Sunday, 20 November 2016

Pattern magic! Bows experiment

Here's a quick post about a patternmaking experiment I did.
This bow bodice was based off the book "Pattern Magic" by Tomoko Nakamichi.
The cool thing about the bows on this bodice is they look like they grow right out of the bodice! They use the bust darts plus additional fullness to create this draped looking effect, but it's all done with flat patternmaking.

It's a great book if you like the idea of quirky patternmaking. It doesn't hold your hand though; the instructions are quite sparse!

I haven't been making much lately especially as I've had so much other stuff going on. And in the free time I did have, I decided to make some adjustments to my bodice block to make it fit better... pretty boring!

The fit on that shoulder area.... looks pretty bad! I think this was a flaw in my block, not the bow patternmaking.

Anyway, while I was please I got the experiment to work, I ultimately concluded I wouldn't wear a garment that was so crazy looking so I ditched it at the toile stage. Fun experiment though!
I tried 2 different ways of tying it!

At first when I sewed it up, I was getting really frustrated trying to tie the bows correctly in a way that didn't look horrible, but I eventually figured out how to do it. I think you'd have to do some strategic hand sewing to keep it in place underneath if you were going to make this as a garment, but pins sufficed for this experiment.

 I think this would be an interesting technique to use on a dress or blouse if you wanted to have an eye-catching piece! Fabric choice would be critical, to create a bow that had just the right amount of body for your taste.

Hopefully see you guys soon with an actual garment! Do you ever experiment with techniques just to see how you like it? It's a good way to learn! Even though I won't make this into a garment, it was still a good experience. :)

Monday, 7 November 2016

Make Do and Mend

I've been thinking a lot lately about waste, and the disposable culture we live in.

Here's a simple repair project that extended the life of a cardigan. :)
There were holes developing in the elbow areas of my cardigan. I machine-knit patches for them, which adds a different texture and was also a fun opportunity to practice my machine knitting.

Elbow :)

I used a tuck stitch pattern which sort of looks like moss stitch.
This uses the punch card function on the machine, which is super cool!

I sewed the elbow patches on by hand as the narrow sleeves would have made it pretty hard to do on the machine!

Left: after. Right: before

I sewed the bindings on the hand area by machine, which was pretty simple, if a little annoying to get those narrow bits under the machine!

Speaking of the aesthetic of repair... Have you seen Boro?
Boro are a class of Japanese textiles that have been mended or patched together. 


I love the idea of continually patching areas as they wear out, transforming the garment gradually. I wonder where will wear out next?? :D

More on sustainable repair:
Have you seen Tom of Holland? His visible repair work is very inspiring!
And Local Wisdom celebrates people's ongoing use of clothes and finds stories that celebrate love and respect for garments.

I won't have much time to play with the knitting machine for the next while, but I'm looking forward to when I do...
Next year I'm going to be super busy and I suspect I won't be blogging much, if at all! It'll be my final year of design school and it's going to be full on!
Also I'll be going to India in January on a school scholarship study tour, so obviously I'm very excited about that! Keep an eye on my Instagram for that!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Completed: Boring(?) Basic

Turns out that all I needed for a bit of a blogging renaissance was to drop the quality of the photos... lol! Here I am hanging out in my natural habitat (mess) and generally not caring.

We're here for the sewing not the scenery right?? Lol

Note sewing/cutting gear on the table.

ANYWAY, the garments! This is a wool/spandex blend crepe 3/4 circle skirt! Crepe DOES pick up all fluff, but I still love it. Mmm, spongy
This time I went shortish to keep it sassy. The proportion is so much nicer to my eye when it's above the knee. Plus since it's for winter, I will wear it with tights so I don't feel exposed!

It may looks simple, but there IS a secret here which I'm very proud of:

BOOM there's a pocket in with the lapped zip!!

This was no simple feat, and so I sampled it beforehand with scrap fabric, and wrote notes.
I'm not going to the extent of a tutorial as I'm not sure anyone else is crazy enough to want to put a pocket alongside a zip. To be honest, if I'd cut the skirt with a centre back seam I wouldn't have bothered, but I forgot about the zip/pocket conundrum until it was cut on the fold!
But there we have it, a learning opportunity.

Also I faced the waistband with this cotton from my friend Trees. She has such cool taste in fabric, so it's fun to have an unexpected secret on the inside. I made sure it can't be seen from the outside though! Understitching is a must!

In fact I was SO intent you couldn't see it from the outside, that I hand sewed some black tape near the opening as it was visible from the side of the waistband overlap. I should have thought not to have that bright white near the side seam! It's so obvious!
OH and evidently I was so caught up in my fancy pocket/zip conundrum that I forgot to put the lining in with the waistband, so I had to hand stitch in in afterwards. Oops!! It was worth it though and it looks and feels nice. I quite enjoy hand stitching anyway....

Main hem finished with premade bias tape. Lining hem just a double rolled hem.

By the way, my tights have tiny white dots on them.... CUTE!
And secondly, I made my top too!
This is the third striped Renfrew I've made.. see Striped top #1Striped top #2 here. I could basically live in stripes, spots, and full skirts.

OH and here's a pic of me in the other component of my uniform: A long bathrobe-like cardigan. Lol! I haven't made one of these yet but I have started knitting one!

The pattern I'll be making is Melia in charcoal grey. Can't wait to see it take shape!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Outfit-along 2016!

Happy Outfit-Along 2016 everyone!
Here I have a cardigan and skirt and top :)

The A-Line skirt I am wearing is similar to the Sewaholic Hollyburn, which is the official sewing pattern for the Outfit-along. However, I made the pattern myself as an experiment.

The corduroy was from an op shop and I feel it looks like it's seen better days. It's far more shabby than other cords I've worked with and as such this feels more like a wearable toile. It also collects dust and hair apparently.

Lapped zip and button in waistband

I faced the waistband with a plain cotton to reduce bulk.

Blind hemmed with my blind hemming foot, after finishing the edge with an overlock.

I like the way the skirt's shape turned out but I will improve it next time. I used my skirt block, which I haven't used before now! I should really make a post sometime on how I developed it.

To briefly touch on the patternmaking, when you create the A-Line skirt you rotate part of the dart value to the hem. I rotated out the darts that were closest to the side seams as per instructions in the Armstrong text. However, my back darts look silly as the inner darts are so close to each other! Next time I would rotate in the inner back darts out instead.
I am not sure if this is an issue with my block, or if it just goes to show that each block has different features that must be worked with to achieve the best result :)
My block DOES have quite a lot of dart value since my backside is so big compared to my waist! Lol :)

These back darts are too close together and look silly to my eye. Focus on the back of the cardigan instead lol ;)

I just eyeballed the pocket shape and placement and I think it turned out okay. I cut the pockets with the nap of the corduroy going the opposite way to the skirt, oops! But it doesn't really show. I mean, it's a subtle feature...yeah, that's what it is...

I like patch pockets as a cute feature to an otherwise very plain skirt.

As for the top, I have used this sleeve previously and it looks really quite different this time!
The previous time I used it, I used it with the Sewaholic Renfrew top. This time I'm working on trying to develop a knit top block that fits me perfectly, but I haven't got there yet. In my previous Renfrew tops, the shoulder was a bit too narrow. But I think having it a bit too narrow actually helps the gathers of the full sleeve sit better? I think this fabric is also a bit of a different drape of course, so that is probably a factor. But you can see that the puff sleeve kind of likes to sit straight up in the air which looks a bit funny!

My previous puff sleeve top. Shoulder is narrower and the gathers sit more rounded.

Any thoughts on puff sleeves guys?
Maybe next time I will take a little bit of height out of the sleeve and that might help it retain a gathered puff but not stick up so high?

Neckband overlocked on and top stitched with twin needle.

Twin needle hems. I try to get the zig zag right on the raw edge of the fabric so it's nice and neat! This is an art considering you have to stitch it with the right side up!
Anyway, I also made a cardigan! This is Primrose by Cecily Glowick MacDonald. Honestly it's so simple I sort of regretted buying it. I could have just plugged in a stitch pattern and made the cardigan pattern myself. But then again, having someone choose the stitch pattern for me saves me time and all the unncessary decision-making angst I like to do!

One thing I really didn't like about the pattern is the weirdly wide neckline. I rewrote it so it was narrower. It's not really me knitting if I don't change anything,

As you can see I lengthened it and gave it waist shaping too. Told you I should have just written it from scratch! It's a dark navy, although it looks grey in these pics...

I love the k1 p1 invisible sewn bind off for rib! It takes a while but looks so good. This picture is not the best though, sorry! 

When I got to sewing the buttons on, I realised I'd forgotten to make a buttonhole in the neckline ribbing...OOPS!  I just hand stitched, pulling some of the ribbing to make a hole big enough for the button. HAHA. Luckily the ribbing was quite loose and the button small, or I'd have had to do something more serious! Love those easy fixes... lol.
And I just realised I never got a picture with the whole cardy done up. Oops!

WHOA my hand looks amputated here

This is pretty much my uniform right now: Full skirt, cropped cardy, and there's usually some navy and/or a small scale print in the mix. Well, what can I say, I stick with what works for me!
I'm not 100% sure on my flower headband though. I made it myself and I honestly don't wear it much, but that might be because I always wear a hat outside and I don't want to crush the flowers :P

Fake flowers sewn on an elastic band. Fancy (not)
Anyway, do you have a uniform? 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Completed: Tenaya Cardigan

Cardigan time! The pattern is Tenaya by Elizabeth Doherty.

This is knit in 4ply, which is much lighter weight than I'm used to! The only other cardigan I've made in 4ply was my Honeybee Cardigan, which was mainly lace, and a lot smaller, so was quicker!
I quite enjoyed how long it took to knit this though. I don't feel the need to pump out lots of cardigans. Knitting a lot of 10ply garments as I learned was good- It helped me learn what I did and didn't like. But now I feel more confident, I would like to knit more lightweight-gauge cardigans, as I love the more delicate look, and they are a great layering piece for the warmer seasons!

And I'm also aiming for some more neutral-coloured cardigans. They may seem a little boring, but they are very versatile. And given my love for colourful dresses and skirts, sometimes it works to tone it down a little.

The whole body photos don't do the lovely details justice so here are some close-ups.

I love the buttons! And the cables are so intricate!

I really love the moss stitch button bands, they have such great texture!!

The cables and lace definitely increased time spent on this piece. Again, like last time I made my cables without a cable needle, which is a great technique, in my opinion! At least the sleeves were knit plain, which was a nice bit of mindless stocking stitch. I'm cheeky, so I would save the sleeve parts for lectures at uni, so I could knit away while still being able to listen. lol.

I was a big fan of how this pattern was written. It uses an elegant top-down construction which I have seen in some of the Andi Satterlund patterns I've made like Agatha and Chuck, and I'm a convert. Anything which eliminates seaming is great. And I love how I can try on top-down patterns as I go.
I love the design of the button bands. The moss stitch is lovely, and the neckband is done in an interesting way, with a few interesting set-up rounds before changing to moss stitch. It really makes a feature of the seamline!

OMG though you guys, I frogged so much on this cardigan. So much.
For example, after I'd picked up stitches for the sleeves, which are created with short rows, I knitted the whole sleeve cap and tried it on. It was too big! Gah! My own fault for not doing any calculations on the size of the sleeve... So I ripped the whole thing out and picked up less stitches the second time. (I've usually picked up about 1 for every 2 stitches when forming a top-down short-row sleeve cap. This pattern has you pick up more, which I thought must have been due to the small gauge, but it didn't work well for me.)

THEN, I did some calculations about the body size I'd selected (the smallest one). My numbers weren't adding up - the pattern was turning out 3 inches bigger than the pattern schematic noted!
I emailed the designer, who explained that the 3 inches extra is allowed because of the cables drawing the fabric in, thus making the garment smaller.
Well, I disagreed. Having already tried it on and seeing that it looked too big across the chest, I also thought that this calculation didn't work logically. The cable panels are interspersed with lace. And lace makes the gauge LOOSER, so would offset the tightness of the cables at least somewhat.

I ended up making the drastic decision to frog the partially completed sleeve (for the second time!), and rip back to the mid armhole. Not happy! My poor husband knows all about these moments as he bears the brunt of my whinging, haha.

So I decided to reduce the cardigan by twenty stitches. At mid armhole I added some decreases at the edges (rather than starting the cardigan again from scratch), and I also cast on less stitches at the bottom of the armholes. You can see the mid-armhole decreases in the picture above.

At the end of the day, I think I was a little over-zealous when reducing the size of the sleeve. It now fits very snugly, and I think I'd prefer a little more ease put back in. Lol :) Oh sleeves, when will I get you right?

Anyway, the frogging wasn't finished. The neckband was another source of misery, as I first misread the directions for the fancy i-cord you do after picking up stitches. After ripping that out, I followed the directions correctly, but still got a bad result. The yarn overs were causing that row to look holey, horrible and loose. I think this is a flaw in the pattern, but I couldn't see anyone mentioning it on Ravelry, so maybe it's just me?? After getting bad results and asking for help from the designer, I eventually won and got it looking okay.
After all this, I can't even remember the details, other than going down 2 needle sizes instead of going up 1 needle size like the pattern suggests.

The dress I'm wearing is blogged here, by the way.
I'm glad I finally got around to blogging this as it was quite a lot of work! Too bad the dark colour hides the lovely details so well. And I still don't think dark colours are best with lace; I think I'll always prefer lace with light colours as it suits the airy nature of lace. Maybe I should make another in a different colour, heh :)

Monday, 4 July 2016

720 degrees

720 degrees = 2 circle skirts!
Just a small blog post this time.

But first, let me address what it going on in these photos. I have taken photos inside my house.. the horror!! I don't like taking pictures inside, for many reasons (mainly because our house is so small there is not even one blank wall to stand against, lol).
I have left the mess on the table for truthiness - There is constantly a mess on the dining room table for my sewing stuff!

I decided to take pics inside my house because I am thinking that I'd rather blog with bad photos than not blog at all.

If this skirt looks familiar, it's because I altered an old one I made to make it better! It's got a whole new waistband and is shortened and re-hemmed.
The old one had a folded one piece waistband, but this time I faced it in a cotton. Much less bulky, and not itchy like the wool.

I also added belt loops by using this thread chains tutorial from Grainline studio. It's much easier than the previous way I learned to do thread tacks! And I love these as they are so subtle! I've been going on a real belt loops rampage lately, adding them to everything.

I should have been more careful when stitching the waistband though, you can see the cotton facing went a little bit twisted in some areas.

Here is the old blog post about this skirt. That was way back when I was teaching myself the basics! I know more than nothing now, which is nice.
Oh, and here is the post about the cardigan I'm wearing, Agatha by Andi Satterlund. :)

Here, compare the lengths:

Well, these photos are really hard to compare. I hope that you can see the effect of the slight shortening. I think it's an improvement! Guess I still like the same colours though... haha!

Here is my second circle skirt. I don't like this outfit as much though!
It is honestly made of the nastiest fabric (I was given it for free) and it's a pretty gross synthetic. I liked the colour, but I would love to upgrade this one day to a much nicer version in a nice fabric!
Here is the blog post about the cardigan I'm wearing!

"You have caught me in my natural habitat!  D: "

Brace yourself: Here is a photo of the orginal hem. THE HORROR. The bias is a jerk. Also this fabric.

Here is the re-done hem, faced with bias tape. Sweet relief.

That's it for now. I'm feeling a bit uninspired lately, perhaps it is Winter-itis? But I think most of the blogs I started following seem to be trailing off a bit too.  Was blogging a fad that's slowly dying? Well, I, for one intend to keep blogging, but it'll definitely continue to be sporadic for the next while!

And where do you guys stand on the quality of photos for your projects? I'm happy to stay un-Pinteresty to be honest :)