Dad's nightshirt – Kwik Sew 2650

A Wee Willie Winkie style nightshirt for my dad.

SONY DSC
Headless shot of a very ill Andy doing some last-minute modelling for me.

This is a nightshirt I made for my dad for his birthday in January, following repeated requests for another one. Apparently long nightshirts for men are impossible to buy, and my dad likes them really long. He’s six foot, so I had to add another six inches to the length to get it where he wanted it.  I made the first version of it in a gorgeous tartan doublecloth about seven years ago when I was just getting started with garment sewing, and I remember it being fairly straightforward, so a likely candidate for a gift with my limited sewing time.

SONY DSC
And here’s the back. Not going to get cold legs in this. Especially not over trousers…

Continue reading “Dad's nightshirt – Kwik Sew 2650”

Pencil skirts galore!

My quest to find the perfectly fitted knit fabric pencil skirt…

SONY DSC
Skirt #2, complete with boots that really don’t go with the rest of the outfit. Ah well. Them’s the breaks when you don’t have a full length mirror by the front door.

This post is a tale of two skirts, in my quest to get a perfectly fitted and comfortable knit pencil skirt. A pencil skirt might not seem all that practical when looking after a toddler, but I much prefer a straight or pegged style to a full skirt. And provided it’s short and stretchy enough, with thick tights or leggings underneath it can be a really versatile item of clothing perfectly suited to getting down on the floor and playing.

The first version I made was using some plain black ponte from Minerva. I used the free pattern at So Sew Easy as I liked the look of the four panels and topstitched seam lines, although I knew these wouldn’t be so obvious in just black.

It was a qualified success. I loved how easy it was to sew and think I did a really good job on the topstitching and twin needle hemming, but it really didn’t fit well as you can see by all the pull lines in the photos (taken back in the summer). I think this was down to me getting really confused about what size to cut. I measured the pattern pieces but the one suggested by my measurements looked like it would be huge, so I cut down a couple of sizes to one with a small amount of negative ease. What I didn’t realise until after sewing it was that ponte should be treated more like a stretch woven, with a minimum of no ease rather than negative ease. Continue reading “Pencil skirts galore!”

20 minute sewing sprints

 

hand knit sock
Yay for self-striping sock yarn!
 
So, I’ve actually managed to stick to my idea of sewing or crafting for at least 20 minutes day so far. And in that time I’ve knitted one and a bit socks! That’s pretty good going considering it took me years to finish the last pair. I’ve also sewn a knit pencil skirt for myself (without a pattern and fitted directly to my body). It’s without a doubt the cosiest, comfiest skirts I’ve ever owned! It’s been perfect for this cold snap and I haven’t wanted to wear anything else… Except leggings and a top and underwear of course 😛 I will take some pictures and blog it properly soon. 

After the success of the skirt I hit a snag. I’d run out of things ready to sew, and 20 minutes is not an ideal length of time for cutting out garments. I started making a simple darted, zippered pouch instead, following the recent tutorial on Ikat bag.

However, this weekend I had a couple of hours spare while Gabriel was napping, so I cut out my next sewing project: a nightshirt for my dad for his upcoming birthday. It’s a simple pattern I made for him many years ago, but he’s been requesting another for ages so I thought it was about time I obliged!

I think my strategy for the future is going to have to be to do all cutting out at weekend nap times whenever I get the chance. I know I am going to have a challenge finding sewing time over the next few months as we are planning on moving house, but I’m sure if I prioritise then I can still do it. After all, just 20 minutes a day for something I love doing is not that much. I deserve at least that much me time!

Who else out there is making sure they take the time to sew every day?

Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016

It’s the time of year for a round up, because there’s something about the post-Christmas period that makes me determined to do better. Eat less chocolate! Exercise more! Enjoy life to the full! And set myself loads of stupid goals I’ll never manage to keep…

Okay, so I don’t manage to sew or blog as often as I’d like to (and I have several unblogged projects waiting), but it’s hardly surprising with a baby around the place. Add in moving house last year and no longer having a dedicated sewing room (and currently house-hunting to buy somewhere, so probably moving again in a few months) and I’m amazed I’ve managed to get anything done. Go me!

Here are my goals from last year, and how I think I did with them:

  • Make a selection of dresses and tops in knit fabrics, all with concealed nursing access.

IMG_0723 (Copy)Does two tops and a dress count as a selection? I think so! And better yet, I’ve been wearing them regularly. Except one of the tops (unblogged), but more about that another day…

  • Make at least a couple of bras and pairs of knickers to match.

Err, I think I was too ambitious with my first bra project. Learning the technique while trying to deal with all the layers of a nursing bra, while merrily adapting a regular bra pattern? Nope, wasn’t working. I’m saving bra-making for when I’ve stopped nursing, which should be at some point over the next few months.

  • Begin to build a foundation wardrobe of versatile, TNT patterns. I shall be following the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge to give me some motivation. I want this to include patterns for a t-shirt, a dress, a skirt, trousers, a shrug and perhaps a jacket if there’s time.

Continue reading “Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016”

Nursing dress – Simplicity 1469

SONY DSC

I’ve made a fair few dresses in my time, but this particular dress marks a turning point. This is the first dress I’ve ever made that I’ve worn regularly. And when I say regularly, I mean I grab it every time it’s out of the laundry! So what makes this dress so special? I believe it’s largely down to the knit fabric, which is beautifully soft and drapey. It’s the same viscose are used to sew the top version of this pattern (Simplicity 1469), And it presented the same challenges to work with. However, I learnt a lot making the top so it was much easier this time around.

For the top I used clear elastic to stabilise the neckline but I was never happy with the result. I didn’t like the zig-zag topstitching or the way the neckline of the inner bodice kept wanting to pull outwards:

Aug 15 137 (Copy)

This time I buckled down, faced my fears, and made a proper knit binding for the neckline and armholes. Why was I so worried? It was the easiest thing in the world, and the results look brilliant. I didn’t even need to topstitch down the seam allowance as I used my over locker to attach the binding. In fact I did try topstitching and it looks rubbish, so that saved me some work. I even remembered to trim a little off the edges before binding them, so as not to add any width to the edges. Continue reading “Nursing dress – Simplicity 1469”

Simplicity 1469 – Nursing top by Megan Nielsen

SONY DSC

I made this top a couple of months ago but it’s taken me a while to make the time to blog about it. Summer holidays are impossible for finding any computer time! This is designed as a maternity/nursing top or dress, and you can find it here with the original artwork: http://www.simplicitynewlook.com/1469/ It’s a simple empire line knit top with an outer bodice you can stretch down, with an inner bodice that has cut outs for nursing access. It would be pretty easy to make it without that access, though, if you had no need for it.

I cut a size S, although my measurements put me more towards the M sizing, as I’ve learnt that Big 4 pattern sizing is always too generous for my liking. As I was seaming with my overlocker I did, however, taper out to the edge of the seam allowance over the hips, adding in just a touch more ease for my pear shape figure.

I used a lightweight maroon viscose jersey originally purchased from Ditto Fabrics last summer, along with the same fabric in a black and white polka dot print for the contrast pieces. It doesn’t look like they still have my colours in stock, but I think this one might be from the same original selection: https://www.dittofabrics.co.uk/plain-and-printed-jersey-fabric/plain-jersey-fabric. It’s an incredibly slinky fabric which drapes beautifully, but is a complete bugger to sew. I made a t-shirt from it last year and nearly tore my hair out trying to deal with its shifty shenanigans, but it is wonderful to wear so I persevered. I wish I’d chosen something easier for my first two knit patterns, but at least everything I encounter in future should seem easy in comparison 🙂 Continue reading “Simplicity 1469 – Nursing top by Megan Nielsen”

Can't blog. Sewing.

I’ve been making sure I spend at least 20 minutes a day sewing–harder than you’d think, as Gabriel is only happy on the sewing room floor for about 10 minutes at a time. I’m starting to think it might be easier when I have to give up that room for him and sew downstairs. At least he likes the living room floor!

Anyway, this is what I have to show for my time:

June15-5 011 (Copy)

It certainly isn’t perfect. I’m not happy with the zig zag on the neckline, the underbust pleats (I think gathers would be more flattering) or the alternative sleeve finish I attempted (a contrast rolled edge finish, which didn’t roll, so I had to turn into a lettuce leaf edge instead). But the fit isn’t too bad and at least I now know the tweaks I’ll need to make before cutting into the polka dot fabric.

To finish this off so it’s at least wearable around the house, I’m going to add a contrast band at the bottom with the same lettuce leaf edge as the sleeves.

So, on with the sewing!

PS – the pattern is the Megan Nielson dress for Simplicity.

Friday update: Bra-making shenanigans

June15-2 034 (Copy)
Apologies for my feet. Have to download some photo editing software!

So, after making sure I set aside at least 20 minutes a day to do some sewing, I’ve finally made decent headway on my bra project, and have something that looks like a bra. Actually, it looks even more like a bra than in the picture, as I’ve now attached the bottom band elastic and the top elastic on one side. And that’s why I’ve now stalled. After the nightmare of sewing the centre front seam on the powernet I thought it would now be plain sailing, but I managed to totally bollox up the side elastic. Admittedly, having all those layers of the double nursing cups wasn’t helping. And then I had a moment of madness and trimmed the excess wire casing so it was out of the way. But I trimmed too much, so now it doesn’t reach the top on that side. Gah!

This isn’t really too much of a problem as this bra won’t have underwires, so the casing is there more to neaten things up than serve a structural function, but still, I was discouraged by having done something so reckless and decided to put the project aside for a little while so I can come back to it with a fresh, positive mindset. Continue reading “Friday update: Bra-making shenanigans”

"Friday" update: scissors ahoy!

I’m starting off a series of (hopefully) regular weekly posts featuring news about what I’ve been up to with a particular slant on the sewing (more general updates will be over on my writer blog, should you wish to follow those). This would normally be on a Friday, but hey, I accidentally deleted half the post I wrote yesterday, and so here it is today with slightly different (improved?) wording 🙂

This week I’ve been making use of my Any.Do “to do list” app and scheduling myself 20 mins sewing time each day. It seems to be making a real difference. Instead of crossing off all the dull stuff first, I find myself racing to the sewing room to get going every morning. And yes, it’s a task down when I’ve finished! I think it’s important to make that time for my own interests, which can easily be sidelined in all the hustle and bustle of running the house and caring for a baby (along with a nine-year-old and a grown man). I’ve also been making use of tiny chunks of time to get sewing projects prepped, so that when I get my 20 minutes I’m sewing the whole time rather than getting things together. It’s made a real difference to my productivity.

Despite this I haven’t finished anything for myself, but I did get a cushion made for my mum’s birthday (now almost a month late, but who’s counting?!). It features an old embroidery she started when I was little, and that I finished off for her. I’ll do a full post on it sometime soon, but for now a sumptuous piccy:

mum's cushion

Continue reading “"Friday" update: scissors ahoy!”

Yeah yeah, I know, it's a sodding peg apron

Peg apron

So, I was planning for my first proper post here to feature some glamorous outfit for me, or a cute one for Gabriel or Daisy, but instead it’s a rather twee peg apron. Do I care? Of course not, because I now own the best peg apron in the land 🙂

I also intended to take photos with our glorious new garden as a backdrop, using Andy’s DSLR (and in the spirit of our new co-habitation, I’m now considering it my DSLR), but neither of us know where the tripod or remote control for it are. Best guess: buried deep in the garage. So instead you get some decidedly shonky pics taken using the self-timer on my phone. Ah well. That’s real life in all its unvarnished glory for you.

Anyway, on with the sewing talk. You’ll see why I needed a new peg storage system when you look at the next picture:

peg apron and peg bag

Yep, that’s the old peg bag on the left. It was one of my first sewing projects when I took up in earnest about eight years ago, and I made it up as I was going along, using an old pair of jeans, a wire coat hanger and a short length of pre-made bias tape. It served its purpose, but the bias binding was pretty bloody awful. I don’t think they had handy YouTube tutorials for stuff like that back then. Or if they did, I didn’t know how to search for it.

This time around I decided an apron would be more functional, especially when dangling a baby off my hip. I found a free pattern and tutorial on Craftsy, and used up some printed fabric from my stash. It’s a linen curtain that I found in a charity shop years ago and always loved but never found a use for. It’s too stiff for clothing and possibly a little purple to go anywhere inside the home (lots of earth tones), but I still adore it. I teamed it up with some offcuts of a purple linen/cotton fabric I made a pair of self-drafted trousers from a few years back (and purged in my recent KonMarie decluttering binge because I never liked them on me). As luck would have it, it went PERFECTLY with the print.

The tutorial was easy to follow and would be suitable for a beginner. I did find one small error (On page 4 of pattern it says “Match the tie, wrong sides together” – that should be “right sides together”!). Other than that, the project blurb promised a hanging loop, but this wasn’t included in the tutorial and I didn’t realise this until the end, by which point it was too late to add it without having to unpick topstitching. Not a problem, though, as I don’t have any hooks to hang it from anyway.

The changes I made were to swap the ric-rac for home-made bias binding on the pocket edges. I’ve never been a fan of ric-rac and I thought this would give a more durable finish. I also sewed a small reinforcing triangle where the pocket top meets the side seam.

I did wonder if the waistband should be interfaced in the middle where the apron joins, but I’m glad I didn’t as it’s wonderfully comfortable without. The band is the perfect length and width to go round my body twice and still tie in a generous bow (as you can see in the dodgy, over-exposed picture below)

The only change I might still make is to sew another line of topstitching along where the apron joins the waistband, and perhaps either some bar tacks or a more decorative hand-embroidered stitch to reinforce at each end of the join. These places take a lot of strain as I have a huge amount of pegs to deal with all the nappies I’m washing these days. Oh, the life of a mother is so glamorous!

peg apron 2
So, all in all I’m really happy with the peg apron and am contemplating making one for my mum too. And then I just need to think of a use for the rest of the patterned linen. Maybe an ironing board cover? Or a sewing machine cover?

Anyone else own a peg apron? And do you find it worth foregoing the glamour of a dressmaking project in favour of something functional you’ll end up using on a (pretty much) daily basis? This has got me pondering knitting my own dishcloths again…

Life is crazy. Join the club.

March 15 025
He steals my sleep and time, but I forgive him!

So, I haven’t posted for a while simply because it’s so hard to find time to sit at the computer when there’s a new baby to look after. It didn’t help that Gabriel had to go into hospital for a hernia operation (all healed and he’s perfectly well, but I’m sure I have a few new grey hairs as a result). It’s also been really hard for me to get into my sewing room–and not only because the clothes airer now resides in there, hogging most of the available floor space.

I’ve made most progress in knitting and crochet, and have actually managed to complete a couple of projects: the Short and Sweet Bolero and some Gruffalo Booties for Gabriel. I’ll be blogging about those shortly, I promise!

Here, then, are the projects I’m currently working on:

Bra (Kwik Sew 3594)

This is the first time I’ve ever attempted a bra and it’s a steep learning curve, but I have the fabulous Beverly Johnson to hold my hand in her online Craftsy Class: Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit. I’m making a Kwik Sew pattern in plain black cotton which I’m adapting for nursing use by adding clips and a second cup layer with peephole detail (!). Here’s hoping all those extra layers of interlock fabric don’t cause problems when attaching the cups to the cradle…

No picture yet, as I’ve only managed to partially assemble the cups so far.

Feb 15 106Tank top for Daisy

This is my first go at knitting in the round with my fancy Knit Pro circular needles, using some cotton yarn I’ve had in my stash for yonks. It’s a summery, lavender yarn and I can’t decide whether it’s a boucle or slub. It’s uneven, anyway, and it starts to make my fingers feel rough after handling it for a while. This is one of those mindless stockinette projects I can work on autopilot. I’m using a free pattern as a jumping off point, and adapting it as I go. You can see my progress on Ravelry.

Feb 15 153Cabled Turban

I love Stitch Diva patterns and appreciate their complexity as a chance to advance my skills. I have made quite a few of their crochet projects, but this is my first knit one by them from the Timeless Knitted Hats patterns. It is also my first time knitting cables and to be honest, I think I should have picked an easier project and yarn to begin with. It’s all getting complicated and this is going to be one of those projects I don’t finish for months on end, I can tell. You can see my latest progress on my Ravelry page.

March 15 002Cardigan for Gabriel

This is a project from the possibly misnamed pattern book: One-Skein Wonders. I’ve used three skeins already so I think some of the authors cheated by using giant balls of yarn. However, it’s a great stashbuster as I’m using some yarn I originally bought to make a baby cardie for Daisy. And she’s nine now. Yeah, I’m speedy like that. You can check my progress on Ravelry.

There will be a separate post about all my UFOs to follow, as I’ve been through the sewing room and chucked out everything from the mending and UFO baskets that I have no intention of finishing in the next year or so. Life is too short to have them all hanging around, making me feel guilty! Plus I have to move house in two weeks (sigh). Not much sewing on the horizon, methinks, but perhaps I can finish that bra before I have to pack up the sewing room…

Happy New Blog!

I need a new blog in much the the same way I need a kitten. In other words, it’s yet another thing I have to try to find time for in my busy life, but it’s so terribly appealing!

So, this is my sewing/crafting blog, as I love making things and want to document and share more of what I get up to. Assuming I can manage to make anything now I have a 1 month old son to care for (Gabriel) along with Daisy, my nine-year-old. Yep, all crafting will either have to happen with Gabriel on my lap, or when he naps.

my familyA bit about me… I’m 37 and I live in Somerset with my partner, Andy, the two kids and two cats (pictured left, without the cats). I’ve had various different careers, including teaching English Lit, but I’ve been making a living as a writer of gay erotic romance for the last few years (yes, really!) and I publish under the pen name Josephine Myles. I love writing but I need to make things with my hands too. I’m one of those terminally creative people with more ideas than time and resources, and I’m always up for trying a new craft, especially textile crafts. I enjoy crochet and knitting (especially knitting lace), and have a yen to try feltmaking again sometime soon. And I want to give macrame a go. Oh, and I enjoy jewellery making too. It’s so tough to narrow things down and specialise!

Steampunk outfitBut sewing is my first love. I’ve been sewing by hand my whole life, although I only took up dressmaking on a sewing machine around five years ago. I took an evening class in pattern drafting (which annoyingly enough disqualifies me from entering the Great British Sewing Bee). So far I’ve mostly made glamorous, vintage-style dresses and costumes for generally looking fabulous in when sipping cocktails at cabaret shows. My all time most impressive make (to me, anyway) is my underbust corset (shown right with Simplicity 1819). Plain and simple, but it fits like a dream and is wonderfully comfortable.

Continue reading “Happy New Blog!”