My New Sewing Space

Hello! Do you remember me? It has been a while, so I’ll forgive you if you’ve forgotten me! Real Life has eaten into my sewing/blogging time this month as I have been packing, cleaning and moving flats. Obviously the most important part of a new place is the sewing space, and mine is almost ready to use!

sewing space 2

My sewing table is in front of the window for good light (in a few months time in spring) and is near the radiator to keep me toasty warm on dark cold nights. I am super excited that I have room for both flaps to be open so I can do cutting without moving my machine! And there is space for my mini ironing board to be near the machine for patchwork.

On the shelves I have some projects pre-prepared ready to sew, stored in pretty gift bags; there are 2 dresses with all the pieces cut out (and notions ready) and all my fabric for my next quilt. Hopefully I can make a start on one of these this weekend ūüôā

sewing space 1On the other side of my table I have all my resources (well not quite all, there were a couple of boxes of fabric that didn’t fit on these shelves. oops). Books and magazines are sorted into sewing and yarn, since the collection wouldn’t fit on one shelf. All my sewing patterns are in cardboard folders and are sorted into two big gift bags (can you tell I can’t throw gift bags away?!) by garment type; dresses and jackets, and separates.

There are two slim full length mirrors in the corner which will be great for fitting garments, and my dress form is also near by for fitting and draping. My tools (tracing wheels, shears, etc) and notions (seam tape, binding, personalised labels, etc) are in the same hanger from my last flat. I un-hooked it and carefully rolled it up, with contents still in the pockets, and then unrolled it when I unpacked so all my tools are ready to use!

What are your top tips for keeping your sewing space sorted?

I’m so looking forward to getting back to crafting this week, as two weeks feels like ages. I have a few unblogged garments to show you, that are awaiting photos, but I’m not sure there will ever be good light for photos for a few months.¬†

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Wool House

Wool HouseToday I went to Somerset House to visit the Campaign for Wool’s Wool House exhibition. The exhibition showcases everything to do with wool – weaving, crochet and knitting; yarn and fabric; home decor and fashion.

Unfortunately today the real sheep were not in the courtyard, so instead I was greeted by a life-sized crocheted bear. Scary but cuddly at the same time.

bear

 

There was The Most Comfortable Chair in the World EVER which was fully upholstered in Mongolian Longhaired Sheep fleece. I could have sat there all day, snuggled into the soft yarn, but instead headed off to see the rest of the rooms.

fluffy chair

 

Most of the exhibition was set up as rooms in houses, with as much as possible made from yarn, even the walls! The nursery featured a knitted raindrop mobile, plenty of woolen toys, and feature walls that reminded me of Fuzzy Felt (soft woolen wall hangings/panels with felted trees and leaves for decoration).

 

sheep

 

 

The “Modern Room” was full of bright, fun felt that had been cut and folded origami-style to create cushions (the left-over felt was used to make blinds) and sound-absorbing wall panels. There were some lovely green flower cushions, made by cutting slits and folding them to create petals that I am inspired to attempt to recreate.

felt

 

 

 

In contrast to the modern room was the “Natural Room” full of rustic yarns. While not my¬†preferred¬†colour-scheme, this room was cosy and homely and full of little touches like these cute knitted pots.

wool

 

 

Unlike some of the more modern rooms, the natural room featured a chair that looked comfy to sit in – it had been totally upholstered in old Aran jumpers. You could clearly see the components of different jumpers and cardigans (the chair back was buttoned up nicely) and there were useful pockets carefully placed on the arms.

chair

 

 

As well as all the furniture and interiors there were rooms displaying different styles and types of clothing made from wool – classic Savile Row suits, pure wool scarves, Vivienne Westwood tweed shoes, and tweed cycling gear complete with flashing safety lights. There was even a pair of “jeans” made from wool tweed that looked just like denim!

Did you know that Britain is home to the most species of sheep? Rooms were full of interesting wool facts, along with samples of a huge range of woolen fabrics, yarn and fibres. Apparently wool makes a great mattress as it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, however I was more tempted by some fabric that could make a nice jacket….

crystalsPure wool tweed covered with Swarovski crystals! Hmm… maybe not the most realistic choice for a sewing project!

Wool House is open for another week so if you are nearby I would recommend popping in for a quick look and stroke of all the lovely yarns (and a free felt sheep key-ring!). I left the exhibition feeling inspired to spend the rest of the afternoon wrapped up in my wool blanket with my knitting.

 

 

Half-term plans

Yay! Half-term is finally here after what has felt like the longest week ever. I have woken up everyday thinking it was one or two days later in the week. So what am I going to get up to, now I have time at home to be awake and crafty?half-term plansClockwise from top left:

  1. I have two silks I got in the John Lewis sale to make some nice tops/blouses from. I resisted them twice, but decided ¬£14 for a silk top was probably a good buy. Underneath them is a jersey remnant, about 80cm long, so I’m going to see what I can squeeze out of it (sleeves or no-sleeves, that is the question).
  2. I need to quickly finish my pieces for #imapiece and get them posted. First¬†Hannah mentionned it on Monday and then Tilly had a guest post by the Craftivist Collective so I had to whip out my embroidery threads (well pick my case up off the floor) and get involved. Two out of three are finished but number three needs some sparkle of some sort…
  3. Pressing some sad looking flowers. Since I read Attic 24’s review of the year in flowers I’ve started buying the occasional bunch of flowers to brighten up my little flat and this morning afternoon I managed to grab some flowers before they looked too sad and have pressed them in my flower press.
  4. My current crafty reading list. A cute jacket I can’t stop thinking about in one issue of Burda and a spring tunic in another (I need to get some muslin fabric asap). Gertie’s portrait blouse is a contender for using my sale silks. 100 flowers to knit and crochet is filling the post-blanket crochet hole.

Completed: Crafty Resolution 2012

On 4th January 2012 I said:

So here it is – my little crafty resolution for 2012 is to make a blanket!

And at around 11pm last night I darned the final tail of yarn to complete my blanket. Hooray!

blanket!So how did I do in relation to my initial goals and ideas, and what did I learn (other than crochet)?

I was thinking about knitting or crocheting a square a day (too much pressure) or making a square a week (not enough for a big blanket) so after some maths I have decided to make 10 squares a month (for a 10×12 blanket) or 2.5 squares a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge, but also¬†manageable.

My blanket is 10×12 squares and making 10 squares a month was a bit of a challenge. Some months were easy, but in others my time was filled with other crafts. If I had more self-discipline I suppose I could have pushed other projects to the side in order to keep on track with my crochet, but the lure of finishing the hems on a jacket or knitting another sleeve were too tempting for me. The lesson learned here is to have just one big travel/tv watching project on the go at a time!blanket! 083

I am planning to make some traditional crocheted granny squares, knit some different textures and patterns, learn some new stitches and techniques, and maybe sew or patchwork some pieces too.

This project ended up being pure crochet. I enjoyed having crochet to do when my fingers were tired of knitting my Miette, and it was good to use yarn instead of fabric again. I definitely learned lots of new stitches, (special mention to the loopy sheep and popcorn/bobbles) how to read crochet charts and I even designed a couple of blocks myself. blanket! 088

As much as possible all the yarn will come from my growing stash and be a reminder of other knitting I have done, starting with left overs from Christmas, and will probably feature a few buttons from my collection.

Haha! I don’t think I quite realised how much yarn it takes to make a full sized blanket. I used 240g just on the five rows for the border! Lots of stash yarn was used up but lots more was bought and most of the yarns are natural/wool (in the autumn I gave in and started buying wool blends to lower my spending, but they are still mostly wool not acrylic). The blanket weights 2.1kg so if on average each ball of yarn was ¬£3.50 for 50g that means which is pretty heavy (I could feel the extra weight when I went to sleep last night and woke up feeling a bit too warm!).blanket! 089

 I hope that there is a bit of a story behind each square, and I shall document their stories and my progress (when I can work out how to make a special button on here!)

Some of the blocks have obvious stories (can you find the ones made during the Jubilee, the Olympics and Vixie’s Christmas birthday?), others are less obvious (the blocks I made when bed-ridden with tonsilitis¬†or when sitting on “the beach”) and some are just pretty.¬†No buttons were added as that would make it less snuggly, but the little scottie dog has a nice ribbon round his neck.My year in crochet

Now if you’ll excuse me, my toes are getting chilly so I am going to curl up on the sofa under my blanket and resume knitting my red cardigan.

Plans and goals for 2013

I have just the one row of scallops (and darning in ends on some squares, I had to sew them together first as they were taking up too much/all of my floor space) so fingers-crossed I will be able to take some proper pictures tomorrow.

IMAG0682

In the meantime I thought I should get up and stop sitting around in my pjs (just one more row of crochet is currently a couple of hours!) so here are my crafty plans for the year.¬†The first few goals are what I submitted for the sewlution I posted on Karen’s blog¬†– she is going to check we keep them at the end of the year – and the rest will have to be checked by my lovely readers.

  • I am going to make less but what I make will be better. I’m specifically thinking of seam finishes, precise measuring and cutting, perfect fitting. I have enough cheap and cheerful tops I have made and worn but some of the most recent ones are starting to look shabby – it is okay to make a few fun tops in a crazy print but, after jumping on the blogging bandwagon and reading Overdressed, I think my wardrobe should be built to last. I want to make a proper winter coat by the end of the year and make more hand-knitted items.
  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.¬†If I don‚Äôt¬†have a wearable garment I will still have enjoyed myself and learned skills, so I need to stop being so protective of the unwearable garments and actually turn them into something else! At school one of the current trends is how children view learning – do they feel success when they have got 10/10 or is the challenge and learning experience more important for them? Which is more important – the finished garment, or the lessons learned in the process?
  • I will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). (see above) At the moment I have 2 blouses, a skirt and some jeans cut and partially made – the jeans were left until I lost a bit of weight before fitting them, the skirt went horribly wrong¬†(how can 2 makes with the same pattern differ so much?!) and the blouses have slight sleeve fitting issues. No wonder my pin-cushion looks rather empty!
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! This year I did the Couture Dress and Jeanius courses and they were amazing and I learned SO much. I have other courses lined up in my account that I need to find time to do, plus I have lots of techniques in my pile of Threads magazines and books waiting to be used.
  • I really want to make bunting! I’m very surprised I haven’t actually made any yet, so this year I will get around to making some to jazz up my little flat. I have some crochet books that could be perfect for making little things to hang on garlands, or I could recycle and reuse all the fabric/projects going spare.
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. The blogs I love reading are the ones with great pictures, and I want that to be true for this little crafty place. I think my¬†pictures have improved, but they are not always as good as they could be, so I am going to learn to use all the settings on my camera properly and make the most of natural light. I suppose I should include taking better action shots.
  • I am going to be a better blog-reader. I LOVE reading comments from readers on my blog but I am not great at commenting on other blogs. I catch up on blogs on my reader apps on my phone or iPad, but there is no comment option on them, and by the time I have got home via the supermarket and made dinner etc then I have forgotten what and where I wanted to comment! I am going to try to star the blogs I want to comment on so I remember when I get home and can have a comment session, however I am finding some blog platforms wont let me comment from the iPad – if anyone has any apps to help me keep in touch please let me know.
  • I am going to explore new recipes. When I say new I mean new-to-me. I acquired some of my Grandma’s old recipe books but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Instead of looking online for recipe ideas I will look for inspiration in books! In my snazzy blog button you can see my Grandma’s old red binder (full of cuttings and handwritten recipes) and The Radiation Cookery Book (the 35th edition printed in January 1949, designed for fancy new gas ovens!)

retro recipes

 

Presents!

I got some lovely crafty gifts for Christmas, however I have been blind sighted by my blanket since (only 2 border rows to go, so hopefully will be finished before the weekend is over) and have neglected to show you all what I received.

rotary

The big thing I asked for (and I mean big, it was a mission carrying it on the train home) was a rotary cutter and cutting mat. I have had a bit of a play with it and my accuracy is improving, but I need to practice how much pressure I need to use before I try cutting anything important.

yarn 242

Another large parcel under the tree was two big balls of soft chunky turquoise-blue-purple variegated yarn. I have no idea what I will use it for, but luckily I got some lovely books to provide inspiration.

books 232

The first book, Knitalong, was from a colleague who, when giving it to me, worried what she might be responsible for! Half of the book is a history of knitting, the other half is a collection of knitting patterns and it all comes with a whole lot of inspiration for social knitalongs. The second book I opened is Knitivity Рinstructions to knit all the characters in a Nativity scene complete with the story and props to make the scenery. Very cute characters, and the basic dolls could be dressed up in other costumes. Plus, I do love a good cheesy pun! The last book I received was The Liberty Book of Home Sewing. Most of my sewing is dress-making so it will be nice to branch out and make some pretty things for my little flat.

thread spool 236

Finally, I bought myself a little sewing related gift in the sales – it is a spool to hold my earphones! Practical and pretty ūüôā Tomorrow I will tell you my new year craft goals and how I plan to make the most of these lovely presents in the new year…

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!

120 blocks completed!

image

If my calculations are correct then I have finished crocheting all one hundred and twenty squares needed for my blanket!

Without work to distract me, I have been able to crochet 18 new blocks in a week and have caught up with my challenge with a whole day to go. Even when I had to keep undoing rows and rounds because the yarns I had left weren’t quite long enough

I bought some new yarn to do the scalp border and have even darned in the ends for the blocks I have just made. Hopefully when I get home tomorrow I will find I have enough blocks and can spend new years day snuggled under the blanket, sewing and crocheting it all together.

The 12 Blocks of Christmas

On Christmas Eve I finished knitting some socks for my Uncle (a Christmas present from last year) so I was able to get back into my crocheting and catch up with Rachell’s CAL. Luckily for me, Christmas provides some excellent entertainment to crochet in front of (A Very Muppet Christmas AND A Muppet Christmas Carol on the same day, hoorah!) so I’ve got on and am now just 6, yes SIX, blocks away from finishing the blocks for my blanket (assuming my records are accurate).

My brain is too tired to fit this post to the tune of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” so here is a list of the blocks and my thoughts about them.

#38 Dahlia. I like the bobbly centre and the solid blocks of colour. It will need a bit of blocking when I join it to the rest of the blocks.
I skipped #39 as I didn’t want anymore stripes.
#40 Granny with a Twist. A nice centre, but I didn’t need as many rounds to get to my size so it doesn’t have as much impact as in the book.
#41 Bobble Triangle. I now like crocheting bobbles and I like purple. I don’t think you can tell but here I used double yarn (DK purple and lace weight metallic purple) so the real block has a very subtle sheen.
#42 Lacy Wheel. Hopefully with blocking the lace will appear more, as at the moment it is not one of my favourites.

12 blocks of christmasNow I am nearing the end of my blanket, there were a few blocks I didn’t want to do. Its not in the spirit of the CAL, but I didn’t want too many repeats on my final blanket so I skipped #43 as I am 98% sure I made one like this earlier in the spring. I skipped #44 and #45 as they are plain dc stitches and I wanted to learn as many new stitch techniques before I finish.

#46 Meadow. I like the centre of this one – it looks pretty simple but is slightly different from a normal square.
#47 Queen Anne’s Lace. I liked making this one, needs a bit of blocking but works as it is.
#48 Danish Square. I really like this one! Great centre design and I like the mix of stripe widths.

So that brings me up-to-date with Rachell, but with a NYE/back to school deadline looming I had to carry on so apologies for the CAL spoilers! I skipped #49 (another corner? no thanks) and #50 (again, another dc block).

#51 Bright Flower. I almost looked past this block as just another flower in a square but I LOVED the way this flower was created. It is so clever and I will definitely try to find a use for this technique in the future.flower

I started making #52 but the texture didn’t look right with any of the yarns I had enough of so I unravelled it and moved on to the next block.

#53 Mesh Fantasy. I like the mix of open and closed stitches in this one, but it needs some serious blocking (maybe because I used a heavy yarn for a couple of rows).

Only 9 blocks to go! Here is where I officially left the CAL, sorry guys. With just a few blocks left, I wanted to make sure I had a chance to make the exciting ones. I flipped through the book and wrote down the numbers of my favourite blocks I haven’t yet done, noting if they were in a solid colour. So I can use up my yarns efficiently I started crocheting blocks in a single colour if I thought I had enough remaining.

#64 Sunshine Lace. Another square that will look better when it is blocked/sewn into shape.
#74 Seville. I loved the technique for this one – the first row was very clever and it took a few odd rows before making just one little dc made it work beautifully.
#80 Blocks and Shells. I was quite tempted to make another block #30 Shell Lace, but thought this one would be similar. It was just one row repeated over and over but it looks very effective. I did reduce the width of the columns as my foundation row looked too long for my squares. It is nice, but I still prefer #30.

I think I have now run out of yarn for any more single-colour blocks so I will be back to the multi-coloured designs, starting with #58 Peach Rose. Just 6 more to do, before I have my favourite job of darning in the ends and sewing them all together. I’d like to crochet a border around the finished piece (I will allow myself new yarn for that!) but am not sure what – rows of plain tc or some fancy scallops? Any suggestions or patterns?

Last CAL before Christmas?

Is this my last CAL post before Christmas? hmm… maybe.¬†Have I finished my Crafty Resolution to make a blanket in a year? Nope, still a few to go.¬†So why is this the last post before Christmas? Well, as obsessed as I am with crochet at the moment, I need to take a break to let other crafty projects take centre-stage.

I am not going to crochet any more square until I have finished knitting a special something for someone.¬†Knitting on the way to and from work today added another 5mm to the project, so at the rate I’m going I will be pleased if I am finished in time to give it to the intended recipient.

The sacrifice needed to be a perfect relative means that, unfortunately for my blanket, I don’t think I will make the New Year’s Eve deadline. But the brainwave for my Crafty¬†Resolution came while I was back at school, so therefore it isn’t cheating to extend the deadline to “I will finish my blanket before I go back to work in January.” So I can knit and craft my Christmas presents and then spend the holiday crocheting to finish my blanket. Perfect!

In the meantime you can enjoy the latest squares I have been making (a few repetitive blocks skipped out!)

#34#35#38