Monday, 17 January 2022

Impromptu swimwear sewathon

I should have seen it coming, as I've sewn swimwear almost every summer, but this year it snuck up on me.

In the country over Christmas the kids were at the pool every day it became apparent A had only one pair of swimmers that fit. Between returning home on the 1st of Jan, and her flying up to the Queensland beaches with her granny on the 3rd, there would have to be some new swimwear created....

The pattern choice was immediate: She wanted the same as her "school swimmers": Jalie 3134

Previously she's always measured longer in the torso than her width, but I took some fresh measurements and that had all evened out, which is nice, cause figuring out where to add length is a bitch

So, two versions of this seemingly perfect racerback swimsuit (I really must try it for me), in straight size P, using her choices of fabrics from the stash were made in about a day and a half, between the necessary things like sleeping, and went off with her to the beach. Lucky kid.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

12 months, two dresses

For Christmas 2020 I gifted my mum some fabric that I knew she'd like and the promise to make her whatever she wanted.

The first was easy; The red fabric should be a Gallery Dress

Ages ago I gave her this one that I'd made and she liked it enough that she wanted another just the same. Very straightforward. 

The fabric is a lovely midweight jacquard cotton/linen that feels like a heavy double gauze. I bought both fabrics from Potter & Co in Perth and was very pleased with them.

Having bought, and gifted 3m of each I did get to keep the remnants and so A has these shorts to match.

The second garment required a few months deliberation. My mum knew she wanted it to be a pull on dress, with sleeves, but not much more than that. We looked at various patterns and eventually I chopped  up some bedsheets and  made muslins of Butterick 6567, The Liesl + Co Cappuccino dress and the Style Arc Hope dress

None of them were right, although I'm tempted to make the Butterick one for myself (and am I the only person to have sewn a Hope dress and not liked it?). And so I set to the task of turning the block of the Gallery dress into something with the visual appearance of the cappuccino dress.

There's a blog post over at Oliver + S where I show, roughly, how to do just that. Here's the link

A full twelve months later it was nice to see the dresses on my mum.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Trophy Hare

Ever since I made the trophy head swan, A and I were in agreement that there should be more trophy head animals in her room.

We agreed that the next one should be the hare, and I couldn't love it more!


The wool is a really lovely, and very reasonably priced alpaca. It had just the right amount of fuzz to give the hare a bit of a furry look.

it's Cloudborn Alpaca worsted, from LoveCrafts I think. The pattern is from Vanessa Mooncie's book: Trophy Heads to Crochet

The eyes were done by blending some strands of embroidery floss in gold and brown together, and then the whiskers are the same heavy duty fishing line used way back here for my mice.

As well as the backing plate, the ears have some curved mount board in them to keep their shape. I was really happy with the hook size and yarn for this project as it has good density, unlike the recent lobster where the stitches are a bit too open.

I can see myself making more of these as I love pretty much every pattern in the book! Maybe a fox next?

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Catching up on 2021

Once upon a time, back when I was a more diligent blog updater, I would have had my little mosaic images of everything I'd made in the preceding year ready by now.

Now I just have a backlog of little projects that I do want to document before I forget them altogether. Maybe I'll start with a post about those items that were Christmas gifts:

First up, I stencilled another T-shirt for my nephew. 

I don't expect anyone recalls all my various stencilled T-shirts, but the penguin has been done before: Back in 2018 I made T-shirts for his band: The Flying Penguins (blog post here)

My brother and his family have spent the last year in Australia, so my nephew's band have been separated, with the only other band member still being in Germany! I figured a memento of his solo tour down under might be alright, although, like many of us, it might be a year he'd rather not remember.

I borrowed the x-ray light box from work and hand cut the stencil using freezer paper. I just wish I'd thought to place it a bit higher up. It's easy to forget, when you just have the T-shirt front pattern piece in your hands, how high up an emblem or image should be to look right. 

The pattern is the Jalie 3669 Nico in size P (12 years) using stashed cotton lycra fabric.

For my sister in law I decided I would gift her the raw ingredients and a pledge to work like a fiend and create her Christmas gift in front of her eyes over the following week. - That's a neat way of saying, I've run out of time but now I'm on holidays...

I bought 2 skeins of the beautiful brunt terracotta coloured Aran weight merino from Fibresmith, along with one skein of the fine mohair. They came in the nice Cloud Mountain Cowl gift bag, so I scored that pattern and the stitch markers and then popped the yarn back in the bag with a picture of the cowl pattern that I knew I could crochet in a week.

I'd made the cowl pattern before for myself: here and since the whole purpose of this blog is to make notes of yardage and pattern sizes, you'd think I might have thought to look back at it. But no.

I merrily set off crocheting, and by the time I'd finished the first skein of merino it was clear that two skeins wasn't going to be long enough. Now I check my blogpost and realise I'd used 3 full skeins for my version. I ripped it all back and started over with 70% of the width as my starting chain. Thank goodness you really can make this stuff up!

The last thing I made as a surprise was a shirt for A. Years ago I turned an old shirt of mine into a little check shirt for P (he needed a check shirt for his prep grade school concert. I think he was a duck, but a country duck, so a check shirt was appropriate ?!).

After he'd outgrown that shirt it was loved by A who wore it in a much more '90s grunge way. And ever since she outgrew it she's been asking for one just like it. Every time I saw a blue check fabric online I'd show her but it was never right. It had be blue only, no other colours and it had to have the same short of plaid, and the same sort of feel as that old shirt.

I stumbled on a really nice feeling yarn-dyed linen at Rathdowne fabrics and snapped it up. Without letting her know what I was up to I had her try on P's Ottobre black shirt but she decided it was too big, and the sleeves too long (well of course!). So I went ahead with the Oliver + S Button Down shirt in straight size 12. It's the shirt of her dreams, only it doesn't quite fit (grrr). The sleeves and armscye are a bit tight. I'll see how much room there is to let the seams out to the overlocked edges.

Meanwhile, I made her a pair of shorts that fit perfectly, and a gorgeous dress that we collaborated on and did multiple muslins to get just right. Hopefully I'll bribe her for some modelled photos soon.

Friday, 17 December 2021

Concert time

In his first year of high school, P decided to learn a musical instrument, and I was happy that he got to do the double bass.

He was really enjoying it, and so when I got the 10 day notice of the end of year concert and the need for a black, smart casual outfit I jumped into action

I went straight to Ottobre,and those are about the only patterns that suit 13 year old boys. In the winter 6/2012 edition there were exactly the patterns I needed. A button up shirt (pattern 37) and a pair of chino style trousers (pattern 39)

I made both to his measurements, which landed him in size 164, adding one inch each to leg length and sleeve length, from memory. 

The trousers have a single welt pocket on the back which I somehow managed to completely stuff up (it was an instagram story reel if you enjoyed the opportunity to laugh at/with me). I ended up with an enclosed pocket that acted like a flap, and a very neat welt opening that just functioned as a hole into the pants under the pocket flap. Oops. Anyway, I simply topstitched the pocket flap to the trousers and called it a design element. The welt then lead into a "pocket" formed by the pants and the double thickness pocket flap and at least you couldn't tickle his butt through the opening!

The rest of the construction was smooth sailing, and I really should remember to look at the Ottobre website, as, although their instructions are sparse and sometimes unclear, there are some photo tutorials for things like back welt pockets.

Although now I remember there were some curious instructions for finishing the waistband so that it could be let out later. I didn't quite understand them either, so I simply tried it on him and then adjusted the centre back seam before attaching the waistband.

The shirt was simple, although I did make some construction changes and give it "the Oliver + S treatment". I doubled the yoke so I could have a back yoke facing and enclose all the seam allowances.

All the fabrics were in the stash. The pants was the very last of some Eliza drill and the shirt was some lovely antique washed cotton from fabric Deluxe - leftover from a dress of mine that I'm yet to photograph.

I finished everything in perfect time and went off to work on Tuesday morning, the day of the concert, only to get a phone call in the afternoon to say he'd rolled his ankle in gym class and needed collecting. Barely three hours before the concert I rushed out of work, picked him up from school, whisked him off to A&E for xrays, got him fitted in a moon boot (minor non displaced fracture) and then had him at the school concert in time. 

In his own words : At least the moon boot is black!

Monday, 13 December 2021

Thea top, seventies skirts and Empower lace scarf

Back in March, soon after I finished my first knitted garment, the Basic-T, I started another.

I bought a yarn that was the same length per gram and figured that meant I didn't need to swatch, It should knit up the same, right? Apparently no. First up I noticed the yarn had a colour variation that was leading to ugly "pooling" of light and dark patches. So I ripped back and started over alternating each round between two balls. I was almost finished before I tried it on, realised it was far too small and that I'd never have enough yarn to start over with another needle size. 

So I turned to another one of Suzanne Mueller's patterns that I liked: the Thea Top

It's a simple tank top, knit in the round form the bottom up. In a new-to-me technique some stitches are then set aside wile one shoulder after the other is worked.

Finally, the annoying bit, the stitches are picked up around the neckline and the armholes to add the ribbing. I'm still not sure I know what I'm doing and it's hard to be sure that I'm picking up the right bit. in some places it looks neater than others. 

The yarn is Vinnis Colours Nikkim in Chestnut from Handmake Create. 
After the weird, too small sizing with the BasicT I swatched and moved up to  a 4.5mm needle. I've made the size L as per measurements. 

The sizing is perfect, but the shoulder straps do look wider on my version than the pattern cover version. 

The skirt I'm wearing here is the seventies, bias cut, yoked skirt that got  a brief mention back here.

That reminded me that I never put the second version up on the blog. This one, made in a linen/cotton from Fabric Deluxe is a definite improvement. 
I ignored the pattern's too small, cut-on pockets and instead drafted my own. I used some other pattern's more generous pocket outline and this technique for side seam pockets that behave! I like it much better for all that.

The next bit of knitting that I did, just for the fun of learning a new technique was the Empower lace scarf

I'd bought this one skein of DK weight yarn from Fibresmith and didn't have a plan for it. This seemed a fun project. the lace, which is quiet basic, kept me on my toes and there was plenty of ripping back. Eventually I worked out that leaving a veritable ladder of lifelines was what would get me to the end!

It's knit as a big triangle and then a short end on the bottom left is sewn to the top short end to make a neck cowl or scarf.

that gives it a bit of a baby's bib vibe, or bandana. I'm not convinced I like it, or will ever wear it, but it was definitely and good brain exercise to knit it up.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Another year, another crochet crustacean

It's not often that Flipper pays any attention to what I'm making, and even rarer for him to express an interest in something to be made for him...

So when he he leaned over one evening and asked if I could make him a lobster, you better believe I dropped everything and said "Yes! I can! That's how awesome I am! Thanks for asking".

Some work project of his had been given the codename "project lobster" and he felt the need for a mascot.

I already had the pattern as there's a lobster pattern in the book: Crochet Sea Creatures by Vanessa Mooncie. It's been quite well used, since I've made a hermit crab, starfish, jellyfish and a sea anemone

All I needed was the yarn. The closest match I could find online to the pattern yarn was The Fiddlsticks Finch 10ply cotton. I followed the pattern re hook size, but it does have that annoying openness that looks crappy in amigurumi. But, had I dropped a hook size or two to get a denser body I would never have been able to make the legs. All eight of those with one full hook size smaller than the body was insanely fiddly.

He is a pleasing full pot sized lobster:

And I believe has already joined  a few team meetings