Author Archives: Pendle Stitches

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!


Sewing room reveal

This project has been a long time in the making.  Not just the months since we moved into our wonderful new home in August, but the 10 years I spent sewing in the tatty loft room in our old home.

(Not that I didn’t love having that tatty old loft.  I had some great sewing fun up there.  But it was very tatty.  And boiling in summer.  And freezing in winter.  With no storage)

But this room.  This room is just perfection.

It was originally going to be our company office with a projector and screen so we could use it as a home “cinema”.  The previous owners had wired (and decorated it) as a cinema room:

However, I pointed out that:

  • we only use the office for a couple of hours a week
  • we have the most ridiculously large tv in the sitting room so why the heck do we need a projector
  • there is no way on God’s green earth I’d have got all my sewing crap supplies into the fourth bedroom that is now the office
  • I wouldn’t get a large cutting table in what is now the office
  • I want the big room, dammit!

No one was more surprised than me when The Husband said yes!  Love that man!

And so began the plotting and scheming.  I knew that my main priorities were storage and cutting space.  I’m so sick of not being able to lay hands on a pattern, or thread, or whatever.  And also trying to cut out on the floor or kitchen table.

So, off to Ikea I went.

The first thing to purchase was supplies for the cutting table.  It’s about 150 x 160cm. It’s constructed from 2 of the 8 box Kallax units with a 4 box unit at the top end. They are screwed together in a U-shape and then topped with 12mm MDF.

A pinnable surface proved invaluable in the tatty sewing loft.  Sadly we couldn’t lay hands on any of the insulation board that we had used 10 years ago, but I’m giving it a go with layers of the underlay that you use under laminate floorings piled 3 high on the MDF.

Finally it’s wrapped with curtain lining stapled to the underside of the MDF to secure. And set on castors so you can move it to get around all sides for large projects.  Or cleaning!

The top layer of spaces on each long side have drawer units, with boxes in the bottom. This gives me loads of storage options for tools, notions, patterns, yarn and all the other wee bits and bobs you have in a sewing room.

It is a joyous thing!

For books and magazines I have a run of Billy bookcases with half glazed doors.

I may have quite a few sewing, knitting, embroidery and quilting books!

There’s plenty of room for the odd magazine or two, too!

Crates of fabric and the stuff I don’t need to access often are stashed out of sight in the understairs cupboard that runs along the back of the room.

I’ve also got all my drafting/measuring tools hung up here, as they’re too big for the drawers.

All of this covers my need for storage and a super cutting table.  Now all I needed was somewhere to sew.

We picked up this little table at GB Antiques in Lancaster a couple of years ago.  It’s perfect for this corner, with a daylight lamp for when I need it, and a bluetooth radio for listening to music or podcasts as I sew.  An Ikea Raskog trolley holds projects handy, and my overlocker sits to the side of my gorgeous new Bernina.

I have the luxury that if I decide I need a larger table for sewing on, there’s one in storage in the garage that I can swap for this.

The chair needs a lick of paint, but I’m in no hurry for that.

After, all, I do have sewing to do!

I love this room so very much.  It makes me smile every time I think “I need a needle and thread” and can put my hands right on them.

And when we were house hunting, I never in my wildest dreams thought I end up with something so perfectly perfect.

Of course, none of this would have happened without my wonderful husband. Despite rolling his eyes at some of my ideas, he worked it out and brought them to life in the most amazing way.

“Thank you” seems so inadequate in the face of such a wonderful gift, but I hope he knows just how grateful I am for such an amazing room, and how very happy it makes me.

 


Steampunked sewing

The sewing room is ready to reveal.  The last boxes were unpacked a couple of weeks ago. All the fabric has been sorted, measured and catalogued.  All paper patterns have been scanned to Evernote ready for tagging, and then packed into easily accessible boxes.  Even the new blinds have been fitted.  I just need a bin, an ironing board and iron specifically for that room, and a full length mirror.

As the first thing I’m going to be making is curtains, and I’ve got all of the missing items in other parts of the house, I’d say I’m good to go!

I need to take some photos so I can share with you, but till then I’ve got quick snaps of a lovely sewing room warming present the husband bought me last week from Pipecreative in Hebden Bridge.

I’m sure the vintage sewing machine purists will be up in arms about this but I absolutely adore it!

A Steampunked sewing machine.  A Jones, no less.  It couldn’t be more appropriate!

The owner was highly amused that he was selling a Jones sewing machine lamp to Mrs Jones to go in her sewing room.  He didn’t believe us at first, and double checked the Mister’s bank card when taking payment.

It’s totally bonkers in the best possible way.

Sitting proudly on the windowsill to the side of my sewing table, it’s straight in your eyeline as you enter the sewing room. It makes me smile every time I walk in there.

My hubby buys the absolute best presents.  I’m one very lucky lady!