Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Getting out is the best thing

I have been a bit torn this holiday, I want to be in the warm cracking on with some larger craft projects I can't do when I am at work four days a week or in the evenings because it is too dark and noisy to sew but the little ones like to be on the move preferably outside. I must say though today was a true tonic to family harmony...

Walking the Lawley.

You see this hill from our cabin and the girls always ask about it.

Big Sis tried out her new coat.

They are pretty good at hill walking.

Big Sis enjoyed using her macro lens.

A spot of geocaching too.

If it is getting crazy people, get outside! 
Happy New Year to you all.
Jo xxx

Monday, 29 December 2014

Busy beading

I have a wailing older child, a sneaky looking younger child and the holiday bickering is getting a teensy bit tiresome so I have shut myself in the office to blog. Happy Days!

During a film watching session on a wet afternoon I sat happily and made this window decoration. No new materials required, just the beads that are too small for the girls to use from their crafting kits which have been filling up a little tub for the whole year.

Threading and twisting.

it has turned into a sort of banshee yodeling now, bear with me a little longer...

Time to go for a walk to the bread shop I think and take in some of this lovely sunshine and frosty vistas.

Ah! families you've gotta love 'em. 

Happy Holidays folks! Jo xxx

Friday, 26 December 2014

Make your own Jeans.

My Minerva post this month has landed on Boxing Day...

Ever wondered why people bother making their own jeans? I did until I actually did it. My, oh my I get it, I totally get it now. 

This post is a bringing together of many thoughts and paths. Firstly, I had a new years resolution to make my own jeans after seeing some by Handmade by Carolyn
Secondly, I select materials from Minerva each month to try out for them and I wanted to source the jeans 'gubbins' so I made up a jeans kit as a way of forcing myself into a corner and helping others.
Thirdly, I have been following the Ginger jeans sewalong online throughout November and learnt lots of new things to try. I was more than ready to fulfill my 2014 resolution just in time.

I bought the denim stretch fabric from Minerva and washed it to avoid my garment shrinking. Next I swotted over the Minerva site finding all the right bits and pieces to make this kit.

The kit does not include fabric because I think any stretch corduroy, denim, thick cotton or sateen would also be great, it is the bits and pieces that take ages to find.

I made a prototype pair of trousers to test out some techniques and understand some of my sizing. They are here.

It is not hard to make jeans but accuracy in fit and top stitching are the key to real looking jeans. Doing everything in the right order is also pretty crucial.

I searched google images for a pocket design idea, sketched one up and sewed through the paper to get the design.

I used some new techniques too. Have you got a hump-jumper? A personal question I know but we will be getting on to bottoms and crotches in a minute so I am easing you in! It is a plastic wedge that allows you to stitch over bulky seams.

Just before you reach the chunky bit, insert the needle down, lift the presser foot up, slide the hump-jumper in the back, put the presser foot down again and sew. Easy. The wedge of plastic simply falls away at the back as the fabric moves through.

I am one lucky lady because I have an overlocker so I could make the seams nice and flat but fray-free. The other bit of kit I used was a magnetic seam guide which grips to the foot plate with a strong magnet. I could ensure 1.5cm seam allowances throughout which made seams match up accurately.

Why did I want to make my own jeans? I have a sway back so all clothes are too big in the waist for me especially at the back. When I told my engineering dad I was making jeans, I thought he would be interested in the construction but... 
    "What an earth for? when you can buy them." he uttered,
I took off my belt and showed him my waistband. Still not convinced he said, "You must be looking in all the wrong shops." 
    "I am 42 dad, if I haven't found a pair to fit by now, I am not going to!" I replied
    "Fair enough," he agreed.

This is why I made my own jeans, no baggy waist all gathered in behind a belt to poke in my back when I sit down. YAY!

The Burda pattern was good for me and I made only a few alterations. I took a whopping 3 inches off the leg length by using the lengthen/shorten here line so the knees are in the right place still. I cut a hip size 40" but took 6cm out of the waist because that is the way I am. The crotch and rise were all OK and I am over the moon with the fit on my bottom. I will make lower rise alterations next time as they were a bit too long in the body.

I made notes on what tension to use on my machine for top stitching thread, needle size and alterations. Will I make more? Oh you better believe it. The most positive sign is that even my mum didn't know I was wearing my own jeans and she taught me to sew, if I can fool my mum I am considering it a success.

 This is the future - jeans that fit, it might even catch on!

Thanks Minerva Crafts UK.
 My 2014 resolution has come true, could this be yours next year?

Monday, 22 December 2014

A fraction of crafting

This is my last post until boxing day, I am signing off for a week of family festivities.

Here is a peek at the little fractions of craft I am going to work on over the holiday period.

One fifth of a cardigan, the back is nearly done.

One sixth of a stitching kit for the cabin.

and two halves of a patchwork pincushion.

Have a very warm and Happy Christmas. Best Wishes to you all. 

Love from all my family and me. xxx

Friday, 19 December 2014

Hooray! crochet collar

I have wanted to make one of these for ages but I was not sure if I would look on trend in it or like someone's grandmother!

It is made from Patons 4ply cotton on a 2mm hook but should really be made from crochet thread size 30. Now I have got the hang of the pattern on a larger scale I am going to try the full collar with a 1.75mm hook and the thread next. 

The pattern is by Nicki Trench from Geek Chic. On this one, I have just completed the first 5 rows out of 9 but it makes a very lovely embellishment. I saw this top in a supermarket for £5.40!!!! I have a vintage pattern just like this top but I couldn't resist the time that would buy me to just get this one so on it went, it made a lovely mix of old and new styles.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Jo x

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hooray! more slippers

Just popping in to share a really lovely slipper pattern from here.

If I had paid attention to which colour run I had a started with on the first slipper I might have had a chance to repeat that swirly diagonal swish which happened on the right slipper...but I didn't so there is a little tip for you if you are using variegated yarn.

The yarn is Sirdar Folksong which was a bargain, it is soft and has a beautiful cotton feel on your feet. They are made on a 5mm hook which makes them a bit big for me (probably a UK size 6)so my next pair, yes there will be another pair, will be on 4.5mm in an attempt to get a size 5.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep those toes cozy. Jo xx

Monday, 15 December 2014

Hooray! Slippers

Little M requested new slippers. She had outgrown her other crocheted ones. I bought the pattern from ravelry here so it felt good to use it again. I waved this ball of yarn at her hopefully and she said "I love it!"

The yarn is quite awful, you would use it for nothing else but slippers! I bought 4 balls for £2 the lot to make my tribal belly dance belt and I had one irksome ball left over so it was a good way to use it up. It is called Patons Zig Zag: 95% Acrylic and 5% Acetate. I can feel sparks flying as I type the words!

On the plus side it will be hard wearing and it is not slippy on our floors. Little M loves them but there is no accounting for the tastes of a five year old.

My favourite part is the butterfly button so I am calling it a success. 

Have you ever made things you don't like because your 
recipient loves the choice, do tell us?

Jo xxxxx

Friday, 12 December 2014

Elise Number 4

Here is my fourth Elise shawl. Pattern can be found on Ravelry.

It is a present so I can't say too much but it is for someone I know who really likes brown. 

It is made on a 2.5 mm hook with a yarn which I can not name. It was given to me wound on old toilet roll tubes. It is definitely laceweight and thinner than a tapestry needle in places so it makes for a very fluid finished fabric.

This shawl always benefits from a good blocking to reveal the open pattern work. Once you get the triangle going it is such an easy scarf to make if you can follow a chart.

Are you still making presents or have you finished? 
Thanks for looking Jo xx

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pencil blossom tutorial

I have a very fine band of parent learners who have been very loyal and committed to the education courses I have been running throughout 2014 but it will soon be coming to an end as they take their English exams over the next two weeks. I wanted to give them a thank you and goodbye present so I made some little pencils.

The blossoms are a great way to use up the very last ends of yarn or sometimes I use tapestry wool. (purely because someone gave a tangled bag of it) They are easy to make but I just use the pattern as a recipe because sometimes my wool will only stretch to four petals!

Blossom - UK terms.
Ch2, 9dc into the first chain from the hook, ss to join. Pull centre tight.
Change colour. ch1, *1dtr, 1trtr, 1dtr, 1dc in the next stitch* repeat all the way round. Fasten off. Sew in ends.

Assemble all the components. Glue the flower to the felt leaf and the leaf to the pencil. Leave to dry. 

I used to make hundreds of them when I did craft fairs and they always sold well displayed stood up in a Denby mug. I have also made them in the past for party bags - girls love them.

Seven pencils and seven cards.

Thank you to you, for taking the time to look at how I spend my spare time. Jo xxx

Friday, 5 December 2014

White tree, black lace!

I have made a guipure lace Christmas party top. How and why? read on...

It started with some inspiration from a vintage pattern find:

I liked the lace affair in the centre and read the back of the packet to find I needed guipure lace... what on earth is that? I thought... I visited White tree fabrics for some ideas.

I was sent this beautiful guipure lace. It has a cotton/crochet feel about it but in all honesty, I had no idea how to actually work with it. I sort of ran shy from the original vintage pattern. I started to think the less raw edges and cuts I made, the less amount of things could go wrong. 

Image from Gertie's book.
So I fell back on a modern vintage pattern and went for another portrait blouse from Gerties Book for Better Sewing. She had made a lace version that I thought would fit the bill. 

The lining acted as a kind of muslin. I made it slightly bigger in
the waist and hips to eliminate the need for a side zip. I was still going with the less is more theme. Inserting a zip in this lace? absolutely no idea!

The colour inspiration for the lining comes from my personal pledge to myself to only make things that go with other things that I already have and I love these shoes.

In the end I lost some of the body shaping which I knew would happen with the tweeks I made but it is the most comfortable top ever. The vintage element eventually turned out to be a bit 1920's flapper girl don't you think?

I read a few tutorials on this lace and they all said to use bias binding (which is what had been done on the original pattern I looked at) to finish the edges which was the perfect.

I am feeling pretty on trend with lace - it is everywhere in the shops and it is not that scary to sew with. I would like to thank White Tree Fabrics for letting me try out their fabric. Do pop over to their website if you feel inspired. I am going to wear it on Christmas day and to any festive get-togethers I happen to get invited to - hint hint!

This is also my final piece for the 2014 Vintage sewing pattern pledge hosted by Stitching Odyssey. I have used five vintage patterns this year.

Thanks for stopping by. Jo xxxx