Friday, 28 October 2011

Casey’s second circle skirt party!

Yay, I’m really happy to say that after following Casey’s circle skirt sew-along, I made it into her second circle skirt party post, which is now live!


The post is full of cute circle skirts of all kinds and has already inspired me to dream about future designs for myself. So go have a peek if you’re interested!

There are even more gorgeous circle skirts from Casey’s first circle skirt party here.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Knitting for beginners #3

Hello friends, it's a short-ish knitting post this week! I did get lots of great feedback on last week's post  so I've added a post script summing it all up, which you can read here.

Anyway, back to this week! Tonight we learned how to achieve a ribbed effect. This is achieved by alternating between knitting two stitches and purling the next two. One key thing to remember is that when you're doing your knitting stitches you need to bring your yarn to the back of your needle and when you're doing your purling you need to bring the yarn to the front of the needle. It's a little tricky to get used to as it requires a lot of beginner concentration, but it's really fun!

I love how the ribs look - they remind me of snug, chunky jumpers!


We knitted about 3 inches of ribs and then switched back to the stocking/stockinette stitch, which is achieved by knitting one whole row and purling the next. In the picture above, after the ribs finish, you can see the little smooth v's of the stockinette side and below you can see the 'bobbly' side of the garter stitch.


And that's about it for this week! We're learning a different stitch next week, which looks really cool, but whose name I can't remember...ooops! 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Self-drafted circle skirt(s)

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll already know that I’m a HUGE fan of tutorials and sew-alongs from the talented Casey of Elegant Musings. So far I’ve taken part in her Swing Dress sew-along and have tried her 1930s inspired scalloped collar and Western-style Ginger skirt tutorials, all with great results.

Casey’s recent Circle Skirt sew-along was no exception and I’m really happy that despite missing her first circle skirt party, I got to take part in her second one. This is now online, so check it out here if you’re interested in seeing lots of cute circle skirts!

Drafting and making your own circle skirt couldn’t be simpler…unless you’re me! I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve made two circle skirts. This is because my gorgeous first attempt ended up being way too small!



This had nothing to do with Casey’s sew-along and everything to do with me forgetting to add the seam allowance. D’oh! I was so sad about this as I love the cotton fabric - it has a novelty feel to it, but without being tacky. 


Anyway, I decided to dust myself off and have another go…and I love the result! 

Attempting to show off my perfectly circle-shaped skirt!



In reality, this version is much better for the cold weather. The heavier, wool-blend fabric is warmer and drapes so well. Similarly to the first version I inserted an invisible zip – officially my favourite method for fast and neat results – and finished the waistband with a button.

Obligatory front and back shots



I was really eager to try out horsehair braid on the hem, which was going really well, until my machine got hungry and gobbled it up! I had to revert to just regular hemming, which looks fine, but I hope I get to try the horsehair braid another time!

Naughty sewing machine!


All in all, this is an easy and satisfying project! With Casey's expert guidance, just the two pattern pieces and two body measurements, you really can't go wrong! I was convinced a circle skirt would suit me, but I really couldn't be more thrilled with it and I've already worn it out!!!

I'll leave you with these: building up a little momentum...


...and lift-off! 


Friday, 21 October 2011

Knitting for beginners #2

Most important lesson learnt this week? Dedication alone, does not a good knitter make!


Friends, I eagerly ploughed ahead with practising my garter stitch this week, but as you can see, my knitting is rather erratic. I tend to get a few rows spot on and then I maybe get complacent, drop stitches and split my yarn. The most annoying thing though, was randomly adding stitched to my rows. I cast on 20 stitches last week, yet my rows are now 25 stitches long!?! No idea has I managed this, but the teacher reckons I may have been accidentally wrapping the yarn around my needle twice, so that's something to be aware of.

Obligatory close up of my erratic knitting


One thing I'm super eager to pick up is knitting terminology...last week I called it the 'pearl stitch' for crying out loud! I seem to be perplexing the teacher with my geeky questions and I do seem to be the only one asking them. But I find it helps to know what things and techniques are called, don't you?

Anyway, tonight's questions led to a revelation! I now know that:

Knit is the action and it produced last week's garter stitch
Purl is also the action and it produced this week's stocking stitch

Experienced knitters of the world, is the above correct? Please let me know if I’m speaking gibberish!

Right, back to tonight's class – we learnt to purl, which is basically the exact opposite to what we did last week. It's straightforward enough, but it took my hands a while to get used to the different movement. I'm definitely becoming a neater knitter though I think!

Alternating between knit and purl rows gives each side of the knitted item a different look:

Purl gave me a stocking stitch on this side


And knit continued to give me the garter stitch on the reverse side


For the next week I’ll be practising alternating my knit and purl, whilst trying not to drop stitches, add stitches or split my yarn...eeep!

Oh and please help me to not sound like an idiot by chipping in with any terminology corrections / tips!

*****
Since writing this post, I’ve been over the moon to receive comments that have shed some light on knitting terminology and technique. So, I’ve decided to add this little post script to elaborate and to help fellow beginners! This is what people have generously chipped in with:

Knitting every row will result in the Garter Stitch

Purling every row will also result in the Garter Stitch

Alternating between knitting and purling rows (so knit one row, purl the next) will result in the Stocking / Stockinette Stitch

I genuinely feel much better equipped now that I know this, so many thanks to all who chimed in. And I hope this is useful to fellow beginner knitters.

This is exactly why I love the blogsphere!!! 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Attention all shoe lovers!

Love shoes? Love them even more if they have a vintage feel to them? Then you can't go wrong with the Office sale!

I'm a huge fan of Office shoes, but not of their prices, so sale time is the perfect time for me to indulge in all the lovelies I can't normally afford. Here's what I picked up recently:

30s/40s feel suede heels in a dusky pink and purple, with cute bow and stitching detail



70s feel platform heels in a lush forest green, with cut-out detail



70s feel tan and brown platforms



The best thing about all three pairs is that the heels aren't too high. I'm only 5ft 3”, but I've never mastered the art of walking in heels...I just find it too slow and uncomfortable! I like to power walk!

In sewing news, I'm working on two circle skirts, using Casey's sew-along. I'm desperate to join in her 2nd circle skirt party, so I must get them done by next weekend. Stay tuned it to find out why I'm making two...all I can say is that it's certainly NOT because I'm great!

Hope you're all having great weekends!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Knitting for beginners #1

Well friends, I've been twittering on about this on Twitter, but I can't remember mentioning it on this here blog...I've taken up knitting! I've been so inspired by you talented knitters out there , that I just had to give it a go. I am particularly holding the following culprits responsible for what I foresee becoming an expensive addiction: 


I'd be thrilled if I ever got to knit as well as the ladies above, but I fear this will take some time! 

My beginners' course is eight weekly lessons long at Leicester's gorgeous Knit One and tonight was my very first lesson. We learnt to cable cast-on and the garter stitch. We practised casting-on a couple of times and then practised our garter stitch. For homework we must knit up our little ball of yarn and then next week we will learn how to purl stitch. It's all so exciting!

We each got a goodie bag tonight too, containing some yarn, a tape measure, an issue of Debbie Bliss magazine (although upon close inspection I discovered it's from 2009...naughty!) and what I'm told are good quality knitting needles. All I know is that they are bamboo ones and feel really nice to hold!  

The contents of my goodie bag


A close up of my imperfect, yet thoroughly satisfying to knit, garter stitch 


Do you knit? If so, please feel free to post a link to the item you're most proud of in the comments below. I'd love to see what you've made!

I feel so geek-chic now that I knit...teehee!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mad for mannequins

The process of setting up an Etsy store has had me thinking a lot about photography and how a good camera, natural looking lighting and attractive props can make a world of difference. 

I have a decent enough camera and I’ve invested in some good lighting, but prop-wise I currently have a Diana dress form. She’s fully adjustable, you can stick pins in her, she has a hemline guide…a good performer all round really…


…the only problem is, despite Diana’s functionality, she’s just not pretty! Her natural red cover clashes with almost everything I make, her black polyester cover is so icky and shiny and she has a cheap plastic stand! 

So I’ve decided to treat myself to this affordable beauty with a wonderful cast iron base from London Mannequins:


My French White Mannequin is out of stock until the middle of the month, but I think she’s worth waiting for. London Mannequins also have some other beautiful yet affordable mannequins that’d I’d love for decorative purposes, but probably wouldn't be appropriate for showing off my makes.







What I’d really, really, really love though if money was no object, is any mannequin from Vintage Style Mannequins. I'm in love with them! They are so special and vary between the functional and the decorative. Here are a few of my absolute favourites that are sold, thus eliminating the chance of a delirious, midnight spending spree:









Do you have a mannequin / dress form / dressmaker’s dummy? What’s she like? Is anyone else obsessed with vintage ones or am I a bit weird?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Fun with detachable collars #3: the nautical edition

Oh, how my fun with detachable collars continues! I took last week off work to concentrate on some sewing for my upcoming Etsy store, and although the unexpectedly excellent weather was distracting to say the least, I did manage to make some rather special sailor collars.

You all seemed to love the 1950s white linen one I made using McCall's 1911 (which made its début here), so I made up some more.



I then adapted McCall's 1911 and settled on a fun little design. These are also made in linen and are trimmed with crossgrain ribbon. They were so much fun to make!

I 'modelled' my favourite colour combination – coral and navy is yummy! The face wasn't cooperating fully...




Some close-up details for you 



All the colourful collars!


I also played around with 1960s Simplicity 8060. Not sure I like it as much as the other ones, what do you think? Do you think it could work in other colours like the ones above?





Hope you like these little collars as much as I do! For my full my detachable collar journey, you can go here and here.