Minoru raincoat

As well as collecting a parcel of yarn yesterday, I also acquired a little bit of fabric from the glorious Goldhawk Road. I was on official school business to get fabrics for displays (I hope my headteacher is impressed that half was bargain remnants, and I even I got a discount on some remnants!) but I also picked up a couple of things for me. I got some fabric to make another Burda French-darted top, some stretch wool for trousers, regular wool for a winter skirt and everything I needed to make my Minoru jacket.

Unsurprisingly I couldn’t find any really exciting waterproof fabrics, so I decided to go for plain navy and line it with the most amazing bright hot pink! When buying a zipper (wow! long zips get pricey!) in the haberdashery section I saw some pink bias-binding – perfect for piping and adding a touch of fun to a plain jacket.

I had finished fitting the muslin, so today I used the muslin as my pattern and got cutting. I marked my new stitching lines with a pen, traced these onto the fabric and used them as my guidelines when sewing. Yes, I did trace a whole pattern piece with the tracing paper upside-down!

After a whole day of cutting, pinning and sewing in front of tv/radio (with breaks for food of course) I have almost finished the outer shell. I lined the hood and made some patch pockets (lined in scraps of fleece for cosy-warm hands) but other than that have stuck to the basic pattern (after a FBA during the fitting stage).

The colour of the jacket in these pictures looks really grey, but in reality it is definitely navy blue and the pink looks even better and brighter (the pink lining has made me squeal with delight). I loved the flash of pink so much I decided to tweak the hood pattern so I could have an extra line of piping 🙂 All that is needed now is the zip, front plackets, linings and hems.

The hair clip is to give an idea of the waist gathers. I’m slightly apprehensive about this, but luckily there are so many good sew-along posts on Tasia’s blog I am sure it will be fine. My big dilemma now is what to do about cuffs – I am tempted to knit some ribbed cuffs from some soft yarn but I’m not sure they would be practical when it rains!


Crochet Along update

It is about time I updated you all on my CAL progress. I took photos earlier in the week but have been too tired to post them (I’m soon going to need two hands to count the number of times this week that I have fallen asleep with my glasses on and a book/ipad in my hand). I had a bit of a panic when I realised how far behind I was, but have had a sudden surge of productivity (at the expense of my knitting) thanks to a little crochet case I made last weekend.
I made a simple little roll (think knitting needle rolls) with pockets large enough to hold medium-sized balls of yarn and a small pocket for spare hooks. I realised I wasn’t getting much crochet done because lots of the blocks require a few colours of yarn, and when I carry them in my bag they all get tangled. So with this crochet roll I can carry 5 or 6 shades of yarn without them getting tangled, and it is quick to pack away at the end of my travels.

From left-right, top-bottom you can see block 7 (corner granny), 8 (popcorn flower), 6 (textured bluebells), 3 (square target), 5 (twin stripes), 10 (openwork square) and 9 (arcadia). I am currently halfway through block 12 (fine lines) and will try to finish it tonight, so I can start week 4 tomorrow.

You may have noticed there are a few missing – block 4 went seriously wrong and needed too much concentrating so I have abandoned it temporarily until my brain is up to concentrating. I started block 11 (baby blocks) a couple of days ago and just couldn’t work out how to carry the yarn across to each part of the checker board. With knitting you can have strands of yarn crossing the back because there are different stitches for each side. I just couldn’t figure out how to train the yarn and keep it on the back of the block. I also realised I didn’t really want lots of loose yarn hanging on the back of my blanket (and there is NO WAY I am going to break of the yarn and sew it in a million times). So I decided life is too short to stress over one crochet block (that to be honest isn’t too inspiring really) so I’m skipping it completely! Please don’t kick me out of the crochet-along!

Well back to block 12, and choosing the colours for the remaining stripes. I’ve got a lot to choose from after collecting this parcel from the sorting office this morning…
Lots of shades of purple and pink Sirdar dk wool and wool blends from Deramores (with a 20% off offer).

p.s. there is still time to enter my giveaway!

Post 100!

This is somehow my 100th blog post! Wow, who would have thought I’d have so much to say that people would want to read.

Sadly I don’t have a finished creation to share (my black cord skirt is still in need of 20cm of hand sewing), I haven’t got much visible progress on my cardigan, and I am falling behind with my crochet-along. Yup, after only seven days of actual teaching I have caught an awful cold and headache. If it were a school day, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about taking a day off as my brain has felt too foggy to crochet – you know you are ill when you can’t curl up on the sofa with yarn!

Since I have nothing exciting to show you all, I suppose I’ll have to celebrate my 100th post with a giveaway! The prize will include a spare copy of Threads issue 162 (with articles about exposed zippers, topstitching and tailored trousers), some buttons and ribbons (of course!), and a little handmade mystery surprise!

If you want to enter just leave a comment below (with contact details if I can’t find them on your blog) and I will pick a winner at random on 1st October. If you want to share my blog with your readers, send me a link and I will put your name in the hat twice.

Good luck! I’m off to make some hot Ribena and see if I can concentrate on my crochet along blocks.

A spot of impulsive sewing

I have to change at Oxford Circus on my way home from work, and on Friday evening it was packed. I couldn’t even get near the platform, so there was no chance of getting a tube for a while. What could I do, but wait for the crowds to clear in the comfort of John Lewis? Well, I needed some ribbon for school to colour-code my new class’ bookbags (in an effort to get them to do more jobs for me  become more independent – each key group will have a different colour of ribbon on the handle so a child can hopefully grab everything for their group). See, I had a real reason to go into John Lewis!

When in there I got slightly side-tracked by the new layout of all the displays, the new cutting table and, of course, all the new fabrics. In my confused state I accidentally headed towards the new display of fabrics and a navy dotty fabric (I want to call it crepe, but I’m not sure) caught my eye. I picked up the ribbons (seriously tricky getting the three colours I wanted in the same width) and some hand embroidery needles, but felt drawn back to the dots.

I had been planning on spending Saturday making the muslin for my Minoru, but ended up tracing, adjusting, cutting and sewing this…

It isn’t the Burda blouse I showed in my last post, it is actually pattern 106 from the September issue (my August issue was temporarily missing, so I thought I’d give this one a go). The pattern is actually meant for jersey, but after tracing the pattern onto garden fleece (cheap, transparent and robust) I tissue-fitted it to do a FBA. I really like to fit of this top and the french darts, even if they could still do with a bit of tweaking.

As the pattern was designed for jersey, I graded up a size before tracing then marked the stitching lines on as I traced using my double-wheel tool. I have just remembered, while looking for the link to the pattern, that Burda doesn’t do seam allowances – so effectively I didn’t go up a size at all! This could explain the fitting difficulties I later had!

After tweaking the darts the top had a good fit, but when it was time to add the sleeves I found I could barely move them. Luckily I remembered last weekend’s reading – Gertie’s new book – and how she inserted underarm gussets to allow for movement. This took a bit of trial and error, not to mention time with my seam ripper (I had some lovely french side seams!), but I managed to get something that works (luckily the print hides it pretty well).

Other modifications I made were:
– lengthen the bodice by a very precise “two ruler widths” (chunky craft ruler approx 2″ wide) so it is a great length to wear over trousers or tucked in.
– add little 2″ long side slits (I should have graded out more for my hips, but this was a satisfactory fix)
– lower the neckline slightly as the tissue felt like it would choke me
– deepen the back neckline. Looking at the photos, I could have made the back v-neck even deeper if I had wanted to, for more impact.
The next photo doesn’t show it, but the back is actually a really good fit with just the right amount of curve for me (the wrinkles are the way I am trying to pose)

Even though things went wrong and there are a few issues to be fixed, I love this blouse! I tried it on when all the hems were finished and it just felt good (I ended up having a little fashion show in front of my mirror trying it on with different bottoms and accessories). Being quite curvy I never used to wear woven tops as they didn’t fit or look good, but I think I am just so excited to be able to wear a fitted blouse that is comfy! After the arm gusset drama, I can now move my arms and have test-driven the top while changing bed sheets, doing a supermarket shop, and pattern cutting – all activities involved lots of arm movement and the blouse has passed the test.

Oh, did I mention pattern cutting? I may not have done any of my Minoru yesterday, but today I made the first muslin. I did a FBA and moved the dart to the shoulder for extra gathers, which seems to fit well so far. Using the couture tricks I learned at the beginning of the year, I marked the stitching line onto the muslin, with generous seam allowances. It is a good job I did because the way it is leaves no room for winter jumpers at all! I will let out the sleeve and side seams and try it on again.The only thing that is confusing my is the hood – how is it SO big? I hate it when hoods are too tight and don’t sit properly on your head, but this seems a bit too big. Or is my head a few sizes smaller than my body?!

A/W 2012 Sewing Plans

I’ve been a bit quiet around here due to being back to school and totally exhausted, and a busy weekend in which the only time I was home involved sleeping or napping! I have lots on my to-sew-list when I have the energy to trace some sewing patterns. Yup, you read that right – I’m going to try some new patterns instead of reinventing my tatty tried-and-tested ones.

The two Burda designs come from August and September issues of Burda Style (I’m not sure which is which without getting up and looking) and the Ohhh Lulu pattern was recommended by Gertie during the summer. The fabric colours and designs are some of what are lurking in my stash – I have lots of different black and white jersey prints which I really want to mix-and-match. I don’t have lace in my stash, but I’d really like to have a go at adding some to a simple top – I am imagining a black top with black lace collar or something subtle like that…

I have some calico ready to make a muslin of the Minoru jacket at the weekend, but I am already thinking ahead to fashion fabrics. I already own a purple coat and a red and white dotty coat, so I think blue would be a practical make but that is as much as I have decided.My decision will depend on whether I want my jacket to be water-resistant or not (it has a hood so I am leaning towards yes) and whether fun prints exist in these types of fabrics. I also need to decide how warm I want the jacket to be – do I underline the fashion fabric with some wool for warmth? Should I make a big feature of the zip? I know I definitely want a fun silky lining! Too many decisions! I will definitely be spending the weekend reading all Tasia’s sew-along posts.

Does anyone have any jacket-sewing tips?

p.s. I never knew I used my little finger so much when I type, but am realising just how much after trapping my finger in a door at school (how many times have I told kids not to play with the door?!) It was too sore to knit on my journey home but I am hoping it will calm down and not affect my sewing (it does look better now I have removed my purple nail varnish!)

My crafting week in pictures

It has been a bit of an odd week this week – back to school exhaustion and September summer weather haven’t really allowed much serious crafting time. I have been doing little bits of various projects but not completing anything, so here is a little round up of my week.

  1. A peach and raspberry upside-down cake made for a family gathering this afternoon. This is my first attempt at an upside down cake and it doesn’t look too bad (apart from the sunken berries in the centre) and certainly smells good! The dark patches aren’t burnt, they are the caramel topping!
  2. Ballgowns at the V&A organised by Karen. It was so exciting meeting all these people I have read about for years, although it was hard trying not to sound like a stalker (“Hi, I’m Alison.” Hi. I’m Dibs.” “I know who you are.”) Karen has a round up of the night here, but for me highlights of the night included meeting all those famous faces face-to-face, when a reader said she knew my blog, spotting some not-so-perfect details in the couture (giving us hope we can get to that level!) and all the general sewing chit-chat. I wore my USA skirt and a few sewists asked about the print, yet nobody at work noticed I had the Statue of Liberty all over me – are sewists more observant, or do my colleagues now expect me to dress bizarrely?!
  3. Continuing crocheting my way through the 200 block CAL. Nearly finished block number 3.
  4. Delivery of Gertie’s new book. We flipped through a copy on Friday night (discussing with Melissa, in her newly finished peplum top, why there were no trouser patterns) and I got home to discover mine waiting for me. I have read a couple of chapters and flicked through the rest, and am now deciding which pattern to try – I’m leaning towards one of the blouses and their many variations.
  5. After the nightmares of last weekend, I am finally on the home leg of my corduroy skirt, and am hand-sewing the lining in place to the zip. The sunny weather isn’t really motivating me to finish it quickly, as it is definitely a boots-and-tights skirt.

How has your week been? For those in the UK, have you got any crafting done or have you been too busy enjoying the sunshine?

CAL block # 2 and sewing plans

After a few tube journeys to work, here is block number 2 from 200 Crochet Blocks CAL…It has taken a bit longer than I expected since it is quite a dense pattern and I am used to holey designs, but I soon got into the rhythm and it was quite therapeutic not having to count past 2!

This week I have been working on a skirt that I hope will be a go-to staple when it gets chilly – a black stretch needle-cord Ginger – that I am imagining wearing with thick tights, boots and cardigans 🙂 As soon as I started making it, it suddenly got hot so I was lacking motivation, especially after 4 attempts to sew the zip in (one side inside out somehow!). I left work early for a dentist appointment so got home early and made some progress last night. Hopefully it wont take long to finish at the weekend, unless I make any other weird mistakes.

Other exciting news is that my copy of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing is on its way to me! Bad news is I was at work when it got delivered so I’ll have to wait to arrange redelivery. Luckily I wont be sat around waiting for it to arrive as, after another long day visiting my new kiddies before they start school, I am going to meet Karen and lots of other lovely sewing bloggers at the V&A ballgown exhibition! I am super excited


200 Blocks Crochet Along with Rachell – block #1

I am sort-of joining in with Rachell’s Crochet Along (CAL) which started at the weekend. I say sort of because she has a theme (Cottage Garden) for everyone to take inspiration from, but I am ignoring it because I am half-way through a mega blanket and there are only so many you can have.

Well here is block number 1 from 200 Crochet Blocks…

Hannah started her CAL before me and I saw on her blog she had got into a muddle with US vs UK crochet terms. So before I started, I sat down and looked at the how-to instructions at the back of the book to check what this book meant by double crochet. I did four or five rows and things weren’t quite right. Hmm… it looked a bit like Hannah’s first attempt. I went back to the instructions and realised I’d made the same mistake, despite my checking!

I found this great little conversion chart on By Number 19’s blog (I’m adding it to my reader as it looks like Birgit has lots of good tutorials and patterns).
I’m going to print it out and use it as a bookmark., and stick some sort of sticker on the front of my crochet books so I remember which is which (I still don’t know what I call the stitches I do!).

Back to work tomorrow after the long summer, which means back to commuting! Hooray, because commuting time = crochet time so I should get block 2 done pretty soon.

Finished Embroidery!

The other day I gave you a sneaky peek of my embroidery summer project. Well here is the finished article, just in time for the last day of my summer holidays…It is a little bag for holding all my crafting bits and bobs and is currently looking after my embroidery hoop. I based it on this pattern that I found ages ago – a square base (purple swirly flower and nature decorations) and four triangular sides (lovebirds and animals) sewn together with a ribbon draw-string.The individual designs were from the fab Doodle Stitching book, and I arranged the pdfs on my computer using a very old version of Corel Draw. I had measured my fabric to get the size of the sections allowing for seam allowances, so I could get the size and layout perfect, however I didn’t allow for fraying of the fabric and ended up with one squished seam. Other than that I am really pleased with how it turned out. And I managed to pace my self through a long project 🙂

I think my next embroidery project will be trying to make some super-cool video-game themed picture/card for my “little” cousin’s 16th birthday. I call him little but he is officially taller than me now and pleased about that!

If you have the embroidery bug, Sublime Stitching currently has a half-price pattern sale (until midnight Monday US PST) – I downloaded a couple of patterns for the equivalent of about £1.10 each! Bargain!

Off-line adventures

I have lots to blog about but have been too busy with a real non-crafting offline life! What a pain! There will be a couple more posts over the weekend full of crochet, embroidery and maybe some sewing (I don’t go back to school until Tuesday so today feels like Saturday not Sunday in my head), but until then here are some snaps of my recent adventures…

On Friday I went on a touristy day out at Buckingham Palace with my friend N. We started at the Leonardo Da Vinci Anatomy exhibit (very interesting but intense), had lunch outside the palace while a marching band went past, then had a tour of the Palace. As you can see from the flag Her Majesty was at home, and we got to see the secret door disguised as a sideboard that swings open (just like batman) so she can access her private rooms. The tour included an exhibition to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee featuring LOTS of diamonds (so sparkly and pretty). We finished with afternoon tea (I had a vanilla cheesecake) and a stroll through the grounds.

Yesterday my big brother came round and sorted my wireless router (I can now read blogs and catch up on iPlayer from my bed!) and then we went for a walk to find some Olympic and Paralympic mascots. Despite it being five minutes from my flat I have never been to the Channel 4 building before with the logo currently turned into a Paralympic sculpture. We did the most of the red trail going backwards (we had already seen the mascots near the London Eye) and a few of the pink trail before my feet gave up (I was wearing new shoes). I liked the A-Z Wenlock (the map shows where my flat is!), Doctor Wenlock and the detail on Lambeth Palace Mandeville. Which is your favourite?

Finally, I spent the late afternoon/evening with some crafty friends at The Haberdashery cafe in Crouch End. There was a cute little craft fair in the garden with some lovely prints and jewellery and we then sat on the pavement eating and drinking all sorts of yummy goodies. The cafe has such cute decorations, with a quirky and crafty feel, and even the cakes are displayed on a vintage sewing machine table!

I’m going to pop out to pick up a couple of zips and then plan to settle down to a day of crafting (I’ll leave the school prep until tomorrow!). Have you got any crafty weekend plans?