Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Knit in the news- 23rd February 2011- Round up of London Fashion Week.

Hello Everyone,

here is a round up of some recent news stories that I think will be of interest to those interested in textiles crafts. The last knit in the news posts have featured a lot about how people have been using knitting and sewing to make a difference and help charitable causes.

Being London fashion week I thought I would have a focus on textiles outside the home-made and include some knitwear trends that might inspire and also how textiles are affecting big business or vice versa.

I have always felt that learning to knit and sew well for me is to be able to make things that I really want as well as enjoying the process of creating them and so I try to create things that I would buy if I saw them in a shop. So it s interesting to keep up with trends and work out how I can work them into my own creations if possible. I am not sure if I have managed this so far, but maybe you will have better luck, at least you have until next autumn/winter to figure it out!

Major retailers, including well known international brands including GAP, stand up against inhumane wool practices.

Mark Fast- High fashion knitting.
Mark Fast is a Woolmark sponsored designer well known for his creatively knitted pieces and his spring-summer 2011 show is no exception, showing how versatile knitwear can be. You can view pictures here and the catwalk finale on YouTube here.

Vivienne Westwood- Red label. 
Vivienne Westwood has spoken out supporting British wool and advocates quality clothing as opposed to today's throw away fashion. Which is something most of us who spent time creating our own garments can identify with, especially when you are think long and hard about how you will wear it and the best type of wool to use etc.  Vivienne's Autumn winter show include lots of knitted cardigans, dresses and socks mainly of the fine knit variety but there are definitely pieces which are accessible to the average knitter, more so that Mark Fast anyhow. see pictures here.

Pringle of Scotland
Pringle is the quintessential knitwear label creating interesting but pared-down wearable knitwear and is the most likely designer you could take ideas from to incorporate into your own projects or designs. Being Scottish there are lots of cosy, snuggle-up pieces and lots of layering of knitwear. Here as at Burberry Prorsum fur and wool are combined to make interesting silhouettes and no-doubt very warm garments. See photos here. You can also see the full Burberry Prorsum show on YouTube although it is quite light on knitwear.

John Rocha
Texture was the theme for John Rocha's autumn/winter 2011 show and includes what can only be describes as some crazy pieces featuring wool in various guises. I love the piece at the beginning where layers of wool are used to create a rather extreme silhouette. Later pieces include some very delicate and beautiful crochet  dresses which are very wearable and would also be good for spring summer in lighter colours. See pics here.

I have focused on designers which have an interesting use of knitwear, but there are many more and they can all be viewed on which has a useful tool letting you zoom in to look at the detail.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Woven Leather Handbage/ Purse- How to..

Hello everyone,

Further to my last post I have been working on my next leather project- this very cute and practical woven handbag. Weaving really eats fabric but I think that it is worth it as it creates a very simple but luxurious finish. I have a slight obsession with textured leather and this bag was inspired by Bottega Veneta, which is an Italian label famous for their woven leather goods (see here). I wanted to make a small shoulderbag and based the shape on the pockets from the woollen handbag I made a few weeks ago. I planed to make two large egg shapes joined together, however I later decided to add a zip, as I thought this would be a perfect evening bag and lipsticks and phones are best kept secure. This did cause a logistical problem in that if I had decided to add a zip at the beginning I would have made the main bag and the handles separately as the looped shape meant that I had to sewn the inside of the handle together from the outside (difficult to explain, but if you try it you'll see!)

Again I used the leather from my old leather jacket which is very soft and I also used the black polyester lining from the jacket, so it didn't cost me anything to make.
1) I started by drawing the pattern, I drew the shape free hand. I only drew half and cut the fabric on the fold so it was symmetrical, see below. I cut two pieces of cream cotton linen as a base fabric as I had some in my stash although I would have preferred to use black fabric to prevent it showing through the gaps in the weave.

pattern and base fabric
2) I unpicked the all the seams from my leather jacked and cut off the seam allowances to create neat pieces of leather. I cut 1cm wide strips, I cut them by eye with scissors but in the future I would use a craft knife and a ruler.

3) I wove the leather over the base cotton in a diagonal pattern to complement the shape of the bag. I lined up one layer of fabric and sewed it to secure it at one end so that I could weave leather in the other direction. As it is difficult to pin through the leather once I had woven all the leather I covered the fabric with a piece of paper and sewed through it to prevent the strips of leather catching on the machine foot. When I was finished sewing I simply ripped the paper off. Repeated for the other side.

Sewn through the backing fabric and paper.
4)  I then inserted the zip on one of the armhole, sewing it teeth facing down on the right side of the leather, so it turns in to create a neat seam. 
5) I then sewed the two pieces of fabric right sides together, sewing all the way around to create the bag before cutting away the cotton base fabric close to the seam to prevent it showing through the weave. I would have preferred to have left it in to give the bag some extra support and help maintain its shape and I would have had I used a black base fabric.
6) I then attached the zip to the other side of the armhole.
7) I then cut two pieces of lining fabric using the pattern omitting the handles.
8) I cheated and used a pocket that was already made up from my leather jacket and inserted it to one of the main pieces of fabric, similarly as with the pocket in my woven leather purse (see here). I then pined the lining to the zip fabric folding over the edge as I went to cover the seam.
9) I then turned the bag the right way out and sewed the inside of the handle, folding in the edges as I went.
10) Next I sewed the lining, adding a couple of stitches to join the bottom of the lining to the seam allowance at the bottom of the bag to prevent it turning inside out when I take things out of the bag. And voila.

This bag was made unnecessarily difficult by my late decision to add a zip after I had cut and woven the leather. Had I not chosen to add the zip the bag would have been easier and would probably had a neater finish, but the bag is much more usable now. If I had made the decision at the start I would have used  a simpler shape or made the handles separately.  Despite the difficulties I now have a really sumptuous bag that I think I will be using regularly.
Time taken: Roughly 10 hours- the weaving takes some time.
My difficulty rating: 7/10 

I hope these instructions are helpful, but if you would like any more details or tips, leave me a comment or send me an email.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Woven leather purse- How to

Hello everyone,

I have been wanting to make something with leather for ages, and I finally did this weekend. My 12 year old leather jacket was sacrificed and shredded to make this great little woven purse. The leather (being so old) is really soft and feels quite luxurious, and I suppose it is as weaving leather uses twice as much as it creates a double layer. This was my second attempt as the first purse I made was too big and the zip did not close properly (see below), so I un-picked it and started again and it turned out much better second-time around.
First attempt

I started  with a piece of cotton upholstery fabric (left over from my beanbag) cut into a square and strips of leather about 1cm wide. I lined up one layer of leather strips across the cotton and sewed across one end. I placed a piece of paper on top of the leather as the machine foot was pushing the strips out of line as I could not pin through them and I had to keep the fabric flat to keep them in place. I then wove further leather strips horizontally one by one and secured the vertical strips by sewing across the other end.
 On the second attempt I used a black piece of lining fabric between the leather and the cotton as the cotton was a pale colour and showed through the gaps, You could just use a black piece of cotton instead.
I then inserted the zip, placing the outside edge of the zip (non-teeth side) along the edge of the fabric on the right (leather) side to create a neat seam hiding the edge of the leather/fabric square, and attaching the other side of the zip to the other end. 

I then joined up the sides and attached the lining to the zip fabric folding over the edge as I went, I sewed the side together before attaching the lining to the other side and turning the right way out. I used a polyester lining an inserted a pocket and made a (rather wonky) card pocket by concertinaing a strip of fabric and sewing each side to secure it. I made the pocket by cutting a slit in the main lining fabric and pinning another piece of lining on the back of the lower side of the pocket slit. I then attached the zip through the slit and folded the pocket lining in half to make the pocket shape and sewed up the sides. The top edge of the pocket lining was sewn at the same time as the main lining to the main zip. I made the pockets before attaching the lining. 

I am really pleased with the final product. It is a soft and slouchy purse but as the sides are secured it holds its shape well. On my first attempt the zip went round three sides of the purse and so I needed extra lining to join the sides together so that the purse didn't flap ope when the zip was undone. I also put some cardboard between the lining and leather to help it keep its shape, but this made the purse to hard and misshapen and the zip did not close properly. On the second attempt the purse was smaller and because it is slouchy it does not need to open all the way round to be able to access the pocket and things inside.

Let me know what you think.