Sunday, 30 August 2015

Don't show this post to Toddler Button

Shhhh... don't tell Toddler Button, but his Daddy just finished a toy for him this Christmas.

I saw a picture of a wooden toy sewing machine online, and showed it to Mr B.  He made it from the picture in under 2 days, because he is an absolute LEGEND.  Also, it was basically free because he hoards wood in his garage den retrieved (with permission) from skips he sees on his lunchtime walks.  When you crank the handle, the needle goes up and down.  Isn't that the cutest?!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Pretty cardigans for meeee!

I knitted a pretty cardigan for meeeee!

The pattern is Hetty, a super-duper all-over lace cardigan, knitted in the round with set-in sleeves in a cropped length.  I've been admiring the pattern for a while and finally bought it.  Because I am my mother's daughter, I used the same colour yarn as the designer.  You can't improve on perfection!

The yarn I bought from that stall at the London Knitting and Stitching Show.  You know, the one where they just have a big old pile of yarn packets on the floor and you literally just wade in and pull out a bargain.  If you've been, you'll know the one I mean.  Black Sheep Yarns, I think.

It's Rowan Softknit Cotton Aran, which is a braided yarn.  It was such a pleasure to knit with as it can't split at all.  I probably have half the packet yet, so if you're expecting a baby, also expect to receive a green knitted item... ha ha.

It's not supposed to go with this spotty dress, but it's the best I can do for now.  The cardigan is so snuggly and warm and soft in the thick aran yarn.  I had to take it off right after the photos because it's August and not actually raining today.

Look at the buttons on that!

Eugh you can see what I meant about the neckline on the dress - bad bad bad.  It would also look better lower, but for now I can't because sad nursing bra peep-age.  But enough about the crappy dress, CHECK OUT THE CARDIE.

I procrastinated for too long about the buttons but then I hit the jackpot on Ebay - £2 for 10 painted wooden buttons that look like little clocks!  In 5 different designs!  I have died and gone to cardigan heaven.

I think I need:
(a)  More of these cardigans in every colour
(b)  More novelty wooden buttons in my life (There are bicycle ones!  Bicycles!)
(c)  More of these dresses in darker and less obnoxious fabrics, with a nicer neckline

I also need another entire lifetime to make all these things.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Never leave a project un-finished to too long

I have learned that leaving a project incomplete for too long does affect your satisfaction on completing it.  Or maybe it's because this garment has too many niggley errors.  Or maybe the errors crept in because of all the start-stop and distractions, and by the end I was all "Who cares, gerrit DONE."

A few months ago, I started this blue and white spotty dress.  The fabric was bought on my honeymoon, which was before I got a job/house/two children (so clearly a looooong time ago).  The pattern is self-drafted and closely related to my ruffle dress, but I couldn't be bothered to do much more than remove the ruffle and centre-front pleat.  I wanted my new dress FAST.  (Although, not so fast that it took less than almost 3 months, it turns out.)

I got most of the major seams done quite fast, and then my overlocker failed.  The clonking noise became unbearable, the tension went ape and I couldn't get a seam to look half decent.  Maddening!  I just wanted to finish that dress!

I fixed the overlocker.  Then the 2015 outfit-along started (see this post) and I started knitting.  Needless to say the outfit-along was not completed by the deadline, because I later decided to stop knitting and make the baby carrier.  Then I went back to my knitting, which had started to take me 3 nights to do a 12-row sleeve cuff because the children would not sleep with the light evenings and heat.  And I started a crochet space-rocket for a WI competition.

Whatevs, I had to finish the dress which by now only needed the lining hand-stitching around the zip, and a hem.  I finished up, and wore it for a morning before the gape at the neckline irritated me so much I took it off before lunch.  It then languished for a few more weeks (plus family holiday) before I unpicked and re-inserted the zipper.  I finally made it!!!

It's fully lined, except the sleeves which just have a tiny rolled hem.  There is a concealed zipper in the centre-front (breastfeeding necessity), and in-seam side pockets!  Yay pockets!

Bad things:

The neckline still does not sit flat against my chest.  Maybe this is a pattern error disguised by the floppy fabric and ruffles the last time I made this pattern, or maybe I over-stretched it when putting the zip in (I ought to have stay-stitched, hands up.)

Toddler channelling my dress-hate for this make.

One bust dart is inexplicably higher than the other by almost an inch, and I only just noticed (now I can't get to it to unpick).  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!  I swear gnomes came and did this error, I am usually so careful and this has never happened before.

The bust darts in general finish a little bit too high and close to my bust point.  I ought to change the pattern.  It's entirely possible my anatomy has changed ;-)

Is the bodice over-fitted?  I read in my new fitting book that this is a thing.  Should it be less fitted?  Or is it just that ready-to-wear are not correctly made for my bust size?  (Hee hee, busts!)

I forgot to stabilise around the neckline, zipper and especially pockets with fusible interfacing, so soon these areas may be as saggy as I am.  ;-)  I forgot to overlock the pocket edges and side-seams before I inserted them.  The bodge is not pretty so don't look too closely inside.

Most irritatingly, while it was hanging on my dress form waiting for the bias to drop before hemming, I realised that I don't like my grain/pattern positioning.  Not at all.  I tried to have central dots running up/down the centre-front and back, and matching the pattern over the seams here but but didn't work very well in my rush.   And it also looks rubbish.  I should have the straight grain running down the centre of each panel in the 4-gore skirt.  This is going to annoy me forever.

Finally, the lining rolled hem got mangled by overlocker which was up to it's old knocking-noise tricks for some inexplicable reason.  (I think it was a combination of bent needle needle, fine fabric and poor quality thread or something.)  I also couldn't be bothered to do make bias binding to try a nicer hem on the outside fabric than the old fold-fold-machine stitch.  Even though a faced hem would have been better.

"More photos mummy!  Mummy I want to see!"

On the plus side, sash!  It's the selvedge of my (still-not-finished) curtain lining in white polyester.  Excited about having a sash to cover my post-baby tummy and poor pattern matching.  Also makes a cheap rubbishy dress look a bit too posh for playgroup.  But it was for free.  So there's that.

Sorry 'bout the naff kitchen photos.  I have to use a self-timer on the worktop because I am too cheap to buy a camera tripod, and my toddler HAS to be in the photos shouting stuff.  Ahhh.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Henry the Hoover

Toddler Button is obsessed with Henry the Hoover, the Numatic Vacuum cleaner.  No, he doesn't have his own TV show, but we do have an example in our garage.  We also have to peruse the range for sale in the supermarket each visit, and it's important to be familiar with the whole range of names and colours of this device.

To keep him quiet on a super long car journey, I made a cuddly Henry.  If you've found this page by googling for "Henry Hoover Sewing Pattern", then welcome!  I googled that too!  I couldn't find a pattern, so I made up the pattern myself using the magic of geometry.  I think I used this image as a basis.

Henry is made from felt (because that's what I had to hand).  He's about 6" diameter.

Check me wheels.

Henry's cheeky face is more felt appliquéd to the front.  I correctly predicted that Toddler would immediately enquire about where Henry's tube nose was, but too bad because (a) I couldn't think of a way to make one look good and (b) I ran out of black felt.

I secretly made him in the evenings and I totally had to hide his iconic little face during the day so Toddler didn't clock him.

Fiddly letters are such a pain.

Henry's front wheels turned out to be such a fiddle that they had to be stitched entirely by hand, and I'm not a fan of hand-stitching.  Also, I ran out of time before we left for the journey so they were attached during a traffic jam on the M4 when the road was closed and toddler happened to nod off.

Henry also has an appliquéd top winder wheel and hand-sewn knob thing.  But no on-off switches because I didn't have any green felt to hand.  Shame.

I'm pleased to note that Henry has been promoted to bed-time companion alongside Doggy and Ted.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Busy cube for little fingers

Our family holiday this year was a lovely trip to stay with my parents at their home on the coast.  However, it's 6 hours away by car (this does not include any stops or traffic jams, so you can reckon on a whole day in the car).  With a baby and a noisy toddler.  In a small 10 year old Corsa with an enormous roof-box stuffed to the brim.

We don't own a tablet or anything, so videos cannot be deployed.  Therefore, Mr Button and I got down to a little crafting to keep toddler entertained.  He made some lovely wooden lacing boards and wooden beads.  I made a glitter bottle to watch.  I also did a little preparatory sewing.

Not sure what this toy ought to be called, as it's the product of my fevered imagination at 3am.  I guess "busy cube"?  If there is interest I can share a pattern, but essentially it's a 6" sided cube with doors on each side, shut by every different fastening I had to hand.  Toddler likes to play with fastenings.

Sides as follows:
1.  Eyelets with ribbon lacing
2.  Side release buckle
3.  Giant button
4.  Four small buttons
5.  Four poppers
6.  Zipper added tag with a clip thing on because I have 9 left over from my baby sling.

The lacing ribbon is stitched on at one point so it can't get lost.

A different fabric hides behind each door.

The whole point was the small buttons so Toddler could practice buttoning his own clothes.

You could perhaps keep treasures in the zipped pocket?

I had to have a little bit of Toddler's favourite colour fabric in here somewhere!

I had a cute idea to put little clear pvc pockets on the cube faces behind each door, and slip photographs of favourite family members or characters in.  But I had just a few evenings to make this thing plus all the other stuff we'd planned, so it didn't happen.

This toy ended up being presented at Granny's house instead, as we thought he might be a bit young for some of the activities on it and the screams of frustration in the car with nobody to help might be a bit much for us to bear!  However, calmer or older children might get on better.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Exciting new pressing tools!

I have some new tools!  This is MOST exciting and is going to take my stitching to the NEXT LEVEL.  I absolutely must use CAPSLOCK because I am that excited.  Geeks ahoy.


My father-in-law and husband are absolute legends and between them they have cooked me up some super pressing tools.  I bring you:

"The Clapper" and "The Super-Duper-Tailoring-Pressing-Tool" (not sure what it's supposed to be called, a "Tailor Board" perhaps?) that looks like an alien spaceship in certain orientations.

Beep beep!  Take me to your leader!

My husband got a belt sander for his birthday (a joint gift from several people and including advance pennies for Christmas 2015).  He agreed to do the shaping.  My father-in-law used to be a joiner and has a massive supply of ex-stock woods and knows all that is worth knowing about these sorts of things.  His workshop and industrial tools and extraction system* are the source of endless fascination and monologues from Toddler Button.  He very kindly selected and donated the appropriate light-coloured non-staining hardwood (Ramin, apparently).

A clapper.  Not a banger.

Father-in-law made this epic Clapper, I think it's from a bit of handrail or something.  He says it's a "Banger" where he comes from and he knows a lady who battered her ironing board out of shape with one he made before.  So it comes with a warning on that front.  My seams will be so flat, even if my ironing board isn't!

Aww it's like a mini ironing board in this orientation.

The super-duper-tool was roughly cut by my father-in-law on his industrial tools, and shaped and finished by my husband.  I can press every curve!  WOO HOO!

Also, these tools look beautiful.

*Granddad's 'NORMOUS hoover!  Really 'normous BIG!