August 30, 2013

Neckline woes

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Epic disaster,Sewing,Summer Wardrobe '13 — Aileen @ 08:00

A series of neckline problems in my last few projects culminated on Sunday with this one.

Quite a while ago, I stumbled upon a bridal fabrics sale in Hickey’s and bought a metre each of very fine quality ivory and black silk, as they were marked down from €60/m to €20/m. I thought they would make very pretty tops, given their luxurious sheen and amazing drape, but always passed on making them up for fear of failure.

Last week, I decided to bite the bullet and dreamt up a little tank top with a pleated neckline. I scoured the internet for pattern resources and failing to find any to suit my fabric, made my own. I took the basic block from the pattern that I used for this, an old Burda magazine pattern. I like it because it works really well for drapey fabrics. I did a little research and decided my best plan of action was to move the dart at the side to the neckline and turn it into the pleats. A little tracing and a quick muslin proved I was on the right track.

I dislike seamlines showing on armholes, especially for light fabrics, so I cut out some left over habotai lining to line the whole thing. I sewed the lining to the neckline first of all but quickly realised that the weight of my pleats were always going to pull the lining to the outside, no matter what I did. I undid my stitching and was clipping the curve in the seam allowance along the front when I did the unthinkable: I snipped into a tiny fold that had caught up into the curve and there it was. A hole in the front.

Really, in a situation like this, only knitting can be the remedy. So I retreated and knit (and watched Fatal Attraction, an old Michael Douglas movie that has a frankly terrifying Glenn Close in it) and when I felt calm enough to approach the top again, I saw three things clearly that made me quite happy. The first is that the hole is not very big nor very far from my original seamline. If I make the neckline a little wider, I will be able to encompass the little hole into the seam allowance. The second is that the original neckline was so narrow that it needed an opening – widening the neckline eliminates having to deal with that. The third is that this situation made me face the reality that no amount of fussing around was going to make the pleats lie properly with the lining and that I should just use a narrow bias.

Obviously, I am going to need to redraft the neckline but it’s not a big job and at least my top will be rescued. Phew!


August 28, 2013

FO: Flowery blouse

Filed under:Blouse,Blouses/Tops,Sewing,Summer Wardrobe '13 — Aileen @ 08:00

I have been having a bad run of it recently where each neckline I have sewn has fought me every step of the way. This was no exception: a blouse I have made countless times but the collar stand refused to adapt. Sometimes these things take a very stern talking to.

Apologies, my skirt is a little twisted in each of these photos. The pattern for the blouse is the same that I used here. It provides an alternate view that has roughly the same shape but without the princess seams.

I think it is a good match for the print (which you can see close up here). What I like particularly about the print is that the flowers are red and teal on a crisp white background so really, I can wear it with a whole lot of different things.

I got the fabric from Fabric HQ. It’s not the first time I’ve ordered from them and I highly recommend their service. I ordered this print along with the white fabric I used for my skirt. They emailed to say that they’re not the same colour white, sent photos to compare, and asked if I wanted to reconsider. I didn’t, but it was great that they considered that I might want to match them.


August 26, 2013

FO: Silk Pendrell

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Sewing,Stash Down,Summer Wardrobe '13,Tops — Aileen @ 11:59

The many incarnations of this green silk! I used it to make the ‘portrait blouse’ from Gertie’s book for better sewing, but the style didn’t suit me at all. Luckily, it didn’t use up much fabric at all and I had enough left over to make this. I salvaged the green zip from the previous blouse also.

Pattern: Pendrell by Sewaholic. I made this before, this time last year.

Fabric: Green silk, kind of like a habotai. I got it in Rubanesque on sale for something like €9/m.

For this iteration, I decided to add some of the sleeve ruffles. They were really easy to put in with the princess seams but still time consuming, making the ruffles and making sure they were even throughout. I’m reasonably happy with how my neckline turned out, considering how completely disastrous necklines have been for me recently.

I was planning that this be part of my August outfit (with the white skirt I made) but for some reason, the two just do not go together. I would have shown the white skirt here but I spilled tea on it so it is going round in the washing machine as I type. Anyway, I think it’s a nice top and something I hope to wear a lot.


August 23, 2013

Biston and a few WIPs

Filed under:Knitting,Sleeves,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:56

Apologies for the dead air… I was feeling quite under the weather the last week and when I did rallied, I rallied in the direction of my summer to-do list. Anyway, the winners from my last post’s competition were Kimberly and Kim. Congrats!

Here’s what I’ve been working on lately. I knit the entire body and one sleeve of the Honey cardigan only to completely run out of yarn. I got a little bit more but as you can see, the colour was way off.

As it turned out, when I tried it on with just the one sleeve, I realised that I really didn’t like how it looked on me and I didn’t want to finish it. So I’ve ripped it out and I look forward to knitting it into a Hudson sweater. Sometimes it’s best to face facts.

Speaking of reknits, I became so infuriated by the errors in my orange Chuck sweater that I ripped the whole thing out to the armholes and reknit it. It had many, many errors in the front chart and the sleeve caps were awful. It never sat right no matter what I wore under it and consequently, only wore it once. I adore the sweater as well as the colour so I am going to give this another go.

Yet another reknit! Well, sort of. I fell in love with Helene about the time we left on honeymoon and started knitting it up in a woolly sport weight. The yarn in itself is wonderful but not suited to such a drapey design. It languished until I released it about a week ago. I think the yarn will be fantastic for something else and in the meantime, have cast on in a linen.

The recommended Quince and Co linen worked out at about £10 a skein (!!!) so I went with my local option, the Katia linen from This is Knit. It’s about €5 a ball and I only need 5. Linen, as a yarn, is very off-putting, I think. My swatch was very scratchy and scraggly-looking when I knit it up. However, when I blocked it out, it draped beautifully:

Speaking of drape, here’s my Biston shug.

It’s from Wool People 3 and I knit it up in Jamieson & Smith Jumper weight. I think it took about 4 and a bit of the big balls (I think they’re 50g?). I made a few modifications. I knit the sleeves in the round and then turned them inside out. I also didn’t knit the back as wide as directed because I have really narrow shoulders. Even as it is, it’s a bit lumpy. The border was a pain to knit but it was worth it. I blocked it and found the border simply did not want to behave at all. So, I reblocked it there the other day and stretched the life out of it. The result is more drapey. I think, maybe, for a more drapey effect overall, you could go for a slightly thinner yarn. I love this colour, though, and am a big fan of the J&S wool for its sheer wearability (damp-proof, always the right temperature, perfect neutral colours, feels like it’s indestructable).


August 7, 2013

Bus Strike Competition!

Filed under:Cycling — Aileen @ 12:08

We’ve had a bus strike in Dublin the last few days. It’s been great to see so many extra cyclists on the streets as a result. Now that the strike’s been resolved (for now), here’s a little competition to make you think twice about putting your bike away.


I have two bells and matching handlebar bottle holders up for grabs! To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling us what your favourite thing about cycling is. Entry is open to everyone, no matter where you are, and I’ll accept entries until this day week – Wednesday, August 14th at midnight Irish time (I never know if that’s GMT or BST).

So let’s hear from you! What do you love most about cycling?