Pom Pom Parade

 

The other day I told you about The Campaign for Wool’s attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for pom-pom sheep. Since it was at the zoo, one of my favourite places to visit, I decided to pop down and play with yarn.

There were lots of tables full of crafty goodies to make pom-pom sheep, and all the yarn was pure wool! It felt a bit extravagant to be making pom-poms with such snuggly wool, but the whole point of the record was to raise awareness of wool.

When I made pom poms as a child we used cardboard donut-shapes and cut them away, but here you can see the donuts are made from foam and can be pulled over and off the fluffy wool.

It was so much fun that I couldn’t resist making two little sheep. Before joining the flock, we went for a walk around the kids corner of the zoo.

 

 

 

On the way back to the woolly pavilion I bumped into Shaun the Sheep!
Then it was time to say goodbye to my super soft fluffy friends. Can you spot them in the holding pen?

I also found another activity that kept me occupied for an hour or so, but it is so exciting it needs its own blog post later on… In the meantime here is a teaser of what I was doing…

***Reminder: My celebratory giveaway closes tomorrow! ***

Thanks and A Parade of Pom-pom Sheep

I am so overwhelmed with the responses to my giveaway (there is still time to enter!) and the lovely comments from everyone so far. I got a little lump in my throat reading some of the comments and was so touched to realise that people actually like what I’m writing. When I asked for feedback, it was in no way a “I want to hear how awesome I am” thing. In the past I have had really low self-confidence and a big case of compare-itis where I always judge myself against others; I read so many great blogs, I’m never really sure what I am contributing to the big blog world.

Some people’s wishes for what they want to see more of on here are actually things I have thought about (such as fitting) but have never posted as I didn’t know what else I could add to the wealth of info on the internet, but you guys have given me a little self-belief booster to trust my instincts and share my little bits of knowledge. I have said it on twitter this week, but I can’t say enough how much I love the supportive collaboration of sewing bloggers 🙂

That was a bit deep, so now for a bit of fun. What do you get when you combine pom-poms, sheep and the zoo? Shaun the Sheep’s Pom Pom Parade!

The Campaign for Wool & Shaun the Sheep's Pompom Parade attempt Guinness record at ZSL London Zoo 3 copy

I totally missed the Campaign for Wool’s plea for people to make pom-pom sheep, which I am a little disappointed about. I loved making pom-poms as a child. My grandma would cut out circles from cereal boxes and give us all her odd ends of yarn, and we would sit winding the yarn to make pom-poms. I can remember turning pom-poms into black cats, snowmen and multi-coloured balls, and how exciting it was when Grandma cut the card away to reveal the final fluffy pom-pom. I think I am going to have to teach my new class how to make pom-poms (it will count as good fine-motor development!).

As I type, the Campaign for Wool’s Wool Room has so far collected 8,035 pom-pom sheep but they want a collection of 10,000 for a new Guinness World Record; they are having a pom-pom sheep-making workshop at London Zoo this weekend, and hope to raise awareness of how awesome wool is at the same time. You may remember I visited Wool House earlier this year (when I had just started my Basic Bella cardigan) but it was lacking in real-life animals (I missed the day when the sheep were there) so this new project sounds like lots of fun.

The Campaign for Wool & Shaun the Sheep's Pompom Parade attempt Guinness record at ZSL London Zoo 8

 

I don’t think my wrists are quite up to pom-pom making yet, but I have identified my next knitting/crochet projects when I am ready to ease myself back into yarn-work; the next Campaign for Wool project is to create a Woollen Wood and there are some very cute little patterns for butterflies, flowers and bugs that should make good “beginner” projects for me.

*Cute pictures are from Campaign for Wool but have given me inspiration for future makes!

Constructing a couture-style jacket

You may remember that one of my Sewlutions this year, inspired by the lovely Karen, was

I am going to try to make less but make those things better (with more focus on fitting, finishing and doing things properly).

Well I think my next almost-finished garment should certainly meet the goal; my Burda Style jacket has taken almost 3 months to plan and make, so I hope all the extra time invested has made it a better make. Since the jacket will be fully-lined, I remembered to take some pictures of the couture style techniques I have been using, before they get hidden from sight. You might call it a behind the seams (geddit?!) look at my most recent sewing project.

I spent a few weeks making a muslin of the pattern, doing a Full Bust Adjustment on the princess seams, and then used the muslin as my pattern. I underlined the whole piece in silk organza (to give the loosely-woven cotton bouclé some structure), so transferred all the markings onto the organza before using this to cut out the main fabric. All the pattern pieces were then hand-basted along the stitching lines before I then hand-basted them together.

organza b

Despite having made a muslin I was happy with, the fit around the bust took a lot of tweaking to get right. I remember spending 2-3hours one night unpicking and re-basting the same 4″ of seam to get it right, and it took a week from cutting before I felt confident to sew on my machine.seams b

One of the main benefits of using a silk organza underlining is that it is so easy to catch-stitch the seam allowances to it, without touching the main fashion fabric at all. All the seams (I mean ALL, not just the important ones) were pressed flat then open, over a rolled up towel (my makeshift tailor’s ham) where necessary. Seams were clipped or notched before I sewed them flat against the jacket.

Once I had sewn the jacket together I had the next panic – welt pockets. Having never made them before, I did a practise on some scraps and found it wasn’t as tricky as I imagined. I measured the markings a million times before I sewed the welts in place, and then sat staring at the pockets for ages before I was brave enough to cut holes in my jacket. I finished the welts by hand, and fortunately the texture of the bouclé camouflaged any minor imperfections.
welt pockets bI read that a couture jacket takes 70-80 hours to construct, including 17 hours to set-in the sleeves by hand, so the sleeves went in surprisingly smoothly. I basted the underarm and fitted the sleeve cap (must remember, fit left sleeve if right-handed!) in the mirror, before transferring the markings to the other sleeve. I took a bit off the height of the sleeve cap, which meant it fitted well with just a little easing by hand needed. I added a sleeve head after sewing the seam to be sure of the seam accuracy; the sleeve head made such a difference to my lumpy shoulders and I almost considered omitting the shoulder pads, but decided they gave a slightly better silhouette. The shoulder pads are raglan pads and were pad-stitched in place, again just to the underlining of the jacket.shoulders bWith the shoulders in place I could add the lining. The lining was cut the same as the jacket, except with an extra couple of inches at the centre back for movement ease and slightly lowered shoulders/sleeve cap to accommodate the shoulder pads. It is joined to the jacket at the contrast band; first I hand basted the lining in place to the jacket seam allowances, then I pressed and stitched the band over the lining.
hand sewing b

This has been a lot of work, more than I would normally go into, but the jacket should hopefully be worn for many years. I got rather frustrated with the time needed to hand-baste the seams and hand sew all the seam-allowances, but yesterday I was rather glad of the hand-sewing as it meant I could work on my jacket AND enjoy the rare sunshine. I took my jacket and a sewing kit to the park near my house and sat sewing while tourists wandered past. It was a much nicer environment than my living room, which is currently covered in a million little threads; if you haven’t used it before, I should warn you that bouclé can fray.pros and cons b

All that is left to do is decide on the sleeve length and finish the sleeve/lining hems, and attach the poppers/press-studs. Hopefully there will be a finished outfit post before the week is over…

 

Review of 2012

Everyone else is doing it, so I’m going to follow the cool crowd and do my own review of the year. I love seeing reviews of the blogs I follow and remembering all the inspiring images and projects I have read and followed through the year, so I hope you enjoy mine as much.

I tried to pick just 5 or 10 top makes over the year, but as I looked through all my pictures* I saw so many makes I forgot about (because they have seamlessly merged into my wardrobe, not because I never looked at them again!) so here, sorted into categories, is my round up of the year…

In the category of Most worn garment of 2012 the nominees are:

most worn 2012

In the category of Best Fancy Dress of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Self-drafted boiler suit (worn to Secret Cinema showing of Promethius)
  • HRH The Queen cloak and sash (worn to a birthday party)
  • And the winner is… HRH The Queen! I loved this night out, the cloak was great for waving while dancing, and it can probably be reused for future parties with different themes.

fancy dress 2012

In the category of Most time-consuming make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Miette cardigan (it has been a decade since I last knitted an adult-sized garment)
  • Peacock dress (hand-beaded, couture finish in expensive silk)
  • Colette Sorbetto (lots of pattern adjustments to get the perfect fit)
  • Jeanius Jeans (making a pattern from scratch and lots of muslins)
  • Minoru jacket (again, lots of muslins and adjustments)
  • And the winner is… The Peacock Dress! When people admired this dress and asked me to make them a dress, I added up costs of materials and my time (at least 15 hours of beading, 6 hours of fitting and tweaking, and many, many hours of construction including 4 hours hand-sewing the hem!) to give a quote of just a little under 4 digits. Surprisingly nobody made further requests…

most time consuming 2012

In the category of Most unusual craft location of 2012 the nominees are:

  • in a cable car over the Thames (going between Olympic venues)
  • on a beach in the middle of Camden at 7am (after the start of the last leg of the Olympic Torch relay)
  • outside Buckingham Palace while waiting for Olympic cyclists to arrive.
  • And the winner is… The Beach in Camden at 7am. A beach in Camden is pretty unusual. Being there before breakfast is even more unusual. Sitting in baking sunshine by 8.30am in England is definitely the most unusual happening!

most unusual location 2012

The final category is for projects that I would never have believed were possible a couple of years ago (well possible for other people, but not me!). In the category of Most life-changing make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • the Peacock dress (sewing with silk, couture techniques, hand beading)
  • Jeanius jeans (making a pair of jeans without a proper pattern)
  • spotty Burda blouse (I’ve never even managed to buy well-fitted woven tops before)
  • Miette cardigan (not just a knitted garment, but one that fits without gaping!)
  • Minoru raincoat (It is a coat. I can wear it when it rains. I don’t get wet!)
  • And the winner is… the spotty woven Burda blouse. The other nominees may be fancy or more technical, but as a curvy girl I have never worn or owned nice woven tops (without them looking unflattering) so this blouse makes anything seem possible. Plus, when I tried on the finished blouse I wanted to wear it immediately, which is always a good sign.

most groundbreaking 2012

Looking through all my pictures there were so many that didn’t make the nominations, so here is the best of the rest.best of the rest 2012

Top row, left- right: Sorbetto top, giraffe crochet hat, Birthday Butterfly dress
Middle row, left-right:
Summertime skirt, Embroidered Embroidery case, iPad case
Bottom row, left-right:
Blogging meet up and shopping, Denim Traveller dress, United Stashes of Awesome skirt

A lot of great crafting and great memories this year, I hope you have enjoyed reading all about them on my little blog. Thank you to all my followers and for all the lovely comments. Happy New Year!

* I am aware that some pictures haven’t been blogged, or some makes haven’t been photographed. Sorry. Will try and do better this year!

Movember sewing

Somehow it is already the end of October, which means tomorrow is November. Or Movember as it is becoming known in certain circles. Movember is when guys look really silly by attempting to grow moustaches to raise awareness of men’s cancers. A colleague at work told me she had got some moustache earrings to wear for the whole of November, so I wondered what I could do and on the tube today I embroidered this little badge. A scrap of muslin and just one needle of black embroidery thread and now I can pretend to be an East London hipster! And what is that in the background? Oh, it is my new cowl/roll-neck jumper/top using some of the fabric I got on Saturday. I used about half of the black ribbed knit, so I think this jumper cost £1.50. Seriously! I wore it yesterday with just a vest underneath and got a little too hot at times and was unable to take it off, so I think this is definitely a jumper and not a top. The neckline was a little low and wide for a roll neck so it is more of an over-sized cowl, but what ever it is it is perfect for keeping cosy in this chilly autumn weather.With just two months to go until the end of my crafty resolution, tomorrow I will do a count of my (meagre) progress and try to get up to speed before the weekend is over. Hopefully I’ll have some good crochet news to share tomorrow!

Crafting in Unusual Locations #2

Last weekend I was woken by the sound of helicopters overhead – filming the cycling road race for the Olympics. So I headed off to my local park to see what all the fuss was about. There was lots of waiting around, but luckily I had some crochet in my bag to keep myself amused. A woman standing in front of me noticed my crochet, so I explained that “that lady has a book to read while she waits, so I have my crochet” and she smiled and nodded approvingly. I’m sure if the Queen were looking out of her window at Buckingham Palace, she would have nodded with approval too!

With all the stories of strict security for the London 2012 games, I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to take such dangerous objects as knitting needles or crochet hooks into the Olympics. I really wanted to (partly because I knew it would annoy a certain person* in our group) but didn’t wanted to risk having to unravel all my knitting if the needles got confiscated, so I took some crochet on a cheap hook. I didn’t need to worry as my bag got waved through without a second glance, and sat crocheting in the arena. It was too dark to actually do any real crocheting, so I had to watch the weightlifting instead. I wouldn’t normally choose to watch weightlifting, but we had some free tickets (on the very back row) and I have to say it actually got very exciting towards the end – would so-and-so manage to lift the weight on her final attempt for a medal or not? It got to real edge-of-seat drama at the end, before the medal (and two Olympic records) finally went to a well deserved China.

On the way back from the Excel centre, we took a detour via the new AirLine cable car. The scenery wasn’t quite the same as a cable car over the Alps (I did spot the Lyle’s Golden Syrup factory!), but it was pretty cool none the less to see the sights of East London from up above.

What is the weirdest place you have ever crafted?

*The certain person (who I was sure would moan about coming to the Olympics and crocheting) actually explained my crocheting to someone by saying “When you know Alison, you know she is always knitting”. In the end it was he who was wasting the ticket by chatting all the way through the game/match/tournament, so much so that a few of us moved to some empty seats a few rows in front! Is crochet that anti-social?!