Made by Me: Relax Sweater

Although I've almost always got something on my knitting needles, the results rarely make it to the blog.

I don't really know why that is.  Maybe I find it harder to write about knitting?  I often find that by the time I reach the end of a knitting project I'm ready to be done with it.  I've had enough - however much I enjoyed the knitting process and like the end result - and I don't want to think about it too much more. 

I thought I'd try and change that, and start by sharing the project I've just finished. 


Please excuse the photos, I somehow managed to cut the top of my head off in every one I took!

The pattern is Relax by Ririko, available on Ravelry. 

I've been admiring these simple, wide sweaters for a while now, but wasn't sure if they'd suit me.   However, I recently bought a fine knit cardigan in a similar shape and find myself reaching for it over and over, so I decided that maybe a sweater would be a good idea.

I made the extra small size, so it's probably not quite as wide as intended, but I really like it.  It feels very relaxed, but not sloppy.   And it was so relaxing to knit!  I've come to realise I really do like knitting miles of stocking stitch, particularly in the evenings.   As long as I remember to count my rows I can just switch off and enjoy it, without the stress of following a difficult stitch pattern or chart. 

That's not to say I don't like knitting more complicated things - I do - just that I'd forgotten how nice and relaxing something like this could be.

The yarn I used is from Colourmart, one of their shiny cottons.  It's a cashmere/cotton/angora/merino blend and is very soft.  The angora is a bit sheddy - it's currently leaving pink fluff on my dark jeans - but it's not too bad. 

I can see me getting quite a bit of wear out of this sweater, so much so that I've just ordered some yarn for another one!  I think I might make the next one a little bit longer, but that's the only change I'd make. 

Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - Style Arc Stella coat

Another Minerva Blogger Network project, another Style Arc pattern.  This is becoming a bit of a habit.  I promise I'll use something else next month. 

For this months project I decided to make a coat for Spring.  Having had a coat failure early in the New Year I was slightly daunted, but I suffered none of those trials and tribulations on this project I'm pleased to say.

I chose the pattern before the fabric, and went with the Style Arc Stella coat.  I really love the simple, classic lines of this design, a pared down version of a traditional trench coat.  I knew I wanted to make it in a neutral fabric to give it even more of that classic look. 

Vicki from Minerva kindly sent me samples of fabrics she thought would be suitable, and she very generously let me order 3 metres of this Camel/Brown Tweed 100% wool suiting.  It is seriously one of the nicest fabrics I've had the pleasure to work with.  It cut beautifully with hardly any fraying, it stayed still while I sewed it and it pressed like a dream.  It's not the cheapest fabric around, but in my opinion worth every penny. 

For the lining I used some stash fabric, 2 metres of beige brocade I picked up in a local charity shop.  I think it's actually a furnishing fabric, but it was the perfect colour and weight for this project.  I sometimes find standard dress linings too lightweight for coats.

I took a bit of a risk with this project and didn't make a muslin first.  I would normally make a muslin for at least part of a new pattern to check fit and in the case of a coat would normally make the whole thing up before cutting into my good fabric.  Unfortunately I didn't really have time on this occasion.  Instead I spent a bit of time measuring various parts of the pattern and decided that the fit would be close enough for me to just make small alterations as I went along if I needed to.

As it turned out, I didn't make a single alteration.  The pattern is a Style Arc size 12, and I think it fits me pretty much perfectly.  I was lucky on this occasion, but I wouldn't normally advise making such a large project without testing the pattern first. 

Style Arc patterns do not come with detailed instructions, they provide the basics, but do assume quite a bit of prior knowledge.  For example, the instructions suggest you bag the lining, but don't tell you how to do this.  I've never bagged a lining before but decided that on this occasion I would give it a try. 

There are various tutorials online for bagging linings.  The one I used was from Grainline Studio's recent Cascade coat sew-a-long

I have to say I was worried.  When you've got the coat and lining both inside out and sewn completely together it really does not look like you're ever going to end up with a "right side out" garment that's wearable, but it works!  To me it was like magic, turning the coat right side out through a gap left in a sleeve lining seam.  It's one of those techniques I was scared of, but having used it once I would definitely do so again - probably not without referring to the instructions again though!

I'm super pleased with this coat, I think it's one of the best, most professional garments I've made myself.  I've worn it a few times already and have received a number of compliments, with several people being amazed when they found out I made it myself.


Thank you to those who commented on my last post to suggest what I should make with the chambray fabric.  The shirt dress was the clear winner, so a shirt dress I will make.  It won't be the one I mentioned in that post, I've found one I like better.

What shall I make?

Today I need some help from you deciding what to make for my April Minerva Blogger Network project. 

I ordered 2.5 metres of this gorgeous (and it really IS gorgeous) Indigo blue chambray and thought it would be perfect for a Spring/Summer garment.

My original plan was the Style Arc Carly jumpsuit. 

I haven't muslined it yet, but I'm having second thoughts.  I'm worried that in chambray it will look too child-like and the fabric won't be drapey enough.  I think the pattern might look better in something more elegant like a crepe de chine or viscose. 

So, I have a couple of other options.  One very simple and the other less so. 

The simple one is the Salme Patterns Raglan Sleeve Shirt Dress

I love shirt dresses on other people, but I hate collars on myself.  This one doesn't have a collar!  But is it too boring for such a plain fabric?

My other option at the moment is Vogue 1175

This is an out of print Donna Karan pattern, which I only discovered recently and managed to get a copy on eBay for next to nothing.  As you can see, its far from simple, but it's got some good reviews.  Quite a few people seem to have made it and not "bubbled" the hem, which I like. 

So, what do you think?  Would you make any of these patterns from this fabric, or would you suggest something else completely?

Two ways with lace

As you probably know, I'm lucky enough to be a member of the White Tree Fabrics blog team.  A while ago Lisa from White Tree contacted me and asked me if I would like to take part in a special, top secret project for them, using a particular fabric. 

The fabric in question was lace.

Of course, I jumped at the chance, I haven't had much experience of sewing with lace and thought it would be good to try. 

The reason it was top secret (at the time) was that White Tree Fabrics had been asked to provide some lace for the current series of The Great British Sewing Bee.  This meant that I couldn't share my project until the series aired.

The "lace" episode aired yesterday (it was the semi-final) so I can now show you what I've made with the lace I was sent. 

I've actually used it in 2 projects, very different from each other.

The first is a pair of lace and satin pyjamas.  A bit glamorous for me - I'm normally in jersey pyjamas - but lovely for a treat!

I had to pin them to Rosie, as they're a little tight for her.  They fit me fine, but I didn't really want photos of me wearing them on the internet!

For the top I used Vogue V7837, view G.  This is actually a teddy, but I just chopped the crotch part off, and made it a top.  I used this view as I liked the idea of the darted cups for a bit of support. 

I teamed the lace with some black satin backed crepe I had in my stash, using the lace to cover the cups and make an edging to the bodice and the hem.

The shorts I just left plain, using a free pattern from Vera Venus (scroll about halfway down the page).

Once I'd made the pyjamas I still had quite a bit of the lace left, so I sorted through my fabric stash to see if I had something else I could pair it with.  I came up with some grey and blue striped jersey - the blue being almost exactly the same shade as the lace.

A striped Breton style top with lace yoke was born. 

I used the free Deer and Doe Plantain t-shirt.  It was the first time I'd used this pattern and it won't be the last.  I'm really happy with the fit I got.

I used the lace for a yoke, both front and back, and cut motifs from the lace to use in place of the oval elbow patches included in the pattern. 

I hope these two very different projects have encouraged you to have a go at sewing with lace.  As you can see it can be used in very different ways.  Do have a look at White Tree Fabrics selection, I'm sure you'll find something you love!

Style Arc Dixie dress in the sunshine

Just a quick post today!  The sun has just been out for a little while, so I thought I'd quickly snap a couple of photos of the Style Arc Dixie dress being worn.

Hopefully these will give you a better idea of fit etc.  As I mentioned yesterday, I made a Style Arc size 10, and the only alteration I made was a 1 inch sway back adjustment. 

Beajay mentioned in her comment on yesterdays post that the neckline looked higher than on the line drawing, and you can see that it is a little higher.  It's not uncomfortably high though, and it would be easy enough to make it a little lower if you so desired.

I'm not quite sure what I was doing with my head in this photo, I think trying to flick my fringe out of my eyes as although the sun is out, it's quite windy!

Anyway, I hope these photos are helpful!