Polly Cardigans – Made by Ma!

I have something lovely to share with you today.

No….not Miss Button, gorgeous as she is.

The hot pink loveliness!

Ma has made not one, but two of these lovely cardigans for Button this summer. As well as the pink one featured here, there’s a white one too!  They’re such a super basic as they go with everything.  Sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves…yep…they’ll work.

It’s a great little cardigan for cooler spring weather, or the end of summer days when you just want to take the chill off of shoulders.  Or, even, layered over long sleeves on cooler days.

Can we talk about the little “pleated” frill along the bottom hem? Too adorable, no?

The yarns, being cotton, are machine wash and dry-able.  Perfect for a young lady who loves getting up to mischief and mayhem.

The white one recently had blackcurrant juice spilled down it.  A quick wash with a spot of bleach…et, voila…good as new.

I cannot recommend this pattern enough.  It’s a quick knit that results in a cardigan that gets worn again and again. It’s pretty without being twee, but grown up enough to make the heart of a 9 year old girl happy.

Win!

Project notes

Pattern:                           Polly from Rowan Kids

Yarn:                               Cotton…of some description!

Colourway:                    White and hot pink

Purchased at:                Black Sheep Wools

Total  cost:                     Who knows?


She had so much fabric she didn’t know what to do

I’m sure you’ll remember this recent post when I happily declared that I had worked through my stash, sorted and catalogued all the fabric, and was set and ready to sew.

And then I made blinds.

And looked at the crates.

And I sewed nothing.

And I looked at the crates some more.

And I flicked through the patterns.

And I flicked through the fabric catalogue.

And I sewed nothing.

Because, when you’ve got 176 metres of fabric in the stash, (I know!!!), and you haven’t really sewn properly for a couple of years, there’s a question that your poor, overwhelmed brain keeps coming back to.

“Where the heck do you start?”

I have a huge pile of fabric, and enough patterns to last me till doomsday.  But I simply couldn’t decide what to make.

Should I make this pattern in that fabric?  Or would the other one be more appropriate? What about this one?

Completely stuck!  Completely frustrated! And still not sewing.

A couple of weeks back I decided that I would start with jeans.  The rationale being that I really need some more jeans in my wardrobe.  And my favourite sort-of jeans, RTW, but made from a soft stretch chino, had finally given up their last fibre.

Also…I wear jeans pretty much every day.

Oh…and I already had the pattern printed off and ready to tape.  Perfect.

So I taped up the pattern. Got to love a big sewing table!

Then packed it away.

Turns out, I’m not quite ready to go from zero to jeans fitting.

So….I sewed nothing.

And then, I opened my wardrobe and realised that I’ve hit that point where everything is running close to shabby and I need some new tops. (I’ve still got a couple of pairs of jeans that have only just come back into rotation after losing a bit of weight. The jeans weren’t a priority after all!)

I was just about to suggest a shopping trip to the Hubby, when I realised that, quelle suprise, I do know where to start.

So, on Saturday, whilst he cleared the last of the boxes and assorted crap from the garage, I pulled out a length of fabric that I’d already earmarked for toiles, and a couple of patterns that I’d already made up before.

First up, Simplicity 1886, which I’d previously made up in a pretty floral poly and worn to shreds.

OMG…throwback to dark hair! I look soooooo young!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I’m really glad I made that toile!

The fit was so very far off that I binned the toile, and the pattern.  I’d already hacked it to death and, quite frankly, would much rather start again from fresh.

I’ll admit to being quite shocked by this as, if you’d asked me, I would have told you that it would be too small!

I quickly moved on to Newlook 6217, which I’d made up, loved, and worn to shreds before blogging it.  This is one of the patterns that I’d like to be a TNT that I can pull out, pop on the fabric, and whizz up whenever the mood takes me.

It’s the kind of easy-to-wear top I love for day-to-day wear when you’ve got to get yourself together quickly in the morning, but don’t want to look like a complete schlep!

I knew there were some tweaks needed to the pattern, so did a quick toile, clarified the tweaks, and applied them to the pattern.

I’m pretty sure it’s good to go, but I’ll make up in some cheap fabric just to confirm. I’ve then got at least 2 or 3 other lengths of fabric that I can quickly whizz up and get out of the stash and into the wardrobe.  Whereupon I can recycle the tatty RTW.

And I’ll have my first ever TNT!

Once that’s done I can move onto the next pattern I want to sew.  Which will either be the Ginger Jeans or the Sew Me Something Imogen top.

image copyright: sewmesomthing.co.uk

Cue, the next of the TNTs.

The moral of this story?  Turns out there’s a couple.

First up, when your sewing room is in boxes and you don’t know how long it will be before it’s unpacked…..stop buying fabric.

When you’re so busy that you’re not sewing….stop buying fabric.

And when you’re so stuck you don’t know where to start….Stop. Buying. Fabric!*

Oh…and Just. Start. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter if its the perfect fabric/pattern combo. Or if there are 73 other patterns that a given piece of fabric can be used for.

Just.  Sew.  Something.

“Done” is better than “Perfect!”

*Obviously, if your lovely friend texts  to say that she’s popping round at some point in the week with a gift of free fabric, that absolutely, positively doesn’t count. 

Just make sure it’s stuff you love, or let it go to another good home!


Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics – book review

Hello there!

The lovely guys at Tuttle Publishing have kindly sent me a selection of their new titles, and, as I’ve been very tardy with reviewing them, I thought I’d get to it, without further ado,  and start with Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahasi.

  

This is such a deceptive little book.  There are the usual suspects in terms of some simple totes and wee bags that would make lovely knitting project bags.

But!!!!

There are a clutch (see what I did there!) of really splendid designs that make the book well worth the modest cover price of £6.99 ($9.99).

The checkout basket bag is one.  Such an innovative and cool design that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  Which is pretty unusual when it comes to bag designs, lets be honest.

This Tote Bag with Gusset, which, whilst not as innovative, is a really good shape in different sizes that, in the right fabric, including leather, would look very hip and expensive.

I also love the picnic tote, which is my favourite shape in a tote bag, and which are invariably ridiculously overpriced in the trendy middle-class-mum stores.  This would look amazing in a striped ticking with leather handles.

Finally, the vase shaped bag. Whilst a bit twee for adults, this would be a perfect gift for tweenage girls, particularly with a few lip balms or mini stationery thrown in for good measure.  They’re a great way of busting through fabric scraps.  Or for whizzing up when you get roped into making stuff for the school or church fête!

Would I recommend this book.  Yes indeedy!  It’s got useful patterns that will not only be good for you to make up for yourself, but will also get you out of a bind, without too much stress and faff, should you need a gift or two.  The instructions are simple and clear, and you can easily add more detail, linings, inner pockets, etc., without testing the “leetle grey cells” too much.

Disclaimer:  Tuttle Publishing kindly supplied this book free of charge.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are my own and unbiased.  I would happily spend my own money to buy this book.


Going Underground Quilt

I can’t believe it’s been a year since we moved house.  Time flies!

When we told our kids we had finally found our new home, their excitement at moving so close to grandparents and their beloved park was tempered by real stress at leaving their home.

For children without any challenges, moving house is a big deal. For adopted children with attachment (amongst other) issues, moving house is A Very Big Deal, that creates a great deal of fear that they cannot vocalise or even understand.  But it’s real, and it’s really quite debilitating.

For our boy, this was expressed as absolute desolation at leaving his bedroom behind.  I wish it was an exaggeration but it wasn’t.  He spent the last week making little videos on his iPad so he’d have his old room with him at the new house.

To try and calm his anxiety I promised him that not only would his new bedroom be bigger than the tiny box room he had in the old house, but that I would make it extra super special for him. It didn’t work completely to allay his fears, but he was certainly excited as decorating started to happen.

He has a passion for all things London since his daddy worked there a few years ago…made even more exciting for him when we had a trip there to visit Daddy. But he especially loves the London Underground, so there was only one way we could go…..

London Underground Map wallpaper on one wall.

London themed fabric for his Roman blind.  It’s Capital by Prestigious Textiles.

London Underground bedlinen (thank you Nana!).

And, for hiding under and playing iPads or reading.  For cuddling up in on cold mornings, or if you’re not feeling well.  And for making rather splendid dens…….

……a London Underground quilt!

I can’t claim the work on this one.  This is all Made By Ma!  A huge pile of teeny squares lovingly cut and then put back together in the shape of the London Underground Map.

It’s totally awesome!  Iconic! And very clever!

Funnily enough, our little man doesn’t miss our old house at all any more.   And loves his new London bedroom.

Phew!

Project notes

Pattern:                             Tikki London – London Underground Quilt PDF

Pattern cost:                    £3.95

Fabric:                              Plain quilting cotton

Colourway:                      Various

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Total quilt cost:                Approx £100


Socks for Father’s Day

For some time now Pa Stitches-in-Law has been eyeing up the socks I’ve been knitting for The Husband and dropping some not very subtle hints about having cold feet.

Knowing that he wanted a pair for himself, and that he’s the same sock size as hubby, it was a complete no-brainer to make him a pair for Father’s Day this year.

Last weekend he and Button finally took some pictures of said socks for me to share with you.  So without further ado….

The yarn is lovely but it’s impossible to stripe match so I won’t be using it again.

For this pair I unwound the whole remaining ball and still couldn’t make it work.

Unmatched socks drive me unreasonably crazy but I’ll be sad not to knit this again as the socks are lovely and wear really well.  If unmatched stripes don’t bother you then I heartily recommend the yarn.

Thankfully Pa isn’t remotely bothered and absolutely loves his new socks.  He’s now angling for a second pair.  How many weeks until Christmas???????

Project notes

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock

Colourway:                      11

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Yarn cost:                         Sssssh….it’s a secret!


His Simple Socks

Hellooooooo!

If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll have seen that I’ve been sewing pink gingham curtains for Miss Button’s bedroom.

I have to tell you that I was snow blind with pink gingham!

All of these are interlined, French blackout, with buckram and hand pleated headings. That’s 4 layers to be locked together before you even think about adding the buckram and pleats.  It’s slow work but the end result is worth the effort.  I never fail to be delighted when a hand stitched curtain is hung.  Despite the grumbling and cursing the construction inevitably produces

I’ve also sewn a blind for Boy’s London themed bedroom.  It’s also French blackout, which is even more effective in a blind than a curtain!

Life has also been full of house plans, garden clearance and fencing, revision, final exams, doctors appointments and diagnoses, walking 10k steps a day to fundraise for Cancer Research, and just the general minutiae of daily life!

Whilst all of these are good things, by the end of the day the most I’ve been able to manage is box-setting Madam Secretary (soooo good!) and a little knitting or tapestry.

The sock on the needles at the moment is my usual, and much loved, Regia pattern, however, I recently ventured a little off sock piste and tried a new pattern. I’m so glad I did. Although I have to confess that I was forced to do so as a result of picking up some luminous yarn that was on sale in John Lewis only to find it was 3 ply.

It was a serendipitous purchase, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone, if only by a smidge. Whilst there isn’t a massive amount of choice in 3 ply sock patterns, having found His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle I didn’t feel like I was missing out. This  is super pattern that is well written and easy to follow.  The stitch pattern is simple enough for mindless tv knitting, but a little more engaging than plain stocking stitch.

The heel is reinforced which is a nice touch and pleasant to knit.

And I love how the toe, instep and heel look crisp against the patterned section.

Obviously we veered away from the sober, gentlemanly colour scheme of the original with this bold chartreuse.  That’s how we roll in these parts.

I didn’t swatch.  Which I should have done, as they came out a little on the snug side. Thankfully not too snug!  But next time I’ll go up a needle size just to make them a little more relaxed.

Whilst I missed Woolfest,  it’s not too long to wait until Yarndale, especially with the summer holidays looming large.  When I’m there I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some lovely 3 ply yarns to make these again.

Project notes

Pattern:                             His Simple Socks

Pattern cost:                     $3.50

Yarn:                                 Bergère de France Goomy 50

Colourway:                      Imprim Jaun

Purchased at:                  John Lewis

Yarn cost:                         About £6


Stash

As the hoard of boxes were unpacked into the sewing room, it became more and more apparent that I had much more fabric in reality than in my head.

Much, much more.

There are 3 x 80 litre boxes and a Harrods hamper.

That’s too much fabric for my comfort.  Quite a bit of it has been very kindly gifted to me, and there are some beautiful vintage wools that will force me soon to overcome my trepidation about coat making.

There are some bits and bobs for making things for the kids, which they’ve mostly grown out of as this stash has mouldered unloved, so will be used for cute pyjama bottoms for the winter.

But, lets be brutally honest here, most of it is stuff that I’ve bought on a whim over the past few years and has been scattered around the old loft and forgotten.

I was astonished at what I uncovered, so I took some time to catalogue and sort it all out.

I know there are several electronic options for curating your fabric collection, but I decided to go old skool.

A notebook and swatches.

I measured each piece of fabric and took a tiny snippet for the book.  I’ve recorded what width the fabric is and how much of it I have

The beauty of this “system” though, is that as I leaf through the notebook, there is the tactile swatch that I can feel to remind me of the thickness and hand.  Without the colour distortion that can occur with a screen.

At the back of the book is a total of the fabric I have at today’s date.  It doesn’t include the 3 metres that are in the post to me.  There’s currently 179.5m.  I am mortified.

I’m going to track what goes in and what goes out. There needs to be more going out than in, for sure.  I need to get the curtains and blinds sewn and then really dive into this stash and make some pretty things.

I’m off to sew curtains!


Gaptastic Cowl

I know…I know.  It’s glorious weather out there and here I am, still babbling on about winter woolies. But this was another yarnie gift from a friend.  Thankfully this was only from the Christmas just gone!

There’s not much to say about the Gaptastic Cowl, other than it is a super simple knit, and a very wearable thing.  It’s been knitted 18390 times, according to Ravelry. That many people can’t be wrong.

Before the delicious sunshine arrived, this was heavily in rotation to keep me toasty on the school run.  I’d been planning to make it for forever and never got around to it.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long!

The yarn is lush!  It’s Debbie Bliss Winter Garden, which is sadly discontinued.  It’s a shame because it’s just the perfect yarn for this cowl.  Soft and cosy and lightweight.  The colour is a misty grey blue with delicious flecks of turquoise, chartreuse and white.

Basically, it’s the perfect combination of pattern and yarn.  And I love it!


The goats of Inversnaid

With the temperatures today hitting the late 20’s, it is, of course, the perfect time to post a review of knitted hats and mitts.  😯

This yarn and pattern was a gift to me from my friend Christian at Christmas 2015, and they’ve been finished, so Ravelry tells me, since February 2017.  So this post is long overdue.  I hope you’ll humour me!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before what a huge fan I am of Kate Davies, and I was keen to knit one of her patterns and try her Buachaille yarn too.  So this was the best kind of gift from a friend who knows you well.  I’m blessed with several of those.

Starting with the yarn, I have to say this is just about the nicest yarn I’ve ever knit with. It’s crisp and firm, with excellent stitch definition, and deep colour saturation. Hubby was bored senseless of me gushing every time I picked up this project, but the yarn is simply joyous to knit with.

It’s not cheap, but it’s an artisan yarn and, I think, well worth the money.  I suspect this is going to be one of those yarns that lasts through much wear and tear, making it, in reality, much better value for money than less expensive, or squishier yarns, that frustratingly give up the ghost much sooner.

Having had a few of those experiences recently, I’m vowing that whilst the cheaper yarns are fine for the kids, who grow out of clothes rather than wear them out, for us grown ups I’ll be investing as much in the yarn as I do in the actually knitting of the garment.

The pattern is equally lovely.

Expertly written.  Easy to read.  Delightful to knit. Everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

I’m not an expert knitted of stranded colourwork, but Kate helped me produce a result that would fool anyone into thinking I was.

Oh those little goats!  They are stupidly easy to knit and each one gives you a happy feeling as you knit the last row of its horn.

Miss Button is gazing wistfully at the hat.  She does look adorable in it, so I may succumb to her entreaties.

But the gauntlets are mine.  I’ll fight anyone to defend their glorious goatiness.

And as they’re stranded they are super cosy and warm.

I know it’s far too warm to be thinking of winter knits at the moment, but I’ll be smug when normal northern weather resumes and I’m already prepared.

Can I suggest you add these to your knit list for this Autumn?  I promise you won’t regret it!


The Gentleman’s Wardrobe – Book Review

Sewing for my man isn’t something I’ve done a lot of in the past, although he’s not short of woolly socks! I’m hoping to do more for him in the future, but there is a dearth of good menswear patterns out there.

So it was with bated breath that I’ve been awaiting my copy of The Gentleman’s Wardrobe, Vintage-Style Projects to Make for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie.

The book is beautiful to look at.  The styling is reminiscent of Japanese sewing books. Moody shots in a modern industrial setting.  Whilst the styling appeals to the “hipster” look my husband likes, the patterns are really quite classic.

The shirts, trousers and a jacket could all be made up in different fabrics to achieve different looks.  They are the kind of patterns that once you’ve got the fit nailed you’d have a set of basic styles that you could make over and over again for the man in your life.

There’s also a selection of useful accessories and nightwear.

It really does cover all the bases.  The only thing really missing would be an overcoat.  But that’s nit picking.

The book is, for a change, not aimed at the beginner sewist.  There are some basic techniques included, but this is not a “learn to sew’ book.

There are full sized pattern sheets included.  They do require tracing but are nowhere near as busy as a Burda pattern sheet so should pose no trouble.

As you can imagine I was really excited to look through this book and was, quite frankly, planning to make everything except the wallet and bow tie and short sleeved shirt for my mister.  The styles are that good and these are the only garments he wouldn’t wear.

And then I checked the size chart.

My man has a 19″ neck.  And his chest is definitely more than a 42! The grading to get these to size would be ridiculous.

And lets be honest.  As with us ladies, the 16″ neck market is widely served with both RTW and vintage patterns.  This was a great opportunity to hit an untapped and underserved market with cool patterns that a wide range of men would be glad to wear.

Sadly it’s an opportunity that once again has been missed.

Thankfully I’d ordered this from the library to “audition” it.  It’s not a book I’ll be buying.

I’m so disappointed!