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!

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!

Sew and Tell: The Summer Edition

Finally I am here to show you what I have been making over the last few months (though I do realise it is now halfway through August and maybe more than a bit overdue). June and July were quite busy with life stuff, as I moved my worldly belongings across the country and then promptly went on holiday for a fortnight. I did, however, manage to get a fair bit of sewing (and knitting) completed. In fact I have seven things to share with you today.
Unsurprisingly perhaps I ended up making more versions of the McCalls M6696 shirtdress pattern. I feel vaguely embarrassed to admit that I have made another three versions, taking my total up to eight. (Eight?!) I probably don’t need to say anything much about this pattern or my alterations now. (For a more in depth discussion see my previous post here). Firstly I made a short-sleeved version from a duvet cover purchased from Asda. This dress has garnered a surprising amount of compliments on the occasions when it was worn.
The second version I made was from a black gingham dressmaking fabric when I decided that I wanted to jump on the whole gingham trend bandwagon. For this version I decided to omit the in-seam pockets that come with the pattern and instead ‘drafted’ my own patch pocket piece. These I cut on the cross-grain to create an additional bit of interest. I attempted a small amount of pattern matching and it was actually quite useful to have lines on the fabric showing you where best to fold.
My final version of the M6696 shirtdress (and my last one for quite a while – honestly!) was made in the days immediately after returning from holiday using some of the fabric I had bought whilst away. It was my first attempt at using a border print dressmaking fabric. In order to make the most of the fabric I decided to use the border along the bottom of the hem and button bands, and also on the yoke of the bodice. In order to have a matching front and back, I traced over my front bodice pattern piece and then roughly cut out a front yoke piece. I didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves and had to shorten the length of the skirt as well to make all the pattern pieces fit on the length of fabric I had. Overall, however, I think it turned out pretty well.
Earlier in the summer I took part in the BritKnitKAL hosted by Amy from the Stranded Dyeworks podcast on You Tube. The aim was to knit something out of British yarn. I was incredibly fortunate enough to get my hands on two skeins of Amy’s own Flamingo Legs colourway on her Paradise base (Merino, Cashmere, Nylon). I opted to make a cropped summer cardigan to go with all the M6696 dresses I have made this year. I didn’t win any prizes but I was incredibly happy with how my finished garment looked. I used the James C Brett pattern 121 and knitted the smallest size using 3.25mm and 4mm needles. As at the end I was playing a game of yarn chicken I ended up making three quarter length rather than full length sleeves. As this is very much a summer cardigan, I don’t think that is too much of a problem.
Back in June I also made the Burnside Bibs by Sew House Seven. I have already written a full review of this pattern (which can be found here), but I thought it worth revisiting the garment, as I wasn’t sure when I first made it whether or not I would wear it. In the end I decided that I would get more wear out of it by turning them into a pair of paper-bag waist trousers. So basically I just chopped the bib off, hand sewed down the edges of the waistband and added some belt loops to the front of the trousers. Since then I have worn them quite a bit, and they are actually already beginning to fray at the seams. I’m not entirely sure if this a combination of the fabric and the washing machine having a disagreement, or whether by hacking the pattern I wrecked the garment a bit. Either way these have been a great comfortable pair of summer trousers that fit nicely within the culotte trend that was everywhere on the high street.
Unfortunately August has been a month in which my unpicker and I were more closely acquainted than I would like to have been. (Last week I got almost all the way through one garment before having to unpick every single seam when I realised that the fit was completely atrocious). At the beginning of the month I posted my review of the Victoria Blazer pattern from By Hand London, which I refashioned from a man’s shirt (which you can find here). Though I was pleased with the overall transformation, it wasn’t exactly the finished garment I had hoped for. (Entirely my fault and not the pattern’s in any way).
But I do in fact have one more finished make to show you. This week I finished knitting a jumper which I had started whilst away on holiday last month. I used the Charlotte pattern by Rowan, which is a cropped aran weight jumper with two neckline variations. I changed the pattern by following the poloneck variation, but only knitting about half of the required length. I also opted to knit the sleeves in moss stitch, rather than plain stocking stitch. On me the sleeves have ended up at ‘bracelet length’, which is primarily due to the fact I have the arms of an orangutan. The yarn is King Cole Riot DK in what I think is the forest colourway, but may be called something completely different. It is a self-striping yarn (but the stripes are random and different widths) in a variety of green and yellow tones. The finished jumper is a bit lumpy in places and is certainly not the best knitting I have ever done. However, the colours are very wearable and fit nicely into the colour palette of my autumn capsule wardrobe I have planned. The yarn also has a small percentage of wool content, giving the jumper a bit of a halo, but also giving it added warmth for the cooler months to come.

Refashioning: Victoria Blazer

Whilst I was away on holiday earlier this summer I picked up three men’s shirts. They were already a bargain at £5 a shirt, but considering one was a 5XL size, I ended up with an awful lot of fabric for my money. I bought them with no clear intention, except I knew I could create something new out of something a bit unloved. Also, with my mind already on the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I picked three complementing shirts. The first was a denim, the second a muted floral, and the third a mustard check.
During the process of planning my autumn capsule wardrobe I knew early on that I wanted to make a lightweight jacket that would be suitable for layering. I had been eyeing up the By Hand London Victoria Blazer pattern for a while and decided to bite the bullet and purchase the pdf. I had always quite liked the idea of a cropped jacket to go with waisted dresses. But for the casual wardrobe I was planning, I was particularly inspired by the oversized almost boyish fit of the full-length blazer.
The fabric choice was also relatively straightforward. After putting my fabric stash in a big pile, it became quickly clear which fabric went well with a variety of other fabrics. The winner was the denim blue men’s shirt. The fabric isn’t a thick denim and nor does it quite have the texture of a denim, perhaps it could be considered more of a chambray.
Anyway, firstly I carefully cut through all of the seams of the shirt until I had broken it down into its component parts. I ended up with: a back; two fronts; a pocket; a collar; two sleeves; two cuffs. With a bit of finagling and creative cutting I managed to get all the pieces of the Victoria Blazer pattern cut out of what I had salvaged from the shirt. The only things I got rid of were the button plackets and the collar.
The construction of the blazer was relatively straight forward and I think suitable for a beginner in jacket sewing. I opted not to line the jacket, which cut out quite a lot of the instructions and sped up the whole process. As I didn’t have a lining I did have to construct the collar differently (making it up as I went along) to how they have you do it in the instructions, but I don’t think it looks too bad.
The other part of the pattern I didn't follow was the sleeve cuffs. The pattern includes a three-quarter length sleeve and cuff pieces. As I had managed to salvage the cuffs from the original shirt and they were approximately the same size as the pattern pieces, I simply sewed them straight on to the sleeve pieces.
There were a couple of more ‘tricky’ moments, which included sewing the darts on the front blazer pieces, and I don’t think the instructions were as clear as they could be. However, there is a well-illustrated sew-along on the By Hand London website, which I found plugged any gaps in the instructions.
Generally I think this experiment can be counted a success. The finished garment looks nothing like the original shirt, as the fit and style are much more tailored. The overall look of the blazer is also quite pleasing. I like the smart-casual vibe and the pockets are a useful inclusion. The collar and lapels are cut and sewn separately, which makes construction easier, but I also quite like this almost pared back style of collar. I cut out a size 10 and made no alterations to the fit as I sewed the blazer up. As I didn’t have a lining I used bias binding to finish the hem and hand-sewed it into place, which I think gives it a nice finish.
Originally I planned to cover all the seams with bias binding to make the innards of the blazer look pretty. However, once I realised I didn’t love the garment I decided I didn’t want to sink more time into this particular project. Also the seams are quite small which would have required lots of joins in the bias binding. The reason I am not completely enamoured with this blazer has nothing to do with the pattern. This is a pattern I would definitely use again, but there are certain things about this particular version which make it a wearable toile rather than everyday wear.
Next time, for example, I think I will make a size up and maybe also use a smaller seam allowance. Not only do I want to create a more slouchy silhouette, but I also want to create more ease to allow me to wear a cardigan or jumper underneath it. I will also definitely line it next time with a pretty contrasting viscose material. Though this will cause more issues with the collar, I think it will make a sturdier jacket. In the future I would probably forego the cuff pieces and simply extend the sleeves to full length. I’m also imagining lengthening the blazer so it falls further beyond my hips. Maybe then I would remove the pockets from the side-seams and instead add large patch pockets to the front. In my head I imagine that this will make a much more autumn appropriate item of clothing.