Craftysticks: October update

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Daisy having fun with my MiL’s vintage Singer. I’ve borrowed it for a project that needed lots of topstitching. Maybe I should put Daisy to work in my own mini-sweatshop?!

Yeah, until I ever get more hours in the day this looks like being a monthly rather than a weekly thing. I’ve been managing to get some crafting done along with the writing, though, by starting writing as soon as Gabriel goes down for his nap, then once I’ve written 1250 words I can spend the rest of the time (generally about half an hour, give or take) sewing. Woohoo! I need that reward to power on through with the writing some days.

Sewing:

I finished the last of Daisy’s school dresses and she’s still wearing them even though the weather has cooled right down, so that’s good. Turns out a summer dress is perfect for autumn when you have a long sleeved top and leggings underneath ūüôā

I’ve also sewn myself another mini skirt. Yeah, I know, my last two projects were mini skirts too. Not sure what’s going on there, but I think it will be the last one I sew for some time. There are only so many winter minis a girl needs…

Continue reading “Craftysticks: October update”

Craftysticks: monthly it is, then!

It would appear I can’t manage a blog post more often than monthly, although to be fair, it was the summer holidays and I did have a book deadline. Maybe things will be different in future… Yeah, I doubt it!

Anyway, I’ve done a wee bit of sewing over the summer. Having a deadline of wanting to get skirts ready for the UK Meet (GLBTQ+ writing convention) helped. Here’s what I got up to:

Sewing:

I actually finished two corduroy mini-skirts. Woohoo! One is a Seamwork Osaka wrap skirt which I started at the Sewn Bristol Sewcial. It’s in brown needlecord with a red polka dot lining. I know the Osaka is meant to be colour blocked and reversible, but I’m just a born rebel ūüėõ

I also appear to be a rebel when following the instructions as I made a major mistake which meant I never did manage to finish it at the Sewcial. Ah well, I learnt an important lesson about reading things properly before cutting out, and the finished skirt still looks great. I expect there’ll be pics and a blog post at some point. Oh, okay, here’s a really rubbish selfie I took in the (dirty, smeared) mirror while deciding what I needed to pack for the convention. Yes, I am now that person who takes photos of her outfits to decide what goes with what, and so she can remember it when she gets there…

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The second mini skirt is a fab self-drafted rainbow corduroy number which I’ve been planning to make for years, but never got round to until now. Admittedly it’s a bit shorter than anticipated (the perils of winging it and not accounting for seam allowances!) but it will be great in the winter with tights or leggings. Or in the summer with bare legs if I’m feeling really brave and especially tanned. Here’s a sneak pic, and a full blog post will follow at some point. Possibly. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.

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I’ve also finished another self-drafted school dress for Daisy. One left to go, but only the collar and hems to finish off. I’m really pleased with these and she seems to find them really comfortable. Here’s a pic of her in the first dress–full post to follow with the standard disclaimer. Hey, I’m busy, all right?!

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Crochet:

I’m still slowly working on the Rebel Lace Cardie. I’ve now completed the lower bodice rows as specified in the pattern, but I think I’m going to need to work a few more as it’s coming in above the waist, whereas it needs to sit directly on the natural waist. It might be ready for next summer…

Cooking:

I set myself the task of having a go at perfecting some really simple dishes over the summer holidays: mayonnaise, steak and scrambled eggs. Admittedly I only had a go at mayo and steak the once, but it was the best steak I’ve ever tasted (disclaimer: I’d only had steak four times in my life up to that point!). The mayo was less successful as I used olive oil. Although it was the light olive oil it still tasted way too olivey for my liking. Still, at least I got it to the right consistency, even if I did have to add a second egg yolk to stop it curdling. I think in future I’ll have to try a different oil. The idea was to get away from PUFAs and go for the healthier MUFAs, so perhaps I’ll try avocado oil next time. If I can afford it… (contemplates taking out second mortgage or selling a kidney)

I’ve been doing really well with the scrambled eggs, though. I always thought I didn’t like them but it turns out that what I didn’t like were my mum’s overcooked scrambled eggs. Done perfectly with cream, chives and Parmesan, the humble scrambled egg is a thing of beauty. Particularly when served with smoked salmon. Yum!

Anyway, that’s it for now. Better make use of this time and get on with some real sewing. As of Monday¬†I’m going to devote Gabriel’s naptimes to writing, and will only be able to sew once I’ve written 1000 words. I’m hoping that might spur me on to be more productive with the writing. Here’s hoping!

What have you all been up to? Anyone else making stuff? ūüôā

Craftysticks: breaking promises but finishing garments.

I said in my first (and so far, only) Craftysticks post that it would be a weekly update post. Uh, try monthly, as that was back at the beginning of July! Ah well, it’s been a busy few weeks, what with me having to finish a novella and get it off to my editor–a novella called Custom Fit, featuring a fashion student, a man in a homemade dress and some major clothing kinks, so it’s okay to mention it here, right?!

Sewing:

Anyway, I started well on the sewing, almost polishing off one of Daisy’s school dresses. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get it finished before school ended for the summer, and since then I’ve been somewhat discouraged. I do need to finish it (just the hemming) and get the other one done too (which is at pre zip insertion stage) before the weekend, though, as I’m going to the SEWN¬†Sewcial¬†in Bristol, and I’ll need my sewing machine for another, more exciting project. Not sure what, exactly, but I’ve promised myself I’m not going to rethread either of my machines until I’ve finished the damn dresses. Anyone else get tough with themselves like that? Sometimes it’s the only way to finish things! Or not finish them, in this case…

Crochet:

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I finished sewing the buttons on the Cecilia Chemise! It looks gorgeous, and fits so well! Still haven’t worn it anywhere, though. I keep telling myself I’m saving it for the UK Meet in September, but I should probably where it somewhere first in case I discover any issues when wearing it. You don’t want that to happen when you’re at a convention with your author hat on, trying to be all charismatic and so on. Trust me. Been there, done that…

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The other Stitchdiva pattern I’m working on, the Rebel Lace Cardie, is progressing slowly but surely. I need some better light so I can work on it in the evenings, though. Navy yarn is not my¬†friend in anything other than the brightest light! I’ve now reached the second armhole split, which means the upper bodice is nearly finished. I have a feeling it might take me till next summer to finish this thing, but hey, I don’t mind. It’s soothing, in a strange way, considering how tricky it is.

In the works:

I now just have to work out which of my various planned projects I’m going to get cut and ready to stitch on Sunday at the Sewcial @SEWN¬†. Ooh, do I go tricky with chiffon, make a rainbow Pride corduroy skirt, or take several t-shirt projects to whizz through on¬†my overlocker? The overlocker is much lighter than the sewing machine, and I’ve no idea how far I’ll have to carry it. Hmm, decisions, decisions…

Right, off to finish those gingham school dresses before Daisy grows out of them.

Anyone else reading this going to be in Bristol for the Sewcial on Sunday?

Craftysticks: a weekly crafting update

So why Craftysticks? Well, that’s a nickname a friend gave me a good few years back, when I was teaching her and another friend how to make dolls, sew and crochet.

And the weekly update part? I tend to work on a few projects at once, so sometimes it might be weeks before I finish anything at all. In the interests of more regular posting I thought I’d start making sure I blog something every week, even if it’s just general musings on textile crafts and making stuff. Any stuff. I’m not too fussy, I just like my hands to be busy!

Life has been a bit derailed this week as Gabriel has cut four new teeth and had a 72hr tummy bug, but I’m getting back on track now. And I’ve managed to get in a bit of crafting to keep myself sane. It’s my me-time, and I need it!

Sewing:

Continue reading “Craftysticks: a weekly crafting update”

Knot Your Average Dress… no, it really isn't!

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Yeah, I’m loving this dress!

I made this plain grey knit dress to fill a wardrobe gap. It’s the Knot Your Average Shirt & Dress pattern from 5¬†out of 4¬†Patterns, originally chosen because it’s one of the very few knit dresses out there with (optional) concealed nursing access – in fact, the company offer a range of patterns suitable for nursing, so are well worth taking a look at if you’re expecting. Admittedly, that’s not really an issue for me any more, but the dress is still perfectly wearable even when not needing quick boob access ūüėČ

The pattern comes with markings for dress length or shirt length, and with long or short sleeves, with additional instructions for making it sleeveless. There are also optional adaptations for nursing and maternity versions. Continue reading “Knot Your Average Dress… no, it really isn't!”

#2016MakeNine summer sewing plans

So, at the moment I’m a bit strapped for cash, what with all the recent expense of moving house and the fact it’s been a while since I’ve had a new book out. However, at the same time I’m facing a need for new summer clothing, including things I can’t make myself¬†like sandals. I’ve given it some thought and have decided the best way to proceed is to curb my impulses to buy ALL the fabric and ALL the patterns, and shop my stash instead, thus saving my small amount of cash for some splendid footwear. Or not-so-splendid footwear, as the case may be. We’ll just have to see what I can find in my budget…

Anyway, here’s my plans for nine summery things I can make from my stash:

 

 

Me Made May (23) (Copy)Plantain tee

I’ve already made a three-quarter¬†sleeve version, and I want more! There’s plenty of jersey in the stash. I’m thinking a short sleeved one to begin with, and possibly adapt it into a tank. Continue reading “#2016MakeNine summer sewing plans”

Star criss-crossed love? Nope, more like divorce immanent! Jalie 2787

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The face says it all…

I’m finally blogging a top I made last year, thus proving once and for all that punctuality is not my strong suit. Neither is sewing wearable clothing, judging purely by this effort. Ah well. I think it’s good to share the duds along with the successes, as we’ve all had them. I wish I’d kept photos of more¬†of mine, but maybe it’s best they’re confined to the fabric recycling bin of my mind ūüôā

So, this is Jalie’s Criss-Cross Top (2787), which I chose more for the fact it can be made in¬†a breastfeeding-friendly version than because I knew this style would be good on me. The top comes with¬†sleeveless, flutter and long sleeve options¬†and is constructed using mirror image left and right bodice pieces that cross over each other, joining at the side seam of the opposite side. The lower bodice has a bit of extra volume to account for the maternity option, but is kept snug under the bust using elastic along the top edge. For the breastfeeding version the¬†upper bodice piece that sits behind the other is tacked at the centre to the lower bodice (the regular version is held¬†with a longer line of stitches), anchoring it in place but allowing you to hoik the upper bodice up to nurse. I’d never tried on a top that crossed over in this manner and thought it might suit, and I really liked the way it fit the model on the pattern cover, but she is pretty skinny and flat-chested. That probably should have given me a clue… Continue reading “Star criss-crossed love? Nope, more like divorce immanent! Jalie 2787”

Me Made May: thoughts and conclusions

I thought I’d reflect on last month’s challenge using lots of pictures. Hey, why not? So here is a visual run down of various aspects of my MMMay experience:

Knit and crochet

So, it wasn’t all about the sewing for me. I’ve always been a keen crocheter, and I knit, although not to such a high standard. However, I tend to be drawn to really complex, lacy crochet in bright colours which doesn’t always seem practical for everyday. It was good to finally get a few of my pretty shrugs and cardies out and find ways to style¬†them for the school run. And I’ve been wearing them since the challenge ended, so I’m feeling more confident about picking future crochet projects I’ll actually wear. I’ve started on a really fancy one, but as it’s in navy I reckon I’ll find lots of ways to wear the finished cardie ūüôā

Jewellery

The jewellery bug never really infected me. I mean, I went under for a while, seduced by all the unusual, original pieces I could make. But to be honest? I don’t wear jewellery much, and anyway, I quite enjoy shopping for earrings and necklaces. I mean, a girl’s allowed some retail therapy, right?! Continue reading “Me Made May: thoughts and conclusions”

Me Made May, days 19-27

And here are the pictures all together:

There are more repeat appearances here, but I’m still managing to unearth¬†some new garments to show off. You can find the previous posts here:¬†Days 1-9,¬†Days 10-18

Here’s the full run down: Continue reading “Me Made May, days 19-27”

Ottobre 6/2011 sleepsuit

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For some reason I adore this picture. What an expression!

I made this back in February, but was inspired to finally get my arse in gear and post about it this week after watching the Great British Sewing Bee contestants grapple with making babygrows.

One of the contestants was asked if she’d ever made babygrows for her kids and her incredulous “no way” (or words to that effect) was pretty much the way I felt about making such a fiddly item of clothing for a rapidly growing baby. But then I had a boy¬†who threw off all his blankets, but who hated being in sleeping bags. He was just starting to stand and cruise¬†so he¬†hated the constriction, I’m guessing. He needed something to keep him warm at night, but with legs built in. I didn’t wanted a footed sleepsuit, though, as at the time with our hard flooring downstairs he would slip around all over the place. It was bare feet or babygrows/socks with those little grippy dots on the bottom at the time.¬†I also wanted¬†it to be made out of a breathable, natural fabric for his comfort.

I looked around the shops but the only thermal¬†sleepsuits I could find all had feet built in (without the grippy dots!), and were quilted with polyester wadding. They seemed pricey too, especially considering they weren’t what I really wanted. Snowsuits generally looked better, but they all had hoods so weren’t suitable for sleeping in–and possibly too warm as well. I didn’t want Gabriel to overheat. So I gradually came around to the idea of making one. How hard can it be, right? Continue reading “Ottobre 6/2011 sleepsuit”

Me Made May, days 10-18

I’m only doing these in groups of nine because I love the look of tiled Instagram pics…

Anyway, here goes for the next lot of details. Some are repeats so I haven’t linked the patterns again. You can find days 1-9 here. Continue reading “Me Made May, days 10-18”

Me Made May 2016 – I'm finally taking part!

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¬†‘I, Anna-Jo, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear¬†at least one handmade garment or accessory¬†each day for the duration of May 2016.¬† I also pledge to take photos of each outfit and post them on my blog as weekly roundups.’

So, after a couple of years of wishing I had enough everyday me-made clothing to take part in Me Made May, I’m finally giving it a go. I’m hoping that wearing something handmade every day will prove an enjoyable challenge, and am anticipating the following results:

  • Getting a¬†better idea of how to creatively style my existing clothes, both handmade and RTW, using accessories and new combinations. And lots of scarves, probably.
  • Getting up to speed with using the DSLR, tripod, and my new garden (moving house on Wednesday–eek!) to take my own outfit pics.
  • Using the photographs to help make¬†some tough decisions about which clothes are unflattering and ready to be donated/refashioned.
  • Coming up¬†with a summer¬†sewing plan to plug any wardrobe gaps I notice during the month. Practical sewing, not party sewing!

At the moment I’m using the prospect of MMMay to spur me on to finish my long-hibernating brown knitted cardigan, and to get going on a few simple makes I know I could do with. First up are a grey Plantain tee and a brown corduroy Osaka skirt. All fabrics from my stash. Now if only I could spend the next hour sewing, but I suppose I’d better get packing for the move… *Sigh*

*Stares longingly at sewing machine*

*Glares at stack of flatpacked cardboard boxes*

Anyone else out there ready to take up the #MMMay16 challenge?

A quilt for Daisy

Aug 15 078 (Copy)This quilt was about eighteen¬†years in the making, I kid you not. Now it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out it was started way before Daisy was even a twinkle in her daddy’s eye. Originally it was intended to be a sofa throw for my parents, and it was my sister who started it. I think it’s fair to say she knew bugger all about quilting, and back then in the days of 56k dial up modems the internet was not as comprehensive a source of crafting knowledge as it is now.

So there were some odd choices made. A peculiar mix of quilting cottons and dressmaking fabrics, chosen purely for the colour and pattern. And Bek cut them out using pinking shears with a 1.5 cm seam allowances as that was all she’d ever sewn with. She ended up piecing about five rows, pressing seam allowances open and painstakingly making sure every square lined up perfectly. She’s that kind of person. A perfectionist through and through.

It’s fair to say it took her forever to get that far, and then Mum redecorated her living room in vibrant peach (why, Mum? Why?!) and the colours didn’t go any longer. She got me to batik her a few blue and peach sofa throws instead. Continue reading “A quilt for Daisy”

The knitty gritty

Thoughts on simple crafting projects to get me through a stressful house move.

Hey peeps, what’s up? I’ve been busy crafting away, trying not to think too much about the impending move (likely to be over the Easter holidays sometime). Actually, I should be thinking about the move and setting up lots of easy to work on knitting and crochet projects to get me through the time when I won’t have any sewing machine access. I was inspired by the recent couple of posts by Stitch Diva’s Jennifer Hansen (here and here) to get more organised with my crafting. I have yet to work on all my electronic lists of project ideas, but I’m going to search out some simple¬†patterns to work on that fit my lifestyle. Just recently I ran out of easy to work on projects as everything was at that stage where I needed to concentrate and look up techniques for the next step. It’s made me realise the value of simple knit and crochet projects, and that I should always have a pair of socks on the go!

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Yep, Gabriel likes his cardie. And Daisy’s Frozen wand, apparently.

However, this dearth of patterns to work on actually made me go back through the WIP basket and pull out a few things to finish off. I finally completed Gabriel’s cardie (it fits him, phew!) and have finished knitting the last sleeve for my own boring brown cardie. I’m worried it won’t suit me when I sew it all together, but I’ve got to at least try. At best, I’ll get a valuable new outfit-building garment for my wardrobe in a lovely soft woollen yarn. At worst I’ll frog it and start again.¬†The yarn is wasted leaving it in an unfinished state, so I have to at least give it a go. Continue reading “The knitty gritty”