Monday, May 14, 2018

Some sewing, with plenty of projects in the pipeline

Aggie is displaying the pattern pieces for the Style Arc Roslyn Tunic Dress. I've decided to make the longer version of this design since I am already planning to make two tunics.

This is the collection of fabrics ready to be cut out and sewn. Close to the top of the pile is the patterned grey crepe de chine for the HP 1107 tunic. This is a pattern from Hot Patterns, just like the cargo pants I been working on recently. On the top is my interfacing

The next two photos show pages from my dressmaking journal. I am currently working on a second toile for the Utility Cargo pants. My version of the Waterfall jacket is currently in the naughty pile while I plan what to do with it next. It came out rather larger than intended. At least a solution is doable, but with warm weather coming up it seems daft to spend time on a cold weather item. It will wait until I have more time.... or perhaps I should say some time to spare.

These two projects are further down the pile. The blue boat pattern will be used for the Elani tunic. The fabric was a lucky find in a bin of end of rolls. A quilting cotton, it should be fun to wear. The red flower fabric started life as a pinafore dress I wore some years ago. I remember making this in the late 1980s when my daughters were small. I made a couple of sun dresses from the same fabric for the girls. A simple design with big useful pockets for their treasures. When my waistline grew too much for any possible alteration I cut up the maxi length dress. Along with a red fabric hidden underneath, this will make my first attempt at the Roslyn tunic dress which is rather longer than the line drawing shown above.

There is progress with the "penny rug" piece. Slow progress, but that third "flower" is nearly stitched in place.

As I have already mentioned, the second toile is well under way for the cargo pants. I am hoping that this might be wearable and plan to dye the fabric a shade of grey. I wasn't confident enough in my pattern alterations to go straight for the cobalt blue fabric I showed last week.

As you might have guessed there is little time for sewing at the moment since there is still a lot of work to be done outside. The end is in sight, but will take some time yet. I feel so much more myself since being able to get back to my sewing machine. It definitely keeps me sane.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

More building than stitching.

 The last couple of weeks have been crazy. First we finished building the garden shed, then the sections for the new workshop arrived. All 5.6m by 3m of it! So there has been very little time left for stitching or even knitting. so unusual for me. Yes, I was fully involved in the building, wielding a hammer or electric drill rather than my usual tools.......

So instead, here is an update for the items I was working on last time I posted here. First the penny rug now looks like this. The backing is a green felt. It is hard work to stitch, but satisfying. I shall be glad when I can get rid of all the pins. I don't mind the stems being a bit wobbly, after all most flower stems are not exactly straight, but I do need the flowers to stay in the positions they have been pinned into.

The knitting did get started and then got ripped back. I started off with a cabled pattern, but found that it made the body far too tight. Having ripped back and started again with a stocking stitch body as per the original design, I am now very bored and have dumped this jumper into a corner. It needs a rethink.

Thanks to a lovely friend at Sew Cool, the sewing group I go to in Chester, I have now got my toile for the cargo pants sorted out. The pattern has been altered too and I just need to complete these ready for dyeing a more sensible colour. Perhaps grey to match the zip? It would be a useful colour and I don't possess any trousers that are grey.

Whilst in Chester, I bought a gorgeous length of cobalt blue cotton ready to make my first pair of cargo pants now that the pattern has been altered to fit. The fabric has been washed and is sitting on my worktable ready to be cut out.

At the Sew Cool meeting, there was a pile of patterns which needed a new home. I got these two. Yes, I know the sizing is too small for me. The Style pattern is dated 1980 and the Butterick probably dates from the late 1970s. I was thinking of sizing up both patterns to fit. The shape of the Butterick pattern is really interesting and would be lovely in a soft crepe de chine.......

 A couple of days ago, I also managed to start work on this next pattern. This is the pattern I showed last time. Deciding that the shirt is really a bit short and needing an additional two or three inches in length. I completed a tissue fit rather than a toile since this isn't a fitted design. I will probably make the tunic length with the rolled up sleeves and the round neck rather than a collar.

This length of crepe de chine from my stash will be used for the tunic. It will be interesting to try to match the dye colour of the wearable toile cargo pants..... Again, this fabric sits on my worktable waiting to be cut out ready to start sewing.

I had to hand back the Pinfold challenge book today before even starting my pages for it. There just hasn't been enough time to start anything for the "Round and round" theme. I will have to get that ready for the next Pinfold meeting in four weeks time, taking some glue or double sided tape with me to stick it in. The photo above is the next theme, "Flowers". I am hoping there will be much more time available now that the garden shed is finished and the new workshop just needs the roofing felt before that too is complete. I'm itching to get on with some sewing projects, especially since there hasn't been much time over the past couple of weeks.

At Pinfold today we learnt about chalk paint and "gold" leaf. This was my sample. Not sure if I will use these techniques any time soon, but it made for an interesting workshop.

If you were wondering, that newly built workshop is for my husband. It will house his woodworking lathe and associated tools. I won't be having another workspace since I know very well that if I do, I will very quickly fill it. The workroom I have at present will do very well. I just need to reorganise and get rid of some of the bits and pieces I know I will never use.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fabric, and some more handstitching

Dressmaking fabric stash

I finally got my workroom tidy this week. It was too much of a mess to get anything done. I had got to the stage where I couldn't even see the top of my worktable. The floor wasn't much better, so I got all the clutter tidied and some rubbish got recycled. The fabric got put back into the cupboard. It is stacked in types of fabric, so, from the bottom left hand side are the jerseys and knit fabrics. To the right of that pile is the silk/rayon collection.  The third pile on the bottom shelf is mostly curtain fabrics with some acrylic felt for repairs to my print board. The extreme left hand side of the top shelf, are the woolen and suiting fabrics. Next to this are a small collection of cottons and cotton mixes sitting on top of a pile of furnishing fabrics.  The last pile on the extreme right hand side is all lining and interfacings. I can see what I have and having to tidy has the benefit of finding things I had forgotten about.

So having had a massive tidy, what did I find in a local charity shop but two metres of this gorgeous bunny pattern. It is a lovely cotton jersey which has a really warm feel. Well, I just couldn't leave it there, especially not since it was priced at £1. When I saw it I could just imagine it made up as a pair of pyjamas. Washed and ready for action it waits in my growing pile of projects. I really ought to get started and make these up before the warmer weather comes creeping back again.

I also bought some yarn. This is to replace a jumper I made some years ago. It has been much worn and is really beginning to show it's age. The sleeves will soon need darning, but it will reamin a really useful warm cover up when working in the garden or working on some project or another. The yarn here is double knitting since there doesn't seem to be any brown 4ply around at the moment. Now to find a nice pattern. I could use the plain v-neck bottom up pattern which I usually use, but I really do fancy a change....

The piece I showed last time is still being worked on. I think it is nearly finished. It just needs a nice plan for something as a focal point. Some applique perhaps.

Apart from washing the bunny fabric, I also washed 5 metres of my calico ready to use as toiles. The first will be this cargo pants design. The pattern has been drawn out on tissue ready to pin on the fabric. I will be starting work on this later today. I just need to iron the five metres......

I still haven't got around to starting my piece for the Pinfold Book Challenge this month. Still thinking about what to do..........

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stitching by hand

It has been a really interesting week. Work has continued on the shed, but I managed to attend the meetings of two textile groups. The first of these was Pinfold. The meeting had a workshop from Pauline Mills who showed us how to make "Penny rugs". You can see a really good online description here. Needless to say, I will not be making a proper "penny rug", it just isn't my style. Instead these will turn into the decoration of a fabric "vase" to hold my long rulers and old knitting needles. These currently reside in an overcrowded flowerpot with the longest of my paintbrushes. Hopefully things might get tidier and easier to find........ maybe not.

I just need to think about how to weight the bottom of the "vase" to stop it toppling over.

The fifth pile shown on the extreme right in the first photo was shown without it's flower backing. This is the colour which will be finally stitched in place at some time over the next few days. There are green pieces to be cut out as "stems" before being stitched onto the backing fabric which will be some upholstery fabric found in my stash. The "pennies" are cut out of felted wool. The fabric here was supplied by a friend of mine who brought along a large collection of felted and dyed blankets. Thanks so much Meryl!

Pauline, our tutor was very generous and gave us each three cardboard templates for the shapes. So useful and meant we could get straight on with the stitching. I've used variegated Anchor threads from my collection of embroidery threads. Three strands were used for the buttonhole with the full six strands used for the decoration. (Stamens and french knots). A lovely workshop with plenty of opportunity for chat as we worked. Just what was needed.

I handed over the "Come fly with me" book which I showed last time and picked up this next book. The topic this time is "Round and round". A really intriguing title. I'm letting my imagination go free for the moment as I try to decide what I could possibly make......

During the week, I started to make a few cards with scraps of samples from a rather too large collection. These three need a little more work. As does the one below. This really needs a fair amount of stitching before it can be called a card.

I also received two more patterns in the post. I love this style of cargo pants, but have never found a pair of ready-mades that actually fit me. I really couldn't resist this rather interesting dress and tunic pattern too. I have some suitable fabric in my stash for the dress, but haven't yet decided which fabric would be best for these trousers. I really ought to make toiles of each first......

Finally, on Friday, I met up with another group of friends and Debbie introduced the idea of "boro". I must admit I rather like the idea of handstitching various fabrics together. My version is really not a true "boro", but is inspired by the idea of stitching fabrics together to repair/make another fabric. Mine are strips of raw edged fabrics of various types from my collection of "interesting fabrics", along with dyed cotton bias binding and cotton tape. The pieces are all stitched onto each other and backed by a piece of calico (muslin). This will probably turn into the background for something at some stage. For the moment it is a very pleasant stitching project for the evenings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A last minute project

The past week has been a busy one. No time for stitching or knitting. I did have one deadline though, hence these photos. I had a page to complete for the Pinfold Book Challenge ready for tomorrow morning. Here are the pages I completed just a few minutes ago. As I write this, it is 9pm. Last minute as always.

The theme for this book is "Come fly with me." The weather here has been cloudy, damp and cold all day today, so my thoughts ran to warmer weather and the sight of swallows flying overhead.

These pages have my own felt, dyecatchers from my collection, a thermofax print of flying birds, block prints of ducks on a scrap of my own dyed fabric. The swallow is a commercial felt stitched into place. Handstitching using simple running stitch and buttonhole stitch around the swallow. Rather strange of me to choose handwork rather than machine stitching this time, especially since I was so short of time.

What was keeping me so busy this last week? Gardening and helping my husband with demolishing and then constructing a garden shed. The gardening is a rather urgent project since we have a builder coming in a week or two to construct a fence. I have been digging up shrubs and bulbs which we need to protect.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Finishing off projects and a little success.

Experimental cushion cover - front 
Well, it has been a busy week. A lot of gardening has been done and I have also managed to complete two projects. The first one is my experimental cushion cover. I started knitting the back a week ago and have just finished it and sewn the cover together. It has a 20 inch square cushion inner, so is nice and squidgy and cosy to cuddle up to. Just what I wanted.

Experimental cushion cover - back
It all started out, almost twelve months ago, as an experiment to knit quilt blocks without seams. There are a few, but most joins are achieved by adding stitches onto an edge, or knitting a piece between two edges. Good fun, but not something I will repeat in quite the same way. The back was just garter stitch stripes of varying widths interspersed with stocking stitch stripes in varying widths knitted on the diagonal rather than straight. A really quick way to use up the remaining oddments of yarn. Since the whole project was designed to use up a collection of yarns left over from a 4ply colourwork project it is amazing just how far the remnants have gone. I still have oddments of the cream, blues and greens left over

Completed Little Bandit Hat

The test knit was also completed and is ready to give to my grand daughter when we next meet. The hat is another design by Aida Sofie, but since it is a Test Knit, the pattern isn't available yet.
Top of the Little Bandit Hat
 I just love the top with the patterning caused by the decreasing. It would be possible to add a pompom, but I rather like leaving this just as it is.
Almost finished shorts
 I nearly finished my shorts, they just need ironing, the legs hemming and some belt loops adding. I didn't have quite enough fabric to make the waistband, so found this fabric in my stash. I think it tones in rather well.

Style Arc patterns 
I was rather naughty and bought some new patterns. The first two are by a pattern company which is one I've not tried before. Style Arc. I thought the Elani tunic would be rather nice paired with my new pair of shorts. I've probably got just the right fabric in my stash somewhere. I bought these patterns from Minerva.
More patterns

 I bought these patterns at the same time. The pinafore dress has been on my wishlist for some time now. I'm not sure if I am brave enough for the jumpsuit, but it would make for an interesting project for an evening out somewhere.
"In Print - Maps"
Do you remember this quilt? I first mentioned it here. Well, I heard this week that it has been accepted for the Contemporary Quilt "In Print" challenge. I will be sending this off soon ready for the first showing of the collection. This will be at the Needle Museum, Redditch from 25th May until 8th July. Exciting!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Knitting, sewing and visiting an exhibition

At the NWCQ meeting last week we were messing about with fabric paper - using PVA glue, paper and a calico base covered with tissue paper to hold it all together. These are my two pieces. I used some Japanese wrapping paper which had been around a couple of gifts I have received over the years, along with some rather nice paper bags and other papers from my stash. Coincidentally, they all used a similar colour scheme.

Neither of these are quite finished yet, they need some stitch and embellishment before turning into book covers. Well, that is the idea at the moment.

During the week, I also bought myself some lining fabrics for the two skirts I intend to make. The fabric on the left is a polyester habotai and is gorgeously light and soft, just right for the skirt fabric. Unfortunately, they only had white and I could really do with other colours in this weight. The other fabric is a standard dress lining which is just too heavy for the projects I have in mind, but will be extremely useful at some stage for something else. These were bought from Abakhan in Chester. Yes, I know I could buy this online, but there is something rather nice about visiting a shop and being able to handle the fabrics.

There has been knitting. This toddler size hat is well under way. It needs to be finished before the 4th April. The cuff is designed to be worn double, although I do wonder whether I should sew it in place. This is another test knit, this time using remnants of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply from my yarn stash.

The knitting experiment has been completed. This will turn into a cushion cover. I just need to start on the reverse. The back will use stripes of the yarns used on the front. 

I visited this small exhibition on Sunday. It was delightful, with a lovely range of techniques with needlefelt, weaving, free machine embroidery and beading amongst quite a range of others. The cards give a very small indication of the quality of some of the work shown. They were made by Susan Marsden and Elsa Buch. The items on show were all beautifully displayed too. It may sound a strange venue, but this is apparently where the group meets. Also Marbury Park is a wonderful spot for dog walkers and families out for the day. On Sunday the weather could not have been better, bringing out lots of families eager to enjoy the sunshine. I hope they had a lot of visitors to this exhibition. I look forward to the next one.