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?

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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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Knitting and Stitching 2018

It’s been quite a week!

I have spent a larger than average amount of time crafting in one way or another. The costume bits for the musical involved a lot of hand sewing. I returned the set to the wardrobe mistress and she’s giving me another whole set to do this week.

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I bound off the sleeves of Crazy Stripes at long last and have begun the lengthy task of sewing in many many ends. Buttons and blocking will follow soon.

I moved my attention to costumes for the boys for World Book Day. The process was taking longer than I anticipated when I finally got round to it, but fortunately I was given a reprieve when school declared a postponement and then a snow day! It will be rescheduled for sometime in the next week and I still have a little work to do so I’ll save the details for another time.

I finally finished the alpaca hat just in time to give it to my bestie on the train this morning on our way to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia. She will need to attach the pompom on the top and I still have the scarf to finish, but it was good to get the hat done.

I went to Knitting and Stitching without much intention to purchase as I still have several projects in the works, and yet I still managed to come home with a fair haul.

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I picked up a couple of thimbles as all that hand sewing on costumes made me realise my fingers were in dire need of some protection. I nabbed a fat quarter for some details on Pumpkin’s Book Day costume. I had a rummage in a box full of assorted patterns and picked up three for a tenner that I thought would be useful to use with fabric I already have.

Actually, one of the three required new fabric, so I went in search amongst the various stands, but I struggled to find what I was looking for. Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani was immensely helpful and though she didn’t¬†have quite what I wanted, she and her staff helped me work out what it was that I needed so I knew what to look for if I resorted to ordering something online. As it turned out, just as we were leaving, I spotted a stand that had a rack of various bolts of fabric for just 2.50 per metre, which included a bolt of black stretch denim, which was a perfect alternative for my pattern. At that price, it was worth it even if just for a practise make. I also nabbed a metre of blue jersey at the same price.

Finally, not being totally satisfied, I also bought a metre of this cute llama jersey which will become a top using the other pair of black sleeves that I cut when making my pink top.

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We had a fab day and I can’t wait to get working on some of these projects.

 

That’s what friends are for!

Life’s been rather busy here of late. Suffice to say I’ve not had much time for crafting and even less for blogging. I’ve rehearsed and performed one show already this year and I have a musical nearing curtain up.

I’ve done a spot of flower arranging; my cardigan just needs binding off, buttons and blocking. The alpaca hat and scarf for my bestie is in a state of perpetual WIP – I’m not sure they’ll be done in time for wear before the weather warms up. Soz, C! I’ve missed Unravel Festival for this year, although I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my bestie in a couple of weeks time – excited, much? Thanks, C! (Anyone else going?) I’ve just been given a stack of costume bits to sew for the musical. But looooook what my bestie just brought back from holiday for me…

Ain’t she just the best!? Just gotta find time to knit them now…!

Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in ¬†Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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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!

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?

Unexpected treasures

I just popped into town for a few things and found myself in one of the charity shops. They have a whole craft section in this particular shop. Alot of it is quite old and basically junk, but sometimes there are a few treasures. I had a rummage through the patterns box – 50p per pattern! – and pulled out a few that I thought looked good and I might possibly have a go at at some point in the future.

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As I was checking the price again for the lady at the till, I realised there were lots of drawers full of other sewing bits and bobs – buttons, thread, bead, ribbons – so after I’d paid I went back for another rummage. Deep in one of the drawers I found this piece of soft stretch jersey. 2.5 metres of it, originally sold as a remnant from Closs & Hamblin. I’vestill not managed to make anything with jersey, but I couldn’t resist this for only a fiver!

I’ve already got my sewing machine out and I am determined to leap the old stumbling block of ‘what-if-I-mess-it-up?’ and have a go at making a top.

Summer

Having struggled to fill it in previous years, this summer seems to have ended up packed full of activities and away time.

Shopping with friends for cardigan buttons and other goodies.

A little DIY in the kitchen and the saucepan lids have a new home.

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A return to the family ranch is always good for the soul.

The tomatoes are coming along well and we have a pumpkin that has continued growing beyond golf ball size.

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There’s also been lots of reading (Swallows and Amazons with Pumpkin is wonderful!), lots of sewing and still a few name labels to go! Lots of fun at the park and meeting friends, cinema, theatre, TV, Scrabble, all sorts! The summer isn’t over yet and there’s plenty more fun to be had.

Hope you’re enjoying yours!

Letting go

What do you do with things you have made that no longer serve a purpose?

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You may recall that I made a dress back in March this year. Its the first real garment that I’ve made from scratch using my sewing machine and as such, it has a certain amount of sentimental value. Its a great reminder of a project I worked hard on, and pushed myself to overcome my ‘perfection paralysis’ and felt proud of what I managed to achieve.

That said, it was made as a costume for a show. Its not a style I would choose to wear on an every day basis and I cant really imagine an occasion for which it would be particularly useful. (Chances of someone I know throwing a 60’s party are slim!) In fact, it doesnt even really fit me any more. Thanks Slimming World!

But still it hangs on the outside of my wardrobe where I can see it from my bed and I’ve reached the point of wondering what to do with it.

The wardrobe mistress expressed an interest in having it at the time of the show, so I guess I could pass it on to her for future costume use. I just dont want to regret letting it go.

What would you do? Do you keep things after they’ve served their purpose or are you good at letting things go?