Thursday, 25 February 2016

Begins with B

There I did it, I pondered that photo for a while I can tell you but if you make a New Years resolution to make a bra then you have to go the whole hog just this once to show it actually fits.

I was very excited when my Minerva parcel arrived this month, a bra kit - but in all honesty I didn't know if I could make a wearable one? I used a pattern called Kwik Sew K3594. The kit included a pattern, dotty stretch cotton (20% stretch), bottom band plush elastic, top band elastic, shoulder elastic, slider and ring pack, back fasteners and finally some power net.

You HAVE to make a training bra. You can't just make the most comfortable bra ever by having a go and thinking of Jesus. I am not showing you the first one as it is covered in felt pen markings. I photocopied the pattern so that if I cut the wrong size I could re cut and try again. I made my first one in the stretch cotton and normal elastic saving my plush elastic for the next one. I cut rings and a back fastening off an old bra for my practise one too. It was not my best sewing, hence you won't see it, I was just finding fit and skills needed for a good one.

So how do you make a bra? Is it hard? Are you crazy? I hear you ask. 
Here is a photo diary of my second attempt. 

1. There are only 4 pieces: upper cup. lower cup, a frame and two straight straps so it was easy to cut out. After my first one I decided to split the frame into cotton around the bust and power net under the arms and back. I sliced the pattern added 1cm seam allowances and cut it out of the two fabrics.

2.Choose your size and cut it out following both grainlines; direction of stretch and direction of grain. You can use scissors but I treated myself to a small rotary cutter.

3. You must cut notches so that you can ease the cups into the frame evenly. You can see here where I spliced the frame into two pieces.

4. Join the two frame pieces back together then top stitch twice away from the net. Sew upper and lower cup pieces together then top stitch both sides of the seam.

5. Ease cups into the frame and sew centre seam.

6. Not included in this pattern or kit but I added underwire channeling to the frame seam allowances.(I watched a tutorial online)

7. Now add bottom band elastic with plush side up, then trim spare fabric away and turn elastic to do a three step zig zag to show on the right side.

It looks like this.

8. Add underarm and top elastic with picot edge turned out on the second pass of the garment through the machine.

9.Top stitch under cup seam down. (mine had channeling on)

10. Sew on rings, shoulder elastic and back fastener, the latter was the hardest part of the whole thing believe it or not!

11. Sew on straps, thread through sliders and add a bow. Optional: take a slightly-not-sure-picture of yourself in the bathroom and plan the next one!

I was inspired by Carolyn at Handmade by Carolyn to have a go and challenge myself to try this out this year and I am glad I gave it a whirl. This is a great pattern and kit for your first attempt. I am going to try out some more stretchy fabrics now that I have loaded myself with the skills but the cotton was a really stable choice for learning.

To help me along, I also bought an online bra making class from Craftsy by Beverly Johnson. I succumbed to this class when everyone was ill over Christmas and I was bored out of my tiny mind. I watched the seven lessons and thought 'I could do this' I highly recommend this online course it is well paced, clearly presented and for me it was half price at Christmas.

So there we have it. There will be more but maybe not always photographed on me! I forgot to say something... This IS the most supportive bra I have ever owned.

Thanks for looking! (strange) Love Jo xxx

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Too Sweet For Words

Pattern:Vintage Sweet from Ravelry which is free and available in children and adult sizes.

Yarn: Sublime DK Merino wool. The pattern stated aran which would have been slightly bigger but winter is nearly done.

Flower: My pattern on the right hand side.

Feelings: She loves it and so do I. We both have one cheek dimple which I have only just noticed...sweet indeed xxx

Monday, 22 February 2016

Opportunity knocks

Today I had a little trip out. A change from my usual Mundane Monday family jobs. A trip on the train for an opportunity to craft a little and chat a lot.

I sampled up this travel wallet to teach at sewing class and it had its first trip out to the CHSI stitches trade show at Birmingham NEC. I loaded up with my train tickets, press invite, pen and blog cards. 

First stop was a bloggers breakfast hosted by ICHF events who organise these exhibitions. I got to meet up with other bloggers: some I knew Lucy from Love, Lucie, some I didn't Julie and Loti and a blast from the past Shimelle Laine from my frenetic scrapbooking days eight years ago.

We had a workshop run by DMC (run-D.M.C!) sharing some of their new products but I have a few more hours to put into those before they are ready to share, all gorgeous though. Otherwise the day was a veritable feast for the eyes in all colours of the rainbow. You couldn't buy anything, because it was a trade show and not open to the public, but I did manage to come home with a considerable amount of given materials to blog about during the year.

So the eye candy...

Yarn from Coats.

Danish toy kits from Go Handmade.

Stylecraft yarn made into the most beautiful blanket.
I must learn to do join-as-you-go crochet.

Fleeces and yarns from woolyknit.

I got to say Hi to Flo-Jo from my knicker making exploits.

There was an amazing knitted exhibition by Bernat of all the Narnia characters, needless to say this was stunning.

I watched a bucket box tutorial by Stuart Hillard using Amy Butler fabrics. I am going to use his corner technique in my class tomorrow night - perfect timing.

 I also sneaked a pic with the teeny weeny Tilly from Tilly and Buttons.

I had a great day out.
Thanks for looking. Jo x

Friday, 19 February 2016


I have a little crafting moral dilemma for you to side with today. 

Do you think you should take time to knit the things you wear the most? say, items that are worn on regular rotation or do you think taking the time to knit or crochet should be for special items that you wear more occasionally?

This cardigan has been on the needles since April 2015. It was my intention to knit it in the summer ready to wear in the winter. I thought it would be an easy mindless knit for sitting in the garden with, it would fit me well and I would be reaching for it on a weekly basis to keep me warm in the office or between tutoring appointments.

In all honesty I started to really hate it with a vengeance by this January. It was hard to knit in the evenings because it was black, I ran out of yarn, I knit two right fronts and had to rip one back which was a pain when it had inserted pockets and then I lost the 9 buttons I bought for it. It never really caught momentum even though I really, really wanted it.

This experience has made me take stock of why I knit or crochet, what I might knit in the future and which designs to choose. I mean it is just a black cardigan, I could should have gone out and bought one. If it was an unusual shade to go with a skirt or something I might have been more satisfied but it really is just a black cardigan. Luckily, I like it, it fits and I got to go button shopping again so that is all an added bonus eh?

In answer to the original question - I think knitting is for special things that are unusual, creative, different and head-turning because one thing is for sure, I am never going to knit a black cardigan ever, ever again! 

Yarn: Drops cotton 14 balls (£1.09 each)
Pattern: Rowan Classic cafe (book one) 'Whitney'
Determination: Supersonic!

What about you? What do you think about the dilemma?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Just a little bit frightening

Thank you so much for your comments on the little Hedgehog, you really blew me away with such a spur of the moment make but maybe they are the ones that tell the real story of crafting in a household.

Anyway, Big Sis wanted a go on the over locker, I had offered before but she said she was scared of it because of the cutting blade so when she asked me this time I guessed she must be ready to have a go.

Firstly I immobilised the cutting blade so that she could get used to the louder sound, stronger pull and faster speed of this machine without worrying about the blade like some kind of perilous part in a movie. The biggest problem was that she was stretching the jersey as it went through because she was pulling her fingers back to keep them out of the way but this improved with confidence. 

She made this dress. She completed the side seams, yoke seams, overlocked the hem and bombed out trying to fit the curved sleeves but gave it a go. We found out lots about her size. She is tall but narrow in the shoulders so we had to make a gather in the back before we added the neckband and take some off the neckline so that the shoulder seams were not hanging down. We need to take some more off the shoulders on the pattern sheet for next time too. She enjoyed this part of understanding construction and why some clothes are not comfortable or don't fit properly.

I grappled with the 'fun' that is an Ottobre magazine pattern. I know I rave about them from a style point of view but the down side is having to trace off the pattern pieces from this mind blowing maze of colour...

...especially when I accidently ordered a Finnish version of the magazine! I knew I could construct the pattern based on previous experience of how to sew a dress/tunic/t-shirt but I couldn't tell which lines to trace...

Sure, I could follow the numbers but four double sided sheets come with each magazine. I laid down a challenge for Big Sis.

OK so at least I knew my 'magic eye' was zooming in on the green pieces. I cut, she sewed, I finished the sleeves and neck bindings.

She is not standing very still in the photos and this was a duller day, sorry

I also made the polo neck from Ottobre to match which was a dream to put together and is coming in handy with another garment but more on that next week.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Emergency Hedgehog

On Friday night I had to make an emergency hedgehog! My girls received knitted Hedgehogs from Sue at Sweet pea family over two years ago and little M lost hers after taking it to school last week. 

She tried the detachment theory saying she didn't care about it anyway which she often does (sometimes about us!) but by bedtime she was really sad. She was crying quiet tears, avoiding her bedtime story which was called Lulu and the hedgehog unfortunately and wanted a hug. 

We went on Ravelry together and chose a pattern to try. And so it was I spent Friday night making a little hedgehog. She put out an egg box for me to put it in so that if she woke in the night she would see it. By 9:00am the next morning she had furnished it with bottle tops, a bedding area and food.

Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do! Jo x

Friday, 12 February 2016

Replica #2

Big Sis saw my replica blouse and asked if I could do the same for her because her favourite blouse was now too small. So here is her new one.

Her old one had a faux placket detail which I did on this one with three daisies from the trim I added to the hem. It looked a bit 'stuck on' so I added clear buttons on top and she loved that part.

The fabric is white and the trim is cream which I thought might bother me but it was just so darn pretty I didn't care.

I bought this pattern ages ago and have used it many times. It is too small for her now so I sized it up to fit a skinny eight year old. It's so easy to make either as a dress or a top - I highly recommend it as a download pattern.

One more item for the summer box under her bed. 
Bit too chilly for modelling right now wouldn't you say? 

Thanks for looking. Jo x