Thursday, 30 April 2015

Noah Sweater

Five days of knitting, and I have a finished sweater! I love this pattern - very quick and simple, and it looks lovely in cotton. The original was knitted in wool, so I'd like to try another version in a woolly yarn. The sizing is perhaps a little small, I made the 0-3 months size and the sleeves look tiny, so it would probably only fit a small sized newborn baby. My children were both giant, so there's no way it would have fitted them!

Next up, I'm going to start a pair of Pieces of Eight baby socks, using some My First Regia in pale pastel yellow, and perhaps a wee hat to match.

Sunday, 26 April 2015


On Saturday evening I spent an hour going through my yarn stash, picking out a few nice balls that I wanted to use up, and matching them with patterns. I've started with the Noah sweater from "What To Knit When You're Expecting", using some Freedom Sincere Organic Cotton DK, and some Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton DK. This stuff knits up beautifully, it's really soft and smooth. The pattern is pretty easy, so I've knitted the back and front of the sweater already. Here's a wee sneak peek!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

How Not To Do Dressmaking

I'm still working my way through old and long-forgotten projects, and today I decided to finish sewing a dress. About three years ago, I got a wave of enthusiasm for dressmaking. I went to Remnant Kings, chose a lovely cotton printed with Russian dolls, picked a pretty summer dress pattern, brought the whole thing home, cut it out - and then my sewing machine broke. The dress has been sitting in a box, in pieces, ever since. Every now and again I'll take it out, look at it, and then leave it for another day.

A couple of days ago I decided enough was enough, so I set aside a couple of hours and got to work on the actual sewing. When I cut out this dress, I was about a stone lighter than I am now, so I decided to sew all the pieces together with half the amount of seam allowance recommended, in the hope that the finished dress might actually fit me. I seamed up most of the bodice and the skirt, joined them together, then realised that I didn't have any interfacing for the top of the bodice. At that point, I gave up and went to bed.

Today, feeling refreshed and determined to finish the project, I did all the things that you're never supposed to do when dressmaking and then some. There was still no interfacing, but I substituted Wonderweb, which seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, there was no black thread in my sewing box, so I used navy blue for my topstitching. It's not ideal, but from a distance I don't think anyone will ever notice. The pattern recommended turning the hem when the dress is on the intended wearer - not something that was going to be possible. I don't have a dress form to fit garments on, and I think my boyfriend might have panicked if I'd asked him to mark up the hem. So I just turned it, pressed it, and gaily machined along it with my lovely navy blue topstitch.

At this point, I had a look at the dress in progress, and had my first doubts about the fit. The whole thing seemed really large, but since I wanted to get finished, I ploughed on regardless. The next step was the bias binding on the armholes, one of my pet hates. Tacking the binding on, and then sewing it neatly into place, actually took longer than assembling the rest of the dress. Finally, it was time to put in the zip. I couldn't work out which of the many bits and pieces in my sewing machine toolbox was a zipper foot, so I did the best job possible, and then sewed the dodgy looking bits of seam by hand.

Finished! I put the dress on - and then realised that all my bad dressmaking had produced a garment that just didn't work. The bodice was baggy and gaped at the armholes, and I couldn't see a way of fixing it that didn't involve unpicking two hours worth of bias binding. Eventually, after a lot of pinning and swearing and frowning into the mirror, I came to a solution. When I sewed all the pieces together, I'd actually overestimated how much weight I'd put on, and made the whole bodice at least a size too big. I stuck the dress back under the machine, and resewed most of the seams with the correct seam allowance. Unfortunately that meant that the armhole binding needed to be inside the seam in places, and it took a lot longer than if I'd just done it properly in the first place, but I ended up with a wearable garment.

I'm reasonably pleased with the finished result, but it's never going to win any prizes, and I'd have failed miserably if this had been a Great British Sewing Bee challenge! At least that's almost all of my old sewing projects finished, which means I can dig out my GBSB pattern book and start some new things - and maybe do them properly this time.

Since I was having a super productive day, I also finished knitting a wee tank top to use up a bit of my yarn stash. It's orange, red and green, but the colours don't show up very well in this picture. Now for a bit of crochet and Netflix to finish the day!

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Procrastination is my biggest problem. I hate doing my housework, until the point when I have an essay to write, and then I spend an hour cleaning the bathroom. I'll decide to go to bed, and then spend the next hour on Facebook, following links and watching random videos. However, my worst habit is starting craft projects and then leaving them for years, because I can't find the impetus to finish off the last little bit. There's always something new and exciting to cast on or start sewing, and my old projects get sidelined.

Recently I decided to finish off a few of those old projects, so that I could start new things with a clear conscience. I've been knitting a pair of stranded socks on and off since November 2011, Faroe from an old episode of The Knitter magazine. I liked the pattern originally, and I really like the Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply that I'm using, but they've become such a drag! The pattern is quite complicated, and these colours don't really contrast as well as the originals. I had three days of uninterrupted knitting earlier this year, and spent most of them finishing off the first sock. They're lovely and warm, which encouraged me to cast on and knit the cuff for the second one, but they're back in a bag in the wardrobe, waiting for me to pluck up the courage to finish them.

I also found the front of a crochet cushion, which I had made from some Rowan Revive in a variety of colours. Again, this was a project that I liked at the start but quickly grew to hate. The yarn is pretty scratchy and stiff, and I just couldn't see myself finishing it off. I took it out a few times and looked at it, then donated it to a local charity shop in case anyone else wanted to make something with it. 

However, not all my works-in-progress are failures! I made a shirt ages ago, but at the time my sewing machine was broken and I couldn't do the buttonholes. Everything got packed away in a bag, and I made a mental note to get the machine fixed and finish it off. Fast forward about three years, and I finally had a spare few hours when I had time to complete the sewing. After a bit of buttonhole practice, a lot of needle threading and some minor hiccups, I had a finished shirt that was actually wearable. It's from an amazing 1970s Simplicity pattern that I found in a charity shop, and is made out of a floral duvet cover - also a charity shop bargain. The sleeves are gathered into the tops of the armholes, and there's a big pointed collar. 

I love the styling on the original pattern envelope, I can see this shirt being worn with big corduroy bellbottoms, or denim flares. I'm so glad it's finally finished and in my wardrobe, and I can start on the next project - a summer dress that has been cut out and ready to sew since at least 2012!