Saturday, 5 April 2014

Coco The Second

As the title suggests, this is my second version of Tilly's Coco pattern.  I was wearing it today with jeans and a leather jacket when I went into Belfast with my sister and our friend.  The leather jacket was a bit of a mistake because it was an unseasonable 16C today - that is warm for Belfast, and I ended up having to take my coat off!  In my defence, it was pouring with rain when I got up this morning.


Anyway, back to the top.  This time I made the top length with the funnel neck collar, 3/4 sleeves and cuffs.

My fabric is Ponte Roma from Plush Addict, it was £9.50 a metre and I bought 1.5 metres.   

I've said it before, but the instructions on this pattern are fantastic, the funnel neck was a breeze to sew.

I made this before Tilly posted her tips on stripe matching, but it I did it the same way.  Would you have a look at how those side seams match!


I did a Sway Back Adjustment of 2 cms, but I could probably take a tiny bit more out.  I didn't realise the collar wasn't sitting properly when I took my photos!

This is such an easy make.  This one probably took a bit longer than my first one, but that was because of matching the stripes.  I think I'm a convert to knit fabrics! 

In other news, my old faithful and beloved iron has finally died.  It was a wedding pressie from my Aunty and Uncle, and it was the best iron ever: it breezed through the creases - can you tell I'm one of those sad people who actually like ironing?!  It was nearly on it's way out a few years ago when the cable got frayed, but my Daddy came to the rescue and put a new cable on it.  Lately it had been taking longer to heat up, and finally gave up last weekend. 

I had been looking at new irons for a while, and settled on a Philips InstantCare (my old iron was Philips too).   It's the kind with a separate water reservoir.  I got it on Amazon, as it was about £50 cheaper that anywhere else.

 I used it earlier on, and it breezed through the creases too!  Although I haven't got the hang of the steam generator yet, but I'm sure I'll sort it out.  The only thing is that the water reservoir is big, so it takes up a lot more storage space than a normal iron, which has just inspired me to clear out the Aladdin's cave of rubbish that is the cupboard under the stairs!

Have a great week,


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Manu Cardigan

This is the Manu Cardigan by Kate Davies.  I've been wanting to knit this for ages; in fact, I think I started it before, but my yarn was too thick and it got frogged.  I'm delighted with how this one turned out though.

The photo above is closest to the real colour, the rest of the photos look deceptively pinkish (I'm still trying to get the hang of my new camera!).  The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK, this colour is called Rage.  I got it from Attica just after Christmas, it was in the sale, but I can't remember how much it was now.  I bought seven skeins, and used six and a bit.  It is gorgeous yarn, it was lovely to knit with, and it has little different coloured flecks through it which you can hopefully see in some of the photos.

In these photos I'm wearing it with my Pastille dress.  I had originally lengthened the skirt, but I wasn't happy with it; I thought the length was a bit frumpy looking, so I added another pleat to shorten it, and am happier with it now.  Anyway, back to the cardigan.


It's knit in one piece from the bottom up.  You start off with a provisional cast-on, and knit up to the underarms, shaping it at the waist.  The sleeves are then knit separately, attached to the body, and the shoulders are worked with wrapless short rows.  Being a visual learner, I had a bit of trouble understanding the short-row instructions, as they are different to the Wrap-and-Turn short rows that I've done before.  But around the time I was getting to the short rows, Ysolda posted this great video on these type of short rows, and it was just what I needed.  It explains them beautifully, and I was short-rowing like nobody's business!  


The neckline is decreased with these lovely pleats.  They were weren't difficult to knit, but were a bit fiddly, which made them very time consuming.  I had seen on Ravelry that some folks had mirrored their pleats from the centre back, and it looked really well; but I was pretty sure I'd make a horlicks of that, so I did them as on the pattern.  

The pockets are added at the end by picking up stitches from across the top of the garter stitch band.  The two side seams of the pocket are then hand-sewn to the cardigan front.

I had a bit of trouble understanding the instructions for the i-cord edging, so I used this tutorial I found on Craftsy.

The buttonholes are made within the i-cord edging.  I had lovely wooden buttons in my tin that I wanted to use, but I only had three of them; so I got these buttons from Totally Buttons.  I liked the circles on them, I thought they looked a bit like shamrocks. 

I made the smallest size, and used 3.25mm needles for the body.  This is smaller than recommended on the pattern, but seemed to be quite a common thing on a lot of Ravelry projects.  I stalked Ravelry when making this.  Seriously, what would knitters do without that site?!  Here's the link to my Ravelry page for this.  I also used smaller needles for the garter stitch (3mm) and the i-cord edging (3.75mm), I wish I used slightly larger needles for the edging though.  The only mods I made were to shorten the body and the sleeves a bit.

So that's my Manu.  Quite a few Ravelers said they found the stocking stitch a bit boring to knit, but I loved it because it was easy TV knitting.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and expect to wear it a lot, as it goes well with quite a few of my dresses. 

And I've already started my next knitting project.  It's a shawl called Whippoorwill.  When I was watching The Great British Sewing Bee a couple of week's ago, Lynda (who I so want to win!) was wearing this beautiful rainbow coloured shawl.  A bit of Twittering lead me to the pattern on Ravelry.

I'll do a proper post on it once it's finished, but I have a question for my knitting readers.  My yarn is superwash Malabrigo Sock Yarn, the purple and yellow in the photo above.  I'm making the main part of the shawl in purple, and the contrast in yellow (the opposite to what's in the pattern photo).  I'm a bit worried about the purple dye running into the yellow when I come to block it.  I'm going to knit a stripey swatch and test-wash it before blocking the real thing, but I'll probably spray the shawl with water, rather that soaking, it when I block it.  I was wondering though if anybody had come across one dye colour running into another, and how/if they fixed it.  I would really appreciate any help.  Thank you!

Have a great week,


Monday, 17 March 2014

Sew Dolly Clackett - The Dolly Mouse Dress

Happy St Patrick's Day everybody!  I hope you're enjoying your day.  I certainly am as I have the day off work.  It meant that I had time to monkey about with a new look to my blog last night.  Good old St P! 


I thought this would be a good day to show you my Sew Dolly Clackett dress. 

Actually, this dress has been in the planning for the best part of a year, Sew Dolly Clackett was the kick in the bum that I needed to make it!  The fabric is red polka dot cotton lawn that I bought last Spring.  It's the same fabric I used for my Colette Crepe dress, I got it on ebay, but can't find it now.

The pattern is a heavily modified version of View A of Butterick B5603I made this last year for my friend's wedding.  Ages ago I stumbled across the gorgeous dress below on the internet.  I pinned it to my Dresses Board on Pinterest,  but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available any more.  It's from a shop called Dig For Victory.  Their dresses look gorgeous!  The bodice reminded me of B5603, and I loved the pleated skirt, so I thought I'd have a crack at making something similar.
Source - Dig For Victory

Here's how I altered it:

Main bodice

B5603's original bodice has a separate neck band, but I extended the shoulders of the main bodice out to the width of the neck band, and shaped it down to the centre front of the main bodice, as I found the neckline to be a bit high on me on the original pattern.  I also did away with my original bust dart from my full bust adjustment using this tutorial from Lazy Stitching

I extended the main bodice out on the back to the same width as the back neck band so the back is all one piece.  I also changed it so the zip went in the centre back because me and V shaped facings don't get on very well.

Lower bodice

I'm really pleased with how this worked out!  There are four skirt pieces, and I merged them into two - one front, and one back.  The waist line is marked on some of the skirt pieces, and it's easy to see on the others as it's where the skirt flares out.  I drew in the seam allowances, and on the front pieces, I overlapped the seam allowances, drew along the waist line, and added a seam allowance at the bottom.  I did the same on the back, but also eliminated the back dart.  I made a toile of the bodice, and it fitted first time!



Now, you'd think a pleated skirt would be an easy thing to make, especially after all the complicated alterations to the bodice.  You'd be wrong: this took me about four times longer, and it was all down to my appalling maths.  My fabric is 60 inches wide, and I wanted to use one width for the front, and two half widths for the back.  I calculated for about half an hour one lunchtime last week, then an hour and half that night.  It was all wrong because I had managed to multiply my half bodice pattern measurements by four instead of two.  I could have wept!  But it did explain why I couldn't get the big pleats I wanted.  Some more calculating the next day at lunchtime, and it eventually worked.  



I drafted these all-in-one facings, and I think they're pretty snazzy, even if I say so myself!  I'm also pleased with my interfacing.  I used this technique from Vicki Kate, (scroll about half way down)  it's genius!

So that's my Sew Dolly Clackett dress.  I'm calling it the Dolly Mouse dress because this bodice will now be the Dolly bodice (there will be more!), and the red polka dots are the same as Minnie Mouse's dress.

Don't let that sunshine fool you, it was freezing!
In true Roisin style I took my photos on my front door step, and you can see all the entries in the Flickr group here.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody makes.

Have a great week!


Sunday, 9 March 2014

The two-for-one post

I thought I'd combine both these makes into one post, as I've made other versions of both quite recently.

The first one is the Deer and Doe Airelle blouse (version one is here).


I made this with some chiffon type fabric that I bought in The Spinning Wheel in Belfast.  It was £12 per metre, but I got in the sale for £6 per metre.  It's gorgeous; but friends, let me tell you the definition of madness - making a Peter Pan collar from chiffon.  It was a nightmare!  I'm please with how it turned out though.


I pre-treated the fabric first using a technique I read about on Sew Buzy Lizzie's blog (which had come from Lena at The Sewing Space).  It involves soaking the fabric in a gelatin solution, which is then washed out once you've finished sewing.  Click on the the links for all the details. 

I found the gelatin trick worked really well, my fabric wasn't like cardboard, but it was definitely easier to cut and sew.  I would recommend using a rotary cutter to cut it though - I wish I had done it!  I dread to think how that collar would have turned out if I hadn't used gelatin!


I had a bit of trouble understanding the instructions for the neckband facing - I used bias tape on the first version.  I ended up sewing the two short ends together as in the above photo.  Apologies for the rubbish photo (I took it on my phone) but this worked for me, and I thought it may help someone else.

I underlined the front and back with white cotton lawn, I left the sleeves unlined and sewed a french seam on them.  The only alteration I made from the first version was to make a Full Bust Adjustment of 2cm.

My second make is the Sassy Librarian Blouse from Craftsy.  My first version is here

This fabric was also from The Spinning Wheel, it's called Peachskin, it's 100% polyester and was £7.50 per metre.  It looks quite pink in the photos, but it's more purple in real life.  I love this fabric!  They also had it in red, so I might have to buy it next time I'm in.  I used the gelatin trick on this, and it worked beautifully, and I also cut it with my rotary cutter. 


By the way, I didn't make this skirt.  I bought it in TK Maxx years ago, and I would say it's my favourite skirt.  I love it's 70s "Oh, my retinas!!" print; and if it looks a bit creased in the above photo it's because it's linen, and I was wearing it to work the day I took these.

I raised the back of the neckline, after having lowered it on my first one; and I think you can see the pleats and darts more clearly on this plain fabric.  I love my buttons, they were from Sew N Sew in Belfast, and I think they were about 4p each - you can't say fairer than that!

Have a great week!


Monday, 24 February 2014


Yep, this is Tilly's new pattern, Coco.  I saw it on her blog on Tuesday afternoon, ordered it on my phone, and got it in the post on Wednesday!

Then I ordered 2 metres of Emerald Ponte Roma from Minerva Crafts, it arrived on Saturday, and I made this dress on Sunday.  This fabric is gorgeous!  It's thick (but not too thick!) and is so soft and lovely. 

I  have been procrastinating mightily about knit fabric for ages.  I wanted to make the Lady Skater dress, but was put off by reading about fitting issues.  It was how to fit knit fabrics that put me off, but you know what, it's wasn't as scary as I thought.  It did take me a few hours to make this, but I kept referring back to the brilliant instructions in the pattern booklet, and Sew U Home Stretch.

I'm delighted with how it turned out.  I made the dress version in a size 1 at the shoulders, and size3 from the underarms.  I maybe need a sway back adjustment at the back waist, but I can live with it.

I shortened the 3/4 length sleeves by 4 inches, and added the cuffs, which I LOVE.

The instructions are for sewing this without an overlocker, but I used mine throughout.  After some practise, I used some seam binding ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams.  I sewed it on as in the instructions, then overlocked the seams.  I practised with some clear elastic, but it didn't work too well.

I love how this has turned out!  It really was easy to make, and I would highly recommend this pattern to anybody else who is afraid of knits. 

By the way, have a look at Roisin's blog, there's a fabulous dress making competition to celebrate her up-coming wedding.  How could I turn that down?! ;)


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Libby Blouse

This is the Sassy Librarian Blouse which is from the Craftsy class of the same name, but I'm calling it the Libby Blouse because apparently I can't spell Librarian when writing on my traced pattern pieces.  Thank goodness for spell check!

This was the first Craftsy class I bought, I think it was about a year and a half ago.  Anyway, it was before I bought Fit For Real People, and I had trouble fitting the back.  I had a bulge of fabric at the back of the waist, and didn't know how to fix it.  Turned out I needed a sway back adjustment, but I moved on to something else.

I had always intended to re-visit this pattern and finally have; I have so many purple skirt, and not many tops to go with them!  The fabric I used is Cotton Lawn from Minerva Crafts, I used about 1.5 metres.

This Craftsy class is great, it's taught by Christine Haynes, who is lovely.  Even though I've been sewing for a while now, I learnt so much from this class; and they were all very simple things.  Like how to press a bust dart properly, instead of the slap-dash way I'd been doing it.  How to fold the placket to make the hem - this is in the instructions for Tilly's Mathilde blouse, but I mustn't have paid too much attention...
And (this one was a revelation) moving the needle a little bit to one side when understitching, topstitching or hemming.  That one so simple that I stopped in my tracks and thought, "Why didn't I think of that?  What a numpty!!"  It just made life more easy, it was simple to keep the understitching lined up with the edge of the foot, and the edge of the hem didn't pop up through the space in the foot!  You really do learn something new every day!
I made a few fitting alterations:
  • Full Bust Adjustment of 1cm
  • Sway Back Adjustment of 5cm
  • Lowered the front neckline by 4.5cm
  • Also lowered the back neckline, but I can't remember by how much.  It's a little bit too low now, but I can live with it.  I'll raise it on the next one.
  • I added two small darts at the back of the neck as it was a little bit wide, they are hidden under the collar.
Photo of toile because it was impossible to see on the blouse.
Because of the changes to the neckline, I had to re-draft the collar.  I did this using the instructions on page 104 for Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing.  The original collar is pointed at the front, I made mine more curved. 
I decided to alter the sleeves because I wanted puffy sleeves with a cuff.  The photo below is my toile, the original sleeve is the one on the left, and my puffy sleeve is on the right.  I came across this tutorial, and did as in the illustration at the top.  I added 1 inch of length to my sleeve, and widened it by 4 inches overall.  The cuff band is from the Deer and Doe Airelle Blouse, I just added a few centimetres in length, as it now sits further up my arm.
I also altered the waist darts.  The original darts are a V shape (unfortunately I didn't take a photo of them).  The point of the V starts at the hem, and it is sewed up into a release pleat under the bust - it's called a release pleat in the Craftsy class.  I did this on my toile, but found there was a lot of fabric between the waist and under the bust.  The release pleats reminded me of the pleats on the By Hand London Ann dress bodice, so I altered it to be more like the Anna pleats.

The photo on the left is my new pleat.  On the right is the pleats on the back, just to give you an idea of what they look like.  Apologies for the creases!
The pen lines in the left photo are where I measured in from the centre front (please tell me I'm not the only person who scribbles all over their toiles!).  My pleat is 4cm deep, tapering out slightly at the bottom.  Below is a photo of it pressed flat from the inside.  Hopefully you can see how it tapers out at the bottom.
I finished the inside edges of the placket with some seam binding, and my automatic buttonhole feature behaved itself beautifully when I made the buttonholes.  Yey!
By the way, does anybody else play bobbin roulette when they're sewing?  Here's how much thread I had left from a full bobbin!
And here it is with my five (yes, five) purple skirts!  Although your eyes aren't deceiving you, the first skirt is red, it's Simplicity 2451.  I made a few weeks ago from the not very good fabric I used for my second Elizalex

Unblogged Simplicity 2541, and Colette Patterns Ginger.

Have a great week!