Thursday, 27 September 2012

Winter Wardrobe

The weather has turned decidedly Autumnal this last week, so I decided to get my winter clothes out from storage a few days ago.  Oh my goodness, apparently I have almost NO winter clothes - or certainly almost none that I like!

Luckily I have recently purchased quite a few lengths of fabric and patterns with the intention of creating a new winter wardrobe.

So without further ado, I would like to share my purchases and plans with you.

Blouses

I have fabric for 2 blouses. Both fabrics are polyester crepe de chine. 

The first is a tan and purple polka dot, purchased a couple of months ago at Sew Over It, while I was killing time before a work appointment.  Fabulous shop by the way!  It's going to become view C of Butterick 5561.



The second is a plain cerise pink/plum that I picked up recently at a sewing and craft show at Bluewater shopping centre.  I'm not totally sure what this is going to become yet, possibly Burdastyle's Pleated Tunic, or something similar.



Skirts


I have plans for 2 skirts.  I have one metre of this dark brown / aubergine heavy polyester (I think) fabric, also bought at the sewing show at Bluewater.  The man I bought this from told me it was produced for Jaeger, and it certainly feels nice enough.  I think this is going to become the skirt from Simplicity 2263, the same pattern I used for my Cherry Surprise skirt earlier in the year.  With added pockets of course! 




Secondly, at the same event I purchased a metre of pink/brown woven boucle looking fabric.  It's quite loosely woven, so I think it will need a lining. It will very likely be the skirt from Vogue 1247, several inches longer, as I've heard it's VERY short!



Dresses


Again, I have fabric for 2 - there appears to be a pattern developing here! - quite coincidentally.

Both fabrics were purchased at Fabricland in Basingstoke earlier this week.  I happened to be in the area for work, and of course had to pop in to see what they'd got.  They're both ponte knit and I have aubergine and teal.

The aubergine is going to be view A of Burda 7301, hopefully it will look exactly the same as the pattern envelope.



The teal I think might be paired with my first vintage pattern.  Simplicity 5170, the long sleeved version.  Again I'm hoping it will look like the illustration on the pattern envelope.




And finally......

A coat!!! 


I'm quite scared about this.  I wasn't when I bought the fabric months ago, but the closer it gets to me actually having to make it, the more scared I get. 

The fabric is a wool blend from Ditto Fabrics, which I bought months ago.  I've umm-ed and ahh-ed about patterns and have finally decided it will be a Vogue 8548.  Sadly by the time I decided I wanted to use that pattern it had been discontinued, but I managed to find a copy on eBay.  I'm going to make view C.  Sadly this fabric doesn't really go with any of my other purchases!



I think that should be enough to keep me going for a while!

Of course, I also have several knitting projects either on the go or in the pipeline, and my Burdastyle jacket to complete.  And Karen's Apronalong!   And that's without thinking about any Christmas gifts I might want to make.  Looks like I'm going to be busy. 


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Works in Progress...

I haven't had much time for either stitching or blogging this week, as I've been here, there and everywhere for work, but I thought it was about time I shared my current works in progress.

I have a Chelsea skirt on my knitting needles, in a lovely tweedy yarn called Donegal Soft, by Donegal yarns.  It's hard to get an interesting photo of this project, particularly at the moment while it's basically a long strip of knitting.  The skirt is knitted in one piece from the bottom up, using smaller sized needles as you go up the piece to create the A-line shaping.  I'm just about to change needle sizes for the first time.



Here's a close up of the stitch pattern, and to show the lovely coloured flecks in the yarn. 



It took me a while to get the stitch pattern right, as the way it was described was confusing to me.  However, once I wrote the directions out in a way that made more sense to me it was fine.

I also have a sewing project on the go - something a little bit more taxing than what I've made recently.  It's a Chanel style jacket from Burdastyle - the design is Jacquard Jacket 08/2012 #126.



Tracing the pattern off was interesting - I'm pleased there are only 6 pieces to this jacket!

I made my first "proper" muslin for this!  I'm glad I did because I had to make a few small changes - I ended up omitting the seam allowance from the seam down the top of the arm, and also shaving about 5mm off the shoulder curve on this seam.





The other change I made was to put some darts in the back - the shape was too boxy for me without them.



The outside of the jacket is almost complete.  It's going to be lined with the left over fabric from my Tigerlily Afternoon Tea dress, but first I'm hand sewing sequins around the neck.  I have a selection of matt black, matt gunmetal and oil on water black sequins which I am sewing randomly in a 2 inch band around the neck, instead of using sequinned fabric as recommended in the pattern. I'm as yet undecided whether to do the cuffs as well.



On another note, I'm very excited to say I've signed up for Karen's Apronalong over at Did You Make That?  I've ordered my pattern - Butterick 5302




I think I'll probably make a mash up using the bib of view D with the "skirt" of view A.

Friday, 14 September 2012

A New Love


I was lucky enough to go on a sewing machine embroidery and appliqué workshop yesterday, a lovely birthday present from my husband.

My tutor for the day was Katie Essam, a contemporary applied artist who I met recently at a craft fair.  I fell in love with her machine embroideries and when I found out she runs one to one workshops I jumped at the chance to learn a new skill.

Katie only lives about 20 minutes from my house, so yesterday morning I loaded my sewing machine and a bag full of bits and pieces I thought might be useful into my car and off I set.

Katie and her 2 gorgeous dogs welcomed me and after a quick cup of tea we set to work, Katie firstly showing me how to put an embroidery foot on my machine and lower the feed dogs.  Once that was done I was given a piece of calico backed with iron on stabiliser and told to go for it!  I just doodled initially to get the feel of the technique.  It isn’t difficult, but it’s a very strange feeling to be able to feed your fabric under the needle in any direction you fancy. It’s also surprisingly hard to stitch a perfectly straight line!  I initially found spirals the easiest to do for some reason.

Once I felt comfortable we set to work creating an embroidery from one of the pictures I’d taken along with me, a pile of old books.
 
I chose fabrics from Katie’s huge box of scraps.  The beauty of this technique is that often you can get away with using the smallest scraps of fabric that would normally go in the bin.

I cut up a copy of the photo I’d chosen to use and traced round the edge of each piece (which I first flipped to the wrong side) on the reverse of the fabric, then cut them out.  Next the pieces were arranged in their correct positions on a piece of bondaweb and ironed.  We then carefully peeled the fabric pieces off the bondaweb, positioned them on the calico and ironed again to fix them in place.

Then the fun part started!  I chose complimentary thread for each piece of fabric and carefully began my freehand stitching around the edges, adding details the spines of the “books” as I went.  Because you can stitch in any direction, on a fairly simple shape you can just keep going, and go over areas again to reach the next bit of you need to.  Katie recommended going over each stitching line at least twice to give a more defined outline.

Once I was happy with the stitching we moved onto painting, adding shadows, highlights and details with watered down acrylic paints and a fine liner pen.  Here you can add as much or as little detail as you like.

Here is my finished pile of books.


After a break for lunch we set to work on another piece, this time a pile of tea cups.

For this piece we used a similar technique initially, but ironed each piece onto the calico separately, behind a tracing of the photo.  The tracing was used as a stitching guide and then carefully torn away after all the stitching had been completed.   For this piece I used black thread throughout.

Again, I added some detail with acrylic paints, and also a “pattern” to one of the cups and the saucer with some pink thread.

Here is the finished piece, I’m really pleased with this one.


After a fabulous day, Katie sent me away with a handout detailing the process and materials used, and a goodie bag containing pieces of all the specialist materials so I could get straight on by myself.

And I have done exactly that, spending much of today working on an armchair.  I used the tracing paper technique that we used on the tea cups, the collage below gives you an idea of the process.
 
I added some gold thread to the scrolls on the chair, which you can just about see in this photo.
 
I'm loving this new technique so far and can't wait to do more pieces - I can see all my friends and relations receiving these for Christmas this year! 

In other news, I had 2 entries in my post-birthday giveaway. 
I don’t want to have to choose between them, even if it is done randomly, so I’m going to send a little parcel to both Jaqc C and Liza Jane.  If you could both drop me an email to sam(dot)molloy(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk  with your address I’ll get your goodies in the post to you.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Frustration!


Ugh, my knitting plans are not going smoothly at the moment.

I currently have a striped sweater on my needles – I posted here about swatching a couple of weeks ago.  It was going well, and I’ve made good progress on the body while I was on holiday and this morning I finished the turned hem. 

I’m using a Colourmart cotton/cashmere yarn that I know will shrink on washing, but the sweater was looking huge this morning.  I decided to wash it before starting on the sleeves,  to see if it would shrink the amount I expected, and it hasn't!  It's still both longer and wider than I anticipated it would be.  The length isn’t too much of a problem – I can always rip out the bottom few inches and shorten it – but it appears to be about 3 inches too wide across the shoulders. 

Now, this sweater is knitted top down in one piece, so of course altering the shoulders means ripping the whole thing out and starting again.  It is actually still drying on the bed in the spare room, so I suppose it would be sensible to wait until it’s dry and try it on, but so far it’s not looking good.

While the sweater is drying I decided to cast on for my Chelsea skirt. 
Chelsea skirt and Donegal Soft yarn.
I swatched like a good knitter and got gauge, so all was good.  But so far this afternoon I’ve cast on 197 stitches (twice), knitted 4 rows (once), and 6 rows (once) and ripped the whole thing out (twice).  The textured herringbone pattern is a repeat of 7 stitches and 4 rows, 2 of which are purl.  Can I get it right?  No, apparently I can’t!

The trouble with this one is the yarn is tweedy and it’s really hard to see where I’ve made a mistake until I get to the end of a row and have the wrong number of stitches left.   And I know what I’m doing wrong, which makes it even more frustrating!

As you can imagine I’m feeling rather deflated over both my current projects at the moment.  I really want them both to work, but right now I’ve lost confidence in both of them. 

I think I might just have to pour myself a large glass of wine and forget about them both until another day. 
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day - I'm planning on taking a trip to the V&A to see their ballgowns exhibition.

Cheers!
 
Oooh, don't forget to enter my little birthday giveaway.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Holiday, birthday and a giveaway


Hello!

It seems ages since I’ve ventured into blogland, but it’s only about a week!  Hubby and I have been away to Northumberland – Seahouses to be exact – and got back yesterday afternoon from a really lovely break.

We had wonderful weather, which enabled us to be out and about, doing a couple of walks and taking a boat trip to Holy Island.

It was also my birthday while we were away, which made it even nicer.  On my birthday – last Sunday – we took a walk of about 3 miles across the fields to Bamburgh.  We had a cuppa and a slice of cake in a little tea rooms before taking in the views of the castle.


Later on that day we took a boat trip from Seahouses around the Farne Islands and out to Holy Island, where we landed for 2 hours.

The sea was as calm as a mill pond, and we were lucky enough to see 20 – 30 seals around one of the islands.


They were so funny, bobbing their heads out of the water one after the other, then all disappearing at the same time, only to start all over again.
I love this photo, very artistic and taken by hubby!
 
Hubby kindly treated me to some knitting goodies for my birthday.  Touching Elegance book by Kim Hargreaves, which has some gorgeous patterns in.  I also got lovely dark grey yarn to make Wallace, one of the cardigans in the book, 2 lots of buttons and a very pretty pewter butterfly brooch.
 
I also found a lovely little shop in Seahouses itself that sold all manner of little bits and bobs, including some pretty braids and buttons, so I picked a few bits up for a little giveaway for you to celebrate my birthday.
There are 2 pieces of braid, 6 small heart shaped buttons and a cute little ruler. Just leave me a comment below by Friday 14th Sept and I’ll pick a winner.  I’m happy to post anywhere. 
I’m off now to flick through my copy of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing which arrived this morning!