Monday, 27 May 2013

Can't Stop Knitting

Sewing's my first love, but I always have some knitting on the go. I'm far less successful with it, but I keep trying!

I just finished this jumper, the pattern of which was in the Knitter magazine:

 Here's my slightly baggy version:

I followed the directions diligently, but after a few wears it seems to have grown around the middle:

Oh well...... it's not going to stop me wearing it. It's lovely and soft (I used Artesano extra fine wool) and I love the lacy panels:

Not to be put off, I've jumped straight in to 2 more knitting projects, both from the 60's, and both cardigans (Can't ever have enough cardigans). Here's the first one:

I'm knitting the piece on the left, out of navy blue Millamia double knitting (that's worsted, for the benefit of North American readers). I seem to be racing through this, and have already finished the back piece:

Close up of the lace panel
I'm not good at waiting to finish a project before starting a new one, so I've gone ahead and started this cardigan:

I'm making the crew neck version on the left. Pretty boring, you say? No! I'm jazzing it up by  knitting the ribbing in scraps of metallic thread and the body in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply. Here's the start of the back:

Sparkly ribbing!
As I said before, I'm not as successful with knitting, and this project illustrates that beautifully. I started this some time ago:

It was going quite well, except for the fact that it was way too small! I'd made some adjustments that I thought would make it work, but there was no way it was going to fit. The only thing for it was to admit defeat and start something new, and so we have the start of the lurex rib cardi.

Let's hope these ones's work out - see you soon!

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Totally Un-Wearable Muslin

I don't think I've ever made a muslin. I'm one of those pin and try on as you go people, making adjustments along the way. With time and experience, I've learnt what to avoid, what measurements to take prior to cutting, and also to slow down and look at things in depth rather than just going for easy or quick fixes. I often read about 'wearable muslins' - I suppose that's what I've been doing all along!

 But I decided to be a grownup and make a muslin for my next project, which was the Sew Vera Venus little bias dress. Lots of reasons for this:

- large sections are cut on the bias, and I don't have a great deal of experience with cutting large pieces in this way, so some practise was called for.

- this is my first time using a pdf pattern, and though I've seen plenty of success with them and I don't doubt Vera's skills, I'm essentially a suspicious person and rarely trust anything that's free. More about that later.

- lastly, I really love this fabric and want to do it justice. I bought it from Goldhawk Rd on the recent big London meet up, a day I have great memories of, so the last thing I want is to make a dress with loads of mistakes that I'll never wear.

Cotton gingham and cherries

So here's my muslin. Be warned - it's one of those things that makes sense to me, but probably no one else!

Check out my clever mirror manoeuvres!
As you can see, I used scraps of whatever was around, namely some cotton poplin for the bodice and some lining scraps for the skirt. And I left off the bottom skirt flounce. But this has definitely been worth it. I learnt that the point of the skirt sits way too high (right on my crotch, hence the wearing of black tights in the photo) and will have to be lowered about 5 inches. The sleeve on the right wasn't flouncy enough for my liking, so I cut a fuller version which you see on the left. I was also able to practise sewing a sharp point, so I'm confident I'll have it perfect for the final run.

As for the pattern, it's great. Or it would have been if I had printed it correctly. I must have screwed up the print sizing or something, because it came out way too small for me, meaning I had to spend ages measuring and grading and slashing and taping. For example, here's the sleeve:

Sleeve frill - more sticky tape than paper
Again, because the skirt section is on the bias and dependant on the drape of the fabric, adjustments are about more than just measuring; I needed to see how the fabric would act. And so far I'm pretty pleased. A few tweaks here and there and I'm confident about cutting in to the fabric - hopefully you'll see the results soon!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Socks for Dad

Can you guess what this is?


It's a form for blocking hand knitted socks, which I quickly made out of an old wire hanger. According to this website I saved myself £18 by making them myself.

I never thought I'd become a sock knitter; I don't wear them much myself and Me Needles wears them out so quickly it's not worth the effort. But my Dad recently mentioned that the elastic at the top of his socks irritates him, so he gets my Mum to un-pick all the elastic from his socks for him. (I know - we have WILD conversations!) To spare my Mum some of this tedium, I decided to knit my first pair of socks, elastic free. And here are the results:

I didn't know there was so much to the world of socks - knitting toe-up, top-down, Turkish cast-on, wrap and turn - these are just some of the techniques I've learnt about since delving in to this project. I can see why people get into knitting socks - they're quick and there's so much to do that you don't get bored. Of course, I decided to start big and chose a complicated pattern from The Knitter (issue 56) for my first ever pair:

Close up of the twisted rib and lace pattern
And here's the man himself receiving them:

Dad in his workshop with socks!
They fit brilliantly, but I negelcted to get a picture of him modelling his new socks because I was laughing too much - Dad was winding Mum up by threatening to wear them with sandals on they're upcoming trip to Italy. But he definitely likes them - he's ordered a pair in burgundy. 

I've got some knitting to do!

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Sushi Chef Shirt

First, a big 'thank-you!' to Clare at Sew Dixie Lou and Emma at My Oh Sew Vintage Life for giving me a Liebster award - a response post to follow soon!

 I'm very lucky in that Mr Needles loves cooking; most evenings I come home to a new feast, often inspired by south east Asian cuisine, interspersed with quite a few good burgers. He spends hours watching testosterone fuelled cooking programs, usually involving fire, knives, and shouting, then goes crazy in the kitchen chopping, marinading, and generally cooking up a storm!

It was one of these programs that inspired him to ask for sushi chef-inspired shirt. On a recent trip to Abakhans in Manchester, he even joined in with the rummaging and found an Alexander Henry offcut which was a bit Japanese-y. (I could see I wasn't getting out of this...) I traced a pattern based on one of his favourite shirts, added in some plain black cotton poplin,  and behold - the sushi chef shirt!

A serious chef always uses the proper equipment.

Mr Needles insisted on a matching headband
As I said before, the fabric was a piece of Alexander Henry off-cut, and as luck would have it the name of this pattern is 'Yoko':

-which inspired Mr Needles to sing some Plastic Ono Band tunes:

Some details-

I used an old shirt of Mr. Needles' to make the pattern. Because I'm essentially a total cheapskate, I used the back of old Christmas wrapping paper to make the pattern.

Tracing the collar from the original shirt

There wasn't enough fabric to make the whole shirt in the patterned fabric so I cut the collar and back panel out of plain black poplin:

The contrast collar...

...and the plain black back section
I also trimmed the sleeves in the plain black, and added some trim to the front pocket:

And that's that! Mr Needles loves his new shirt, and hopefully I'll benefit from it with some good eatin'

 See you soon!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

What Would Joan Do?

If you're at all interested in sewing or blogs, you can't have missed the many posts about the big meet up that happened in London a few weekes ago. Those of us who went have been on a needlework high of love and sisterhood, and some great friendships have formed - I'm looking at you Clare of Sew Dixie Lou, Janene Ooobop, Joanne Sew Little Time, Emma of My Oh Sew Vintage Life, Sew Busy Lizzy, and Hannah Sinbad and Sailor. Meanwhile, Mr Needles still can't quite understand what it's all about and thinks I've joined a crazy cult of sewers.

And you know what crazy sewers love? Joan Collins and Dolly Parton, of course. I mean, who doesn't love these ladies? They break all the rules of fashion:


Or cleavage? Why not both!

They don't know the meaning of casual:

Dolly doing a spot of farming

THIS is how you wear denim!
 And too much is never enough:

I love how Dolly's hair struggles to fit in the shot.

Joan, just chillin' out at home
With this wealth of inspiration to work with, Clare at Sew Dixie Lou has launched a Dolly and Joan sew along. (Go read her post because its hilarious!) There aren't really any rules, other than no half measures allowed. There should be frills, sequins, fringing, satin, lame, beading, netting - hopefully all on the same outfit.

I've decided to start off with a Joan-inspired piece - a gold lame pencil skirt made with fabric left over from my wedding dress. (One thing I've realised is that this is going to be really easy for me - I seem to have a very Joan and Dolly based wardobe without even realising it!). I whipped this up on my day off, using McCalls 9722. Then I cracked out the blusher, put on my biggest earrings, and decided to try it out doing a bit of light housework:

Doing the washing:

Bringing some glamour to cleaning the bathroom:

Some light dusting:

Time for lunch:

I even did a spot of knitting:

It was like living a little bit of Joan's life for one day - if she did housework and lived in a one bedroom apartment.

So be warned, this is just the first in a series of shiny, sparkly, fringey Joan and Dolly inspired outfits.

See you soon!