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Saturday, 7 February 2015

I've got socks older than that doctor/dentist/teacher!

How old is your oldest pair of socks?  I tend to hold on to mine until the bitter end.  They inevitably get a hole in the heel and then I have to admit defeat and chuck them out.  Handknitted socks are another matter though.  Even then they don't get the chop.

I was sorting out the laundry and realised that a pair of my husband's handknitted socks had developed a hole.  Thanks to my back catalogue of posts I can see that I finished these socks at the end of 2010 and they have been going strong since then.  Not bad for socks that have been in regular use.  I bought a darning mushroom from a charity shop a few years back and it has been put to good use.

I'm afraid I can't give you a masterclass on how to darn socks as I am fairly slapdash.  I just sew sort of ladders back and forth across the hole and then weave the yarn up and down these ladders to fill in the gaps. 

I think it's supposed to look like you haven't needed to repair it at all, which is not quite how it looks when I do it - but, well, it looks better than before!

The socks live to fight another day!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

It's not that warm in Wales actually.

I love the time between Christmas and the start of the school term, as I get a bit of sewing time in before going back to work.  

This year for Christmas I was lucky enough to get a copy of Gretchen Hirsch's latest book 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual' from my sister and I decided to have a go at making a toile for the shift dress in the book.  I fancy making myself a summer holiday wardrobe and the patterns in the book fitted with my ideas.

I started with a US size 8 at the bust and graded it out to a size 12 at the hips.  I was really pleased with the grading on the pattern and appreciated Gretchen's bias towards drafting on the curvy side.  It meant that I had a wearable toile without any major adjustments.

The back did show up a few problems.  I have a bit of a swayback issue and I will re-draft the centre back I think to take this into account.  This is something I have dealt with before so I wasn't too surprised this was the case.  It may be a bit too tight in the hips as well but I think the swayback will help with the fit and I can look at this again.  This is meant to be a basic pattern and I hope to make a few versions with different necklines and I suppose I should lengthen it a little!

I think that's all the sewing I can fit in before going back to work.  It was time to take down the Christmas decorations today.  It was lovely looking at all the decorations myself and the children have made over the years.  Can't wait for next Christmas to put them all up again! 

Happy New Year.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Dress In A Day - Christmas Dress

I had one day in which to make my dress for Christmas Day.  I started cutting out the pattern at 9am and, save for meals, worked solidly on it and finished just in time to watch my favourite hospital drama on the telly at 8pm.  And that, M'lord, is why I am never going to apply to be a contestant on 'The Great British Sewing Bee'.

I made it as simple as possible.  No sleeves, using the bodice from my last dress (Simplicity 1873) together with a gathered skirt that I sort of copied, sort of not.

The fabric is the reason I wanted to make this dress.  A pretty calico print from Ditto fabrics.  The bodice is lined with a white duvet cover that was given to me by a friend. 

I love the fabric and I love the neckline.

I clipped the neckline curve and I think that this is the first time I have done it where it seems to have kept a gentle curve rather than having some obvious dints in the line where the clips are.  If you see what I mean!

I also lowered the bust dart from my original version of this bodice and it has helped with the fit.  Merle is a bit smaller than I am at the moment but I've started running to work and am stubbornly refusing to increase her measurements in the meantime!!!

So those are the good points of my dress.  The pattern matching is another story however.  The skirt is a little odd in that that pattern dips centre front and back but it does match all the seams.  The bodice lines up at the side...

This was because I was careful to line up the bodice pieces to the same line of the print when cutting out.  I forgot, however, to line up the print centrally at the front of the bodice and as for the back...

...what?....  That had me sulking as I was eating my evening meal let me tell you!  It seems my lining up of the selvedges must have been wrong but that was something that I did check.  If it was something obvious please tell me what I did so I don't do it again!!

So not a perfect dress, but perfect for Christmas Day.  I wore it with a fairisle cardigan and it was surprisingly resilient.  Not creasy like quilting cotton would be.  I am just wondering if I can get away with this print on my summer holidays.....!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Great class - shame about the student!

I've pretty much got used to my all over machine quilting technique of wavy lines and nervous humming!  I thought, however, it was time to try something a bit more adventurous.

I decided to take Ann Peterson's Craftsy class Beyond Basic Machine Quilting.  (I've no affiliation with Craftsy by the way).  Watching this lovely lady calmly quilt away inspired me.  She gave some great advice but this is something that will take practice.     

My flowers are a bit wobbly!  The thing is; there I am quilting away, concentrating like mad, when suddenly I just quilt a huge wobbly line out of nowhere!  Then I just carry on with a confused look on my face muttering 'why did I just do that?'  Feel free to use my technique!

I did do some things that I was pretty pleased with after I had practiced a bit.

I am loving my little dragonfly.  Completely Ann's idea - I would never have thought of something as cute as this!

I have also got some other all over quilting patterns I can now use as well as my bog standard stippling.

There are leaves (some of them even look like leaves!)

And swirls.

As this was a practice I used some cheap as chips fabric.  Ikea were selling this cotton print fabric at £1 a metre.  That is cheaper than muslin/calico is sold for, so I've bought it for making up toiles.  I managed to feel very seamstressy when I picked up an uncut bolt of fabric and the assistant pointed me towards the cutting table, and I said that I wanted to buy the whole bolt!  Oh the extravagance!  Like a scene out of Pretty Woman.... maybe not!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Channeling my inner Cruella De Vil

cruella de vil

Yes.  I know it's silly.  

When I saw that the Sewcialists had November as #SewDisney time I thought I could definitely sit this one out.  As I mentioned in my previous post; I wasn't fussed about making any costumes at the moment.  But then I read on and became fascinated by the phenomena that is 'Disneybound'.  I hadn't heard of this before, but it made sense that adult guests were not allowed to wear full costume when going to the various Disney parks and so would wear regular clothes that only suggested certain Disney characters.  Several hours surfing the net later and I was hooked!

I decided to make Simplicity 1873 - a Cynthia Rowley design - simply because I had just got it as a free gift with a magazine.

Enough of the silliness - this is how I will be wearing it out in public!  As you can see my tweaking hasn't resulted in the best of fits.  My FBA went a bit overboard and the bodice is now too big.  Totally my fault.  I will have to work on that.  This was pretty much a test garment in cheap fabric but I am still going to wear it!

I have also invested in an invisible zipper foot.  Took me three attempts but I have managed to get the zip in.  I'll have to work on that too.  So much homework!

The pink underskirt is a bit of a cheat - my friend gave me a maxi skirt which was too small on my waist.  I cut the bottom off the skirt and put an elasticated waist into it and hey ho an underskirt. 

Finally, further proof that I need to step away from Photoshop!  (Thank you Mr Hoffi for designing my dalmatian background!)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

I've got skirts, they're multiplying

I thought I would join in with the Sewcialists' October sewalong theme - Grease is the Word!  I didn't want to make a costume though - mainly because I am in the midst of persuading my friend to dress up with me for a 'Sing-a-long-a Sound Of Music' show next year - and my head is full of dirndls and lederhosen!

I decided instead to try and give an old pattern a modern twist.  I really wanted to make the bolero jacket from the sixties reprint BurdaStyle 7113.  (View B in the picture below.)

The dress, however, not so much.   Maybe another time when I have copious amounts of time to try and fit this style of dress to my pear shaped body.  I didn't fancy a pencil skirt either - although this would have made sense given the Grease theme.  In the end I made another copy of the BurdaStyle skirt I used for my recent cars skirt.  I had a tiny bit of black flannel left over from my sixties check dress that I wanted to use and there was only enough for a mini.  So decision made.

I tried out Hong Kong seam finishes for the first time.  Found out they are quite addictive.  Also found out I had a sewing foot I could use to more accurately stitch in the ditch.  Who knew!

The reason I wanted to make another of these skirts is my love of the contrasting pocket panel.  This time I used some leftover spotty fabric.  I've still got loads of this fabric left so I may well make another bolero in it so I can mix and match.

The bonus is that now I have something I can wear to an upcoming girls night.  Naturally I did consider skin tight shiny lycra a la Sandy but thought I put my friends through enough as it is! :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

My 62 (and a half) pence scarf

Knitting can be an expensive hobby.  So many beautiful yarns - so little time.  Sometimes though you just want something that will keep you occupied while at the dentists, or waiting in line at parents' evening. (Just some examples of the rock and roll lifestyle I have been living the last couple of weeks!)

I was after cheap and cheerful and I found this acrylic yarn...

... for the princely sum of £1.25 for two balls at a charity shop.  I coupled this with a free cowl pattern I found whilst searching ravelry, and I even knitted it with a pair of needles that came with a knitting magazine.  I know, hey big spender!

My yarn choice/tension combo meant that my piece of knitting seemed narrower than that suggested in the original pattern, so I decided to change it from a cowl to a scarf.

It was really quick to knit up and I only used one ball of the pair so I am counting this as an investment of 62 and a half pence on this scarf.  Regarding the other ball - I can't get the thought of pink and grey Fair Isle gloves out of my head now!