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Three children (17, 14, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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making your own clothes

Yarn Along March – Purple cardigan

I finished knitting my purple cardigan. I love it. It could very well be the best thing I’ve ever knitted. I’m really happy with the fit and love wearing it. From my notes, I reckon it’s taken me eight weeks to knit, which is impressive for me.

The only part I need to work on is the curling hem. I have blocked it, but not enough, it seems. If anyone has got a tried and tested method to make the hem behave, please let me know.

I used King Cole Merino blend dk. 100% wool. It is now my favourite yarn to use. A real pleasure to knit with. I’ve made hats with it before as it’s anti-tickle, and have often thought it would be good for something bigger. I bought the yarn in the sales, which reduced the cost down to a do-able price. I’ve found it priced at anything between £3 to £3.79 per ball. Back in January, I bought it for £1.79 per ball making the cardigan work out at just over £25 to make, instead of the usual £42. Perfect!

The cardigan pattern is King Cole 4076. There is a choice of a cardigan or jumper. Both are long line with side vents. I found the pattern straightforward. The cable panel is easy once you get into the swing of it. After a while, I stopped referring to the instructions, as the it’s obvious what to do from the previous row, if you see what I mean. Total joy to knit.So on to the next knit. Yes, I’ve cast on, but the photo really doesn’t give a fair representation of the amount of time it has taken. I’m using Wendy air yarn. It is wispy thin. Never underestimate how long it can take to find the start of the yarn in a ball like this. Lots. I’ve tried the first row a few times, but undone it. I’m not charging ahead with this one. I’m sure I’ll find my way with it. Eventually. It is such a contrast from my last project.

As it’s Yarn Along time again, I’m including my book, which I am loving. Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time. I’ve nearly finished it and am dragging out the end, because I don’t want to finish it yet. Savouring every last page. It is difficult to put down. It’s so good, I find myself reading and preparing the evening meal at the same time. The book in one hand and a spoon in the other. Children mumbling that I’m ignoring them.

Last photo of my cardigan. I’ve ordered some more wool to make the jumper version next. I’ve found it again at the same price, so hopefully they have enough of the same dye lot, which caught me out last time. I had to change colours. Fingers crossed. It is such a good pattern.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. What have you got on the needles at the moment? Are you reading a good book? Oh, and any advise on my curling hem, would be much appreciated.

 

A handmade pinafore for my teen

I’m not the fastest dressmaker. I procrastinate and over structure. Stretching out the end of every project by adding little extras to every sewing project. Almost as if I can’t quite let it go. Strangely, I am the complete opposite in my day job, and fight even the hint of project scope creep. A signed up believer in the 80/20 rule. Then again, no stitches are involved, which probably explains the difference in my approach.

I envy people who can stitch up an outfit in a couple of hours. Not in a menacing way, you understand. Just wanted to make that clear. More in a “why can’t I do that?” contemplative way. I do know. Seriously, if I can add a teeny, tiny bit more, I will. I cannot resist. Maybe one day, I’ll master the quick make. In the meantime, I steadily stitch.

Latest project is no different. The first time I made a Cleo, it took me a weekend. Even then I didn’t stick to the instructions. This time, it has taken longer. I put this down to the added dimension of trying to please a teenager. Boy, do I love a challenge.

I cut the project out about two weeks ago. The pinafore is for my eldest daughter. It is a Tilly and the Button’s Cleo pinafore. Eldest is in sixth form now and doesn’t wear uniform. This means her wardrobe is starting to bulge with outfits, as she adds more. Wearing the same favourite pair of jeans, every day, is not the way to go, I gather. When I offered to make her a pinafore, she jumped at it.

We settled on a green corduroy from my stash, with a floral facing. She wanted buckles, not button holes. I made the smallest size. After the experience of my last Cleo project, I added the lining as I constructed it, instead of retrospectively. Much less fiddly. I had enough navy lining in my cupboard, which had this project written all over it. Apart from the buckles, the project has helped me to destash my fabric stash a little bit more. All the fabric was left over from other projects, so I’m winning.

She found sweet, metal buttons, with Viking ships on them, in my button tin. They seemed to suit the buckles.

I made a tiny mistake at the cutting out stage. Instead of cutting the front as two pieces, I opted to put the centre front on the fold. Avoiding a front seam. My mistake was to forgot to take the seam allowance off, meaning the front was wider than it should be. The floral facing was cut correctly, which meant it was too small. They did not match. I couldn’t cut it again as there was no more fabric. So I changed the bib width to make everything fit.

The other problem was that the top of the bib sagged. I added a band between the lining and the corduroy, which has helped. At least it sags towards her and not away.

Next challenge was that the lovely metal buttons were too small. As she moved, they would undo. Not ideal. I found slightly bigger buttons and covered them with more of the green corduroy fabric. I think they look good, and, fingers crossed, they seem to be working more as they should. No unhooked straps flaying around as she walks.

Next issue was the length. She wanted short. I wanted it longer. She wasn’t going to wear it, if it was too long. So we met half way. Somewhere between agreeing the length and her trying it on again, I swear she had grown. It was shorter than either of us wanted. Luckily, I’d given it a huge hem and was able to let it down.

Everyone is happy now.

The next part is down to me having fun with the project and adding a little more detail. Stretching out the end of the project again. I’m so glad my daughter was up for a little extra, total unnecessary lace. I thought it would be frivolous fun to add trimming to the lining, making it a pretty petticoat. If it ended up on show, at least it was going to look good.

(Did anyone else grow up with the expression, “It’s snowing in Paris”, meaning your petticoat is showing?)

I got the floral lace in a lucky dip bag of trimmings, years ago. Every now and again, I find the right project for one of the lengths of ribbon or lace. This piece’s time had come. I had a little left over once I added it to the hem of the lining/petticoat. I love it!

As eldest was showing her sister, I laughed that not many people would see it. Oh no, she told me, she’d be showing her friends. I’m still weighing up if this is a good thing.

The Cleo is complete. I really love how it has turned out. Looking at the photos, it looks quite plain, so I’m glad I did add a bit more. Even if it is not on show.

She is wearing this to school today. She says that it’s comfortable to wear. With all the extra structure and detail, I know it won’t let her down.

Right. The next project is cut out and ready to go. I wonder how long it will take me to finish?

English Garden Blouse – McCalls M7094

I’ve finished my latest sewing project. A blouse, this time.

After sewing so many dresses this summer, I needed a new challenge. Also, I needed a blouse. I can easily get stuck in a rut, if I’m not careful. Dresses may be one thing but, I tend to opt for sewing with cotton, especially poplin. It behaves and is easy to sew, but it doesn’t drape effortlessly and it needs ironing. I’m not an ironer.

Yes, a bit of a rut. In need of a change.

To shake it up, the solution was to try a different fabric. One that I have never used, as far as I can remember. I decided on a silky satin fabric, which drapes like a dream, in the most amazing, vibrant print. I can only describe it as an English cottage garden. The kind that I dream of growing in front of our cottage. I’m working on the garden, but in the meantime, I could wear it, right?

The dress pattern took longer to settle on. I read up on working with slippy fabric and decided I’d be best going for something not too complicated for my first attempt. Nothing fiddly. No cuffs or complex collars. Loose, free flowing and no fastenings. McCalls M7094 seemed to fit the bill. Designed to be shrugged on.

The pattern came with Love Sewing magazine. They had a few pages, in the magazine, dedicated to made up versions and useful tips. I also searched for other bloggers who had made it. First tip seemed to be, make it smaller than you imagine. The ease on this top is about 10″. I know. That is a lot.

So I made it in the medium size.

Even so, once made up, I still found it a bit ….tent like. I’m curvy. The drape went from the top part of me to my hips, missing my waist completely. The result was rectangular, rather than the subtle draping effect I was after.

So, I added darts front and back, and took it in at the side seams. I sewed the front top pleats down about 3 inches to tame the billowy effect. Despite all my messing around alterations, the ease is still enough to slip it on without even a remote struggle, which is perfect. The difference between a blouse I could wear and one…that never sees the light of day. This one will see daylight. Plus it no longer skips my waist. I have shape again.

Next time I make the blouse, I would be tempted to add a tie at the back to reduce the bagginess around the tummy area. Or abandon the front darts and sew down the front pleat. It would be worth it as I like the neck opening and the top part of this blouse. Not the bottom half. Doesn’t work for me.

Here I am pretending I’m in the South of France beside a sunflower field. I’m not. I’m no further than my own patch of sunflowers in the garden.

Somewhere along the journey, I came to a conclusion. I wasn’t ready for free flowing. Not a wild child, after all. Either that or I’m deluded when it comes to my size and I am a lot smaller than I think. Or both. Probably both.

Not that any of that matters. I’m really pleased with my new blouse. I would make it again. I love the fabric. It’s not see through. It is soft and yummy to wear. The children love giving me extra hugs when I’m wearing it. A recommendation in its own right.

I now have a blouse that I don’t need to iron and drapes the way I wanted it to.

Mission accomplished.

I thought it might be a good idea to note down a few tips I picked up for sewing with slippy fabric, before I forget. It might help someone else, but I know I’ll find it useful next time.

– New project, new needle. No skimping
– Use a fine machine needle size (10) and sewing needle
– use lots of pins
– apply stay stitching to stop necklines, etc from stretching
– pin beginning and end, then the middle, then the middle of middle, etc
– cut notches to stick out to help prevent fraying near the seam line
– change foot tension
– don’t use very small stitches
– neaten seams as you go along, to prevent fraying

Big thank you to Middle daughter for taking the photos this time, to the Boy for directing (and creating humorous outtakes), and Blue the Hound for being a far keener model than me. Again.

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