The Adoration of Balloon Sleeves

Blog posts have been scant this year but that’s not because I haven’t been busy behind the Clipped Curves scenes creating wearable items and craftermath. More recently I have prioritised knitting above sewing, a rarity for me and induced purely from a strong desire to complete this project before the weather turns a corner.

Balloon Sweater Emma Robertson b

This is my third project from Emma Robertson’s book “Knitting by Design” but it has won first place in my heart (second and third place). Yeah, so it’s a little impractical (pouring drinks at the table with a roast dinner plate in front of me I worried I’d dunk a sleeve in gravy) and there’s no way I can get a coat on over it but… but all is forgiven because of those gorgeous balloon sleeves and the silhouette they create.

Balloon Sweater Emma Robertson c

The yarn, too, is worthy of some affection. Unfortunately discontinued, Amy Butler Sweet Harmony (Rowan) is a very good match for my ‘visually’ favourite ever seed stitch. It gives what those with much more knitting knowledge than me refer to as ‘stitch definition’ and if I’m going to drive myself insane (yarn forward, yarn back) I want to be able to see seed stitch from 40 yards. The colour pallet of Sweet Harmony is limited (even more so since it’s discontinued) but I chose ‘Frost’ and purchased from MCA Direct.

Balloon Sweater Emma Robertson a

I’d like to be able to say that there’s more information on my make on Ravelry but there really isn’t. I knit the smallest size and shortened the sleeves by 2 inches. I curled by on the sofa wearing my new favourite jumper on Sunday evening and cast on a new project… there’s no seed stitch yet!

The same but better leggings

Remember the brightly patterned leggings with far too much pink, that were fine at first but the fabric lacked the stamina? Well, I’ve made more leggings but this time they are better.

Burgundy Leggings Front

I made no changes to the pattern but this time used a  fabric with good stretch, slightly thicker and importantly great recovery.

Burgundy Leggings Side

The stash diet seems to have permanently changed my habits. This fabric was left over from my Renfrew and no sooner had it returned to the fabric pile than it was back out of the cupboard and cut out for these leggings.

Burgundy Leggings Back

I know it doesn’t make for varied blog posts sewing twice on the trot with the same fabric but much better on my bank balance and newly slender stash.

Maroon Renfrew

Very soon after unwrapping, I traced out both of the new patterns I received for Christmas but before I got to cut into fabric I came down with a cold which developed into sinusitis and that put a slow start to my 2015 sewing.

Nevertheless, I have a completed item to show you and photos with a put on smile because I’m still suffering with that hit-in-the-face-by-a-crowbar-feeling that is synonymous with sinusitis.

Sewaholic Renfrew 1

Sewaholic Renfrew. There’s a very good reason why this pattern is so popular. Love the cowl. Exclusively sewn on my overlocker with Jane‘s approach to thread colour – matching in the left needle, too bright red in the right needle, slightly too purple and slightly too pink in the loopers but what the heck it’s using stashed thread!

Sewaholic Renfrew 2

I started by cutting an 8 all over… that was a drowsy painkiller decision. I had to go back over the side seams and right down the arms making what I think will equate to bust 6, waist 4, hips 8, shoulders 6 and wrists 2. I’ve made those changes to the pattern pieces, also lengthened the top by 1 inch and shortened the sleeves by 1 1/2 inches. I may also need a sway back adjustment but I’ll re-assess once I’ve made a second version with my new, more accurate, grading between sizes pattern pieces!

Sewaholic Renfrew 3

Oh yes, the fabric. It’s just perfect for a Renfrew. It’s a fairly stable knit with not too much stretch and excellent recovery. Purchased from Ditto Fabrics on our trip to Brighton last year. I couldn’t see this exact colour on the website but how nice is the Deep Peacock they currently have in stock?

Wait… what’s the obligatory, I’ve popped my Renfrew cherry pose again?

Sewaholic Renfrew 4

Stash Diet 2014: Final Weigh In

Everyone else is posting their sewing hits, misses and resolutions but for me, the new year marks the end of Stash Diet 2014. The final weigh-in has been verified and the results are… I can’t keep you in suspense any longer…

I smashed my goal fabric weight of 12.4kg, ending the Stash Diet 2014 year on just 8.9kg.

Stash fabric height: 28cm (starting 90cm) 
Stash fabric weight: 7.7kg 
(starting 23.5kg)
Scrap fabric weight: 1.2kg 
(starting 1.3kg)
Total stash weight: 8.9kg (starting 24.8kg) —> Goal weight 12.4kg

My shrinking stash over the last 12 months…

Stash Diet 2014

It now fits neatly into my sewing room cupboard.

IMG_1683 (480x640)

And the fluctuating volume of fabric scraps are much more manageable too.

IMG_1684 (640x480)

What did I learn?

  • Acquiring someone else’s lifetime stash doesn’t bring the same excitement as selecting each piece of fabric myself.
  • Purchasing fabric does not buy me the time to sew it.
  • Swapping with other sewers is exciting.
  • Pushing myself to use up scraps can lead to little moments of creativity that nicely finish a hand-made garment or provide a bit of fun.
  • Scraps can be recycled or sold but small item crafting and quilting isn’t for me.

Most surprising of all, I don’t want a rebound fabric shopping binge. I’ve unintentionally saved some really nice pieces of fabric till last so I’m looking forward to getting those cut and under the presser foot in the new year before even thinking about shopping for new makes.

And finally…

A huge thanks to Andrea and Gail for being such lovely Stash Diet 2014 hosts.

Happy New Year!

Ginger Jeans – it wasn’t you it was me

Heather Lou picked a whole range of pattern testers for her pattern, the Ginger Jeans. I’m not too sure where I fell within that range though. In her survey I remember saying I had never pattern tested before but I also said that I’d made a few pairs of trousers and felt confident adjusting crotch curves (Examples 1, 2, 3 and 4). Anyway mine is not to reason why but to test, feedback and enjoy my new skinny jeans.

Ginger Jeans Side

I chose to make the lower-rise option and skinny up the legs to fit me like I’d been poured into them (that’s just how I like to wear ‘em). After sewing up a shorts length version (that I sent Heather Lou photos of in the strictest of confidence because shorts skinnies look ridiculous!), I had to make a mini-wedgie adjustment and a large sway back adjustment. These are my usual alterations for trousers so nothing out of the ordinary and nothing challenging.

Ginger jeans Back

Although, these are nothing like other trousers I’ve made before. They involved lots of prep (pockets and pockets galore), top stitching and then I got to hammer the hardware!

Ginger Jeans Fly

I took full advantage of having side pockets and a waistband facing to pair my dark indigo denim (from seller brunswickmill2013 via ebay) with the last bit of lightweight twill after making a Sureau ages ago! It’s not a bad pairing but I still lack confidence in twinning fabrics in terms of colour and pattern. On the other hand, I was very decisive over the colour of my top stitching thread after running up samples of three possible options (all from my recently acquired Great Aunt’s collection). Blue, it had to be blue. I checked out my RTW skinnies to get a feel for my favourite style and I tend to go for less is more on the top stitching front so I showed restraint using contrasting thread just on the pockets and sticking to dark blue on the side seams and back yolk.

Ginger Jeans Front Pocket

Despite all this, it’s taken me a long time to post. Looking at the fit of the photographs, I wasn’t totally thrilled about the fit. But the more blog posts of skinny jeans (not just Ginger Jeans) I saw, the more I realised that everyone has the same lines. Is it a compromise of having something so tight fitting in such a stiff unforgiving fabric (even with stretch)? So Ginger Jeans, I’m sorry it wasn’t you, it was me.

Ginger Jeans Front

So… skinny jeans. The ultimate ready-to-wear item made it into the sewing room as an approachable pattern whether you’re brand new to sewing or you’ve been avoiding crotch curves for years.

Ginger Jeans Back Pocket

Re-worked

During a thorough sort out of the entire contents of my house over the summer, this cowl struck me as having definite up-cycle potential. Originally shop bought, the yarn is squishy and soft with no hint of itchiness. Other than the cowl proportions being completely wrong, there was nothing wrong with the raw ingredients.

Before

Ripped back and balled up it was almost the size of a football (and a bit!) so I had plenty to play with. I remembered seeing the Cozy Collar in Emma Robertson’s Knitting By Design book – perfect for my recent coat sewing project which lacks a proper collar.

All wound up

I knitted it in three sessions of about an hour each so it’s a fairly rapid project (and a nice break from my other needles). The photographs in the book (and on Ravelry) use a black yarn so it’s really hard to see any stitch definition but comes a close likeness to a faux fur shrug. In a lighter yarn, the stitches are clearly defined but that brings a more everyday feel.Cozy Collar Knitting by Design

Feeling the chill

During the hottest Halloween on record in the UK, I was browsing the fabric stores of Brighton for the perfect shade of camel coating. Finally finding the right shade in a shop that was crammed full of fabrics from floor to ceiling. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the shop.

Prima Patterns Feb 2014 Camel Coat a

Back home, the weather took a turn for winter so I pulled out the patiently waiting pattern to get started. The pattern is Prima Magazine pattern from February 2014. Claire posts the Prima Patterns monthly on her blog Sew Incidentally so you don’t have to flick through the magazine in a newsagents. Thanks Claire! This coat pattern is very basic, no lining, no facings and not much in the way of fitting. All I added to the pattern was a little bit of waist shaping. The pattern comes in sizes 10-20. Size 10 was running a bit big compared to my measurements but I went for it anyway so that I could wear over thick jumpers.

Prima Patterns Feb 2014 Camel Coat b

The bound edges… I hate contrast/customization choices and rarely am I satisfied with my pairings. The options here were leather, braid or bias binding. Braid was ruled out because I prefer clean lines. Faux leather was ruled out because I couldn’t be bothered with the potential stress of it sticking to the presser foot and being a pain to sew. Bias binding would work perfectly well… only which colour to choose? Black, chocolate or navy? I almost talked myself out of making a coat at all all these design decisions!

Prima Patterns Feb 2014 Camel Coat c

Navy won in the end but I honestly think it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d chosen one of the other two options I considered. The insides are fairly similar to the outside – camel with navy bound edges. But just in case I don’t want to flash the insides while strutting down the high street, I made a matching belt.

Prima Patterns Feb 2014 Camel Coat d

I used just under 15m of binding for the coat and belt so my investment in a bias binding foot has already been well worth it.

Prima Patterns Feb 2014 Camel Coat e