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 🙂
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”
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”
‘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?
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”
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!
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”
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.
My quest to find the perfectly fitted knit fabric pencil skirt…
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.
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!”
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:
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”
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”
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”
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:
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!
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…
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.
A 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!
But 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.