Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Just one Sorbetto?

I have gone Sorbetto mad. And not just sorbetto mad, either. I have taken leave of my senses and hacked a Cath Kidston dress into pieces. The dress wasn't all that flattering; the spaghetti straps were not in proportion with the voluminous dress, the bodice was ill-fitting and the empire line made me look pregnant. Or is it my fat making me look pregnant? I am blaming the empire line. Anyways, the fabric is delicious and it seemed a shame to not wear something that had the potential to be loved. So I took my scissors to it and chopped off the skirt, estimating there was a good metre of light, breezy, gauzy cotton to be used. Initially I thought skirt. Then I decided that I'd like a nice, loose easy summer top to wear with denim shorts. These last few sweltering hot days in the UK have been unbearable. 

So I got out my trusty Colette Sorbetto pattern and here's how it turned out...
From 'Meh' to 'Marv'! 
 (sorry about my lily-white legs, they haven't been tanned since 1992)

 I added the bust darts as usual, but used the hemline of the skirt so I didn't have to hem it ha ha! SO easy. It was also to add extra length to the pattern, which has come up quite short and tailored on my other two Sorbettos. 

 Instead of the central pleat, I took advantage of the fabric's sheer drape and created a slight gather, so that top would hang more breezily. 

I cut it rather generously, too. I love the tiny bias binding. That took the most time, but it was worth it to get a neat finish. 

I wore it today to the park for a playdate with my Topshop denim shorts and crochet sandals that I bought in Rome in our honeymoon two years ago. 

I have to say I'm rather thrilled with the transformation! I hate the word 'upcycle', because I don't think it's performing a higher function than before. And its purpose as an item of clothing hasn't changed, so I can't say it's 'repurposed', either. Just re-used. Cutting down on waste- no money wasted, time well spent and a new top to boot! I'm sure Cath Kidston purists would object to any destuction of sacred garments, but I like to think that Cath herself would like this. 

Have you ever hacked up something old to make it into something new? 
Monday, 21 July 2014

Miette and Me

Did you think I'd stopped at 200 blog posts? Naaaaah. I hadn't realised I had been away for quite so long really. Blogging is a real luxury, a real investment of time and for over a month now I wanted to spend my time wisely. Meeting deadlines, enjoying summer and being a mother. My eldest son had his last day at pre-school on Friday and so for the past few weeks we have been busy with trips to his 'big' infant school as well as his usual pre-school journeys, built around my day of cleaning, feeding, writing and crocheting. Phew. 

But it's the school holidays and I have time to sew, crochet and perhaps even knit!

I started my summer stitching odyssey with some sewing. Yes, some sewing. I have been wanting to really conquer my fear of the sewing machine and while the last few projects I made haven't looked that great, they've really helped build my confidence. I had been poring over fabric websites, choosing my projects and thinking long and hard about what I wanted to make. Would I wear it? What would I wear it with? And when? So I felt pretty confident ordering the Miette skirt pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and some beautiful chambray fabric. I dusted off Betsy, set up a little work station in my kitchen and got to work, cutting the pattern pieces one night and sewing the next. Back door open, listening to the storm and sewing in my vest and pants made me very happy on a sweaty, hot evening. 

And here's the result!

Top stitched pockets!
 Stitching in the ditch (OK, so this is the only section where it actually went in the ditch...)!
 And a lovely A-line skirt with pockets!
 I wore it to the seaside yesterday. 
Yes we had a grand time paddling, eating cockles, building sandcastles, eating Rossi's ice cream and all those things one is contractually obliged to do in Leigh-on-Sea. The chambray fabric was lovely and cool.
 And the A-line shape is so flattering- I look so slim here! I am not this skinny in real life. 
My stripe top is from H&M and the red clogs are my trusty Lottas. 

All in all it took around five hours to complete. I spent a long time assembling the printed PDF pattern, and cutting the pattern pieces carefully one evening. Then the following evening I sat down and sewed it, checking each instruction on Tilly's blog once, twice and even thrice. I ironed every seam, trimmed every bulky hem and followed every tiny instruction carefully, and it took around four hours to sew. The only swearing I did was when I realised my bobbin had run out while I was sewing the waistband and ties on...silly the me. Apart from that, it was an absolute delight to sew. And I'm thrilled with my Miette! I am planning a winter one now in indigo denim to wear with mustard tights and a long-sleeve Breton. Perhaps even Tilly's Coco top?

A sewing success! Hurrah! 

I have plenty more to witter on about this week so I hope to see you soon. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Jumbo FIKA cushion

I'll keep it brief because I don't know how much time I have....I find it tough, these tiny snatched moments away from the constant demands of motherhood. I've been rather poorly with tonsillitis this week and having had no help with the children it has been especially difficult. But today I finally made it to the doctors and have antibiotics and blood tests tomorrow for glandular fever. Between endless loads of laundry, two extremely hungry children and avoiding the tiny dinosaurs and lego all over the house I've also started working on some writing commissions again. I'm thrilled to be working again, it does give me sense of purpose. I also have some projects for Simply Crochet coming up too which I'm really excited about. 

But for now, let me take you on a pictorial journey of a cushion...

And here she is...

and the reverse...
Little George's hand creeping in...

 Rather at home on this couch? I think it'd look better on a bench. 

The design is based on Ingrid's gorgeous Harlequin cushions, and last year you may remember I created my own harlequin cushion pattern- the Fika cushion. 'Fika' is a Swedish word, and it's a kind of social coffee break that's usually accompanied by a pastry. It's part of the culture in Sweden, and colleagues and friends often talk about and make big decisions over Fika or just relax and feel more productive afterwards. It's essential to their day. I thought 'what would make my coffee break more enticing? A lovely cushion of course!'

Anyways, here's the recipe for a jumbo FIKA:

Fika cushion pattern HERE
1 x IKEA Inner cushion (40 x 60cm)
Acrylic yarn- I used Stylecraft Special DK
3.5mm hook

Using the Fika pattern, I made my diamonds 20cm wide- which worked out as 38 stitches with my tension. The triangles I worked until they were also 38 stitches wide, the half-diamonds were increased until 19 sts, then decreased again. I left long tails for sewing up. The whole thing is sewn simply together. 

I love the clash of colours together and the overall effect, though I'm not sure it's quite right in my living room. It may be a present for a friend, who loves harlequins. Also, you may have noticed that fabulous Nikki McWilliams 'Custard Cream' cushion peeking into the pic there- an amazing anniversary present from my darling sister. She knew how much I wanted to buy one for my hubby but I was too skint. So she bought it for us. The start of a new collection? I think so....Tunnocks tea cake cushion next!

I'd better get back to work! My son is currently beating the heck out of an inflatable t-rex with a large Harry Potter wand. Life around here is never dull. 

p.s. Sorry about the TERRIBLE photography. I think there is a scratch on my iPhone camera lens :( and also neon pink is horrendous to capture!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Itchy itchy, stitchy stitchy

Blogging is a funny thing, isn't it? I love the freedom of just blogging whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. I didn't feel much like blogging last week. I just wanted to 'do', and 'think'. It was a long week; my husband works long hours and often goes to events and things after work so last week I found myself alone rather a lot. I mean alone with two children under the age of five. Which is tough. 

I didn't win the Deramores blog awards this time, but I am so pleased that the worthy winner was the lovely Betsy Makes. It was definitely my favourite of the other contestants, with such lovely pictures- a constant source of new inspiration!

I put my hook down this last week, opting instead to dust off Betsy the Sewing Machine and do some sewing! For someone who has been pretty scared of a sewing machine for a looooong time this is quite the news! A bit of luck finally came my way recently. I am the type of person that enters all the lovely competitions, and NEVER wins. My mother in law wins all sorts. She is the raffle winner extraordinaire. However, I tried my luck on a competition on the fabulous sewing blog Thread Carefully to win a copy of Tilly and the Buttons' fabulous new book, Love at First Stitch. And I won! Hurrah! 

It inspired me SO much. It's just the perfect book for a total novice like me. So I decided to give a few things a spin...and finished off another Colette Sorbetto top...

I decided to finish the binding by hand, as my top stitching was all over the place! It looked horrendous. Overall, I'm thrilled with fabric I chose (from Elizabeth Olwen's Grey Abbey collection) and the beautiful lacy bias binding from The Homemakery. The fit is a bit 'off', however. Maybe I cut it wrong? I think I may need to unpick the side seams and take it in a bit, having worn it once. It doesn't seem to be as nice a fit as my first one. Anyway, you live and learn. And on the whole it's a lovely lovely top which i MADE. Which is a massive buzz- I wonder does this ever get old? I doubt it! What an enormous thrill to make one's own clothes!

I really enjoyed hand-stitching the binding. I am happy with my hand sewing in general, I learnt a lot of hand sewing skills at a curtain-making workshop I did about three years ago. For my friend's birthday I decided to try an embroidery project I saw in Mollie Makes, a couple of issues ago. I put a Buffy marathon on Netflix and got my stitch on. This is the result...

My friend Portia LOVES neon pink and turquoise, so I used neon fabric paint and yarn to create the big colour pop for the piece (frame tutorial from The Homemakery blog, hoop from the Homemakery). Portia was absolutely thrilled with it, and I kinda love it, too. I think I need a mustard one for my imaginary craft room. 

Once I had tackled those projects, I decided to take the plunge with Love at First Stitch! So I finally dug out my tiny stash of Liberty off-cuts to make the Brigitte headscarf. What an ideal first project! I wear headscarves almost every day, and also made the decision to start at the beginning of the book and tackle each project one-by-one. I have also purchased Tilly's Miette skirt pattern, which will be started as soon as pay day comes around and I can afford the fabric! Here are my Brigitte scarves...

Liberty tana lawn is the dream fabric, really. Just gorgeous, I'm really thrilled with these. There is a Brigitte tutorial over here on Tilly's blog. Already I feel more confident with my machine, and think this book is just going to be the key my future wardrobe! I want to make ALL the garments, which is a massive bonus. There are five full-size pattern templates too, so I just need to get the fabric and a few haberdashery tools and I'm good to go. 

I LOVED sitting with Betsy on sunday evening. The children were in bed and husband had earned himself a lovely day out with the chaps at Field Day festival in London. It was our second wedding anniversary yesterday- it's traditional to give cotton. So I raided my rather paltry fabric stash and dug out another old issue of Mollie Makes to make Allison Sadler's fabulous fabric bow tie...
He really loved it! And didn't notice I made it, despite the label I sewed into the I guess my sewing is getting neater! Hurrah! It was really easy and fun to make, a great projects for DIY weddings I expect. handmade bow-ties for your ushers and best men? Yup. I wish could sew two years ago!

Now I must get back to my hook and stop browsing fabric websites.

Happy making everyone!
Monday, 2 June 2014

Just sitting

Sunday was a good day. After a busy week with half term from pre-school and a on-the-cusp-of-walking George, I've barely had time to breathe. So yesterday my mission was to sit. Watch the husband potter in the garden, put the bubble machine on for the children, and play with my basket of bright, colourful acrylics.

I managed to get a few motifs done for my Wood & Wool style Fika cushion.

but mainly just gazed at my lovely happy garland I made at A Crafty Day at Hope & Elvis.

Of course I was interrupted every five minutes with the children's demands. But it was good while it lasted. 

Did you manage any al fresco crochet?

Happy hooking