Monday, 29 December 2014

Kim Hargreves Aislin Jumper

I finished Kim Hargreaves Aislin in 13 days- which is definitely a personal best. The pattern in quite simple especially once you get past the flounces. 

I ordered the yarn from Deramores. It looked quite a bit darker on the website, but I liked the colour so decided to continue. I also made a mistake not realising the pattern called for kidsilk Aura rather than kidsilk Haze.Kidsilk aura is now discontinued, so I made up for it by holding the yarn triple as I knitted, as I worked out from the yardage that kidsilk Aura was 2.8 times heavier. It seems to have worked out well and the flounces still fall nicely. The neck edging does not curl over as it does in the pattern book- not sure if this is to do with the yarn. 

I started with a medium at the hips and worked to a small at the waist, by working 2 extra rounds of decreases, which also lengthened the jumper by 5cms. I also lengthened the sleeves by 3cms each, although I wish I had made it 5. 

This Jumper has already had a few outings, including Christmas day. I realised when making this, how much I like Kidsilk Haze yarn. I am now knitting Kim Hargreaves' Precious from the same heartfelt book as a coverup for a friends upcoming wedding.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pootling along

Me and my husbands moved into our flat just over 4 months ago and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about tiles and paint colours whilst bashing things with a hammer. The countless hours of researching wall insulation and scraping paint from the bannister means I have had little time to invest in sewing activities, not to mention that the new study/sewing room is piled high with power tools and sandpaper (sigh). 

I have managed to find time for a few projects including this bobble hat that matches a scarf I knitted last year. It is a fun hat, but I cannot seem to find a way to wear it that doesn’t make me look like a giant mushroom. Might have to knit another less mushroomy style soon. I also finished piecing the top of a quilt for our bedroom, but the rest of that project will have to wait until I have finalised the colour scheme, I already spent several hours removing about 15 squares I decided I no longer liked.

Last night I ordered some Rowan Kidsilk Haze in a rich dark purple which I will use to make Kim Hargreaves Aislin pattern. I am experimenting not watching TV so I have more time for life’s gentler pursuits, which will hopefullylast long enough to knit at least one decent jumper and maybe read a book. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

All systems go

Life has been pretty busy but exciting over the last few months. Me and my husband have bought our first home, adopted two beautiful kittens and now entering a slightly daunting phase of DIY.

Excitingly we now have a space that can be used as a sewing room/study. It isn't big so I am looking for ingenious ways of storing fabric and my other sewing paraphernalia. It is currently housed in a chest of drawers, but I would prefer something more organised with everything in easy reach. 

The kittens make sewing and knitting interesting as they like to pounce on everything. Luckily they take rather long naps. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Mother of the bride/ Vogue 1108

As promised here is a post of the dress I made for my mother for my wedding last summer. The pattern is Vogue 1108 made in shot silk dupion, which has a green/orange shimmer and is similar to the fabric on the pattern sleeve. The dress has a pleated  front and back and bow on the side. We made the bow slightly smaller than the pattern as my mum did not want it getting in the way of any dancing and rightly so. The pattern includes an interlined section with plastic boning which help keep the pleats in place. I liked the detail of piping at the neckline. This is quite a bombshell dress and really suits the dupion. I think it would look rather nice in red or navy.

I really like sewing with silk dupion as it stays where you put it and you can finger press the seams and pleats in place.

My mum used the left over fabric to make her own matching hat (she is the source of my craftiness).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Beautiful Bridesmaid

Continuing on a wedding theme I thought it was about time I posted the dresses I made for my mother and sister for my wedding, that was only a year ago, tut tut.  I will post my mothers dress next.

We batted a few ideas about before settling on the 50s inspired design which featured a boat neck, full skirt and peplum at the waist. The fabric is a pale mint/turquoise silk dupion from Silk Society in Soho. The skirt was underlined with silk organza and the bodice is self underlined with plastic boning. The dress was lined with Bremsilk cupro lining and there is a concealed zip in the side seam.

The dress was apparently comfortable from morning until night and I think she looked beautiful, but that isn't surprising.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Nigerian bridesmaid dress

My sister was recently bridesmaid at a wedding where the groom was Nigerian. Before the wedding the bride chose a traditional Nigerian fabric that all the bridemaids and guests could use to get outfits made. My sister asked me to make her dress and provided me with the inspiration from which I drafted the pattern. The dress is lined with plain yellow cotton that is also used for the contrast panel. The dress turned out quite well, I was especially pleased with my pattern matched seam down the back.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Successful skirt

This skirt has helped me use up the linen left over from the red dress I made in May. I wanted a straight skirt that was comfortable; that I could wear for work and wouldn't make walking difficult as pencil skirts inevitably do. 

I started with my basic straight skirt block  converting the darts to pleats to and added a frill to the back to allow enough room for me to be able to take stairs two at a time. I used a curved seam to join the frill to add a bit of interest. Sewing curves is always a bit of a faff, but I think they are worth the effort. 

It is lined with my favourite cupro bremsilk lining as I had some left over from another project, although not enough to line the frill. 

This was a simple project and I will definitely make more versions of this skirt for winter. However next time I will cut the frill on the bias to get more movement and drape. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Chevron baby blanket for baby Gray

This is my version of the chevron baby blanket from espace tricot. It is a great free pattern, which explains why it is so popular on Ravelry.

The pattern called for Blue Sky Alpacas worsted cotton. I couldn't find any in my local shops and didn't want to purchase it online without knowing what it was like, so I substituted Debbie bliss Rialto aran. I was really pleased with this choice as it is  very soft and washable.  I had quite a bit left over from 10 50g balls.

The pattern knitted up quickly, after I had to restart about 15 times, as I was automatically doing a knit stitch after every yarn over and getting very confused. Once finished it required a good press with a bit of steam which was essential to make the most if the pointy ends as they tend to curl. 

I can imagine this pattern for cushion covers or a large throw. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Red linen dress

Where can you wear a bright red off the shoulder dress? Not too many places, but a wedding on Italy's Amalfi coast must be one of them. Just look at that scenery!

Outer fabric; preshrunk linen from fabrics galore in battersea (£8 /meter)
Lining: cupro bremsilk from Macculloch and wallis in soho (£10/meter)
Skirt underlining: silk organza from silk society in soho (£14/m)
Bodice underling : tie canvas from my stash, originally from macculloch  and wallis 
Hat: custom made by MMHats ( find on Etsy)

Pattern: self dafted

I saw some red linen online at Ditto fabrics a while ago and have been waiting for the right project to come along. Unfortunately it was sold out, but I found a good replacement at Fabrics Galore in battersea. Linen wasn't my first choice for a wedding outfit but having decided on the 'off-the-shoulder' style, I wanted a fabric with some structure but no shine and linen seemed to fit the bill. 

The bodice of the dress is underlined with tie canvas simply as I had it lying around, but it did the job. The bodice is boned with satin covered regiliene boning attached to the tie canvas. I did want to use a layer of flannel between the boned layer and the outer fabric, but my local fabric shop was out of red dye and the white flannel would have shown through the weave in the linen, so I left it out and used some of the red organza I bought to underline the skirt instead. The resulting bodice was very supported  without being restrictive. 

The closure is a lapped zipper topped with a hook and eye. I recently learnt that invisible zippers are not good for crossing seams and are more prone to breaking, so I think I will stick with lapped seams for fitted garment like this is future. 
I intended to cover the waist seam with a fabric belt made with the same fabric as my dress, but could not find anywhere to buy one. I think Maxant is the brand to go for, but if anyone knows a UK stockist- pleas let me know. I considered a bow instead,  but felt that would be too twee, so I ended up belt-less. I may still try and find one as I would prefer to cover the waist seam. 

The bodice is lined with the linen as I did not have time to fuss about with making a facing and my fashion fabric was cheaper than the bremsilk I used for the skirt lining. 

The skirt did wrinkle a little bit, but I didn't notice after a few glasses of wine and the swing band started up. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Demne baby hat

I knitted this baby's hat for my cousins baby. The pattern is a free download from Ravelry. It knitted up in a couple of hours. I got distracted and did a couple of extra rows in moss stitch but it looks ok. The pattern was straightforward and fit the three week old pretty well, with a little room for her to grow into. I might try and work out a pattern for some matching mittens.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Thoughts on the Great British Sewing Bee and sewing personalities

Like many a sewing enthusiast I really enjoyed watching the Great British Sewing Bee and had no idea who was going to win until they made the announcement. I couldn’t decide If I was routing for Heather or Chinelo. I am so jealous of Chinelo’s ability to cut patterns freehand, but pleased to see that the most experienced sewer won in the end. This is probably due to the fact that like Heather I like to sew simple patterns and try to do them well- not always successfully. I know I would fail stupendouslytrying to sew a gown in 7 hours, the thought of sewing to a deadline fills me with terror, but I wonder if I would be a better seamstress if I challenged myself with different types of projects? 

Watching the contestants tackle the tasks in such different ways made me think what it important to me as a sewer and what parts of constructing a garment I enjoy most. Most of the contestants had such strong sewing personalities which they seemed to battle throughout the show- I think many of our hearts went out to Chinelo struggling with the tie pattern and I felt a personal sense of alarm when Tamara whipped out the glue gun on couture week!

I have been making more and more of my own patterns and developing my hand sewing techniques. I enjoy having a hand-sewn garment made to my measurements. The time consuming nature means I am increasing drawn to using quality fabrics that will produce long-lasting clothes. It is much more methodical and as a result I enjoy making toiles and pressing seams much more – both of which I used to find dull. I get a great sense of achievement knowing that a garment is emerging solely due to my time, effort and sewing skills. 

There is a flip side in that I rarely let my imagination run whilst making something and always start with a pen and paper.I rarely refashion garments. I am never going to have an imagination like Tamara, but I think draping may be a good way to get the creative juices flowing a bit more freely.

Food for thought

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Fair isle jumper- pattern review

Hello, Long time no posts. 

I am currently making a wedding dress for a friend of my sisters, which means a substantial amount of my sewing time has been taken up trying to master corsetry and making toiles.  So far I have learnt that corsetry is no mean feat, but I hope the extra effort will be worth it and I can share the results after her wedding. 

I have also been knitting quite a bit and have managed to finish this jumper as well as a couple of items for friends babies ( or soon to be babies). There is a mini baby boom going on as far as I can tell.

I started this project last summer, but put it on the back burner to finish the Logan dress from my last post. The pattern is from Learn to Knit, Love to Knit by Anna Wilkinson. 

I used Artesano superwash merino in sea blue and Rowan pure wool DK in enamel. I bought the wool online from Deramores and it arrived the very next day. This was a bit of a revelation as it usually takes me a few weeks to find the time to go into central London to buy wool. My local shops do not tend to have great choice or the brands I favour- mainly rowan if you are interested. 

When the wool arrived I thought that the rowan was actually slightly thinner than the artesano and I noticed that the top is slightly tighter than the bottom, which is a bit if a shame. This might be due to the fact that I haven't done an intarsia project before and my tension may have been a bit off, but I prefer to blame the wool. 

The pattern was straight forward, except that it said to cast on 105 stitches, but the chart was for 107- I could not for the life of me work out where the extra two stitches should have come from. When I did the front I cast on 107 to begin with and everything worked out fine. 

I also had to lengthen the jumper by about 8cms, which I only realised after it was complete and had to resort to a lengthening technique that requires you to thread needles through the stitches of two rows about 1.5cms apart and then cut in between and unravel before adding the necessary stitches in- terrifying, but it worked. The join is nearly invisible, except where I twisted several stitches whilst rejoining. 

I like the short sleeves, but it is very cosy for a short sleeved top, so I think I will wear it on cooler days over a long sleeved tee. I have already had several compliments on it, which is always nice. 

The terrifying lengthening process;

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Kim hargreaves- Logan dress

Kim Hargreave's logan dress
 Happy new year!

It has been a while since I have blogged about knitting, which has taken a back seat to sewing lately. This dress is most deserving of the first post of 2014. I finished this Kim Hargreaves design from her Shadows collection just before Christmas, which was an absolute necessity as I was given the wool for Christmas 2012.
The dress is made in Rowan pure wool aran in noir. I lengthened the back and front by 10 cm and each sleeve by 5 cm. I think this dress style is classic and therefore those 10 cms will be essential to allow me to wear the dress for man years to come.

I substituted the yarn from the recommended wool and I was concerned that the pure wool aran would be a little bit bulky and it probably is, but it does have the advantage if being extremely warm and machine washable.

The pattern was simple and easy to follow, although I made a big mistake on my tension square which gives the number of stitches per 10 cm squared "when slightly stretched". Mine and Kim Hargreaves version of slightly stretched must be quite different, yet I failed to realise my mistake until I had knitted the front, back and most of one sleeve. It was huge and the whole lot had to be frogged and knitted again. Soul destroying, but I ploughed on through the misery and I love the end result, I just hope the frogged wool won't bobble up too much.

I think the next project will have to be something I can whip up quickly in a chunky yarn.