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Knitted potholders

I’m lucky enough to live near a crafts café (Love13 in Enfield) and earlier this year I went to a beginners knitting class with a few friends. The last time before that I had picked up knitting needles was in primary school, so I definitely classed myself as a beginner. We learned how to cast on and off, knit and purl stitch and how to change colour and spent a lovely couple of hours there.

And over the last couple of weeks I finally tackled my first knitting project. I wanted to make something for my mum’s birthday but it had to be fairly easy because I didn’t want to overstretch myself on my first knitting attempt. And because my mum likes practical things, I decided on making a pair of potholders.

I found a pattern on ravelry, bought some wool (I kept it basic and used some Rico Creative Cotton Aran Yarn – in purple because that’s my mum’s favourite colour) and off I went.

And here’s the finished result:

potholders

I have to admit that it took me a lot longer than I had anticipated and they might not be 100% even as the tension varies quite a lot, but overall I’m pretty pleased with them!

The pattern was really easy to follow and I got into a rhythm pretty quickly.

And what I really enjoyed was, that I could still sit with the rest of the family over Easter and join in the conversation while knitting. As much as I love sewing, I do sometimes find it a bit lonely, because it’s just me taking over the only proper table we have in the flat and just concentrating on whatever I’m making for hours on end. So the fact that I could still sit with everyone else and chat while knitting was great. So I don’t want to neglect my sewing, but I think it’ll be a nice change to fit in some knitting every now and then.

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Have it Your Way Dress

Hello readers!

I’ve finally finished another make! (About time, I have to say…)

It’s the Have it Your Way Dress from Lauren Guthrie’s book Learn to Sew With Lauren (find out more about it here).

The book came out just in time for my birthday last year, so was number 1 on my wish list and I wasn’t disappointed. There are so many different projects in the book, I’m sure everyone would find at least a few patterns they’d like to give a go. I love the variety of projects and also the fabrics they’ve used throughout. Definitely want to try out a few of the other patterns as well.

I decided to start with the Have it Your Way Dress because I just liked everything about it.

I used a black viscose with cream dots (I ordered it from the Village Haberdashery a few months ago, but it’s not on their website anymore, so looks like they might have run out).

So, here’s the finished result:

Have it Your Way Dress front

The instructions were really easy to follow. What took me the longest (as usual) was tracing the pattern and then marking and cutting my fabric. That viscose is a slippery bugger! But I got there in the end and once I started sewing it went quicker than I thought. I’m especially pleased with the invisible zip – I think the neatest one I have achieved so far!

The only thing I found a bit confusing were the sleeves. I really liked the shape of them in the picture in the book but it took me a while to get my head around how the curved bottom edge and the facing all went together. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure I got it right, but it looks fairly similar to the picture in the book, so let’s just say I nailed it!

Have it Your Way Dress side

I cut a straight size 12 and didn’t make any fit adjustments and I think it fits really well. It doesn’t even need the belt I’m wearing in the pictures for the fit – the dress itself is a really nice shape, I just felt like the pattern needed something to break it up a bit, so paired it with a navy belt, which I think works quite well. (I have to say that I was a bit worried about the sizing as I couldn’t find a table of body and finished garment measurements anywhere – not sure if I just didn’t look properly or if they’re just not included, but luckily the fit worked out well for me.)

If I were to make it again I think I would use a contrast fabric for the collar. With this fabric you can’t see the collar that well, but here’s proof that it’s there!

Have it Your Way Dress collar

Maybe I should have made that navy as well, to tie in with the belt, but never mind. Something to bear in mind for next time.

The only other thing (and not the pattern’s fault at all) is that the fabric gets quite static and clingy. Especially as I work in an office with carpet throughout, the skirt part just ended up clinging to my legs quite a bit, which is um, not the most flattering look, let’s leave it at that. So I might have to look into making a petticoat of some sort. Something I’ve never owned, never mind made, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

But overall I’m really happy with this dress! I wore it to work yesterday and had lots of lovely comments. (I was especially pleased about the ones from people who don’t know that I’ve taken up sewing, so they didn’t know that I had made it myself.)

Now I’m trying to decide what to make next. I have so many patterns I want to try and am a bit overwhelmed. But I think it might be another dress (not that that narrows the decision making process down by much…). Maybe something a bit more spring-like now that it’s starting to get sunnier?

I will report back once I’ve made up my mind.

Happy sewing everyone!

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Megan dress in blue chevrons

Tilly and the Buttons‘ Megan dress has been on my sewing list ever since I got my hands on Love at First Stitch.

And now I’ve finally finished my first version of it. I say first because I’m pretty sure there’ll be plenty more to come!

I decided to use some cotton jersey in blue chevrons (you can get it here) for the skirt part and a plain cotton jersey for the bodice. I had never sewn anything with jersey before so that was a new experience. Especially the plain jersey liked to roll up along the cut edges quite a bit, so I tried to sew those bits together as quickly as possible after cutting them out.

So here’s the finished result from the front:

Megan_blue_chevrons_front

And from the side:

Megan_blue_chevrons_side

(Due to current weather conditions I’m wearing a navy long sleeve top underneath.)

The pattern instructions were really clear and easy to follow. I didn’t make a toile for this; I just cut a straight size 4 after comparing my measurements to the sizing chart and final garment measurements. The only adjustment I made was to add 5cm to the length of the skirt because I’m taller than average.

I’m really pleased with the fit of the bodice, although the jersey is probably quite forgiving when it comes to fit, so it might need some adjustments if I make another one in a less stretchy fabric.

I was all ready to put my invisible zip in, when I thought: Hang on, the fabric, is quite stretchy, do I really need that zip? So I pinned the back together to see if I could get it on as it was, and hooray, I managed to get away without putting in a zip! So I just sewed the back together, hemmed it and that was that.

So if you’re put off by the invisible zip, I’d definitely recommend making the dress in a jersey fabric to avoid the zip.

I finished it at 7am on Thursday and then wore it work that day. I had lots of lovely comments from everyone at work but I still can’t decide whether or not I should take it in a bit at the side seams. It’s certainly wearable as it is and I’m sure it would still be comfortable after an extra helping of dessert, but it just feels a bit looser than most of my dresses. So I haven’t quite decided whether or not I should try taking it in maybe by just 1cm or so on each side seam. Or maybe I’ll leave this one as it is and try making the next one slightly narrower. I can’t decide. Maybe I just need to wear it for another day to make up my mind.

Either way I’m very pleased with my first Megan dress!

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Presents

I’ve been slow, slow, slow with my sewing recently. I have a pile of fabric and patterns stacking up that I want to try and am really struggling to make the time for them.

But I have finally finished a few presents I had been meaning to make.

First a sunglasses case for one of my best friends. I stumbled across the link to this tutorial on the sewsensational blog and thought it looked like a fun little project. Here’s the link to the instructions.

I used fabrics I had left over from another project as you really don’t need much for this, so great for using up bits of fabric that I had lying around for ages.

Sunglasses case closed

Sunglasses case open

I didn’t have any wadding, so I used some fleece that I had, again, left over from another project. It worked OK, but it came out a bit bulky, but that is probably my own fault, as the instructions clearly tell you to trim down the seam allowances as much as possible, but I was a bit nervous about trimming off too much, so I think I was a bit generous. I found their instructions for boxed corners a bit confusing, so I just stuck to the method I usually use (sewing off a triangle in the corner and then cutting the triangle off before turning the fabric right side out).

I finished this just in time for Christmas and my friend really likes it, so that’s the main thing.

I also wanted to make something for another good friend. She works as a set designer for film, TV and theatre and we are always amazed by her impressive selection of tools that she has accumulated over the years to put together all sorts of sets and stages. She probably has more tools than my dad, which is quite an achievement.

So I started looking for fabric with tools of some sort and found this great Mr Roboto Tools Blue on fabric.com. It was perfect! Having it delivered from the States meant, that I didn’t get it in time for Christmas, but that’s OK, we usually end up being a bit late with our Christmas and birthday presents.

I used the fabric to make some simple squariesh oven gloves:

Betty's oven gloves

The main bit was pretty quick, I just struggled a bit with the binding around the corners, so the stitching is a bit wonky on the back. And it also gave me the opportunity to try out my new bias binding maker that I got for Christmas. I didn’t really have a pattern for this, I just looked at the shop-bought ones I have and it was pretty easy to figure out how to replicate them.

And I also made a tote bag with contrast lining and pocket on one half:

Betty's bag outside Betty's bag inside

For this I just combined a few different tutorials for tote bags I had seen on the internet and it craft books and picked out the bits that I liked. I’m really pleased with how it came out and I hope my friend likes it too.

Right, while it was nice to sew a few projects that don’t have to fit anyone, I think I’m ready for my next dressmaking project.

4

Mathilde in navy

I’ve had this pattern for a while now and finally finished my first attempt.

The fabric was a bargain find from Goldhawk Road. I think it was about £2 a metre so I bought some in this navy colour and also some in purple. I’m not entirely sure what the fabric is though. Probably some kind of polyester mix, but I can tell you one thing: it sure is slippery!

So far I’ve mainly worked with cotton so this was definitely new territory for me. It took me ages just to cut out the pieces and then the sewing was quite slow as well. I struggled to get the fabric to stay where I wanted it to be and because it’s quite a delicate fabric I didn’t want to pin too much as I was worried I would end up with visible holes in it. But I finally finished it yesterday and (as you can probably tell from my face in this picture) I am pretty happy with it!

MathildeNavyFront3

This is Tilly‘s first improvers pattern that I’ve tried and even though I think of myself very much as a beginner when it comes to sewing I’m glad I gave it a go. It gave me the opportunity to practice French seams (which I love since I used them on my last pair of pyjama bottoms) and gathers and also to try out some new skills like sewing button holes, inserting sleeves and sewing the tucks that run down the front of the blouse.

When I compared my measurements to the sizing chart on the pattern I was between three sizes, but I then measured a (shop-bought) blouse in a similar fabric that fits me really well and compared those measurements to the finished garment measurements on the pattern and they were exactly a size 4, so I just cut a size 4 without making any adjustments. I’m pretty happy with the fit but might add an inch or so the length next time just to make the hemming a bit easier. I had to be very stingy and just folded over the tiniest amount of fabric for the hem to preserve as much length as possible. But then I am unusually tall, so I should have added a bit of extra length just to be on the safe side.

This is what it looks like from the back. Ignore the triangle that’s missing under the last button, that’s just because that corner was folded over when the picture was taken and I didn’t realise.

MathildeNavyBack

The light in these pictures makes the fabric almost look a bit purple, but it’s just navy. It’s a bit better in this shot (I was trying to find somewhere with good light in our flat but it was so gloomy outside this weekend that nowhere was very good):

MathildeNavyFront1

Tilly has very helpfully put step by step tutorials on her website (in addition to the very good instructions that come with the pattern) and I was very grateful for those when it came to the tucks. She recommends using a piece of card to press the folds in a straight line, which I did, and it made it so much easier. I’m quite happy with how the tucks came out. I was worried I’d end up with very wonky tucks down the front of my blouse.

Button holes were also a first for me and it took me a while to figure out how to work the button hole foot that came with my machine, but I got there in the end. The buttons are just purple shell buttons from The Village Haberdashery. I thought I would keep it simple on my first attempt with this pattern.

MathildeNavyButtonDetail

I’m not very good at stitching in the ditch so when it came to finishing the cuffs I thought I would do some decorative top stitching instead.

MathildeNavyCuffDetail

So that was my first Mathilde blouse and I have at least two more fabrics in my stash that I’ve reserved for this pattern, so I’ll definitely make it again!

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My first year of sewing

Hello and welcome to my first blog post!

A year ago I did the Introduction to Machine Sewing course at the lovely Ray Stitch in Angel. I really enjoyed the course and learned so much!

We started with a simple tote bag, then moved on to a zipped make-up bag with boxed corners, learned how to insert an invisible zip, how to sew darts, hemming and different ways of finishing seams and finished with a holdall. Since then I’ve filled the flat with mountains of fabric, buttons, trims and thread in all colours imaginable. But looking back I didn’t sew as much as I had hoped during my first year. So in an attempt to motivate myself to sew more in year two I thought it might help to start a blog to keep track of my creations.

So here’s a round-up of my first year of sewing:

The tote bag from the first evening of my sewing course:

Tote bag

The second project from the course (I made the brown version in the class and then made a few more with different fabrics as Christmas presents):

Zip bag brown Zip bag white and blue

The final project: a lined holdall with a zip and pockets on the inside:

Hold all Hold all insides

My first all-on-my-own sewing project – the reversible Emmeline Apron from Sew Liberated:

Apron trees Apron dots

This was a really good beginners project as you end up with something to wear (so I felt very proud to have created my first ‘garment’) but because it’s just tied at the back and the neck there aren’t any tricky fitting issues to struggle with. But you still get to practice darts, gathers and it comes with instructions to make your own bias binding which I hadn’t made before.

Next was a very simple project where I turned a dress that I only wore once because it was just a bit too short into a skirt:

Skirt birds

I’m so glad I did, because I just love the pattern of the fabric and now I wear it all the time when before the dress was just hanging uselessly in my wardrobe after that first wear…

After that I started working on a baby patchwork quilt for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday:

Lizzies quilt 2 Lizzies quilt 4 Lizzies quilt 3

This was my first attempt at patchwork and quilting so I went for squares to keep it simple and backed it with polka dot fleece so it’s nice and soft. For the quilting I went with freehand squiggly lines as that seemed to be the easiest option and I got to use some fancy decorative top stitching for the first time.

On to my first proper dressmaking project – the Ultimate Shift Dress from Sew Over It:

SOI Shift Dress

This is a really good pattern for beginners and I love the neck frill! I don’t really like how it looks on me without a belt, so I never wear it without one, but that bunches up the fabric a bit around the waist, but I still like it. Also, I think I will try a size up next time. Although I can get into it without any problems it is a bit tight around my thighs so tends to ride up a bit when I walk, which ahem, I’d like to avoid. Luckily I forgot to trim the seam allowance, so I unpicked the side seams until about half way up and sewed them together again with the smallest seam allowance I could which has made it a bit better.

And then Tilly and the Buttons‘ Love at First Stitch came out and I had a go at the Margot pyjama bottoms:

Pyjamas bottoms side

For my first pair I used this red flowery fabric I found on Goldhawk Road and made a drawstring as per the instructions. They are really easy to follow and it’s a really good beginners project.

Pyjama bottoms voile Pyjama bottoms voile seams

After that first ‘practice’ pair I then felt confident enough to cut into this lovely stripy voile. Because it frayed quite a bit even just after I’d cut it I decided to have a go at french seams and it turns out I’m a big fan! I don’t have an overlocker so I usually just finish seams with a zigzag stitch, but after this I think I’ll use french seams a lot more – they are just a lot neater! This time around I also inserted an elastic waistband instead of the drawstring, because, what can I say, I’m lazy and when it’s time to put my pyjamas on tying a bow just seems like a lot of effort. 🙂 The only problem is that the voile is a lot more see-through than I had thought, hence no picture of me wearing them. But I guess it’s OK for pyjamas as long as I don’t wear them when we have visitors.

And that’s it. My first year of sewing. I’m hoping that this blog will help me stay motivated to create more projects over the next year.

Any comments, tips and (preferably constructive) criticism will be greatly appreciated!