Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge - Complete!

Yup, by the skin of my teeth and at the eleventh hour, 'tis done!

 I think I'm supposed to start off with The Facts, so here they are:

Fabric:  Cotton sateen. (Haven't worked with this before - loved it)

Notions:  Zip, button.

Pantone Challenge Colours:  Mykonos Blue and Deep Lichen Green.
(The blue in the photos has come out a whole lot lighter than it actually is IRL. Plus the green can look quite brown next to the blue - on its own it's definitely green... You'll just have to take my word on that!)

Pattern:  Salme Sewing Patterns Peplum Top. (Adapted to dress)

Time To Complete:  About 6 hours.

First Worn: Not yet! But will be worn to a high tea for a bride-to-be later this month :)

Wear Again? Yes! I'm thinking I can dress this up or down, so hopefully it'll get a few airings. It's a fairly classic style, which means it should be good for several years.

Total Cost:  I already had the pattern, which helped. The fabric was on special for $6 a metre (used 3) and the lining cost $6. Zip was $2.50, and buttons (pk 6) were $4. So, total cost was $30.50. 
I left my involvement in this challenge up to to chance a bit - I REALLY wanted to do it, but August was a ridiculously busy month. Sc I'd decided I'd only jump in if I could find fabric in the right colours. When I saw this striped sateen I remembered one of my pins on Pinterest:

Love! I already had and had made up the peplum top, so had sorted out the fit and adjustments. The skirt, since it had to fit in with the stripes, was simply two rectangles sewn together and gathered to fit at the waist. Finding the fabric and having the adjusted pattern were the only reasons I was able to get this done on time!

I like it. I did have some trouble with the zip at first - aligning the stripes was tricky on the machine. In fact, it didn't work at all. So I ended up unpicking and then hand sewing it in, which was much neater. Though it wasn't without gritted teeth and a few "I don't have time for this" snarls!

I had planned for this to be my dress for the wedding I'm sewing for at the moment. (That was one more way to justify being involved!) But now I'm not sure. I keep coming back to another Pinterest pin....

(Insert sigh of delight here...) Think it'll come down to whether I can track down emerald lace... We'll see!

One question for all you stylists out there: What colour shoes would you wear with this stripey dress? I don't like black; they look a bit "heavy". I tend to go for neutral shoes generally, but Deep Lichen Green is quite tricky to match. Any suggestions gratefully received!

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle  oxo

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Tale of Two Cowls...(or, A Story of Stashbusting)

Hello to you! I have to admit that I'm feeling really good about the makes in this post, because these are all stashbuster projects! I've mentioned before how I really don't have a stash that deserves the name; I like to keep all fabric and yarn contained in two drawers in my cabinet ever since I realised that, for me, too much stuff actually gets in the way of my creative energy. BUT, this year - having been making for myself so much more - I'm finding those drawers are filling up with leftovers from finished projects, that are too big to throw away, but aren't quite enough for garments in their own right.

So I decided it was time to stashbust - albeit on a limited scale! I started with my wool drawer, (because it only just shuts at the moment...) About 18 months ago I bought 10 extra balls of Rowan Bamboo Soft, after making a beanie and LOVING the feel of it. (Though not being much of a hat person I've not yet been game to actually wear it out of the house). I had my eye on a Kim Hargreaves pattern, but when I checked people's Ravelry notes, every single entry bewailed the way this yarn stretches and grows over time. The general consensus seemed to be thumbs up for scarves and hats, and multiple thumbs down for anything else. I used some back in March for a beanie for a friend, but there's still plenty left.

A few minutes wandering around Ravelry gave me the Grey Loop Cowl pattern. Perfect! Three evenings in front of the TV and we were done. Here 'tis:

It's a really simple long lace cowl, requiring minimal concentration :) Because it's knit in the round, apart from two purl rows, it's pretty much all plain knit stitch - even the lace sections are just knit, yarn over, repeat to end.

It's a really slinky, sheeny yarn, and it feels beautiful to wear. I can see what people meant though about it growing; its really just the cast on/cast off edges that are keeping it to size. I don't think you could go too much wider than this. I'd love to try this pattern in a cozy, thicker wool as well - I think it would be a really different result. After this cowl and the March beanie I'm down to just five balls in the stash drawer - yay!

I also had one skein of Cascade 220, an aran or worsted weight wool (what is the difference between those two? I still don't know) left over from my Beatnik jumper. (Not blogged, but you can see it here).  For this I used Carina Spencer's Dovetail Cowl. I would have loved to do the longer version, but didn't have enough. In the end though I'm happy with the shorter version, especially since I just made the longer Grey Loop cowl.  At first I thought I couldn't get it to sit right, then I realised it's really supposed to just smoosh down around your neck! It's really snug and cozy, and I love it. :)

Apart from cables, I really haven't done much in the way of textured knitting. I'll definitely be doing more though - it was fascinating to watch the pattern emerge. Who would've thought just varying up knit and purl stitches could do that?? Not me! Love it :)

I've started working on a wee jumper for a friend's baby, but after that, I'm casting on one more for me. I'm hoping I can get it done before Spring really sets in...we'll see!

One more stash bust to show - this one for my youngest, who had National Book Week Dress Up Day last week. The idea is to dress up as a favourite book character, and he immediately suggested Bilbo from The Hobbit. (He's already got the hair for it! In fact, "Hobbit" was our nickname for him until he asked us to stop it.) If you look closely below, you'll see the remains of my third Ginger skirt. They made a convincing hobbity waistcoat - with gold buttons, as per his very specific instructions ;) He looks a bit grim in the photo, but I think that's mainly because he insisted on being barefoot for it, and it was freezing outside. He's worn it after school every day since, so we'll count it a win.

In other news, I'm going to give the Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge a go after all. I DID find fabric on my last shopping trip, and I figure if I use/adapt a pattern I've used before I won't have to worry about fitting issues. I do have a busy week ahead, but it's mostly cut out, so I think with a bit of effort I can squeeze it in. It has meant though I've decided not to join in on the Fall For Cotton Challenge, much as I would love to... You can't do everything, can you?!

Just curious, how do you decide what challenges or sewalongs to get involved in? Does it have to fit in with existing sewing plans? Or do you prefer to try something out of your comfort zone?

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Refashion: Scarf to Skirt

Hello again! As much as I'm genuinely loving all of our wintry, stormy weather at the moment (truly!), I can't help feeling a little bit excited when I look outside and see definite hints that spring is just around the corner. And that's got me looking at my project queue and rearranging it a little bit - right now I'm wanting to sew up a few transitional garments, rather than strictly cold-weather gear. (Although I think I can just about squeeze in a cosy, long, shawl collared knitted cardigan before the weather really turns...wool is on order!)

With that in mind, I dug out a scarf that was given to me by a friend at work. (Now that people know I sew, I think they're starting to see me as a kind of unofficial op shop...and I have no complaints with that!) I thought I'd taken a before shot, but I can't actually find it, sorry...

It's (or, it was) an Indian cotton rectangular scarf, with a border print running along each edge. Being cream with a black print, I thought it could be paired with cooler or warmer layers fairly easily. By a very happy coincidence, the width of it (plus a very tiny seam allowance) was exactly my hip measurement. Win!

There's no shame in a fourth Ginger skirt is there?! Because that's fast becoming my go to skirt pattern. It's certainly paid for itself, anyhow :). I used this as a base, and made an underskirt of some black voile I had. I cut the ends off of the scarf to the length of the pattern, and created darts at the waistline, leaving the sides straight from the hip point and open from about midway down. (I needed two sets of darts on both the front and back.) This meant the border print was doubled at the side seams, which I liked. The middle piece of the scarf had just enough border print either side to be used as the waistband, which I narrowed to suit.

At this point I had to veer off the pattern: the A-line underskirt sticking out the sides made the scarf look like an apron. Not the look I was going for. So I cut down the sides to be a straight skirt, and squared off the hem also. I left the sides open at the bottom (from memory, about 15cm), which was about half the measurement of the overskirt split. I used an invisible zip on the side seam, so as not to break the pattern on the skirt back. (Back not photographed, but honestly, it pretty much looks exactly the same as the front. Blur your eyes, look at the second photo above and pretend :) )

I'm happy with how this one turned out - it's already done duty as a milder winter skirt (with tights and boots, that is), and I think it'll work equally well with a tank top and sandals in summer. Transitional garment: tick!
I'm not sure how much I would have worn it as a scarf, even though I love the print, because I usually find I look better when I wear a bit more colour near my face. But I think I'll get plenty of wear out of this one :)

Aren't Indian prints wonderful, by the way?? I have an emerald sari I found on ebay in my very small stash that I've wasted far too much perfectly good sewing time just stroking and gazing at it. But I think I've just found the perfect pattern for it, so once spring really kicks in properly, that may need to be the next refashion on the list...

What are you working on the moment? Are you planning for the next season yet, or simply enjoying sewing for this one?

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle  oxo

Friday, August 9, 2013

Completed: Audrey Jacket

It's been a little longer between posts than I planned, sorry, but I haven't had proper internet access for a good two weeks. In the meantime though I finished my coat/jacket (Style Arc's Audrey Jacket pattern) I was going title this post, "A Fail Or Not A Fail?", since that was my question, but we'll get to that! Here 'tis:

(Huddled under the eaves in this shot - the rain and wind were evidently competing to see which could be the most energetic...)

And a back view for Nessa! Wish I'd adjusted my top first... :(  And for all of you lovely people who commiserated with me on the Buttonhole Debacle (and thank you, by the way - I would take you all out for coffee and cake if we lived nearby):

Hooray! Bound buttonholes sewn AND positioned correctly! So why was I thinking Fail? Well, it all went together fine (eventually...) but when I tried it on, I didn't like it on me. Painful moment! I loved the slightly retro shape of it in the pattern picture, but it's not a style I've ever worn before, and it just felt wrong on. I didn't make a muslin, so I guess that's my own fault. If I'd tried it on in a changing room I'd have rejected it immediately. Can you call it a successful project if you don't end up wearing it?? Has this ever happened to you?

The collar bothered me too. It still does. It's supposed to sit up like this (back view below):

(That looks uneven in the photo - I promise it's not!) But at the front it collapses in on itself a bit. If I ever make it again I'm going to fuse the collar - at least the front sections - twice. It's fine around the buttonholes, which have the extra fabric patch sewn in to make the welts, and that's what suggests to me that the front collar needs a bit more reinforcement. It just doesn't seem to be holding the weight adequately. I'm wondering too whether buttons with a shank wouldn't be a better choice, as much as I like these red ones. I have some dull gold ones in the drawer - might give them a go. Any thoughts???

So it sat there for a week or so. And, because I really do love the fabric, I tried it on every now and then. And slowly, it began to grow on me. I still don't think it's a perfect style for me, but I don't think it's the unmitigated disaster I thought it was at first. It is wearable, and having worn it to work yesterday I can attest that people don't point and snigger. It fills a wardrobe gap. So, I'm calling it a cautious success.

Although I don't consider myself remotely qualified to post tutorials, I am going to show step by step below how the hem lining went together, mainly because I would have loved to have this two weeks ago! Not sure if it's the standard procedure, but it worked. That's the thing about Style Arc patterns - I love their designs, but the instructions given do assume you know what you're doing. I've decided to take that as a compliment.

All was going fine till I got to the point of sewing the lining to the jacket. (Aside: I really wanted a striking print for this, a la Claire's Lady Grey jacket, but couldn't find anything that looked right. And then this silk lining went on sale. Couldn't resist. And that's another reason I kept trying the thing on - wool coat with silk lining....) The instructions said "Sew lining to jacket continuing around hem." Looked down at this:

Thought I'd cut it out wrong at first! Checked. Hadn't. Reread instructions. Didn't help. Googled. No love. So I went to the wardrobe and looked at the way other wool coat linings had gone together, and worked it out from there. This one has an overlocked edge on the front facing - mine's folded under. The lining is sewn at hem and folds down over itself. It started to make sense.

First I had to unpick 3cm of the front facing/front lining seam. This allows for manouevering room when you sew the lower edges.

 Then I sewed the jacket front/front facing seam, stopping directly above the right angle where the jacket front extends downwards. After that (not pictured, oops) I pulled the lining down to meet the jacket's lower edge and sewed them together. Imagine another finger pointing to the edge below - that seam.

This left a 'hole' where these two horizontal seams don't quite match up. The photo shows the reverse side of what's pictured above (i.e. the interfaced part you see below is the jacket facing - imagine the jacket in the above photo has been lifted up towards you.) My thumb is on the jacket front/facing seam, and my first finger is on the lining/ lower jacket edge seam.

When you bag it out, it looks like this, with the lining folding down over itself, hiding the actual seam.

 Hope that makes sense!

In wedding sewing news, we've had the bride's first fitting, and it seems to be coming along nicely. Which is making me rethink my "one sewing challenge at a time" rule.... All of a sudden there seem to be all these online sewalongs and challenges I really want to have a go at! I would love to be part of Thread Theory's Jedidiah Pants Sewalong. And the Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge is waking me up o' nights (Can you be part of a reunion if you weren't there the first time around??)... I know I have a tendency to take on too much at once though. And I think I really need to ensure that wedding sewing is as stress-free as possible. On the other hand, I planned to make a dress to wear to it anyway, and the colours of the SWRC are sublime. Think I'll leave it to chance - if I find suitable fabric next time I go shopping I'll jump in and go for it!

Are you taking part in any challenges or sewalongs at the moment? Do tell!

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo

Hmmm.... Links don't seem to be working, sorry. Will fix ASAP