A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

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I bought this fabric just over a year ago, planning to make a third Day Dress (previous version 1, 2). I saw someone else using it at my disastrous silk cami workshop (Sew Over It were stocking it at the time) and fell in love. Although I like the Day Dress, my pink Macaron is probably the most flattering dress I have for day wear. I decided to have a go at making a version without the contrast bodice, which no one else seems to have previously attempted. I certainly could not find any blog posts about doing this even after extensive searching.

This post contains detailed notes about how I created a solid Macaron by combining the yoke and bodice pattern pieces. I will also describe how I lined this dress- I don’t think I did the best job, it’s more a case of notes for future learning.

I overlapped the bodice and yoke pattern pieces by 3cm and traced. On the front I also increased one of the darts by 5mm since some length seems to be taken out at the seam between the pieces. I probably should have done this on the waist dart but I took it out of the side dart- I don’t imagine this will make much difference. I just did the back straight and did not alter the shaping- I’m fairly confident this will work for my figure.

I also decided to make my life difficult by lining the dress. The neckline facing on my first Macaron is a travesty (partly my error, partly the pattern). At present I have only planned lining the bodice. I’ll see how I feel when I get to the skirt.

I easily got this dress out of 2m of fabric by book folding it. I nearly always do this and it saves loads of material. Pattern companies tend to massively overestimate the fabric requirements, as well as not having cutting diagrams that are as efficient as possible. It’s really wasteful and annoying. Bear mind that I also cut out two bodices.

I cut a size 10 with adjustments as described previously. I interfaced the waistband for extra stability. Since I had plenty of fabric, I decided to self-line the bodice so I don’t have to worry if the lining ever peeks out at the neck seam. I pinned and machine basted the darts as pleats in the lining pieces, trying to have the excess fabric fall in the opposite direction to the darts in the shell.

I made up the bodice as directed, following the same instructions for the lining. I joined the two pieces RS together at the neck. Note: do not finish the neckline edges before stitching.

I machined the bottom hem of the lining to the seam allowance between the bodice and waistband pieces at the front and back separately.

This is how the bodice looked just before I attached the sleeves. I’m very happy that I decided to line the bodice since the fabric is so delicate. It makes the dress feel much more classy and professional.

I attached the sleeves as in the pattern, to both layers of bodice and lining. I then finished the seam as one piece. I haven’t yet removed my hand-basting because I think it looks really cute.

I decided it would be silly to line the bodice but not the skirt. I cut out additional skirt pieces using the leftover lining from my coat. I shortened the pieces by about 3 inches and incorporated the selvedges at the bottom to save hemming (lazy sewing for the win!) I made up the skirt lining as directed, ironing the pleats in the opposite direction to those in the shell.

I had planned to attach the skirt and lining within the waistband seam allowance before I sewed the skirt to the bodice. However I wasn’t sure about having additional weight of the lining pulling down on the waistband piece. The fabric really is very delicate. Thank goodness I decided to interface it!

In the end I couldn’t think of another solution. Weirdly I had an issue with having a lot of extra length in my bodice compared to the skirt, but only at the front. I was able to ease it, but it took three attempts. When I tried the dress on, it looked weird. I tested the pockets and… they were on the back of the dress. I had seamed the wrong side of the skirt 🤦🏽‍♀️

My inability to tell left from right bites me again. I spent ages undoing the incorrect stitching and sewing the skirt together on the correct side. I then re-did the waist seam and it went together much more smoothly.

I tried on the dress and I’m really happy with the fit. I love the way this dress makes my figure look.

The last step was to insert the zip. That part was relatively pain-free. I hand-tacked the dress to the zip before stitching to ensure the waistband seams would line up- this definitely helped. I probably should have used a 1cm seam allowance rather than 1.5cm because the dress is a teeny bit tight at the waist. My makes normally give slightly with wear, so I don’t think it’s worth the bother of reinstalling. Now just the hem and a bit of finishing and this dress will be ready!

Cost breakdown

Fabric: 2m of viscose costing £18 (I paid £2.95 p&p for this and the fabric for my cloud tee). I also used less than a metre of viscose lining (a scrap so I will not cost this)

Pattern: £18 (second use)

Notions: All bought ages ago so no idea. Let’s provisionally say £5

Total: About £33

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I’ve finally finished my She Loves Wool jumper and, mercifully, I am pretty happy with the result.

From my experience with this sweater, I will be a lot more reserved about choosing patterns where there is no documentary evidence of the making process online. I think I was quite lucky. The few projects linked to the pattern on Ravelry indicate that others have found making this sweater a frustrating process. This kit is a luxury product- it is very expensive- so I would have expected a little more to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the user.

I think also being a fairly experienced knitter was a big help. The fact that I put so much time into planning this sweater meant that I was able to think critically about possible issues such as the fit and sleeve length, which circumvented what could have been very painful problems. There are hundreds of hours of knitting in this project so the idea of ripping back was unbearable.

Needle: 3.5mm circular; 3.25 for the neckline ribbing


Getting to try the sweater on for the first time was a huge relief. I’d pinned it together a few times during the making process to assess fit, but you can never be sure how something will look until it is all sewn up.

For some reason I’ve been hesitant about criticising Wool and the Gang- perhaps because I slightly know the founders. However, I strongly feel that this pattern was not designed for hand-knitters. Even the most basic fact of knitting fair isle flat is not typical. I can’t find any evidence to suggest that anyone test-knitted this pattern and you can tell.

My gripes are mainly small things, such as the way the decreases are done on the raglan seams that means they are a little untidy when sewn up.

I really wasn’t happy with how the raglan seams looked so I played around with ways to make them neater.

Annoyingly you can see the stitches against the other colour. I think it looks better but I’ve left the ends loose so I have the option of undoing it.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by knitting a lot of projects from Brooklyn Tweed, where every detail of the design is painstakingly thought out. I also feel the sizing is quite off. I know that WatG patterns tend to have a very relaxed fit but still. I managed to get a good fit due to careful swatching and knitting maths.

Try to ignore my facial expression

I sewed up the whole sweater and then picked up the neckline stitches in the round. I think this is a superior method to knitting flat and then seaming the neckline.

I picked up way fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern. I ended up with 120. I basically just picked up one neckline stitch per stitch on the front, back and sleeves. Since I wanted a tight neckline, it worked for me. I also made a folded neckband for a more professional finish.

As a note, I ended up using up nearly all of the black yarn (and I’m fairly sure I ordered an extra ball). I did omit the contrast hem and cuffs (knitting them in black rather than white), which increased the yardage a bit. However I am a little surprised I got through it all because I made my sleeves and body quite a bit shorter than indicated in the pattern.

I had more than two balls of white left.

Previous posts in this series 1 2 3 4


I’ve been working consistently on my She Loves Wool sweater since picking it back up in the summer. I hope people don’t find these posts too dull, but I’ve been working on this project for so long and I don’t have that many other makes to write about.

I have now finished the front section and have moved back to working on the sleeves. I looked back at my previous post in which I blithely wrote that I was ‘nearly ready’ to start the colourwork on the first sleeve. I was nowhere near that point!

There is a lot of plain knitting to do once the sleeve increases are finished for the smallest size. I am mostly knitting on public transport or while watching TV at home so it’s not too bad but, as with the other pieces, still pretty dull.

The instructions state to knit the sleeve until it is 60cm long. This seems excessive. I have very long arms and they’re a little over 50cm from wrist to armpit. I’ve put the first sleeve back on hold at 21″, planning to re-check the length before starting the colour work. While I feel that I should follow my instincts and start the sleeve colourwork, I feel very apprehensive about deviating from the instructions. Normally I have to add length to my sleeves so it seems perverse to make them shorter than stated.

I took the time to check the sleeve length as accurately as possible. I pinned the sweater sections to my bra- the colour work is the same depth on all of the sections so the back is standing in for the sleeve. As you can see (I hope!) the sleeve looks good so I have proceeded with the colour work. I might even start putting the yoke together before finishing the second sleeve so that I can feel 100% confident about the length.

In more positive news, the neckline looks a lot better than I was expecting. The official pictures of this sweater all show the neckline being quite open, which I hate.

However, my neckline looks very different. I wonder if perhaps the sample was knitted in the largest size. Anyway, it gives me hope that I won’t have to make a lot of alterations because I’ve spent quite enough time on this sweater already.

Suddenly I am starting to feel like I am making good progress on this sweater so I am a lot more motivated to work on it. If all goes well I might even be able to wear it before Christmas.

She Loves Wool- kit from WatG * And Other Stories

Ravelry project page

Previous posts 1 2 3


I’ve been meaning to sew myself a pair of trousers for winter and thought that corduroy would be perfect. I normally can’t resist bold patterns so the texture of the corduroy was a nice balance; a more mature solid garment that still has some interest to it. I love to wear navy as a neutral colour so I’m excited to add these to my wardrobe for the upcoming seasons.

This is my third pair of cigarette pants! I think they make a great addition to my blue pants and zebra shorts. I wrote a post for Minerva Crafts about these trousers so check out the full post over on their site for more details.

Just to note for next time, watch the grain line placement when positioning the pattern pieces to cut out as this affects fabric usage quite a lot. I possibly could have used less fabric if I had been more mindful of this.

These trousers are breathing new life into my autumnal wardrobe. I’m loving wearing them with a tucked-in shirt. It makes me feel all androgynous and cool.

Costs:

Fabric 2m of 21 wale cotton corduroy provided for free by Minerva crafts. For the facings I used the leftover Liberty tana lawn from my first pair of Carrie trousers. All other notions came from stash.

Pattern Paid £120 for workshop and pattern was included. This is my third use.


After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.

After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.

I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.

With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.

The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.

I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.

The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is  nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.

Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang

Ravelry project page

Previous posts 1 2


Before going on a recent holiday, I sat down and had a proper look at my zebra shorts. These might actually be my favourite garment that I have made. Buying shorts ready-to-wear is a complete nightmare. It’s almost impossible to get anything in between booty shorts and knee-length. I have a couple of pairs of short shorts and I really don’t feel comfortable in them. My zebra shorts are perfect for me; short but with absolutely no risk of my arse being unexpectedly exposed.

Because I love these shorts so much, I have worn them loads over the past eighteen months. I wear my clothes HARD and they have stood up remarkably well.

Since I made them from a fabric that is not really fit for purpose, they are starting to show signs of wear. The fabric is fading, which doesn’t really bother me. But something weird was going on with the turned-up hems. Since I didn’t really have time to repair the shorts before I left, I just re-pressed the hems as best I could and made a note to work on them upon my return.

The first thing I did was take out the little stitches tacking down the turn-ups and then put them in the wash. I pressed the shorts and you can really see how the fabric has worn in different areas.

I added some fusible interfacing to try and reinforce the turn-ups. I think the cotton wasn’t really strong enough to hold them so hopefully they will stay looking tidy for a bit longer now.

I simply cut 2″ strips (enough to cover the whole turn-up and then some) and ironed on. I had a few weights of iron-on interfacing in my stash and went for the heaviest woven one.

It probably would have been better to unpick the side seams before adding the interfacing but I was constrained by time for this mend.

Although I did it by hand before, I made the hem on my machine this time. Since the shorts have turn-ups, it will be hidden anyway. I also have a funny feeling that the tiny hand stitches were causing more wear in this high-stress area of the shorts, where the hem had come loose on the backs of both legs. My mum taught me that when making an invisible hem you should try to catch only one thread of the fabric with each stitch. This looks great but can create pulls in the fabric over time.

I have come to realise that I loathe a bar as a trouser closure. I think people use it because it is considered neater than a button. Because I have narrow hips, I need my waistband to be tight to prevent my trousers from falling down, which means it is easy for the bar to come out or make a hole in the facing fabric. On my Cigarette Pants that are actually pants and not shorts, I have already had to patch the waistband and add a buttonhole because the bar destroyed the delicate facing fabric.

An easy repair was replacing the bar with a button. If I had had time, I would have gone out and bought a shiny new button but I just used one I already had in the house.

All in all, these repairs took around 2-3 hours.

Enjoying the shorts with my three friends

Because of the inappropriate fabric choice, I am not sure how long of a lifespan these shorts will have. These repairs should at least keep them in rotation for another summer. I find myself keeping an eye out for some snazzy denim for a second iteration. I do have some denim in my stash left over from my denim day dress. I know I should really use this up rather than buying new fabric. I have plenty of patches I could use to jazz the shorts up. Or- heaven forfend- I could have something plain in my wardrobe.

I hope people don’t find these mend posts boring. I am partly writing them because I want to view mending as a creative process in the same way as making. I’m still trying to create a smallish wardrobe of thoughtfully made items rather than ending up with the handmade equivalent of fast fashion. And perhaps someone else has some tatty shorts out there and might get some ideas on how to spruce them up.