Sunday, 1 March 2015

Daughter's top finished

This is the 2nd of my unfinished projects that I pledged to complete in. 2015.  Technically this is my daughter's project but with two young children and a change in job she has been unable to find the time to finish it.

This was to have been her first sewn garment in navy ponte. Rather than use a pattern she simply traced around a favourite top and had already stablized and sewn the neck, shoulder and outer arm seams.  The project had stalled when the neckband turned out a bit wavy.  

After 18 months she asked I could finish the top for her. I simply pinned the side seams and marked a new neckline whilst she was wearing it.  I cut off the old neckband and added a new one and used the overlocker to sew the side seams, cuffs and hem band.

Needless to say she was happy to have this project finished.  I hope that as she has ended up with a wearable top she won't be put off having another go herself when she has more time. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Finally finished lace knit top

I'm really pleased to say I have finally finished knitting this top.   I braved the cold and wind for the pics just to prove (mainly to myself) that it was finally finished.  I don't know about you but these days I don't consider a garment officially finished without the fanfare of a few pics and blog post.

I started this top back in July and initially struggled, making slow progress with the delicate lace neckband and as autumn set in I lost interest in knitting a top that I knew would not be worn for at least 8 months - until the following summer.  Lesson learnt - time your garment makes so that they are just coming into session as they are finished - It's much easier to stay motivated and focused on finishing.

 Changes to the pattern - increased body length by 8 cms ( I much prefer tops to end nearer to my hips than on my waistline), used smaller size pattern (10-16) for body and larger size for sleeves.  Used sheering elastic around the neck to stop the neckband falling off my shoulders.  I'm not sure if it's the pattern design or my narrow shoulders but either way the off the shoulder look just isn't great on me. Lesson learnt - where possible choose a pattern where there is a pic of someone actually wearing the garment.

This is the first time I have knitted a top in the round.  Once I got past the arms the knitting was straight forward and it was lovely to have minimal sewing to do to finish the top.  However, its easy to loose your place particularly if you have to unpick a mistake and it seemed to go on for ever.  It was also not easy to change to a new ball of yarn without a mark showing.  My biggest bug bear is the lines that are clearly visible down the centre front and back.  The pattern said to use place markers at centre front and back until past the arms but to me this has created a visible flaw and spoils the top.  I am assuming that either the chunky yarn I used as place markers was too thick or its due to my inexperience - Any tips? They will be gratefully received.

Lesson learnt - You Tube is a brilliant aid for a knitter.  Particularly a beginner or someone like me, getting back into knitting after a very long break.  I could not remember what a couple of the instruction abbreviations meant (for example sskpo) but a quick search on You Tube brought up several excellent demos causing the minimal of delay in progress.   

All in all I'm glad I finished this top and tried something new.  I like the lace edging and length.  The jury is out on the style.  The same with the colour, although I am sure it will look better on a sunny day and with a tan.  I'm also not sure how this yarn will wash.  I guess the proof will be in the wearing.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Footstool revitalised

I am still knitting, determined to finish the citrus green, lace, summer top before I start any new sewing projects.  The end is in sight but I must admit I am starting to get twitchy.  With so many lovely fabrics recently purchased I have lots of ideas for my first sewing project of 2015.

Yesterday I took a break from knitting and spent a satisfying hour with Mr S bringing a footstool, which we had been thinking of throwing out, back to life.  We used fabric from my stash (a metre of furnishing fabric recently purchased from Liverpool and half a metre of fleece to provide some cushioning to the top) and a staple gun.

We unscrewed all the sections and laid them out on the furnishing fabric, allowing extra for folding the fabric around the sides to the back. It did take some time to get the layout right as one metre was only just enough to cover all sides.  We then simply chalked cutting lines on the back of the fabric and cut each piece out, cutting the corners off to reduce bulk.  The fabric was wrapped round each section, pulling it tight and stapling it into place one side at a time. 

I'm really pleased with the results.  For less money than £7 and an hour's work we have a smart footstool.  



Saturday, 24 January 2015

Fabric shopping - Liverpool

Earlier this month Mr S and I had a lovely weekend break in Liverpool.  Of course I couldn't resist googling fabric shops before we went - just in case we happened to be in an area near to one.  

Mr S earned brownie points by agreeing to detour to Stafford Street.  Just a 10 minute walk from Lime Street Train Station it's well worth a visit. There are taxis parked at the end of the street ( if you don't fancy walking back with heavy bags) and on street parking (you will need change for the parking meter).

 The Abakhan store is spread over two floors and its massive - a sewer's paradise.   Downstairs is mainly fabric pieces sold by the weight and upstairs fabrics sold by the roll.  There are large  haberdashery and yarn sections too.  The store is so big I only had time to explore downstairs on our first visit.  The prices are very reasonable and with a sale on there were real bargains.

 Mr S gets lots more brownie points for offering to drive via Stafford Street on our way home.  Lucky me got to explore the upstairs of the Abakhan store and the other two fabric stores on the street. 

Just a few doors down from Abakhan is The Fabric Place, which also has some lovely fabrics.  I was very tempted by a beautiful, quality lace at a very reasonable price - but without a reason I could not justify buying it - but I know where to look if I ever want to make a lace dress.

Opposite Abakhan is a store selling mainly curtain and furnishing fabrics. I nearly didn't go in as I have no interest in making such things but I am glad we did.  What a find.  All the fabric was only £3.99 per metre.  The store itself seemed a bit of a mess with rolls just stacked up around the room (I'm not sure if the ladies were in the middle of sorting stock out).  Downstairs there were also bolts of fabrics, cushions with pads and lovely covers and other random bargains.  All were really good quality - it made me wish I had a suite to cover. 

This is what a brought in Liverpool:

From  Abakhan - 0.8m embroidered metallic knit, 1.5m blue and navy knit, 3m navy peach skin fabric, 4m wool mix, 2 x 200g chunky yarn and 3m wide elastic.  Total cost £44

Although the knit fabrics are smallish pieces I can make them into tops or combined with black fabric to make dresses.  The peach skin is for lining but would make a nice top and the wool should make a nice coat, jacket or skirt.  The yarn is for making a scarf as a gift ( are you impressed I'm thinking a head and stocking up on materials for gifts when I see a bargain).

From the curtain shop ( I could not see a shop name above the door).  I brought 1 m of a grey marl furnishing fabric to cover the lids of 2 footstools and a dog bed cushion with removable cover.  Total cost £10.

  • Mr S is wonderful.  
  • Liverpool is definitely worth a visit.  You are sure to find some good quality fabrics at a reasonable price and if like me you can combine it with a weekend break to the city even better. 
  • I just wish I had thought to take some pictures although  the cold, grey skies of winter would not have done Liverpool justice - perhaps I should go back in the summer.
  • I like the idea of buying fabric from different places we visit and think I might try to do that in future it's much better than a postcard.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

2015 plans

A bit late I know but it's taken me a while to work out my sewing/making plans for this year.

I do like to have a plan don't you?  It certainly helps me to stay motivated.  There's something satisfying about looking back at the end of the year and being able to give yourself a pat on the back for achieving what you set out to do.

Last year I took part in the make a garment a month challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, discovering some lovely sewists along the way and not to mention 12 new garments to show for my efforts.  The only downsides were that I sometimes made a garment that I knew I could make within the month rather than something I might have preferred if I had longer to make it and I also had less time for making for others - and I do like giving homemade gifts.  SarahLiz who hosted the challenge did a brilliant job, coming up with interesting themes each month, keeping the blog up to date, as well as timely comments on all our projects.  This year the challenge has moved to Facebook.  I did think I might join the challenge again but having decided on my plans for 2015 I realise that I can't fit it in with the limited time available. I will however keep in touch through their personal blogs.

So my plans for 2015 are to:

1.   Keep making for myself and others
Be it sewing, knitting or crocheting or something else (I tend to prefer to knit and crochet to sewing in the darker, colder winter months - my eyes aren't what they used to be).

2.   Complete works in progress 
 I don't have unfinished projects so I need to get these finished:

- Knitted lace top.
This is the reason I haven't started sewing this year yet - I am busy knitting as I want to get this project finished first.  I started this last July.  On reflection it was a stupid time to start such a project.  There is no incentive to work on a very fine yarn garment when you know you are not going to have the opportunity to wear it for at least 9 months.  The lace neckband was tricky and made for a slow start and towards the end of autumn I put the knitting aside in favour of knitting in thicker yarn and making gifts.  Now the impetus is back to finish this top so I can wear it this summer.  

- Daughter's navy knit fabric top, 
Technically this is my daughter's project. This was to be the first garment she made for herself. She started this project, to make a clone of a favourite RTW top, over a 18 months ago but with a busy job and two young kids she hasn't had the time to finish it.

- Grandaughter's first dress
Last summer D started to make her first dress with a little help from me.  It's a pretty summer dress in broiderie anglaise.  However, with one thing and another we didn't finish the dress before the summer was over and like my lace top it got put on hold.  This was partly because I didn't want her to finish it and then find out she had grown so much the dress was too short before she got chance to wear it.

This was started last March and was always intended to be a longer term project but I would like to finish it this year.  

3.  Use Stash
- craftsy classes.  I have over craftsy 40 classes, some of which I have only glanced at.  These online classes are a great way of learning new skills and picking up knowledge from some of the best teachers if you can't get to classes in person.  I intend to follow and complete at least 2 this year and have viewed most of the others from start to finish.

- sewing patterns - I tend to buy patterns in bulk when on sale and have quite a number I haven't tried (P&P is free when spending over £20). This year I will try to use only patterns in my stash.

- fabric stash (this includes fabric from recent trip to Liverpool, which I have yet to blog about).

- dress master pattern developed on Gill Arnold course.  I tend to continue to develop this as a tried and true pattern and make further variations, including with sleeves.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Fabric shopping - Birmingham

Mr S has recently earned lots of brownie points.

When deciding to visit my daughter who lives the other side of Birmingham he offered (yes offered without any hints or prompting - honest) to go via Birmingham city centre so that I could visit Barry's Fabric Store.   An offer I was never going to refuse.  

I quick look at my fabric stash and I decided that I could do with some knit fabrics to make use of some of my newer patterns that I have yet to try.

After a quick look at their £1 and £2 per metre sales sections, which did not include any suitable knits, I focussed on the stretch fabric section.

I must admit that despite a fairly good selection I was disappointed that I didn't find many prints that I loved and could not find any complimentary prints that I liked. Nevertheless I did not come away empty handed (as if that was ever likely). 

I am pleased with my purchases - some 3 m lengths each of 3 plain ponte knits in grey, black and navy to use for either dresses, skirts or contrasts and 2 m lengths each of 3 print stretch fabrics to use for tops or skirts.  In total I spent £107 on 15 metres of fabric.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Pattern Review

Pattern Review

What a nice surprise it was to receive a message this morning to say I was the featured member on the pattern review website.

This is a great site to visit when considering making up a new pattern - it's always helpful to learn from the experiences of others who have actually made up the pattern.  I often look through the gallery for inspiration of what to make next.  Frequently patterns are much more interesting and flattering when made up and the creativity and variety of people who have made up a pattern does showcase a pattern's potential.

I confess I have only entered one competition partly due to limited sewing time.  However I would recommend it if you wish to challenge yourself and raise your skill, creativity levels.  It inspired me to make my first handbag.  I learnt a lot from that project, and still love the bag which is still in regular use as my go to evening bag.  

I haven't tried any of their courses, having purchased several Craftsy courses that I am still working my way through.  Though I have taken Craftsy courses run by Angela Wolf, who also has regular courses on Pattern Review,  and they are excellent.

Although I find it a bit clunky uploading pattern reviews on to this site (which may be due to my level of IT competence) it's well worth it to contribute to the wealth of knowledge that is available to assist future sewing projects.