Saturday, 4 September 2021

Music Box Malory Towers

I hadn't even photographed the painstakingly slow knitting I did for my (then) Harry Potter obsessed daughter before she'd declared that her thing was now Enid Blyton's Malory Towers.

To be honest, I wasn't even listening when she made this declaration, but I was rummaging around for fabrics to make her something and she was talking about wanting a grey tunic dress. Wha???



Well, I had the fabric and I had the pattern and it would be a doddle compared to the as yet unphotographed Potter knitwear (already shoved in a drawer). Plus, I thought it would be a cute dress. Maybe not with all the retro public school girl trimmings as above...

The fabric is a stretch, grey wool woven from The Fabric Store eons ago. I'd bought two versions of the fabric. The grey with mustard checks became this dress that my mum now wears all the time. This smaller cut has tiny pink grid lines instead of mustard. It's lovely fabric and I would have kept it for myself for a shirt but there wouldn't have been enough.


There was just enough for this size 12 Music Box Jumper by Oliver + S. It barely fits and I think it's only the lycra content that has let me get away with it, but she loves it.

I added 3/4" to the bodice length and one extra button at the bottom. It's basically View B but under no circumstances was I allowed to do the central inverted box pleat or the cute littel pockets flaps. I just gathered the front skirt instead of a pleat. Here's a cute view B from way back with box pleat and pockets flaps with bugs!!




With a rather small cape, and a very small boater hat she took part in the last minute scramble that was an online book week dress up. If only we had a vintage looking lacrosse stick







Monday, 23 August 2021

Nettle bath mitt

Last year, for my husband for Christmas, I bought a hemp string knitted bath mitt thing to replace an old microplastic shedding thing. The new bath mitt cost a lot, it shed lots of natural fibres that did no harm to the planet, but it all fell apart in no time.

So of course I figured I could make one myself...


I started with the shopping part and bought some jute, some hemp and some nettle. One of those would be perfect, surely. All came from String Harvest.

I thought I'd try the nettle first. Front row on the right in the image above.


I invented my own knitted bath mitt pattern and thought I'd cleverly make notes, but now that I look at my own notes 3 months later I can hardly make any sense of them.

I'll write out the "pattern" at the end of the blogpost, but if it's wrong then don't call me out on it, please! I've held out this long before writing the blog post as I wanted to see how it worked and how it held up to the rigours of being used by Flipper on a daily basis. A cyclist who shaves is a pretty good testing ground for a loofah mitt!


The nettle felt suitably "scrubby" when dry, but actually softens up quite nicely when wet. Your mileage may vary, but my bloke must be tough as he has declared wet nettle to be "not scrubby enough" as a substrate for a bath mitt.

I'm pleased to say it hasn't looked like falling apart at all, so I'm yet to try the hemp or jute as long as this one still looks like new. In the first few days there was quite a bit of flaky, ash type stuff falling off it. Since then it has remained stable with no odour and seems to be the perfect yarn for a bath mitt for the more delicate amongst us!


Nettle Bath Mitt Pattern:

Materials: String Harvest handspun nettle 100g ball

The mitt is made by making two identical pieces and then joining the around the edge with single crochet.

Wind the ball into two 50g balls so the yarn can be held double throughout the following instructions

Using size 4.0 needles and stretchy long tail cast on, CO 21 stitches
Leave a longer tail than needed for the casting on as it will also be used for the hanging loop
knit 8 rows of 1x1 rib for the cuff.
For the body of the mitt change to size 5.0 needles.
The pattern then kind of follows a double moss stitch pattern for a bit of extra texture.
Row 1: knit to end
Row 2: (P1, K1) to end
Row 3: (K1, P1) to end
Row 4: (K1, P1) to end
Row 5: (P1, K1) to end
Repeat rows 2 to 5 another 4 times, finishing on row 21 

then I started reducing to shape the curve at the top of the mitt.

Row 22: P1, SSK, (K1, P1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 23: K1, P1, P1, (K1, P1) to last 3 stitches, P1, P1, K1
Row 24: Repeat row 23
Row 25: P1, K1, K1 (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K1, K1, P1
Row 26: P1, SSK, (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 27: (K1, P1) to end
Row 28: Repeat row 27
Row 29: (P1, K1) to end
Row 30: P1, SSK, (K1, P1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 31: K1, P1, P1, (K1, P1) to last 3 stitches, P1, P1, K1
Row 32: repeat row 31
Row 33: P1, K1, K1 (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K1, K1, P1
Row 34: P1, SSK, (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 35: (K1, P1) to end
Row 36: repeat row 35
Row 37: (P1, K1) to end
Row 38: P1, SSK, (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 39: K1, P1, P1, (K1, P1) to last 3 stitches, P1, P1, K
Row 40: P1, K1, K1 (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K1, K1, P1
Row 41: P1, SSK, (P1, K1) to last 3 stitches, K2tog, P1
Row 42: (K1, P1) to end
Row 43: K1, SSK, P1, K1, P1, K2tog, P1
Row 44: P1, K1, K1, P1, K1, K1, P1
Row 45: cast off

Make a second side identical to the first. On this one there's no need for the longer cast on tail.

Put the two pieces wrong sides together and using a size 4 crochet hook and still using two strands of the nettle, join the pieces with single crochet stitches all around the edges. Start on the side without the long tail from the cast on. At the finish on the side with the long tail, join those two yarn threads with the two yarn threads being used for the joining crochet and then crochet a chain using all four nettle threads. This will be the hanging loop.

I'm hopeful that if and when this nettle version fall apart the hemp twine can be used in teh same way. that's if my instructions make any sense. the Hemp is much thicker and will need a full redesign. Or maybe I'll just make a shopping bag instead!


Sunday, 15 August 2021

Cinema Dress

If there's one pattern that I've bought more fabric for than any other it's the Liesl + Co Cinema Dress.

I've been meaning to make it since forever (well, since the pattern release in 2014) and I would buy 3m cuts of nice linens and then invariably use them for something else.

I pulled out one such stash of fabric recently thinking it would work for a different pattern and decided that I really had to stop doing that and make this pattern. Why not? I can't go to the cinema, I can't go to the beach and stand around a nice marina for photographs, can't do much of anything....but maybe an impractical, loud, linen dress would be just the thing for my lockdown mood...


I'm not often one to make muslins, but I knew enough about this pattern to know not to just dive in. A lot of reviews mention the sleeve head being too tight and it being impossible to raise one's arms. I also knew that I wouldn't be wanting to do up buttons behind me every time I got dressed/undressed so I had to make sure not to overfit the pattern.

I can take it on and off without any unbuttoning, and this, below, may be the only photo of anyone wearing a Cinema Dress and hitting the #justtouchyourhair pose :)


I was going to take photos of my process and pattern tissues but that involved a lot of semi-nudity and now it's all folded away. Here's what I did. I traced off the size 12 which was the larger of the two pattern sizes that my measurements fell between. 

I trace all my patterns onto the Trace and Toile interfacing and it's easy to then sew that together for a tissue fitting. I sewed the front bodice and back bodice pattern pieces together and set the sleeve in. Sure enough the sleeve was tight across my upper arm, the shoulder was off the edge of me and I couldn't move.

So I pulled out the Recital Shirt pattern (similar princess seam bust so I'd thought things might line up - they didn't) and referenced the sleeve shape and armscye from that.

In all, I raised the underarm by almost 3/4". Shaved about 1/2" off the width of the shoulder and then widened the sleeve head considerably. At that point I cut some quilting cotton and made another half bodice, one-sleeved muslin. The only further change was to take about 1/2" off the height of the sleeve as it was too poofy.


With the armscye and sleeve completely redrafted, the rest of the dress is the straight size 12. It's a perfectly comfortable, light, throw on summer dress but feels quite dressed up. Liesl has a black linen one that I am jealous of every time I see it. Now that I've got the pattern sorted I could definitely have a less "vibrant" one.


These white plastic buttons were in the stash and suited the dress perfectly. I'm glad not to have to undo them and happy to forego a more fitted waist. The dress is still quite shapely even though it feels like a comfy sack dress to wear.

The fabric came from the remnants pile at Drapers Fabrics and is a really nice feeling linen/tencel. I'm glad I kept it for this dress as I'd intended all along.


Now I really do want a Melbourne black version too.



Friday, 6 August 2021

Lockdown leisurewear - Noord Sweatshirt

Not getting out much (read: at all) and so I've been absolutely loving the latest addition to my comfy wardrobe. I am living, 24/7, in this long sleeved T-shirt.


This is the Noord Sweatshirt from Liesl + Co in the most lovely wool/cotton double knit from Fabric Deluxe.

It was a bit of a spur of the moment make. I'd just finished something else that was relatively complex, had an idea for the next thing that was even more complex and just hankered for a quick and easy bit of knit sewing in between.


The pattern was the perfect match for this fabric. the reason being that the fabric was a faulty remnant. I'd picked it up at Fabric Deluxe from their remnants section (one of the best!) thinking it might make a top for one of the kids.

It's a really soft, lovely double knit. I was never going to let the kids have it, was I? Chocolate, fine merino knit on one side and soft, cream cotton knit on the other. The piece was a good size but had a lot of fine holes running along one long edge.

After I'd given it a super gentle wash cycle there were lots of little holes running along both edges. I'd need a pattern with multiple small panels rather than a standard T-shirt pattern. Enter the Noord. Designed for colour blocking the pattern had interesting panels and seams and it fitted EXACTLY on my patchy, holey remnant with not an inch to spare.


The nice hi-low split hem is finished with a facing. Here you can see the fabric's underside. If I could buy more of this fabric and make a whole lockdown suit I would, trust me.

I made a straight size L with my measurements falling between the M and L sizes. I knew I wanted slouchy, full comfort and so happily erred on the larger side. For a T-shirt weight like this I could easily use the M and just follow the L sleeve and body length.

Verdict: Hate lockdowns. Love the leisurewear.



Saturday, 17 July 2021

Jumping Dots Scarf: A big project for a big brother

 This time for my own big brother...


I started crocheting this scarf in lockdown number 2, around the beginning of July last year, and as soon as I saw the pattern emerging I knew it should be a gift for my brother. 

Jump forward 12 months: I finished it in lockdown number 4 and posted it off to him. We've just entered lockdown number 5 and it's his birthday and he has just received it, so I can share it here.


The pattern is called Jumping Dots by Jellina Verhoeff (weblink and Ravelry link). It looks much more complicated than it is as it's all just single crochet stitch.

The design comes from carrying one thread along while crocheting with another and then switching. There's a bit of counting involved, but that's about it.


The yarn is Scheepjes Whirl in Mid-Morning Mocharoo, which is the colour gradient yarn, along with Scheepjes Whirlette in Licorice (2 balls). I purchased the yarn online from Yarnish

The colour gradient yarn is a huge cake of 1000m and I was almost sad that the final colour, a dark brown was only just emerging as I ran out of the second ball of the black whirlettte. But with the scarf at about 2m long it was definitely time to stop. The pattern was written to stop about two "dot lengths" earlier with the option to keep going if you wanted to use up all the solid colour yarn.


I had a bit of fun trying to work out how to photograph it without a Dr Who type model. It looked really cool on our cork stairs, but also very moody and dark.


The cotton is pretty fine and there's a gazillion crochet stitches in making this.  Each evening I could add about a centimetre of progress. Once or twice I discovered I'd miscounted somewhere and all my circles were a bit oval shaped. there's no hiding mistakes, so I'd just rip back. At least with crochet there's only ever one stitch to hold onto.

To keep me from having to move the yarn balls every time I switched yarn, and prevent them getting tangles, I did commission P to build me a Lego, rotating, yarn holder. He didn't get around to it, but I'd recommend finding something like that before you start! A bit like a lazy Susan with yarn holding spikes sticking up.



I'm keen to try some more of these tapestry type patterns with carried yarn colours. Using simple old 8bit computer type graphics I could maybe even invent my own. Maybe my husband needs a Space Invaders Galactica facewasher :)


Friday, 9 July 2021

Ottobre impulse sewing

I had an idea for a dress for myself using three different linen checks from Fabric Deluxe. The idea wouldn't go away so I headed off to buy the fabric, but when I was there I found this pumpkin coloured stretch denim and I've ended up making some jeans for A.

(don't worry, I bought the linens for myself too)



The jeans pattern is from Ottobre Spring (1) 2014 and it's pattern 34 - Angel Wings
Why Angel Wings? Cause there's cute little butt wings on the back:


I had a bit of fun making those wings with my new sewing machine and its embroidery stitches. I could program it to sew circles of decreasing size, where the pattern suggesting iron on diamantes of varying sizes (surprisingly not in my huge notions stash!)

Overall the sewing machine handled all the topstitching, and the jeans button hole and the thick belt loops, and just everything, really really well.


I didn't have her on hand to measure as the kids were away for some of the school holidays (granny camp!) and so I just guessed at the 158cm size. The rigid jeans of P's that she'd been trying to squeeze into were 152cm Ottobre, so I figured one size up and some stretch and I should be safe.

I'd only bought 1m of the denim as it was quite wide, and that meant I couldn't cut the full pattern length. These are 11cm shorter in the leg than the pattern intends. I guessed that should be OK as she hasn't got the spidery limbs of her older brother. The other guess I made was to slash and spread the rear crotch curve to add about 1cm to 1.5cm of extra rise length, and also to add about 0.5cm to the lower aspect of the rear yoke pieces for a bit more length again. That all worked perfectly and they aren't high waisted but they also aren't falling down too low when she sits.

As I was finishing them the waist looked a little large, so I just slipped some 1" elastic into the rear half of the waistband and anchored it under where the side belt loops folded up. It's not gathered a lot but just enough to keep it close at the lower back. She loves them. But then how could she not? they have butt wings!


At the last minute I decided to add a T-shirt. From the same Ottobre magazine, this is pattern 28 - Neon Stripes. The pattern is just two pieces; front and back with ribbing binding. the front is cut on the bias so I needed a striped fabric to show that off. I made a straight size 1546cm (the largest this particular pattern goes to)

One thing I'm good at is buying and stashing striped knit fabrics. I'd forgotten all about this one which was a Spotlight $2/m special from ages ago. I needed to zoom back to Fabric Deluxe for some rockmelon coloured ribbing to match the denim to finish the whole look.

The T-shirt took no time at all to assemble on the overlocker, but when it came time to turn the ribbing and stitch it down with the sewing machine I found the hurdle at which to fall. My new machine and I are yet to sort each other out when it comes to the walking foot and twin needle combination. It seems to have a twin needle setting but not when the walking foot is engaged. Or a walking foot setting but you can't then select the twin needle option. I was almost longing for the old basic model that I could trick into doing anything... I've sewn it down with the twin needle and no walking foot, but the ribbing has become very stretched out in doing so. 

My knit finishes are going to take some practice. But I will prevail.

She loves the T-shirt too. Even though she was wearing it backwards for most of the first photoshoot and we didn't realise. Here's how it looks back to front!



Sunday, 27 June 2021

Birthday T-shirt - the stick stencil

 I couldn't let June go by without a t-shirt for the freshly teenaged kiddo. (oh my)

As always I asked what he wanted, what's the "thing" this year. No more Pokemon or fidget spinners.. this year he wanted a lacrosse stick on his birthday t-shirt. Not as easy as it sounds.


Obviously the stick part is easy, but the whole mesh basket bit definitely wasn't. I figured the only way to distinguish a women's from a men's lacrosse stick was the pocket, so I turned it to be side on. 


The stick, lettering (yes, I've outed his name, shhh) and head were all part of a freezer paper stencil. Then I just freehand painted the mesh.

On the back, a big number 7. His playing number.


Once I'd finished the painting (Setacolour opaque fabric paints) then it was a simple matter of sewing up the t-shirt. 

The pattern is Jalie Nico (Jalie 3669) is size Q with no alterations. The grey cotton lycra was out of the stash and came from RubyJam. It's a lovely quality, and I'd had other plans for it but c'est la vie. The sleeves were meant to be black, but amazingly I had no black cotton lycra left. A quick trip to Spotlight didn't yield any black but I phoned home and checked that the club colour of dark green would be even better.

I also zoomed out to buy a second bobbin casing for my new sewing machine (I really need to introduce it, it's amazing!). I'd had twin needle hemming down to a fine art with the old machine and needed to set it up nicely for this one. There is a factory bobbin holder (blue mark) that is looser tension so I bought that. It's not loose enough to use with woolly nylon and a twin needle so my hems are a bit tight. I'll take to it with the screw driver and tinker until I get the sweet up as sweet as it should be.


Meanwhile, unless the hems pop, he's a happy teenager and he's confused all the other kids in the team who suddenly thought personalised lacrosse t-shirts were an available thing. Nope!