November 25, 2011

Simple beginnings

Filed under:Drafting,Sewing,Startitis,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 11:41

I am in love with mitered corners. Yet another simple technique from 1, 2, 3, Sew.

I had two small squares left over in this fabric but I ruined the first one by making four 65-degree corners. This, on the other hand, is most pleasing. I acquired some fat quarters and am sewing a simple present using this technique. Perfect for those days when you want to make something but don’t really want to think too hard (which was yesterday).

I got a pile of navy Karisma from the Constant Knitter yesterday in the post and cast on immediately for my Dad’s Christmas jumper. He has worn the first one to death. The second was much loved but went missing in the hospital. If someone had the nerve to steal it – well, I hope they’re too warm. The following months can only be described as a mourning period and whether he’ll admit it or not, I know he wants a jumper for Christmas.

On the upside, I have all my notes from the last one so casting on was simply a matter of making a swatch and jotting down a few preliminary sums. I have a month to the day for this one so time is of the vanilla essence.

I finally pushed on with my top pattern yesterday evening. I move slower than if I were taking a class because sometimes, I feel like I’m reinventing the wheel a little bit. I get stuck and have to think about things, look back over my old notes and try to figure it out for myself. Which, though slow, is probably better in the long run.

This isn’t going to be perfect. I think the armscye and waist shaping will be ok but the neckline, I’m not so sure about. Hoping to test on muslin tomorrow.

Thank you all for weighing in on the skirt issue! I didn’t realise so many people didn’t like school uniform skirts. My mum used to dress me in a kilt, when I was quite small, that was straight across the front and pleated around the back. I suppose I had that idea in the recesses of my mind. In the end, it was Mary L’s comment that the very pleated one would be impractical for cycling that swayed me! However, with the more A-line skirt, I’m not sure how well the bulk of three pleats would sit. It would be pretty heavy. I have subsequently come across this version which I think is a nice compromise and satisfies that bit of nostalgia, too. The more I think about it, I like the idea of a straight cross-over front with the movement of the pleats around the back. I get to keep the traditional elements of the buckles and the kilt pin. And, as you can see in the link above, the pleats in the back are tapered down from the waist band a fair bit so there’s a nice tidy shape without the extra hassle of a yoke.

So I’m going to sew the top first and then start the skirt. Exciting!


November 21, 2011

A poll and a hint

Filed under:Finished Objects,Sewing — Aileen @ 12:34

I had a pretty good weekend, I hope you guys did too! My energy levels have been really up and down recently. Some days I feel like usual; others, I feel really depleted. I think it’s a general come-down from finishing up my course and the bananas summer I had. I felt a lot like this after my last masters (a lot worse, if I remember correctly) so I’m trying not to get too stressed out about it. Anyway, this weekend I bought a new iron – only just worth going into town on a Saturday for, I did some sewing, some house stuff and got some good work in down at the organ.

I got buttons sewn on to a hoodie so I’ll show pictures tomorrow. For now, I want to ask your opinion. I am planning my next sewing projects. I have this red tartan fabric a while and I want to sew a pleated skirt.

Do I go traditional and sew a skirt like this? Or do I go for something like this? I’m tending mostly towards the latter: yoke cut on the bias, three pleats in both the front and back. I think I would extend those pleats right up to the yoke for better movement. What do you think?

I am also in the process of drafting a top. Kind of take two of this one that I made during the summer. I’m going to put in a zipper and make it fitted. And I’m going to make a rounder neckline and put in a peter-pan collar. I got my basic block drafted last night. Regarding the darts, I am only about 75% sure of what I am doing so we’ll have to see what the muslin looks like.

I spent a little while making this yesterday.

It’s a Christmas present for someone so you’ll have to wait for a better look!

Let me know about the skirt.


November 17, 2011

A Shawl

Filed under:Shawls,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 11:14

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting recently. My movements have changed this term and I have more knitting time on the train to and from work. I’ve also almost completely stopped working on more than one project at a time which hasn’t happened… since I started knitting!

I finished up my second Heather Hoodie. It languished for a while but I got it finished off quite quickly. It took nearly a full week to dry after blocking but it was worth it. I need buttons for it yet so hopefully I will be able to share proper photos at the weekend.

Since finishing it, I’ve started on a shawl for my teacher for Christmas. She’s Greek and dislikes the damp Irish weather. I picked up some of the new Studio Donegal merino 2-ply at the Knitting and Stitching Show last week with a mind to making this for her.

It is a super-soft yarn and I love the slight colour fluctuation throughout – slight tinges of blues and oranges. It’s lovely.

It’s getting to be quite the monster over the last few days so I might cast off before the end of my ball, I’ll see how it goes.


November 14, 2011

Market Blouse and some haul

Filed under:Finished Objects,Sewing,Stash — Aileen @ 12:42

I finished up my second attempt at the Market Blouse during the week. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Pattern: Sew Lisette (Simplicity) 2211, Market Blouse, View E.

Material: Cotton by Tilda, 1m. I think it was about 150cm wide because I have some decent-sized scraps left over. I got it from Rubanesque, they had it marked down to €20/m. Pricey, no?!

The sleeves are a bit snug but not uncomfortable. If I were making it again I would probably add a little big extra to the sleeve band. I made pleats this time instead of gathers and it worked out much, much better. They were tricky enough because I still had to ease the pleat in with the sleeve cap but I got them to work in the end.

The pattern is extremely short. I added 3cm to the length and sewed a much narrower hem than recommended and it is still on the short side! But it’s still comfortable and I’m looking forward to wearing it a lot.

Quick follow-up on the muslin blouse: I finished it off to a point where I could try the fit properly. Unfortunately, I have the same problem as always with too much fabric at the shoulders and too tight across the bust. I am going to draft my own pattern, it’s the only sensible solution!

I hit up the Knitting and Stitching Show on Thursday. I only went for the morning as I was working a little later in the afternoon. I really enjoyed all the exhibitions. It was in the Simmonscourt hall this time, which meant more space for the exhibitions and many more watering holes! I got some new 2ply from Studio Donegal at This is Knit, some plutolopi (an icelandic yarn) from The Yarn Room, and a new sewing pattern from Pippa Blue – I did my best to support my favourite Irish locals! It was great to see other Irish yarn shops there and well-populated too. Most of the fabric stalls were aimed at quilting and patchworking but I did manage to find one selling regular fabric, Fabrics Galore. Their prices were quite normal so I decided to invest while I had the selection and the opportunity. Here’s what I came away with:

Indigo denim, enough for a pleated skirt. A compulsory wardrobe staple.

Natural brushed cotton, 3m – enough for a pair of pyjamas. It was €4/m and I have failed to find a normal (ie, not for babies) flannel in Dublin. I think I will use some of my Tilda scraps to make accent cuffs.

The one I couldn’t walk away from. I looked at it twice and kept coming back to it. 100% pure wool, very soft and finely woven. Enough for a dress and a skirt I think. My mum suggested a pinafore. I know!

The bottom one is a simple dotty cotton for a top or a blouse. I may have been making up for my disappointment that Ikea didn’t have any more of the blue-with-red-dots fabric when I went back that time. The top one is a Liberty print and was my impulse buy of the day. They had a floaty shift dress made up out this print at the stand and I was swayed. Enough, obviously, for a dress.

Some haul, right? It was a really good show. The exhibitions were inspiring, I got lots of information for sewing classes, the stands were of relevant and interesting variety, I got stuff I wouldn’t easily be able to buy otherwise. I hope that if you went, you had as good a time as I had!


November 5, 2011

Market Blouse and a muslin

Filed under:Finished Objects,Sewing,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 10:42

We went to Ikea a while ago to get a few things and while we were there, I saw the loveliest blue fabric with red polka dots. I got 1.5m of it for €8.99 and resolved to make up my pattern for the Market Blouse. Let me tell you this: don’t ever cut out a pattern when you’re feeling pessimistic. I cut out the largest size when really, I should have cut out the smallest. Big difference.

Still, it came out very pretty. My mum tried it on before I sewed the side seams and we reckon it will fit her fine, thankfully. I like the detail of the collar with the placket. It was quite straight forward to do.

Where I had trouble were the sleeves. They were to be gathered both at the cuff and at the sleeve cap. I’ve done gathers before but these were impossible. My sanity wasn’t aided by the fact that I kept sewing the wrong seam allowance and had to re-sew one of the cuffs four times. I got tucks a-plenty and nothing I did could avoid them.

I at least managed to make both sleeves look similar. In hindsight, I should have hand-basted the heck out of them. I’m not sure why I didn’t. It gets under my skin to finish off a project that’s not perfect but sometimes I have to concede. On the upside, I got a dry-run at the project and am currently sewing it in a different fabric (this one!) in my size.

I went back to Ikea on Thursday for all the things we forgot the previous time and I was surprised and saddened to see that they didn’t have any more of the same fabric. That said, it wasn’t amazing fabric to sew with and seems intent to wrinkle by itself, no matter how much I press it. The pattern, on the other hand, was very clear and straight forward to put together.

I have been slowly working away on a bigger project too: a blouse. I find buying commercial blouses very dissatisfying because my shape doesn’t fit the standard size – I have narrow shoulders and big boobs for my height so blouses either fit my shoulders and gape at the front, or they fit at the front but have baggy shoulders. Since I’ve never sewn a blouse before, I picked Amy Butler’s Liverpool pattern. Her patterns are clear with a good level of detail and I’ve never had problems getting pieces to fit together. I have some lovely light, navy gingham that I got at Murphy Sheehy’s but I didn’t want to ruin it by making all my mistakes on it, so I’m making a muslin. It was definitely the right decision.

I’m happy to say that so far, it seems to fit exactly. The collar stand (the bit between the collar and the body of the shirt) didn’t fit perfectly. It sticks out by about half a centimetre at each end. This is irritating but after some thought, I figure that this is because I need to ease my well-interfaced collar stand into my non-interfaced shirt body and some hand-basting probably wouldn’t go amiss. I have already set in one sleeve with no problems and hope to finish off the sleeves this weekend. It’s a slow process but there are many little details that I am not familiar with so I want to take my time and learn it properly.

This is a lot of sewing but fear not, when gathers don’t go your way, knitting is my only solace. I have returned with a vengeance to my second Heather Hoodie. I am almost finished – just in time to start some Christmas knitting!