Monday, April 07, 2014

The Lacyskater dress

Good morning everyone. I had a wonderfully busy yet productive weekend and it's given me a real energy boost to get stuff done! I went shopping on Saturday - something I rarely do now unless there is a fabric shop involved. But I needed to buy some gifts for family, and new shoes for the little one, and I somehow ended up with a lovely new handbag for me as it was 70% off and I could not resist. It's quite a rarity to get sales this good around here, there was crowd control at the shop and a 40 minute wait for the cash till!

On Sunday we had a kid's birthday party to attend and then I had tickets for Disney on Ice as a special treat. It was busy but so much fun.

Somehow in amongst all of this I managed to crack out a new dress to wear. I do love how fast I can put together a knit dress once I have tweaked the pattern to my satisfaction. This is now my third Ladyskater dress from Kitchycoo, and I think this one took a grand total of two hours from start to finish. I did a forward shoulder adjustment, shortened the bodice and did a cheater FBA just like the previous one. This time I also added 1 or 2 inches to the skirt length as I am 5"8 with all my height in my legs. I also cut the 3/4 length sleeves but just hemmed them instead of using the band cuff, it means the sleeve sits slightly above my elbow and I think this is the best length for me.

I used a black lace print "scuba knit" from Abakhan. It was £4.50/m from the Birkenhead store (I don't think it is online) and I used 2 metres. I have never used scuba knit before, and I have no idea of the fabric composition as it was only labelled "scuba knit". It feels a bit like a ponte, and while I'm guessing it has some polyester content it doesn't feel hot or uncomfortable to wear. There is more than enough stretch in my particular fabric for a pull-on dress. It pressed nicely without going shiny. Are all scuba knits created equal? I have no idea but this one was lovely and I would definitely use fabric like this again.

All my Ladyskaters so far have been sewn from warmer fabrics - in the climate I live in, this makes them suitable from mid-September to about mid-May. My Ladyskater obsession isn't finished yet as I have a lightweight knit all ready to go for a summer version.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Yet another project I finished ages ago and never got around to posting. Now that the weather is turning nicer, I find myself reaching for dresses more often and so there are more opportunities for photos. I will admit taking photos is the reason a lot of things don't get posted here as I just don't have the patience to mess around with the self timer!

This is the Kitchy Coo Lady skater dress. I made a couple of adjustments to get a decent fit: these included a forward shoulder adjustment, a cheater FBA using Kidmd's method (the Kadiddlehopper blog is here) and reducing the length of the bodice. I may consider lengthening the skirt in future - it sits about 3 inches above my knee (I'm 5ft8). I'm comfortable with the current length when I wearing tights or leggings (as pictured) and it's not quite warm enough yet for bare legs!

The fabric is a galaxy print meduim-weight polyester ponte. I bought mine from the Fabric Place (its on Stafford Street in Liverpool, bricks and mortar only, I'm afraid). I know that Stone Fabrics also had the same print but it is now sold out. I loved the colours and also the unique print.

This fabric probably doesn't have quite enough stretch for this pattern. In fact the dress is a little snug to get on, but it is fine once it's on and on the up side it doesn't seem to stretch out of shape as the day goes on. The only real issue I have is that the sleeves hit right below my elbow and restrict a little bit of movement there. I usually find myself pushing the sleeves up over the elbow so I think I will take the cuffs off and hem the sleeves a little shorter.

I have already made a second version of this pattern and I have more fabric ready to cut a third version while I watch Sewing Bee tonight. I have really enjoyed this longer second series and I can't quite believe it finishes next week. At least it appears that series 3 is already in the works, so we shouldn't have to wait too long.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sometimes its the simple things... a basic pencil skirt, using a TNT pattern.

It's busy busy here! I finally got my Bloglovin feed under 50 unread for the first time since Christmas, we seem to be in some sort of normal weekly routine and I have a couple of sewing projects on the go. Woohoo for simple pleasures.

I have been wanting to make a pencil skirt since I picked up a metre of this interesting fabric at the Birmingham rag market over a year ago. I paid £5 for one metre and £1 for a metre of coordinating china silk (a few months later I saw the same fabric in John Lewis at £16/m. Seriously)

Construction details:
* I used Burda's Jenny skirt pattern (again), I had already altered the pattern to create a proper back vent instead of a split, which I much prefer.
* I also used Palmer Pletsch 1 inch waistband interfacing and their waistband methods as I didn't want it to be as high waisted as the original pattern
* I did a handpicked zipper due to the thickness of the fabric and I really love how well it works.

The fabric looks like a tweed/boucle from the right side but was plain on the wrong side, like a "faux tweed" if such a thing exists. I decided to add an "underlined lining" the skirt for strength.

It feels like quite a lush expensive skirt but it cost me a total of £6 to make!

Next up - I'm still working away on my Mad Men challenge project. I'm going to completely miss tomorrow's deadline but I'm fine with that. I'm working with duchess satin and I need to go slowly to ensure I get the best finish.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Unintentional Valentine Mitts

Getting my preschooler into her gloves is always fiddly so I decided to knit her a pair of mitts instead. I let her choose the colours from my big box of scraps and she picked glittery red (King Cole Haze Glitter, a discontinued DK yarn) and some white Sirdar snuggly. I used an old knitting pattern - Patons 6015 - that I inherited from my aunt. I'm guessing she bought it in the 70s based on the age of her kids. 

It was only as I was knitting the colourwork pattern that I noticed how much it looked like hearts. And as I sewed the final ends in last night, ready for my daughter to wear them to school on 14th February, I decided to name them the Unintentional Valentine mitts.

Happy Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Dragonfly Wings shawl

Here's a shawl I knitted a while back. Recently I have been wearing it more and more, and then I remembered that I never got around to blogging about it.
Dragonfly Wings shawl

Yarn: Knitting Goddess Titus 4 ply in Chocolate Box
Beads: Size 8 seed beads from Rowan (size 6 would have been better as they would be more visible)
Pattern: Dragonfly Wings by Boo Knits (free on Ravelry)

Dragonfly Wings shawl

This was definitely an exercise in "don't think, just knit" as I really thought this pattern and yarn combo wasn't going to work. But once it was finished and blocked I absolutely loved it.

Dragonfly Wings shawl

Friday, January 31, 2014

A trio of Plantains and a submision for #sewcialists Jungle January

Immediately after Christmas I set to making some simple projects, life was still busy but I needed a little bit of easy creativity to keep me sane. Deer and Doe's Plantain t-shirt was the perfect tonic. I am already a fan of Deer and Doe patterns, having sewed up the Belladone dress and the Reglisse dress, so when Eleonore offered up a t-shirt pattern as a free download I grabbed it straightaway. This t-shirt is pretty much what I love to wear. It has a scoop neck and relaxed fit over the waist/hips. There are 3 sleeve options - short, elbow and long, and comes with a little design detail in the elbow patch. So it seemed only right that I make all 3 versions!

Plantain #1 - the floral version - did take me a while to get done as I set about trying to perfect the fit from the outset. Late last year I took a fitting course and discovered that I have been sewing with the wrong pattern size. Basically I need to start smaller at the neck and shoulders, do a bigger FBA and grade out at the waist/hips. With previous Deer and Doe patterns I have mostly sewn a 40/42. This time I started with a 36 and did an FBA to the front (which adds extra width from the bust downwards). At the back I graded out to a 38 at the bottom of the armholes and a 40 by the hips.

I added some of the extra width using the cheater FBA method (Kaddidlehopper explains it well, go check it out) and then also did a standard FBA. Doing a standard FBA makes the side seam longer, and this extra length is usually taken up with a dart. But I did not want a side dart at the bust, so I shortened the side seam at the hemline, tapering to nothing by centre front. I shortened the side seam by about half the depth of the "dart"; the rest of the extra length, I just eased in when sewing. There was no science to this part, I just took a guess and it worked.

So I went ahead and sewed up my first Plantain using some leftover fabric from a blogger meet-up (thanks Claire! This is the second project I made so your fabric went to a good home!) and I was pretty pleased with the fit, however I thought I could improve it more on the second attempt, by creating more of a defined waist, exaggerating the curve of the side seam in under the bust and out over the hips.

For Plantain #2 I used viscose jersey from Calico Laine (they still have the brown colourway in stock in the Haute couture section). The print is a crazy mix of grey/white feathers and leopard print with hints of blue and purple splashed through it. So it fits in just great with the #sewcialists January theme "Jungle January". And to boot, it is the most supersoft fabric ever and it is gorgeous to wear.

For Plantain #3 I used a striped viscose jersey that I've had in my stash for ages. I had some floral scraps leftover from Plantain #1 which just happened to be sat on the table next to my striped fabric and I thought the two looked quite nice together so I decided to use it for elbow patches. The floral cotton jersey is more stable than the viscose so I felt it would also make a nice secure contrast neckband.

Of course the test of a good garment is if you want to wear it all the time and I do! I think I have found my TNT t-shirt pattern. All my Plantains have been worn multiple times already and I love them - although my Jungle January version is possibly my favourite just because the fabric is so lush.

The Plantain pattern can be downloaded for free from Deer and Doe's online shop.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sorry what? It's the end of January already??!!

Hello blog, remember me? Ha ha but seriously how did January fly by so fast?!! I didn't even finish posting about Christmas projects, so to round that up really fast....

I managed to make two dresses for kiddo.

Dress 1:

This party dress was for Christmas Day. I used a combo of two New Look patterns as I wanted a gathered skirt with net underlay and a round neck bodice. I used the crepe side of some crepe back satin for most of the dress and the satin side for the contrast midriff. The fabric was from my stash and ended up being a bit of a pain to sew as it frayed so easily and it was a little bulky on the gathers. But I only needed to purchase some net, sequined ribbon and a zipper to get this made. I ended up handpicking the zipper as it gave me more control than using the sewing machine. And she loved the twirly end result.

Dress 2:

This girl's skater dress (fabric and pattern from Kitchy Coo) found its way into her stocking on Christmas Eve. She loves pink and mermaids so she was pretty pleased with it. I made a size 3-4 and added about half an inch in length to both the bodice and the skirt as she is a tall skinny almost-4-year-old. As I had to make it without letting her see/try it on, it did end up a little bit big. But I can live with that, and she'll grow into it fast enough.

Cardigan for me:

Hippolyta cardigan

I also managed to finish a cardigan for myself. This was a looong project, given that it was knitted in heavy lace/3 ply yarn and beaded. But it did knit up fast than I anticipated and the beaded embellishment is so worth it (all my Ravelry notes are here). The pattern is Hippolyta from Jennie Atkinson (first appeared in the Knitter, now available on Ravelry) and the yarn is Soliloquoy sock lace merino silk from Tall yarns. At £17/100g skein, I initially thought it seemed expensive, but I then realised I could make a size 36 from 2 skeins. So it is really a total bargain.

And just look at that sparkly vintage-esque neckline. Love!

Hippolyta cardigan

As for managing to write a nice post about 2013 in review, well I haven't even finished posting about the projects I made in 2013 so maybe I'll just let that slide this year, and get around to updating my completed projects tab eventually.