A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: leaves

Years ago I bought a midi skirt that turned out to be a surprisingly good investment for travelling. In even the most conservative countries, if you cover your knees you will avoid uncomfortable stares and unwanted attention, and you don’t need to worry about offending anyone at religious sites. A full cotton skirt is both a comfort and a delight to wear as you enjoy delicious exotic breezes or tuck it beneath you on the beach. Can you tell I’m dying for a holiday? I’m thrilled to be packing this.


The second I saw that leaf pattern, it was love.

My mum helped me to make this skirt, so this post isn’t a a proper how-to, more notes that might help someone/me recreate something like this garment if they wanted.

I bought 1.5m of cotton and there was almost none remaining. Notions are a zip and a hook and eye.

We started out by measuring my desired length for the skirt, which was just below the knee. We cut two pieces of fabric that were as wide as the fabric and about 75cm long I think. Making sure the leaves were all facing the same way, I sewed up the side seams, leaving a gap at the top of one of them for the zip.

Note on pattern matching: This is a huge deal in the Great British Sewing Bee and I wanted to show off to mum that I knew about it. Mum described this pattern as having no ‘nap’, a word she uses to mean ‘obvious pattern repeat sections’. The term is used differently on GBSB. Anyway, the point is that with a busy print like this, you don’t need to worry about pattern matching. Ahem.

Anyway, the zip I chose from mum’s bread bin of zips was an invisible one. These are harder to put in than a normal dress zip and require the use of the machine’s zip foot. The key to making sure the zip truly is invisible is sewing as close to the teeth as possible. How we achieved this was by sewing once to secure the zip, then going back over it again closer to the teeth. I think you can see what I mean in the photo below. We stitched in yellow.


Now it was time to put in the box pleats. We had nearly 90″ of fabric to reduce to 30″ (my waist measurement… don’t judge me) so in the end we needed 16 1.75″ pleats. Mum sewed them down 6″ so there wouldn’t be too much fullness around the tummy.

I then pinned them all open.



And then basted them ready for the waistband.



We used a 2″ strip of fabric which was interfaced, sewn double over the right side and then doubled again and sewn to cover the raw edges behind.

I pressed a 1cm hem, folded it double and pressed it again, then top-stiched.

Clear as mud. Now anyone can create their own skirt assuming they know a former professional seamstress and have 8 hours on their hands!


I can hardly express how pleased I am to have finished knitting my Blue Ivy cardigan. Excuse the dodgy photos, I’ll try to get some better ones taken at some point.

I still can’t quite decide whether this counts as my own pattern. I read somewhere that the rule is that it’s your pattern if you make three changes. To Schoodic, I changed the gauge, yarn and needle type, changed the collar and added waist shaping though the construction is pretty similar. Hmm.


Here it is being blocked. The cardigan actually stretched quite a lot when it was wet and I was a bit worried it would end up too big, but it’s fine. You can’t see in this picture, but I put a rolled-up jumper under the front to encourage the garment to lie nicely over my bust. I’m not sure whether it really worked but it was worth trying.


I’m not sure yet whether I’ll write up this pattern. I took a lot of notes so I think I would be able to reproduce it. I’ll see how I wears but if I stay as fond of it as I am now, more colours may be on the way!

This skirt is the second item from the Sewing Shiz with my Mum series. Mum and I were both anxious about making the first garment using this fabric as we didn’t want to ruin it.


Overall, I’m really pleased. I haven’t worn it yet because mum’s lost the buttonhole foot for her sewing machine so it can’t be fastened. I’m going to hand-sew the buttonhole, and I’ve also made a special button (post coming soon) but am putting off starting as I’m worried I’ll destroy the skirt with my ham-fistedness.

Anyway, this isn’t a real how-to again as we didn’t use a pattern, just my mother’s dressmaking expertise. I bought 1.5 metres of fabric as I didn’t know how much we’d need. We only used about half in the end, so I’m on the look-out for a pattern for a little summery blouse to use up the rest.

Fabric cut out

This is what I cut out. We eventually decided that I would make a fitted skirt, so we cut it just larger than my hip measurement plus a seam allowance. I then cut one of the sections in half for the back.


I put four 1.5″ darts into the skirt. Doing darts is such a pain!

The back

I hemmed the back section, leaving the top open for the zip and the bottom open for the slit.

I then put the zip in. Mum has a breadbin full of zips (don’t ask. I’m going to nominate her for the next Channel 4 documentary on hoarders) which included some rather cool ones from the 80s, so I decided to leave the zip exposed. I basted carefully, then used the zip foot to put it in.

Side seams

I sewed up the side seams, which is when I added the shaping. After trying the skirt on, I took in the top so it fit a bit better, and also the bottom to make it more fitted.


The lining had a double function- as well as ensuring that no one will see my bum when I have the skirt on, it will hopefully take some pressure off the slit at the back, making it less likely to rip.

First we cut the lining. It only had one seam, at the back. I was horrified to discover that I had to put darts into the lining so it would match the skirt.

Lining basted at waist band

Here is the lining, basted inside the skirt. I never baste neatly because I am lazy. You can see the folded pleat on the right, which lines up with the dart in the main fabric and leans the opposite way so it won’t look bulky.


I cut out about 4″ of fabric for the waistband…

Iron interfacing to waistband

…ironed on some interfacing…

Iron waistband

…then carefully ironed it in half.

Then it was time for more basting, then attaching and top-stitching the waistband.

I’m very pleased with how the skirt came out, though it’s now been several weeks and I still haven’t worn the skirt as I’m too scared to sew the buttonhole! I’ll reserve that task for next time I have a spare hour or so for craft.

Here it is on, ignore my weird facial expressions. It’s a problem.

CNV00024 CNV00025

Pleased with the progress I’ve made with my cardigan so far.

Ribbing done, about 18 rows complete

It’s hard to capture the colour of this yarn with my crummy camera phone. It’s more of an inky indigo than purplish.

I had made much more progress on the stocking stitch section (about 20cm) until I finally tried the cardigan on today and found that it was a bit bulky. I realised that neither of the patterns I’m using as guides includes waist shaping and that just ain’t cool. After wasting an hour trying to add decreases by dropping stitches, I realised there was nothing else for it and, tears in my eyes, frogged about 20 rows.

As my drawer full of seldom-worn knitted garments attests, I simply won’t wear clothes if they’re not right, no matter how much time they took or how nice the yarn is. I think adding waist shaping will make a big difference. Does threatening/shaking your fist at yarn improve the quality of your knitting? I’m banking on yes!

Incidentally, this is how I used a swatch to figure out how to knit the Ivy border section.

Swatch showing pattern development

When I started at the bottom, I just knit the 15 rows of the Growing Leaves pattern. This looked pretty bad, so added i-cord edging on the right hand edge, so the yarn overs wouldn’t look weird (orange box). Although this was better, you can probably see that the flat knitting is curling in on itself. In the yellow box at the top, I added two purl rows before starting the pattern and this fixed the problem.

Normally I never swatch, but this saved me a LOT of frogging as I’d already worked out the kinks in the border before casting on. So I’m not quite so upset about todays ripping section. Quite.

Well, after spending the day feeling nauseous from exhaustion, I realise that my days of staying up all night and still, y’know, functioning, are numbered. But I continued to work on my swatch in a more temporally appropriate fashion. I’m very excited about this project. I’ve been wanting to knit a cardigan for ages. During spring, autumn and winter I wear cardigans pretty much every day (I downgrade to every other day in summer, thanks UK weather). However, I can’t say that cardigans are my favourite garment. Cheap ones go bobbly and drab and even more expensive ones tend to get baggy and shapeless once you’ve washed them a few times.

So the stage is set for me to try knitting my own cardigan: a cardigan so perfect that it could cure cancer and end world hunger just by existing. Or at least look good with most of my clothes. I’m not fussy.

The search for the right pattern began about six months ago, after I finished my Bay jumper. I had my eye on a couple of simple Kim Hargreaves numbers but they weren’t quite right. Then I saw this on Pinterest.

Shifting sands

Holy. Stitchgasm.

It was love at first sight. I searched the internet for the pattern. I had to have her.

But there was a problem. Although Lime Scented published three very instructive blog posts about her project, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to recreate a version that I would be happy with. Nonetheless, inspiration is inspiration. I loved the idea of using sock yarn as I want my cardigan to be light, so I searched Ravelry for a decent pattern. I also loved open front of this design as I never do up the buttons on any of my cardigans. Finally, the fancy collar seemed like a winning idea too. However, I chose to knit the collar straight on to the cardigan rather than knit it separately and then sew it on. I did some research, rejecting Shifting Sands as well as most cables, which can look a bit frumpy. Soon, I found this rather glorious little pattern

Leaves pattern EG

I’m excited because this is the closest I’ve come to designing my own pattern. Really I’m just Frankensteining three existing patterns, but I’m hopeful that I’m going to end up with something as elegant and lovely as the design above.


I got home yesterday to find my Malabrigo sock yarn had arrived and couldn’t resist knitting up a swatch. I wanted to check my gauge was right so I could calculate which size to make given that I’m using a pattern designed for bulkier yarn. Then I realised that I would need to figure out how to convert the lacy leaf pattern from being knit in the round to knit flat. After some head-scratching, trial, error and googling, I got there. I got there.

Anyway, I must be good and finish my current WIP before I cast on this beauty (also there is the small matter of my thesis, but let’s not go there).

My wonky bowl of a couple of months ago survived the kiln. Huzzahs are in order! Prepare yourselves for some glamorous before and after shots.


Oh yeah.

I’m pretty pleased with it given that I haven’t worked with clay before. I’m really keen to try out using a pottery wheel next, watch this space!

I’ve been absent for ages due to… well, life getting in the way of blogging, really. I became a year older and I took an awesome and non-crafty whirlwind visit to the States. If you’re very lucky, I’ll post some of the scrapbook pages I make from the trip later.

But craft seems to be in my blood, so I haven’t let it slide completely. Last weekend, a friend and I did a day’s introduction to ceramic class. The three hours passed by in a flash and I didn’t want to get clay goo on my phone snazzy and expensive camera, so I didn’t take any step-by-step pics, but here is the final product, before the people at the studio glaze and fire it.

Pic 1 Pic 2 Pic 3

It doesn’t quite represent the perfect serving dish I’d imagined, but I can handle it being rather rough around the edges. The lady also told me it was the biggest item a beginner has ever made using ‘the coil’ method (cue contraception jokes. Anyone?). And we all know that size counts.