Friday, September 27, 2013

Some Selfish Knitting

Hello all! Everything on my sewing table is unselfish and unrevealable at the moment (I'm really looking forward to squeezing some sewing for me in soon...) so in the little bit of me-time available in the evenings I've been knitting for me. I'm pretty sure by the time I finish this WIP it'll be too warm to wear until next year - not that you'd think it by the weather today  - but I'm just as sure I'll be gleefully pulling this particular cardi out every Autumn for several decades to come. Don't you just love finding a Perfect Pattern!

I saw this pattern and loved it in a Cleckheaton book (Country Wide? I think that was the name), but it was about $40, and I didn't really crave any other patterns in it. Couldn't justify it! But then about a month later I was flicking through a mag in the newsagency, and there it was! Every other pattern - really, every one  -, lacking in wonderfulness, but at $10 instead of $40 I was willing to ignore that! It's more than I'd usually spend on a pattern, but I really, really love it :) So far I've done the back and one front, and am about halfway through the second front. It's 12 ply wool (think that's classified bulky outside Australia), with 7mm needles so it comes together reasonably quickly. And I'm loving the stripes - it just seems to go that much faster when you have lots of little 'progress markers' like that. :)

Mind you, I had to have a knitting hiatus for a week or so, when I picked up the bag and found a huntsman spider crouching on the pattern book. Lest any one of you who doesn't have huntsmans in your corner of world feel a bit judgy, make a fist. Now imagine finding this, the size of your fist, on your current project. I defy anyone to not feel, if only for a split second, the absolute necessity of moving house immediately. I know they're not dangerous to humans, but still! Couldn't quite bring myself to pick it up for a while...

On a happier note, I thought I'd share my amazing giveaway win from Fabric Tragic! First up, some lovely Christmas fabric. I've got a few ideas I like for the text print, but I love the little bubushkas so much I'm loath to use it for something I'll only see once a year. I've been planning to make some calico bags for fruit and veg shopping, so as to do away with plastic bags, and I love the thought of using this instead. Plus the background (unprinted) part looks like calico, so if I need more bags I can make some calico ones and they'll match nicely. Add it to the To Make List!

Next up some pretty purple cotton and some lovely pillowcases made by Sarah herself. :) No definite inspiration has struck yet, but I'm starting to think of some kind of summery top or blouse for my girl - think it would look gorgeous with white shorts... More thought required. :)

Some burgundy knit fabric - my favourite shade of burgundy, incidentally. I like the idea of a slouchy tee for this. I'm hovering between the Hemlock Tee (although very boxy styles are a bit iffy on me) and Papercut Pattern's Sloppy Josephine Tee (I like the more fitted arms on this). But I already have Style Arc's Rowe Tunic/Top which has been cut out ready to sew since June - I will get to it! - so I might wait to see how that looks on first and then decide. Also, a printed floral cotton that frankly would have been a more than satisfying giveaway all on its own! I just love this. It's a summer dress waiting to happen. Which brings us to...

A pretty much perfect 70s shirtdress pattern. And it's in my size! I'm planning to make it up sleeveless in the floral cotton. Then I'm planning to live in it over summer. There may even be enough left over to squeeze out a skirt too. Happy, happy me! And just look at those light-up knitting needles.... Sigh :)

Now I just need to wind up my Unselfish Sewing so I can get on with some self-indulgence!

What's on your sewing table at the moment?

Danielle oxo

Friday, September 20, 2013

Some Ugly And Unselfish Sewing

Hello! A quick word of warning before we begin: if you're looking for a glamour fix, this is not the post for you. In fact, this may be the ugliest sewing project I've ever done! But it also may be one of the most appreciated, which is why I'm dedicating a post to it.

As any Australian will know, and especially any Victorian, September is Footy Finals Month. And if you're not into footy....well, tough! It's everywhere. The rest of my family are diehard Geelong Cats supporters (Except for one son, who now barracks for Hawthorn. Suffice it to say, Gary Ablett's departure cut deep). Today at their school, where my man also teaches, was Come Dressed In Your Team's Colours Day (or something less wordy), and my man and my girl both wanted a Geelong onesie to wear.

Now normally I don't really condone onesies for anyone over the age of, oh, eighteen months or so. But it would seem that in the name of Team Support, all such rules go out the window. Plus, after a few weeks of wedding sewing, I think I was ready to sew something frivolous!

I used an old pattern that used to belong to my mum - Simplicity 9810. I've no idea whether it's still in print or not, but it's an animal suit pattern. I ignored the hood-with-ear-options, feet and mitten pieces, and just cut bands of the same fabric. If I'd left myself enough time I would have maybe narrowed arms and leg cuffs, but Blind Optimism plus Night Before didn't leave any room for finessing... I'm not too concerned, although I wouldn't mind fixing up the neckbands a bit; I think they'd look better if they curved down at the opening to meet the front zip. I only got one shot of the front view (including a third, grumpy supporter - no time for face-painting, I'm afraid, and blue hair was only a part consolation.):

And that's because these onesies are all about the back! (There you are, Nessa!)

I'm pretty happy with the way those logos turned out. Since I don't know how to screenprint, and can't embroider on my machine, I went with a kind of applique. I have no idea whether this is an official technique, but it works, so that makes it valid in my book :)  On the very slight chance that anyone will someday want to reproduce a logo/image, and be in the same (lack of skills) boat as me, here's how I did it:

Print out logo onto A3 sheet.

Pin contrast fabric to pattern piece (here, the back) with paper template pinned over the top.
(NB. Unlike me, do this before you sew any other pieces together, eg. sleeves, fronts. Seriously.)

Machine sew along outlines. Stop and swivel/reposition fabric as necessary. (This is time-consuming, awkward and fiddly. Be aware you will probably gouge yourself on the pins repeatedly) 

 Once all outlines have been sewn over, carefully tear away the paper. Then, using very fine scissors - small embroidery scissors with sharp outlines worked beautifully - cut away the sections that should be the background colour. I found it easier to cut chunks away, then go back and do a finer, closer cut afterwards. (No photos of these two steps, sorry. I can only beg the excuse that it was 2am by this stage. I haven't done 2am for a very, very long time.)

The end result comes out like this:

And a close up:

So long as the contrast fabric doesn't fray, you can get in really close to the stitching without any worries. Like I said, it may not be an official technique, but it does do away with cutting out lots of tiny shapes and trying to position them ...I can remember the misery of that from Year 8 Textiles!

They really are ugly, there's no denying it! But, both are being worn right this minute in the other room to cheer on Geelong in the Preliminary Final. (Against Hawthorn, so it's going to end in tears for one family member at least...) I keep hearing howls of outrage / yells of jubilation from the other room as I'm typing this... I kind of wish I'd made them earlier in the season now! Never mind, I'm pretty sure they'll get plenty of wear in years to come :)

For anyone not interested in sport-related sewing - if you're still with me - look (look!!) what I just got in the mail from Sarah at Fabric Tragic! I won one of her giveaways ( the day after my birthday - how's that for timing!), and just unwrapped this bundle of wonderfulness:

It was really too dark to take proper individual photos of each piece, so this is just a being-excited taster. I'll post some proper pics once I have some daylight to go by. But in the meantime, have you ever seen anything more fabulous than those glow-in-the-dark knitting needles?? I think not :)

What are you working on at the moment? Any frivolous projects in the pipeline?

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle  oxo

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Inspired by: Jacket/Kimono/Shruggy Thing

Hello all :) I've been doing some thinking since finishing my Sew Weekly Reunion dress. It was really satisfying going "off-pattern" like that; I haven't done that for a while. And since joining Pinterest I have hundreds of pins I love the look of. (Pinterest is basically a sewing inspiration board as far as I'm concerned...) Now, while I don't want to fall into the trap of feeling like I have to make everything I see, there's no real point in collecting inspiring images if I don't ever do anything with them.

So I've decided to do an "Inspired By..." make on a semi-regular basis from now on. I'm thinking I'll wait till I notice the same kind of garment cropping up over and over in my likes/pins and go from there. I'm hoping that'll keep it manageable!

And here's the first one. I admit that "jacket/kimono/shruggy thing" doesn't sound all that alluring, but I have LOTS of pins like these below:

As we're moving into Spring weather already (I swear the weather has been watching the calendar here: 1st September and BANG! it was Spring) this seemed the perfect project to kick off with. Plus, I saw a friend the other day who was wearing a similar garment the other day, mentioned to her how I was wanting to make something just like that, and she immediately passed it over and told me to use it to draft a pattern. (she's a very good friend :) )

This is her jacket: (night time photo, I'm afraid). Believe me, it looks much nicer on, but this gives an idea of the actual shape. It was a bit tricky sketching out the pattern, because the pieces don't lie flat, and then the band (formed by two pieces) that extends right around the edges pulls the main pieces in still further.

 I used a multi-coloured chiffon with an almost abstract feather print (about 2m in all), and as much as I genuinely loathe working with chiffon, it's perfect for this kind of floaty jacket. 

We ended up with this:

I actually love it! It's exactly what I wanted it to be, and I think it's going to get a lot of wear this season, and right through into summer (great for early mornings or late evenings). In fact, it'll probably see me through into Autumn as well. Woo hoo!

For anyone who's curious, this is what the pattern pieces look like. The smaller piece is the front - this sits over the top of the larger back piece. The straight edge on the front is the opening; the small slightly jutting out sections on both pieces form the sleeve openings.

The top of the back piece folds down so that there's a straight horizontal seam at the front, just above the bust.

Below you can see the back folded over to meet the front piece, which is laid over the top. I guess you could eliminate this and just have a "normal" shoulder seam, but as is it seems to drape really nicely over the shoulders when worn. And I think it's quite a nice design detail. :)

When I cut the (9.5cm wide when folded, plus seam allowance....22cm width total) two edging bands - these sew together at the back centres at neck and hem - I broke the "rules" and cut them across the grain. This was because if I can avoid cutting chiffon (nasty, slippery stuff that it is) I will. Cutting across the grain meant I could make a small cut and then tear the rest, which gave me PERFECTLY straight pieces with almost no effort. Gotta love that!

You know my favourite part of this make? Apart from ending up with something I'm going to wear until it literally falls apart around me, that is. The whole project, even including drafting the pattern and doing french seams on all seams, took three hours. Total. It's the first thing I've ever whipped up after a full day at work. This has never happened before, so I think that's worth celebrating a little!

There's one other thing I'm going to trial with this post. Me Made May '13 showed me that a lot of the things I've made (and was planning to make at that stage) didn't really go with anything else I had. This is an issue for someone who's trying to gradually replace her existing wardrobe with a hand-sewn one! Since then, I've tried to only buy fabric if I can think of at least three other things I already have that it will go with. It's actually been extremely helpful! So I'm going to try from now on to show that in each post - see below. Plus, I'm hoping it will give me some much needed practice in styling - not my forte at all!

 I think it'll also work really well as in the first photo at the top of this post with cut off denim shorts. I do have some, but it's far too early in the season to show any leg above the knee - the winter legs above are quite blindingly pale enough as it is!

What's inspiring you at the moment? Do tell!

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo