A Stripy Knitted Tee

This year I have knitted more (wearable!) garments than I have in all my other years of knitting combined. In fact I have probably spent more time knitting than sewing over the past few months. I am currently one sleeve away from finishing my seventh knitted garment of 2017 and am itching to cast on my eighth. But back in August I made up the Capri pattern by knitting superstar Erika Knight. The pattern and yarn were supplied by Minerva Crafts and in exchange I wrote them a blog post about my experience. So if you want to find out more about my first non-wintery knit (and first time working with a cotton yarn) head on over to their blog to have a peek!

Autumn and Winter Fabric Haul

A variety of pretty fabrics have followed me home lately, so I thought I would share my purchases and the plans I have for them. All but one of these fabrics was purchased at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last week. It was my first time attending the show and I found it quite overwhelming. I went prepared, however, with a list of projects that I was looking for fabric and yarn for, so that I didn’t just buy anything and everything. I also wanted to find fabrics that I just couldn’t get from my local fabric shop. Overall I think I stuck to my plans pretty well and didn't go too overboard...
This was my first purchase and quite possibly my favourite fabric I have ever bought. This is a Liberty Tana Lawn in an amazing constellation print in lovely deep autumnal colours. I have never worked with a Liberty fabric before and it feels so amazingly soft I can’t wait to start. This is going to be for my birthday dress this year. I plan on making another Sew Over It Eve Dress, but this time with the straight sleeve to make it more cold weather appropriate.
Next up is this lovely weighty, washed-denim fabric. Denim is such a versatile fabric I knew I needed a denim skirt or dress to add to my wardrobe. I ended up with quite a lot of yardage at a bargain price, so I think I might be able to make both a skirt and a dress. I’ve got my eye on the Miette skirt pattern by Tilly and the Buttons as I think it will be a simple, but comfortable and very wearable make. I also like the look of the Ivy Pinafore Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, again for its comfort and versatility.
Over the past few months I have been attempting to grow my own vegetables for the first time. As such I just couldn’t resist this quilting cotton covered in vegetables. I wish it was on a darker background colour, because I think then it would be more suited to a dress. As it is I think it might end up as a shirt or blouse. It will need a pattern that doesn't require too much drape. The Sew Over It Alex Shirt is a possibility I guess.
My final purchase from the Knitting and Stitching Show was another Liberty fabric. I ended up going back for it as I just couldn’t get it out of my mind after seeing it at the beginning of the day. It is a super-soft needlecord in a brilliant blue-purple-mauve floral print. It looks and feels like the perfect material for a wintery dress. As it is such a luxury purchase I want to use a pattern I know I will love and wear. As such I think it could end up as another McCalls 6696 shirtdress with added long, cuffed sleeves.
If all these lovely fabrics weren’t enough to add to my stash, a few days later I ended up buying this novelty duvet cover. It is a Christmas duvet covered in unicorns and mermaids in bright neon colours. It is ridiculous and garish and I just couldn’t leave it in the shop. I think it is more wintery than Christmassy so I hope to be able to wear it for more than just the month of December. It will probably end up as another M6696, because I just can’t help myself. What with my plans to give handmade gifts this Christmas, I think I will be quite busy!

A Denim Marigold Jumpsuit

I’m very excited to finally be able to share this one with you - I made a jumpsuit! Back in August I made the Marigold Jumpsuit by Tilly and the Buttons. The pattern and materials were supplied by Minerva Crafts and in exchange I wrote them a blog post about my experience. So if you want to find out more about the fabric, the pattern, and my fitting challenges (including some very silly photos) head on over to their blog to have a peek!

One Week, One Pattern

Over this year I have pushed myself to participate more in the sewing community by taking up a number of sewing and knitting related ‘challenges’. Earlier in the summer I made my Drama Llama shirtdress for the Sew Together For Summer Instagram challenge, and entered my Flamingo Legs cardigan for my first ever ‘knit along’ the BritKnitKAL. And throughout September I participated in #sewphotohop, a daily photo challenge on Instagram. It appears, however, that I am not done.
Last week OWOP (One Week, One Pattern) was announced on Instagram by Sheona from Sewisfaction. The idea was the brainchild of Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons) back in 2012 and has been run periodically by different people over the last few years. The idea of OWOP is to wear seven outfits over a single week, which are all based on the same sewing pattern. There are various ways you could do this including, making the same pattern in different fabrics, wearing the same pattern in different ways, or pattern hacking to create a variety of garments. The challenge really encourages you to love the patterns that you already have, rather than being tempted by the new and shiny releases. (Which can be very, very hard to resist at times).
Not unexpectedly, once I had resolved to participate in the challenge I soon decided that I would use the McCalls M6696 shirtdress pattern. If you have read some of my previous posts you will know that I have made this dress a lot this year. In fact I already have enough M6696 dresses in my wardrobe to be able to wear a different dress each day for a week. This, however, does not feel like enough of a challenge. I also feel like I can get more from the pattern than simply another shirtdress. Why oh why make yet another M6696 you may ask! Well over the last few months I have lost my ‘sewjo’ after a couple of sewing fails. These fails created garments that were wearable, but didn’t make me particularly happy or excited. It occurred to me that I wanted an easy ‘win’, a pattern which was comfortable to sew and which I knew I would wear. Enter M6696!
So my plan for OWOP is to turn some of the fabric in my stash into M6696 shirts. At the moment I envision that this pattern hack would simply require lengthening the bodice pieces and maybe shaping the hem a bit. I also think that the skirt portion of the pattern would look quite fetching (and be very versatile) as a button-up denim skirt. I don’t have any denim in my stash at the moment, but I hope to purchase some very soon. Next week I’m off to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. This will be my very first show and I’m pretty excited. (I already have a wish list of things I hope to find). This means I will probably be posting a mammoth fabric and yarn haul on the blog very soon!
For more details about OWOP and to make your own pledge, check out the original post on the Sewisfaction blog. It will be taking place between Saturday 25th November 2017 and Friday 1st December 2017. I will be posting my outfits daily on Instagram, but will do some kind of round up here on the blog in December. And use the hashtag #owop17 to check out all the outfits that will be appearing on Instagram next month!

An Upside-Down Oda Jumper

Now I’m the first one to admit that I am not the quickest of knitters. In fact I’m incredibly slow. That being said I managed to knit a whole jumper in the space of a single month (whilst doing other things obviously). As you can probably tell, I’m quite proud of this one.
This is the Oda pattern by Brooklyn Tweed, an American knitting company. Their patterns can be purchased as downloadable pdfs (instant gratification basically). Overall Oda is a pretty simple and straightforward jumper to knit. There’s an almost identical back and front with no shaping, and two sleeves, all of which are knitted bottom-up and then seamed. The neckband is then added in the round. This was my first ever raglan jumper (opposed to a set-in sleeve) and I think I might be a convert. The raglan seemed easier and I think I also actually prefer the way it looks.
The jumper is stopped from being too plain (or boring to knit) by the chunky cables that run down the front and back of the jumper. This was an incredibly easy cable design to memorise, so did not slow down or complicate the process at all. If you look at the photograph of the pattern on the Brooklyn Tweed website you might notice that my cables are going in the opposite direction. That is because I forget to factor in my left-handedness. As I knit left-handed my knitting comes out the opposite of what is stated on a right-handed pattern. (So if I follow the pattern of the right front of a cardigan, I will end up creating a left front of a cardigan). Now I know I am left handed (after all I have been for more than twenty years), but I completely forgot to account for this with my cables. As such my cables twist the opposite way to how they should. I didn’t realise this until I was a good number of inches through the body of the back piece. It annoys me that it isn’t as stated in the pattern, but I decided that it didn’t annoy me enough to frog my work.
It is knit from Cascade 220, an aran weight wool yarn in the Sunflower colourway. (Mustard yellow is my very favourite colour to wear). I’ve never worked with a Cascade yarn before, but I really enjoyed using the yarn and the way it worked with the cable design. Knitted as a garment it feels warm and soft, but without the itchiness or fluffiness of other yarn I’ve used with a wool content. I knitted the jumper using 4mm needles for the ribbing and 5mm needles for everything else. (For a review of the knitting needles I used to knit this jumper see the Minerva Crafts blog).
This is probably the best garment I have knitted to date and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out. There are few wonky things that could be done better next time (for example, the upside-down cables). I lengthened the sleeves as I have the arms of an orangutan, and they are now a little too long, but I can always turn the cuff back. (And I’d rather have them too long than too short). I would also have liked to have sized up in this jumper, to make it a bit more of a slouchy or oversized fit. With this jumper I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have enough yardage, but I will definitely do so next time. And I’m pretty sure there will be a next time! (Does anyone else knit multiple garments from the same pattern or is it just me?)

A Starry Eve Dress

Do you remember a few weeks ago that I was chatting about how I wanted to create a more casual and everyday appropriate capsule wardrobe? I vowed to consider comfort before anything else. So about that…
I fell off the wagon big time with this dress! The Eve Dress by Sew Over It has been on my ‘to make’ list for quite a while and I nearly made a polka-dot version back in the summer. It was, however, two ready-to-wear dresses that I saw earlier this month which really inspired me to make this dress and 'make it right now'! The first of these was a wrap dress with handkerchief hem, and the second was a midi dress with fluted sleeve details and covered in glittery moons and stars. It occurred to me that, not only did I have the Eve pattern all cut out from before, but I also had a moon print fabric in my stash. (Earlier in the year I bought a duvet cover to make a M6696shirtdress, but I ended up with over half a duvet cover remaining, plenty for a second dress).
The Eve dress is a beautiful pattern and actually very simple in its construction. The pattern pieces are quite large and not very numerous, so the dress comes together quite quickly. There are also no tricky fastenings to deal with. There are, however, a couple of more challenging aspects to the pattern. The first is that the front bodice pieces are cut on the bias. As a result they stretch out of shape very easily. Though I did stay-stitch my neckline, I apparently was not quick enough to avoid this happening to me. (In the end I just created a little tuck at the top of the bodice piece to compensate for this). The other more tricky part of the pattern is the long ties, which are the only fastening for the dress. The ties are very long and very narrow. The pattern instructs you to sew the ties right-sides together and then turn them through. I found this nearly impossible, so in the end unpicked the stitching. Instead I opted to press the seam allowance to the wrong side and then top-stitch along them. I don’t mind that the stitching is visible and it saved an awful lot of hassle.
The other alterations I made to the pattern were stylistic. Rather than just turning up the long hem, I opted to sew a contrasting ribbon to the right side of the fabric and then turn it to the wrong side and hand-sew it down. As the wrong side of the fabric can be seen, I wanted to make more of a feature of it. I also opted to make my high-low hem more extreme, as I think it suited me better. I think I cut about three inches off the front skirt pieces and left the back as it was. In the end the finished dress has the fluted sleeve option that comes with the pattern. This was, however, a last minute decision. My version of the dress originally had long sleeves with a fluted cuff piece (basically the sleeve had its own half-circle skirt). I wanted to mimic the ready-to-wear dress I had seen, but ultimately I decided that it unbalanced the dress I had actually made.
My final addition was to hand-sew a million (probably not actually a million, but goodness did it feel like it!) sequins to the fabric of my dress. I used silver and blue sequins, to pick up the colours of the fabric and ribbon I had used in the construction of the dress. The fabric, because it is grey, could be considered a bit bland, and I wanted to avoid the dress looking too much like a duvet cover. The sequins enliven the fabric just enough I think, without being too obvious. (There are also lots of glittery star prints on the high street at the moment I noticed).
In the end I think the combination of the style of the pattern and the addition of the sequins means that I have created a party dress, rather than an everyday dress. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it though. In fact it turned out almost better than I imagined it might. It is also surprisingly flattering, which I wasn't expecting. I will, therefore, definitely be making this dress again. I think if I were to straighten the hem out and make a long-sleeve version, it would be a great dress to wear with cardigans and ankle boots in the autumn. Now I just need to find an occasion to wear this starry, sequin-covered Eve Dress!

The 'J' Word

If the blog has seemed a little quiet of late (when it comes to showing off finished objects), that does not mean I haven’t been busily sewing or knitting. In fact, over the next few weeks I will have quite a few things to ‘sew and tell’. One of the reasons I haven’t been able to show you what I’ve been making is because over the last month or so I have been doing a bit of collaborating with the lovely people at Minerva Crafts. Once these mystery garments have been posted on their blog in the upcoming months, I will be able to share them here. But for now, here is an interview I did with Minerva Crafts all about my sewing journey...