Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Sorbet Sunday - my flavours

I was well and truly bitten by the crochet bug last year (it feels like "this" year as I still haven't documented everything here).

I'd long been thinking about a simple crochet t-shirt or tank, and then I saw this amazing knitted tape yarn at String Harvest. I knew it had to happen.

I found a pattern that looked ideal: Drops 202-30 Sunday Sorbet. A free pattern from the Garn Studio website

Of course what I don't yet know is how to properly read a crochet pattern. I saw the note that this gauge of yarn would work, but failed to notice that it would then be worked with double strands. The pattern is intended for something much chunkier.

I also struggled for a while with the US vs UK terminology and my first few swatches were very tall and narrow. Hmmm. The whole top is just treble crochet (UK term). Once I got that straight I realised my swatch was exactly half the intended size....

So I just took the instructions for the size L (the third of six sizes) and doubled everything!

That kind of worked as there was no pattern for the number of rows, only the number of stitches. the colour changes and the armhole/neck shaping was introduced once the garment had reached a certain length.

To that end, the pattern seems to have an error. the modelled version on their website clearly shows the white band starting before the armhole, yet the pattern would have had that colour introduced much later. I asked a question on their website and while they were very prompt to reply, they didn't really resolve my dilemma. So I just switched colours when I thought it looked good.

In case this is the first of my blog posts you've ever read. I should let you in on a terribly kept secret: I love beige!

My favourite colours are all the neutral beige/brown/greys. I may as well be a donkey reincarnated as a crafting human.

If you like something a bit more colourful, these Cotton Lily yarns do also come in some pastel like colours. Here I've used, from the bottom up, Champagne, Egret, Ivory and Light Taupe.

Cass from String Harvest was really helpful and sent me a few photos through Instagram of my various colour selections laid out next to each other. Thanks to those pictures I shelved the idea of using a much darker grey for the bottom band. Nice service!

Once I'd figured I was doing twice as many stitches as the pattern intended, I also figured I'd need twice as much yarn (see, I kind of understand this crochet thing!). I put in a second order for another ball of the three colours other than the Ivory. I used up exactly both balls of the bottom two bands, about half of the one Ivory ball and about 1&1/4 of the top Light Taupe.

I had it finished at Christmas time and tried it on to find the armholes were too tight up under my arms and needed dropping an inch or so. I also thought my Light Taupe top band was a bit thin and sickly looking.

It was a relatively quick fix to unravel the shoulder straps, add another 5 rows of treble crochet to the front and back necklines then start the shoulder/neck reductions again.

It turns out you really can make this stuff up as you go!

I wet blocked it and then steam ironed it. It was firmish when I first put it on but it certainly grows when worn and is just perfectly comfortable and as close to not wearing anything as is decently possible.

Which is just what you need when it's hot, smoky and windy! I do have a short depth of field focus on these pictures but how bad is that bushfire smoke background. It's just awful.

Any more details I've forgotten? Oh., yeah, size 2.5mm hook. Countless hours, as in I didn't count, but it took ages. :)

My daughter was taking the pictures which always means horizons that are wonky and the funny end of shoot shots when she refuses to stop...

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Vogue 1456 for mum

I'd like to say Happy New Year, but with so much of our country on fire it seems too hard to find much joy in the start of the year. And since I wasn't ready for the year to finish so abruptly anyway I'm going to keep catching up on last year until these fires are out and we can all easily breathe some smoke free air.

I made my mum a shirt/blouse/tunic thing as her Christmas present...

It's only now that I've discovered that all my pictures are a bit blurry and appear to have focussed nicely on the background, not the subject. Oops. Anyway my mum might appreciate the soft focus, so let's talk about the garment.

The pattern is Vogue 1456 which is a Sandra Betzina tunic described as follows:

Tunic (semi-fitted through bust) has mandarin collar, seam detail, no side seams, draped side-front pockets, shaped front hemline longer than back, wrong side shows, hemline darts, and narrow hem. A: Notched and stitched hem on sleeves. B: Sleeveless.

It all came about after I found the fabric first. I visited Astratex for the first time in September, and I'm afraid to say it just shut its doors in December. They were having a half price sale and I bought this unusual, swampy coloured, rose patterned, crinkle/seersucker cotton gauze knowing my mum would love it. I was right.

We talked about what it should become and the decision was a sort of light jacket/tunic kind of thing. I toyed with altering some existing patterns but then Spotlight had one of their $5 Vogue pattern sales and this one made it's way into my stash.

I mostly made up the View B in a cotton from my stash first, making it in a size D - which is a little above my bust size. I figured it would be a loose fitting thing and would probably be about right for my mum. Not quite. I'm not sold on it for me as a garment, so my desire to see things finished is battling my disinterest in the thing itself. It just needs a zip and collar but that could take a while.

Anyway, for my mum I went up a size to the size E, sewed the View A with the extra pleats in the front and sleeves. I also added about 3/4" to the mid upper back by slashing and spreading the pattern. Instead of then having a centre back seam line, I just slashed and spread the upper back panel vertically upward from the waist seam, and then sewed some vertical darts to take that width back out. That way I could still cut the back piece on the fold and I still I had my old-mum-rounded-back issue taken care of.

Sadly, I hadn't actually bought enough fabric for the sleeved version of the tunic. But luckily, on the day of Melbourne Frocktails, the fabric shopping tour was visiting Astratex and the 50% discount was offered to our shoppers. I couldn't attend but I put in an order with one of the shopping trip organisers and she snaffle dup another 1m cut for me. Yet it seems to be ever so slightly darker. Only the collar and back panel were cut from the second piece of fabric, but there's a definite shade difference. Grrr...

There are lots of darts and pleats all of which had to be marked on the fabric and with this seersucker like fabric that meant thread tracing every pattern marking. Once that was all done the sewing itself was quite easy and straight forward. The pleated folded front panels are fun and there are pockets hidden inside the pleats (which are almost pockets in themselves as well)

The sleeve is finished with a little V notch. They're perhaps slightly longer than the elbow length that my mum had requested and here they're worn with the cuff turned up once. If you zoom in on the picture below you can see the notched cuff.

Finding lightweight open ended zippers of this length was tricky and I ended up ordering half a dozen from Zipperstop. This one turned out to be perfect, but there was another lighter one that probably matched the fabric better. Unfortunately that one had a stark white end on it even though the puller and teeth were a perfect beige. And two of the others, including the one that best matches my view B tunic, are inexplicably 10" longer than they're meant to be. Maybe that's why I can't be bothered finishing it.

I didn't line the tunic and in the semi-sheer, gauzy light seersucker it's perfectly cool to wear. I think the crinkle texture and the colour make it sufficiently opaque to be worn without any consideration of undergarments colour or type.

It was so very hot over the Christmas break but I think this top fits the bill perfectly for when you want to be covered but not wearing something heavy or structured. This version of the pattern and this fabric came together to make a garment that I really quite like.

You're welcome mummy! :)

Monday, 30 December 2019

end of year gymnastics...

It would be nice to have all of the 2019 makes on the blog before the end of the year.

But I can see that won't happen as there's a good few that aren't even photographed yet.

And if I'm honest, I can barely remember some of the details of things I've made.

The end of term gymnastics show involved a routine set to the Pink Panther theme song, and required a pink top and white bottoms.

Of course she had neither of those things, and amazingly my fabric stash had neither of the fabrics I wanted. I'm sure there's some thick, white, stretch poly-something left over from the Evel Knievel suit but it was not to be found. So I shopped cheaply.

The t-shirt style was dictated to me (you know how it goes) and so I used the School Bus t-shirt as the block. I've added a ruffle to the sleeves and scooped out the back neck, finishing the neckline with binding rather than a neckband and adding the cross straps. The angle/position of those is not quite as it should be but did I care enough? No sir.

The shorts are the Nature Walk shorts, already traced off as swim trunks and super quick to sew.

I'm writing this on my phone (first time, so I'll be very curious to see the formatting) out at my mother's house. She's just had me sew some basic cushion covers....

I need to pin her down to photograph her Christmas gift jacket. It's much more interesting...

Monday, 23 December 2019

See You At Six pullover

I've always quite liked this particular See You At Six French terry, and when it went on sale on Cup Day at Fibresmith I snapped some up.

It's a lovely neutral green-grey colour (Climbing Ivy Green) with black print that says "Growing Ideas in the Garden of Your Mind". His little sister thinks that's creepy cause it's growing ideas in your mind, as in the mind of the person who reads the words on your sweater. She thinks it should read my mind.

I bought some of the matching ribbing and quickly and easily sewed up a Jalie 3355 just like the one I'd made in June for his birthday.

Rather than just do the stitching at the neckline, I figured it wouldn't hurt to add a little section of the ribbing as a sort of applique and then stitch it down. My regular sewing machine was off having a service, so I had to make do with the decorative stitches on the back up Toyota machine. There wasn't one that really looked like what I wanted, but I guess this one still looks alright.

The modelling shoot was kind of funny. First, we decided it was best not to sit in such a way that drew attention to the big scab on your knee...

Then there was some elaborate dance routine that would probably be recognisable to anyone less unhip than I am...

Which ended with him giving himself the giggles....

There you go. Cute kid .New long sleeved top. Enough said.

Pattern: Jalie 3355
Size: O - no modifications
Fabric: See You At Six French terry from Fibresmith, matching ribbing

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange part XI - fresh hoops

Back at the start of the year I found a craft I wanted to try and knew exactly who I wanted to make it for. I even imagined the event to which she would wear it...

I'd stumbled upon this great tutorial for wrapping hoop earrings with fresh green leaves and string: Kate A. Creates

Timing was against us and it didn't happen in quite that way. Jump forward 8 months and I didn't have any tiny fresh leaves, nor did my giftee have a garden party to attend, but why not gift a pair of infinitely re-wrappable earrings. So long as one isn't immediately repelled by the smell of lavender!

Any time, any date, if there are fresh leaves to be found these can be re-wrapped and worn.

I think the trick is to find tiny, tiny leaves. I auditioned a few other garden plants but a bigger leaf gets lost as it simply gets squashed down by the string wrapping. I also found that a twisted yarn becomes somewhat untwisted and fluffy as you go. The variegated Hemptique hemp string worked perfectly, but a smaller leaf and finer gauge would make it just so.

But it's a very fun exercise in crafting and they do look pretty boho and cool. After I'd auditioned a few plants that didn't work, I also wondered about wool rovings, or even fabric strips. It would be easy to pair them with an outfit by using some of the fabric from the garment and then wrapping with a co-ordinated 1mm waxed cotton macramé thread.

I caught up with the delightful Nicole of maciniccreates and we chatted fast and loose over a few good coffees. I knew she could rock a weird, plant material statement earring, and I'll be honoured to rewrap them when they need freshening up.

Meanwhile I suspect she'll be either super chilled and relaxed from all that lavender smell on each side of her head, or quite nauseated and fed up with smelling like cheap toiletries! :)

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Melbourne Frocktails - The Stash Bag edit

We're pretty proud of the take home stash bag that we introduced to Melbourne Frocktails when we took over the event last year. This year the stash bag was bursting with great stuff.

Our bags are eco produce bags that we had printed with our logo on the front. Perfect for the fruit and vegie shopping long after frocktails is over.

We encouraged all of our sponsors to have some kind of physical presence in the stash bag. We collected business cards, discount vouchers as well as a lovely array of gifts. There were mini posters, fabric/wool wash samples, bias binding, buttons and trims.

The bags were full to the brim and were handed out as guests left by our lovely doormen!

As soon as the dust had settled on my cocktail hangover I got stuck into some of the bigger gifts and sewed up the little treasures that were in a stash bag.

Let's see what one could make just using what was in the stash bag...

First up, I made this top for my daughter.

A very generous sponsor, Lush Fabrics had sent us 5 cartons of fabric!! There was a 1m cut of fabric for every attendee. They also sent a couple of extras for Lisa and I and I've already shown you the t-shirt I made for myself.

While we were packing the 150 stash bags we gave A the job of putting one fabric package into each stash bag. Then Lisa and I went dizzy going round a table and gathering all the other bits to add to the bag.

The pay off for her help was that A got to choose one of the fabrics to keep in our stash bag.

This fabric is a beautifully soft, gauzy knit. The feel and hand of it is really nice. It was plastic wrapped when she chose it so she just went for the big stars, but she has barely taken the top off since it was made and I understand why.

I chose the dolman sleeved top from Ottobre that I'd made back here. Same size, although I added 1" length to the sleeves and to the body.

It was the perfect pattern as the bias binding I'd use for the shoulders was also in the stash bag. Fibresmith had gifted us a beautiful discount card and each card had either a Soak wash sample or some bias binding attached. I'd scored some bias binding that matched my fabric pretty nicely.

When I split the bias binding in half lengthwise so make it thinner it turned out to be more than enough for the sleeves. So then I decided to use the bit remaining to bind the neckline. It was exactly the right amount!

The gorgeous little You Are Loved label was a gift from Kylie and the Machine that was included in the stash bag.

Technically, the hem elastic didn't come out of my own stash bag, but it was part of the insane amount of stuff that was donated to Frocktails by Jimmy's Buttons. Lisa and I spent a whole extra day putting little bundles of lace, jewelled collars, belt buckles, toggles and buttons into small brown paper bags.

Next up was the collaboration between Melbourne Frocktails, Next State Print and BloglessAnna.

I've already waxed lyrical about Next State Print when they made the fabric for our Bowie skinsuits.
Well, they generously offered to print a panel to go in every stash bag that could be a cut and sew type purse or pouch.

At about the same time as we were having that conversation, BloglessAnna offered to gift every attendee one of her gorgeous metal zips.... What if the zip was intended for the pouch, we thought...

And so the Apertio pouch was born. Lisa and I thought about a basic pouch pattern, but wanted something a bit unique, and when we put the idea to Anna that here was an opportunity to create a pouch pattern, specifically for her zip, she was all over it.

Of course, our deadline was maybe not her idea of pattern creating fun. But if you haven't downloaded the free Apertio pouch yet, you should, it's a beautifully designed purse and the instructions are top notch.

Lisa did the fabric design and made it perfectly match the colours of Anna's zippers as well as getting everyone's logos on the bottom panel.

The other clever thing we could do was design a directional print which would change direction at exactly the point where the bag folded at the top. Usually a directional print wouldn't work for this pattern as the back would end up with the print upside down.

As it was with my leftover Frocktails shirt fabric that I used for the lining:

If the fabrics are looking a bit weirdly shiny in these photos it's because I covered both the outer and the lining fabrics in iron on vinyl before sewing the pouch. It's turned it into a perfect toiletries bag.

Oh, and I had a tiny extra bit of frocktails shirt fabric, so I made a simple internal pocket (not part of the pattern, but easy to add).

The final bit of sewing I did was new territory for me.

I took on the challenge of making some underwear with one of the little bundles that every attendee was gifted from Pitt Trading.

In the bundle was some stretch fabric, lace, a floral applique and fold over elastic. All tied together with a pretty cord and a little heart tag.  It looked like a half metre cut and an experienced underwear sewist would know what the fabric is, but it was a good synthetic knit with strong recovery.

I figured there would be enough for a singlet and knickers so long as I didn't mind the singlet being a bit short...

No modelled pictures (ha!), as what I hadn't quite imagined was just how sheer, and see through this otherwise quite substantial fabric would be!! The fabric would be perfect for shapewear, as the hold it in factor of this underwear set is great. I'll be wearing under clothes for sure!

The pattern is Jalie 2568, which I happened to have in my Jalie stash. A pattern for camisole and pants.

The camisole pattern is intended to have stretch lace finishing the neckline. The lace that was included in my bundle was not stretch, but what I did was stretch it to fit the neckline as best I could, and then I used the pretty cord from the bundle to thread through the free lace edge and gather it. It kind of works :)

The back neckline and armholes are finished with the fold over elastic from the bundle.

That left me with enough fold over elastic to finish either the waistline, or the leg holes of the knickers but not both.

I elected to use it on the legs and then created a fold over hem at the waist and put some of the lace under the front hem.

I thought about adding the floral applique thingy but it was a bit more cream than the stark white of the fabric and I figured my see-through-scanties were fancy enough!

I'm quite proud of having been able to find a way to make a full set of functional, if not practical, undies out of that little gift.

I'm also very proud of what we've created for our Frocktails attendees with the stash bags and I hope every one else has found useful treasure in their bags. Now I need to go online shopping and use up my discount vouchers!