Saturday 28 September 2013

Fall for Cotton Challenge - completed!

Finally after a whole month (!), I finished the Fall for Cotton Challenge just in time!

If you wonder why it took me so long, here are the reasons:

(1) I sewed only on the weekend, because I was knitting during the week.
(2) I had to finish my mums quilt - still not full done. I just have to quilt the sashing and then bind it. It has to be done by 8th of October - manageable!
(3) I got a serger and had to try it out - so made a jersey dress instead.
(4) I was in Brighton one weekend (and used the opportunity to buy more fabric) to enjoy the seaside.
(5) I was down with a cold for a few days.

Now that you had to read my excuses, ahm, let's move on to my new and only vintage dress!

Pattern and fabric: please see this post. But definitively 100% cotton!

Lovely vintage buttons.
Construction: You might notice, that it looks a bit different than the one on the pattern envelope. This is not only because I followed the tutorial by Katrina of Edelweiss Pattern to fit the dress, but also because I had to add mock princess seams. On the muslin, I noticed already, that the neckline was too wide for me (I hadn't stay-stitched it and thought that's the reason) and there was too much fabric over the bust. I had made a small bust adjustment and the bust itself fits fine. When comparing my tissue pattern and the muslin, I noticed that the muslin was indeed 1" bigger at the center front than the tissue paper (I still have no idea how this could happen - it can't have stretched that much?). So, I thought it will be alright to make the real dress with my tissue because it is smaller. But for whatever reason there was still loads of excess fabric over the bust.

mock princess seams

The little lazy me found the excuse that the dress is a wrap dress and it has to fit like this. So I proceeded with attaching the bias tape to the neckline. I even embroidered it with a little cross-stitch using my sewing machine. I have to admit I shamelessly copied Katrina here. I only stopped when the only task left was to finish the hem.

Front bodice
So, I left the dress hanging for three days. And you know, after a little break you look (with open eyes) at your project and suddenly realize actually there is far too much fabric over the bust! There was no way I would leave it like this. Sorry, that I didn't take any pics but it was dark and late at night and I just wanted to finish the dress. So, what did I do? In front of the mirror I pinched out the excess fabric - about half an inch each side -  starting at the start of the dart and stopping at the neckline. I then sewed my mock princess seams trying to taper to nothing at the neckline.

rolled hem
As for the hemming, I managed to sew a rolled hem with my serger. I even had to re-thread it, which was not as difficult as anticipated. I just did a few test runs and then serged along. You can't imagine my joy when serging the hem of the back bodice - I think the hem is at least 3 meters long and I was flying :) along full speed. So fast and out came a perfectly rolled hem!

One more thing about the fit: As I have sloping shoulders, I did an adjustment by adding 5/8" to the back shoulder seam and removing 5/8" from the front shoulder seam. When tissue fitting, the seams sit perfectly on my shoulder. But on the dress the seams slip almost 1" towards the back. Because of that my bust darts also sit 1" too high. I think what happens is that the heavy skirt drags on the front bodice causing the front to slip backwards.

The seam should be where my finger points.
Have I worn it yet? I wanted to last Friday because it was my last day at work before starting to write up my PhD thesis. But the problem was, that the front bodice (red poplin) was clinging like crazy to my tights and after only 3 steps my underwear would be exposed. So, no thank you. That means I have to make a slip before I can go out into public, buh...

Will I make it again? Probably not because I do not have that many opportunities to wear such a lovely dress :)

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Getting ready for autumn: Owl mittens

I have to admit I have been bitten by the knitting bug and having finished my lace cowl, I immediately started on the next project.

I love owls and when I saw an owl mitten pattern in the Mollie Makes magazine from last year, I just knew I had to knit them. So, I bought the double pointed needles (at this point I hadn't heard of the magic loop method – and shame on me, but I still haven’t looked up what it means), got 2 skins of wool, switched on you tube – because I had no idea how to knit with double-pointed needles and off I went.

Owl mittens :)
Wool used: Grey Wendy Merino Chunky. I know it is exactly the same colour as in the magazine. I wanted to buy brown wool, so that I can wear the mittens with my beige coat, but when I was in the shop that brown wool and beige coat would look too unicolour. I then had my hands on the pink wool (again), but my boyfriend convinced me to go for the grey one because I can wear them with more clothes.

Needles: double pointed needles, 5 mm

Pattern: Mollie Makes Owl Mittens, issue 21 "Seasons Greeting". When you know what you are doing - easy peasy. When you use double pointed needles for the first time ever – slight nightmare. There were so many needles and I had to use a cable needle as well to hold stitches in front or back, puh.

Knitting: I had to start 4 times until I finally got a proper cast on and a few first rounds of knitting that looked alright. That involved loads of swearing, but after watching you tube again and again, it finally worked. One football match and several rows latter, my bf was looking at me: Oh, so you actually did it (surprise in its words) – yep, I am not giving up easily.

I was trying to shape a heart - failed :P
I also found out, that you shouldn't knit when ill with a cold as your concentration might not be the best. I don’t know how often I had to rip apart my knitting – at least I am not scarred anymore. But nonetheless I managed to knit ¾ of the left mitten that night and stopped only when my cast-ons for the thumb slid from my needles. Next day, I finished it off only to find out, that I had forgotten to reverse the pattern instructions which were for the right mitten, buh. My bf laughing: Haha, you are having two right mittens now. So I just left it, until I felt better and ripped 90% of the mitten apart and started anew. If you would like to try the pattern yourself, Mollie Makes (have a look in their comments) has given some instructions on their blog about how the make the left handed mitten.

Bf: Do you really want to pose with flowers??? Me: Sure! Autumn Mood!
I haven't blocked the mittens, because I think they look really nice without :) Also, I didn't add a button for the eyes, because (1) I don't have any in the right size and (2) they look cute without!

How is your knitting going? Have you finished anything and are ready to wear it? Our temperatures are up to 20 C at the moment, so I still have to wait...

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Does it look like a nightgown?

Having gotten my lovely overlocker on the weekend, I just had to try it out! And what better opportunity than to make a jersey dress! 

Me not fully happy.

Pattern: Maria Denmark Audrey Dress – I bought it because it is a beginners pattern and that was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, after having bought the pattern, I found a nightgown in my wardrobe that has exactly the same cut.

front with belt


Fabric: Super cheap jersey that I bought for £1.50/meter at Walthamstow Market. Unluckily, after I washed it, I noticed it was completely off grain – by half a meter! I tried to stretch the corners but that didn’t help. So in the end, I just picked a few points on the patterns on which I straightened the whole thing.

So perfect conditions to sew a non-perfect jersey dress with my overlocker!

Fitting: I was not sure if you have to fit a jersey dress! So I just went ahead without doing so. But as you might know: Yes you have to fit it! At least for sloping shoulders and sway back! You can see that my shoulder seams are not on my shoulders and there is a slight pile of fabric on my upper back.

The seam should be at my finger tips.

Construction: Super easy and fast (at least the stages with the overlocker). I even managed to sew/serge the sleeves in – but it was really scary to sew the curve! I just love the finished seams, yeah. 

When topstitching the neck facing and sleeve bands it was time to switch to my sewing machine. And this was not a pleasant experience at all. I decided to use the twin needle because I had never used it before and because I wanted a nice finish. I followed the instructions of my sewing machine manual and got started. No problems with the neckline but loads with the sleeve band and hem!

My needle started to skip stitches and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried re-threading – no success. It didn’t happen that often when I sewed really slowly (I think a snail might have been faster), so that is what I did. You can imagine, the hem took me ages. Are you wondering why I used my sewing machine and not my overlocker for the hem? That was because I didn’t manage to serge a rolled hem –yet.

I made use of my twin needle - here it was working properly - no skipped stitches.

Have I worn it yet? Does it count that I have worn it at home all Sunday? I am not sure I will leave the house with it because somehow the fabric (not only the pattern) reminds me of a nightdress as well. What do you think? Is it wearable outside? Or would you hide it under a blanket?

Cold, cold baby...

Will I make it again? I think you can anticipate the answer to this question already! Nope! But I will take it as a basis to make other jersey dresses. I found these really helpful and cool tutorials from madmin and onelittleminuteblog where they explain how to make your own jersey dress pattern and actually a lot of the jersey dresses I am wearing in autumn have this pattern! 

Any suggestions? If you have any ideas which other patterns I could try, please let me know! 

Last word: I am sure this pattern is a lovely pattern and I have seen lovely versions from it on the internet, but I think I was just unlucky with the fabric and also with the style hence my slightly negative post.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Review: Bernina 800DL overlocker

In case you are wondering how I can write a review about an overlocker that I am supposed to get on Christmas let me tell you: since yesterday I am the proud owner of the Bernina 800DL! My lovely boyfriend gave it to me (which means I chose it of course) for a special occasion.

I have been doing some research about the best overlocker brand during the last couple of weeks. As it seams the babylocks are the best and coincidentally that was the brand I serged with when doing my fitting and sewing class. So I was already prejudiced :P

Having a look at the price tags of the babylocks, I quickly understood they didn't fit Santa's budget. After reading loads of posts and many reviews, I finally settled on either the Brother 1034D or the Bernina 800DL. Both are beginner machines but with a big price difference. The only advantage (I could see) of the Bernina compared to the Brother was, that it has many metal parts and hence is not that noisy and should be more durable.

I slightly tended towards buying the Bernina 800DL and had already chosen a website where to buy it. When I was showing it my boyfriend he noticed that the company was based in South London! Perfect, we decided to go there so that I could try out both overlockers, ask questions and then decide which one to buy.
That's how she looks like when you open her :)

We went yesterday and found ourselves standing in a little shop which is also doing sewing machine repairs. The owner, an elderly gentleman, had loads of knowledge and let me try the Bernina DL800. It was a really smooth ride and I was surprised how quiet she was :) Although the shop sells Brother as well, they didn't have it in stock but I could try a Janome overlocker which was in the same price class. The Bernina won :) and home we went  - me all excited about trying out the overlocker.

Threading of the lower loopers.
I was mostly scared of threading the overlocker, but needn't to worry as she was already threaded! So I just knotted the thread of my cones onto the old thread and then turned the hand wheel until tho knots reached the point where they were to big to pass. That was actually only the case for the two threads that have to go through the needles eyes. Win!

Tension dials.

Serging with her is like a breeze and I started already to sew a knit dress. I managed to sew curves after having a look at the great tutorial by Ashley from Make it and Love it. I also tried to serge a rolled hem as this is an inbuilt feature of the Bernina 800DL, but haven't managed it yet. But I am sure I will soon, because when buying a Bernina you are entitled to a sewing machine class at Berninas in London - so I will go soon!

Such a neat and nice overlocked seam! (sneak peak preview for the dress I made - coming soon!)

Do you have an overlocker? If yes, what are you use it mainly for? If no, are you thinking about buying one?

You can definitively expect to see more knits from me - I still have my flamingo jersey! I hope you will all have a lovely week! Me veryyyyyyyyy happyyyyyy!

Thursday 12 September 2013

May I proudly present my knitted lace scarf!

Yeah, I did it! I knitted my first lace scarf! And let me tell you there were a few firsts here.

1. Knitted a lace pattern.
2. Knitted in the round.
3. Learnt to do provisional cast ons.
4. Learnt to knit yo, ssl and k2to :)
5. Knitted a picot cast off.
6. My first attempt at blocking.

And as you can imagine, it was not a smooth journey. 
  • I struggled with the tension.
  • Found out that you can knit in the wrong direction when knitting in the round (ups) – I just knitted back because I had no idea how to correct the wrong stitches
  • Learned that your needle cables shouldn’t be longer than the piece you are knitting – my needles were a total of 80cm instead of 40cm – definitively too long
  • Loads of waiting time because I had to order crochet needles (for the cast on) and more knitting needles

But despite all these little struggles, I loved to knit the scarf. It is just nice and cosy to spend the evening on the couch with your knitting in hand. Especially now that the days are getting darker and colder (and the warmest room in our house is the living room), I prefer to snuggle on the couch. But, on the weekend I will try to heat up my sewing room our shared office, to get loads of sewing done.

But now, let me properly introduce my first knitted make!

Pattern: Lace cowl from the Mollie Makes issue 14
Wool: Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino I bought from my local wool shop.

After blocking.

Construction: Not too difficult. After my third repetition of the lace pattern, I got the hang of it and I went ahead quite fast. I was able to knit 122 stitches and 16 rows during a football match :) I didn’t fully follow the intrcutions when knitting the cowl because the intructions called for 3.5, 4 and 4.5 cm needles and I had at first only the 4 cm one. So I knitted half of the scarf (3 repetitions of the lace pattern) with this one and the other half (another 3 repetitions) with the 4.5 cm needle instead of knitting 2 repetitions with each needle.

Before blocking and with yellow provisional cast on.
Blocking: As I have never blocked something before I had a look on the web to find out what to do. In the end I followed a tutorial by Pam from Gingerbread Snowflakes. For this method, you tightly roll bath towels to a tube and then place your cowl onto them. The tutorial calls for steaming your cowl, but as I have not the best iron I handwashed my cowl before placing it on the towel rowl.

When washing and pressing the cowl it reminded me very much of my childhood, because my sister and I used to wash our doll cloth that my grandma had knitted for us. After soaking them in water we would roll them up in big towels and stamp onto them to press out any water. Then everything would be hanged on a little washing line that was spanned between two chairs :) For the cowl I used the same method, but placed it on the towels instead of the washing line, smile.

What I like about the cowl: It's pink - what's not to like? And super soft and cosy. And I made it! And I think I will be able to wear it soon as the temperatures are dropping in the UK.

Sunday 8 September 2013

WIP: Butterick Retro B4790

Finally, this weekend I managed to fit the muslin for the Fall for Cotton challenge! Remember, the dress I am going to make is the Butterick Retro B4790, which is a wrap dress with a circle skirt. I used old cotton bed sheets I got from a charity shop for the muslin. The bed sheets are super soft and quite stretchy (I have to admit I didn't stay stitch the neckline). I assume my real fabric will behave a bit better - more stiff.

Following the tutorial by Katrina of Edelweiss pattern, I cut out size 8, which is only 1/2" bigger than my high bust measurement. I then moved my shoulder seams forward and adjusted my waist width by adding some tissue to the side seams of front and back bodice.

I think the muslin looks alright, although I still find that there is too much fabric at the bust (maybe I need to do a SBA) and in the area going from my shoulders to the bust. But have a look yourself.

Do you see the excess fabric that forms a fold radiating from the shoulders to the bust? Any ideas there if it is supposed to be like this? Or how I can remove the excess?

Wednesday 4 September 2013

I am featured at thisblogisnotforyou

Today, I am featured by Charlie over at thisblogisnotforyou.

So, if you ever wanted to know what else I am doing other then sewing and how my day looks like, head over to Charlie and have a look at my interview!

Completed: Petrol-Blue Kelly Skirt

I went to Walthamstow Market the other day for my very first time and was surprised how cheap the fabric and haberdashery was! You could find linings, jersey and chiffon for as little as £1/meter. 

Naturally, I couldn’t hold back and came home with a big stash of fabrics and some zippers. Most of the fabric is already dedicated for a certain pattern and as I really need a plain skirt I went ahead and made the Kelly Skirt from Megan Nielson. Originally, I wanted that skirt to go with my Hawthorn Blouse, but their styles don't fit together! Now I have a petrol-blue skirt and I am not sure which colours to wear with it! Any suggestions?

Fabric and buttons: I used a petrol-blue poly cotton that I got for £1.50/meter, yeah. I lined the skirt with golden polyester and used some white cotton lawn from my stash for the piping. The buttons are vintage and I got them from eBay.

Pattern: Kelly skirt, beginner’s pattern, from Megan Nielson. The skirt has a waistband, two front pockets and pleats in the front and back. I decided to add some piping as I had never tried it before. I also added the lining myself and I am super happy with how it turned out.

Construction: Very easy. It took me only 1 day to sew the skirt and I am a slow sewer. 

What have I learnt?
(1) To make my own continuous bias tape (I followed the tutorial from Colette) and piping (I followed the instructions in my sewing book). I sewed the piping on the skirt after I had stitched front and back together. I used my zipper foot for this, which worked perfectly fine. The only problem is that the piping at the front waist is not finished! I thought it would be encased by the waistband, but it isn’t. Does anybody know a good tutorial about how to do this?

(2) To make a nice skirt lining! I am quite proud that I figured that out by myself :) To make the lining, I just traced the skirt and back front which were already pleated and sewn together (I hadn’t made the button stand yet). By tracing the pleated skirt, I did not have to add pleats to the lining yeah! I sewed lining front and backs together, finished the hem with a rolled hem foot and then attached the lining to the skirt waist. Then I just followed the instructions of the pattern.

(3) Not to iron too hot! I always iron on the hottest setting, because most of my fabrics and especially the quilting cottons are 100% cotton. So no shrinkage here. But when I tried to iron fusible interfacing to my waistband, I noticed that my interfacing puckered! First I couldn’t understand what happened but then it made click! My fabric had shrunk but interfacing not L It actually shrunk ½”. Luckily enough, I had cut the waistband bigger, so it just fits!

What do I like about it? I love the piping and the big pockets. And I didn’t have to fit the skirt – amazing! And the buttons are they not cute?

Have I worn it yet? Yes, I wore it the other day to work. It felt great! The only issue I had was that after 2 cups of tea and lunch the waistband was quite tight! But if it would be bigger, it wouldn’t fit snugly. So, no choice here.

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