I made a bag!

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A real, honest to goodness leather bag. With an adjustable shoulder strap….

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And lovely chrome hardware…

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Now, I will admit that it came in kit form from Simple Way, but the stitching is all my own.

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I’ve had this kit for over a year and finally laid hands on it again a few weeks ago whilst boxing up the loft.

The very same evening I sat down and opened the pack, threaded a needle and got all set to sew, when I realised that the gusset piece hadn’t been punched ready for attaching the strap.

Eep!  I was pretty sure that I’d just have to suck it up, purchase an awl, and punch the holes for myself.  And I was ok with that…it was my fault after all that I’d left it so long.  But I dropped a speculative email to Simple Way and explained the situation and asked if there was anything they could do to help.

I was astonished to receive a very prompt email replay offering to replace the piece for me, no problems.  In fact, as it was a while since the kit had been purchased it was very likely that the leather or colour would be different so would I like them to replace the whole kit?

Seriously…just the best levels of customer service I’ve experienced in quite some time.

So I packed up the bag, sent it back and within a few days a whole new kit arrived with me.

And I sat down over a couple of evenings and stitched together my first ever leather bag.

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And I love it.  The Simple Way kit includes all you need to make this. Precut leather pieces which have been pre-punched ready for you to sew.  Matching thread and a whopping great needle.

The instructions are really clear, and show you how to secure the thread so the ends don’t show, but it’s really secure.

I really enjoyed the process, and the only thing I’d change about this bag is if it had a buckle closure, but that’s just being picky. And the newer version does have a strap to close it. It’s a roomy bag that will hold all my crap essentials, and which I can sling over my shoulder, so it’s immensely practical for family day’s out.  Even my DSLR camera fits in.

My only regret is that I wish I’d made this sooner.  I’m eyeing up the Simple Way website for another project.  I’ve got my eye on this little satchel in red:

petite satchel

PS…Simple Way only know of me because I’m a pesky customer who leaves stuff too long to sew.  

This kit was a Christmas gift from my lovely husband (who always does the best gifts).  I’m happy to review this because I think they’re a great little company with great products.  Sharing the love, peeps!


Sewing with The Archers…or how to kickstart your sewjo!

My sewjo has been missing in action for far too long.  The incident with the Linden in the nighttime really didn’t help it out much.  Although your very kind words did me a power of good.  Thank you one and all.

Some of my ennui has been health related, but I woke up this weekend and could breathe easily for the first time in about six weeks.  It took me a while to work out why I was feeling so very different!

Some of it has been weather related.

It tells you something about the weather in a place when they go to the trouble of making a t-shirt about it!

It tells you something about the weather in a place when they go to the trouble of making a t-shirt about it!

Cold, dark, damp northern days do not inspire me to sit at the table and sew.  I’d rather curl up with knitting and a movie, thank you very much. I have no idea how you guys in North America and Canada do it.  I know…I’m a wuss!

Some of it is related to not having my sewing loft.  Such a first world problem! So I raided Ikea for a Raskog trolley, shipped all the necessary into it and I now have a pretty fab sewing set up in the kitchen.

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This morning I dropped the kids at school, came home and did the few household chores that demanded attention, and by 10am the day stretched ahead of me, free for sewing.

Honestly….I had absolutely no inclination whatsoever to pick up the fabric and put my foot to the pedal.

And then I remembered my podcast library.  Which is overflowing because I only ever listen to podcasts whilst I’m sewing.  And when I say “overflowing” I mean 27 episodes of The Archers and 46 of Desert Island Discs just for starters.

Which gave me a super idea.  In the spirit of Kids Clothes Week, I’m going to aim to sew for 1 episode of The Archers every day this week.  I’ll kill several birds with one stone.

  1. I’ll have the little Liberty Tana Lawn top sewn for Button.
  2. I’ll be able to finally write a long overdue book review for you (sorry Tuttle!).
  3. I’ll clear down some episodes of The Archers.
  4. I’ll stop feeling guilty about not having done items 1 and 2!
  5. I’ll be able to share a lovely giveaway with you.
  6. I’ll be free to sew something for me!

So…I tried it out today and made good progress.

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Let’s see what we have by the end of the week.


Grainline Linden….relearning a sewing lesson.

Wadder alert!

Whilst I love sharing things that have gone swimmingly…I think it’s also good to share the stuff that doesn’t quite work.  

I’ve learnt from this project…maybe someone else will too.

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I’ve had my eye on the Linden pattern since Grainline initially launched the pattern.

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I love traditional sweatshirts but they don’t love me…I’m the wrong shape for them. Despite this I had high hopes of Linden opening up lots of opportunities for sweatshirt love.

Sadly…I don’t think it’s going to be the case.  Be warned…this ain’t pretty!

Cue massively unflattering photos.

Cue massively unflattering photos. Not helped by the sweater being dragged back by my hands…but you get the picture!

I’m going to start out by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern. It’s my first Grainline pattern and it’s immaculately drafted and the instructions are really clear.

This is a clear case of hope triumphing over experience.

I know that raglan sleeves aren’t the best for me because I have sloping shoulders that don’t support the top of the sleeve.

I know I need to be cautious of scooped necklines…if they’re loose then they tend to slip and slide.

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I knew I needed to do a FBA and that would involve adding a bust dart.  In this case it’s still a tiny bit long and a tiny bit low.  Which would be hidden in a plain fabric but isn’t on this striped fabric.

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The fabric comes from the “what the hell was I thinking pile”!

And I know I just need a bit more shape in a garment.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a trainwreck of a garment, it’s all good! This has been a great and worthwhile process for me.

Over the last year I’ve gained quite a bit of weight….you can hardly have missed it. Mostly this has been driven by medication impacting on appetite, quite a bit of it steroid based because of my repeated bouts of bronchitis and accompanying chest infections.

(Cue too many cakes and too much pasta!)

These chest problems have also severely limited my ability to exercise, as has a very frozen shoulder for the last 6 months.

My changed shape size has undoubtedly knocked my sewing mojo.  I’m not overly inclined to sew for myself at this size as I’m determined that this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. Getting back to full health/fitness is a huge priority for me.  It seems such a waste of fabric…which is frankly crazy.  I still need stuff to wear…

My judgement as to what suits me is also off at the moment.  The photos above evidence that.

However….I do know that I’m glad I tried this pattern.  I bought it on sale and the fabric was very inexpensive too.  So it was an experiment that cost me a little money, a little time, but has taught me to really trust my instincts.

If I listen to myself I know what suits me.  It comes back to the work I did with Wardrobe Architect last year.  I need to revisit this because, even with this fuller shape, the principles still apply.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I spent some time this past week sorting fabric and patterns in my stash.  Some are to go into storage until I have my new sewing room up and running, hopefully by the end of the year.  These are mainly lovely vintage winter fabrics…I see some beautiful jackets in my Winter 2015 wardrobe.

Others are patterns that I’m planning to build my Summer 2015 wardrobe around.  I have a few fabrics that I’ve been hoarding for too long….and a pile of patterns that had me exclaiming over and over again “oh!  I’d forgotten I had that!”.

It’s time to build a plan, I think.  I’ll be back with that soon….and a much more successful make!


TGBSB – S3:E6 – the finale

It’s the final episode of this season *sob…sniff* and it’s a cracker!


Caribbean socks

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I remember the days when I swore I’d never knit socks ever again.  They are long gone. The Mr loves a hand knit sock.  So much so that you can’t let him near a yarn shop unaccompanied.  We called into my LYS last week for a circular cable and a spool of sewing thread and spent £19.  Two large balls of sock yarn had somehow found their way into the basket.

Apparently his concern was that a couple of nights previously I’d had no knitting to do until I’d acquired said cable.  He couldn’t leave me without any knitting, could he.  What sort of a husband would he be!?!?

Yeah…right! ;-)

Thankfully, I did finish the Caribbean socks just in time for Valentine’s day.  More good luck than good judgement I can assure you.

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The yarn, you may recall, is Jawoll Magic.  It’s a bit of a pest to knit.  It’s kinda puffy, I suspect due to the nylon content, so I found it a bit snaggy on the needles.  That said, I used bamboo needles that were a little past their sell-by date so they won’t have helped.

Why yes, those stripes are perfectly matched!  How kind of you to notice!

Why yes, those stripes are perfectly matched! How kind of you to notice!

I would knit this again, but only because I’ve treated myself to some KnitPro Karbonz for sock knitting.

Image: Meadow Yarn

Image: Meadow Yarn

I’m not usually a fan of anything other than wood as I like quiet knitting, but I think for socks, the dpns take too much of a bashing and I need smooth.  I’ve got another pair of socks on theses needles as I speak.  One that is equally puffy and pesky.  It’s a joy.  These needles are divine…and not overly clicky!  I’m seriously contemplating replacing all my needles with them.

The colours are wonderful.  The greys make the aqua and blue really pop!

The colours are wonderful. The greys make the aqua and blue really pop!

The pattern, as always, is my favourite vanilla sock pattern from Regia.  You can find it free on Ravelry here.

Apologies for the crinkles...I've been trying to get a photo of these for weeks but had to hide them from him when he went back to London.  these are freshly dried but not blocked!

Apologies for the crinkles…these have been drying over a radiator.  Sacrilege I know, but I’ve been trying to get a photo of these for weeks.  He will insist on wearing them as often as I can get them washed and dried,  so I had to hide them from him when he went back to London.  


TGBSB – S3:E5

It’s the semi-final, folks….and it’s a good one!


TGBSB – S3:E4

Sorry this is a bit late…enjoy!


SOLD – Striped jersey fabric for sale

As we clear down the loft ready to put everything into a storage locker and start ripping the room to pieces, I’ve come across another large piece of  fabric that won’t ever be used by me.

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This is a lightweight striped cotton jersey in navy marl and white.  The stripes are even widths and run horizontally across the fabric.

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There is a lot of drape in this fabric.

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It’s a lovely fabric…just not ‘me’.  Wardrobe Architect has a lot to answer for! ;-)

It’s a little over 170cm wide and 3.2m in length.  Plenty to make a dress or a maxi skirt ready for summer…although you will need a slip underneath as this is lovely and lightweight and flowing.

£15.00 including UK postage and packaging.  

I’ll happily ship anywhere else…I’ll just need to get a price for the extra shipping for this.

Fabric will be shipped in a sealed poly shipping bag to keep it clean and dry.

Payment via PayPal please…just email me if your interested and I’ll send you the details. Use the little envelope button up there on the top right of the blog.

 


A very pink hat….Snowtracks Hat by Timothy Peters

I’ve been long overdue a new hat.  In truth I’ve shivered at the school gate too many days this winter wishing I had a cosy covering for my head and ears.  But like many other things, it’s been added to the bottom of the “to do” list and left to languish unattended.

So, when Himmelbjerget gifted me some exquisite pink yarn for Christmas, I knew immediately it would be a hat.

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But still I procrastinated.  Which hat would it be?  I spent more time than is probably healthy scouring Ravelry for the perfect hat.  In the end I plumped for Snowtracks Hat by Timothy Peters for Stitch Nation.

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This pattern is lovely.  The cable section is easily followed, especially as I put a stitch marker between each pattern repeat, which makes a world of difference.  You can quickly see where in each repeat you are, and save a lot of time working backwards and forwards in your head counting stitches.  Thanks to my friend Liz for that tip…it’s a gem!

The only problem I encountered was one that I couldn’t have foreseen.  Although I used the same weight of yarn and the yardage told me I had plenty of yarn….I didn’t!

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I ran out 3 rows into the crown shaping.

I tried the hat on….and looked like a Smurf in a pink hat.  It was way too long. I like my hats snug not slouchy. So I did the happy dance, ripped it back to the right length, started the crown shaping about 10 rows earlier, took a few rows out of the crown shaping and ta dah!  It fits perfectly, with just a yard or two of yarn to spare.

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Simples! The pattern is very forgiving of tampering knitters.

I look tired...bronchitis and a chest infection will do that to you.   Trust me...this is better than I looked yesterday!

I look tired…bronchitis and a chest infection will do that to you. Trust me…this is better than I looked yesterday!

And the yarn…, the yarn is oh, so wonderful. It’s Yarn Garden Aran in Purple Flowered Rock Rose, and it is sublime.  Soft and squishy in the ball.  Smooth to knit. The needles positively fly through it and the stitches dance through your fingers. Densely saturated colour flecked with speckled nuggets of tweedy contrast. And yes…it’s that pink in real life. I’ve had the devil with these photos as the yarn is blowing the colours out completely. It’s totally joyous, both to knit and to wear.

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I was so sad to finish knitting, but am so happy every time I look at this or pop it on.

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I want to knit this yarn again…now!


TGBSB – S3:E3

Sigh…it seems Patrick is determined to stick with his ‘stache!  But this week’s episode is 1950’s heaven.  And with devilish timings on the challenges.  I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t have been on the floor weeping!