Chop chop

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local yarn (and sewing) shop to pick up all the notions I need. They dont have much in the way of dressmaking fabrics, but they have a fabulous selection of quilting cottons with all sorts of fun prints.

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I chose one of these for my pockets – can you guess which one?

Today I have been placing, tracing and cutting out all of my pattern pieces. My many many pattern pieces! I’ve even omitted a few – I dont need pocket flaps getting in my way on my back pockets – but there was still a vast number of pieces. But they’re all done, and I’ve used almost a metre less fabric than the pattern stated, so I’ve got plenty left for another pair if I like these, or something else if I don’t!

I’ve started finishing the edges of the first few pieces using my overlocker this evening. I’m not going to have time to work on it for a few days now, but I’m pleased with progress so far. Next up will be the mindtangling process of assembling the pockets and getting everything to end up facing the right direction!

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Pattern piecing

Today I assembled and started adjusting my pattern. The instructions for this pattern are very comprehensive and easy to follow. The taping took a little while to do, but was very straightforward.

The modifications took rather longer to get my brain around. The pattern contained instructions for modifying the pattern from a hip slash pocket to a jeans style pocket, which i thought would be more secure for keeping things in. I also used this tutorial for the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern to make a front pocket stay to give more structure and support across the front of the trousers. Modifications marked in red.

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Next up, i need to adjust the length and width of the lower leg to give more of a regular jeans fit. That’s a job for tomorrow, along with a trip to the local yarn and haberdashery shop for all of the notions I need – zip, buttons, and some funky cotton to make a secretly fun pocket lining!

Oh pants!

I need new trousers for work. I’m a theatre technician, so I need something practical, hard-wearing and with plenty of good size pockets. Oh, and preferably in black! I’ve been wearing an old pair of black skinny jeans in a thick denim up til now, but a.) they’re getting a bit snug and b.) I’ve got a lot more shifts than usual coming up (yay, panto season!) and so I need an extra pair to tide me over while those are in the wash.

At the Knitting and Stitching Show, I found some black denim on clearance and bought 4 metres. I also picked up a pattern for some men’s cargo trousers that was close to the style I had in mind.

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This week I sat down to start making them and spent an age trying to figure out what size to make as I gradually came to realise my mistake – a woman’s waist is a totally different shape than a man’s. I then spent ages comparing the pattern against a women’s trouser pattern (of a completely different style) and then against some of my existing jeans to work out if i could modify the waist, before concluding that I just needed an entirely different pattern.

So I have trawled and trawled every pattern site imaginable and yet still cannot find a pattern that matches what i want to make. I did find an amazing template of a pair of cargo/jeans that were exactly what I was after but it turned out to be a graphic design image template, not a sewing pattern. Gutted.

I toyed with the idea of using the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern from Closet Case patterns, but in the end, after a bit more googling, I found these Bryce Cargo Pants by Hey June Handmade. The picture isnt great. They’re more fashion style-y than practical looking, (and i certainly won’t be rocking up to work in high-heeled open-toed sandals) but the waist looks about right for what i want, which is the most important bit in terms of a pattern. They’re definitely too short, and a bit too fitted around the lower leg for my liking, but i figure it’ll be easier to modify a leg than a waist! ┬áIt comes as a pdf pattern, so no hanging around waiting for the post, and i think I’ll feel a lot less precious about chopping and changing the pattern, since i know i can just print it again if needs be. Mind you it’s about 30 pages, so took an age to print, and i still need to assemble it, but thats a job for another day.

 

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I’m still very much a novice when it comes to sewing, so i have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I’ll do my best and keep you posted. It could be an interesting challenge.

Right, where’s my sellotape?

Winging it

I’m having a creative streak it seems. In the last few days, I’ve cast on two new knitting projects.

A couple of years ago, in my early days of knitting, I made a very basic stripey red and yellow garter scarf for Pumpkin. It’s terrible and tatty, but he still wore it last winter and probably will this year. Recently, Pickle has been asking for his own scarf to wear. He’s quite particular about what he wants – he certainly knows his own mind – and his ideas seem to be largely based on his brothers scarf. Yellow and blue stripes.

I trawled Ravelry with him for pictures, but nothing really matched his description, so the best thing to do, I figured, was just to wing it. He chose the colours he wanted out of my modest stash of Stylecraft Special DK and I got to work. I wanted something with a bit more structure to it than Pumpkin’s stretched and straggly thing, so I YouTubed double knitting and here we are.

It’s 25 stitches wide and I’m just going to see what happens as I go along. The double knitting is pretty easy once you get started and have figured out how best to hold the yarn.

I also spent some time trawling Ravelry for something new for myself. I had ideas of ripping out my very first cardigan, March Basic, which I’ve never really worn, and reknitting it into some sort of tunic. Whilst looking for tunic patterns, I came across something else which took my fancy.

Studying the photos and the various projects listed, I realised it used a leaf motif I already knew from a hat I’d previously made, and I could figure out the general construction. Since I wanted to modify the shape of the garment a fair bit away from the design I could see in the photos, I figured I wouldn’t buy the pattern but just figure it out for myself. I cant decide if that’s cheating or not? What are the ethics of not buying a pattern when you’ve been inspired by a photo of it, but want to change it? Answers on a postcard.

Anyway, I like a bit of knit-maths and can use a good brain workout every now and again, so I’m just going to go with the ‘wing it’ approach on this one too. There’s been a certain amount of ripping and tinking and fudging so far, but here’s what I’ve got.

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Do you always use a pattern or do you enjoy working things out for yourself?

Here’s a llama, there’s a llama

Well, I seem to be on a roll. I’d not been allowing myself to start any other projects until my Crazy Stripes cardigan was finished, but I had plenty of projects lining up in the wings.

You may remember this little pile of goodies from this year’s Knitting and Stitching Show.

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Well, in just three days, and with the help of my shiny new Singer overlocker, that llama fabric has become this.

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I added about an inch in length to the body at the tracing stage. Otherwise it’s the same as my previous pink one from the same pattern, though I possibly used less of the seam allowance as I was nervous about the overlocker blade slicing too much off the edges. I wpuld potentially attempt to alter the neckline so it’s not quite so wide, were I to make this top again. But in general, I’d say I’m pretty pleased with this make.

Now, what shall I make next?

Finally finished!

Please forgive the utterly dreadful photo, but I just couldn’t wait to show you this. Its been about 2 years, and an awful lot of procrastination in the making, but today I finally knuckled down to sewing in the last few ends and attaching the buttons.

Loooooooook!

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It really needs blocking, but I’m so pleased it’s done that I’ve just thrown it on and started wearing it. I’ll block it when it gets washed.

Now I can allow myself to move on to other projects. Hooray!

What’s the longest you’ve worked on a project for?

Tulips

My wonderful grandmother recently turned 90, so she threw a big party to celebrate with family and friends. I offered to provide a celebration cake for the occasion, and drew inspiration from the tulips she included on the invitations.

I intended to model life-like tulips from flowerpaste, but struggling to get them right and pressed for time I resorted to a more stylised approach, which worked well when combined with the small vase of real tulips. My grandmother liked it, and it fed everyone about twice over!

Equilibrium

Today is apparently my 4 years blogging anniversary! Over the years, crafting has given me fuel to blog and blogging has motivated me to keep crafting. Recently I’ve had less time and motivation for either because my creative energies and time have been increasingly directed towards my theatrical pursuits, which is less suited to writing about. Rehearsals don’t make for many pretty pictures! Here’s some pretty tulips instead!

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I’m currently rehearsing for my third show of the year and I’m hoping to take part in a couple more before the year is out. Not only that, but I have also recently gone back to work after nearly 9 years of stay-at-home parenting. I wasn’t planning to go back to work just yet, but when my dream job fell in my lap, I couldn’t possibly refuse! I’m currently in the rebalancing phase – hopefully I’ll find my way back to crafting and therefore blogging once I’ve found the new equilibrium. There’s still plenty on my making list!

 

Eat dirt!

Pickle has just turned five and just like that we’re out of that ‘early years’ stage of parenting. What!?

He’s been very much set on a chocolate birthday cake for quite some time but the decorative details have been harder to pin down, but with Minecraft as the general theme. When I started the baking process a few days ago, I had in mind a vague plan of some sort of Minecraft landscape with different levels and features, maybe a few trees and a waterfall. Once I had a large square slab of chocolate cake ready, and I invited Pickle to scroll through a few images on Pinterest with me, I had little inclination to do anything too complicated and he picked out a pretty straightforward simple block of dirt with grass.

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Looks straightforward enough, but cutting out small squares of fondant is more time consuming than one might imagine! Nonetheless, it turned out ok, Pickle was happy and it tasted good and impressed the other parents. I felt it needed something a little more on the top, but I ran out of time, materials and inspiration so left it plain. The candles were enough to add a little detail.

 

 

Toothless flies again

Those of you who have been around for a while may remember the Toothless cake that I made for Pumpkin’s birthday a couple of years ago. He still loves How To Train Your Dragon, both the books and the TV series, so of course, having been Hiccup last year, he requested to be Toothless for this year’s World Book Day.

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Despite him giving me plenty of notice of his character choice, I of course left everything to the last minute and was only saved by the snow which caused the dress up day at school to be postponed by a week. In the end I still cut it ridiculously fine, sewing in the morning while the boys ate breakfast and pinning the wings on him as we went out of the door!

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I bought a plain black hoodie and jogging trousers as the basis for the costume. I marked out and cut a straght line up the back of the hoodie to insert the dragon spines.

I drafted pattern pieces on paper for the spines and cut them out of some leftover black jersey and used a bit of iron on interfacing to stiffen them a little.

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For the head of the dragon, I drafted the ears/horns on paper and again cut them from black jersey and padded them a little to get the right shape and make them stand up a little, and hand-sewed them in place on the top of the hood.

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I found some perfect green cotton fabric at the Knitting and Stitching Show to make Toothless’ cat-like green eyes. I googled to find out the best way to do the pupils and hand-stitched them using black embroidery thread and a satin stitch and was very pleased with how they turned out. I edged them with black jersey to help define the eyes and make them a bit more 3D and stand out a bit more and then sewed them onto the hood.

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The tail was the tricky bit. I didn’t want it attached to either hoodie or trousers as I thought it would get in the way, so I made up a simple belt using some fabric tape I had in my sewing box and a couple of hook and eyes. The tail itself was a long triangle of black jersey. I considered adding some spines down the tail but decided it was a bit fiddly and probably unnecessary, not to mention I was rapidly running out of time. I had just enough black jersey left to make one of the tail fins and cut up an old red T-shirt to make the other fin. I pinched a bit of fusible fleece from my lovely bestie to give them a bit of structure and filled the tail out with toy stuffing.

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A pair of wings was hastily chopped from a bin bag and safety pinned either side of the spines. It was a quick fix but they actually looked quite good, giving a bit of different texture, and I wasn’t worried about them getting snagged on things during the day.

With more time I probably could have improved on it a bit more, but as it was, I was happy and he was happy.

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