Friday, 30 November 2012

Free Pattern: Moss stitch baby cardigan


I made this cute cardigan for a friend's baby girl and I love the colourful buttons. Experimenting with colours and styles that you wouldn't wear yourself is definitely a benefit of making pieces for other people. This cardigan is made to fit a baby of 6-9 months.
The pattern is provided in full in this post, but you can download a printable version below.

200g Aran weight yarn (shown here in Rowan pure wool aran)
1 pair of 4mm needles
1 pair of 3mm needles
Stitch holder
9 buttons


K- knit stitch
P-purl stitch
Yon- Yarn over needle
K2tog- knit two stitches together
P2tog- purl two stitches together
Yfrn- yarn forward round needle


Yon, k2tog- Leave the yarn in front of the work. Insert the tip of the right hand needle knitwise into the next two stitches. Move the yarn to the back of the work and knit the two stitches together. It is important to knit the two stitches together to maintain the stitch number.
Yfrn, p2tog- bring the yarn to the front of the work, wrap the yarn round the needle once so that the yarn is once again at the front of the work. Purl the next two stitches together.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Kim Hargreaves Glance

I finished Kim Hargreaves Glance from the book Shadows at the weekend.

Yarn: 5 x Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Dewberry, 1 x Rowan Fine Lace in Cobweb

The finished product is really soft and incredibly warm, too warm for saturday's weather, but I couldn't wait and wore it anyway. I like the slouchy fit as it is slightly sheer. The jumper does feel slightly delicate and I am a little worried the neck and the sleeves will stretch, especially as I can't seem to help pushing them up to my elbows.Maybe because I lengthened the sleeves by 5cms, but I like sleeves that come down to my knuckles.

The patterns is simple and easy to knit. The only issue I had is the kidsilk haze is so light and fine, you can't feel if you make a mistake as you can with a heavier yarn, so you have to watch what you are doing. The openness of the stitch means that any mistakes or uneven stitches are obvious, so good tension is a must here.

A definite plus of this jumper is its lightness. I am a big fan of fine knits, but I had consoled myself that I would never actually knit one. I do not I have the patience for millions of tiny stitches, but this jumper feels pretty close.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Metric pattern cutting- 50's "Anita" dress

My adventures in pattern cutting have continued with this full-skirt summer dress, hastily sewn the day before my holiday.

I wanted a to make a summer dress and settled on a classic 50s fit'n'flare style after seeing this loose weave cotton/linen mix at Fabrics Galore. I saw a Vivienne Westwood dress with princess seams on .  the bodice and a flared skirt on net-a-porter which I used as inspiration.

Using Winifred's Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear I drew the fitted bodice pattern (with darts) from which I cut a toile. I made several sizing alterations. I am not sure if it is on purpose, but despite drawing the pattern to my own measurements it always comes up quite a bit larger- more than I would think necessary for sizing adjustments, but maybe this is just the way it works...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Padded envelope clutch bag tutorial


You will need: 

1 Meter tie silk
1/2 meter 4mm wadding
matching thread
zipper (I used a jean zipper)
magnetic clasp/ metal popper
60cm of 7cm wide bias binding cut from the bag fabric
10cm cotton tape

You can get the free pattern here (Printed on A3)

I have made a several of these envelope clutches as I love them as evening bags. I made this one for a friend and added a little shoulder strap, which can be tucked inside when not in use. I had some tie silk and had been planning on using it to make this bag for a while as it feels a bit special. I used it as the outer fabric, lining and strap. I cut carefully to matching the stripes on the outer fabric and the lining.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fitted jacket- pattern drafting results

Here is the result from my first attempt at pattern cutting. I previously posted the toile of this jacket, made using Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern cutting for women's wear. I have been working on this jacket sporadically as having no instructions I took time to think about each step, although I made up the construction steps as I went along. Not necessarily the best plan but I quite liked the challenge adapting the pattern to get the jacket just as I wanted it. I am pretty sure tailoring isn't the place to start and the end result isn't perfesct, but a pretty good start.

The outer fabric is a navy wool and it is lined with a light patterned cotton. Most linings available seem to be cheap and shiny man-made fabrics that I am not keen to have against my skin. I find it confusing that no-one seems to have come up with something a bit nice- Why would you take the time to make my own clothing and ruin it with a sweaty lining.

I had the most trouble attaching the sleeves and the lining at the hem. I also did quiet a few alterations on the final fabric (taking in the darts and reducing the sleeve-cap ease) as the light cotton I used for the toile wasn't really suitable for testing the structured shape of a jacket- next time I will use a stiffer calico. The end product has some slight rippling between the front darts and the hem, despite my best effort to press them out and the sleeves are shorter than I 'd like.

I realised if I am going to continue pattern drafting I needed a sewing bible. I settled on Vogue Sewing- revised an updated from the original 1970's version and it is just what I need, with instructions on everything from  fabric selecting, sewing techniques and most usefully detailed instructions on adapting patterns and fitting.

A few more pics..

Close up

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Kim Hargreaves- Glance

I have started knitting again, after breaking my wrist a few months ago, which was really frustrating as I got Kim Hargreaves- Shadows at Christmas specifically to make the Logan cable knit dress. As winter is over I have decided to make Glance instead, as it is a light jumper that will be perfect for summer evenings. 

Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Dewberry and Rowan fine lace in Ghost. 

I am half way through the back, so far it is a pretty simple pattern. The Kidsilk haze is so fine I am having to concentrate as it is easy to pick up the stitch from the row below without realising. It is so soft I cannot wait to wear it. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vogue 8593

pattern: Vogue 8593
Fabric: John Kaldor stretch cotton jersey, bought at John Lewis (£22/m)

I first made this dress back in November and completely forgot to write a post- oops. The pattern is Vogue 8593. I originally made the long sleeved version in a black medium weight interlock (see picture below), sewn by hand after my old sewing machine gave up. Due to the slight stretch of the fabric I used tiny diagonal overlapping stitch similar to a machine stretch stitch. I have previously said that I like hand stitching, and I still do, but this took forever! and  by the end of it I was missing my machine dearly. 

I didn't mean to look so glum!
I had a slight issue making sure the neckline folds were in the right place as the pleats cover up the markings and I had to use the neck facing to make sure it was lined up correctly. I inserted a zip on the first two designs, but it really isn't necessary for a stretch fabric and I left it out of the final version and cut the pattern on the fold to remove the back seam. This time I sewed it on the machine and it was really quick to make up as there are so few seams. I stitched the hems by hand using a herringbone stitch. The fabric of the turquoise version has a lot of drape and clings to the body much more than the interlock.

So far the black version is probably the most worn of all my me-made clothing it can be worn pretty much  anywhere and it is really comfortable too. I will probably keep making this dress- definitely a wardrobe staple.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Colourful Bunting tutorial

I spent the soggy bank holiday afternoon making this bright and colourful bunting, which cheered me up almost as much as some sunshine would have..maybe even more.

It was so easy I decided to post it as a tutorial, especially it is nearing the Queens diamond jubilee and some patriotic bunting might be just the thing you need!

This bunting was made to decorate a young child's bedroom, hence all the primary colours.

To make your own bunting you will need:

Patterned cotton - quilting cotton would be perfect.
Bias binding

I used 2 meters of patterned cotton which made 46 triangles and required just over 10 meters of bias binding.

step 1) Draw an equilateral triangle the size you want your bunting on a piece of paper (my bunting is 6 inches across the top and 7 inches from the top edge to the point) and add a 1.5cm seam allowance. Draw your triangle carefully making sure it is even, this way the pattern pieces can be placed directly next to each other on the fabric leaving little to no waste.

Step 2) Place you pattern piece on to fabric folded to double thickness and draw  aound it using a biro or tailors chalk. You should be able to turn the pattern piece upside down and lay it next to the previous triangle with no gap, as shown in the picture above (if you look closely!).

Step 3) Cut out the triangles and stitch each one down both sides, with right sides together, inserting your needle at the point an pivoting to finish the seam.

Step 4) Trim the seams cutting straight across close to the stitch line at the point, turn the the right side out and press. A point turner comes in very handy for this step.

Step 5) pin the triangles to the bias binding, folding the bias tape in two to cover the raw edge of the triangles and stitch along the length of the tape to secure- and voila- pure fabric joy!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pattern drafting with Winfred Aldrich's Metric pattern cutting

Hello All,

I have been quite a slow week as far as sewing is concerned. It has been raining solidly in London for the past two weeks and I find it hard to get excited about summer projects when it feels like autumn. I did manage to wear my Vogue 1287 dress out to a friends birthday on Saturday(under my winter coat!), but my Simplicity 2186 skirt is as yet unworn and will remain so until tights are no longer necessary.

This weekend I made a start on drafting a pattern from scratch, using Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's wear. When this book first arrived I was daunted by the diagrams and jargon (I had never heard of an armscye!) but after reading it I realised most to the words or phrases I didn't understand relate to specific measurements on the body and a very good diagram of all the measurements you need to take (about 20 or so) is included in the book. Measuring appears to be the most important factor when drafting pattern blocks using Winifred's method.

I used the fitted jacket with a roll collar and two-piece sleeve block. Despite my fears it fits and it fits well!  I may have to do some slight adjustment on the front dart and I plan to slim the collar, but putting it on I could really tell the difference from a standard pattern or trying something on in a shop. The waist was the right height, the sleeves just the right length and no sagging or pulling- makes so much sense when you think about it, after years of buying in to the fact my body size and shape could be defined by a single number or size- despite several changing room moments telling me otherwise.

Obviously I have only made half a jacket block and I intend to make up a full toile shortly so I can get a more accurate assessement of the fit, but so far so good. I will keep you updated.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Vogue 1287 Finished- pattern review

My spring wardrobe is developing nicely. I have just finished the Vogue 1287 Donna Karan dress in a  medium weight jersey. The fabric is a really bright yellow, the camera didn't pick it up well but it also has a hint of lime/neon.

Vogue 1287

I really like this pattern and I am already thinking what other fabrics I can make this up in. It would look great in a sheer/silk fabric and also a fabric with a lot of drape.

I made the pattern in a size 8 as I find the vogue patterns have a quite a bit of ease, also the pattern has an elastic waistband and so many pleats I knew it would be better smaller rather than bigger. I was also able to get a better fabric layout and only used about 1.5m of fabric rather than the 2.2m suggested.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Vogue 1287 dress pattern

I took a bit of a sewing break since completing my asymmetrical skirt adapted from Simplicity pattern 2186 as I didn't have a pattern I wanted to use for my new jersey fabrics. However I have now bought Vogue 1287 from the new spring 2012 collection.

 It is difficult to see from the first picture but the outline diagram shows the pleating. I was having difficultly deciding between the yellow or floral jersey fabric I described in my wardrobe planning post.  I eventually settled on the yellow as I thought the pleating may detract from the floral pattern  (and vice-versa) and that fabric is also slightly thinner and could be a bit see through.

I like the crossover, the gathering and the pockets on this design and I think it will look great in a jersey fabric. I am not too keen on how the back of the neck comes up almost like a shirt collar. I might try an alter it to be more of a scoop neck or leave it off altogether, but I will make a toile and see how that goes. I have some extra time off over the Easter holidays so hopefully I can get a few days of undisturbed sewing and complete a couple of projects.

Happy Easter

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Simplicity 2186 finished skirt

Simplicity pattern 2186- finished

I have finished my first spring project, Simplicity 2186 skirt, spurred on by an unseasonably warm and sunny March. I commented in a previous post that I was planning on altering the pattern as I was inspired by skirts from Jason Wu’s spring 2012 collection, most specifically the dress pictured below. Hopefully you can see a resemblance, in the shape and print at least. As much as I would love to saunter around in layers of asymmetrical chiffon I thought I might get a bit more wear out of a more practical jersey version. 

Pattern: Simplicity 2186
Fabric: John Kaldor cotton jersey in a printed turquoise (£22/meter from John Lewis on Oxford Street, London)
Version: Longer version in the back- altered shorter version in the front
Notions: ¾ inch elastic

Making this pattern was a bit of a style u-turn for me as I tend to veer away from both prints and asymmetrical hems. I think making my own clothes and looking for inspiration has brought out a new daring side to me, even though this print is pretty mild by most standards , it is a start.

I made up a toile of the longer version in muslin. I took several inches off the front panel and cut down in a slope towards the side seams to meet the longer length of the back. When I was happy with the hemline I unpinned it and used the toile pieces to mark out the pattern on the final fabric.

My fabric of choice was a medium weight cotton jersey, chosen as the pattern was reminiscent of that that from Jason Wu’s collection and it has good drape. I did find it difficult to spend as much as I did, but when I was cutting out the pattern I began to realise just how soft and drapey the fabric is and began to soften a little realising how comfortable the skirt would be. It washed well prior to making, without any noticeable shrinkage or loss of colour and being jersey all pattern pieces were cut on-grain rather than the bias, so I only ended up using about 1.2m of fabric.

Altered toile

The pattern instructions were good, although I have one gripe in that the stay stitching on the yokes is on the seam line, which means you have to be very careful when sewing the final seams that the stay stitching doesn’t show on the outside. I used a stretch stitch and finished my seams with a simple zig zag. The last project I made I used French seams which are probably my favourite; however I simply forgot for the first few seams and decided to carry on as I had started. I finished the hem with a herringbone stitch by hand, this skirt has a lot of hem, but I think the finished result is definitely worth it as it is almost invisible from the outside and neat on the onside. I find machine hems can bunch up and if they aren't perfectly straight can be a tell-tell sign that your garment is home made.

The skirt has a simple elasticated waistband, not the prettiest, but suits me for comfort and you can always cover it with a belt if you are tucking your top in.  

Once complete I had a doubtful 5 minutes when I realised just how crazy the hemline is, but that quickly passed and now I am really pleased with the result. I think I achieved what I set out to; now I just need to make something to wear it with!

Top- Right side hem, Bottom- wrongside hem

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sewing book shelf and pattern cutting

I have recently been thinking about trying to cut my own dress patterns. This has been the first season that I have been waiting for new patterns and although there are lots of lovely ones out there I usually have something in mind when I start looking and what is available isn't always quite right. I am interested in fashion and many of the high-street stores offer fashion-forward clothes and I don't want to miss out just because I would prefer to make it myself. However the thought of it is quite terrifying, the good thing about patterns is that they come with instructions! Has anyone tried cutting their own patterns?

I bought the book Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich, describe on amazon reviews as a great text that tells you all you need to know etc etc.. but when it arrived I quickly flipped through and there are lots of diagrams showing the different shaped pattern pieces you need to achieve different shaped garments, but there isn't a nice step by step 'this is how you do it', maybe I was too hopeful that it was going to be easy. I haven't really looked at the book again, but I will do once I have got a few summer projects under my belt. If anyone has some tips in the meantime they are more than welcome!I recently made a version of Simplicity 2250 with a straight skirt from another pattern  (see picture below) and I am planning to alter Simplicity 2186, so that is a start. 

I like buying sewing and knitting reference books and I do get make use of them, but I find many of them are quite expensive and I don't have as many as I would like. My Sharon Brant Knitting bible gets lots of use and I often refer back to Sew It Up by Ruth Singer, which is a great book, although I imagine there are better texts out there if you are interested mainly in dress making. The Fashion Designers Textile Directory by Gail Baugh describes fabric construction methods and gives detail of different fabric types and examples of how best to use them. I wouldn't say this is the most useful book but if you are interested in fabric it is a good text and has lots of fashion pictures and examples. I read it almost cover to cover when I got it and it is good for referring back to. 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tips on working with leather and quilted leather; How to.

Hello All,

I was recently given an old leather jacket which I decide to use to make another handbag (see pictures above and below). I decided to try a Chanel-inspired leather quilting to add some texture. It took me a couple of practice sessions before I found a method that worked and I thought I would share it with you. Quilted clothing and accessories seem to be everywhere at the moment, mainly quilted coats, jackets and handbags, but also quilted accents on leather jackets (in London at least). Not sure if this trend is replicated anywhere else??

Working with leather is quite difficult and often frustrating. Leather is quite difficult to sew and is not forgiving if you make mistakes. Unlike fabrics the needle holes remain in the leather and if you have to unpick it not only will they still be there and potentially show on your finished garment, they can also weaken the leather and create a perforated line that can tear easily if stretched. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Spring wardrobe planning and Simplicity 2186

I have been feeling like spring is very nearly here and I have been imagining myself in swishing around in new creations and sandals. One thing about sewing your own clothes is that you have to plan. I am inspired by Jason Wu's spring 2012 collection especially the large floral patterns and skirts with asymmetric hems.  I have been buying fabrics, mainly jerseys. 

Firstly I bought some John Kaldor turquoise printed cotton jersey from John Lewis in Oxford street, I am not sure who John Kaldor is but he must be important as the fabric was an eye-watering £22 a meter, but it is lovely and good quality, it is stretchy and I can tell it will hold its shape. I am going to use it to make Simplicity pattern 2186  and it should make a great slinky skirt- Post to follow. I plan to make the shorter version, I will be making a toile and possibly alter the pattern it to be shorter in the front and longer in the back. I realised you do not need to cut jersey on the bias as it isn't woven and therefore has a natural stretch in it, which will save me some fabric.

Left- yellow rayon linen jersey, middle John Kaldor cotton 
linen jersey, right  floral rayon linen jersey. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Six sided bean bags, How to make

Hello All,

There were lots of views of the previous post I did on making bean bags, and I commented that if I made another bean bag I would like to change the shape to be more rounded.  I have made two further bean bags using a new pattern I made myself and I wanted to share with you as I am much happier with the result. 

You can see that this bean bag is much rounder, which I achieved by having six sides and a hexagonal bottom, which creates a much neater and professional finish.  I wanted to bean bag to be approximately 1 meter in diameter, so I made the hexagonal bottom slightly smaller to allow the sides to curve outward a little.  I cut the pattern from old newspaper selo-taped together to produce pattern paper, as follows:

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sewing update

Hi All,

The new year is off to a good start. I got a new seeing machine for Christmas, which I have needed about a year. My old machine lasted me 13 years but couldn't handle regular sewing without the tension going haywire and the bobbin jamming. You don't realise how much time and frustration this can add to your sewing.

I used to have an inexpensive Brother machine and having lasted so long I would have been happy to get another. but this Janome had everything I needed.
It is a DC3050, I chose it as it has automatic tension, a rotary bobbin and a good number of stitches and 1-step button holes and is quite heavy so it doesn't jump around when seeing quickly. At £300 it isn't the most expensive machine, but from my research the price goes up from this point for machines with more stitch options. I am not very interested in embroidery so this machine works for me.

So far I have made a beanbag (post to follow), which only took a couple of hours and the machine worked beautifully. I am also waiting delivery of my first dressmakers form on the next few days. I have wanted one for over a year. I am hoping it will save me a lot of time so I can get through more projects.I will keep you updated.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Slouchy Cabled Beret Knitting Pattern

Hi All,
I have just finished knitting this hat for myself, which I adapted from some previous patterns (as I never seem to find exactly what I am looking for) and I thought I would share it with you. This hat is finer and more roomy that previous hats I have knitted as I am growing an afro and I need my hats to expand so I can fit in all my hair. I also recently shrunk the last hat I made for myself by washing it in the machine, which has taught me a harsh lesson to hand wash all my woollens, as much as I hate it. 
Back to the hat, the beret shape is a bit more interesting and can be worn in more ways that a traditional beanie, despite being just as easy to knit.
You will need:
·         Yarn: 100g Rowan Pure Wool Aran, or any wool of a similar weight.
·         Needles: 4x 4mm double pointed needles (dpns) and one cable needle
·         A darning needle for weaving in ends.

Stitch abbreviations
K- knit stitch
P- Purl stitch
C3F (Cable three forward)- place the next three stitches on a cable needle and hang at the front (right-side) of your work, knit the next three stitches on the left hand needle before knitting the three stitches off the cable needle being careful not to twist the stitches.
M1(make one)- insert the needle into the next stitch, wrap the yarn around and bring to the front as you do with a normal knit stitch, but before you lift the stitch off the left hand needle knit another stitch through the back loop.
P2tog- purl 2 stitches together
SSP (Slip slip purl)- this is a left leaning decrease which complements the right leaning P2tog. Insert your needle into the next stitch as you would for a knit stitch and slide it onto the right hand needle, repeat for the next stitch. Slip the two stitches back onto the left hand needle. With the yarn in front purl the stitches together, inserting the needle up through the back of both stitches (through the back loop)
K2tog- knit 2 stitches together