Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 - A Review of the Year

Hello everyone

I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick review of 2016 as I didn't join in #sewingtopfive  this year. 2016 has been an okay year but not that successful in sewing terms.  I started a new job in January 2016 which has gone really well, and initially I managed to find some time for sewing.

In April, I  spent a long weekend in Bath and visited the Fashion Museum which is well worth paying a visit.

I spent a gorgeous two weeks in France in August and I was full of plans to make a summer wardrobe but it never happened.

We had gorgeous weather while we were away and my family and I enjoyed strolls on the beach every evening. Here is one of the lovely sunsets...

I found it increasingly difficult to find time to sew in the second half of the year, and neglected the blog as life got pretty busy.

I also went to the Knitting & Stitching Show in both March and October and bought lots of nice goodies to add to my stash....

So what have I made this year? I did manage some sewing, and I did quite a bit of knitting though and managed to finish some WIPs.

My makes in 2016

Slouchy knitted hat - Sirdar 9184 (unblogged)
Shawl neck knitted waistcoat - Sirdar 9249
New Look 6262
Emery Dress
Sew Over It Betty Dress (unblogged)
Washi Dress - unfinished. I made this previously (see my post here) and had great success but this one just went wrong from start to finish, so is waiting to be recycled into something else. 
New Look 6483
Sylvie Dress
The Flame tunic - Sirdar 7188 (unblogged)

Cable socks
Oak Ribbed Socks (unblogged)

These were a Christmas gift for my sister and I finished them on Christmas Eve, just in the nick of time. 

As you can see less sewing happened this year than in previous years.

The make I'm most proud of is the Emery Dress.  I took my time over this pattern and learnt some new skills such as lining the bodice and setting in sleeves successfully. 

My most worn garment was New Look 6483.  Although this was a relatively simple pattern, I successfully altered the pattern to fit using a FBA.  I wore this a lot, and it is a super pattern that I will revisit.

My least worn garment was the Betty Dress. I love this pattern but I tried a full bust adjustment and I don't think it was very successful.  The straps fall down also and the circle skirt is not really my style.

I also need to add a hook and eye to the back to make this wearable as I inserted the zip rather too low.

My aims for 2017

1) To make myself a dedicated sewing area.  At the moment I do not have a dedicated area for sewing although I have plenty of space. I tend to sew on the dining room table which is in my back room, therefore I either have to get my machine out if I plan to sew or it sits there taking up lots of space, and the dining table is out of action. I am planning on purchasing a small desk to put either in this room or in my bedroom so my machines have a permanent home.

2) To sew more wardrobe basics.  I started this blog with the aim of making clothes to wear on an everyday basis and to be honest my wardrobe is looking pretty sparse at the moment. With the exception of New Look 6483, I only made dresses which apart from the Sylvie Dress didn't get that much wear.  I have to accept I cannot sew a completely homemade wardrobe as I simply don't have the time, but I can get smarter about what I make. I do need to invest in some basics like jeans and t-shirts but I will think about the gaps in my wardrobe and start making things that I need rather than pretty dresses. 

3) To try some new knitting techniques - I have been knitting for years but I'm keen to learn some new things. I have always been an avid knitter and I have really enjoyed knitting a lot this year, so you may see more knitting on this blog from now on.  The thing I like about knitting is that you can pick it up at any time and it is much more portable and social, as you can knit and watch telly with the rest of the family whereas sewing seems to be something I do when I am on my own. 

4) To improve my photography skills.  I would really like to improve the photographs that I take for this blog, and to be honest this is the most challenging aspect of blogging.  Not sure if I need to invest in a new camera or learn more about how to take photographs, so this is one to think about!  Any advice would be gratefully received.

5) To blog regularly! As I mentioned, I found it difficult to find time to blog in the second half of this year, and ended up neglecting the blog. I really enjoy reading other blogs and hope that other people like reading what I have to say too.  I hope to post a couple of times a month as a minimum, perhaps sharing more of my WIPs and posting about other things if I feel like it, not just my finished makes.

All that remains to say is thank you to anyone who has read my blog in the past year or left any comments for me. I love hearing from you so it would make my day if you left me a comment or two if you liked something I've made or have any helpful suggestions.

Wishing you all the best for 2017!

Catherine x

A project bag and more socks

Hello everyone

Today I have two things to share with you.

The first is a little project bag made using Simplicity 2830 from the It's So Easy range.

I bought this pattern as I have never made any bags before and thought as it was labelled "It's So Easy" it would be a good make for a beginner bag maker.

While I am fairly pleased with the finished make, I think the pattern was quite tricky to follow and it was not that easy really! The instructions were hard to follow at times, particularly when it came to making the strap and the instructions for inserting the zip were practically non-existent.

The pattern is for a bag in two sizes - 9 x 12 inches or 8 x 10 inches.  I decided to make the smaller of the two as I thought it would be a perfect sized project bag for storing my sock knitting.

I made the bag from a cute cotton that I bought at the October 2016 Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. I only bought a metre as I bought it with bag making in mind.  Unfortunately I can't remember who I bought it from though, so sorry about that!

The bag is unlined and is seriously floppy. I think that for this bag to work more successfully you would need to choose a material with more structure.  The pattern recommended broadcloth, cotton/blends, damask or canvas, so I thought my material choice was okay at the time.

 I also think a lined bag would be better or one made with fusible interfacing to give it a better structure.

I'm glad I gave this pattern a go but I will not be making it again. I would hesitate to recommend this pattern as I am sure that there are much easier bags out there for beginners to make.

In light of this, I have been looking for a better project bag pattern.  I found this tutorial at Betsy Makes which is a really lovely blog that I have recently discovered.  I think that the instructions are much clearer to follow and the finished bag looks totally cute. I will be trying this one soon, so watch this space.

My second make to share with you is my next sock knitting project.  I wanted to knit an easy pattern that I would not have to concentrate on.  A quick search on Ravelry and I came up with this pattern called Vanilla Latte Socks. This is a free pattern that is really popular on Ravelry, and having nearly finished my first sock I can see why, as the instructions are very clear and detailed and the finished sock is simple but attractive.

I am making the medium size which involved casting on 64 stitches, and I am using 2.5 mm needles this time.  The pattern is very well written and gives you lots of options. I chose to knit a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing as I think it the best ribbing for socks cuffs, and the stitch pattern for the leg is really easy too, as you alternate plain knit rows with a knit 6, purl 2 rib. The pattern even offers three heel flap variations and two different toes.

The yarn I am using is a 4ply self striping yarn by Regia that I bought online from Love Knitting. As soon as sock number one is finished I am going to cast on sock number two so that I don't leave it months between socks.

I am also using my new sock needles that I am totally in love with. I got a set of KnitPro Royale double-ended knitting needles for Christmas and they are an absolute dream to knit with as they feel so warm and lightweight in the hand, but have a nice metal tip.  I would definitely recommend these sock needles.

I have also ordered a new book Toe-Up 2-At-A-Time Socksby Melissa Morgan-Oakes as I thought I would try both knitting toe-up socks which would be new to me and also try the 2 at a time method using one circular needle to see if it combats second sock syndrome.   Once I get the book I might write a review here. I am not convinced I will like this method as I quite like knitting on four needles, but I am willing to give it a go! The advantage in the toe up method seems to be that you will not run out of yarn and you do not need to use Kitchener stitch to graft the toe together.

Until next time

Catherine x


My Sewing Machines

Today I thought I'd share my sewing machines with you! My original machine is a John Lewis JL125 that I got for my birthday from my...