My summer sewing

 

It’s been a year since I made a dress for my daughter for the first time, and it only just fits her now! It can be very hit and miss if something fits her and for how long, so it was lovely to see her wearing it this summer.

There are so many lovely printed cottons available that are perfect for cool summer dresses, but I’ve yet to work up the courage (and find the time!) to make myself one. It only takes a metre of fabric to make a dress for Claudia, so I have amassed a nice little stash for her, but rather predictably I can buy fabric at a much faster rate than I can use it!

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Of ducks, dolls and no time left to blog

kenny-duck-and-molly-the-dollyI am now deeply suspicious of anyone who claims their creative career is the result of “just something I started when I became a stay at home mum”. Madam, not only are your pants on fire, but there appears to be an au pair with a freshly bathed child sleeping under each arm trying to silently indicate that dinner is on the table. These women either have an army of domestic staff or they keep their children in cages like battery chickens!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I guess by this point I thought I’d be past the sleep-when-baby-sleeps thing and on to that magical time of getting-things-done-while-she-naps stage. Claudia had her first birthday last month but didn’t seem to get the memo about weaning off milk, so still wants to be breastfed 3 or 4 times a day (in addition to consuming a startling amount of solid food), which is exhausting, and naptimes are very unpredictable.

That said, I have somehow managed to keep going with my crochet and knitting, even sneaking in the odd bit of sewing too, I just haven’t had much chance to blog about it all! Continue reading

The baby’s summer wardrobe all stitched up

summer wardrobe 2

Maybe it was the return of the Great British Sewing Bee, or the fact that I now have a scrumptious little model (who sometimes sleeps long enough for me to get things done!), either way, my sewing machine has come out of retirement in time to make a small summer wardrobe. (It’s for a small person and small as in only 5 items.)

At first I was very good and raided my fabric stash for what I needed and made a gorgeous little playsuit from some bright floral cotton Continue reading

Hulk inspired crochet blanket plus pink sock monkey

October is usually the time I start worrying about making Christmas presents for my family, but a run of niecling and nephling birthdays from mid-august means that I’ve had plenty of gifts to make well before the dreaded December deadline. I try not to post pictures of something I’ve made as a gift before I’ve given it to its intended recipient, so it’s easy for them to get overlooked on this blog in favour of projects that I can show off the second I’ve finished them.

So, with apologies to niecling no 2 who is still waiting for the circle skirt I promised her (shhh! I think she’s forgotten!), let’s start with niecling no 3. Continue reading

More skirts, another granny square bag, and an assortment of events

July has been a busy month for me, and somehow my makes have dropped out of sync with my posts. I’m not complaining, it’s lovely to have so much going on, but I don’t want any projects to slip through the cracks. This blog is as much about me keeping a record for myself as it is about showing off to you lot!

That said, I do want to show off the sequels to the BA*M! skirt. I made them especially to wear to LFCC, and I bought the fabric at a fantastic shop in Tunbridge Wells called World of Sewing. I could have cheerfully spent a fortune there, but I was good and only bought what I needed to make two skirts.

With the first one I tried inserting pockets, and had mixed results. They looked okay, but were a bit too small to fit my hands in properly. As a first attempt they weren’t too bad.

Panda skirt by *B*A*M! Crafts Continue reading

Gorgeous crochet bag and the accidental muumuu

When I make something with the intention of selling it, I know I’ve done something right if I want to keep it once it’s finished. It’s not a bad standard to aim for, because if I don’t like it, how can I expect anyone else to give it house room? Of course there are times that I’m so fed up with something by the time I’ve finished it that I can’t appreciate it for what it is straight away. It needs to be hidden away from my over critical eye for a while to be given a fair chance.

The granny square bag I’ve just finished is definitely something I’d love to keep though!

Granny square bag Continue reading

The *B*A*M skirt.

Just a quick ta-da! and run today. The sun is shining, I have a bag full of portable crochet projects, and an invitation to lunch at the harbour with my big sister!

The *B*A*M Skirt

The *B*A*M Skirt

Remember my restyled charity shop skirt? Well, I used the same method and improvised pattern piece to make another lovely skirt, this time with some of the fabric I bought last week from St Albans market when I was visiting my other sister. I love this fabric (it’s at the top of the page in my banner at the moment!) And Katie (lil sis) was of the opinion that it was perfect for me because the white shapes look like “BAMs”! Continue reading

A restyled skirt, a little bit of weaving and the original Bond….

As you might have noticed, I’ve settled into the routine of blogging once a week (doesn’t routine have a nicer ring to it than rut?), which means my posts tend to ramble around several topics, covering whatever craftiness I’ve been up to over the previous week. I always start with the intention of doing a separate post for each topic or project, but it never seems to happen! This week I have the usual hodgepodge of things to write about, but it suddenly struck me that actually there is a common theme uniting them after all! Everything I’m blogging about this week has a connection with the Community Wise charity shop in Eastbourne’s old town and/or the community centre it is attached to.

The Community Wise shop is a great place to find second hand clothes at incredibly cheap prices, and a couple of weeks ago I found a full length blue cotton skirt that reminded me of the kind of thing my mum wore as a primary school teacher in the 80s. I loved the fabric, but the skirt itself was a just a shapeless sack with a drawstring waist, but a could see the potential for a restyle.

So here it is!

Before and after!

Before and after!

Using a red skirt I already had (incidentally this one was also bought from Community Wise!) I made a template for a wide waistband out of brown paper.

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I also used the red skirt to gauge how much fabric to cut off the bottom  of the blue skirt, and from the excess fabric I cut four waistband pieces, two of which I backed with iron-on interfacing.

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I measured from the original hem up to were I was going to actually cut the fabric and marked it with water erasable pen every couple of inches, then all I had to do was cut along the dotted line!

I stitched the four pieces together: the two with interfacing to form the outside of the waistband, and the other two forming the inside. I left the bottom and one side of the waistband open.

Next I cut off the nasty elasticated waistband, being careful to leave as much of the skirt and its pockets intact. I cut a slit behind the left pocket to accommodate the zip, and gathered the top of the skirt in two parts, front and back. I used the sewing machine to do the gathers this time, but all the practice I got in last week with those zakka style pouches certainly helped when arranging the gathers! I found that you really can’t use too many pins when you are working with gathering!

Then it was just a case of enclosing the top of the skirt in the waistband, adding a zip and a button, and whizzing round the bottom with a quick hem!

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

I was very pleased with the results, especially as the only skirts I’ve made before this were of the shapeless sack with an elasticated waist variety! I will definitely be reusing the pattern piece for the waistband that I cut out of brown paper again to make more skirts like this.

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

And the first time I wore my restyled skirt?  When I went to my textiles group at Community Wise! Everyone seemed to be impressed, which was lovely and reassuring!

I took my peg loom to show the group, which (I promise!) I was already planning to do even before Simply Crochet printed that photo of me with a similar loom. I hadn’t done much with mine since I first got it, but it still had the piece I’d been working on attached, and I’d forgotten that it was quite good! I wove a little more before taking it off the loom and knotting off the warp threads, and now I just have to decide how to neaten the edges.

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By the way, I bought this loom at Fibre East last year, but you can find Fire and Fibre, the company that make them,  online at fireandfibre.co.uk

On the last Saturday of every month there is a farmers market at Community Wise, and Rita, the manager of the charity shop, always organises a stall with a theme stocked with items she has been putting aside from the donations she receives for the shop. This month she had a stall stocked with craft materials, which was heaven!

I’d already picked out this wonderful little stash…

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… when I heard the magic words: “who wants a knitting machine for £3?”

Telling myself not to get too excited, that it was probably only a child’s knitting loom, I nearly bowled poor Rita over in my enthusiasm, saying that yes, I would very much like to buy a knitting machine for £3. And lo and behold, IT WAS A PROPER KNITTING MACHINE! An original 1980s Bond knitting machine in mint condition in its original box NEVER EVEN BEEN USED!

Fortunately Rita was able to decipher my high pitched squealing and wild gesticulating, and popped a sold sticker on that bad boy for me. Even when I pointed out that the machine was worth a lot more than £3 she absolutely refused to accept a penny more, and I went home a VERY happy bunny!

My Bond! I don't have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

My Bond! I don’t have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with knitting machines, the Bond machine is a very basic model, that is often referred to in a somewhat disparaging tone as a hobbyists machine. There are no fancy-pants pattern punch cards, tension masts, row counters or automatic functions, it just cranks out row after row of stocking stitch unless you painstakingly manipulate each stitch one at a time by hand.

My younger sister (the hardcore hand knitter, weaver and spinner extraodinaire) bought a Bond second hand recently, and I was lime green with envy. I knew from watching her that when it is all running smoothly it is a miracle to behold, but that you need the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon to correct mistakes like dropped stitches. I just knew it would be perfect for making items to be felted though, and I wanted a machine of my own…

If I had written this post on Sunday I probably have said: be careful what you wish for. The Bond is not an easy machine to master, even with the invaluable help of YouTube. You need to learn its quirks, not only of the design of the model in general, but of your particular machine. I’ve found I need to exert more pressure on one side than the other, or else it will jam and/or drop stitches (I can’t even tell you how many attempts it took to discover this!). As tempting as it is just to keep going when you are on a roll, you can’t operate this machine if you are tired or distracted because it will chew up and spit out you and your knitting!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

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More swatches waiting to be felted.

Despite its very temperamental nature, I already adore this machine, and I completely understand why it has such a cult following online. I haven’t managed anything much more than a few swatches so far, but I have BIG plans for my machine! It can use any yarn from light dk to chunky, so I’m going to do some serious stash busting!

But the first thing I must do is make a thank you present for Rita!

Checking in to HandmadeMonday and Link it or lump it! Plus I’m giving Moogly and My Merry Messy Life’s Hookin On Hump Day a try this week too!

 

Moogly HOHD

Cute little hand sewn pouch purses, quick dash to Germany, and (very) minor brush with fame!

I’ve well and truly fallen in love with sewing again. It’s not that I ever really fell out of love with it, but lack of practice had undermined my confidence leaving me too nervous to even try. Fortunately learning how to follow a pattern to make pyjama bottoms, together with the kits I made last week, gave me the confidence to get cracking on some of the projects that have been a very long time in the planning stage! But it was a pattern for a little pouch purse sewn almost all by hand that really captured my attention and pushed its way to the head on the queue.

Kyaza Pochi

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