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

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!”

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, 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”

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”

Dad's nightshirt – Kwik Sew 2650

A Wee Willie Winkie style nightshirt for my dad.

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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.

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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”

Nursing dress – Simplicity 1469

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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:

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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

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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 ūüôā Continue reading “Simplicity 1469 – Nursing top by Megan Nielsen”

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 ūüôā

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!

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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…