Friday, 31 July 2015

Scrap busting: vintage-style headscarf tutorial

I've got a great scrap-busting project to share with you today! It's to make these vintage style headscarves/headbands - they're the kind with wire inside them which makes them stay in place nicely.

I've been meaning to make one for ages because I had an old shop-bought one that I wear all the time, but I couldn't work out what kind of wire to use - nothing seemed quite right. Then recently I saw a similar project in a magazine that used garden wire so I decided to give that a go. I was a bit skeptical because the wire didn't seem like it would be bendy enough, but it actually worked really well and now I'm slightly obsessed with making these headbands. They're really simple, so much so in fact that I almost thought it didn't warrant a tutorial, but it's always good to share ideas so I'm doing it anyway! Here we go...

You will need:
- Long, thin fabric scraps
- Garden wire (mine is 1.2 mm thick, and does the job nicely!)
- Insulating tape
- Sewing supplies

Cut 2 strips of fabric. The length/width/shape is up to you really, but as a guide I cut my strips to be 85 cm at the longest point, and 8 cm wide. I curve the ends of the strips slightly as you can see in the photo above.

Put your 2 strips right sides together and sew (I use a 1 cm seam allowance) around the edge, leaving a gap of around 10 cm in one of the long sides for turning. Don't forget to secure the threads at both ends!

Turn the fabric right side out and press

Take your wire, bend the end over and wrap it back around the wire to create a loop roughly 5 cm long - this doesn't need to be too precise, the loop just helps the ends of the headband keep their shape.

Wrap insulating tape around the wire at the bottom of the loop to hold in place and make sure there are no sharp ends.

Hold this loop at one end of your fabric strip and stretch the wire out so it is roughly the same length as the strip, allowing enough extra wire at the other end to make a second loop. Cut the wire at this point and then make a second loop in the same way as the first.

Put the wire into the fabric tube through the turning hole, feeding the loops to either end.

Sew up the turning hole by hand using your preferred method. I love the ladder stitch which Flossie Teacakes shows in this tutorial.

And you're done!

These headbands are a great way to use up fabric scraps and such a quick project. I only wish more of my friends and family were fans of headbands like this, because they'd be great to make for presents. As it is, I'll just have to make lots of myself instead - I'm sure I'll cope with that! I hope the tutorial all makes sense - if anything's not clear let me know and I'll try to sort it. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Aurora & Veronika

Do you ever find that when you're working on a project serendipity comes along and makes the result far better than you imagined? That definitely happened here - I was making a skirt, and pondering whether I actually had anything in my wardrobe to wear with it, when it dawned on me that I had a good fabric and pattern already in my stash to create a solution to that problem. Enter my versions of the Megan Nielsen Veronika skirt and Seamwork Aurora top...

One of my problems when it comes to separates is that nothing ever seems to go together, but hopefully in this case that won't be an issue because I know that these two were made for each other. I'll probably still keep an eye out for top-appropriate fabric that matches the other colours in the skirt though, after all it's always nice to have options, isn't it?

So, on to the individual patterns themselves....

As soon as Megan Nielsen generously released the free Veronika skirt pattern, I knew that I'd be making one. I'd been meaning to draft my own circle skirt pattern for a while, but had never quite got round to tackling the maths. The Veronika pattern means that I don't have to do that anymore! It's a basic circle skirt with two waistband widths and the option for cute scalloped pockets.

For this version, I used the narrower waistband and left off the pockets (which seemed sensible with this large-scale print), but they'll definitely be added to a future Veronika which is sitting in my mind waiting to become a reality.

As you'd expect for a circle skirt, this was a nice easy project and only took a couple of hours to do most of the sewing. As is always the case, the worst part was giving the nearly-finished skirt enough time to hang before hemming. So frustrating when you want to wear your new creation!

The fabric is from the Riley Blake Floribella collection, and I managed to pick it up for a bargain price from the Village Haberdashery sale section (as I'm writing this, they only seem to have a bolt end left - unsurprising given how much of a bargain it was!). When it arrived, I was slightly surprised by the scale of the print as I'd just imagined it would be smaller than this for some reason, but I actually love how it looks in this skirt.

The top is the Aurora pattern from June's issue of Seamwork. It's a simple vest top with added pretty details of gathering at the front and a pleat at the back (which I now reaslise I failed to get any close-ups of) where the separate yoke meets the main sections of the top. I really liked the pattern when it was released and added it to my mental list (which is rather long!) of things I want to sew.

Then when I was sewing the skirt, I realised that the fabric I had left over from making my tea-cup print Astoria was actually a pretty perfect colour match for this skirt and I had more than enough to get an Aurora out of it. As I said when I was talking about my Astoria, the fabric isn't the best quality in the world but it's worked out OK here.

As you'd expect with any Colette/Seamwork pattern, the instructions are thorough and really clear. The top comes together really quickly - I'd say their 2 hour estimate is about right and I'm not particularly speedy.

When I was sewing the top, I wasn't entirely won over by the finish it produces. Basically, you start by hemming the front neckline and the armhole sections of the front and back, then make the yoke (which is self lined), and then attach the yoke to the front and back. That means that the seams are right at the edge of the garment, whereas I'm more used to sewing the seams first and then enclosing them with the hem, and I think that looks neater. It didn't bother me at all when I was wearing it though and, let's face it, how many people are really going to study the inside of my top?! So it might not be my favourite finish, but it wouldn't stop me making another Aurora.

I really like my versions of the Aurora and Veronika together. And considering that Veronika is a free pattern, Seamwork patterns are fairly cheap, the floral fabric was a bargain and the jersey was left over from another project, I think this is a fairly thrifty outfit! I'll definitely be making both again - I already have some lovely drapey denim for a Veronika, and Aurora is a great basic-but-not-boring top so will always come in useful. And on that note, I'll leave you with a twirling shot, because surely all blog posts involving circle skirts have to feature twirling somewhere, don't they?!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Knitting: Clementine Cardigan

I've managed to achieve something quite rare for me - I've finished a knitting project in time to wear it while it's still seasonally appropriate! Please tell me I'm not the only one who usually struggles to do that?! I gave myself a self-imposed deadline of the end of June to finish knitting it, which admittedly I didn't quite meet, but early July is close enough for me.

This cardigan is called Clementine and it was designed by Sarah Hatton for issue 99 of Knit Today. I only buy knitting magazines if there's something on the cover that catches my eye, and this pattern did exactly that (plus there was also a picture of a jumper covered in intarsia stars which I'm definitely keeping in mind for a future project).

It's designed to be worn with a small amount of positive ease, but I like cardigans to be slightly more fitted. Thankfully for me I fell between two sizes, so I just went with the smaller one and the fit turned out pretty much exactly how I wanted.

The cardigan is knit using cotton yarn, which obviously makes it summer-appropriate, but unfortunately I don't have a great track record of knitting with 100% cotton (the last time I tried it, my Mum helpfully told me that the baby hat that I'd knitted would make a good dish cloth!). Because of that I went with a cotton blend and used King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK in Fuchsia.

On the subject of the colour, I'm sorry if it's hurting your eyeballs here - on my laptop it looks the pretty fuchsia shade that it actually is, but I've just looked at the photos on another screen which is showing the cardigan as a particularly garish neon pink for some reason. Odd.

Anyway, the yarn was nice to knit with. I found it a little bit prone to splitting when casting on, but other than that it was fine and the finished cardigan feels lovely to wear. And my Mum hasn't said it could be a dish cloth so I'm calling that a success!

The cardigan is knit in sections and them seamed, which at the moment is my preferred method. I like the idea of cardigans knit seamlessly on circular needles, but the only time I've tried it (my Cria cardigan), I kept getting really sore wrists so I think maybe there's something about the way I hold circular needles that my wrists don't like. Does anyone else have that problem? I'll give it another try at some point (if nothing else, I need a Chickadee cardigan still!), but at the moment I'm sticking to what I know works.

This was my first time knitting any kind of lace pattern, and I was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward it was. I'd always imagined that it would be really complicated but it was easy to get the hang of.

I did end up having to knit most of my first front piece twice because I dropped some stitches in the lace section, and they managed to unravel so far down that I couldn't tell quite what was going on anymore so decided it would be best just to frog it and start that section again. I think it actually may have been a blessing in disguise because the lace panel came out neater second time around anyway. Practice makes perfect after all!

I'm really pleased with this cardigan - both in terms of how it looks and, possibly more importantly, because of the fact that I finished it in time to actually wear it this summer. I'm now trying to decide what to knit next - I inherited all my Granny's old knitting patterns recently and there are some nice cardigans I'd like to try, but part of me thinks I should be good and finish the socks I started and got bored of before this cardigan. Which would you choose?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

When a new pattern is released, do you snap it up instantly, or wait until you've seen a few versions made up to gauge what it's like? Personally I'm a sucker for shiny new things, so when Sew Over It released the Vintage Shirt Dress pattern recently, I knew it would be finding its way to my sewing table fairly quickly. Then I was lucky enough to win a copy in a giveaway held by Marie at A Stitching Odyssey, and I already had some perfect fabric waiting to be used, so the project queue-jumped right to the top of my sewing list.

There are lots of interesting details in the dress - the cute notched collar, gathering at the shoulders and the lovely shape created by the pleats on the bodice and skirt - so I was always confident that I'd like the end result, but the sewing process itself was really enjoyable too. The instructions are very detailed and clear, so I think relative beginners would be able to tackle this dress even though it's rated as intermediate.

I don't know about you, but I often find that things don't line up completely precisely first time when I'm sewing, especially not when you throw in details like collars and pleats having to match up either side of a waistline, but that wasn't the case here. Everything lined up beautifully first time, and I had no problems at all during sewing. On that subject, in spite of what it looks like in these photos, my hem is definitely level at the centre front - I think the wind must have been lifting the buttonhole band up or something!

I made a size 14, but I added 2 inches to the length of both the bodice and the skirt. Adding length to a bodice is a standard adjustment for me (but I usually don't need to add quite that much), and the extra length on the skirt is partly because I'm slightly taller than average and partly due to my personal preference for dresses I wear without tights to hit near to knee length. During construction, I also ended taking out a little bit of extra width from the side seams at the underarms because I had some minor gaping there, but those were the only alterations I made.

There is a fair bit of ease around the waist - personally I like that in a shirt dress but it might be worth bearing in mind if you like things super-fitted.

The fabric is a pretty apple print cotton from White Tree Fabrics. I'd bought it for a different project, but when that pattern got lost in the post, its destiny changed and it became a shirt dress instead. I'm glad it did, because I love how it worked out here.

It's a really nice cotton (especially for the price) and it was great to sew, but it is on the thin side so I underlined it with some plain white cotton lawn. It might have been OK without underlining, but now I know for sure that I don't have to worry about anything unwanted being on show!

For the buttons, I initially planned to try to pick out the green of the leaves in the print, but when I went to buy them (and after a considerable amount of time being indecisive sat with buttons lined up on a scrap of fabric on the floor of my local wool shop!), I decided the pinky-red buttons just looked more "me". I used Emmie's tip of using a backwards button to prevent waist gape, and it worked a treat! I did then realise that I had this green belt that's a perfect match for the leaves though, so I suspect I'll end up wearing it with this dress a lot meaning waist gape might not be so much of a problem anyway. Still, it's good to know I don't have to worry on belt-free days!

I really loved sewing this dress, and I also like the finished product as well. I did nearly ruin it shortly after taking these photos when I got printer ink on it printing out a PDF pattern, but thankfully I managed to avert disaster! The question now is, what fabric should I use for version number two?