Of mojos and oysters

20 Sep

I said summer was over and looks like I’m about to prove it. I’ve not been into sewing much recently. I keep trying to push myself to do it but I just can’t be bothered.I was super in to knitting for a while- I spent my whole summer just knitting and finished about 5 projects- but now I can’t even be bothered to do that.

My latest thing is being in the kitchen. Cooking, baking, generally making a mess- I want to spend every waking minute in the kitchen mixing stuff together and seeing what happens. I enjoy all of my hobbies but I go through phases where I just prefer one over the other and I don’t want to do the others. It’s like a force that takes over and I just have to do that thing- in this case, cooking.

I feel like motivation plays a big part in creativity. Sure, I can force myself to sit upstairs and sew a dress or two, my technical knowledge hasn’t left me, but they just won’t be as good as they could be without the creative energy that comes with being motivated, pumped, excited about the thing you’re about to create from your own bare hands. And so I’ve just left it. Lord knows I need more clothes now Winter’s rolling in but I don’t see the point in wasting perfectly good fabric if I won’t enjoy it. Luckily, I did knit up a storm so whilst I’m still in cooking mode I still have projects I haven’t shared with you! Today I’ve got something very different to the usual Makesphere fodder. I stated that this blog would be 90% dresses and cardigans, 9% shoes and 1% other junk. Today we’ve reached the other junk.

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It’s a shawl! Never in my life had I considered knitting or even owning a shawl. I see patterns for them all the time on Ravelry but I just could never understand the reasoning behind it- why not just wear a cardigan?

It’s not the same! A shawl is like a nice warm hug which you can also wear over a cardigan by the way so no need to choose! DSCF5255

This is the Oyster Shawl which I spotted in a Testing group on Ravelry. The same as sewing pattern testing, knitting designers often ask people to test their knitting patterns and who better than the people most likely to buy it? Ravelers! I really wanted to test the pattern but the deadline was quite tight anyway and considering I’d never knitted a shawl before nor such complicated lace I opted to be notified when the pattern was available to the general public.

That was a good choice. Not that I would say there’s anything particularly difficult about the pattern but you have to pay such close attention that I ripped back the lace section twice. Usually I’m a lazy knitter and if I screw up I say screw it but what are supposed to look like circles ended up being wonky triangles so I bit the bullet and did it again. It got much easier the second time round because I had an idea of where I was going and why I was doing certain things. Counting got easier because I could see which stitch it was supposed to sit on top of. I can’t even remember now why I had to rip back a second time but I can tell you that that lace section is nigh on perfect now!

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I used DROPS 4ply Alpaca yarn and my goodness it’s soft. I now want to knit everything in Alpaca. It was like a cloud in my hands whilst working with it and wearing it is like a giant bear hug. Or, I suppose, Alpaca hug. This shawl went all over Wales with me on holiday. Here it is at Pembroke castle 1910646_10153129026938942_4424746271433518175_n

Even better than that- this shawl is versatile. On days where a shawl isn’t appropriate it doubles up as a scarf- a super duper warm scarf which is making me reconsider knitting scarves too. (Something I never wanted to do because straight lines are so boring yo) It can also become an excellent sun shade when you didn’t know you were visiting the beach 997062_10153129037888942_1189293751520132966_n

Tania Dress

12 Sep

Aaaaaaahhhh! It’s Friday. I’ve just finished a whole week at my new job and I got to come home early. Life is sweeeeeeeet!

And also stressful. New job=stress. But we’ll stick with life being sweet.

Today’s post brings what seems to be the last of my summer makes.

I hadn’t planned it that way- I didn’t think ‘it’s officially Autumn now, no more bright florals'; naturally my crafting seems to have taken me in a different print and colour direction but we’re going out on an absolute sizzler I tell thee.

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Just look how summery it is! Sleeveless, bright yellow and florals to boot. You can’t get more August than that.

‘But doesn’t all that skirt get blown up in the August breeze?’

No.

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!!!

It’s blooming shorts! Well, culottes to be precise.

Yup, these are the Tania culottes from Megan Nielsen, slightly modified from the original of course.

I don’t know about you, and possibly this is TMI, but sweaty thighs are just gross. I do not like the feel of them touching each other and shorts look atrocious on me. Thus far I’ve had to suffer through the summers with leggings or tights on. The first time I met my Brother in Law’s new girlfriend I was wearing tights- it was the second hottest day of the year. * I’m pretty sure she thought I was a mentalist.

So I thought and I thought. And then I remembered that I had a skirt/short thing at Brownies. Now what was that called? Ah yes, culottes. And didn’t Megan Nielsen release a culottes pattern? Yes she did. Available for PDF download? Fantastic. Get on it instantly.

Of course, my first pair of culottes were an absolute disaster. The fabric choice was awful- far too drapey and it made me look like I was wearing a sack.

I had another go with a gorgeous cotton lawn (which was the right amount of drapiness by the way if you’re looking to make these) but I only had 1 metre of 42″ wide fabric and couldn’t get them out long enough. Sure, they’re technically wearable but I don’t like showing off my underbutt.

3rd attempt, no wearable pair of culottes and I decided to make a dress instead.

And thank goodness it paid off.

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So twirly!!

I lengthened these quite a bit. Not only am I not a fan of the underbutt, I don’t like have my thighs out on show either so I added about 6 inches to the length. I thought about adding length at the top of the waist too, to account for the waistband which I’d taken out but when it came to cutting I completely forgot. Luckily, the fabric had quite a bit of give to it so I didn’t look like Miley Cyrus for too long

Yeesh.

The whole thing went together really quickly. The culottes have just 4 pieces that are nearly identical, which I sewed to a bodice of Simplicity 1803 which I’ve made so many times now that it’s a really quick make.

The fabric is this gorgeous rayon I got from a company on Amazon called IndianBeautifulArt

I don’t work for them, this isn’t an affiliate link or anything like that, I’m just always very happy to share when I’m pleased with something.

The quality of the fabric is brilliant, the price is decent and, considering it’s shipping from India, the shipping is incredible. It came in 4 days over the weekend, from India!!

The patterns can be a bit hit and miss so there’s not always something on there that I like but quite frankly that’s a good thing or else I’d be broke!

Hemming this thing was a pain in the arse. I wanted to wear it that evening to a work’s dinner but the sensible me decided it would be a good idea to let it hang since the hem’s on the bias. I mean, it was a good idea- I had to chop a load of fabric off- but still, I like instant gratification!

Despite that, I’m definitely going to make more. This particular version hasn’t got pockets, but I’m going to add them to future makes and it will be the most practical dress in the Universe.

Oh, and I know I said this was an end of summer dress but look what I discovered

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Turns out it looks fab with tights too. Win win.

*Not factual information but all days feel hot when you’re wearing tights in the summer.

The BBQ Dress

29 Aug

I think you’ve seen glimpses of this dress loads of times already but I just haven’t gotten around to doing a proper post! 

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You might recognise the pattern as Sewaholic’s Cambie. I’d been swooning over it for a while but I just couldn’t justify the £13 price tag at that point in time. Then came the (look away now) giveaway and I got a voucher with which I could buy the Cambie! (As well as Thurlow and Saltspring, yay!) 

I bought this fabric with the full intention of it becoming a Cambie. It’s a quilting style cotton from Fabricland and it was only £3.50 a metre. I love their cotton prints and you can never go wrong with the price. They’re good quality too- I’ve never had any issues with fading or bleeding in the wash. Now you can see why most of my projects are made with cotton!

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The great thing about this dress, as demonstrated in these two photos, is that despite its bright, floral, summery nature, it can actually be worn with tights or bare legs so I’ll get year-round use out of it! 

So the dress itself- I cut a size 16 originally because the bust size matched mine, however, in my haste to get it made, I didn’t really switch on my brain and think about the fact that it’s designed for a B cup so of course everywhere else was HUGE on me!

I took a bit in on the side seams and the front darts to overcome the waist gaping, plus I usually wear it with a belt so that pulls it in a bit and you can’t really tell. The neckline was a bigger issue- it was just too wide and came out to my shoulders so my boobs were just out, constantly. Not a good look. Never mind the fact that the sleeves kept falling down and hung halfway down my arms.

To solve this I cheated a bit. I created a little tuck/pleat/fold thing at the edge of the neckline and stitched it down. It pulled the sleeves up and in and the neckline in to give me some modesty. You can’t really tell it’s there. I mean, it wouldn’t win me anything on the Sewing Bee but if anyone’s getting that close to my boobs anyway I doubt they’re looking at the stitches on my dress ;)

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I mean, it doesn’t fit perfectly, but I’m happy enough to wear it and I’ve definitely learnt my lesson for next time. I’ve done a full FBA on my next version and something a little crazy with the darts. Unfortunately, I screwed up the pocket placing and instead of spending 10 minutes ripping it out I’ve put it away for a month. That’s logical, isn’t it?

Aptly named the BBQ dress because it has attended precisely 4 BBQs this year. And, as you can see, it allows me to save goals with ease.

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You’ve got it Sweetcakes

11 Aug

In my last post I mentioned that my new job was taking up all my time. That was definitely a factor, however I couldn’t really do any practical sewing because I was making this

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I think I look a little too happy to be an evil sea-witch.

Yup, that’s me dressed as Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

I should point out that I didn’t just do this for fun, although it was fun. Mark’s Aunt turned (shhhh, 50) and so had a very grown-up Disney fancy dress party. It was freaking awesome.

She planned it a year in advance but, in true Makesphere style, I didn’t start working on my costume until about a month before the event. It took me about 10 months to figure out who I wanted to be. Have you any idea how many Disney characters there are? So many! And I wanted to be someone cool, I didn’t want to go as Cinderella or something. (For you Cinderella fans- she definitely has her place, she’s just not me!)

Then it finally hit me. As a child, ‘The Little Mermaid’ was one of my favourite films- my Mum and I would always say  ‘You’ve got it sweetcakes’ to each other and going as an evil sea-witch is pretty bad-ass and much cooler than Cinderella (again, sorry! I just want to be bad-ass for once!)

I ordered my wig from eBay but everything else was home made. I didn’t wear any shoes so that’s 100% true!

I kind of wish I took pictures as I went along but I was seriously pressed for time. I was even sewing eel teeth on 3 hours before the party started!

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You guys know how I’m not accurate with stuff so I just eyeballed everything. I did use a combination of Simplicty 1803 and Cambie to create the bodice. I did two of these,  stitched them at the top, flipped it over and then stitched either side of the princess seams to create a channel for my boning. Yes! I used boning for the first time and I reckon it turned out alright. I did two down my boobs and two at the sides and it stayed up all night! Even through some rigorous dancing.

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The skirt was easy- it was just two rectangles that I gathered and stitched together at the sides. As soon as I’d cut my remaining fabric in half I wondered why on Earth I’d bothered- I could have just left it as one rectangle!

The tentacles were a little bit trickier. Again, I eyeballed them. I didn’t even create a pattern so that they all looked the same, such is my disregard for any sewing Gods. I just cut a purple and a black piece rectangle of fabric, placed them right sides together and sort of stitched towards creating a point. Then I stuffed them and put in some garden wire for bendability. I did this so I could curl the tentacles upwards and tack them back on themselves so you could see the nice sucker-y purple ness underneath, except I totally forgot so all of my battle with the garden wire was kind of a waste of time!

Mark and I then had great fun cutting out hundreds of circles for the suckers which I hot glue gunned onto the tentacles before stitching them, the skirt and the bodice altogether. FYI- this thing required nearly 2 kilos of stuffing so you can imagine how heavy it was!

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I decided pretty early on that I absolutely must have a Flotsam and Jetsam. They were pretty simple- again just eyeballed. I concertina-d some fabric for the fins to give that nice frilly, fin-like effect and then embroidered through all the layers to create the mouth. They, again, had wire to hold their shape around me. The eyes, teeth and eyebrows are felt. AND I even stuck true to the film and gave them odd eyes :D

Finally, I made the shell necklace from salt dough and black yarn. We painted it yellow but it turned purple within about 20 minutes as all my face paint sweated off onto it (ewwwwwww!)

Speaking of which, that face paint soaked into my skin! For days after people kept telling me I’d caught the sun :oops:

That was a bit of bonding with the Sister-in-law too as she painted my armpit. Never, ever thought my sister-in-law would paint my armpit purple.

 

Incase you’re wondering, Mark went as Lampwick from Pinocchio. You know, the guy that turned into a donkey? The guy that looks like this?

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(That’s me, trying my very best to do an evil face but on the very verge of peeing myself laughing)

And finally, who ever though Ursula was originally from the West?

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(Nearly) everyone’s costumes were fantastic. Everyone put in a ton of effort (except for the one family that didn’t dress up at all. WTF?!) and there were characters from all kinds of Disney films. My sister-in-law looked fantastic as Russell from UP!, we had Peter Pan, Robin Hood (the fox version!), Winnie the Pooh, Aladdin, Anna from Frozen, Buzz Lightyear, Quasimodo….. the list could go on.

Next up, we have a 70s fancy dress to go to. Silver glitter and afros here we come!

The Outfit Along Outfit

31 Jul

Hey guys!
First off I would like to sincerely apologise for my absence of late. I’ve been busy getting a new job!
Remember in my goals post I said I wanted one? Well, I made it happen! I am now going to be a full on teacher, which meant a lot of my month was filled with planning, interviewing, all the fun stuff. But now I’ve got 6 weeks off and by golly will I make it count.

Have you guys heard of Andi and Lauren’s Outfit Along? If you haven’t, it’s kind of too late now as the deadline is today. Unless you’re some kind of super knitter or have Bernard’s watch. (God I would kill for Bernard’s watch) 

The idea was to create an outfit, 1 knitted, 1 sewn piece, that complemented each other and you would wear. A knit along and a sew along were hosted by Andi and Lauren respectively with official patterns and we were given 2 months.

2 months? I can easily make 5 outfits in that time……

Turns out I did just 1. And here it is!

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The cardigan is the ‘official’ pattern- Myrna by Andi Satterlund. 

When she first announced the new pattern I was kind of meh about it. I didn’t like the short sleeves and it was all pretty boring. 

Remember when I said that about Miette?

Yeah… turns out I love Myrna! I lengthened the sleeves here but ever since I did that I’ve been thinking about how nice a short sleeve cardigan would be- that’s next on the list!

I knit this in Drops Karisma, Wine. I bought 7 skeins, planned it all out so I’d have 1 skein each for the sleeves, 5 for the body and it would be perfect. I finished and thought it was a little short but no more yarn and I can deal, only to find another skein!!

I keep telling myself I’ll go back and add some more ribbing but we all know I definitely will not do that. Once something’s done, it’s done. No takesies backsies. 

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The buttons for this thing took me bloody ages to find.

Did you know Minerva crafts have approximately 27902645782398365490 different types of brown button? I’m estimating, the figure might be a couple off.

But seriously, I think it took me at least 6 hours to find these buttons. Worth it though, they’re perfect! They’re these 18mm crendon buttons with little flowers on them and they’re so smooth and shiny.

And whilst we’re talking about buttons can we just add in how bloody ridiculous with them I am? Remember my previous button dilemmas? I had another.

The pattern calls for 5 buttons. 5. Knowing my previous disasters and thinking I had added in an extra buttonhole on the V, I ordered 6 buttons. 6, to be safe.

They arrived, I stroked their smooth shiny-ness for a while and went to attach them. How many buttonholes did I have? 7. 7 effing buttonholes. Just incase more buttonholes wanted to appear on me I ordered another 3 buttons. I sewed them all on and 7 buttons looked ridiculous! I showed Mark who doesn’t usually give a toss about sewing/knitting and he burst out laughing followed by ‘that’s made my day’

So I cut out every other one and how many buttons did I require? 

4.

Ridiculous.

 

Anyway, whilst I was ordering said buttons I ordered my dress fabric from Minerva too. It’s a balloon print polycotton that was like £2.99 p/m or something and you can tell. It feels very cheap and online it looked like it had a blue background but in reality it’s white. Still, not one to waste fabric, I made it up and I’ve had a few people tell me they like it so I guess it doesn’t look cheap from a distance (just don’t get too close or you’ll hear it crunch!)

I’m hoping it’ll soften up with a few washes and a tumble dry. 

The pattern is Sewaholic Cambie with a modified skirt. this is actually not the first Cambie I’ve made but the other one remains unblogged. The post is written, it just (altogether now) needs photos. This one only got photographed due to OAL time pressures or I’m sure it would sit for 3 months too. 

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I did an FBA on this version and spread the dart into 3 since I have to take in 6 inches through my waist. A 3 inch dart results in very Madonna-esque nipple action.

It’s still a tad big- I’ll admit to just eyeballing the darts which probably contributes to the bagginess but it’s a little loose down the sides too so on version 3 I reckon I’ll have it down. (And I will measure, I promise!)

Shall I tell you a secret?

I didn’t hem the dress. The selvedge isn’t selvedgy, no little holes, no weird pattern issues, it just stops so why make extra work when we all know I hate to hem?!

Oh, and I got Mark to take photos for me and he likes to mumble and not tell me what’s going on so I have some excellent outtakes for you

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I think I was in the middle of saying something like ‘can you actually pronounce some words and tell me if you’ve taken a picture please?’

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‘What? Open your mouth, have you taken a picture yet?’

And finally, the classic stretch out the cardi pose

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Did anyone else join the OAL? 

Raindrops Dress

4 Jul

My new favourite dress has to be this one. I got the inspiration from Pinterest but I wanted to make a proper jersey skater dress rather than more cotton. Cotton definitely has its place but sometimes it is nice to lounge around in comfy, stretchy clothes.

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I used the Daisy Dress pattern for about the 2905489286th time- it’s just so perfect! I didn’t really make any alterations except to lengthen the sleeves a little- I just fancied them a bit longer.

 

Everything went together really quickly with this dress. From cutting to wearing it took me about 2.5 hours. I then wore it for 3 days in a row, hair drying it after it wasn’t quite dry from the wash- that’s how much I wanted to wear it!

I’m also super happy to have found that apparently grey and mustard make an awesome combo which means my mustard cardigan will get more use- yay!

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I want like 3 more of these in my wardrobe. Not in different fabrics- 3 all exactly the same so I can wear it every day.

This has rekindled a love for skater dresses and I’m on the hunt for all sorts of jerseys. I’m pretty happy to buy cotton online because it’s easy to line if it’s a bit see-through and usually cotton’s cotton, easy. Jersey/knits (see we’re already confusing things!) are so much harder because they can be a really heavy, thick knit, or slinky and skin-tight or just plain rubbish. I find those difficult to buy unseen.

Does anyone have any recommendations for some lovely knit fabrics?

Prom dress is finally out of my life!

27 Jun

A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was making my sister’s prom dress.

When I first offered it seemed like a nice idea- she could have something handmade, I’d have the chance to work on a big project and do something different. I quickly realised that actually this was a very stupid offer to make.

1. She wanted something made from chiffon. I dislike chiffon.

2. She wanted cut outs on the sides and an open back- 2 things I’ve never done before.

3. She wanted beading-   long.

 

Actually, the cutting and sewing process was fairly straight forward. Surprisingly, the first fitting was pretty close and I only had to make a couple of tweaks like pulling in the side seams and adjusting the zip.

The major problem came with the fact that my sister is tall. She sent me her height measurement which I set on my dress form and then added a few inches for the kitten heels she said she was wearing.

Everything plodded on, I did all the beading (more on that later) and then got her round to try on the dress with shoes so I could mark the hem.

She wore 6″ wedge heels people.

Who does that?!!!! She did this to me TWO DAYS BEFORE THE PROM!!!!

She also went back to her swimming training so she lost weight round her waist which was impossible to take in since I’d already beaded it and put on muscle on her shoulders so it took us about half an hour to get her in it.

I can honestly say this has been the most stressful week of my life. I had to order more fabric, pray it turned up in time and then attach an extra strip of fabric and hem it in the 2 hours I had between finishing work and her going to prom. It was the worst hem I’ve ever done. Ever. I had planned to take my time and do a rolled hem but that was just an impossibility and since there was 3 metres of hem I couldn’t even pin it before stitching, I just had to fold and stitch all in one go.

 

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She’s pulling a stupid face because she’s annoyed at me for taking 14697465902927 photos of her and her friends had just turned up. I’m just not cool enough…

So a bit about the dress:

I drafted the pattern. I spent ages looking for something similar but there was just nothing so I spent about 3 hours draping on my dress form. The main fabric is a burgundy chiffon from eBay and the lining is a really cheap (£1.45 p/m!) polyester ‘satin’ which felt really gross at first but I washed it in vinegar and tumble-dryed it (I’m getting good at that now!) and it felt lovely and smooth and soft afterwards.

There are 3 different fastenings on this dress: 2 invisible zips down the side and then 3 hooks on the shoulder. I can safely say invisible zips in chiffon are not fun.

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I was really excited about doing the beading part-that lasted about 5 minutes. I used silver and burgundy bugle beads, burgundy seed beads and strips of cerise and silver sequins and once I’d got 2 rows down I got fed up. My God that shit is boring.

Knitting is long- it takes me about 40 hours per cardigan- but I can watch tele at the same time. Beading takes all of your concentration and is just so mind-numbingly dull.

For anyone that’s interested; I couched them. That basically means threading a few beads ( I usually did about 5 or 6) and sewing that row down and then threading it back through the last bead. Thank goodness I did that because thanks to her new beefed-up shoulders we did pull some beads off. But only 5 or 6 instead of a whole row because of the way they were sewn on.

I don’t know if she was particularly happy with her dress. I’m not very happy with it to be honest- I’ve told her for her Year 13 prom I’m only doing it if she wants something simple and poofy!

 

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Blogger| Freehand cutter

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