A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

FO Friday: Flora and Fauna Dress

I managed to finish sewing my second Avid Seamstress Day Dress at long last! This project has taken me around two years to complete. I was very close to finishing in late August, but this dress became yet another casualty of the secret project, my series of coat classes and my thumb injury. I prioritised finishing the coat instead, which turned out to be a wise decision given how cold January was. That decision meant this dress narrowly missed out on being the last item completed in my #2017makenine and now cannot be included in either make nine challenge.

In the end, it only took around an hour to finish the machine sewing on the neck facing. I was very relieved that the pieces all fit since I’d cut them such a long time ago. The facing looks so much better than my botched attempt at using bias binding on my first Day Dress (a combination of rookie error and overconfidence). I also hand-stitched the hem, which took a while but looks pretty good. I managed to complete the finishing in time to wear this dress on my 31st birthday.

Overall, I am very happy with how this dress turned out. The day dress pattern fits perfectly into my work wardrobe. More details about the changes I made, and my views on the pattern, can be found here. I really like this dress in the drapey rayon. It’s going to be great to wear in summer, though I’m not sure how well the fabric will wash. I have some gorgeous viscose ready to make into a third Day Dress, and I’m very excited by that project. I think I will cut a straight size 10 rather than the mashup size I attempted here, for unremembered reasons.

Pretty sure I popped a couple of stitches while I was messing around but I just can’t resist a cheeky crow pose

Notes for next iteration

  • Lower the darts on the bodice by a couple of cm
  • Use self fabric for pockets if possible

Pattern: Avid Seamstress Day Dress in a hybrid size 3/4 (corresponds to UK size 10/12)

Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased in Indonesia

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WiP Wednesday: She loves wool sweater

I’m currently working on knitting the She Loves Wool sweater. As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked for this kit for my birthday (which just happens to be today) after having my eye on it ever since it was released.

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I couldn’t resist opening all of my birthday presents as soon as I received them. I have always had issues with impulse control and I was really eager to start a new project after I finished my Paper Whales sweater.

I had a lot of weird ambivalent feelings before starting this sweater. I felt apprehensive about the fact that there are no projects on Ravelry.  I also a saw a similar sweater and suddenly felt like maybe I should knit that instead.

Photo credit: Tomo Sugiyama (すぎやまとも)

I’m really keen to come out of this process with a sweater I am in love with. I measured a few tops and sweaters to gauge the length I want for the body and sleeves. I want this sweater to hit on the hip without loads of extra room. I want a little bit of ease but a decent fit that accentuates my figure.

Body length

Striped RTW 21.5″

Rainbow Breton 23″

Sleeve length

League 26″

Rainbow Breton 26″

According to the schematic, the sweater will be a little long in the body (24.25″). Sleeve length should be good (31″). I will have to be mindful to measure as I go since my row gauge is a bit off. I will probably knit the main body to 2″ shorter than the length stated in the pattern.

I also want a nice, tight neckline more similar to the ‘winter woven’ sweater pictured above. One of my current pet peeves is when you can see my t-shirt under my sweater. My aubergine rainbow sweater comes the closest to having the neckline size I want. Annoyingly I don’t ever seem to have knit a raglan sweater with a round neck. What I may have to do is keep the live stitches for all four pieces on hold after I finish them. I can then baste the seams together and check the fit of the neck before casting them all off. An advantage of the kit containing loads of small balls of wool is that this should be pretty easy.

I ended up knitting three gauge swatches. My gauge was slightly under that stated in the pattern on the recommended 3.5mm needles. Even though blocking brought it close, I wanted to try out going up a needle size. One criticism I have of the pattern is that it suggests that you can try to knit looser or tighter if your gauge is off. This is presumably aimed at newer knitters who don’t have a range of needle sizes, or anyone who is annoyed at paying out for WatG’s fancy needles only to find them of no use. I really think this is awful advice. A lot of different factors influence your tension and I don’t think that consciously trying to knit differently is an effective solution- especially when it is so easy to simply use different needles!

Anyway, I found that the fabric on 4mm needles looked awful and the gauge was way off- I frogged that swatch without even blocking it. After not liking the fabric as much on 3.75mm needles either, I decided to stick with a 3.5mm needle. According to my calculations if I knit size 1 my finished bust will be just over 38ins (zero ease). Size 2 would be just over 41ins (3ins ease). My League is around 37″ in the bust and plenty roomy so I will stick with size 1.

Another issue that I considered was whether to add waist shaping. Even though I want this to be a fairly casual sweater, I want to look nice wearing it. I like the fit of my Better Breton sweater so I eventually decided to add similar shaping to that pattern.

I’ve noticed over the years how much more willing I am to spend a lot of time in the planning stages of a project. I think this represents progress for me since I have a tendency in life to be so relentlessly focused on outcomes that I do not engage with or enjoy the process of getting there.

With knitting, time spent planning tends to be a worthwhile . Some things can only be learnt through (sometimes bitter) experience. However, there are other problems that can be avoided through careful planning, especially as you come to learn about the art and science of knitting over time.

Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit

Ravelry project page

2018 sewing plans

I managed to think about my knitting plans for 2018 already and my sewing needs a similar level of thought. I’m going to take part in the Make Nine challenge again this year. I think nine garments is a manageable number, both in terms of time taken to make items and ensuring that I sew responsibly.

Project ideas

  • Cloud Lark
  • Stripy Lark
  • Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
  • Third day dress in viscose
  • Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
  • Threadcount 1617- I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
  • I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m

Specific things I’d like to do

I’m very excited about these projects, especially the ideas I’ve carried over from last year. I still have a lot on my plate, so I find it difficult to find a lot of sewing time. This just motivates me to make the most of the time I do have and create useful and long-lasting garments. I’m looking forward to Me Made May already and one or two more items would be very handy.

I’m also going to start being totally transparent about the costs for each of my projects. While I’m happy to spend money on my passions (why else do I work hard?) I have got into a bad habit of spending thoughtlessly. I know that I spent well over £600 on craft stuff last year. That’s a lot. While I don’t make things with the explicit intention of saving money, it would be good to track how much I do spend.

FO Friday: Sraid A’ Chladaich

I finished knitting my Shore Street hat while travelling northern India.

I initially got near to finishing the hat on the way to Jaipur. I’d been attempting to gauge the length by trying on at different points, but the hat still ended up way too long because of the way I did the brim. I eventually followed the shaping for the smallest hat using the stitch counts for the largest.

The next challenge was deciding what kind of pompom should adorn my new hat. I had an idea of making a giant rainbow pompom (see this post for more details) but I was unhappy about the idea of using up all of my remnants (I actually had enough for another Shore Street if I wanted).

I did end up making the pompom, but probably should have listened to my gut feeling that the colours weren’t quite right together. I might switch out for a plain yellow pompom one day, but wearing as is for now and I think it looks pretty cute.

An advantage of the extra size is that it fits all my hair!

 

Yarn: Leftovers of Baa Ram Ewe Titus and Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight

  • Main colour- Endeavour
  • Red, orange, blue- Gobstoppers
  • Yellow- J&S 91 Pumpkin
  • Green- J&S 11FC

Pattern: Sraid A’ Chladaich (Shore Street) by Kate Davies

Ravelry project page

Some thoughts I had about textiles in India

Being into making clothing definitely makes me notice textiles wherever I am. In London, I often use the proximity of the tube as an excuse to stare at strangers and try to work out how their clothes are made. When shopping, I check labels for the fibre content of the fabric and turn garments inside-out to see how they are finished. It’s an obsession.

I found myself doing the same thing on a recent trip to India. I looked at my taxi driver’s kurta and wondered whether it was handmade. I videoed men making alterations in the back of market stalls.

Since labour is so cheap in India, tailoring is much more commonplace. I had hoped to bring some fabric home and noticed some lovely silk in the shop where some friends were having dresses made.

Mukesh, the owner, quoted me the price (the equivalent of around £4/m if I remember correctly) but then said that it would only cost 200 rupees (around £2.50) for him to make something up for me. In the end, I asked him to make me a reversible wrap skirt.

In a single night, he made three Indian style outfits, two pairs of trousers and a top as well as my skirt. Plus he may have had other commissions to work on. The skirt alone would have been a huge source of stress for me, so it was nice to have someone else take that on.

My skirt is such a fun souvenir of the trip, even though I’m pretty scared of destroying it.

A taxi driver in Mumbai mentioned that Zara has a big factory there. Having an experience of the low cost of labour only adds to my growing sense of unease about the fashion industry. It’s hard to have another big thing to worry about, over which I have little control. Even if I made all my clothes, I have no idea of the conditions under which the fabric is made. Growing, spinning and weaving my own cotton seems like a bit of a stretch.

What I do feel I can do is renew my pledge to try and avoid the lure of fast fashion. I want to be mindful with my purchases and try to buy investment pieces where possible. I will continue to purchase second-hand when I can. I will also try not to have a ‘fast’ attitude to the things I make. I only want to create items that I know will be worn a lot, and try to waste as few raw materials as I can.

In search of the perfect rainbow pompom

Pompom making is often touted as a great craft for beginners, being fairly straightforward, quick and producing wonderfully squishable results. However, I have had several pompom-related dramas in recent years. After finishing my Shore Street hat, I liked the idea of adorning it with an enormous celebratory rainbow pompom. Surely a Google search would come up with a tutorial, right? After all, I found it pretty easy to make a golden snitch pompom.

Purple pompom golden snitch design

Wrong.

This is the only reference I could find to making the rainbow pompom of my dreams. I can’t even credit the photo as it appears on a number of different sites in different languages. It’s not a tutorial- I couldn’t really even tell if here were one or two layers

This was my first time trying out the plastic pompom makers I purchased after the last time I made them with cardboard templates.

Notes:

  • Make very large sections of colour and not too many. I would say probably 4-5 max on each side of the pompom maker.
  • J&S jumper weight is not a great yarn for making pompoms. I much preferred the look of the Titus sections.
  • Be careful with overstuffing plastic pompom makers. Since I just had cheap ones from China, they came apart pretty easily and I nearly ruined my pompom before I had even tied it up!

Here is how I did the wrapping.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

And here is the resulting pom from a few angles

Overall I am a little disappointed with the pompom, given how much yarn I had to use to get it. I hope this post helps anyone who shares my enormous rainbow pompom dreams.

Mend it Monday: Macaron dress

After all the effort that went into finishing my Macaron, I nearly destroyed the dress on its second outing. I was climbing over a fence to get out of a park and decided to show off by jumping down. I managed to catch the skirt on one of the spikes, popping most of the side seam (which looked great for the rest of the evening) and also tearing the fabric.

Mere hours before the fateful incident. Innocent times.

After deciding not to chuck the dress in the bin, I thought that a patch was the best solution. It wouldn’t interrupt the floral pattern and it would also serve as a permanent memorial to my ongoing foolishness.

I bought a few patches in India that I thought might do the job. However, when searching through my craft stash for something else, I found a patch that I bought from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes. The colour palette complements my Macaron pretty well, and it was just big enough to cover the tear.

I started by loosely stitching up the rip.

I used my embroidery hoop because my aim was to make sure the fabric was hanging true before patching.

The fact that I had an iron-on patch made my job nice and easy. I could perfectly position the patch before securing with stitches.

I used the embroidery hoop again because the fabric is so light.

I didn’t do anything fancier than some small running stitches hidden in the white border. The patch is only just bigger than the hole in the fabric but I hope the glue will hold the fibres together. Also, the back of the skirt isn’t a high-stress area on the dress (unless you are doing questionable activities while wearing it.)

Overall, I found it surprisingly enjoyable to mend my dress. Even though I’m not totally in love with it, I think Macaron is a great pattern that looks really nice on, and I always get nice compliments when I wear it.

(Sorry not sorry for the cheesy pic)