Made by Me: Seasonally Inappropriate Seashore Cowl

This picture featured in Karen's WIP Pitch over at Did You Make That? a few weeks ago. 

The idea was to send Karen a photo of your current WIP (work in progress), be it knitting, sewing or whatever, she would post all the photos she recieved and we would guess - or try to guess - what each other was making.

There were some gorgeous and intriguing submissions.  Nessa of Nessa's Place correctly guessed that I was making a cowl.  And here it is:

It's the Seashore Cowl, from Starling Knits and Crafts.  For once I knit it exactly as written - which is very unusual for me, I can't resist making a few little (or large) changes to most patterns I knit!  I did add beads between the YO's in the lace sections, purely because I had some that were the perfect colour.   You can see the beads in the above photo.  

The yarn is sock yarn, the grey is Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk that I purchased from a fellow Ravelry users, and the varigated yarn is I Knit or Dye Rubber Sole.  This one is particularly gorgeous, it's 50% merino and 50% silk.  I bought it last year at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace for no other reason than I loved the colours.

I started knitting this a few weeks ago because the weather was so blooming cold and awful I seriously thought I would need to wear it as soon as I finished it.  However, as soon as I DID finish it the weather changed completely and the temperatures soared!

Perhaps I need to knit winter things in "summer" more often and help keep the weather as it should be!

I think this will get a lot of use.  You could throw it on over a t-shirt around your neck if you just wanted an extra bit of warmth, pull it down over your arms (as in the above photo) so it was more cape like, or wear it over a coat.  I'm thinking a pretty shawl pin might be nice to fix the neck snuggly under my chin on really cold days.   

I'm now off to discover what some of the other WIP's that were pitched turned out to be. 

Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed

Happy Saturday everyone!

Who's feeling tired today because they stayed up until silly o'clock last night to watch the Olympics opening ceremony?  I certainly am.

I have to admit that until about Thursday this week I wasn't remotely feeling the Olympic Spirit.  Then about 48 hours ago I felt some glimmer of interest building inside me, and I ended up staying up until nearly one o'clock this morning to watch the opening ceremony.

And I have to say I loved it! 

Right from the very start, with the wonderful pastoral scene, complete with maypole, village cricket match and sheep, through to the lighting of the cauldron.

There were a few sections that left me slightly confused - aren't there always in these things? - but these are my highlights:

The Olympic rings being "forged" during the Industrial Revolution section and being raised to the sky.

James Bond escorting Her Majesty The Queen to the stadium, complete with parachute jump from the helicopter!

The amazing fireworks.

David Beckham bringing the flame down the Thames by speedboat.  (DB and Daniel Craig in one evening - how wonderful was that?!)

And the best bit - Team GB entering the stadium to David Bowie's Heros, led by Sir Chris Hoy carrying the flag. 

I felt very emotional and more than a little overwhelmed by the whole thing.  I think I can safely say, I am now in the Olympic spirit.

Sadly, this morning I was disinctly underwhelmed.  I set off to the shops with £200 clutched in my hot, sweaty little hand to buy myself an overlocker from John Lewis. 

I'd seen the one I thought I wanted online, but never having used one or seen one in action before I asked the very helpful lady in the Habedashery department for a demonstration.

I have to say I was a little bit disappointed, and as I've said, underwhelmed.  I hear so many people rave about their overlockers, but I really felt "Huh, is that it?"

OK, yes, it trims and neatens all your seams as it sews and it finishes edges.  Somehow, I was expecting something more...... but I don't know what exactly!

So tell me, why do I need an overlocker? 

If you have one, do you love yours?  How has it changed your sewing life?

Right, I'm off to see if Mark Cavendish can win the mens cycling road race!  See you soon.

Hot, Bothered and Busy!

Oh my goodness, what a hot one we’ve had this week!  Why couldn’t it have been last week when hubby and I had the week off to spend at my sisters’ holiday home in Norfolk?  That week was spent mostly in the rain!  Had an email from my sister last night saying they’d had a lovely day at the Sandringham flower show, and had come within about 2 feet of Prince Charles.  Sadly she wasn’t brave enough to shake his hand.

I’ve been back at work this week and seem to have spent a large part of my time sitting in the car, overheating.  I drive a lot for my job, and a lot of the driving I do is in London...... not fun at the moment as the Olympic lanes came into operation earlier this week. 

Thankfully today I didn’t have to go into London, but down to the south coast instead.  It was lovely driving through the New Forest, but as you can imagine, it was slightly warm in the car!

So I’ve been busy at work this week, and am about to be busy on the stitching front as well.

I’m taking part in the Ravellenic Games on Ravelry, which start tomorrow evening to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  The idea is that you challenge yourself to knit or crochet a project and have it completed by the closing ceremony (I think!) 

I will be crocheting a top based on this one from Anthropologie. 
Anthropologie Eden Tunic

I’m going to use a Doris Chan pattern, the Multi-Tone Shell, and add some crochet flowers at the hemline. 

I have my yarn already wound into balls, but the pattern download I purchased earlier this afternoon hasn’t arrived in my inbox yet!

I’ve also got a couple of sewing projects that I hope to start over the next few days – or one of them at least. 

I was passing a local charity shop the other day and saw what I thought was a very pretty maxi dress in the window.  I went in and enquired about it only to find it was actually a jumpsuit.  I was a bit disappointed, but it was only £6, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Sadly it looks awful on me, but there’s plenty of lovely fabric in it, so I’m going to use it for an Alexander blouse from Burdastyle. 

This is a quick shot of the fabric, I love the flowers strewn over the striped background.

I have the pattern downloaded, taped together and cut out.  I just need to unpick or cut apart the jumpsuit now.  I’m hoping that I can get away with cutting the seams off, and don’t have to unpick them all.

My other immediate sewing project will be a peplum top and skirt using New Look 6130, that I mentioned in my post about peplums last month.

I’m mixing and matching a bit with the top, doing the neckline of View B and the shaped peplum of View C.  For the sleeves I’ve drafted a tulip sleeve, using this tutorial from Sew Many Seams.

I’ll be using this polyester crepe fabric. 

I had earmarked it for a Simplicity Cynthia Rowley dress, but I like the peplum top and skirt better.  I need to have this outfit completed by 18th August, as I'm planning on wearing it to afternoon tea at Luton Hoo, for a friends 50th birthday celebration.
Aerial shot of Luton Hoo.
This is the drawing room where they serve afternoon tea.

I think these stitching project should keep me busy for the next few weeks!  I'm sure by the time I've finished them the list of the next few will be increasing, like it usually does!

Made by Me: A Victory for Stripes!

A while ago I bought some navy and grey striped jersey with the intention of making a maxi dress.   However the weather has been so awful that it’s been too cold to wear the maxi dresses I already own, and I couldn’t face the thought of another one.   Shocking, because I love my maxi dresses! 
This is the fabric and original plan.

However I did need something warm to wear and as all my sleeved dresses are currently packed away for summer (!?) I decided to put the striped jersey to use and make something more weather appropriate. 
I wanted something simple, loose-ish but still with a bit of something out of the ordinary to it.  So I searched through all the patterns I have favourite and came up with VictoryPatterns Hazel dress.

My plan was initially to make the bodice with the stripes meeting in a V, but then I realised I couldn’t as the stripes are not regular and wouldn’t match up.  So instead I but the pattern pieces with the stripes horizontal on the bodice and sleeves and diagonal on the skirt and cuffs.  Due to the amount of fabric I had left I cut one side of the tie with the stripes going longways and the other side with the stripes diagonal.
The dress was easy to make up, I cut a size 8, which turned out to be a little big on the bust and shoulders but this was easily altered.  Next time I would use the size 8 for the skirt and a 6 or even a 4 for the bodice, depending on the fabric used.
However, when it was done – or almost done – I wasn’t convinced by it.  There seemed to be just a few too many stripes and I felt they overwhelmed me somewhat.   My husband said it looked fine – that’s always a worrying response to “how does this look?” isn’t it? – but I still wasn’t sure. 
Not quite sure why I'm holding onto the door frame here!

Then, during one of my try on’s – once I’d altered the shoulders I think – I put it on over my jeans, and an idea was sparked.  What if I cut the bottom off and turned it into a tunic to wear over jeans?
At this stage I think it was just tucked into my jeans to hold the excess fabric out of the way!


I chopped about 13 inches off and hemmed it, using my twin needle FOR THE FIRST TIME!  It worked, the hem may not be the neatest ever, but it’s much neater than if I’d used a zigzag or straight stitch.
The finished tunic, as modelled by Rosie, who always poses nicely!

And the tunic works.  I feel much happier in it than in the dress.  The stripes are less overwhelming when paired with dark denim, and in all honesty I’ll probably get more use out of it this way.  I was in need of tops to wear with jeans. 

All in all, I would call this a Victory for Stripes!
Do your stitching plans change as you progress through a garment?  Or do you always stick to the original idea?  I'd love to know.

On my needles... and out in the rain!

Hubby and I are having a few days away in Norfolk in my sister's holiday home, to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary.  Sadly the weather hasn't been that great, yesterday it poured with rain and somewhat hampered our visit to Sandringham.  Sadly, the Queen wasn't at home to welcome us in for a nice cuppa to warm ourselves up!

It's a gorgeous place though, and I'm sure in lovely weather the grounds are well worth a tour around.  I took a couple of photos through the drizzle (which later turned to a downpour!).

I'll also take this opportunity to share my current WIP with you, now it's been featured on Karen's WIP Pitch over at Did You Make That? a few days ago.   There are some great looking WIP's featured there - I can't wait to find out what they all are!

I'm making the Seashore Cowl, from Starling Knits and Crafts.   This is the photo from their website, that accompanies the pattern.  Isn't it pretty?

I've almost finished mine now.  I just have one more stripe of the pale grey I'm using for the body, then the final lace round.  I've added small beads between the eyelets in the lace sections.  You might just be able to see them in this photo.

According to the weather forecasts today, things are supposed to be getting a bit nicer here towards the start of next week, so it might be a while before I'm wearing it (fingers crossed!).  But I will certainly share it properly with you soon. 

When I get home I also have a completed sewing project to share with you, something I finished just before we came away, but I didn't have time to photograph.

Friday Fancies

Hi there, happy Friday!

Here are a few more of my current favourite stitching/crafty/gorgeous things for your delight.

Victory Patterns Hazel dress. 

This is going to be my next sewing project, I have the pattern all printed out and taped together, ready for hopefully cutting out this evening.  I’ll be making mainly in one fabric, a grey and navy striped jersey, with probably a band of plain navy jersey at the waist and cuffs. 
My current knitting WIP. 

I can’t share any more of it than this at the moment, until it’s appeared in Karen’s WIP Pitch over at Did You Make That.  I’m nearly finished with it though, so you should see some more information on it soon-ish. 
This tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew on how to make buttonholes, and also this one at A Fashionable Stitch on handworked buttonholes.  For some reason I have an irrational fear of buttonholes, hopefully these tutorials will help me overcome it.
Chocolate Guinness cake from this recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery. 

I've made mine in a loaf tin. This stuff is absolutely divine!
Gorgeous lace detailing. I'd love this on a tweed dress.

Have a lovely weekend.  I'm off to Norfolk on Sunday for a few days, keep you fingers crossed for decent weather for me!

Made by Me: Pebble Cardigan

I've had some issues with this stitching project, and at the weekend it was relegated (completed apart from all the ends being sewn in) to the spare room as it had angered me!

However, with some calm thinking and a little work the issues have disappeared and she is now my new favourite...... until the next one comes along!

The pattern is the Pebble Cardigan, by Nancy Eiseman, which can be found here on Ravelry.

The issues were not due to the pattern at all, which is lovely.  In fact I'm not sure what they were due to, but whatever it was caused the finished cardigan to twist so that one front edge was longer than the other, and the whole garment seemed to hang to one side.  The cardigan is knitted in one piece from the top down, so there are no side seams to help things hang correctly.

You can see the difference in length here - at this stage I thought it was the circular needle pulling things out of shape.

After ranting and moaning, and counting several time to make sure I'd picked up the same number of stitches for each front band (I had - 81 each side), I did the sensible thing and gave it a good bath and laid it out flat to block dry, carefully shaping it all into place. 

Then I got on Ebay and found some pretty striped grosgrain ribbon to stitch along the button and buttonhole bands to prevent them from stretching again (or whatever they'd done!).

Stitching it to the button band was easy, measure the length, pin carefully and sew neatly in place. 

However, the buttonhole band was a bit more tricky - how to cope with the buttonholes?  I debated several solutions, but in the end I measured (several times) and marked out positions for buttonholes on the grosgrain and made them on my sewing machine.  Then I lined everything up with the buttonholes on the knitted band and stitched in place.  I had to sew a few stitches around each buttonhole (which I'd hoped not to have to do) as the different coloured stripes showed through onto the front side of the cardigan.

Yesterday morning it even stopped raining long enough (and the sun came out for a few minutes) so that I was able to get into the garden and snap a few photos. 

Worn here with the denim skirt I made at the weekend!

Made by Me: Cherry Surprise Skirt

As I mentioned last week, I was hoping to make myself a skirt over the weekend – specifically the tulip skirt (view B) from Simplicity 2263.

And as the weather was so atrocious I had plenty of time inside sheltering from the rain to achieve my aim!

I was inspired to make this skirt after seeing ScruffyBadgers gorgeous teal linen skirt, and knew I had this pattern in my stash that was very similar.  Sadly my pattern didn’t have pockets, so I took the plunge and added some, using this excellent tutorial from Casey of Elegant Musings.

The skirt itself is stretch denim.  It was wide, 165cm I think, and I ended up using less than a metre.   I made the pocket linings and waistband lining from navy cherry print cotton, partly to reduce the bulk of several layers of denim, and partly because I thought it was cute (and partly because I loved Scruffy Badger's polka dot pockets!). 

As I was adding pockets, I was also concerned about extra layers of fabric whilst inserting the side zip, so I moved the zip to the centre back seam.  I used an invisible zip, and followed the instructions in the Colette Sewing Handbook for inserting it and finishing it along with the insertion of the waistband facing.  It worked perfectly and gives a great finish.  My zip isn’t completely invisible (I think I need an invisible zip foot for my machine) but it looks pretty good.

For another touch of fun/cuteness I finished the hem with some bright red floral lace. 

I can definitely see more of these skirts in my sewing future.  I got the fit spot on, and it’s a great shape for me. 
Here it is paired with the top I made last week - view A of the same pattern.

On the knitting front, I've almost finished my orange Pebble cardigan, just the ends to sew in and buttons to sew on (once I've decided which ones to use!) so hopefully I'll have that to share later this week...

Friday Fancies

Yay! It’s Friday.

To celebrate I’d like to share some of my “fancies” for this week. In no particular order, here are some things I’m currently loving.

I’d love to make some of these to hang my handmade dresses on. They'd make cute gifts too.

  • This tutorial from Casey at Elegant Musings on how to add hip pockets to a skirt. I’ll be using a plainer version of this for my denim Simplicity 2263 tulip skirt.

  • Lace skirts, like this one from La Redoute.

I think it looks gorgeous with the black peplum top. Both items seem as if they would be quite simple to make. If only I could find some lovely lace fabric that doesn’t break the bank...

  • Crumpets, particularly home made ones using this recipe from The Hairy Bikers. (Actually I love the look of pretty much everything The Hairy Bikers cook!).  You wouldn’t normally associate crumpets with July, but with the weather we’ve been having recently, I might just have to make some of these this weekend!

  • Cats reading newspapers.


I know I said in no particular order, but that cat might well be my favourite this week!

Have a lovely weekend!

Made by Me: Simplicity 2263 Top

Have you ever got home from work and just wanted to sew... sew something... sew anything?!

That's how I felt today.  I'd had a fairly average day, driving to South London from home and back.  A journey of 40 odd miles that took me 3 hours this morning!  Thankfully coming home it took about half that. 

By the time I got home I just wanted to relax and do something creative. 

So, I had a rummage in my pattern and fabric stash and less than 2 hours later, this top was finished!

The pattern is Simplicity 2263, purchased half price a month or so ago.  I was going to use the fabric that became my Lattice Topped Dress for the top in this pattern, but obviously that didn't happen!

The fabric is a jersey remnant that I literally had just enough to squeeze the top out of. 

The top is 2 pieces (wonderful for after work, unplanned sewing!) as I didn't need to use the neck facings.  The "shoulder" seams are dropped forward and the front gathers onto the back part. 

I stabilised the shoulder seams with some transparent elastic - I think it's meant for swimwear or underwear and I don't even know why I have it in my sewing box. 

Ooops, looks like I missed a little bit of the neckline hem, by the shoulder seam.  I'll have to fix that!

The neckline, sleeves and hem are just turned under and sewn using a zigzag stitch that is made up of tiny straight stitches.  (Like number 11 below)

I don't know if it has a special name!  It's the first time I've used this stitch on jersey and it gave a much nicer result than a standard zigzag does. 

I'm very pleased with the result.  The pattern isn't designed for jersey, but it definitely works, and it's the type of top I find easy and comfortable to wear.  I can definitely see me making more of these, possibly an inch or two longer next time. 

I was feeling a bit headless (or brainless) by the time I got home from work!

Next up will be the tulip skirt from the same pattern, in some dark denim.  Hopefully that will happen over the weekend. 

Project Planning

Hi there!

I’ve got a few stitching projects in the pipeline that I’d like to share with you.
There are a couple of dresses – of course. 

First up is Simplicity 1802, a Cynthia Rowley pattern, in this navy and cream polyester crepe de chine.

Hopefully I’ll be making the sleeveless version – although it’s been so cold here recently I may have to rethink that.   I want a pretty dress to wear on a visit to Luton Hoo for afternoon tea in celebration of a friends big birthday in August.  I’m really hoping it will be warm enough then for a sleeveless dress!
I love the dress paired with orange sandals, but I'll probably be wearing navy ones.

Secondly, a maxi dress from icandy handmade's Hint of Vintage tutorial here. 

I’ll be using a navy and grey stripe jersey from Ebay, with a plain navy for the trim.
Another Sorbetto top is also on the list (is it possible to have too many of these?), this one with a lace collar and possibly a gathered peplum, similar to the Topshop loose peplum top I posted recently about.

This is the fabric I will be using, a lightweight cotton from Ditto Fabrics.   Again, I’m concerned about warmth.  I’m craving pretty tops, but it is cold enough to need a sweater on today, so maybe I should move onto my next – and most ambitious – project, a coat.
The Riveria Kiss Me Coat, from Hot Patterns to be specific. 

I have some blue and grey floral wool mix fabric, also from Ditto Fabrics for this.  I bought it several weeks ago, and am glad I did as it’s no longer on their website. 

I’m a bit scared about this one, I’ve never made a coat before.  The pattern envelope says that is an advanced pattern, but Hot Patterns have a “show and tell” video description of the coat on their website, and the woman in that says its easy.  We’ll see......
If anyone has any super tips for sewing a coat, I’d be more than happy to read them!

I don’t tend to plan very far ahead with my knitted projects, but there are a couple in my queue. 
Firstly a crochet top, based on this one, the Eden tunic from Anthropologie. 

I’ll be “winging it”, using a free Japanese crochet pattern as a basis.  I have some wonderful cotton/cashmere yarn from Colourmart for it.

Then I need to start thinking about the knitted dress I completed about 2/3 of last year and then discovered it was far too big.  I shoved it in the cupboard, unable to face miles and miles of stocking stitch again, but I really want to wear it this winter.  It is this dress from Rebecca, a German company, which I will be knitting in some orange extra fine merino, again from Colourmart. 

So, that's the plan for the moment.  I'm sure it will change, as plans have a habit of doing!

I'd love to hear your opinions, particularly if you have any helpful suggestions for coat making.