Sloan District Leggings

There seemed to be a wave of UK sewing bloggers and Instagramers visiting New York back in the Spring, me included. The Garment District required some dedicated tourist time.

Top of my list was lycra for sportswear. It’s notoriously difficult to source good quality lycra (without an extortionate price tag) in the UK so I loaded up with two colourways of space dyed, some plains and a loud print. Of course the crazy print was the first one I wanted to sew with! I can’t remember if this was from Spandex World or Spandex House but definitely one of them.

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I was hoping the print wasn’t directional so that I could maximise fabric usage with creating pattern piece placement. After much staring, I confirmed it was directional. It’s hard to see the bubbles over the print in these photographs but there are bubbles and they’re shaded.

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The pattern is Sloan Leggings which I’d previously made both views of as toiles. Nevertheless, I had to take these in again right around the inseam because this lycra had more stretch than the cheap stuff I used for the toile.

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They have been dance class, gym and yoga tested with great success. A second pair is already in progress with more NY fabric.

What is is about sewing sportswear that brings out all the ridiculous poses I can muster!?

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Ella Again

It’s been a while since I last blogged but I wanted to share a second version of the Ella Top by Liola Patterns.

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The fabric was purchased from Elliot Berman Textiles in the New York Garment District – I wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t for Sonja. While in New York I was keen to stock up on stretchy fabrics so this was the only woven I bought. I was overwhelmed by the wide array of fabrics – this happens a lot to me.

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It washed and sewed up beautifully. The neckline doesn’t sit quite right but this is entirely due to me using bias binding that is too wide (narrower is easier around such a tight curve). I was wooed by the dots so I have only myself to blame.

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Piping was fun to work with, it’s my first time but I found it easy to get to grips with and like how it highlights the back yoke. Even more so since I played with the width of the pleat to get the pattern repeat to match up impeccably.

Hand Dyed Nurmilintu

I received the most amazing Christmas gift of a yarn dying workshop tutored by Daisy of Devon Sun Yarns and hosted at Carmen’s shop A Yarn Story. The workshop was a full day of learning, creating and fun in a gorgeous shop packed full of inspiration… I had such a great time.

A Yarn Story Bath

Workshop participants had the opportunity to try two different dyeing techniques, browse (and buy from) Carmen’s carefully curated yarn shop and ate a fantastic lunch too. The first technique that Daisy showed us was painting a skein of yarn. I have plans for this yarn and have balled it ready to knit but it’s not the one I’m writing about today.

The second technique was dip dying a pre-knitted blank into baths of dye to achieve a true colour gradient. I selected a sock yarn with a silver sparkle thread in it and mixed three colours that I thought would make a pretty gradient. I had expected to get a brown, blue and plum so I was quite surprised to see the yarn come out rust, indigo and pink. I have great respect for independent yarn dyers like Daisy… selecting and mixing colours is not easy.

Hand dyed yarn blank

I was surprised at the outcome of the dyed yarn but not disappointed. It’s a great colour scheme and one that would fit right into my Mum’s wardrobe. What better way to thank her for the gift of the workshop than by making something out of my hand dyed creation?

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The dying was done to a pre-knitted blank which you can knit directly from. However, I wanted the colours the other way up on the shawl so I balled it allowing me to start knitting from the other end. Obviously drying the blank had crimped the yarn but it knit just fine and these crinkles came out on blocking the finished shawl.

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I have had the Nurmilintu shawl pattern by Heidi Alander queued on Ravelry since I saw Marrie’s Coastal Nurmlintu. It’s a great pattern that is reversible and consists entirely of knit stitches or variations of knit stitches (no purling). The alternating lace and garter sections mean there are some easy parts and some that need more attention – I like the variety. The pattern can be repeated as many times as needed which is perfect when you have no idea how many meters you have.

I enjoyed yarn dying so much that I bought one of Daisy’s yarn dying kits with a skein of DK so that I could have another go at home. I’ll knit up the other yarn I dyed at the workshop first before I dye the DK but I’m looking forward to more hand dyed projects in the future.

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Fleck T-shirt

New patterns are exciting but it’s also nice to return to an old favorite pattern that you know is as much a staple wardrobe piece as it is an easy sew.

Fleck Scoop T a

The scoop top is a free pattern by Skirt as Top and one that I’ve made twice before; a stripe version (I still swoon over the stripe matching in those photographs) and a plain version. The stripe version was worn to death, recycled as a dusting cloth and finally textile recycles and the plain was a step too close to pink for me so made a hasty escape as a charity shop donation. Nevertheless, I knew my pattern pieces were a good fit and I found the perfect jersey in my stash.

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It’s a raindow fleck slub t-shirt jersey. There’s a Robert Kaufman (£££) version of this but I’m going to be honest and say mine was just a few pounds per meter from Walthamstow High Street (a shop without a name above the door!).The colourful little flecks are delightful… how is it that little details in fabric can bring such joy?

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I decided to shake things up and make turn-up sleeves (useful tutorial here). I kinda like them but should make them looser if I tried again… that or ease off the press-ups!

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Have you made any basics with a twist recently? Funky fabric or cuffs?

Burda Jumper

What do you make once you’ve got your sew-jo back? The time and motivation to sew was there but the inspiration not quite flowing yet. Browsing through a year’s Burda Style magazine subscription and refolding my stash I managed to pair a soft taupe-mushroom ponte from Truro Fabrics with an open shoulder sweater. I’m not a huge sweater fan but I do have a soft spot for a quirky feature.

The pattern is #113 from 03/2014 edition of Burda Style. I omitted the leather elbow patches (ick) and the pocket. I also took the liberty of switching the suggesting Petersham ribbon at the shoulder opening for interfaced cotton lawn. I like the contrast and it’s always satisfying to use up some smaller scraps from my fabric stash.

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It’s a really quick make -the dropped shoulders and boxy style mean there is no fitting required. However the Burda instructions for the shoulder opening were confusing. I muddled through and ended up with something functional.

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My sew-jo was back but I still took over two months to get round to photographing and blogging. Like many others, any spare time I have I’d rather use for sewing or, more recently, playing and cuddling our puppy.

Get Ready for Spring

When you embark on a long-term project you’re never quite sure if it’ll be finished at a seasonally appropriate time or not. Luckily this one has arrived in time for Spring.

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The pattern is Ready for Spring by Yellowcosmo – when I found the pattern on Ravelry, I added a number of other Yellowcosmo patterns to my favourites list for future. Her designs are just my thing (a bit of asymmetry, geometric lines or a quirky feature without being too eccentric).

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I’m normally heavily influenced by the colours used by the pattern designer but I actually already had this yarn in my stash (Tosh Merino Light in Button Jar Blue). It was intended for a different project but I didn’t like the drape with the correct gauge so I had to find a new pattern for this yarn. I’m pleased with Ready for Spring pattern – it’s a good match.

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There are three sections of lace plus some ribbing in the back. It was my first time with a lacy pattern and it took a bit of getting used to. I found myself making plenty of mistakes and having to go back to fix them. My favourite lace pattern is the one across the bust. I’d like to lift this from the pattern and use it on something else.

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My only change was to add just a little shaping for waist and arched back – sneaking in some decreases evenly over the side and back. I’m two dress sizes smaller at my waist than hips so even with the open style I’d have ended up with a ripple of sway back fabric without this.

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Do you have any tips for me… specifically blocking a cowl collar. Although I’d like to upgrade from blocking on a towel to a foam mat, I’m not convinced that’s why the cowl collar didn’t block well. It couldn’t work out a good way to pin for blocking and consequently it dried with ripples. Nevertheless, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try some other blocking methods on the collar because I’m going to be wearing this a lot.

Simplicity 1325

Simplicity 1325

I’m still catching up on blogging my 2015 makes. This dress unfortunately wasn’t quite ready for Christmas but was finished by New Years. I wished I’d gotten round to photographing it over the holidays because it was much warmer back then. I was very reluctant to part with my coat even for just a few outside photographs today.

Simplicity 1325 front

The bodice took a lot of work and multiple toiles to get the fit right, perhaps I could have done more but over-fitted can be restrictive. It’s hard to know when to stop sometimes. My fitting changes included narrowing and angling the shoulders, a small bust adjustment, raising and rotating the bust darts and raising the neckline (less about exposure, more to do with creating a more flattering line) and that was just the front bodice.

Simplicity 1325 side

The construction is fairly standard and includes a lined bodice but I wanted to go further and line the skirt too. Life is too short to suffer skirt riding up tights. As always, I turned a relatively simple dress into something more complex but I must have been absorbed by this make because I even catch-stitched the hem by hand (I’ll do anything to avoid hand sewing).

Simplicity 1325 lined bodice

Simplicity 1325 lined skirt

The fabric? Gorgeous indigo chambray from Dragonfly Fabrics – a lovely birthday present from my husband. The lining was a stash relic that I’ve always loved the colour of and waited patiently for the right item to be lined in it.

Simplicity 1325 back