A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: London

I started to feel a bit less grumpy about the coat after getting a bit more sleep following the second class. I have a ridiculous number of things on at the moment and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.

Homework 

I finished attaching the last piece of interfacing and sewed up some of the seams I was supposed to do in the first class. I managed to cut out all of my lining pieces. I had around 1m left (136cm wide). I was pretty lazy with the lining so could potentially have used less than 2m.

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Class

This week, I started to feel like I wasn’t miles behind everyone else for the first time. I attached the collar, which is very fiddly but the coat is starting to take shape.

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I have a lot of pressing to do in the next week, as well as making up the lining and doing some work on the sleeves. However, it’s half-term next week and I have the day off on Monday, so I will have some breathing space. I’m hopeful that I will be able to get everything done to be able to come out with a finished coat.

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I’ve wanted to take part in the series of sewing workshops to make the 1960s coat for ages, but the time was never right. At first, I was not an experienced enough sewist to undertake such a complex project. The workshop then became unavailable for an absolute age. So, when I saw that it was up and running again, I booked straightaway. I’ve been wearing some incarnation of a red coat for more than ten years now and my current version is really threadbare. I would have liked to replace it two seasons ago but red coats are not easy to come by. Now I’m going to try and make my own.

coat

Photo taken from the Sew Over It website.

The course notes state that 3m each of fashion fabric and lining, so the first step was to go shopping. My job semi-regularly takes me near the Goldhawk Road and I hoped that this was where I would find the perfect red wool. I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I just headed to my best-loved shops. I was tempted by a bolt-end of red crepe in Misan West- £50 for 5m was a bargain, but wool crepe isn’t really right for a winter coat. They also had some nice red wool with a sort of herringbone pattern (£35/m) that was my only other option.

Goldbrick Fabrics is my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road. They have a great selection, good customer service, which is very important to me, and they didn’t let me down. The woman who helped me pulled out a sample of a wool and cashmere mix that was utter heaven. A stunning shade of pillarbox red that felt as beautiful as it looked. I balked a little when I saw that it was nearly £80/m, but I had to have it. Yolo. The lady was willing to negotiate, so I thought it made sense to buy my lining there too. I am a huge fan of a jazzy lining, so I had to have this patterned purple viscose.

All in, I spent £220 on the fabric for this coat. The course was just over £160, which means that by the time I get buttons and interfacing, I will have dropped more than £400 on my new coat- double what I spent on my last (red wool and cashmere mix) coat from John Lewis.

I like to be clear about prices because people often don’t realise the cost- both financial and in terms of time- associated with being a maker. On the other hand, this is a wonderful opportunity. I will spend twelve hours in the company of an expert dressmaker learning how to make something that is literally tailored to my body and my style. It makes sense to invest in fabulous fabric when I have someone so experienced to guide me through the process of creating this garment.

I had to leave the workshop early (for very exciting reasons that I hope to be able to reveal soon) so only managed to alter the pattern. 


I think my whole Sunday will be spent cutting and ironing!


I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.

For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.

Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.

I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.

I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.


I went to a peculiar crochet event at the Natural History Museum recently. In order to celebrate replacing the famous dinosaur skeleton in their great hall with the bones of a blue whale named Hope, Toft designed a special kit to make a crocheted version. Here’s what we were emulating.

And here I am hooking underneath her.

In terms of amigurumi, I’ve only ever trial crocheted some simple spheres before, so the whale was quite a step up. I made a few mistakes, especially with the decreases, but I remembered my friend Anna’s advice that crochet is very forgiving and ploughed on. I don’t think the errors notice too much.

This is actually the bonus pattern, Blue the whale calf. I’m pretty pleased with it as my my first crocheted toy. I’ll probably have a go at the full size whale one day.

Kits exclusive to the Natural History Museum in London.

Pattern not currently featured on Ravelry.


The courgette glut continues. Here I am having harvested my biggest marrow yet, which weighed in at over two kilos.

Do you see the symbolism?

I’m hoping to get something other than courgettes out of the garden soon. I have a lot of fruit on my tomato plants, but it’s all still green. I think my carrots and beetroot are nearly ready too.


I made another traybake thing, this time based on this recipe from the BBC Food website. I used a whole pack of my favourite caramelised onion sausages for the stuffing and it was awesome. I think this might be my favourite courgette recipe so far.

I feel like this is a pretty flexible recipe. For the filling I used

  • 6 caramelised onion sausages
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Breadcrumbs made from two slices of bread
  • 50g extra mature cheddar

Doesn’t look too bad once it’s tarted up on a salad, does it?


I lost steam on my knitting again after getting near the end of my Wowligan. That  project is on my summer to-do list, so hopefully I’ll get around to finishing off the button bands in the next couple of weeks.


Copyright Carissa Browning via Ravelry

I’ve got a couple of summer trips coming up where it will be nice to have a fairly straightforward project along with me. Something that caught my eye immediately was this beautiful Wonder Woman shawl. I’m not especially into comic books but I am into bold, graphic designs and getting more red into my wardrobe. I picked up some yarn on the Love Knitting website but the red was completely the wrong colour. I decided to finally head to I Knit London, which is currently my LYS, to pick up a suitably cartoonish shade.

I’ve been aware of IKL since my days as a fledgling knitter, when I accompanied them to Camp Bestival to volunteer in their tent one summer. It was good to finally get a chance to visit the store just eight short years later (seriously where does the time go?). I’ve got to say that I liked IKL. Gerard dyes his own yarns and I will definitely have to go back as his speckled wool would make a great jumper. I still have a speckled Humboldt sweater in mind.

Anyway, I picked up some red- a bit more cherry than I would have liked, but I couldn’t be bothered to trek to another yarn store. I had some fun using the swift and ball-winder to wind the yarn, helped by the ladies in the knitting group that was running when I visited. I hate hand-winding so much, it was great to be able to skip that step and be left with a professional-looking yarn cake.

So far the knitting on this pattern has been going well. I’m really enjoying the fact that this project is mindless enough for me to work on while I finally catch up on Game of Thrones. I didn’t get a chance to watch series 5 or 6 (though I did read the books a few years ago) and I’ve been loving bingeing them. The other advantage of knitting is that it stops me from checking my phone and therefore missing bits of the action.

It’s not that easy to get a decent picture because of how the shawl is constructed, but here’s how it’s looking so far. You can see that the W shape is starting to emerge.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page


So far, my garden seems to be doing pretty well. That’s in spite of some weird weather that included powerful wind and rain that killed some of my young plants. They currently seem to be enjoying the blazing sunshine.

I’ve planted out almost all of my seedlings. After being stressed that I didn’t pick the best tomatoes to plant out, they seem to be growing pretty well. I have several good seedlings left and I feel bad throwing them away, but I also don’t really have a use for them. Meant to email colleagues offering them but forgot.

My two physalis plants are looking pretty strong so far too.

I’ve had some strawberry drama. After discovering an aphid infestation soon after planting out, I sprayed the plants with some stuff I found in the cupboard, which actually killed one or two of them. I’ve also had some other seedlings die off. Maybe I waited too long to plant them out and the sun is too harsh on them? On the positive side, I was so happy to notice the first fruit growing!

My veg patch is coming on wonderfully too. I made a GIF showing the how it’s changed over the past two months.


I have some courgettes starting to grow. I really find it crazy to think that all of this came from a single seed. Nature, right?

My carrots and beetroot are looking good too. Think I will plant some new beetroot seeds in the gaps left in the row to give me a longer yield.

The main task left is to stay on top of the weeding. My neighbour has a big flowering bush on the fence right next to my veg patch, which has dropped loads of seeds onto it. On the plus side, I discovered some jasmine right next to it in my own garden. Jasmine is one of my favourite smells, so it makes being out in my little sunny garden even more pleasurable.

I’m glad that after quite a heavy initial investment of time to prepare the garden, it’s down to routine maintenance that doesn’t take too long. I feel like I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I’m glad the garden can be relegated to the back burner. It’s clearly still there though- a doodle in a team meeting turned into this.