The Walkley Dress

dress

While on a bit of a dressmaking roll, I decided to delve back into the realm of knit fabrics.  Having only made one successful garment with knit, I decided that I wanted to keep the pattern as simple as possible.

The simple question for this project was The Walkley Dress by Wendy Ward MIY.

This pattern requires two pieces to be cut out of your fabric, and they come from the same template.  If you’re lucky enough to have 150cm wide fabric, you only need a metre!  In this instance, I already had some fabric ready and waiting – a remnant from a fabric shop!

Setting up the machine proved the most difficult part.  It’s been about six months since I last tried a stretch pattern, and it was a challenge to set up my machine.  Following the advice from the pattern, I opted for the small zigzag stitch for the seams, and the three stitch zigzag for the hems.  In addition, I attached a walking foot to my machine and loosened the pressure of the presser foot; without these adjustments, my machine did not want to stitch!

Originally, I planned to try a twin needle on the hems, but I managed to break my stretch needle one a while ago and haven’t replaced it yet.  It turns out that I keep loosening the needle whenever I attach the walking foot to my machine!

I didn’t colour match the thread for this garment as I had recently acquired a set of threads in different colours (none of which were a perfect match) and I didn’t want to go out and buy more supplies on this occasion.  The downside to this is that the hemming is a lot more noticeable than it would have been.

Also, I stretched the hem a bit while stitching (I did the hem before the neck and armholes).  I didn’t have any stay tape or stabiliser, which could have helped to prevent this, but I did adjust my stitching technique to decrease the amount of stretching after noticing the issue on the hem.

The neckline is quite wide (though this could be in part due to my stitching ability!) but it’s really comfy and it is definitely a pattern which provides you with fast results which are satisfying!  It’s a brilliant ‘first knit’ pattern too as there aren’t too many steps or seams to stitch which means you can focus on working carefully with the knit medium.

I think next time I use this pattern, I will definitely try out some knit stay tape to ensure that the garment lasts a long time.  Also, I think I may opt for a patterned material.

I think I will give this pattern another go with the lessons learnt from this occasion in mind!  As it only requires a metre of fabric to create a whole dress, and can be made in less time than a lot of the other patterns I have, I think another one will be made!  As the pattern says, this make is versatile for all seasons as you can layer it for the winter or wear it as it is for the summer.

dress_02

Continue Reading The Walkley Dress

The stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show!

Last Saturday, I went to the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show at Westpoint, Exeter, UK!

My friend and I went as part of a day coach trip to avoid the prospect of driving.  Unfortunately, the pick up point was not in our town, so we had to get a lift to Truro.

When we arrived, there was a queue which wandered around the building!  Once in, we decided to dive into the middle aisle which seemed quieter as others opted to choose to tackle the show from one end to the other.

corduroy

The first fabric shop we saw was Fabrcis Galore, which contained an array of wonderful fabrics.  After deliberation, i went back later to buy some printed corduroy, which will be perfect for a project I have in mind to make after all the Christmas gifts are made (so probably January)!

Also I picked up a lovely polar bear print from another fabric shop, which will be used in a gift I need to make very soon (currently being prewashed so no photo)!

fleece

My very first purchase was this fleece.  As the nights draw in, I think I will turn to practising spinning with my drop spindle once more, and I like to pick up small amounts of fleece for this purpose.  I’m not a fast spinner, so this bag is a suitable size.

angel

We managed to sign up to a wonderful glass workshop with The Glass Garden Studio where we learned the basics in stained glass construction. I took home this angel that I made.

tactile-treasures

Tactile Treasures was another stall I was particularly interested in.  Now I have a niece, I am interested in making toys which will be perfect for her learning and development.  this stall sold all sorts of attachments which are teething friendly and different stitchable surfaces, such as this mirror, which can be cut, stuck and appliqued onto items.  I bought some rattle inserts too which will be great to use, and received excellent tips from the owners of the business on ensuring that the toys you make a safe and meet safety standards.

I came across an air erasable pen, which is something I have been looking out for having read about them.  I’ve been having a bit of trouble with water erasable pens, which have at times caused the thread to run onto the background fabric.  I’m not sure they this has happened as the thread should be colour fast, but I am intrigued to find out whether the use of an air erasable pen would be safer.  I plan to review this in the coming month.

The block printing stall from The Arty Crafty place was lovely as well.  When we finally managed to get up to the front and admire the blocks, we were very tempted with their £30 starter pack.  However, I decided to select a couple of small blocks.  They were packaged in a beautiful drawstring bag.  We also found some simple leaf shapes for £1 on another stall, which we plan to try out for block printing too at some point.

There were lovely displays of artwork too, including an impressive stitched cardigan!

As it was a day coach trip, it meant we were there for the whole hog and were shattered by the time we crawled back onto the coach at 5pm!  But it was an interesting experience.  I found it a bit overwhelming as someone who tends to avoid large crowds, but the inspiration was immense and I feel as though I’ve been drawn to another handful of hobbies in a very short time!!

Continue Reading The stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show!

Crocheted Bunny

I haven’t done a lot of crocheting beyond the string bags I make for the Etsy shop.  However, this bunny pattern has been a project I’ve been looking forward to making for a long time.

Published in Simply Crochet magazine, this bunny originates from a lovely looking book called Edward’s Menagerie by Kerry Lord.

I made this bunny with Sirdar Country Style yarn, which meant it had a bit of wool content but would still be easy to wash (which I felt the parents of the owner of this bunny would appreciate)!  The bunny is advised to be made in alpaca wool, but I opted for a wool blend to comprimise on price/budget and yarn content.  I am slightly gutted to have since discovered an alpaca wool blend wool in a shop near my mum’s which would have worked well for this knit and was a reasonable price!

This pattern was fun to make.  I would have appreciated more pictures or directions on sewing it up, but the actual pattern in the book may have more guidance on this than the magazine version.  Also, I guess it means that your finished toy will be unique according to how you decide to finish it off.

Continue Reading Crocheted Bunny

Dungarees!

IMG_20160325_174251

When I took part in the #miymarch16 instagram challenge, I put down this dungarees pattern as my sewing ambition (new Burda 3779).  I bought the pattern from a charity shop for £2 just over a year ago because I loved the idea of making some, and bought some denim shortly after.  However, the amount of pieces in the pattern felt overwhelming, and I couldn’t get started.

A couple of months ago, I asked my mum if I could bring along the pattern and fabric when I visited her to see if she could encourage me to get started.  Over the weekend, I managed to trace the pattern, pin it onto the fabric, and then cut it out.

One of my main worries was altering the pattern to my size.  However, we decided that as it was designed to be very loose fitting, I could cut it a size smaller than usual, which would ensure that the bottom half would not be too baggy!

I didn’t manage to pick it up again for about a month after this visit!  Feeling that I still needed a boost, I went back to my mum’s for a crafty retreat to get the pattern finished.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  When I attached the bib section to the shorts, it didn’t provide a completely sealed finish, but I think I might have misread it.  I would plan to take steps to create a better finish next time.  Also, the inner sides of the bib are tacked in place and then secured by edge stitching and top stitching.  However, I decided to slip stitch it in place by hand to secure it before the two rows of machine stitching.

The braces were simple to attach.  The buttons have to be hammered on, but in my view, this is much easier than stitching button holes and working out where to place the buttons on the straps!  There’s the added benefit that you can adjust it to size.

DungareesPleats

The pleats on the front were also a worry, but turned out to be really simple to complete.  They were more like tucks.  The denim material is so sturdy that it was easy to tack in place and press well at every step.

I think these may become my ‘uniform’ for craft days!  I think I will have to make a trouser version for the winter though (I’m already imagining some navy polka dot material which could be used for the second pair…)IMG_20160829_164019Harry did become jealous of the sewing project during its production, and kept sitting or laying on the instructions.  When I moved the instructions out of the way so he couldn’t make any further holes in it with his claws, he decided to settle on the garment instead!

Continue Reading Dungarees!

Wabi Sabi – embracing the beauty of natural imperfections

Wabi Sabi – the Japanese art of embracing the beauty of natural imperfections – is something I’ve stumbled across this month.

Wabi Sabi in craft terms appears to be finding the beauty in the handmade elements.  I wish I’d discovered this art while I was learning ceramics earlier in the year as I could have defended my wobbly pots when compared to the much more symmetrical looking results from other students in the class!  It’s nice to know there is a philosophy which prizes the uneven glazing, wall thickness and overall performance of the complex ceramic process.

wobbly pots

I’ve also explored glass fusing this year, and in this class we embraced the imperfections of our pieces as we understood how these elements distinguished them from a production line.  For example, bubbles within a piece can be seen as inaccuracy, but they make a piece individual.

coaster

I will reflect on this philosophy as I complete my next set of projects.  For example, I have almost completed all of the pieces to create a crocheted bunny toy.  Instead of avoiding the construction process, which I don’t enjoy very much in knitting/crochet, I will remind myself that it doesn’t need to be sewn in exactly the right place as you might expect from purchasing one from a shop.  It just needs to be completed so that it can become a cherished, handmade toy.

Reflecting on the Whole Living article on wabi sabi in the home, I realise that I incorporate this into my home already.  The furniture we have is predominantly hand-downs from family members who no longer want them or need them.  The table I use for sewing is my grandparent’s old kitchen table.  We have a table in the lounge which we bought from a café in Southampton when it was closing down and they were selling them for £10.  They had covered it in pages from a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets and there’s a slight tear on the lower self where a customer must have brushed their shoe on it.  In the kitchen hardly any of our cookery items and chinaware matches.  They’re not handmade but they’ve turned into something individual and imperfect through time.

sonnet table

Wabi sabi seems to me to encourage you to stop and appreciate what you have rather than seek something newer or more pristine.  However, it doesn’t

If you would like to look at techniques in which you can embrace Wabi Sabi to let go of some of your perfectionist tendencies, the Whole Living website  has a useful article on how you can abandon perfect to enhance everyday life.

Continue Reading Wabi Sabi – embracing the beauty of natural imperfections

Stitching Cats

I haven’t made a lot recently, as I have been finishing up a couple of craft courses I took this year.  However, I have got around to practising free machine embroidery again.

I’m very fond of pets, and regularly doodle my cats, Harry and Fizz.  I decided to have a go at designing some more cat images to frame or turn into cards.

I like the use of appliqué to add another dimension to the stitched cat, as shown on the far right.  However, I like the simple line drawing on the left, and am reluctant to add any shading or colour to it.  The middle images are coloured in with fabric dye sticks and paints.

They are all very different in style!  The middle ones are much more cartoon-like.  However, the tabby and black and white cat are much more personal, as they look like Harry and Fizz!

Continue Reading Stitching Cats

Personalised Cards!

Last month, I made a couple of individualised cards – one for father’s day and one for someone to give as a leaving card.

The leaving card was personalised by adding the name of the perosn leaving the workplace.  I used those fabric felt tip pens to colour it in.

Linda card

The father’s day card was personalised because it’s always been an ongoing joke that my dad is good at Tetris.  We would bring tons of stuff on holiday as kids and he would meticulously work out how to use the space in the car effectively to fit it all in!  The design is based off an image I saw online.

fathers day

Continue Reading Personalised Cards!

Completed PHD: Pyjama pattern from The Makery

After a review of my work practices, I decided that it was time to stand up and confront my PHDs (projects half done)!

The list of incomplete projects is threateningly high so I decided that this list needed to be dealt with (or at least cut back a bit!)

pattern

Enter Simply Sewing Magazine’s exclusive pattern from The Makery – pyjamas.  I think I began this pattern last August and then became distracted by a looming deadline for something else.  I’d cut all the pieces out and even sewn a couple of sections for the shorts but then put it away until now.

This project has been a good introductory one for tackling the PHDs because as the cover of the pattern boasts, it’s an “easy sew”.  I was a bit thrown off by the shorts being made out of two pieces instead of four, but once I got my head around it, the pattern was even easier than anticipated.

I haven’t done much gathering, and I feel  that it shows on the final piece.  However, as they are pjs, this doesn’t matter much and it’s been a good way to practise gathering as a skill.

The gathering works well for shaping, and personally I think the fit is good for this make.  I could have done with cutting the ribbon for the shorts waistband a little longer than instructed.  I needed assistance for fitting the straps as well.  Overall, a lovely weekend project!

final pieces

Continue Reading Completed PHD: Pyjama pattern from The Makery

#mmmay16 – Me Made May and the versatile wardrobe

Me Made May is an event created by Zoe from So Zo… ‘What do you know?’ to encourage people to wear the clothes they make, whether this is through knitting, crocheting, sewing, weaving, etc.  It’s designed to motivate crafters to celebrate their achievements and confront any perfectionistic thoughts which may be keeping some garments in the back of the wardrobe!

There’s no pressure to wear something everyday, or to charter your progress through social media.  The challenge is an individual one set by you.

I didn’t officially sign up this year (mainly because I didn’t read the post properly to see that you needed to add a comment to sign up) but went along with it anyway.  The challenge I found with #mmmay16 was that I have made a lot of summery dresses and May in the UK this year has been quite cold at times!  I did set an achievable goal – to wear something me made on a couple of days each week in May – but I found that the most versatile garment in my me made wardrobe is the knitted cardigan I made 3 years ago in double knit weight yarn!

cardigan

 

The second garment I wore the most was the top I made as part of #miymarch16 for the knit material day.  This top was great as I could layer it up depending on the weather!

Other items I wore was the dress I made during #miymarch16 and the wrap skirt, which was good for the warmer days of the month!

This challenge has made me reflect on the type of garments I make.  I can see that although it took a good couple of months to make my knitted cardigan, the pattern was a good one and I wear it a lot.  Also, I have tended to stick to simpler patterns with easy to use fabrics which are more suitable for hot summer days in my dressmaking experience.

As a result, it looks like I need to diversify my dressmaking challenges.  here are the ways I am going to do this:

  • Make more tops in knit materials
  • Make more tops in specially selected materials
  • Make more items for all year or in particular Autumn, Winter and Spring
  • Learn to make fitted trousers
  • Make more knitted cardigans!

It will be interesting to take part next year and see if there’s any progression!

Continue Reading #mmmay16 – Me Made May and the versatile wardrobe