Saturday, 23 February 2013

Polka Dot Frock

Hello there!

It seems like I've been missing for ages, although I think it's actually only a week.  I've been having (and still am) major problems with my internet.  Basically my wireless internet won't work wirelessly, meaning I can only get online with the laptop connected to the router.  Which shouldn't be too much of a problem except the router is right in the corner of the lounge and the cable isn't very long so I have to kind of huddle sideways in the corner to use the computer.  Not that comfortable!  I really should take the laptop to be looked at, but I've got a feeling it might be expensive. 

Anyway, less time spent online has meant I've finished (and worn) my polka dot New Look 6000, which I made for Scruffy Badger's Polka Dot Frock Fest.

Without further ado, here it is:


I had the fabric already in my stash, bought without a plan last year some time.  I loved the unusual colour combination.  I only had enough for the plain version without the side pleats, but on reflection, that's probably the one I would have made anyway.

Too lazy to make a "proper" muslin I made the lining first (the body is fully lined) and used that as my muslin.  I had to make a few changes, took about an inch of length out between the underarm and the bust darts to lift them slightly, and narrowed the shoulder seam by about an inch as well.

I also drafted my own curved cuffs as I wanted something to finish the sleeves and add a bit of interest, but I didn't want the pointy sticky out cuffs on the pattern.


As I mentioned, I lined the body which meant no facings (woo hoo!) but not the sleeves.  In order to have no raw edges, I used French seams for the sleeve seams and finished the cuff/hem edge with bias tape.


I wore this out to dinner with some girlfriends the other night and got several compliments.  It looks fab with purple tights and necklace.  I would have liked to share a modelled photo, but hubby has gone out and I'm too cold to start faffing around with taking photos on the camera timer.  It always takes me ages to get a decent pic on my own.   You'll have to take it from me that it fits perfectly!  Hubby said it looks like I bought it (which I'm assuming is a compliment).

Friday, 15 February 2013

Inside my Library...

If there's anything I love more than crafting (other than my family of course!) it would be books.  I adore books, always have, always will.  My idea of heaven would be an afternoon in Waterstones with an unlimited budget.

I love all kinds of books; fiction - from Jane Austen to Jane Green, via Kelley Armstrong; cookery - my current favourite cookery book is The Hairy Dieters - seriously delicious meals that don't taste at all like "diet" food; fashion/style books and of course, crafting books.

My addiction to books is so great that I really don't know what I'd do if you told me I could never buy or even read another book again in my life.  I could give up watching television or listening to music, but I couldn't give up reading.

Given my love of books I thought it would be good to share some of my favourites with you.  I'm going to start with my collection of sewing books.

It's not huge, in fact sewing books probably form the smallest part of my "library".


From top to bottom:

Drape Drape
Vogue Fitting
Good Housekeeping Home Dressmaking
Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing
Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing
The Colette Sewing Handbook
The Dressmakers Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

As you can see, it's quite a small collection, and I would imagine most seamstresses have several - if not all - of these books in their collections.

Let's have a bit of a look at them in more detail, and why I bought them.

The book I use most is the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  It covers (or has done for me anyway) pretty much everything you would wish to know to sew most garments, and has clear and simple drawings, like these for covered hem finishes:


I'm torn as to whether I prefer photographs or illustrations to show techniques, sometimes photographs seem to have too much detail, and illustrations too little.  However these illustrations are perfect for me.  Clear and simple, but showing everything you need to know.   It was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

I've used the Colette Sewing Handbook a fair bit too, although I've only made one of the garments - the Meringue skirt.  I like the layout of this book, in that it gradually guides you though different techniques, from fitting to finishing and accompanies each with an appropriate garment to make.  Unfortunately the garments - other than the Meringue skirt - aren't really my style, but the rest of the book makes it a worthwhile purchase. Again, the illustrations are clear.  I love this one showing how to enclose a invisible zip with a waist facing.



I've used the Vogue Fitting book a couple of times and bought it on recommendation from a friend.  I managed to find a copy on Amazon for a very reasonable price.  It seems to cover pretty much every aspect of fitting - as you would expect! - and I hope it helps when I come to start making my first trousers soon.  It's not the most exciting looking book in the world, but it does it's job!


I'm ashamed to say I haven't actually used any of the other books in my collection!

The Dressmakers Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques is new.  I'd hummed and haa'd about buying it for a while, and it's not really what I expected.  I don't know quite what I expected, but I was a little disappointed when I started flicking through.   The first few pages show small thumbnail photos of the techniques detailed:


There are definitely lots that I will never use, but some will be useful. I particularly like this one for lining a skirt and binding the seams in one.  I think that will come in very useful, and I'm sure there will be others.


Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing is lovely.  Split into 2 parts, the first section covers technique and is written in a lovely personal way, with lots of insight into where Gertie got to where she is today.  I love this part, which contains some gorgeous illustrations by Sun Young Park.


The second part of the book contains the patterns, and this is less "me".  As with the Colette book, the garments aren't really my style.  I could see myself making the Portrait Blouse, but not really any of the others.  However as a fan of Gertie's blog it's a purchase I definitely don't regret.

I will willingly admit I bought the Good Housekeeping Home Dressmaking purely for the illustrations.  Just look at this gorgeous cover!


The illustrations inside are all black and white, but are in the same style.  There's a lovely section at the beginning on "The Total Look" showing garment shapes that are flattering for different body shapes.   I love how the ladies wearing the flattering garments are smiling and the unflatteringly dressed ladies aren't!


Drape Drape is a bit of a mystery to me in that I'm not really sure why I bought it!   I think I'd seen it talked about quite a bit around blogland and I was in need of a book fix so it hopped into my Amazon basket.  It's definitely interesting!  There are a couple of dresses I'd like to make, this one in particular,



but most of the garments are a little too "drapey" for me.  This could be one that I end up passing on to someone else in the future.

So that's my sewing library.  I'd love to know what's in yours.  Is there a book you can't live without that you'd recommend I add to mine?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Patterns and Projects

Good afternoon all!  I hope you're all warm and cosy inside if your weather is anything like the wet and cold conditions we've got in the South East of England at the moment. 

Added to the cold weather, our house is pretty cold at the moment as we're doing some work in the kitchen which has required disconnecting 2 of the radiators.   Consequently I'm snuggled up on the sofa with the fire on to keep warm. 

To cheer myself up, I thought I'd share with you some of my recent pattern purchases and progress on a couple of crochet and knitting projects.

First up, the patterns:


McCalls 6707; McCalls 6678; New Look 6000; Butterick 5610
Unlike some previous pattern purchases that I've made just because the pattern looks cute, I actually have a plan for each of these.

New Look 6000 will be the one I make first as I'm joining in Scruffy Badgers Polka Dot Frock Fest.  I hope to make a start on this one this week.  I've already got my polka dot fabric, it's this:


I'll be making View E.


I don't really feel like making a muslin, although I know I should!  I'm going to line the dress, so I'm tempted to make the lining first, and use that as my "muslin".  Is that really lazy?

Of course, there is another dress in there as well!  McCalls 6678, which is a Stitch and Save pattern (whatever that means).   I bought it purely for View A, which I'll be making up in some fabric my mum gave me recently.  I think you could probably call it vintage - I can remember her buying it at least 20 years ago.



The third pattern I bought was to help fulfill my Sewlution - McCalls 6707. 



I pledged to make a pair of trousers during 2013 - I think I said they needed to fit me properly as well! 

Ignore the panelling on the legs and waistband and imagine these in a single coloured fabric.  I'm thinking navy for my first pair, then at least if they don't fit absolutely perfectly I won't be drawing too much attention to myself.

Finally we have Butterick 5610, which will hopefully fill a bit of a void in my wardrobe as far as blouses/tops go. 



It's still not the perfect pattern, but it's pretty good.  I like view A best (plain blue), but could see myself making both that and view C (white and black patterned).   I'm not keen on the gathered hems of the other 2 versions, although I'm not discounting the colourblocking on view B.

I don't have any fabric or any ideas of colours for this yet, I'll see what takes my fancy.

Now onto a couple of projects I've got on the go. 

I recently posted about a wrap I'd just started to crochet, well I'm loving it and I seem to be wizzing along!  It's looking good:



I'm coming up to almost halfway on it.  I need 5 or 6 repeats of the daisy section - I can't remember which from memory, but once I've done 5 I'll then decide if it needs to go any wider.  Can't wait to be wrapping myself in this. 

And thankfully my knitting mojo seems to have returned as well, thanks in no small part to this gorgeous yarn.



It's a 70% Merino, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere blend from Colourmart, called "Diamante" on their site, and the color is Jewel.  It's a laceweight yarn and I had them wind it onto the cone doubled, so its not quite so scarily thin.  I wish you could feel how soft this is, it's absolutely unbelieveable.  I just want to sit and stroke or squish it. 

I'm making a very simple sweater from it, Ella from Kim Hargreaves' Touching Elegance book. 


I think that's me all up to date now, I'm off to make a cuppa and do a bit more of my wrap.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Knitting no fun? Try crochet!

Since I finished my Kim Hargreaves Tempt cardigan - which I still haven't got a decent photo of - I've been finding it hard to settle to a new knitting project. 

I do like to have at least one on the go at any one time, if no other reason than it gives me something to do while hubby is watching rubbish TV!

I started a lacy cardigan, Debbie Bliss's Sideways Knitted Cardigan, from the Rialto Lace book.



It's lovely, and quite a simple lace pattern, but I'm using dark blue yarn and my Knit Pro wooden needles.  They're dark coloured, and it appears that my 40 something eyes no longer like looking at fine, dark coloured yarn on dark needles in anything less than good daylight!  I'm working slowly on this one, but it's not winter evening knitting!

I then started a sweater - the Edge Hoodie - as part of a knit-a-long in the Anthropologie Knits group on Ravelry.  I'd got about 6 inches done when I realised it was going to be huge, so I frogged it and started again on smaller needles.  It looks better now, but I don't really like it.  Even though I'd decided to make it without the hood, it's not really me, but it fitted in with the KAL theme of "Sweatshirt Style".  So that's now on the backburner as well!

Rather disillusioned and not sure what to knit next, I browsed Ravelry for inspiration and came upon a gorgeous crochet wrap.  The Daisy Wrap from Blue Sky Alpacas. 


Isn't it pretty? 

I downloaded the pattern and made a swatch almost immediately. 


 I've now started on the largest size with some gorgeously soft cashmere/cotton/angora fingering weight yarn that was in my stash, and I'm loving it!  I'm so pleased to be working on something I'm enjoying, rather than slogging or struggling with one of the other projects. 

I will go back to the lace cardigan when the evenings get lighter, but I think the hoodless hoodie is heading for the frog pond again.

On another note, I've signed up for Scruffy Badgers Polka Dot Frock Fest.  She has around 20 bloggers making polka dot versions of New Look 6000 sometime during February.



I'll be using this fabric that has been in my stash since last summer.



It's a little bit darker than this in real life.  I only have 1.5 metres, so I'll be making view E, without the side pleats and will omit the cuffs as well.