours, heartbreak and general unsociability when even a word can disrupt the all important concentration. now i save these projects for when i know i've got nothing else on, or i do them in blocks of time instead of trying to get it done in one session. life's too short to miss out on family, walking on the beach or having a cosy coffee!

autumn bunting

so, what does this have to do with bunting? well, i found this tutorial on the lovely dottie angel's blog for a recycled "whatnot garland". dottie made hers for christmas, but i thought an autumn theme would suit just as well, so i gathered up bits and bobs in the right colours. what i really loved was dottie's rule that you couldn't use measuring tools or pinning to make this garland, but just chop away at the fabric and use up old bits of lace and braid for the "string". in other words it was a "anti-perfectionist strategy"!

hello sausage!

vintage fabric

sentimental words

so if you feel a need for a strategy, collect up some favourite fabrics, trimmings and buttons, put on some music and with beating heart, gleefully chop up some freehand rectangles, raw edge applique scraps and stitch! don't forget to add a saying, you know the sort of thing that makes your family want to puke when you say it to their faces, but secretly smile when they read it later and no one's watching. i just drew my words freehand with pencil and stitched over them with backstitch.

this bunting won't change your life, but it might encourage you to make some misshapen biscuits, smile at a stranger or like me, change all your furniture around. that perfectionism is creeping in again, i'll have to look for another project to keep it at bay...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ouch! the sewing bug bit me!

ok, there has been a lot of sewing happening these last few weeks. the wardrobe is coming along nicely, and thanks to using some old favourite patterns, there haven't been too many disasters or horrible fitting surprises. di was staying with me last week and the time was spent in a whirlwind of shopping, plotting, sewing and coffee. we also managed to sew a top each from the same pattern. neither of us do this kind of sewalong much, but it turned out great for both of us.

leopard print cowl neck

i used a poly jersey from the sale table at textile traders (love those sale fabrics!), and the pattern was from knipmode magazine October 2011 supplement, design #105. at first we thought the top would be too short, but it fits well and would be really good with a skirt. hop over to di's blog to see her version of this pattern and if it's not on there yet, stalk her until she puts it up! (sorry di).

i also finished off a coat i've been making as part of my wardrobe plan. it's made from a thick flannel type fabric from my stash, and is unlined. the pattern is from knipmode again, this time i used September 2010, design #10.

toasted marshmallow coat

the pattern was for loden, a thick felted wool, but as far as i know you can't get this fabric in Australia. the flannel i used didn't fray much so i thought it would be ok. then i tried to get the coat on and realised i would have to at least line the sleeves, so after much dithering that's what i did. i also bound the front and lower edges with satin binding; i just couldn't leave the edges raw like the pattern suggested. it goes against all the sewing lore (law) my mum has taught me!

designer collar

i love the extra details knipmode offers in their patterns, and as in this case, they aren't difficult once you decipher the instructions.

that's a closure!

overall, i'm pretty happy with this "toasted marshmallow coat". its cosy and stylish, the only problem is that its a bit on the tight side, especially the sleeves and back. i don't normally have this fitting problem, so i assume loden must have a little more stretch in it than my fabric did, or i scoffed too many lollies while i was translating the dutch instructions!