Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Smorgasbord of Booties

Ah, I've gotten myself behind on blogging again, what a massive surprise.  Some day I will get my head round the concept that if I say 'I'll wait till the weekend to write when I have more free time', then I actually should use that free time to write rather than just sitting on my bum in front of Netflix. Having said that, I was actually away on one of the weekends on a mini break to Dublin, where I met up with my travelling buddies in various pubs (yay!), did some tourist-peeping at the Book of Kells (yay!) and bought fabric (YAY!). I haven't been finishing massive amounts of stuff in the meantime, but since I was already behind before I went away I now have 6 unblogged finished projects, some of which go back to September...oops.

So, to start catching up, last week was my friend Hayley's baby shower, and I knitted her a selection box of Debbie Bliss baby booties.

Can you guess what she's having? While I was happy to find one baby gift box amongst all the Christmas ones I do find it a bit weird that instead of, say, 'It's a boy' or 'Baby boy' the box just blurts out 'BOY' like it has tourettes.  I think they're reasonably happy about having a fella, seeing as there were celebratory penis balloons all over the house.

These booties are all from Debbie Bliss Ultimate Book of Baby Knits, and have all been knit with different coloured soles as a cute design feature because I was using up leftover yarn.

These are all knit flat, which I guess is great for beginner knitters who are still nervous about double pointed needles, but it isn't my favourite method as I found the seaming a major faff and the soles are a bit of a funny shape.  Still, I do think they're all really cute.  I love baby knits - they're quick, they use hardly any yarn, and they satisfy my feminine urge to make something ovary-crushingly adorable without, you know, having a baby.

Happy to say there was much squealing and showing off at gift opening time - since Hayley's clearly such a knit-worthy recipient I think I may end up making more once the baby arrives! I can definitely see a baby viking hat in my future...

Monday, November 02, 2015

Rosetta, the glamorous assistant - Isn't she amazing?

Guys I think I just made my best Hallowe'en costume to date and it's all down to the fabric.  Ok, it's somewhat down to the pattern as well, but Oh.  My God.  The Fabric.  Instead of the usual 'dress up as something scary' shindig my awesome friends threw a circus-themed murder mystery party and I was assigned the role of glamorous magician's assistant.  Obviously my brief for that was going to be skin-tight, shiny, and as tacky as I can get, so I nearly wept when the aptly named Cheap Fabrics threw up a pink and purple leopard print/zebra print monstrosity.


I used the Nettie pattern from Closet Case Files, which I got in the Sew Independent bundle last month - I will readily admit this is not the first thing I had in mind when I saw the pattern, so I'm sure it will be re-used for slightly more real life appropriate garments.

I cut a straight size 10 low-neck, low-back dress with no modification other than to lengthen the skirt and leave a slit in one side - this isn't the most forgiving fabric so I had to suck my stomach in a fair bit, but I imagine in a slightly firmer knit it would be a damn good fit.  I may give the low back a miss next time though; as Heather rightly pointed out in her sew-along having only half a shelf bra does pull on the side seams and gives the shoulders a tendency to slip off.  I still think the shelf bra is genius though - being able to go braless in October with nary a peep of neeps is ruddy marvellous.

Of course no costume is complete without accessories, so I finished the look with fishnets, a feather headdress, the cheapest feather boa I could find (Poundland FTW) and as much make-up as I could fit on my face.  I think I left bright pink feathers all over Alix's house.

Stole my friend's boyfriend to be my magician - he didn't get the memo about the pink.  Very disappointing.  I don't think my friend minded too much as she was secretly having affairs with both of us while being married to the murder victim.  Who then turned out to be faking his own death to frame the swindling knife thrower.  Meanwhile I had an inescapable alibi as I had apparently managed to lock myself in box.  All prime fodder for some excellent drunken ham acting!

Hope you all had an equally silly weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Evening all, how are the trials of winter treating you?  Grumble grumble grumble.  Ok, so it's not proper winter yet and it's actually been unseasonably warm today, but still, ugh. Darkness. My brain is still lingering in the Portuguese sunshine and Daylight Savings really sucks ass.

It could also be that I'm already grumpy because I've had to order new glasses for my tragically ageing eyesight.  Oh for the youthful days when I still had perfect vision.  It's not so bad as I only need them for distance, but that does mean that my job won't pay for them as I don't need them to use a computer.  Booooooo.  I have also learned that when you're a cheapskate who refuses to pay for anything but the cheapest frames there is a very fine line between middle-aged shushy librarian and PAY ATTENTION TO ME I'M SO HIPSTER!  Hopefully I won't utterly hate the glasses when I go to pick them up.

Sooooo, now that I've bitched enough about my own eyes, how about I ruin everyone else's?

Kapow! Are your retinas bleeding?

This little beauty which escaped from the UFO mountain this summer is Posse from Rowan magazine 51, knit in the specified Cotton Glace, which I now HATE with a fiery passion.  It was not easy to weave in these ends, and holy tuna there were thousands of them.

That's just the stripy neckline, so you can imagine how messy the back of the intarsia looks.  Since mercerised cotton doesn't stick to itself like wool does I had to leave a bit of end still attached so it didn't start unravelling - I've tried to strike the balance between so long it drives me crazy and so short it sticks through to the outside.  I've...mostly succeeded but there already a few stragglers which I'm stoically ignoring.

It's also a little on the cropped side which I don't really love, but that might just be because I don't really own a whole lot of suitable clothes to wear with cropped jumpers, so maybe I'll grow to love it.  Or perhaps it'll stretch?  Is that a thing?  How about if I get it really wet and hang weights off the hem?  Hmm. Probably not the best idea. 

This was photographed a while ago, pre tripod and remote, so I managed to persuade Martin to take one decentish picture on my phone before he got bored and wandered off to play truck simulators or something.  So make the most of it, awkward and fuzzy as it is, because I am far too busy skipping around in my Insane Stripes of Joy to take another one.

P.S. If you think this is bright, wait till you see what I'm making right now - it's not for everyday consumption so it doesn't need to be as tasteful and restrained as this was.  Oh god, I can't wait to wear this...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sun lounging

I'm writing this on my phone on holiday - I'm not sure about the mobile app for blogger and I definitely don't like the app,  so who knows how this is going to look when I hit publish.  (I miss WordPress a bit but I'm wondering whether 3 posts into the blog resurrection is a bit premature to think about moving it.) I suppose this is my comeuppance for not blogging about this sooner, but on the other hand I'M ON HOLIDAY!  I have made a thing for the sun which is ACTUALLY BEING WORN! IN REAL LIFE SUNSHINE! I may even get someone to take a picture of me on a sun lounger before I publish to prove it. 

When I say I should have blogged about this sooner I actually mean a month ago, before my pyjamas, and before another dress which I haven't even photographed yet, which means that this is the very first garment I've made from a pdf pattern - celebrating the fact that I finally got round to buying a new printer.  It's also the first thing I sewed from start to finish in years and I wanted to just whizz through it without getting stifled with ideas of perfection,  which hopefully explains why I didn't even consider matching the prints or...err...making a muslin. I should have made a muslin. The pattern (Mojave) is from Seamwork, so it's designed to be simple enough to not really need a muslin but yeesh.  The thing was gargantuan. 

I mean come on,  I know it's supposed to be an easy breezy loose bikini cover up, but surely the point of a bikini cover up is that it, you know, covers up some of your bikini? And the back? 

Oh, hello potato sack. All is good now though,  after hiking up the shoulders about an inch I cut a centre back seam which took a good 5 inches out of the top and up to 6 or 7 at the waist! 

It's still a little bit 'is there a stealth pregnancy under here?' in the front, but woohoo! I have a spine again!  Definitely good enough for lounging outside the holiday villa...

Yeah baby!  Trashy novel - check.  Gin and tonic - check.  Wet patches on my boobs to prove that I have been in an unheated pool,  outside, in mid-October - check.  Love you Portugal x

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Spritzer pyjamas

Hey everyone, I accidentally made pyjamas!

I didn't think I would ever put time and effort into making pyjamas, but I honestly don't want to take these off, they're so comfy.  I'd originally bought the harlequin fabric a couple of months ago with the intention of sewing obnoxious workout leggings, but when it arrived I thought it was a little flimsy for something so skintight.  Since it was a teensy bit louder than something I'd otherwise inflict on the general public I decided to put it to one side for possible future PJs.

Then about a month ago Sew Independent released a bundle of mostly knit sewing patterns and a few days later announced a competition based on any patterns by the collaborating designers, and my fate was sealed.  Although the bundle included some awesome patterns, some of which were already in my wishlist, I have more or less no experience sewing knits so I figured it made sense to start with some of the simpler designs!

This frankly magnificent set is therefore comprised of the Pinot pants and the free Tonic tshirt,both from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns.  I've just about squeezed the trousers and sleeves out of only a metre of the harlequin fabric, and the rest is some 4 way lycra from Tia Knight.  This fabric feels lovely but it wrinkles really easily!  I ironed it when I finished the project and by the time I'd put it on the tshirt was already wrinkly - let's be honest though, this is the only time these are ever going to see an iron, I'm definitely not a PJ-ironing person.

The waistband of the trousers uses 1 3/4" wide elastic, and of course I had already cut the pattern pieces before I realised that it was really sodding hard to find that width of elastic in England!  I was very happy to eventually find some on eBay, and since all the colours were the same price I had to buy the green one despite the fact that no one will see it INCLUDING ME.  It's the little things.

I've stitched the seams on my overlocker, and the hems are finished on my sewing machine with a twin needle. 

The feed on my overlocker is apparently a bit uneven (saaad sad little underarm corners), so I'll have to remember to baste my seams first if I want to match them in the future on garments that will see the outside of my flat.

The neckline band of the Tonic is sewn on with the overlocker and then topstitched by machine - I really like this finish, much easier than I thought it would be for a professional looking edge.

I love the twin needle finish as well!  It's a bit ribbly-bibbly on the tshirt as my machine manual doesn't consider twin needles an eventuality that they need to cover so I was making things up as I went along, but I'd managed to figure out the correct tension on the trousers and sleeves so it lies much flatter and neater.

I'm going round to Martin's mum's for dinner tonight so it's probably more appropriate for me to put actual clothes on, but I really want to spend the rest of the evening in these.  Oh well.

Voting on the competition opens soon and there are 3 different categories so you don't have to feel obliged to vote for me (unless you're my mum), but I promise lots of silly faces if you do!

Eh, who am I kidding, I have a tripod and remote control now, there will be loads of silly photos anyway.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rescue Mission it's been a while, hasn't it?  Four and a half years ago in fact, and according to the blog the last time I posted was when I was spending all day stuffing envelopes for an insurance company, which feels like a lifetime ago.

In brief summary, these are the latter years of my twenties (oh dear god where did they go):

  • Walked out of said insurance company in disgust when the somewhat more interesting job they kept promising me went to someone else
  • Walked into an HR job in a recruitment company and spent the next year and a half being shouted at by temp staff who couldn't quite grasp the fact that no, they weren't going to get paid if we didn't know that they went to work, and yes, they do have to use the sign in sheet for us to know that.
  • Watched one of my best friends go off travelling the world and developed seriously jealous itchy feet.
  • Shamelessly copied her and left the job to go backpacking around Asia for a year (I actually managed to keep on top of a travel blog as well)
  • Miraculously stayed with the same boyfriend all this time despite the fact that I callously left him back in England on his own - his year of waiting devotedly goes some way towards explaining why I can forgive him for the constant fart jokes
  • Finally moved out of Martin's parents' flat into a lovely sparkly flat of our own, which has a second bedroom which we have christened the Nerd Lair as it is full of half yarn and fabric and half Warhammer models.
  • Got meself a new job in payroll, passed my payroll technician certificate with 98% because (my view) it was a really bloody easy exam, or (my parents' view) I'm phenomenal, aaaaand
  • As of this week, started college again part time to learn AAT Accounting, which I'm rather excited about, because payroll is fairly dull (no, of course accountancy isn't dull as well, accountancy is a thrilling rollercoaster every minute)

But in other news, I'm resurrecting the blog because I SEWED A THING!

This isn't just a rescue mission for the blog though, I won the pattern for this dress in a blog giveaway 4 years ago and rather ungratefully it has been sitting abandoned and unfinished for almost as long as Pie and Handkerchiefs because I couldn't get it to fit.

The pattern is Lonsdale by Sewaholic, and I'd like to stress that the not fitting part was down to my pitiful attempts at a full bust adjustment rather than the pattern itself - if you don't do so much inept faffing about with it it's a lovely design and the instructions are very well written.  I'm sure my old college tutors would be horrified with how badly my adjustments went, but I maintain that it's very different fitting something to yourself rather than another body that you can walk around and look at from a distance.

I promise, I did do a muslin of my changes, which seemed to work fine, but my first error, and potentially my first indication that maybe I should slow down and think this through logically came when I somehow managed to cut the bodice from my adjusted pattern and the skirt from the original pattern.  Of course this meant that the skirt didn't come close to fitting on the bodice any more, and I didn't have the fabric to cut another one, so I was forced to cut additional 2" wide panels to fill in the gaps at the side seams.  But - I had several long skinny bits of fabric left, so I decided to make extra long strips and gather them up so the panels looked like a purposeful design feature rather than a bodged up repair job.


Off I go happy as Larry, sewing up all the pieces, finishing all the seams and inserting my ruddy perfect enclosed invisible zip and making everything look beautiful until it comes time to sew the hem and I tried it on for (what was I thinking) the first time, and it didn't fit.  At all.  I could fit approximately six of my boobs in here and two of those could have migrated to my sides if they really wanted to.  Clearly when I fudged around with the skirt, I really should have checked whether it still worked with my bodice adjustments.  At this point I wanted to cry, so I screwed the damn thing into a ball at the bottom of a box and sulked about it.  For four years.

Fast forward to last month and it appears that it was quite an irrational sulk, because now that I've calmed down and matured somewhat it was quite an easy fix - just taking in the side seams and hoiking up the waistband at the centre front.  I'd thrown out all the excess fabric and there was no way that I was unpicking all the finishing, so it was a case of pulling things around on the inside and slipstitching the outside into submission, which means that there are some odd folds going on inside the dress, but who cares?  The outside fits!

Weird insides

Gratuitous close up of the boobs neckline.  The ladies don't behave when I leave them unfettered so I have to wear a clear strapped bra, but I can live with that.

Best part of the dress though, is without doubt:


I love the pockets so much and kind of want to put them in everything.  The sudden finishing of the dress was down to a last minute invitation to a wedding, and I left with cake in my pockets just because I could.  I had intended to wear this again to my friend's 30th last week but had to change my mind due to less than stellar weather.  I ended up wearing a shop bought dress which was admittedly warmer, but did not share the pockety magnificence of Lonsdale.  I was disappointed all evening. Handmade dresses win.