Lets Talk About Knitting

So far my (few) posts have concentrated on sewing, so today I thought I’d have a little change and share some knitting with you.
I have knitted for as long as I can remember, on and off, although more off than on in recent years.  It was only a chance visit to a local yarn shop with a friend about 3 years ago that tempted me to try it again.  It was about that same time I discovered Ravelry, and since then I haven’t looked back.
Pre Ravelry I thought that everything had to be knitted exactly as the pattern stated.  No yarn substitutions, no altering lengths or sleeves or body, no omitting parts you didn’t like.  The only change I thought as being acceptable was to choose a different colour yarn from that shown on the pattern.  In my mind knitting patterns were "the law", to be followed to the letter!
And I was never really happy with things I’d knitted.   They never fitted quite right, or I’d think “if only this bit was different...”
However, 3 years on I hardly EVER follow a pattern 100%.  Most of the things I’ve knitted have had alterations of some sort, obviously some more successful than others.   Want longer/shorter sleeves, a more fitted shape, a wider neckline?  No problem!  Sometimes a little bit of maths is involved, or a little bit of trial and error, but I quite like that.
Found a gorgeous lace design on a sock pattern, but don’t like to knit socks?  Take that lace design and turn it into a beautiful scarf or add it to a sweater.
Of course, sometimes you need to follow the pattern fully, a lace shawl for example (although more experienced knitters than I may beg to differ - or not).    
On other occasions the pattern almost begs to be altered in some way.  A top down, in the round cardigan?  (Possibly my favourite item to knit by the way).   Alter the sleeve length, body length, add some waist shaping, a bit of lace, the choices are endless.  And knitting this way you can try on as you go, rather than having to wait until all the individual pieces are completed and sewn together.


What's on my needles?

I’m currently knitting a top down cardigan, Pebble by Nancy Eiseman.   The pattern is lovely, very well written and a simple knit.  I love the slightly vintage look it has.


Mine is a lovely coral orange, knitted in Louisa Harding Albero, which is a cotton/rayon blend double knitting yarn.

I’ve almost finished the body and while I have made a few alterations, they are quite minor.  I’ve added a little to the length, about 2 inches in total, and added a bit of waist shaping as boxy cardigans don’t really suit me. 

When it comes to the sleeves I will probably make them a little more fitted than the pattern photo shows them.
The alterations I have already made and will be making to this before it's complete will give me a cardigan that flatters my shape much more than the original, more boxy cardigan would have done.
Once you realise you CAN make alterations to a knitting pattern it is much easier to end up with a garment that fits you well and flatters your body shape.
 I just wish I’d known that years ago!

Peplums, Peplums Everywhere!

So, it seems that peplums are everywhere at the moment, and judging by some of the 2013 resort collections, look set to be around for a while to come.
Casey over at the Coletterie posted a selection of vintage peplums yesterday, and I thought I’d get in on the act and share some of my favourites.   I’ve focussed on current garments and patterns. 
I have to say I wasn’t sold on peplums initially, as I wasn’t sure how well they’d flatter a less than supermodel figure.  However, like a lot of trends they’ve grown on me and I’m now very tempted to try one (or two!) for myself.
Topshop currently has these sleeveless peplum tops in several colours, which I think would look great with a pencil skirt, either matching in colour or contrasting.
I’ve found a couple of patterns that would be a good match if you wanted to make something like this yourself. Salme Patterns have this gorgeous pattern, I think the slit in the front neckline gives it that little bit extra over the Topshop design. 

An alternative would be New Look 6130, which has a peplum top with different neckline and sleeve variations and also includes a pencil skirt and slim trousers, giving you a complete outfit if you desire.

FashionSewingBlog.com are actually starting a sew-along for this very top, but I think I might be too late to join in, as I don't have the pattern or any fabric suitable.  

This slightly looser fit top, also from Topshop, is very pretty with its pearl collar.

I haven’t been able to find a pattern similar to this one, but I would attempt to make something similar using Colette Patterns free Sorbetto top, omitting the front pleat and adding my own gathered peplum and a purchased lace collar.   This would look good over skinny jeans, either with heels or ballet pumps depending on your preference.

Peplum skirts come in many guises, from the discrete flat peplum such as this Oasis skirt.

Salme patterns have a pattern for an almost identical skirt here.

I think a skirt like this would be a good way to dip into the peplum trend quite safely.  A skirt like this could be worn in all but the most conservative of occasions I would imagine.

Then we have the much more extreme peplum, as on this skirt by Prodiga, from Flannels Fashion.

Something like this you may need a bit more confidence to pull off, particularly if it is your first time wearing a peplum.

I must confess I haven’t been able to find a sewing pattern for a similar skirt, although this New Look 6003 skirt pattern has several peplum variations.  

Maybe if you wanted a peplum similar to the Prodiga skirt above, you could combine the peplum section of the Salme patterns top with a simple pencil skirt.

I think you've probably had enough of me wittering on about peplums now, so I'll leave it at that, although I can't go without sharing this beauty from the Oscar de la Renta 2013 Resort Collection.

So, how do you feel about peplums?  Will you be jumping in on the peplum trend or not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

* Please excuse/ignore the change in font size halfway though, I've just spent ages trying to fix it and I can't!  Guess I've got a bit to learn about blogging yet!

Two Dresses

Firstly, let me say you’ll probably see quite a few dresses here, because I LOVE dresses.  They’re so comfortable, you don’t have to think about which top goes with which bottom, you don’t get nasty waistbands digging in all day and they can be anything and everything from the most casual to the most formal garment you can imagine.  What’s not to love?

So, I thought I’d post a little bit more about the Burdastyle Danielle dress in my last post, and also show you another dress I’ve made recently.

The instructions on the Burdastyle website say you need 1.9m of fabric.  I had one metre of some lovely John Kaldor polyester crepe, but I was desperate to make a dress from it.

Admittedly the pattern includes puffed sleeves, but even omitting them I knew I’d be cutting it fine, and I was!

I used virtually every scrap of the fabric I had to make this dress, and had to make some alterations to the pattern to make it possible.

After fiddling about for ages trying different layouts of the pattern on the fabric I was getting desperate.  There didn’t seem to be any way I could fit it all on, and I didn’t really want to buy any more.

Then I had a brainwave, perhaps I could redraft the bodice front, changing the darts to princess seams.   I wasn’t totally sure this would work, so I dug an unsuccessful skirt out of my “what shall I do with this?” pile and set to work making a muslin of the bodice out of it.  And it worked, albeit with a few alterations.

And, even better, when I laid the pattern pieces out on my fashion fabric, they fitted!!!

I omitted the sleeves, which I would have done no matter how much fabric I had.  Puffed sleeves and me don’t really go that well! 

In this picture you can just about see the seam that runs up the bodice, but because of the busy print it’s not really that noticeable.

I changed the back zip to a side seam zip, as I didn’t have a long enough zip to hand. I think I like it better like that anyway, and it makes it an awful lot easier to do up by myself. 

The bodice is fully lined with the muslin I made to test the bodice.   I debated putting some cap sleeves in using some navy lace I have in my stash, but decided that it would make the dress too formal, and I really wanted something I could wear for everyday.   I then decided to finish the armholes with navy satin bias tape.

The second dress I’d like to share with you is based on this dress from Anthropologie. 

A few weeks ago this very dress formed a discussion on Ravelry as to how it could be recreated and I decided to give it a go.

I already had some perfect fabric in my stash (again John Kaldor and again only 1 metre, why do I only buy 1 metre at a time?!), but for this I knew it would be enough.

I also had what I thought would be the perfect pattern – Butterick B5211.  One of the views even has a seam across the bust, although this proved to be too low for my purposes. 

The yoke is knitted using the directions for the mesh portion of this top in 100% cotton yarn.   I made some modifications to the number of stitches I cast on, as my gauge was different, and made the yoke 6 inches deep front and back.  The front edge I finished with a row of crochet shells to neaten it a bit.

The rest of the dress came together very easily, using French seams for the side seams and omitting the back seam, as the dress is loose enough to slip over my head.  I neatened and hemmed the top edges, carefully pinned the yoke in place, tacked and then sewed in place using my machine.

I’m really pleased with the result I achieved with both these dresses.   I'd love to know what you think of them!

Why do I stitch?

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at various other crafty hobbies, namely watercolour painting, card making and a bit of jewellery making.  These days however I tend to stick to the stitching, be it knitting, sewing or crochet.

So... why do I stitch?*

For several reasons, in no particular order.
  • I love being creative.
  • I love wearing garments that no one else has.
  • I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was little (still do actually, but realise it’s not going to happen now!) My stitching allows me to “play” fashion designer.
* I say "stitch" rather than knit, or sew, (or crochet) because it encompasses everything I might turn my hand to!

My stitching history:

Over the course of my stitching career(!) I’ve made many, many things!  And like lots of us I’m sure, many of them have ended up in the bin, or been cut up or unravelled to create something new.  And that something new may or may not have been successful!
I can remember sewing little sample strips of fabric that had been donated to me by my mum’s friend when I was about 7 or 8, just so I could enjoy the pretty patterns and colours together.  I can also remember my Grandma teaching me to crochet -  all I could do was go round in a circle – at about the same age. 
Since those days hopefully the things I’ve stitched have become more useful and more professional!
Here are a couple of recent sewing projects I've completed.

Burdastyle Danielle dress.  This is the first garment I’ve made since I've had Rosie my dress form, and I have to say, the fit is perfect.

Meringue skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook (which is fabulous).   The scallops are even in real life! 
I've also made a couple of Sorbetto tops from the (free!) pattern on the Colette blog, but they're both in the wash at the moment.

Hello there...

Hello, I’m Sam. 
Or Sammie.
or Samantha if I’m really in trouble! 
Welcome to my little corner of the web.

My Grandma always said "a little of what you fancy does you good".  I’ve been sewing and knitting for as long as I can remember, and that's what does me good.  I'll hopefully be sharing some of my stitching with you, among other things I find interesting.

Other things I love are fashion, reading, cooking (and eating!) and peace and quiet.  I spend a lot of time driving (mostly in London) for my job and love to relax with a stitching project or a book when I’m not working.

I'll be back soon with a bit more about me and my stitching.  I hope you'll join me.