Tricky sewing

My nephew’s Christmas list this year included an apron. I’ve been keeping an eye out for one in the shops with no joy, so when I spotted this cute fabric whilst buying black jersey for my sleeves, I decided to make him one instead.

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It’s a pretty simple make and I just used Pumpkin’s apron as a template. The challenge was in dealing with a rather tricky fabric. The shiny vinyl surface sticks to any other smooth surface which makes it tricky to keep it moving through the sewing machine. I used a little washi tape on the under side of the foot and a piece of fabric wrapped around the bed of the machine to help keep it from sticking.

The fabrics also can’t be pinned as they leave puncture holes. I just creased the edges as much as I could and hoped it would stay in line when I sewed.

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Overall it turned out pretty well. Hope the nephew agrees!

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Tip top!

I made a top!

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Finding that pile of patterns inspired me to just get on with it. The pattern is New Look K6230. I dug out the pink flowered jersey which I bought as an offcut earlier in the year for practise sewing. I thought an entire top in pink would be a bit much so I investigated a local fabric shop and found the black jersey for the sleeves, which cost me as much for just one metre as all of the pink flowers and the blue flowers fabrics together! I did manage to cut two sets of sleeves and neckbands though, so they’re ready for making another top at some point.

Having not sewn with jersey before, I warmed up by reading a couple of blogs on the subject and referring to a helpful leaflet from Guthrie and Ghani that came with the sewing machine jersey and stretch twin needles I bought at The Knitting and Stitching show.

The pink was quite difficult to sew as it is such a floppy fabric. It was hard to keep it in a straight line without stretching it out. Fortunately the black is much more stable and most of the seams included both fabrics. The top stitching around the neckline was a bit wobbly so I unpicked the front section and had a second go. The most difficult bit was the hem. I had to try various settings on my machine to get the right stitch length and even then had to unpick a section or two that were very untidy.

The end result though, is something that fits and feels pretty comfy to wear and looks half decent! I’ll call that a win!

What new skills are you keen to learn but apprehensive about?

Fair Isle first

I knit another hat. I knit a stranded colourwork hat. I can knit Fair Isle! Woah! This opens up a whole load of new knitting adventures!

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This is the free pattern Clayoquot Toque from Tin Can Knits. They’ve just run a week long blog series on using colour in knitting, which inspired me to have a go at something a bit different from usual. Their post of tips for knitting fair isle was really helpful.

I used Stylecraft Special DK as I have a lot of that in my stash, in a variety of colours. After reading some of the posts on colour choosing strategies, I picked 3 colours that I thought would work well together and would suit Pumpkin, and got knitting. I was surprised by how easy it was once I worked out how to flick with one colour and pick with the other. Rows of three colours were more tricky, but there’s only two of those so it wasn’t too much of a challenge. I loved seeing the pattern emerge and will definitely be knitting more fair isle in the future. Even the floats on the reverse side look quite pretty!

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Pumpkin wanted a pompom added after I took these photos. The pom pom was not entirely successful but it’ll do for now. Pumpkin likes it.

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Now I think I’d better get back to those crazy annoying sleeves.

Coffee table

Well, believe it or not, I’ve managed to complete a second project this week.

I bought this table for the princely sum of eight English pounds from a local charity shop.

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I spent a few hours sanding it down, then spent this week painting the legs using a tin of Autentico chalk paint I had left over from the little desk I did up a couple of years ago.

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I also used the same wallpaper on the under side of the table as I lined the desk with.  Probably, nobody will ever know it’s there, but I like it!

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A coat of wax to seal the paint and finish the bare pine top and job done!

Leaves

I’ve had a quiet week, the like of which I’ve not known for quite some time! The usual school runs and children’s activities have happened as normal, but I’ve had no rehearsals and I’ve run no errands and done no shopping. I needed some downtime. That’s not to say I’ve done nothing at all. I’ve been working on two projects, one of which is still in progress, but I hope to reveal the finished object soon.

The second was a very quick win. I’ve been itching to cast on something different for a long time but have been steadfastly resisting as I want Crazy Stripes finished. I’m so bored of the sleeves though that I’m just not knitting at all. On Tuesday evening I gave in and dug a ball of yarn out of my stash. This yarn was destined to be a hat for Pickle. I bought it a couple of years ago with the intention of making him a Benjamin Bunny hat a la CBeebies Peter Rabbit cartoon. I tried coming up with my own pattern for it but after a couple of attempts, for reasons I don’t recall any more – it probably didn’t fit or didn’t look right – it got frogged and banished to the stash box.

On Tuesday it reappeared, a quick trawl of Ravelry was executed and knitting recommenced. By Thursday evening, it was off the needles and on Pickle’s head.

It’s called Leaf Hat available free on Ravelry. Its a lovely pattern to knit, but unfortunately isnt terribly well written. The guage seems off, although I was adjusting for a difference in yarn weight and for size, and the crown decrease instructions are particularly unclear. Fortunately, reading back through other completed projects often proved useful and someone had taken the time to rewrite that part of the pattern, so it was no bother in the end.

Pickle loves it and it fits well. I’d definitely consider making another! Perfect for cold weather. Maybe he’ll help with raking up the leaves in the garden over the weekend!

 

PAW Patrol is on a roll!

So, we finally made it! Pickle’s birthday party, take two. Which means; cake, take two.

The cake has spent the last two weeks in the freezer, carefully wrapped in several layers of cling film. I got it out on Wednesday evening and left it in the fridge overnight. On Thursday I left it on the kitchen worktop during the daytime to ensure it was fully defrosted, then back in the fridge overnight to keep it fresh until I needed it on Friday. I was a little concerned that the fondant icing might have gone a little sticky, but I carefully cut the wrapping off once it was at room temperature and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was as smooth and dry to the touch as it had been before freezing.

My next concern was the taste and consistency of the actual cake. Of course there was nothing I could do about that until the cake was cut. Fortunately, it smelt and tasted delicious and the texture was just what it should have been so I needn’t have worried at all. I would certainly freeze a cake again in future. It would help enormously when timings were difficult.

So, on to the decoration. Pickle has recently become a big fan of Paw Patrol, so thats what we went with.

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The mini figurines were bought from a local supermarket. I used a printout of the Paw Patrol logo as a template for cutting out fondant and built it up in sections.

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I used a food colouring pen to do the lettering and fill in details.

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The pups were a big hit once they climbed down off the cake too.

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Dagenham Dress

This was going to be a series of work in progress posts, but since it all progressed rather quickly and to a deadline, and injuring my wrist at rehearsal a couple of weeks ago made typing difficult, it’s ended up as a fait-accompli post instead!

I’ve been rehearsing over the last few months for a production of Made in Dagenham. It’s set in the 1960’s and is based on the true story of the women workers of the Ford factory in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay. It’s a fun show with great music and of course it requires lots of great costumes in keeping with the 60s era. My character in particular needs several different outfits and since the wardrobe mistress has her hands full costuming everyone else, I offered to have a crack at making a dress for myself.

I’ve never really sewn a garment on my own from scratch before. I did a bit of dressmaking as a teenager, though only simple skirts, and always under the tutelage of my mum. My mum and I also worked together to make my wedding dress several years ago. I’ve wanted to have a go at something a bit more ambitious ever since I got a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, but until now had only ever done simple mending jobs, or basic projects like my crochet hook roll and Pumpkin’s pencil case.

So, after a little bit of procrastinatory research, I decided the only this to do was to bite the bullet and throw myself into it. A trip to the local fabric store and I was equipped with pattern, fabric, lining material and a zip.

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I was a good girl and put the fabric straight into the washing machine when I got home. Then read the pattern properly and realised I would need a few other things. Cue another hasty trip to a different haberdashery shop for interfacing, carbon paper, tracing wheel and a rotary cutter.

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Since I was between sizes, I had a go at grading the pattern out at the waist and further at the hips. I made a toile out of the lining fabric to begin with to check the fit and ended up adjusting the grading a fair bit. The red line above shows my first attempt.

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Tin cans make excellent pattern weights!

 

I spent a long time laying the pattern out and tracing it using the carbon paper and wheel. I still took a big deep breath before I started cutting it. (Rotary cutting wheels are awesome by the way!) There were quite a lot of moments throughout the project where I found myself starting to question each new step and whether I was doing it right or was going to risk messing up what I’d already done. I just told myself to suck it up and get on with it. I’m not always very good at doing that. Often projects sit and linger when I can’t quite bring myself to do the next step for fear of messing up.

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Once I was happy with the toile I moved onto the main fabric. I thought it could be a big challenge having to do all the pattern matching, but in fact having the lines to keep me on track really helped.

Sewing the shoulder seams would have been easier if I’d fully unpicked the lining after using it as a toile. I did have to unpick it all eventually, otherwise the construction wouldn’t have worked. Pulling the whole thing right side out through the shoulder straps required some mental gymnastics, but was easy enough. I would need to think through the seams allowances better if I was doing it again, in terms of which way they lie and trimming them better before flipping it through, as they ended up being a little bulky, but that’s just how you learn, right!?

Inserting the zip was a similar story. I’ve only done a zip once before – on Pumpkins pencil case – and never an invisible zip. The first side went in fine. The second side took me a couple of attempts and then when I flipped it round I discovered it was twisted anyway, so I had to unpick that side again and reposition it before stitching again. Fortunately it went in right first time after that and I was very pleased with the pattern matching.

This was the point at which I fell over at rehearsal and sprained my wrist, so the dress rested for a week before I could get back to it. But with the show looming I had to push on. I basted the sides together and my wardrobe mistress kindly helped to check the fit and mark the hemline and it was fairly straightforward after that, just a little slow.

The hem was the bit that I procrastinate over the most I think. With everything having gone together so well up to that point, I really didn’t want to mess it up at the final hurdle. I pinned and repinned and basted and pressed and eventually took a deep breath before chopping off the excess length. I hand sewed the outer fashion fabric for a neater finish on the outside and machine stitched the lining.

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I’m incredibly proud of the finished garment especially given it’s the first time I’ve made something like this, and to wear it onstage and pretend it’s a designer outfit is a fantastic feeling. I’m absolutely loving doing the show too. I got my nails done last week to help me get into character as well. So unlike me, but they complement the dress perfectly! Here’s to more successful sewing!

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