Knit improv…(knitting without a plan!)

Raspberry coloured and blackberry stitched cardi!

Somehow it’s March already and I feel like I’ve lost track of the year! The last few weeks have been hectic and I realised I hadn’t knit a single thing in February.

BlackBerry stitch cuff

So before I make a plan for some March knitting, here’s what I finished in January. It’s a child sized cardi.

It started out as an experiment – I wanted to use blackberry stitch for something for myself and just wanted to get knitting without swatching, so I cast on what I though would be enough stitches for a sleeve. But it wasn’t quite big enough to wear without cutting off my circulation 😂!

Tight squeeze sleeve

It did fit very nicely on my daughter’s arm, and the colour really suited her, so instead of ripping it back I decided to make a child sized cardi instead. Because I started this over the Christmas holidays, my muse was about the house all day, so I tried it on her every time she got within arms reach!

Body knit from the hem up
Trying on for size

When it fit to underarm height, I joined the sleeves and body to continue upwards to a circular yoke. I used scrap yarn for the design, which I also made up as I went along.

I gradually decreased the yoke as it got towards the neck, but there was no real method – except to evenly space the decreases on the decrease rows. The no plan approach had worked this far so I kept it up!

Made to include some growing room!

The neckline was finished in rib to match the hem and all that was left was a button band. I picked up stitches along the edge and evenly spaced the buttonholes….

First attempt at the button band

But I wasn’t happy with it…it seemed too thin for the weight of the blackberry stitch and the cardi in general. So for once I actually ripped back some knitting!

2nd attempt at buttonband

I knitted two bands using double knitting, and then Kitchener stitched them to the fronts.

Finished bands attached

The new bands gave it the structure it needed, and I used two large snaps to close it at the yoke and it’s being worn open below the yoke.

Snaps were added to the upper section afterwards

I really enjoyed making this, and because it’s a loose fit, it works really well as an extra layer over a school uniform on the colder days. It should also fit next year, and I might even add a centered zipper along the front instead of the snaps if it gets too snug for the bands to overlap. !

If you want to make something similar…. I loosely based my ‘plan’ for this cardi on info gleaned from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book Knitting Without Tears. Which I bought after Kate mentioned it in her series on seamless knitting ☺

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Great British Sewing Bee S5 ep1 – a wiggle or a wobble?

Did you watch it? I was delighted to see the Great British Sewing Bee is back on Tv! I loved the first series for giving an insight into the time and trouble it can take to sew a nicely finished Garment.

I love to see the different approaches used by the contestants, because there are so many ways of doing one thing. For example Mercedes used a hole punch on her pattern to allow her to mark darts, Sheila used carbon paper and a tracing wheel ( this never works for me!) and I think I saw tailor tacks/thread tracing being used by Juliet.

The first week was Cotton week, and the challenge was to create a wiggle dress to be modelled on a mannequin. Cotton is relatively easy to work with but the pattern was challenging enough to give us a good idea of the levels of contestants’ skills. After every challenge, I pick my favourites and see if the Judges agree with me!

Wiggle dress from episode 1


They were given 3 hrs and 45 minutes, which seemed fair enough when the dress was unlined and being made without any figure adjustments.

Pattern matching is always an issue – two people had some upside-down fabric designs, and I did wonder how the large pattern Riccardo was using would work out. Ricardo had issues with the zip and didn’t finish in time – He mentioned that he mostly sews menswear (and showed off a fab jacket he had made from a sofa!).

Almost perfect with pattern matching at the waist.

Janet who had never made this type of dress before, had chosen a smaller diamond pattern and also had a few issues with matching things up, and this was noticed by the Judges:

Esme and Patrick casting a critical eye over a zipper seam

Sheila mentioned she hadn’t read through instructions and was figuring it out as she went along – my kind of approach! She seems very experienced and one to watch – her dress was made with a small floral pattern and looked very well made.

Jen also made a very nicely finished dress. She mentioned that she also does woodwork, stain glass, silversmithing, sewing..and even built a wall!

Juliet was my favourite so far – she seemed very calm and confident and even had time to help Leah with the sleeve folds. Both judges loved Juliet’s dress.. good pattern floral, good weight, lovely finish, “very very nicely finished dress” was what Patrick said.
Ben’s dress used a fab red grid fabric and his garment also impressed the judges.

Leah had difficulty with the stretch fabric..slight puckering and a hole at the zip base. It was described as “More of a wobble than a wiggle” ! (Patrick)

I had ranked the top 4 as Juliet, Ben, Sheila, Jen. The judges picked the same four except with Jen in third place and Sheila in fourth.


The Transformation round came next and meant remaking denim, they had 90 mins and could use 3 items.
Lots of very different looks here with gathers in denim, a layered skirt, halter dress, one shouldered top etc. I loved the raglan top that Ricardo made but the Judges didn’t agree as they had asked for original features of the denim garments to be included.

Sheila used trousers legs for sleeves and they looked fab. Surprisingly Juliet went from top to bottom in this challenge. Not the worst garment but it didn’t work well on the mannequin. Mercedes dress was my least favourite in this round.

Not sure about this one!

This time Sheila was 3rd, Alex 2nd with his layered skirt and Jen first with halter dress.



Then it was onto the Jumpsuit round –
This is the made to measure challenge and
contestants all used different patterns that they had practiced with at home.

Because the contestants haven’t worked with their models before, a very tailored jumpsuit would be harder to fit under pressure. They were given 5hrs.

I was surprised that no one left extra fabric at the top of the trousers or the end of the bodice to allow for adjusting the rise. The extra fabric can always be trimmed after fitting…….As a builder once told me – ” It’s better to be looking at it than looking for it”.!!
When a wedgie situation arose, Alexi thought about letting the shoulders down… maybe scooping a little out of the crotch would have helped too. The lack of waist seam didn’t help here.

Sheila’s jumpsuit was “a little hungry in the bum” according to Patrick! For her jumpsuit, Mercedes could have added in a waistband to give some extra length, although time wasn’t on their side. I did feel bad for Tom.. wanting to impress with his lovely design meant he overstretched himself and hadn’t enough time to finish well.


The absolute standout was Juliet – she was cool as a breeze…even adding a belt when she realised there was enough time! Her jumpsuit was unreal! Gorgeous mix of patterns, great fit and design. ” absolutely sensational”.

Apologies for the blur…images taken from my tv!

Janet’s nautical jumpsuit was also fab..really nicely thought out, great fit and style.

So were there any lessons learned…? Here’s my takeaways:
Always follow the brief.
Plan the pattern matching carefully!
Time management is key.
And finally add in some extra fabric/fitting ease when cutting out a garment!

Phew! I can’t wait for next week 🙂

Pj sewing , sewing for dolls & Saving time & fabric!

Hi there! I hope 2019 has gotten off to a good start. I’ve enjoyed seeing everyones sewing and knitting plans for 2019, but I know better than to declare any plans of my own, because I’ll never stick to them!

St.Brigid’s cross

Because its the 1st of Feb, a fair few school children will get to try weaving today, and will arrive home with battered and squished rushes/reeds made into crosses. It’s ‘Lá ‘le Bríd’ , first day of spring. It was traditionally a time when you’d leave a small item of clothing outside overnight for St.Bridget to bless. We did it as kids, but not anymore, and probably just as well – judging by how far the swing set got blown across the garden last night! We’d probably have found our scarves scattered around the parish !

Hopefully it’ll inspire some kids to carry on with weaving and maybe knitting and sewing too…!

Speaking of kids (+sewing), I had a lovely morning in November with one of ours and her friends. We made skirts for their dolls. They loved using the sewing machine and the simple gathered rectangle was a good beginner project for 9 yr olds.

Then in December I made a last minute effort to get some jammies and dressing gowns made for Christmas presents.

Flannel pyjamas

The pj top had a boxy shape with straight side seams, so I eliminated the side seams by pinning the pattern pieces together.

Pinning back and front at side seam

Then traced as one pattern piece.

This also meant I didn’t have to match stripes at the sides when sewing.

Kwik sew k3553

The pj ends side seams were also gotten rid of, and I narrowed the legs a little so I could fit everything.

I cut out a section of the pattern for the grainline so that I could easily see the fabric lines, and cut each leg separately to get the stripes evenly matched.

Then a quick stitch up and they were done over two evenings. I bought the fabric in Guineys and it was only about 3 euro per metre. Well worth making these because the tall recipient can never buy pyjamas that are long enough in the legs! A second pair has been requested so they should probably go on the 2019 to-do list !

The dressing gowns were made from pink fleece and a New Look pattern 6170. I embroidered a unicorn crown onto the backs using my Pfaff creative 2144.

New Look 6170

That machine is about 12 yrs old and still working fantastically. I used the embroidery unit alot when I first bought it. But the last few years not so much, because I can only transfer the designs using a really old desktop that runs windows 98!

I also changed the pattern a little to make the facing cut on instead of a separate piece. This cuts down on extra bulk at the seams.

Facing cut as one with the front.

The collar is unlined to reduce bulk, I overlocker and turned the edges.

So there ya go, some of what I’ve been making! I also just finished knitting a child’s cardigan and a hat for myself, so will share those soon. Slán go fóill ☺

Ps..the hat I knitted was a free pattern from Kelbourne Woolens, they’ll be releasing more as part of their ‘Year of Hats’.

Denim Burda remake : 104 10/2016

I’m taking a break from making Roman blinds for my sister to write this…I generally only do these things for family ! They’re not difficult to make – more boring really, so I’m listening to podcasts (mostly Blindboy – I’d recommend btw – they’re pretty absorbing,  but only if you’re not offended by swearing!), and taking lots ..ie too many breaks 🙂

I’d always planned to make another version of this Burda dress, but I didn’t think it’d take 2 years!

IMG_20181128_27401

I actually made this back in August, but there was something that annoyed me about where the waist hit.  So,the other day, I separated the skirt from the bodice and added a 1″ strip at the waist. I then topstitched it to match the neckline.

Burda 104 10/2016

And it feels so much better. I don’t remember lengthening the bodice in the original, but there was something about the weight of this fabric that just felt better to have the skirt hit my waist a bit lower. ( sorry blurry pic below!)

IMG_20181128_26496

Because of my fabric width, I had to reduce the pocket flare a little, by folding out a crease on the pattern piece.  Which worked fine, since I didn’t like how far the pockets stuck out on the original pattern.

(Blurry and serious/cranky pose below!)

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I left off the sleeves due to fabric shortages, but it’s probably more versatile now.  I’m wearing it with a mustard polo neck, and it also looks grand with a shirt underneath. Since I’m always shivering – I wore it yesterday layered with my handknit cardigan (pattern by Andi Satterlund), and scarf that I bought for peanuts in a charity shop! 

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So, sin an scéal! Back to the blinds..