Pants!

Thanks so much for all the lovely comments about my spotty Tiramisu dress ūüôā If you liked that dress then you are in for a treat tomorrow when Me Made May ’13 starts! I have a new make ready to wear for the first time tomorrow…

I spent lots Sunday sewing and watching a Toy Story marathon (the 4 year olds in my class are singing “You’ve got a friend in me” for our assembly this week, with cute “best friend” photos on the screen behind them, so of course I had to research!). I made a dress and realised that, unless I want to spend the whole month of May doing laundry, then I’d need a few more pairs of underpants. Daddy and big brother, I know I pester you to read my blog, but you have permission to stop reading this now!

pants! 1

I used the Ohhh Lulu pattern for retro high-waisted panties (Gertie’s recommendation I think), with a few modifications. I don’t like teeny tiny pants but these were seriously high waisted! I made two variations; the first was 2″ shorter than the pattern and are belly button height, and the second version were 2″ shorter than that!pants! 4

The original pattern also had 4 panels, however I combined the sides and back to reduce the seams. I like the look of the front panel contrasting with the back/sides, and it was a great way to mix and match scraps. I used up almost all of my jersey off-cuts and even refashioned some old tshirts (one that was made from a £3 remnant when I first learnt how to sew 3 years ago, bargain!)pants! 3

Now I’m sorted with Me Made undergarments, I need to rustle up some spring-weight trousers or spend the next month at work in just skirts and dresses.

Spotty Tiramisu

Last week, in the days heading up to The Big Blog Meet Up, I got chatting to some sewcialists (sewist + social) on twitter and got convinced that I needed to get a new pattern – Steph C’s Tiramisu dress. I haven’t made a jersey dress for ages (years?) so it was a good job we were off to do some fabric shopping.

tira 1

It is a mock wrap top with a half-circle skirt, but the thing that makes it a bit more special is the sizing. You choose the bodice based on your high-bust measurement and then choose the cup-size, so you don’t get any indecent gaping. Also, the waistband is only half-drawn; you join the dots between your bodice and waist size to get a perfect fit! Genius!

I made the 40D (D is the largest cup size and they are not based on bra sizes) bodice and the fit was pretty good without a FBA. The pattern has points indicated for fitting as you sew, which would be so helpful for beginner sewists. There is also lots of help and advice online¬†and one of the things¬†mentioned¬†was that the jersey will pull with the weight of the skirt, so when fitting the bodice I didn’t worry too much. With the skirt added, the bodice didn’t pull down quite enough so on the next version I will add¬†have added a couple of inches to the bodice (and removed this from the waist band).

tira 2

Yup, there will definitely be more of this pattern to come. I wore it to work and got lots of compliments (maybe fished for as I swished my skirt!). As soon as I put the finished dress on I swished and twirled around Рhow have I never had a (half)circle skirt before?! I really love the shape of the half-circle skirt -smooth round the waist with a lovely amount of drape and fullness Рso I may have to try a woven circle skirt before the summer.

tira 3

 

 

Me Made May 2013

We are over half way through April so it is time to think about So Zo’s next Me Made challenge.

I, Alison of anotherlittlecraftycreation , sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13.
I endeavour to wear all me-made garments (excluding bras, socks, tights and sports wear) each day for the duration of May 2013. I am allowed to wear RTW knitwear no more than 3 times a week.

This shouldn’t be too hard, since I haven’t bought any clothes for over a year and a half (except one Christmas jumper). Except it turns out that my lightweight work trousers are approaching their second birthday. Hmm… Maybe I’ll need to rustle up some non-woollen trousers or live in skirts.

I recently went through all my jersey scraps and cut out lots of pieces to make some Oh Lulu (not so) high waisted knickers. I started a production line but never got around to finishing the edges and elastic, so I need to move this to the top of my to-do list asap.

Is anyone else participating in Me Made May this year?

The Big Blogging Meet-up

Rachel from House of Pinheiro organised a blogger meet-up when she heard Sew Busy Lizzy was coming on holiday to London and yesterday it felt like almost every sewing blogger in travelling distance from London wanted to come and hang out! Estimates ranged from 40-50 bloggers descending on Goldhawk road for shopping, and people came from all over the country (and globe!) to join in the fun.

We all met at the V&A for a chat in the tea rooms and a chance to get to know everyone (Rachel provided name labels for everyone) before heading to the courtyard for a proper photo-shoot (and a chance to look at everyone’s outfits in the glorious sunshine).

meet upThere were so many people taking pictures that I only grabbed a few snaps – I’m sure more pictures will appear in the blog-world soon!

We did some good fabric shopping before heading to a Lebanese restaurant for a lovely buffet-style lunch (lots of hummus, bread, salad and grilled meat) before heading downstairs to get goody bags and swap our stashes. Vicky from Minerva Crafts came down from Lancashire with goody bags for everyone! They were all generously full of goodies, and each was different with a little hand-written note. Here is my Gothic/Pirate fabric stash!

goody bag

So what did I come away with? Well, I stuck mostly to my shopping list and I stuck to my cash limit (no card spending needed!) and most items were purchased with a plan in mind.

fabric stashFrom left to right:

  • Some navy polka dot cotton to make another Cambie dress. Navy was chosen so it will go with my new red cardigan AND my turquoise jacket I’m making.
  • Black and white striped jersey I’ve been searching for for ages. My favourite top is getting sad-looking, but it has taken a long time to find the same type of stripe.
  • The red and white stripe was an impulse buy to make some type of top, not sure what yet.
  • Blue polka dot jersey for a Tiramisu wrap dress (the pattern was just purchased on advice of twitter sewcialists).
  • Dark denim for another pair of jeans, since I live in jeans.
  • Floral blue denim. Shivani (who blogged that she was not going to buy anything!) and I both got some of this cute print thinking about summer skirts, although now I’m wondering if printed cropped jeans might work…

In the swap I picked up:

  • some black and white check that has a nice texture and weight, probably to make a dress with some contrast details.
  • a teeny bit of navy spots (yup, I’m a bit predictable) that I’m hoping to squeeze out a Portrait blouse or Sorbetto from.

Looks like it is time to get sewing! I still have my jacket toile to work on. We will see what I can manage with one and a half hands!

The latest knitting must-haves!

image

Yup, some anti-inflammatory gel and a support bandage. I have an inflamed tendon in my thumb caused by… knitting. I’ve got a case of RSI from lots of repetitive knitting, and worsened by being back at school giving kids encouraging thumbs-ups!

It is so hard to rest my hand and manage without, so today I have strapped it up in the hope it will stop me moving it. Opposable thumbs are used more than I realised!

In the meantime I’m getting my crafting fix from reading old issues of Threads for jacket tips, and tweeting about the Great British Sewing Bee (I’m @crafty_alibobs)

A Tale of Two Cambies

2 cambiesI’ve made not one but two Sewaholic Cambie dresses¬†this week!

First up was a stash-busting tester of the pattern, using some black something that I think I got at Walthamstow market early in my trouser-making days. I thought it was poly-something, but the more I worked with it, the more I felt like there was some wool in it; I did a burn test and it is definitely at least 50% poly but I guess I will never know. I had some black and white striped bias-binding which I used to add some piping details to the waist and neckline.

cambie 016b

I did a FBA seen¬†here¬†and toiled the bodice in a heavy IKEA print, but when it came to the black fabric there was still adjustments to be made. Lots of unpicking was involved in this make around the bust. The darts aren’t perfect but seriously who, other than eagle-eyed sewists and readers of this blog, will notice when I wear it in everyday life?!

cambie 017bThe overall look of the dress is pretty plain and simple, but I think there is definitely space in my wardrobe for some plain simplicity. I can imagine this becoming a spring and autumn work staple, to throw on with a bright cardigan.¬†I used “Doll Pink” lining for a splash of fun on the inside and in the pockets.

cambie 019bI love the overall shape of this dress, when I was finished I just wanted to spin and twirl around in it.

Once I was happy-ish with the fit I was ready to turn to the floral fabric I ordered from Stone Fabrics (sadly they didn’t have enough bunny fabric for a Cambie dress, but I got the last piece to make a Ginger skirt). But before I cut the fabric I did a bit of dart manipulation to turn the giant under-bust dart into three regular sized darts in an attempt to lessen the pointiness.

cambie 010b

I’m not sure if you can see, but the fit is much better now the shaping is spread out around my bust. Still not perfect, but getting closer! (Still a teeny bit of wrinkling at the front) When I tried the final dress on, it was a bit loose around the bust and waist so I took the side seams in a bit. Obviously my finger-based measurements weren’t entirely accurate so when I tried it on again there was no breathing/eating ease! Third time lucky and the side seams nip me in enough to be flattering but with enough space to move and eat. (Looking at these pictures the sleeves on this version seem slightly looser, but it might just be a posing issue).

cambie 012b

 

I love this floral print so much, although I think it will need a lot of ironing. I lined this with a dark navy lining fabric; it was the premium lining from John Lewis as that was the only colour match, but it feels so nice to wear and worth the extra £5 or so it added to the cost of the dress.

I’m definitely going to be making more Cambies; it is drafted so well and the method of attaching the lining to the dress makes it so pretty inside as well.¬†I just need some suitable weather for wearing pretty dresses.

 

Retro recipe #4 – Quick and Easy Fruit Cake


retro recipes

It has been a while since I tried any “new” recipes so yesterday, since the oven was on cooking lunch, I had a look through my Grandma’s folder for a recipe to try. I picked the Quick and Easy Fruit Cake recipe as it contained ingredients I had lying around and the recipe claimed it wouldn’t take too much effort.

The process was easy as described (but not quite so quick as there was a bit of standing around and waiting).

1. Weigh ingredients.

quick and easy cake 1

2. Simmer and let the sugar turn caramel brown.

quick and easy cake 2

 

3. Admire juicy plump fruit (and ponder possibilities of using fruit juice instead of water)

quick and easy cake 3

 

4. Mix.

quick and easy cake 4

5. Bake, leave to cool then eat.

quick and easy cake 5

 

This was another recipe with minimal instructions, so I used my standard 8″ (20cm) loose-based cake tin. The resulting cake was rather flat, so next time I’d use a smaller cake tin to get a bit more height. This also meant that the cake cooked much more quickly than the 90 minutes the recipe instructed – I smelt yummy smells after about 50 minutes.

Here is my slightly more detailed version of the recipe:

Quick and Easy Fruit Cake

4oz margarine
4oz sugar (I used soft brown)
12oz dried fruit (I used currants, sultanas and cherries, but you could use anything)
1/4 pint of water
1 egg, lightly beaten
8oz self-raising flour

Grease and line a 6″ (15cm) round cake tin and pre-heat oven to 150¬ļC (gas mark 2)

Put margarine, sugar, fruit and water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove from the heat and let the pan cool for approx 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg and flour and mix well until combined. Put mixture in tin and bake at 150¬ļC for approx 50-60 minutes (depending on size of tin) until top is golden and skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a little while, before cooling on a wire rack.

 

As I was simmering the fruit I wonder what liquid could be used instead of water – how about soaking the fruits in apple or orange juice? Or what fruits would you choose to use – dried apricots and dates, raisins and sultanas, or even dried apple pieces? Not many of the recipes in the folder contain spices (due to post war availability?) and the cake tasted nice as it was, but you could easily add a few teaspoons of mixed spice or cinnamon.

If you make this recipe (or make any changes) let me know how you get on. I’d love to see pictures of other (quick and) easy fruit cakes!

FO: Basic Bella Cardigan

Eight months after starting (with lots of breaks) I have finally completed my Basic Bella cardigan!

bella 02
The pattern was Basic Black by Glenna C on Ravelry (also available here) and is a simple v-neck cardigan with waist-shaping. I chose this pattern to be the knitting equivalent of a basic cardigan block (ie. work out what changes I have to make to a standard cardigan before I try knitting any complicated lace/cables/patterns).

The changes I made were adding 10cm or so to the length (after the ribbing and before the waist-shaping) so it would sit well with jeans and trousers. This is the perfect length for me, as I find other cardigans I own always creep up when I move, leaving me with a cold bit of my back. I also lengthened the sleeves, making up the pattern as I went along to get a nice narrow cuff and lower arm. I think it is pretty good, for an improvised sleeve.

bella 01

When sewing I always need to do a Full Bust Adjustment, and I think that is what I need to do when knitting, but how? The size across the bust is great here, but the cardigan is a little big around the waist and hips (I took it in as much as I could while sewing it up) and the shoulders are also a little wide. On the next cardigan I will do a smaller size in the hips/waist, and am wondering if knitting a smaller size back would also work… any tips/ideas/reading about this?

bella 05

The pattern had basic instructions and at first was a bit confusing (work decreases for neckline and at same time work shoulder shaping). Once I worked out what I was supposed to be doing, the instructions actually helped me understand the process better -there was no mindlessly following instructions, but actually having to think about how the cardigan is shaped and constructed, which made it easier to work out where/how to adapt the pattern.

bella 04

The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Bella (85% cotton, 10% silk and 5% cashmere – it glided beautifully on my steel needles) in shade 16008 which is apparently called Crimson. I say apparently because some people have called this red, some people have called it deep pink. Whatever colour it was, I struggled to find buttons that would match this shade. In the end I chose these stripy buttons, as the white broke up the colour and didn’t make the difference so obvious – from the front they look great, but the back of the button clashes a bit. It reminds me of this optical illusion where the grey looks different depending on the background.

bella 03Most of this cardigan has been knitted as I travelled to and from work, so it has taken a long time to make (not including the long break when I was crocheting crazily to finish my blanket and making Christmas gifts). I spent most of the bank holiday weekend knitting the sleeves (both at the same time) and probably spent 3 full days doing the sleeves and finishing the cardigan. The yarn was purchased last year in the sales but obviously I blogged about the costs of all the other purchases and not this one. I think the yarn cost approx £40 and the buttons cost a couple of pounds, so total cost was under £45.

Before I get started on a cosy winter cardigan, here is a sneak peak of my current sewing project…WIP

No more Google Reader

After reading a million posts about the demise of Google Reader I downloaded some different apps and have finally got used to reading my blogs via feedly (opposite swipe actions from my old newsify app). My criteria was a system that works on computer, android and iOS, since I read blogs everywhere. Sadly this was where bloglovin’ and me fell out (I can’t stand iPhone-sized apps on the big iPad screen) however lots of people seem to have chosen this option so I am claiming my blog:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Follow me on whatever system you prefer.

In other news I have spent two days knitting on my Basic Bella cardigan (and read two novels in the process) so, if I didn’t have knitter’s finger cramp, fingers-crossed there will be a finished post any day now!