Saturday, 24 August 2013

Blackcurrant tea loaf

I thought I'd break from the usual sewing/knitting content to bring you a recipe I had some fun preparing for my next WI meeting.  Happy baking!

Click the image to view it larger, or clicky here to get a PDF.

P.S.  I can't stop spelling it "currents".  You can take the girl out of physics, etc...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Hello ammonite!

Thought I'd share an image of Chameleon, as he is so far:

I don't know if you can tell, but the navy wool is SPARKLY.  (Actually, this was the whole reason behind choosing to do a chameleon.)  Unfortunately, this means he'll only be cleverly camouflaged in a disco-ball factory.

Am still a bit unsure about the colours I've chosen, but there is no going back now.  It's taken me 5 weeks to get to this stage!  I chose to work from the tail backwards along the animal, because the tail is super fiddly to work and I didn't want to be swearing at it with the weight of the whole toy hanging from it.  Plus, the tail was the unknown quantity for me in this pattern. 

I estimate there are over 200 yarn breaks/changes in the tail alone, so this isn't a pattern to make for a relaxing time.  But what price beauty?  Actually, you'd have an easier life if you made the toy in a self-striping wool, but I wanted to make sure that my instructions placed colour changes in the right places, so I took the rough road.  Hey-ho.

Chameleon or Ammonite, you decide ;-)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Baby's posh threads and other news

It's been rather quiet out here in this blog on the post front.  This is because the Button Shipyard has been super busy!  One set of baby's grandparents visited for a week, and now I have 10 days to swab the decks, cook and complete village-based activities before the other set of grandparents come for another week.  Fortunately, baby is delighted with all grandparents and has a wonderful time.  Mummy is so boring, apparently.

I'm going to break my self-imposed ban on people-pictures and post a picture of the wedding outfit for your delight.  The Blooper Shirt, Moonraker Waistcoat and Gennaker Trousers look much better with a small person in them:

Ta da!

Apologies for the bright blue rug and mismatching socks.  I totally ran out of time to make tiny black shoes, and didn't have the presence of mind to sit him on grass and expose the tiny baby toes instead.

We all had a super time, and huge congratulations to the bride and groom who looked stunning and very happy.

I keep saying I'll make the shirt and trouser pattern available, but I need to fix things with the shirt first.  In the progress of that, I got distracted by this forum, which is a UK-based sewing forum.  It's amazing and has very talented and generous people on it, who recommended me to get some new pattern drafting textbooks.  I'm super excited for them to arrive and I'll tell you all about them!

In other wooly news:

My Stegosaurus got featured as pattern of the day at Quartered Heart Crochet!  It's a lovely pretty website, take a look!  A big thank you to Amy and her three-year-old who has excellent taste.  ;-)  I hope she'll like her dinosaur.

Chameleon is doing my nut.  I think I said that about Stegosaurus too at this stage.  I'm on my 5th pattern, and 5th crochet attempt.  I'm working from the tail up and I've reached about row 120; I think I'm almost done with the tail... ARGH!  I think I need a less complicated idea for the pattern after this one.

The third bit of wooly news is that I got IDed to buy knitting needles yesterday.  Seriously, you have to look over 25 to buy a 3mm set of circular needles in Dunhelm Mill.  HA HA HA HA HA.  I wonder what you must do to convince them if you happened to be under 25 but legitimately wanting to knit?!

Finally, I save the best wooly news until last:
My super-talented knitty friend has a new blog!  You can read about her adventures with hand-dying yarn and pick up some serious fibre knowledge while you're at it.  Hooray!  I can't wait to see the results.

I'm on the Christmas sewing and knitting from next week.  The great thing about this is that I'm starting in reasonable time, but the downside is that I can't post any of the resulting images or free patterns until after December 25th!  Bah!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

How To: Tailor Tacks

Since I'll be recommending this method of marking construction points when I produce the Gennaker Trouser pattern, I thought I'd get ahead of myself and write a how-to on the subject of tailor tacks.

I've tried a few other methods of marking fabric (dressmakers' pencils, chalk, pins...) but really nothing compares to the slower tailor tacks, even though I'd rather be lazy.  This method uses threads to mark the fabric, so there is no chance of accidentally staining your fabric with pencils or pens, and the tacks don't rub or iron off like chalk.  I find they don't pull out either during normal construction handling, unless you're deliberately trying to remove them.

The time NOT to use tailor tacks is if you are sewing with a fabric that pin-marks easily, such as pvc, leather, oilcloth or some tightly woven silks and acetates.  In which case, don't use pins either!  Good luck, and have fun.

The only down side is that you do end up with small torn holes in your paper pattern.  I really couldn't care less about this, but if you are one of these people who likes to keep shop-bought patterns pristine, you'll have to make a copy to work with.

It's best to use thread in a contrasting colour to your fabric, and I like to use up the odds and ends on my machine bottom-bobbins.  You need to make the tacks after you have cut the fabric out, but BEFORE you take the pinned-on paper pattern pieces off the fabric.  I'm going to describe how you can tack two pieces of fabric at once, so this works even if you have cut out two pieces at once using folded fabric.

Enough chatter: I now bring you "Tailor Tacks: as my mother taught me".  Drumroll.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Gennaker Trousers finished!

Huzzah!  I have finally finished baby's outfit for the wedding!  I re-did the trouser pattern and sewed them up in double-quick time and with 6 days to spare.

The gabardine fabric for these trousers is as good as the shirt fabric is poor!  It's really soft and drapes beautifully, with a tight weave.  It also washed really well.  The photos don't show the colour too well, so you'll have to take it from me that the black didn't fade at all.  It was also lovely to sew with: it feels like you are making a proper pair of suit trousers.

I'm finally happy with this trouser pattern, I think.  I just need to replace the 1.5cm hem turn-up on the pattern that I forgot in my haste.  The back waistband is gathered with elastic, while the front is left smooth.  I lined the waistband with a fun blue and green floral print cotton.  The fly closure (which now appears in its rightful place on the centre front) is deep and shuts with 3 snap poppers and a big button - this will make it a lot easier than wrestling shop bought trousers over big nappies.  In addition, I made the construction such that the backs of the poppers are hidden from the front and inside of the trousers: they are concealed inside the fly construction.

I also managed to take a photograph of the big patch pockets on the bum.  You have to stretch the waistband to see them properly, so they're really better viewed with a baby in them.  I guess it's for him to store his collection of shredded carpet that he's creating in my living room?  He likes to scratch the pile up with his little fingers... I thought it was only puppies that did that?

I'm pretty thrilled with these so far.  I just need to make more trousers and take photos for the instructions, but it was pointless to take photos of black trousers made at night.  Even I could hardly see where the stitching was!  I'll probably make some jeans with contrast stitching for that purpose.  Then I might add fun details like belt loops and side pockets.  Apply now to be a pattern tester!  :-)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Tiny trousers, huge mistakes!

I finished my first effort at the Gennaker trousers.  At least I made them from some corduroy hanging about so they were effectively "free", which makes me feel less bad about the state of the pattern.  At least the execution was passable, despite my foolish choice of a thick fabric with some stretch and nap.

I took my own wriggly baby measurements with him in a nappy, just to ensure the trouser pattern would leave space for all the fluffiness of his cloth nappy.  It wasn't clear from my pattern book if baby measurements should be taken with one or not.  It turns out not: these are huge!  I tried to pull in fullness using the elastic bit at the back, but this makes the side seams pull away from the sides.  Complete fail.

Sadly by the time I got to finishing them, they're ankle-swingers on my tot.  The next pattern is already drafted: longer and slimmer.

Cuffs and topstitching on the legs
Sadly, I haven't got any reasonable pictures of the cute patch pockets on the bum.  The rest of the pictures are pretty rubbish at any rate!

Super-deep popper and button fly for easy application to wiggly child
I like the fly, even after all the faffing removing it from it's stupid place on the hips of the pattern.  It's deep and easy to put on the baby, and I managed to hide the popper fastenings from the trouser front. I went for a fun cotton waistband: I'll totally do that again!

So, in summary: a poor first attempt at trousers, but I'm totally going to crack this one before the wedding.  Only 8 days to go...