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Author Archives: Pendlestitches
A couple of weeks ago we had a family gathering for Chinese food and I was determined to finish this blouse to wear for it. Armed with lots of tea, plenty of episodes of The Archers on download, and the spirit of the Great British Sewing Bee, I set to.
I made it and despite my reservations about the pattern, I’m really delighted with the finished blouse.
We’ll ignore the fact that I’m larger than the average bear at the moment, and the hedge is in dire need of a trim, shall we?!
Oh, and the creases…I’ve been wearing this all day, including a couple of hours in the car driving to and fro!
This fabric was a lucky find in one of the offcuts bins at Abakhan. It’s polyester but if you don’t look to closely it could just about pass for silk. It’s got a great drape and because they sold it by weight, it cost me about £3. So the whole blouse, including the pattern, came in at under a fiver.
On the subject of polyester…I know it gets a bad rap, but some of my favourite RTW blouse are lightweight poly, and I have to say they suit my lifestyle perfectly. So whilst I’m still always going to love a good quality cotton, I’m not going to turn my nose up at a cute poly, especially when the result is this good.
So, what do I think of the pattern?
Well, I covered this in some detail in my previous post, but, despite the issues I had with the actual pattern, I’m really rather pleased with the results.
The instructions are hilarious. They’ve obviously been run through an online translation and as such make Burda instructions look like War & Peace. I had no idea what they intended me to do with the sleeves and initially sewed both marked pleats in place, only to find that I couldn’t move my arm.
10 minutes with a stitch-unpick and that issue was solved!
I should also point out that I straightened the seam-line of the sleeve to reduce some of the fullness at the cuff.
These patterns have the direct opposite of the clear and lovely instructions of such independents as Cake, Colette or Oliver + S. So I pretty much made it up as I went along.
Bias binding for the neck opening and neckline. A bit rough and ready but I was up against the clock and not completely convinced this blouse was going to be wearable. You only notice when you get really, really up close and personal, and The Husband is never going to criticise my stitching 😉
And a quick bias cuff with the bottom of the sleeve gathered slightly to fit.
Would I make this again?
It might surprise you, but absolutely yes! I got many compliments on our night out, most along the line of “wow…love your blouse…where did you buy it”. I’ll take those, thank you very much!
I’ve some beautiful lightweight cotton with a divine polka dot that I’ve been hoarding since November last year (6 metres of it…an anniversary gift from The Husband. Reason to love him #762!)
I’m planning to add some shirring to the centre back to add a little more shaping, and to the bottom of the sleeve instead of a cuff. I’ll probably just gather the sleeve next time although I do like the pleat, but I’m contemplating adding some pintucks to the front and moving the opening to the back with a wee button.
It’ll have to wait a little bit though. A certain young lady has commandeered some red denim in my stash and dragged me to the sewing shop today to buy lining and notions for her own version of the Spring Showers Jacket. Hey…it’s cheaper than a bike!
I had the good fortune this week to be asked to test again for Elegance & Elephants.
You already know how much I love Heidi’s patterns. You’ve seen them often enough here.
This time it was Boy’s turn to be my muse for Heidi’s latest delightful offering, the Spring Showers Jacket.
This is a really cute unisex jacket in sizes 2 – 12. I made the size 4/5. The PDF comes together really quickly and easily and each size is nicely nested to enable you to cut or trace your required size without having to squint! The instructions are well written with clear photos holding your hand every step of the way. The pattern has some sweet touches like the patch pockets with flaps:
and a cute visor on the hood!
I chose this fabulous navy camo cotton drill from Minerva Fabrics for the outer shell and a plain cotton, also from Minerva for the lining. I lined the sleeves in a matching poly to make the jacket easier to slip on and off.
What do I think?
No surprises… I love this pattern. Heidi has done it again. This is going to be a firm favourite Chez Stitches.
I’m thrilled with this jacket. This is the sort of garment I’d happily spend good money on, but am even happier to have made myself.
My little man is 5 but small for his age.
This means he’s got lots of room to put a sweater underneath on cooler days, and will also get lots of wear out of this.
He loves it too.
The pattern is available now. If you’ve got small people I can really recommend this pattern. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be too long before I’m making a pink or red version for a certain little lady. She’s dropping huge hints to that effect. And who am I to argue?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this pattern in return for my testing of the pattern and subsequent feedback. All opinions are, however, entirely my own.
These are happy socks in more ways than one.
The colour palette is very spring like and makes me hopeful that soon Spring will arrive in more than name.
Also, they are knitted in Wendy Happy 4ply. The yarn is 75% bamboo and 25% nylon and have been a delightfully squishy knit. A bit splitty, yes, but not annoyingly so. And a bit prone to tangle in the ball, but sorting that out is work for husbands…or mine at least, he’s got far more patience with these things than I.
Last but not least, a new pair of socks always puts a smile on his face, and that makes me happy too.
See…happy socks indeed!
Have you heard of Lekela patterns?
I’ve been aware of them for quite some time but I’ve never taken the plunge and tried them out. Originally their website was more than a little messy and their ordering system the same, and although I liked the look of some of their patterns, I really couldn’t be bothered faffing around with it all.
However they’ve recently upped their game and the site it much cleaner, more easily navigable, and the prices are super low.
I paid $2.69 for pattern 5098, which is this blouse pattern:
I chose this pattern because it’s very similar in style to a RTW blouse I’m wearing to death, that I’d like to replicate, and that I’d like to become part of my planned suite of Wardrobe Architect inspired TNT patterns.
And, frankly, at $2.69 I can afford to take a punt on this…other than a bit of time and some muslin fabric, I’ve nothing to lose.
Buying the pattern
Obviously it’s really easy to buy a PDF pattern. 5 minutes and the thing is in your inbox and waiting to be printed.
Lekela is that simple but you also get the opportunity to choose whether you’d like your pattern with or without seam allowances, which is pretty cool. Also you get to input your own measurements so that the pattern can be adjusted accordingly.
In theory this is just bloody marvellous. But don’t get all excited just yet…you’ll see why in a moment.
As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t mind the whole process of print/stick/trace that is your lot if you order a PDF pattern. Even adult patterns. I pour a glass of wine, arm myself with scissors, magic tape and a bit of space at the table and crack on. It’s especially fun if I’ve got episodes of The Archers to listen too.
So that’s what I did.
And I wished I’d had more wine.
I’ve had experience of poorly tiled PDFs before but nothing on this scale. Firstly there are only guidelines at the side margins to show where you need to trim the paper to fit together….nothing at the top or bottom margins.
Secondly there are no guide marks to show where the tiled pages should connect to the one next to it. So you’re trying to match the actual cutting/sewing lines of the pattern piece.
That wouldn’t be so bad if they actually line up…but I had to do some serious jiggery pokery to make that happen.
I know you get what you pay for but, seriously, this was ridiculous. If you were a newbie sewer, or new to the whole PDF malarky, this could really be problematic for you.
Think Burda. ‘Nuff said.
Having thrown the pattern in the corner to teach it some manners, I came back to it refreshed the next day to cut and fit the toile.
This pattern should be used as a teaching tool in every sewing class to show the reason why you make a toile.
Here’s a spectacularly hideous photo of me wearing the toile cut straight from the pattern with no alterations. Bear in mind that I input my measurements for this:
It’s just awful. It’s waaaaaaaaay to big, I know I’m starting to lose weight but I’ve not lost that much overnight! (Oh, I wish!) Also, the neckline doesn’t reflect the illustration, and overall it’s too long.
This is the second toile after some adjustments:
Toiles are so flattering…but this is so much better…and I’ve tweaked the pattern a little more after looking at this picture.
- Removed 2″ from the centre front and centre back. I crossed checked this against the inspiration blouse and it was clear that all the excess fabric was in that area.
- Widened the neckline, again using my RTW blouse to check the sizes.
- Dropped the neckline by about an inch.
- Lowered the bust dart by about 1/2 inch.
- 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment.
- Hollow chest adjustment
- Rounded back adjustment
- 1″ removed from the hem
The forward shoulder/rounded back/hollow chest adjustments are standard fare for me, but I’ll admit to being disappointed that, having given specific measurements, the overall size of this blouse was so far off the mark.
I didn’t fit the sleeve for this muslin as there is a lot of volume to allow for mobility and I’m really pleased with the fit of the armhole. However I will ‘walk’ the armscye and sleeve head before I cut any fabric…just to be sure one will fit the other!
So…what do I think of Lekela patterns?
I think in principle this is a great idea. The model for this website is obviously low price/high volume. $2.69 is a ridiculously low price to pay for a sewing pattern, but they’ve cut right back on the instructions and everything is obviously generated by the software. Once you’ve done the basic pattern in one size, and an illustration, I’m making a fairly educated guess that everything else is automated.
However, and it’s a big however, there are still a lot of kinks to iron out. The fit is way off and the PDF tiling is atrocious…the worst I’ve ever experienced.
I wouldn’t recommend these for novice sewists, but if you’re comfortable hacking a pattern around to get the fit, then go for it. These patterns cost less that a small takeaway coffee so it’s a tiny investment.
I’m hoping to get a sewing day tomorrow and start actually cutting out the fashion fabric. I’ll be using a super cheap, but really pretty poly from Abakhan for this pattern’s first proper outing. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Wish me luck!
ps…please ignore the absolute tip that is the sewing loft at the moment. We keep saying “let’s go and finish packing the loft up” and then settling down with a glass of wine and a movie. It’s just such a miserable job that The Husband would rather lift tiled floors than do it, and I need him to dismantle the heavy stuff before I can do any more. So it sits, like an albatross atop the house. And we drink wine and ignore it!
This afternoon the menfolk headed off to the supermarket whilst the girls got Button’s homework done.
As they passed the flowers, my wonderful little man turned to his daddy and declared “I want to buy some beautiful flowers for my beautiful mummy”.
Who knew that a simple bunch of supermarket flowers could be the most beautiful blooms in the world? And bring such joy to this mummy’s heart?
The Sweater of Doom is finished.
I sewed the final seam on Saturday afternoon so it was ready just in time for the Mr’s birthday on Sunday. This was a result…but more good luck than good judgement 😉
He is delighted with the sweater and promptly pronounced it to be cosy and warm, which is a blessing here at the moment because although Spring has sprung, it’s still cold and wet (though nothing like our Canadian and North American cousins have been experiencing, so I’ll shut up). He also declared that it’s his favourite knitted-by-me sweater, which makes all my cursing worth while.
But enough of my waffling…here’s what Larry looks like on him:
Larry by Berrocco Design Team – available free on Ravelry
Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit Chunky in colourway Dignity.
This is a super, simple pattern that could be knitted by any adventurous beginner. If you can cast on and off, knit, purl, do simple decreases and pick up stitches, you can knit this sweater.
It’s also the perfect thing to knit in front of the TV because of it’s simplicity.
The end result is a rugged, casual sweater that is a great wardrobe basic.
Things I’d do differently next time:
- Make sure I had enough yarn! Having to alternate between old and new yarns because they were different dye lots really slowed me down.
- Not sit on one of my lovely wooden needles halfway through, snapping it and ending up having to dig an old pair of metal needles out of the needle jar so I could crack on and get this finished.
- Realise sooner that this needle change would affect the tension and that was why, even though I’d counted the rows on the sleeves, the second sleeve was shorter than the first. Doh!
- Not use recycled yarn. As this is a loosely spun yarn it was quite keen to stick to itself which made the knitting process less fun.
Would I recommend this pattern:
Absolutely. I can definitely see another one of these being knitted next winter simply because he loves it so much.
This is a tale of three parts.
One good…one less so…one really fun.
Let’s start with the good. The Jedediah toile.
I rustled that up earlier in the week from an old sheet. Obviously not comparable in weight to the denim I was planning to make these up in, but I really just wanted to check whether the Mr could get his rugby thighs into them. We have so much trouble with RTW it seemed prudent.
As you can see apart from a little bit of saddlebagging at the hips there is plenty of room in the thighs. Which is all good.
I’d show you the front and side views but:
- I forgot to put the yoke piece on the back before trying them on so they hang all sorts of peculiar at the front and I’m sparing both our blushes.
- Mr decided to test the fit by throwing a very deep squat. Neither the fabric nor the stitching held. Again, blushes being spared.
But, I’m happy to go ahead with cutting these in the fashion fabric and making fitting tweaks as I go along. I think that bubble on his tush will even out in a weightier fabric and once the side seams are fitting better.
I’m delighted with this pattern so far. How often do you get to throw a pattern on to your fashion fabric straight out of the envelope?
So today I did just that. The denim had already been prewashed and dried 3 times so was good to go.
I laid it out on the table.
I laid the pattern on top.
I thought the fabric was wider than it is. There is no way on earth I can get both front and back legs cut out of this length for jeans for either The Husband or myself. If I were a size 12 or 14 then this would work fine. But I’m not. And there’s way too much cake in the world for me ever to be so again I think!
At first I was more than a little frustrated. This is a beautiful weighty denim with just a hint of stretch bought last year from The Cloth House in London. It’s the good stuff. But there’s just not enough. That’s what you get for buying fabric on spec.
It seems a waste to cut it up for jeans for the kids. There’s way too much of it for that. Soooooooo, I’ve got an idea about what I’m going to do. But I’m going to save that for another post. All I’ll say now is that it ties in nicely with my Wardrobe Architect project.
The fun part is that I’ve promised to make these so make them I shall. We shall just have to go fabric shopping.
Oh…the horror! 😉
The problem with making progress on projects is that there is nothing really to show for it.
Larry is becoming known as the Sweater of Doom in these parts. I am Beyond Bored with knitting this simply because I’ve already knit this yarn before. Knitting it again is Tedious (yes…with a capital T!).
Thankfully, I finished the first sleeve last night, and the second sleeve will seem less Tedious because I’ve got the row count written down, so I just need to crack on and tick off those rows as quickly as possible. I’m waiting in today for a courier so I’m planning to make use of the time by watching Marple box sets and picking up that second sleeve.
I do have an added incentive at the moment. Not only does The Husband sit next to me on the sofa each evening making sad eyes and muttering about wanting to wear the damned thing before the good weather finally arrives; but I also didn’t have enough yarn.
*grits teeth to refrain from uttering stream of invective and expletives*
As this yarn is now discontinued (of course) tracking it down could have been tricky, but the lovely folks at McA have some in stock and sent me 3 balls, aaaaannnnd are holding another 3 for a few weeks, just in case. I suspect I may need one more of them for the neck. We shall see.
We are also making progress in a project I’m calling “Shabby to Chic”. Our house hasn’t been decorated since before the kids came home. With 2 adults, 2 kids and a large dog, the place is starting to look more than a little bit worn around the edges. And the middle. And all points in-between.
The need for a complete rewire has created the impetus to do a complete top down spruce up. The sewing loft is to be ripped out, remodelled and turned into our bedroom. Our bedroom will become The Boy’s. His bedroom will become my new sewing room…eventually. Just as blasted Ikea are withdrawing their fabulous Expedit range. What possessed them?
This is a huge project that will take a good couple of years to finish, I think, but at the end of it we will have replaced all windows and external doors, rewired the place with many more socket outlets and more usefully placed light switches, and will be using all the space in the house more efficiently. Oh and the hideous porch at the front of the house that has plagued me for years WILL finally be replaced.
Most importantly (far more important than the risk of the electrics frying us all in our beds) I will have a new sewing room. With storage! And good daylight!
Until then though I’m sewing on the kitchen table. I do not like this at all. I realise I’ve been completely spoiled with the Sewing Loft (however shabby and disorganised), but I’ve got my eye on the prize and a sewing project on the go (in between meals, homework and painting projects that the kids insist on).
Yep…I’m making the Mr the pair of trousers I promised him a couple of years ago. Or maybe 6 years ago.
I’m not counting.
I’m sure he is.
These are the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants and so far I’m really impressed. Printing and taping the PDF was a breeze. Great tiling. It bodes well, I hope, for the sewing.
My friend Liz has a seemingly bottomless stash of mystery yarn, and every now and again she passes a bag to me to be knitted into something lovely for the kids.
Invariably I pass this yarn to Ma, and she works the magic with her lightning quick needles.
These two sweaters are no exception.
First up is Igor…a free pattern from Drops Design available to download from Ravelry here.
Add in an adorable sea-foam yarn and my sweet little blonde girl, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
And if that’s not enough…Boy got a new cardigan too.
I also love this honeycomb cable. This pattern is from the Jolly Beachcomber book that Ma has knitted from many times before. If you haven’t bought that book yet, go an do it now. Please! We absolutely love the patterns and just keep going back to this book time and again.
It being the first dry day of the week we made the most of our trip to the park.
We couldn’t leave Carter at home.
And finished with a quick pit-stop at the cafe.
Despite my own best efforts not to finish this shirt, I did, and in good time for Boy’s birthday party on Saturday. Phew!
Before I get into the review of this shirt, let me just remind you that this shirt was upcycled from a shirt gifted to us by our friend, Martin. The fabric is a thick and temperamental cotton, that acts like a very brattish polyester.
But…it’s wonderfully soft and cosy and Boy, who normally throws a fit of the screaming ab-dabs when you ask him to wear a shirt, couldn’t wait to get it on, and didn’t want to take it off. So it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned.
I did change the buttons. On the original shirt they were a yellowy cream button and really looked a bit odd against the lilac/pink/blue fabric.
The new buttons are a variegated lilac that I found on our local market stall. I like them much more.
And, in one final change, I “drafted” a mandarin/grandad collar by simply folding the collar part of the pattern up and using just the stand to cut my fabric. I did, of course, remember to add a seam allowance to the top of the collar!
The pattern is Shwinn Designs Johnny B Good shirt, and, I’ll admit I have mixed feelings about this pattern.
- The tiling on the pdf is really good and the pattern tapes together quickly and cleanly.
- The drafting of the pattern is excellent. I found all the separate pieces stitched up perfectly.
- The sizing is good too. Boy is a small 5 and this shirt fits him now but has room to grow into. In my book this is perfect. If I’m sewing something for the kids I’d like it to last more than a couple of weeks!
However, this pattern does have some challenges:
- I found the instructions to be a little less than straightforward and clear.
- I thought the sleeve placket is a little long. It reaches right up to the elbow. This is, of course, just a matter of personal taste.
- I also thought the sleeve placket to be placed just a little too far towards the front of the sleeve.
- There are no placement marks for the buttonholes on the sleeves. The idea is that you place them where you’d like them to go, but, personally, I would have preferred them to be added on the pattern.
Despite the things I’m not fond of with this pattern, I will be using it again. I think I’ll adjust the sleeve placket to move it more to the back of the arm, and shorten the placket a little bit.
I plan to measure this shirt to get a really good idea for button placement and mark them on the pattern.
And lastly, I think I’ll redraft the hem of this shirt to give it tails rather than a straight edge. I think it will look really cute.
Once the pattern has been tweaked there’s one other thing I’ll change. I’ll use better thread so the topstitching isn’t quite so shocking. I’m eternally grateful that this fabric hides a multitude of sins!
However, all my gripes are moot. Boy loves his shirt, which is nothing short of a birthday miracle.
And yes, that is a bus cake. As his party was held on the play bus (officially making him the coolest boy in the class…who knew?) I really had no say in the matter.