Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Purse Palooza 2014 Guest Post - Scallop of the Sea Clutch (Katie Canavan)

This post was originally part of Purse Palooza 2014 over at Sew Sweetness.  I wanted to repost it here for my own records to remind myself of what I liked and didn't like in this pattern!

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I was very excited when Sara asked me to be part of this year's (2014) Purse Palooza and instantly knew I wanted to make the Scallop of the Sea Clutch by Katie Canavan (available from Holla Knits here).

This clutch is definitely a statement piece.   It's oversized (compared to most clutches) and the outside is made of knitted scallop shapes.  Yep, I knitted a bag!  It felt good to both knit and sew a bag - catching three of my favourite pastimes all in one!  The bag is stranded colourwork and is knit in the round to form a big tube.  The tube is blocked, lined and interfaced, seamed and then folded over to make the big envelope clutch shape.

Here is the version which inspired me to make this pattern:

image from Holla Knits website
I mean seriously.  How could I not make this bag?  It probably didn't hurt that she is wearing a totally kick ass outfit too...

Aaaanyway.  Here is my version:



The bag is fully lined, with a pocket inside and a zip closure.  As the pattern itself mentions, it's large enough to hold something like an iPad as well as a wallet or other more usual clutch contents.  The yarn requirements seemed sensible - I had some left of each ball but not so much that I was annoyed by the waste :)  The pattern is clear and well written, with sufficient tips and hints about the construction of the lining that I think a non-sewing knitter-type could probably make this without issue.

It would also be easy to make this smaller or larger, depending on the intended use.  A quick check on Ravelry for other projects using this pattern proved that to me - the VERY gorgeous grey, black and lime green version you can see there by doroti has been modded to the right size to hold an e-reader.  You would just need to make sure to scale down the lining pieces, pocket inside and zip accordingly.

Me, being all happy with my bag on a very hot Sydney day...

My version was made from Mila Mia yarn purchased from The Stash Cupboard in Hobart.  Rather than a blend like the pattern recommendation, the yarn I used is 100% Merino.  My suspicion would be that it makes very little difference though perhaps mine might wear a little less well as Merino is softer?  I also added the magical Soft and Stable in place of the interfacing.  If there is one thing making bags from Sara's patterns has taught me, it's how much I regret it when I don't use Soft and Stable!  As the knit textile is so floppy and pliable it seemed like a good addition to help add structure.

My only complaints about this pattern relate to my poor execution of it.  The picture below is a close-up on the surface of the bag, which you can see has little divet-type imperfections on the surface where the knit stitches aren't lying super flat and lovely like in the sample pictures.  I am almost 100% sure this is because my stranded colourwork is not "strandy" enough :(  apparently the looser the better for the loops which are passed along the back of the work, which I didn't really understand until after the knitting was complete. I don't mind it so much and don't think it's so noticeable to others, but of course I see it every time!  If you decide to make this - it's probably worth practicing the technique to ensure it turns out smooth and even.

My poor colourwork skills on full display...

My only other complaint with my version is that I don't like the yellow in it.  You can see I didn't repeat the yellow stripe and instead changed to another lighter blue - I wish I had done that from the beginning but I didn't realise how "primary" it looked until I had gone too far to want to lose all the work I had done.



Overall I would definitely recommend this pattern for something a bit different.  It would be especially good for taking an iPad, wallet, keys and phone to a meeting (I have already done so at work!) and your colour choices could change this from a bold statement piece to something more subtle (I would like to make one in two shades of grey!).

Thanks to Sara for inviting me to take part and Happy Palooza to you all!



Monday, January 26, 2015

I made SOCKS!

I probably shouldn't be all boasty about these - as I first cast them on sometime in 2012 - but I can't help but be proud of myself!

Presenting my very first pair of me-made socks (ravelled here):


As part of my self-imposed "really must finish some stuff" mission, I picked these up again just as we headed into our (rather toasty) first summer in Sydney and finished them as summer hit it's height.  It was 35 degrees here yesterday, so these babies are not getting a lot of wear yet!

I used the Purl Soho perfect fit socks pattern and some Sausalito (merino and nylon) yarn in Firebird from The Stash Cupboard in Hobart.


I have to say I really love this pattern.  They are right that they are perfect fit - something which always worries me as I have size 11 (Euro 42) feet.  Part of the perfect-ness of the fit is that you knit the foot part until it's 2 inches less than you want them to be in length, and then knit the toe, guaranteeing they will be long enough.  If you were knitting them for a gift there is a recommended length per shoe size also.  You could also knit more of the leg portion to make boot socks I think.

All up the pattern was easy to follow, even when doing the more complicated bits and when (clearly) stopping for long periods of time and then returning to the project!  I did try quite hard to match the striping but did better at that on the leg part than on the feet.  I am not sure this yarn would have that much predictability anyway.

So I am not sure if I caught the sock bug.  People say knitting sock is addictive but for me it was somewhat of a slog, though the second sock took about a month where the first one took several years (!).  I think I will try another pattern which uses chunkier yarn (because am totes lazy!) or perhaps one where you knit both socks at once on a circular needle.  The most disheartening moment was finally finishing sock 1 and realising I had to start again :)

All up am very happy with them - I just need some winter so I can actually wear them!!!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Thread Theory Camas Blouse

Edited to add:  this pattern is actually on sale at the moment ($7.50 instead of $11) - not sure how long for but I would go grab it now!

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A few weeks ago, Thread Theory (of awesome menswear pattern fame) introduced their first pattern for women:


[As an aside, I am seriously hoping that the totally rad pants the model is wearing in this shoot are womenswear pattern number 2 from Thread Theory!  That's a truck sized hint...]

The Camas Blouse is a comfortable yet super chic button up (or faux button up!) which is designed for knit fabrics.  The lovely people at Thread Theory sent me a copy to try out and review.

Given it's the season of partying and sparkling, I went for a dark blue version with some contrast sequin areas.



Sorry for the darkness of these pictures - Nick obviously wasn't on his game on the day we took these!

I also went sleeveless as it's full on summer here in Australia.  It can be difficult to feel dressed up when it's always so hot so something like this is perfect - nice and drapey and cool and comfortable, but still a bit elegant :)  I stay stitched the sleeves, adjusted the armhole a little and then just turned under and stitched.  It worked well, though next time I think I will bind the armhole for a cleaner finish which will match the neckline / placket too.

Here is a less flattering picture but which lets you see the actual colour and details a bit better.  I went for the buttonless version, and also added a band around the hem (mainly because I got overexcited and forgot to lengthen it before I cut it out...oops!).  I quite like how it looks though:



And the back, in all its sequinned glory.  I love the femininity of the back gathers - the top drapes beautifully and is really flattering



I am not sure whether I like it better tucked in or untucked.  I think for the next one I will make it quite a bit longer and have it untucked...


Its not awfully visible in these pictures but I actually added a band of the sequin down the side seams.  Tbh this was mostly because I didn't do an FBA (will I ever learn??!!) and it was originally a bit squeezy in the chest area.  I will do the FBA next time and the shirt will be more gracefully draped at the front...


All up a lovely shirt and I can see myself making tons of these.  Sleeveless and shorter sleeved for summer in both casual and more dressy fabrics, plus with longer sleeves for work and once we head towards winter.

Another picture, mainly because I liked this one :)



I see another of these in my very near future, so hopefully I will be sharing that soon!

Ciao for now...

p.s. if anyone knows what my hair thinks it's doing in these pictures do let me know...
p.p.s. check out some of the other versions popping up around the bloggy world - I especially like this one

Monday, November 24, 2014

One block wonder - FINALLY finished!

I have been on a finishing off mission ever since we moved to Sydney.  The now rather high visibility of all the WIPs is one reason, sheer guilt at transporting all these half-made things is another.

Of all the finishing off, I think I am most pleased at myself for finishing this one:



I have had this cut out since my son was young enough to sleep in the Phil & Teds Cocoon. That means he was less than six months old.  He is now 5!

In my defence, I liked the idea and then decided I had chosen totally the wrong fabric.  These quilts work by you cutting out 6 identical triangles, then sewing them together to form the kaleidoscope effect.  The ones I like best have very distinct areas of colour in them - whereas the fabric I chose (which has cranes all over it) made the end result very "wingy".  You can see this more clearly in the picture below (pre-assembly)

The  colours are so terrible in this picture - see the ones below for the actual colours!

I got all disheartened when I had only sewn about half of the cut out pieces together and just put away for another time.

Fast forward to moving here and I realised I had to ditch it or sew it up and give it away.  I also realised I liked it more than I remembered especially once all sewn into threes and I could lay it out like this and play with clustering the greens and blues and darker and lighter patches.



I used up all the triangles I had already cut and decided that was the size it would be.  I backed it with the remaining uncut fabric and then also bound it in that fabric.  I would have preferred to bind in a solid but I just wanted to be finished and the recipient didn't mind at all (see below).  I machine quilted it myself by going around each hexagon in the ditch.  It took a bit longer than just doing the rows but it made the hexagons stand out more I think.

All up am so proud of myself for gritting my teeth and finishing this.  Even bigger bonus - Thing One decided she really likes it and has claimed it!  So worth it after all :)





Friday, November 21, 2014

Chambray Bluegingerdoll Betsy Skirt

I recently (ish) won a blog giveaway (on Sew Mama Sew) for the Bluegingerdoll Betsy skirt.

Here is the lovely picture from the site itself:

http://bluegingerdoll.com/collections/all-products/products/the-betsy-pencil-skirt-paper-pattern

I won the paper pattern which was exciting for me as I have been mainly buying PDFs recently (instant gratification...).  The patterns are in a lovely envelope with the little string closure and there is a good amount of room in the envelope for my traced pattern pieces (important details!).

I made View A, as those button belt-loops look great.



I love it!  I think the shape is flattering and I (mostly) love how it looks in the chambray.  Being able to add a belt really helps with a smarter look and feel.  My one issue is how little recovery this fabric has - the creases you can see here are just from me sitting down in the skirt to put on my shoes to go outside and take these pictures.  I had literally just put this on and it's already pretty creased!  I haven't done a whole day in it yet but I suspect it won't be a super smart effect.  I guess I should make another in something less creasey! :)

All up this was pretty simple to make.  I had one stumble where the cutting instructions specified two waistband pieces and interfacing when in fact they meant one.  I spent a while puzzling how I missed the step to put them together!  Luckily Abby from Bluegingerdoll is amazingly responsive - I sent a message asking where I was going wrong and she set me straight!  Awesome service :)

Not so keen on my posture in this one!
Definitely looks better with a belt...

I wanted this to sit a little below my natural waist (which is insanely high, not that you can see it in these pictures) as I am playing around with which silhouette is most flattering.  I think this is actually quite flattering for me, though the above picture doesn't really do it justice!  Look at the top one instead!  If you look at where it sits on the pattern picture at the top, this is a fair bit lower.  That meant I had to adjust things a bit to make the waist area come in less sharply (it's a pattern designed to highlight the curves).  I then of course cocked up the waistband and had to add a bit on each side to make it fit (argh!).  Totally my bad in redrafting rather anything to do with the pattern.



Speaking of the pattern, I felt the instructions were spot on - the right level of detail without being too verbose.  I liked that she links off to a web tutorial on the invisible zip instead of reproducing it in place also.  My only annoyance (aside from the incorrect cutting instruction) is the "finish the seam however you prefer".  It's a small thing but I feel like pattern makers should always say how they prefer to do it, or link to a discussion of why to use particular finishes in particular places.  I have a feeling this annoys me more than most people, who know they want to always serge or french particular seams anyway.  I just think there is always a good reason to use seam A rather than B (reducing bulk, additional strength in a high wear area etc) and I want them to guide me on achieving the best finish.


I used a turned and stitched (also called a clean finish) seam on the side seams of this skirt.  I like how the finish looks, and while the chambray is lightweight enough to deal with the additional bulk of the seam, it was also quite prone to fraying (I was surprised) so this worked well.  It also gave two lines of stitching on either side of the seam which adds a kind of jeans-y look which goes nicely with the chambray.

All up this is a great pattern and I plan to make several more - so glad I won it!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sleeveless Archer (sort of!)

Some time ago (like yonks!), Grainline released the Archer shirt.  Like many others, I enthusiastically bought the pattern, traced it out and set about making one.

Not very long into the process I realised that I didn't have enough of my chosen fabric for sleeves :( Given I was living in the middle of a Tasmanian winter, I put it away and got on with other (warmer) things.

Now I live in Sydney, with a personal mission to finish some shit off (smaller house, more visible WIPs pile, slightly sarcastic husband...). So I got on with sewing a sleeveless version - here it is:


I like it.  I would make it again in a slightly more drapey fabric though to be honest, it's now what I would classify as a "sort-of" Archer.  I had to seriously modify this to get a fit I liked (more on that below) which I should say is less to do with the pattern and more to do with me, my body and my approach and my preferred fit.


I like it less tucked in:

The look on my face here says it all...

I don't think the fabric is drapey enough and the fit isn't yet perfect enough to be flattering (the shape and cut of the skirt probably isn't that helpful here either).


Here it is in on Jesse, mostly to prove I am using her :)  I had to do some serious bra-stuffing to get something like my measurements, and she is actually slightly fuller than I am at a couple of places, but I thought that was better than slightly less full, which was the alternative.  I didn't seem to quite get it in between.


I put the pocket on the cross grain, to avoid having to do any stripey matching


So I think it looks quite good, but the journey to that point was somewhat of a marathon.  As I cut this out a long time ago, it was back in the day where I thought cutting the size matching the ample bossom then adjusting everything else was the right plan of attack.  This is how I started after sewing the first seams:



The pictures aren't terribly clear, but the thing was enoooooormous.  The pattern is intended to be loose fitting, so combined with me cutting for my largest measurement rather than perhaps the most common size with an FBA, it was mucho grande.


Even after adding some bust darts (which aren't in the pattern), there were still inches of spare space at the armhole.


I added significant bust darts, took inches from both the front and back at the sides.  I also shaped the sides to come in towards my natural waist and then back out over the hips.  I bound the armholes and the hem, instead of turning it up and stitching.  It felt like it would be too short if I turned and stitched as the instructions suggest, plus this matches the armhole treatment which felt appropriate.

Overall I like the result, but I question whether to make it again following this method.  I *should* cut a smaller size and then do an FBA for the ladies, plus perhaps some additional shoulder room. However, this shirt is supposed to be loose fitting, and I am not sure that's actually what I want and is flattering. I might want to try something with princess seams instead. 

I guess I will think on it while I carry on with the pile!



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Guest posting at Sew Sweetness for Purse Palooza!

Am super super super excited to be guest posting today over at Sew Sweetness as part of the third annual Purse Palooza!

Go see what I made :) and don't forget to check out all the other great bag reviews in the series too!