Monday, September 18, 2017

It's been a strange week.

It has been a rather strange week. I have managed to start a challenge piece for the MEG group. This rather dull looking piece is the start of something which I hope will become rather more interesting. I found some yarn in Aldi which I hope to make into a much needed cardigan before the end of the year. It is an acrylic yarn which feels really nice. I still haven't found a suitable pattern, but have only just started looking. I'm hoping for something a bit more fitted than the box shaped cardigans and jumpers I tend to knit for myself.

I managed to get to my first Friday Felters meeting of the year. We were making name badges. Mine has turned out rather dark and muddled, being somewhat difficult to read. I shall attempt to make another one before the next meeting. We were needle felting onto a piece of pre-made felt supplied at the meeting. I embroidered mine as well as needle-felting it. 

At Pinfold last week we were knitting teddies for the Teddies for Tragedies charity. I have finished knitting four teddies and made four bags for them. The bears still need sewing together and stuffing before adding faces. I will need to get hold of some more toy stuffing before being able to continue this project.

But what was so strange about the last few days? It was trying to fit everything in around helping my husband shift a pile of wood. The other difficulty being working between the heavy showers we have been having lately, whilst making sure the wood was sorted and covered with tarpaulins. It all took three days to accomplish. Aldi was brilliant yet again, supplying the tarpaulins we used. The dogs got rather bored with the whole process.

The only unfortunate thing was that I got a bit stuck with the ribbing for the fingerless mittens I need to complete by the end of next week. The technique was one I had not tried before, so I found myself searching the internet for a youtube video. The technique is called  "2 x 2 Tubular Cast On".  I found a video by Very Pink Knits which was really helpful.

As you can see, I really haven't got very far with these mittens and must get a move on. The MEG challenge piece needs to be finished by the end of next week too. Which reminds me, those teddies need to be completed by next Wednesday. I think the ironing pile will just have to wait.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meeting deadlines and sewing

It has been a really busy couple of weeks with different projects under way. My hat got finished yesterday and the fingerless mittens will be started tomorrow. Not quite sure which two colours to choose for that design. Orange and white, or perhaps the tan and white. But then the aqua and white would also look nice. Decisions, decisions.

The hat fits snuggly and I am looking forward to being able to wear it in the colder weather. I decided not to add a pompom to the top since I really don't like them.

The two blouses got finished and I wore the collarless one with my new culottes the other day. It was really comfy, though I added a waistcoat since it is somewhat sheer. I really should remember to stand up straight when taking photos. The collared shirt is also ready to wear, though it is rather more formal and I haven't had an opportunity to wear it yet. As you can see from the photo, I really need to wear a waistcoat with it, or a suitable pinafore dress. Another couple of pinafore dresses are in my list of things to make, but they will have to wait for a while since I do have some other items to finish first.

I've cut out a sleeveless top - the Malia top and also the Dolores skirt from the first English edition of La Maison Victor magazine. It was published earlier in the summer and I have been really interested in how they fit.

The skirt will be made in a bright blue floral print, while the Malia top has been cut out of the fabric remaining from my recently completed culottes.
The interesting thing about this design is the gathering of fabric under the bust dart. The crepe de chine I am using should hang really well since it is very soft.

This little piece of felt was made for a challenge for the Pinfold group. I can't share the completed design with you since the owner of that book hasn't seen it yet. This particular challenge is a really interesting one since everyone has such different themes for their books. Each is a sketchbook just eight inches square with a spiral binding. We each get to see the work completed by each member of the group before the book is passed to the next person. I really loved the pages added by Meryl to my own book, but forgot to take any photos before the book was passed to the next person. I should be able to see what they have done next month. I really must remember to take my camera......

Oh, I did complete the alterations to the dress purchased by my daughter. It needed to be taken in a couple of sizes since it really was too big for her. A halter neck, beaded dress with a full lining was quite a task. A really interesting challenge which is now waiting to be worn at her friend's wedding next weekend.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Playing with wool

 I'm using this collection of leftover yarns to make the next two test knits. A rather interesting colourwork hat and the fingerless version of the mittens. The intention is for the aqua colour to be the background shade with the owl picked out in the apricot and cream. The darker edgings are to be in the tan colour. I've started the hat first. The yarns are from the Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply range which I have been using a lot recently. Hopefully, I will have enough for the hat. I can then find more yarns for the mittens. The fingerless version ends above the head of the owl. I prefer fingerless mittens since it means I can keep my hands warm whilst holding the dogs leads. They can slip if I am wearing knitted mittens.

The knitted experiment has been coming along too. As you can see I am now knitting the edging around all four sides. I have also decided on how to finish off the holes in the centres between the sets of four squares. These will be knitted separately in the orange colour. The gaps between the moss stitch strips will be white. I've already started on the little orange squares, just to try out the idea. 

The two blouse toiles are still waiting for their buttonholes. I have finally found some suitable buttons in my stash. They aren't brilliant, but will do for now. I should be able to wear these soon. I need to get them finished this evening since my younger daughter is heading this way in the morning seeking my help in altering a dress. I am not sure what I have let myself in for.

Some felting was done a few days ago. It has been far too long since I managed to play with some wool fibres. These are merino with some silk fibres. I think I was a bit heavy handed, but it was such fun to get messy out in the garden making these. I must get some more done as soon as the current rainy weather retreats once more.

I have booked myself on to the next Friday Felters session now that the group is starting up again after their summer break. I am looking forward to learning some more techniques.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sewing and making plans

As you can see from these photos the hat has been completed. It has now been passed on to it's owner.

The size is toddler, so it is quite small. I made this to match a jumper I made some months ago. It should help keep this little person nice and cosy this winter.

This blouse, Butterick 6301, is now almost complete with just the buttonholes to be stitched and the buttons added. I'm rather pleased with this since I can easily wear it. This version, being made from a white cheesecloth, is rather sheer so will have to be worn under a top of some kind. The length is just right, so I can now cut out this same pattern from the blue fabric I have chosen for this project.

Over the past few days I have also made this toile. This is for the Simplicity pattern 8243. Again, I have used the same cheesecloth fabric as the Butterick blouse shown further up in this post. This second blouse is going to be a much more fitted affair. I'm looking forward to getting this one finished. I already have the fabric I am planning to use for the main version. I'm hoping that this one will, like the Butterick version, be a wearable toile. One I could use for everyday wear. Again, it is rather sheer so will have to be worn under a waistcoat or somesuch. Just as well I have quite a few in my wardrobe.

The new pin cushion has been so useful in making these two pieces. I wrote about making it in my last post here

As for planning. I still have to sort out what projects I want to get on with and the order in which I plan to do them. I have a number of dressmaking projects I would really love to make - another pair of culottes, the two blouses I have already mentioned, and a pinafore dress to my own design. I really need a couple of skirts and a couple of pairs of trousers for the autumn and winter. Other potential projects are a wallhanging I have in my head, but which I haven't started work on yet. The plans for it are nearly there. Then there is the felt. I really would love to get back to making some and starting work on the CiFT elements. I need to get it all planned out on paper and work out suitable time frames for it all. Ah well, I might become organised one of these days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dressmaking and some knitting.

Vintage pattern
I found this pattern in a charity shop some time ago. Butterick 6301 dating from the late seventies and early eighties. I did have a copy of this pattern when it first came out, making the waistcoat, skirt and blouse. That first version had the skirt and waistcoat in a light woolen suiting. The blouse was made from a light off white viscose. I wore them out. Sadly, that pattern got lost amidst the house moves.

This pattern is the junior size, 5. It was interesting making a version in my own size. I made the paper pattern first, and now have a version in cheesecloth under way. Hopefully it will work out without too much alteration.
Cheesecloth version of 6301 under way.

Burda culottes pattern from 1989
 This will be the next dressmaking challenge. I will be making a second version of these culottes from Burda Magazine. I wish I still had the magazine - another victim of the house moves over the years. However, I still have the pattern and the line drawings to go from.

These will be made from this viscose fabric found on the Northwich fabric stall. It is lovely and soft and will drape beautifully.

Yesterday I found myself frustrated by the lack of a pin cushion. All my dressmaking pins seemed to be clustered into one cushion. So I collected together some of my selvedge scraps and pinned them onto some leftover cheesecloth.

Not very long after this stage, I was merrily stitching using a two stage zigzag. With the remnants of a piece of wadding which had been languishing in a cupboard, and a 5 inch diameter pot found some time back in a charity shop, I had this pin cushion ready to use.

It is now helping me with the cheesecloth blouse. The pot is quite heavy, so is stable beside my sewing machine.
Wolf in sheeps clothing hat
This little hat for my grand daughter is nearing completion. The deadline for this is next week, so I am on time I am pleased to say.

The next two items are recently completed projects:

First, the orange dress which I dyed then printed. This has been washed and ironed ready for wearing again.

This second project is a pair of culottes which I started a few days ago. I made the classic mistake of cutting the pieces out without a seam allowance. Luckily, there is a deep leat on the front and and a long dart on the back. Reducing both of these meant that this pair of culottes now fits well. Again, the fabric is a lovely viscose from the market stall.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Making sure that I don't miss a deadline

Printed pinny
I printed this pinny a couple of weeks ago. A sample before starting work on my orange dress. The pinny was printed using three different thermofax screens from my collection. The flower and leaf designs are my own whilst the lovely bee image is a stock item from Thermofax Screens. I used calico (muslin) from my bolt of fabric. So useful to have a large amount of fabric to hand when needing to trial ideas. I won't be using the reverse side of this pinny since I have left it plain. However, now I come to think about it, that might be rather useful.......
Pinafore pattern
As you can see, the pattern is one of those really useful and practical ones. My only concern being that there is no pocket. Ah well, something to add to the next one?

My orange dress in the process of being printed. 
When printing the apron after I had made it - a deliberate act since my orange dress had already been sewn together - I quickly discovered that thermofax screens cannot cope with curves. So, for the dress I decided to use some of my collection of wooden print blocks. Drawing some chalk lines to help in keeping the prints an equal distance apart, I printed a quarter of the circle skirt at a time. It seemed to work well. My next project will be to print a length of fabric ready to make up into a dress or a skirt.

The dress has been worn and washed and has survived well. I did add a lining to the dress skirt section since I felt it needed a little more body. I bought some horsehair braid to attach to the hemline, but have not felt it needed that extra stiffening. I must get a photo of the dress once I have ironed it and it is ready to wear again.

Recent fabric purchases
I have been rather naughty lately and bought some fabric. Yes, I had planned to use up some of my fabric stash. Unfortunately, much of that stash isn't in the colours I really need for the clothing I plan to add to my wardrobe. The middle two fabrics here are denim. The upper one was bought from The Denim Company when I went to the Festival of Quilts last week. I just couldn't resist it. Such a pretty floral print.. The top fabric is a light lawn from the Fent Shop and I plan to make a blouse from this one. The green fabric at the bottom was a find in Abakhan and is a textured green jersey from which I plan to make a pair of culottes for the winter months. The plans for the two denim fabrics involve my making up a pinafore dress based on the design of a pair of dungarees seen at the International Model Aircraft Show at Weston Park in June. I managed to sketch the design on a page of my notebook. It will be quite a challenge to develop a pattern from a pencil drawing.......... One thing which troubles me, though is would this infringe copyright? I am not intending to make a pair of dungarees as seen at the show, but a pinafore dress with a similar top to the dungarees I saw.

There has been knitting. I have now completed this jumper and put it away for the cooler months. As you can see, it fits me perfectly. Since I am used to having rather boxy and loose fitting knitwear, this makes rather a nice change and will take quite a lot of getting used to. The design will not be available until the middle of next month since this was a test knit for the designer. I've now started another tes knit for the same designer. This time it is a hat for a toddler. A much quicker item.

I found these two books and the three metre length of muslin (cheesecloth) they are lying on last week on the sales table when I went to Pinfold. The fabric has now been washed and is waiting for different dyeing and printing projects. I quite fancy the idea of a long-sleeved cheesecloth shirt. A very seventies idea.

This last piece was finished a number of years ago and I had never done anything with it. The background is free machine embroidered onto calico with an embroidered paisley element held in place above it. The embroidered piece is stiffened with wire stitched into the outline. The whole was a challenge laid down some years ago by Sharon Boggon to use some of her paisley line drawings. It is quite a shock to realise that I had completed this piece back in January 2007! You can see the sequence of paisley designs I had worked at the time here. The others have not been mounted or framed either.

Those deadlines? Well, the jumper needed to be finished by September 17th. I am a month ahead of myself there. The hat needs to be completed by the end of the month, so I am on target with that. Just so long as I don't get sidetracked. 

I do have one deadline which I must not miss. I haven't yet started work on that. I need to complete my piece for the MEG Colour Challenge by September 25th. I have a diptych in mind for that one. However, I have a pair of culottes on my sewing table which must get finished first. Unfortunately, I made the really stupid mistake of cutting these out without a seam allowance. This has made sewing them a bit of an ongoing puzzle. What doesn't help is that I made exactly the same mistake the last time I used this pattern. Those culottes worked out quite well in the end and were worn a lot during last winter. I'm just hoping that I can make these work out too.

Speaking of deadlines, I really must get myself back and organised into posting here on the blog more regularly. I have got out of the habit and need to retrain myself back into posting weekly. This is one item on my to-do list which often gets overlooked. Apologies to anyone reading this.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Plodding on with those lists

Toyota overlocker, SL1T
This little overlocker came into my possession a few days ago. It had been on Freegle and wanted a new home. A quick clean, new needles, a little oil and it works perfectly. I wasn't expecting a new-to-me machine, but my husband had seen it and got it for me. I threw out the cones of thread it came with, using my own instead. It isn't often that such an item is offered free to a new home. It isn't as versatile as my own Huskylock 910, but is a good basic machine. The sticky labels with the numbers were just to help me sort out the threading and tensions needed to get it working properly. It now sits under a new machine cover made from the remnants of a curtain. This should keep it nice and dust free before it comes into action again. It was rather useful in repairing some costumes yesterday. I didn't want to disturb the settings on my Huskylock since I needed it for putting together the butterfly top I was also working on. I rethreaded the Toyota with black thread for the repairs. I was really pleased with the resulting stitching.

Toyota overlocker at rest under it's new cover.

It is almost embarrassing to acknowledge that I now have two overlockers and two sewing machines living in my sewing room at present.

Repaired costumes
The costumes are three Crow costumes which got damaged at the Crow Fair a couple of weeks back. They now have new wings ready for performances next summer.

The butterfly top is shown below just before the strip round the neck was sewn in place. It is now ready to wear, though I am not entirely happy with the neckline. The edging seems a little too loose to me so I will probably remove it and redo that a little later today. I have finally decided how to piece the front of the purple top and will probably get that sewn together later today.

Butterfly top nearing completion
The purple top will have a round neck, pieced front and three quarter length sleeves. It shouldn't take long to put together once I've decided whether to alter the neck on the butterfly top. Ah well, at least I will soon have two more items ticked off my to do list.

Fabric pieces ready to reassemble to make the purple top.
I was really lucky to find some vintage patterns from Prima magazine in a charity shop last week. So strange to recall that they date from the time when I frequently bought the magazine. I left one of the patterns behind for someone else since I already have that particular pattern in my collection.

A lucky find in a charity shop
The jacket pattern dates from the August 1988 issue, while the dress is dated April 1992. The zipped jacket comes from January 1993.

 The scrap fabric piece has also been completed. In the end I used three different threads to quilt it getting a darker thread each time I changed the colour. It now needs pressing before making into a messenger bag.
Completed scrap fabric piece
I have also been steadily working on the test knit which was shown in the last post. I am now nearing the bottom edge of the body where there is a patterned border around the base. The sleeves look a little odd since the live stitches are being held on my spare circular needles.

I am looking forward to finishing the stocking stitch and getting on with the lace border. This yarn has a slight marl to it so that the completed knitting doesn't look flat and uninteresting. The only failing being that it does have a tendency to split which is a bit of a nuisance at times. It is the Stylecraft Life 4ply yarn which is a useful acrylic and wool mix. This is the colourway called Heather.