Friday, 24 March 2017

Sewing small things

I've made a few small things recently but I'd say these 2 Batman capes have been the most appreciated! Somehow we managed to lose a Batman cape Harris had been given so I knew I had to replace it.  While I was at it I wanted to make one for one of his best pals. I bought the black and yellow satiny fabrics from the Man Outside Sainsbury's and the black and yellow felt from Hobby Craft.  I drew out the pattern onto newspaper roughly following the guidelines from this tutorial.  Inittially I was just going to use the black but then decided it would be nicer to line them.  I'm so glad I did as they fly up brilliantly in the wind now as we found out on the first scooter test the night after I made them! I wasn't sure how the scallops would work so only tried it on one, I wish I'd done it on both now as they look really good.  Disaster struck as I was ironing though and I managed to burn through the black on the non-scalloped one, just a little bit up on the neck piece. However it determined that the scalloped one was the one being gifted and the one with the wee hole was kept. Harris hasn't even noticed the hole yet but I'll darn it before he does.  I had sticky-backed velcro in my stash which i think must have been my mum's as I don't remember buying it.  I'd love to make some more capes with different themes, though I do find sewing with slippery fabric like this very frustrating!

Months ago, in the autumn I think, I cut out another See Kate Sew raglan tee and a short sleeved tee from Ottobre but never sewed them up.  I finally got round to this in January and they've both had lots of wear already - thankfully, as they're not going to be long enough for much longer. That'll teach me for procrastinating so long on sewing them up - I can't do that when sewing for a growing boy!

The gorgeous flamingo print is a Charley Harper fabric I got from Billow Fabrics and it's a lovely quality thick jersey which for once was really easy to top-stitch.  It's such a great happy fabric and I think I may have enough for a short sleeved tshirt for him for the summer out of it, fingers crossed. I think the pink ribbing was from Kitschy Coo.  As I saw this was the See Kate Sew raglan tee again - I've certainly got my money worth from this pattern, I've used it so much and love it!

perfect underarm seam matching - this makes me ridiculously happy!
The other tee-shirt is an old t-shirt of my husbands that he couldn't bear to part with even though it had holes in it. So, I used it for a mini tee.  I managed to keep the hem so I only had to top stitch the sleeves - a nice and quick make.  I did take the time with both these makes to overlock all the seams as they'll see a lot of washing so need to be hard wearing.  Harris loves this tshirt and it also makes him happy it was his dad's before him, which of course makes us happy too!

Soon it'll be time to start on his shorts and summer tshirt sewing, and a few more sun hats too - I'm looking forward to it. Roll on spring eh?!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

All that glitters... Toaster Sweater 1

I am not usually one for buying sewing patterns as soon as they're released, well not anymore! In fact it's been a long time since I've bought a sewing pattern full stop.  But when Sew House Seven released the Toaster Sweater #1 & #2 patterns I just couldn't resist!  I really fancied the style of #1 and to be honest didn't notice at first I could have just bought that one so I bought both.  I wasn't sure what fabric to buy for it, that is until I walked past the Man Outside Sainsbury's and spotted this gorgeous gold ribbed knit fabric. I didn't buy it the first time I saw it but kept thinking about it so went back a week later and bought a metre.

1 metre - plenty for a sweater, or so I thought.  My only experiences of making jumpers are my two raglan sweaters which are both very close fitting and fitted easily into 1 metre.  I didn't think to check the pattern before buying the fabric or before cutting into the fabric - big mistake!  I cut out the front and back piece then realised I was running out of fabric and would struggle to get 2 arms, the roll neck, cuffs and waistband.  In the end I got one full sleeve, then had to piece two bits together for the other sleeve. Hopefully it's not too noticeable.  I reduced the cuff width by 1" and had to piece both cuffs though managed to hide the joins on the inside of the cuffs as they are folded over.  Amazingly just squeezed the neck piece and hem band in without losing any width.

doing some patchwork to fit my pattern pieces out 1 metre.

1 cuff, 5 scraps of fabric.
This sewed up really quickly. I used the 5/8" seam allowances given in the instructions and ..shhh... don't tell anyone, I didn't finish the seams at all! The fabric doesn't fray and it's really thick so I just left it.  I have worn this sooo much, I absolutely love it!! I've already got plans for a second one, though once again I only bought a metre of fabric argh!!

Details - Pattern: Toaster Sweater #1 by Sew House Seven
Size: Sewed a size S. The only alterations I made were reductions as specified above, due to fabric restrictions.
Fabric & notions: Gold ribbed knit, £5 for 1 metre from the Man Outside Sainsbury's (Walthamstow, London). Cream thread from stash.
Were the instructions clear?:  Yes very clear, definitely a good pattern for a beginner.
Any changes I'd make next time: No, except I might interface the neck piece on the next one I have planned as my fabric isn't as stiff as this gold rib was so it might flop down too much otherwise.
Total cost: £5!

All that was left - tiny scraps.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Bear Paw

This is my latest quilt, which I realise looks quite similar to my last quilt. I'm so into this blue, yellow, white & black colour combination at the moment! This turned out exactly as I imagined it would and I'm so pleased with the finished quilt.  I used the last of my Little Critters animal panels, the owl and the bear.  When I decided not to use all 4 panels in my Little Critters quilt  I knew I wanted to keep the bear for this specific baby quilt and decided the owl would pair best with the bear and the fox with the rabbit.

This quilt was named the Bear Paw quilt after the block pattern I've used, the Bear Paw (funnily enough!).  There are lots of tutorials online for making this block pattern and the one I used was brilliant as it had instructions and size guides for making 3 different sized blocks.  I went with the biggest sized block, 14", as this was what corresponded most closely to the size of the animal panels.  It was a bit too small so I had to add 2.5" (including s/a) to each side of the blocks to make them the same size as the animal blocks.  The block is made up of half-square triangles, squares and rectangles and came together a lot more quickly than the checkerboard ninepatch pattern on my Little Critters Quilt (I found out the name of that other panel from a commenter on my Pattern Review write up of making the quilt - I love Pattern Review!). This quilt ended up being 29.5" x 33.25" in size.

I had enough scraps of the blue left and the white & black dash fabrics but I had to do a quick purchase of the triangle fabric (from the same Thicket Range for Moda as the animal panels) to bulk it out a bit, and buy another metre of yellow from a local fabric shop which I used on the front and back.  The gorgeous blueberry print fabric I used on the back of the quilt is fabric I've had for ages (I think I bought half a metre) and it looks perfect with the yellow.  This was the first time I made a quilt label and it's definitely something I want to start doing with all my quilts.  After doing some research online I bought Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Drawing Pens in blue & black as I'd read they didn't run or come out in the wash.  I did a few testers first and found that on some fabrics the writing bled a bit but on others it didn't so I picked a fabric it worked well on then washed it to check it didn't run in the wash - it didn't.  I've blocked it out in the photo above as I put the baby's name and date of birth on it but you can see part of it in the photo below.  I attached it to the back of the quilt with a zigzag stitch.

The quilting is straight lines 1" apart, except the animals which I quilted around the lines but not inside.  The binding was made and sewn on using the Purl Soho tutorials which I always look at to refresh my memory -
Making Double Fold Binding
Sewing on Double Fold Binding

Once again I'm so pleased with how this quilt turned out.  I know I've still so much to learn, in particular I want to experiment more with machine quilting and try out some more adventurous designs rather than just straight lines.  I also know I need to read up a bit more on how to finish off the quilt lines on the back of the quilt as I've been knotting them off and it looks a bit untidy. One technique I read said to make the stitches really small at either end then you don't need to knot but I've not been confident enough that it would hold together without knots. Has anyone any advice they can offer me on this? Any resources I should check out?

You can see the wee knots here.
While making this quilt I was also playing around with some of the scraps from these last two quilts and have an almost finished improvised quilt front. I just need a few more wee bits to finish it off! Well at least I think I only need to fill that one space for it to look completed? What do you think?  Improvising is so much fun, I really want to do some more of it!

Friday, 24 February 2017

2017 sewing planning

Clockwise from top left: Toaster sweater #1, modified Colette Meringue skirt, Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings, Jalie drop pocket cardigan, vintage Stlye 4067 dress from early 1980s, Megan Nielsen Brumby, By Hand London Anna dress, Burda trousers, By Hand London Elisalex dress

Have you heard of the Make Nine challenge? It was started by Rochelle last year and I loved seeing everyone's collection of 9 patterns they planned to make that year. So, this year I thought I'd play along, well as much as you can do when your instagram account is private (if you want to follow me on instagram I'm 'kathryn_mhairi').  I've made a good start on my Make Nine, the first item you can see in the top left is my Toaster sweater #1 from Sew House Seven. 

I do love to make plans so am trying to keep some broad monthly sewing plans in place in addition to my Make Nine, well sometimes including the nine and sometimes additional makes.  I am also always working on a quilt now, a baby quilt at the moment and up next a wedding quilt and continued work on a quilt for Harris.

My January sewing plans were to make a Toaster sweater #1 out of my lovely gold ribbed jersey fabric & a blue cashmere skirt with my modified Colette Meringue skirt pattern (previously made as my Wildwood Flower skirt). The Toaster sweater #1 was finished in January and has been worn at least 2 or 3 times a week since.  I will review it soon hopefully!  The cashmere skirt still isn't made, but I'm planning to work on it next week.

sneak peek of my Toaster #1 sweater
Sewing plans for February, in addition to the cashmere skirt, are another Toaster sweater from Atelier Brunette dusky pink sparkle fabric and another Deer & Doe plantain from a mustard/gold knit I got in a swap.  However February is almost over so these might end up moved into March!

In March I would like to sew some new leggings for yoga as I sorely need at least 1 new pair, preferably 2.  I have the Virgina Leggings pattern by Megan Nielsen cut out and ready to go.  I tried this before but didn't use jersey with enough stretch so this time will buy some from Funki Fabrics.  I'd also like to sew another plantain tee. My plan is to try and adapt the pattern to make a roll neck but I'd also like to try a scoop back version so will wait and see what the weather is like in March to decide which way to go!

What about you, what are your sewing plans? Do you like these sewing challenges and prompts such as MadeNine and MeMadeMay?

Monday, 30 January 2017

2016 - my year in sewing

A bit late I know but I wanted to get this post in before the end of January. More than ever now sewing is a form of therapy, relaxation and escape - I plan to get more actively involved in politics and protest this year but I also crave and highly value my sewing time as time to get away from it all and create!
So this is a quick summary of what I made last year, with some photos, and I'm sure some omissions.  I was really surprised by how many garments I made in 2016, in addition to quilts and other presents.  There are some blogs I follow where people sew 12 garments in a month or two but for me 12 in a year is quite a lot, especially now that quilting is taking up more and more of my spare time.  Given that I wear and love them all I'm very happy with how much I made in 2016.
clockwise from top left: Purple Brumby, Pink wool A-line skirt from Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book, Blue & beige Brumby skirt, Pink Brumby skirt

Clothes for me:
Pink wool skirt
Pink raglan sweater
Geometric raglan sweater
Green plantain dress
Pink Brumby skirt
Inari tee dress
Bright pink Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Pale pink Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Purple Brumby skirt
Pale blue & beige striped Brumby skirt
Marilla Walker Maya top - unblogged but you can see it here. I really should blog this as I love it!

Clockwise from top left: Bright pink Burda shorts, pale pink Burda shorts, Pink raglan sweater, Geometric raglan sweater
So for me 4x skirts, 2x shorts, 2x sweater, 2x dress, 1x top, 1x cardigan -  12 garments made using 8 patterns

From left to right: Inari dress; Jalie drop pocket cardigan, worn with Marilla Walker Maya top & purple Brumby; Green plantain tee dress
Clothes for others:
African wax fabric shorts from Fashion with Fabric Great British Sewing Bee book for Oliver (never blogged - my first time doing a zip fly front, which worked well. Unfortunately they were too big)
Purl Soho baby pants (gift)
2 x pattern no.10 from Ottobre magazine 1/2013 - navy/white striped & pink with blue/white stripes (pink one didn't work, neckline too big - need to alter)
2x skinny flashback tee
Geometric raglan sweater
Book bags 3 unblogged & 4 blogged (well they will be by the time I post this)
3 x Totoro soft toys
Quilts: 5 baby quilts of varying sizes

Two of my Totoro's.

So the key question, how successful have my makes been?! Well none of the items I've made for me have been duds and I wear them all. The majority of what I made is more Spring/summer wear but the pink wool skirt gets a LOT of wear at the moment. I lined it so it's nice and warm for this cold weather. Likewise both my raglan sweaters have been getting a lot of wear in the colder weather.  I wore my Inari dress on New years eve with tights but generally prefer it in warmer weather without tights as it's quite thin so not the warmest dress.  The shorts for my husband were a dud, as was one of the t-shirts I made for my son.  Both of these are fixable though, if I ever get round to it!

Looking at all these makes I can't wait to get into some warmer weather again and start wearing my Brumby skirts, and make some more!  I really enjoyed reading everyone's round-ups from last year, hopefully this isn't too late to be of enjoyment to others.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Christmas gift making

I didn't initially plan on making so many Christmas presents but once I got started I really got into them and wanted to make more.  After talking to a friend recently I realised that making bags was one of the things my mum did when we were small, and in fact before we were born, I think it's one of the things she made and sold after art school.  Her early ones were beautiful patchwork leather and suede. I'll need to dig some out to share with you all.  Later she made ones from fabric she dyed or tie-dyed herself.  The apple never falls far from the tree as the old saying goes.

I started off with the Kids Wash bag tutorial from Handmade Jane - I've made this a few times already but don't even know if I kept photos of the earlier ones before I sent them off.  In fact I forgot to take a photo of one of the Christmas ones before I sent it off.  It was a lovely owl fabric remnant I bought in a fabric shop in Abergavenny years ago with the mother of the recipient in mind as she loves owls.  So I made the owl bag and this cute mushroom one from fabric I've had for years (I think a remnant from Ray Stitch). 

The mushroom one was to hold a book for a 7 month old and I was about to make a similar drawstring bag for his big sister (aged 4) when I remembered how much Harris loves having bags he can carry around, put cars and people in, take them out, organise them etc.  So I thought she might prefer one with handles too.  I still had some of the elephant fabric I used to make her baby blanket 4 years ago so I decided to use this, and while I was at it why not throw in some new quilting experience too! I followed the Reverse Sawtooth Star tutorial from Suzy Quilts (I'm not in any way affiliated by the way, I just love her patterns and tutorials!) and then just improvised a bag from there.  These bags are made in the same way as the drawstring bags, with lining and french seams. The orange fabric on the straps is the same fabric I used to line it.

I enjoyed using a quilting panel as the centre of the bag so much that I decided to do it again. This one was for an almost one year old, another book bag which I hope she'll enjoy using to carry things about in as she gets a bit bigger. Once again I used the same base fabric as I used in her baby quilt but this time decided I wanted to try some improv quilting.  I used this tutorial from Mama Loves Quilts as the basis but kind of winged it really once I got into it.  All the other fabrics were from my stash.

On the reverse side I decided to really go for it and just be a bit more free with the design. I loved it, I'm usually quite rigid about sticking to patterns, following recipes etc and I think I need to do more improvised and free work as it is so much fun! I think I like this side even more than the first.

The cat fabric is by Cotton and Steel and it had such a nice selvedge I decided to leave it in as part of the design.  I felt the straps on my last bag were too thin and didn't like how you could see the reverse of the fabric so this time I cut 4 straps and sewed them together reverse sides, leaving a small gap to poke it through, then hand-stitched up the gap.  I reinforced the straps where I attached them to the bag in both bags.  Finished bag photos below, with the beautiful book it was to hold.

And last but by no means least is the bag I made for my nephew! I really could have kept this one for myself too as I loved it so much! The fabric is from the Small World range by Rae Hoekstra and all her fabric designs are just so gorgeous.  This was just a simple tote bag made with french seams and lining. I think I used a yellow for the lining but I can't remember for sure.  I thought this fabric was so amazing it didn't need anything else, just a simple design.  And that's a wrap (crying-worthy pun sorry!)

Friday, 6 January 2017

Little Critters quilt

When I saw the Little Critters fabric by Moda I just had to buy some and make a quilt with them as the animals were too cute to resist.  I bought two panels so I could get all 4 animals.  This post is quite picture heavy - I hope you enjoy them as much as me!

Design: I already had a recipient in mind, a friend who was expecting, and my original plan was just to make a quick quilt with all four animals and a border in the middle.  However once I started thinking about it I wanted to challenge myself a bit more so I decided to only use two animals and make two design panels to go with them.  My friend Shivani had kindly lent me two quilting books when I started quilting and I found a lovely design in one of them - 'Quilting Happiness' by Christina Lane & Diane Gilleland.
Drawing of the various bits that make up the finished block.
The quilt the block came from is called the 'Odds and Ends quilt' and it was pretty involved to make up, lots of different little shapes but oh so satisfying when it started to come together!  I was only making two blocks but I can imagine a full quilt using this block would take ages! After doing the panels I realised I wanted a bit more design in the connecting borders so I used two strips of white on the outer with the patterned fabric in the middle.
making one of the squares which make up the block
Watching it come together was so satisfying!
Fabric used: The blue and yellow fabric were both from my stash, as was the back of the quilt.  The back is a fish print by Charley Harper from the Maritime Collection which I bought from Billow Fabrics as an impulse buy when using some Charley Harper Flamingo knit (which is as amazing as it sounds!) It is a beautiful print and colour and I felt it was perfect for this couple as they both love the sea, she grew up by the sea and I know he likes fishing.

Back of the quilt

Close-up of back of quilt
Quilting: You might notice an improvement on the quilting in this quilt?! Do you?! I certainly do.  This is the result of a Christmas present Walking Foot from my Dad & step-mum.  Oh my goodness I love it so much! It has made such a difference to my enjoyment of the actual quilting. No more worrying about puckers and gathers, just nice even quilting.  I used straight lines for this, 1" apart but I didn't quilt over the animals. Instead I used my new walking foot and quilted round the shape of each animal which wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
Reflections: This quilt was really good fun to make and I absolutely love how it turned out.  When I looked back at 'Quilting Happiness' I noticed that it classed this block as for 'experienced quilters' which made me feel very pleased to have tried it.  I think the overall effect of this quilt is really striking and it feels so good to have designed it myself in a way, by combining ideas from different quilt patterns.  I would like to make a quilt for myself but I don't know if I'd get as much enjoyment from it as I do from gifting them.  Though I have started working on one for Harris which I'll do bit by bit.
All ready to be packed up and sent to its new home.