A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: fabric

If the sense of relief I felt on Monday was anything to go by, I made the correct decision in moving out of my place in London. I had two busy weekends of sorting and packing things, but all that work should make it fairly straightforward for me to move in once I find my next place, which I’m hoping to buy rather than rent.

I did have a little break from packing to darn one of my dishcloths before putting it into storage.

I also marked my compost bin in the hope that a new tenant will keep using it.

A lot of craft time has been dedicated to my Oran do Chaora/Sinister Catdigan again this week. I’ve finished both sleeves and joined them into the body, which has now been set aside.

I mentioned last week that I’d started doing the maths for the colourwork yoke. Well, unfortunately I made a really stupid error with that calculation that resulted in me spending about four hours reducing the body section by one stitch.

Slightly uneven blue stocking stitch

Slightly uneven knitting where I tried to fix the tension problem caused by removing a stitch

Fortunately I re-checked my sums before I did anything too major and realised my mistake. I’ve now picked that stitch back up and the numbers on my Oran do Chaora body and sleeves should match the numbers on the finished Sinister Catdigan yoke.

I’ve done the crochet provisional cast on for the yoke and the first row of cats has emerged! It’s quite hard work managing the tension with long floats and a slippery yarn but I think it’s going okay so far.

It’s funny that I was looking forward to knitting the cats and it’s only now that I’m recalling how laborious this kind of knitting can be. Working the fair isle requires quite a lot of attention. It’s very easy to make errors and I’ve had to do more than my share of undoing. But it is fun to see the cats emerge row by row- in fact it’s pretty addictive.

I’m already starting to think about how I will do the decreases for the shoulder section. I’m not that fond of the neckline of SC and I think it will look odd to do a saddle shoulder above the fair isle section. Some more planning and maths is in order next week I think.

I fed my sourdough starter again in preparation for making my first loaf. I looked at some recipes and started to get a bit stressed because of all the equipment needed. I don’t have a banneton, baking stone or a dutch oven.

The loaf is a little disappointing. I used a pan as a lid following some advice online and I think it actually restricted her growth. Now I’m contemplating investing in a Dutch oven.


I fell in love at the London Knitting and Stitching Show around a year ago. The second I saw Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly anorak, I was gone. I immediately bought the pattern, zip and some of the beautiful waxed cotton they had in stock.

I had this Liberty tana lawn in mind for the lining from early on in the process. I think it’s a cute print but since buying I’ve felt that it’s a bit twee for a dress (even for me). However, I think the cotton lawn below goes better with the main fabric so I will use that instead.

I felt a bit weird asking to have photos taken in someone else’s coat, but also necessary.

Lauren made the 6 and I initially thought that I would do the same even though my measurements are closer to the 12. I am going to compromise and go with the 10.

I can see that the fit of the 6 across the shoulders is good, which means that what I probably ought to do is a full bust adjustment (FBA). I was reading someone else’s blog post in which she mentioned not liking making FBAs. I thought that was silly until I realised that I am exactly the same. When I first bought my sewing machine, I was quite keen on the old FBA and made one on my Bettine dress pattern. Since then… nothing. I think part of it is the fact that none of my RTW clothes have FBAs and yet they fit fine. Although, realistically, whenever I buy a shirt I have a choice to get a size that fits in the shoulders but risks gaping at the bust, or is slightly large in the shoulders with less risk.

For me personally I think it relates to my perception of my body. I was quite a bit larger when I was in my late teens and early twenties. My bust was absolutely enormous- I wore G cup bras. Since losing weight a few years ago, my bust has reduced a lot in both back and cup size. This has been such a relief and a big part of the reason I feel so much happier and more comfortable in my body. So, to me, I don’t have an especially full bust anymore. At the same time, most clothing and pattern companies draft to a B or C cup, so an E cup certainly is still an outlier.

When I wiggled around in the jacket a bit more, it was clear that I would need a bit more room. You can see in the side photo especially that the fit isn’t quite right. I’m so glad I risked social awkwardness to get the pics! I will also need to lengthen the sleeves and shorten the body. I really like the length of my purple SuperDry raincoat, which is shorter than the Kelly.

I’m hoping that I can try to enjoy the process of making this jacket. I’ve commented before that this has been something I have always found difficult- I am very outcome-oriented. However, this jacket will require a lot of patience from me. I will need to do extra things that are not in the pattern booklet. I will probably need to learn from mistakes.

Lauren’s blog post contains a lot of helpful information. I had a few dilemmas about this project, like whether to line or underline, how much to shorten the body. I paid £10 for a 26″ zip but really I want this jacket to be around 24″ long. I’m reluctant to spoil the lovely zip by shortening it.

Eventually I decided against buying the lining expansion pack. The main reason I would have bought it would be to tidy up the guts of the jacket.

I was also a little heartbroken to see that Guthrie&Ghani are now stocking the waxed cotton in yellow. Owning a yellow rain jacket is a small dream of mine. It’s definitely in the back of my mind that I may make a second version… Perhaps with a simple cotton lining for warmer days.

After doing some prep in early January, including buying the technical fabric to quilt my lining, I hit a roadblock. I didn’t have any thread in the correct colour. My work finally took me near the Goldhawk Road and I was disappointed to see that the shop where I normally buy my notions was closed.

I remembered that some stalls in the market sell bits and pieces and I managed to find some thread that matched my lining fabric. I didn’t feel comfortable using this random non-branded thread for sewing the shell of the coat, so I will probably wait until I am in the Oxford Street area to visit John Lewis or Liberty. But at least I can now make a start on the lining.

It has just hit me- have I become a thread snob???

I popped to Liberty but forgot that they have gutted their haberdashery section. I will have to make a trip somewhere else before I can start sewing the main fabric.

I found some time to quilt my lining recently. I followed the directions in Lauren’s blog post (linked above). I will say that it was quite tricky to get the lining to sit flat on the insulation. I found it helpful to roll the fabric up as you can see in the timelapse below. It’s also important to press your fabric before putting it on the insulation.

As Lauren says, the quilting is a time-consuming process. It took me several hours. But I enjoyed it- it’s quite meditative.

I am now ready to cut out!

Costs

  • 2.3m waxed cotton from G&G £65.55
  • Liberty tana lawn £23.25
  • Pattern £16
  • Zip £10
  • Extra insulating material and snaps £30.60
  • Thread £3

Total £148.40


The latest step in my quest to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics has been to make some cloth bags to carry with me. I mainly intend to take them when I shop at the Source, but I also think they will be very useful just to keep in my various bags for incidental purchases. I always try to keep a clean empty container with me, but I still get caught out quite often.

I used this tutorial as a jumping-off point. I accidentally got given an extra length of the cotton I bought to make a summer blouse, meaning that I had a little over half a metre left over. Since I have learnt to my cost that white is a terrible colour for facings, I decided to put it to use here.

I cut the fabric to various sizes. My only criteria were to have the print the correct way up, have bags that seemed of a sensible size (given that I don’t use them yet, so I don’t really have a sense of which sizes will be most useful) and waste as little fabric as possible.

I experimented a little with the construction because I wanted to use French seams on the inside of the bags. I found a way but I imagine there’s a better method so I won’t bother posting pics of how I did it. This is how the inside ended up.

Love me a French seam.

You can see that the top right corner looks a bit weird due to the way I botched constructed the drawstring opening. They lie flat when right-sides out so I’m not bothered by that.

A fun aspect of this project was that I felt very free to make mistakes. On the second bag I sewed the seams on the top incorrectly, so that the channel for the drawstring was on the right side rather than the wrong side. I considered unpicking the overcast stitches before realising that it really didn’t matter which side the channel is on.

I used shoelaces as the closures. I took part in a colour run nearly four years ago and took a load of the laces they were giving out. I’m quite relieved to have finally found a use for them!

I have a rough colour-coded system to differentiate the sizes.

Blue = big

Pink = petite

Y = yeah, I couldn’t think of one for that colour

I am now aware of just how white this fabric is. I am planning to make a second set of produce bags so that one can go in the white wash and the other in the coloured wash. Being in your thirties is so boring and domestic at times.


Someone kindly offered me a free ticket to the spring Knitting and Stitching Show. I’m not that crazy about shows like this as a rule. They’re such busy environments and I don’t need an excuse to spend more money on craft stuff. But since Olympia is just around the corner from where I work, I decided to go along. In the end I wished I had had a bit more time to explore, since there were a lot of exciting things happening.

Since I hadn’t paid for the ticket, I decided I would do a workshop. I ended up writing a separate post about the little bag I made.

I popped by the Tilly and the Buttons stand. I was very tempted by the Mila Dungarees pattern and wanted to take a look at a sample. I wasn’t (and I still am not) sure if the style would suit me. I decided to go along to the Guthrie and Ghani stall for some fabric inspiration. I’ve been aware of G&G online for a while, but never bought anything. Fortunately their bricks-and-mortar is in Birmingham or I would have no money (but a fabulous handmade wardrobe). The first thing I spotted was Atelier Brunette sweatshirting. I’ve been lusting after some of this for a while so snapped it up straight away, along with the Linden sweatshirt pattern.

It was when I was browsing the sample clothes that I truly came unstuck. There was the jacket of my dreams. Lauren’s version of the Kelly was everything I’ve been looking for in an item of outerwear. The only way I can describe it is heart eyes emoji.

I currently wear a Superdry raincoat as my lighter spring/autumn jacket. Although I like it fine, it’s a bit casual and doesn’t fit especially well with a lot of items in my wardrobe. I’ve had my eye out for a replacement for several years now, but just haven’t spotted anything perfect. Until now.

Even though I swore never to make another coat after the last time, I just could not resist. Lauren was also lovely and gave me loads of helpful advice. I’m hoping that I will be able to take this jacket at a slower pace and explore whether I can enjoy the process of making it. I think I’ve got to a place in my knitting where I am able to slow down a bit more, so perhaps I can do the same at my machine.

I remembered later in the day that it was attending the K&SS at Alexandra Palace a couple of years ago (just checked and it was over three years ago!) that started me down the road to dressmaking in a serious way. I fell in love with some octopus fabric on the Sew Over It stand and ended up using it to make a Betty dress.

It felt pleasantly circular to be back at a show and fall in love with a project. I’ve come a long way since that first K&SS and I’m hoping to end up with a couple of wardrobe staples.


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
  • Teal anorak
  • Dotty Linden

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.


Within 24 hours of returning to London, I had sewn my first piece of clothing. I was very naughty and ordered some fabric just before I went away, and I got back just in time to collect it from the sorting office before it was returned to its sender.

Bit of sky camouflage

 

I have a mild obsession with all things related to the sky, so I couldn’t resist this adorable cloud print jersey. One metre was plenty to make a second Lark tee.

Following what I learnt from my first Lark, I removed 4 inches of length from the body. People don’t believe me when I say I have long legs and a short body!

Here’s a pic where you can see the whole shirt. Overall this was another pleasingly simple make.

Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio

Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey

Cost: £15.50 (fabric + postage)

(Got pattern for free and re-used it)


As I often seem to, I made the rash decision to sew a garment for holiday about three days before going, when I really didn’t have sufficient time. As a result, I only got two hours of sleep the night before my flight and ended up cutting my airport arrival uncomfortably fine. However, I am pretty happy with these trousers so I will forgive myself.

Aside from the mishap with the missing pattern piece (I must have left it behind after the workshop), this was a lovely and straightforward make. Really the perfect counterpoint to the coat.

I made the elastic on my first Carries too tight. I think I had some kooky idea about wearing them high-waisted. These are a lot more comfy.

It’s been surprisingly chilly in India so very happy I took the time to complete this make.

Pattern: Carrie trousers by Sew Over It. Size 10 with extra length

Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn


I’ve had plans to make a second pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers with the Liberty fabric I bought in their sale since… well, since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was a bit concerned that they’d be too similar to my original Carries, but I thought that these would be super useful on my trip to India, so I decided to forge ahead.

These trousers used around 1.5m of fabric. I felt that the ladder print looked pretty similar either way up- I would have needed close to the 2m I had if I’d cut all of the pieces going the same way. I paid £22.50 for the fabric, which isn’t bad for Liberty tana lawn (in fact it’s half price). The print is called Howells Ladders B. I had in my mind that it was Jacob’s ladders, which is rather different.

Just when I thought everything was going swimmingly, I realised that I was missing a pattern piece- the back waistband. Fortunately I was able to use my previous Carries and the pattern pieces to calculate how big it should be.

Put the waistband together and it seemed a bit snug when I tried it on. Quickly realised that I hadn’t added a seam allowance to my pattern piece. D’oh! I initially planned to fudge the trousers and waistband together, and try to ease out the 3cm discrepancy. I’m glad I decided to be sensible and instead cut out a 6cm rectangle to add into my waistband. Fudging it would probably have ended up taking more time and looked crap.

I made few changes to the pattern. Used French seams on the legs. Used 4cm elastic because the thicker elastic in my original pair has a tendency to fold in half, which annoys me.

Pattern: Sew Over It Carrie Trousers. Size 10 with additional length.

Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn


I just about managed to complete my challenge to sew nine garments in 2017. I’ve been updating my original post, but I wanted to reflect a little bit more on the clothes I’ve made this year.

The nine garments I’ve made are very different from the nine I had in mind a few months ago when I decided to take part. This fact underlines to me that I am a very flighty maker- I should avoid stashing fabric and cutting out patterns unless I plan to start straight away.

I’m sad that the Liberty print shirt I’m planning isn’t included here, but I’m going to try not to let that stop me from making it. On the flip side, I’m proud of finally finishing my Macaron, which is made of fabric I bought when I was travelling in Indonesia. I cut out before I had a sewing machine and I’m glad that I finally sat down and sewed them up. It’s quite demoralising to have loads of half-finished stuff lying around.

Mushroom print Cleo

Raindrop print Bettine

Turquoise striped Bettine

Pink Macaron

Pineapple tulip skirt

Hidden panda Lark t-shirt

Liberty print Southport

Rocket print Southport

1960s coat

It’s so funny how craft life goes at times. I was really close to finishing the challenge in August, when I got some good momentum on my second Day Dress. After that point, life threw a lot at me that ate up all of my spare time. Just after booking onto the classes to make the 1960s coat, I was asked to appear on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. The coat class then became all-consuming, but I was unable to finish it due to my thumb injury. It started to feel like I had so many projects on the go, but very little to show for my efforts.

Not long ago, I spotted that Julia from the class at Sew Over It had posted a picture of her finished coat on Instagram. I was instantly inspired. Maybe if she could finish her coat, I could. One day when I was too full of a cold to do anything else, I sat down to the enormous amount of hand-sewing required to finish the coat. And, in less than a week, it was done!

I really think I’ve grown as a sewist this year. I’ve gone from only ever working with woven material to makes using some tricky fabrics like jersey, wool and viscose.

I was going to make a separate post about my knitting in 2017 until I realised that I have only finished four things! (That I can talk about).

A real positive is that making my jumper for Kirstie weirdly seems to have reawakened my love of knitting. When I was furiously knitting away on Silver Island, I felt that it was going to have the opposite effect. Thinking about it, I feel like the coat class gave me a bit of sewing burnout whereas the sweater made me remember what I enjoy about knitting.

Now to decide what I want to make in 2018!


Since I had only attended half of the first class at Sew Over It, I had a LOT of homework to do in the following week. I still had to cut out many of my paper pieces as well as all of the fashion fabric, lining and interfacing; test the fabric for how much steam it can take, test the interfacing, and fuse the interfacing to the fabric.

I had 1.2m of fabric left at this point- with one small piece to cut. Once more, I got fabric of a non-standard width from Goldbrick Fabrics. It’s 152cm wide. This is something to watch when fabric is over £70/m! However I’m kind of excited at the prospect of making a pencil skirt from the remnant.

I think that one of my pattern pieces is missing an alteration so most of the front pieces aren’t cut out. I also haven’t tackled cutting any lining yet. However, I cut and fused everything I was confident with.

After the class

Managed to cut out all of my fabric and interfacing, and fuse them together. The rest of the class was spent working on the pockets.

It’s quite nice to see my fabric and lining playing together.

I have to say I am not really enjoying coat class rn. I booked it before realising I was going to be crazy busy. Essentially, I have a stressful day at work, go and be stressed for three more hours, then get told to do a lot of stuff that I don’t have time to do during the week.

I do think it’s given me a bit more empathy for the kids I work with. Being stuck in a class, knowing that you’re behind and can’t catch up sucks.

Loads of homework again this week, and I’ll also be at a quidditch tournament in Edinburgh all weekend. We’ll see how I manage that.

Week 3