Monday, May 31, 2010

Self-Stitched September

Picture copied from So...Zo
Having spent the weekend sewing 5 pairs of underpants, I think I am ready for a home-styled challenge!

Yes, I have signed up for Self-Stitched September.

'I, Roobeedoo, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear only handmade item(s) of clothing every day for the duration of September 2010'.

Which gives me ages to prepare.


Join us, join us!

And since I am trying to pull you in to the wicked world of home-made couture, can I entice you with a linky to a new-to-me UK shop? SewBox sells Hot Patterns and "everything included" kits for sewing some fab designs (like the Sencha blouse from Colette!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Testing testing

Time for a catch-up.

On the knitting front, I am almost halfway round my garter-stitch baby cardi. Not fast enough to meet my self-imposed deadline, so next-door’s baby received my self-designed sleeveless cardi after all. Stick to the plan, Roo!
So this one will go “in stock” for the next girl baby that pops out. If the next one is a boy, I am scuppered.

I have not had the sewing machine out yet this week, but my tea dress is all cut and ready to go at the weekend, if not before. And it looks so fetching alongside my new mug!

I have also been seized by an incomprehensible desire to make my own undies. I have half a metre of Liberty print cotton jersey and a stack of assorted elastic bindings / trims to experiment with. Half a metre looks huge in the context of scanties.

I have had problems finding comfy knickers that don’t fall apart on the first wear, or cost the earth in either definition of the phrase. My favourite knicks are by “Pants To Poverty” but the waistband elastic has gone grey really quickly – the perils of a mixed dark wash! They were also rather pricey (£9 a pair) and the last pair I bought were a different cut to the earlier ones and are really uncomfortable.

Half a metre of premium cotton jersey cost me £6. Foldover elastic is 50p a metre. I think I could be looking at making custom-fit undies for around £2-3 a pair, with all the fun of designing my own thrown in for free! Yeah, my daughter thinks I have finally lost the plot.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

High Street Vintage

Yesterday, one of my work colleagues was wearing a gorgeous turquoise cotton cardigan. It was a great colour, but what I liked most about it was the sideways-pleated short sleeves - very 1940's, I thought!

I spent my lunch hour scouring the internet for every shop in Aberdeen where she could possibly have bought such a thing, as I knew she would have shopped locally, probably somewhere like M&S. And I didn't have the nerve to ask her (I know, I know.)

It took me until today to find it! The website photos really don't do this garment any favours. Blimey guv! Look at those rugby-player's shoulders!

Believe me, when real arms are in that cardi, the pleats drape beautifully.

In case you are interested, it's from John Lewis Collection and comes in hot pink, turquoise, cornflower blue (above), black or multi-stripe blue. They also have an aubergine jumper with the same sleeve. Love it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Become a Lace Doctor

If only if only I were twenty years younger (or older), with no ties or need for a proper income, I could apply for this vacancy.

A fully-funded Doctoral Studentship in the History of Shetland Lace-Knitting!

I am posting this here in the hope that one of my readers IS at a place in their life where such a thing would be possible.

Because such opportunities are rare and beautiful things.

P.S. If you get it, let me know!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Herbing the Weed Garden

No sewing to show today - I am deep in the mud of the herb garden, trying to find the plants between the weeds.
I have cut some fabric for a tea dress, though, so as soon as the storm breaks (and I know it's on its way!) I will be heading for the sewing machine.
This is what I am wearing today!
I thought it might encourage me to vary my clothes at weekends if I kept a record of what I put on.

Yesterday I was rather more stylish, in my Eco Sneaks - woo hoo I found my size in a sale!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Knitting news

You would be forgiven for thinking I had given up knitting.

The Helleborus Yoke is feeling doomed - it has been sitting on the windowsill in direct sunlight for longer than I care to think about. Oops. So much for finishing it before the snow melted. At this rate it will be going straight to landfill come the autumn. Oh dear.

Happier news to report on FL's birthday socks, but they are terribly unphotogenic!

I finished Sock One, and it looks very very long in the foot. But every time I measure it, it still comes up as being the same as his favourite socks, so in theory it will fit. Hmmm.
It is forest green with bright purple heels and toes. Not blue - my camera won't play ball. I could tell I was going to run out of yarn if I didn't have some contrast in there. Both colours are YarnYard Croft, and it seems to get softer as I knit with it, while remaining a sturdy man-friendly tweed.

The Nexus pattern requires a fully-engaged brain, which is why this has taken so long. Hopefully my notes will get me through Sock Two without too much trouble.

Meanwhile, the 2010 babies are popping out all over the place and I am behind with my gift knitting. So I cast on a sideways-knit garter stitch baby cardi using self-striping sock yarn (On Linie Supersocke 100, Sport Color).
It is a doddle to knit compared to the Nexus sock, so I hope to get this polished off quite quickly, in the time it takes Amazon to deliver a copy of Owl Babies for the infant's older sister! The mum has slightly hippy tendencies, so I think she will appreciate the look of this pattern.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On Plan


I am rather pleased by the progress I have made with my sewing recently: two pairs of trousers, one jacket and two blouses since March. Yay!

Still planned: tea dress/es, black sateen suspender dress, another pair of trousers, the Dress for a Wedding, and a high-waisted wiggle skirt.

I spent the weekend altering last year's skirts, which were all hanging too low to be decent. Now they are rejuvenated, and actually so am I! It is amazing the difference a proper fit makes to my mood. My three wayward skirts now hit me at just the right point below the knee and I don't have to worry about exposing my bare middle (or worse) when I stand up.

However, while things are looking up for my working wardrobe, my "at home" wear is in a sorry state. My daughter pointed out that I am allowed to wear nice clothes at the weekend. Well, who knew?! She is right - I automatically reach for my jeans on a Friday evening and that's me til Monday morning, with minor panics if I have to be seen in public in between. Am I the only woman who doesn't wear a bra at weekends? (All my secrets are coming out now!)

You may already have seen this, but can I send you over to Super Kawaii Mama for a lesson in looking glamorous while cleaning? I read it out to FL, fully expecting derision, but his response was: "She has a point, you know!" Really? Crikey! Well, that put me in my place.

So maybe I will make some clothes for weekend wear. That could be rather fun! And fun is good.


My knitting has stalled. I am still plugging away at FL's birthday socks, but it is slow work. They are looking good though. I might finish Sock One tonight.

I really need to get Audrey in Unst out of my head and onto the needles. So I can wear her with my tea dress/es!

This week's plan:

  • Shut the dog in the corridor, clean the floor, and spread out my fabric for a cutting festival
  • Do an hour of weeding each day
  • Have fun!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


At last I have performed the Great Seasonal Wardrobe Switcheroo!

What a mess!
Not helped by the bags of wool taking up all the shelf space.

The Victorian wardrobe came with the farm and consists of one hanging rail, one large drawer, and two small ones.
This is where all my clothes and shoes are stored.
FL has a chest of drawers.
The winter tweeds and boots are now tucked up in the big drawer with some swiftly-stitched lavender bags.

And hanging in their place, my summer cottons, alongside the things that are always there - the handknits and shoes.

In the process, I sorted out a pile of things requiring alteration.

Here are the two worst examples - gaping waistbands, with about 4 inches of excess fabric to deal with.

I am going to unpick the side seam of the grey floral skirt and take it in at the waist.

But I have a more radical plan for the green one. I am going to give it a front box pleat, to add a bit more shape and swish as well as making it a wearable size.

Fl is exasperated - I still haven't spent all the £'s he gave me for my birthday, expressly to buy clothes, and here I am having an attack of "Make Do And Mend". But I like these skirts and they deserve to get a new lease of life. So no new sewing this weekend - it is all about wardrobe rehab!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cancer Kickers: Dominate!

Our Cancer Kicker bracelets arrived in the post today!

If you want to support a good cause, pop across to Phil and Cassie's blog and start dominating!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All the way from Oyster Bay

I have had so many fantastically promising vintage patterns snatched from my virtual grasp at Etsy in the past weeks, that I had to SWOOP when I spotted this one!

Yes, this is the Dress for an August Wedding!

If you look closely, you will see that not only has it come all the way from Australia, but is also two sizes too small. Ahem.

But I have great plans! I want to make the corset-laced belt front of View 1 with the wide neck of View 3.

Because I know there are going to be fitting issues, I plan to make a "muslin", for the first time in my sewing career. i.e. I am going to try the pattern out in cheap fabric before I cut into my lovely cotton/linen, to adjust the pattern to fit before an easy second-sew in my "best" material.

I had hoped to use some material from the stash to make a "wearable muslin": a 50's roses / Parisian architecture print that I loved the moment I saw it, but as so often is the case, neither my daughter or FL approved, and I chickened out. However, it turned out that I only have 2 metres of it - boo hiss! So I have ordered some plain white cotton, which I can hopefully use to line the main dress once I get the fit sorted out.

I intend to wear it with the bright red Benefit lipstick I "won" from a Cadbury's Flake (chocolate) wrapper... and these shoes! OMG I have to have those shoes!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

FO: Love Hearts Candy Blouse

With apologies to the sugar-intolerant, here is this weekend's vintage sewing experiment: the Love Hearts Candy Blouse!

I used a pattern from the late 1940's, which also includes a "suspender dress", aka "pinafore", and although I loved the total look, I was initially wary of making myself a school uniform.

But what I didn't realise until I had finished making it, was that this is a very short blouse, with an elasticated hem which gathers the hemline evenly round the waist. It will be perfect under the pinafore, but is slipping out of my highest-waisted trousers in a really annoying way.

So, my next project will be the matching dress, in black cotton sateen from the stash.


Vintage pattern in a teenage-d size 15.

Coral pink gingham bought when my daughter was a little girl, intended to make her a summer dress. This would not have been my first colour choice for myself, but I thought it suited the style!
Turquoise 1940's heart buttons from Clover Crafts and Curios at eeebaaay. They are a beautiful, solid and smooth moulding, with a squared-off shank at the back and a little groove for the needle to slide easily through.

I used turquoise thread for the buttonholes for harmony's sake... and because I had run out of pink.

It was a very interesting project. The pattern was "unprinted" so all the usual markings were indicated by perforations in the tissue. Seam allowances were only 3/8 " instead of the usual 5/8", so I was chanting "three eighths" under my breath as I sewed, to avoid a fatal fitting error!

I really really like the collar, which fitted on to the v-cut neckline without the slightest problem and would be a great place to perch a couple of swallow brooches like these! Or some embroidery would work?

The sleeves are just-above elbow length, and remind me of Judy Garland's outfit in the Wizard of Oz. Don't you think?


It is going to be fine... once I make the matching dress.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

FO: Tie-neck Blouse (Simplicity 2501)

This was a relaxed weekend's sewing. To be honest, it could have been done in a day but I was trying to do a million other things.

Crikey, I look thin!

The fabric was from deep in the stash, bought with a certain Built by Wendy pattern in mind, but it just wasn't happening. The more time went on, the more meh reviews I saw of that pattern and I opted out. Then last winter, I saw a blouse in this material at Great Plains - this isn't it, but I see they are still trying to use up the material! Oh look - here it is!

Damn - it's reduced! And I can't get a bigger picture either! But you get the idea: cute, short-sleeved, high-necked blouse.
Where was I?

Simplicity 2501, View B, size 10 using the B-cup version for the fronts (yes, you have options for variant boobage.)

Fabric: Purple cotton dobby spot from Favourite Fabrics - I believe it was £3 a metre.
It goes well with my aubergine trousers, made last year.

Um - I think it's time I faced the fact that I have lost some inches around the middle and all my skirts and trousers are falling down. It is not deliberate.

Buttons: Purple dyed corozo, 15mm, from Textile Garden bought without reference to the fabric but an almost perfect match - woo hoo!

I was very impressed by the level of detail of the instructions with this pattern. Seriously, if you are a beginner sewist, this would be a lovely pattern to start with, because it is all so clearly explained. For example, they suggested three different methods for finishing off the front facings, with the result that I ended up with a much neater finish than usual.

The sizing seems about right. Perhaps I could have gone a size down but I have a lurking suspicion that I will end up wearing a camisole under this semi-sheer material, so a little bit of extra room is a good thing.
Green Apples added shoulder pads, and I can see what she was getting at, but I like this softer look. She also lengthened the ties at the neck, but I like the little ones.
My only niggle? Those ties. They form the back neck "collar" and they are not interfaced. So in a soft, fine fabric like this they have a tendency to be a bit... limp. If I were to make it again in such a thin cotton, I would definitely add a layer of interfacing.

I really like the pleats at the top and bottom of the sleeves. Much easier to control than gathers, when setting in the sleeve. I was surprised to find there were gathers too, and inevitably there was some unpicking to do when the fabric got caught up on the underside, despite my best quality tacking (basting) efforts.


Yes, I will wear this! I am just waiting for a warmer day. Hailstones were battering the skylight as I sewed this wispy blouse!
And I will probably use the pattern again -maybe the "waisted" version next time, with a different neck.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tuesday already?

Tuesday? How did that happen? I haven't even told you about my weekend.

I made Pistachio, Lime and Courgette Cupcakes. Yes, really! My son is obsessing about the zingy lime syrup set against the crunchy nuts and moist green cake. My daughter? Not so much enthusiasm. Too... green. FL just ate them, one after another, with ice cream.

I sewed a blouse. But the buttons are in the post, so you will have to wait for the FO. My new trick - I used the serrated edge of my daughter's ruler to "print" lines of tailor's chalk - fantastic!
And I cut out another one, using a 1940's pattern!
And I knitted on (and on) with FL's birthday socks. This pattern (Nexus from The Knitter Issue 14) is not for beginners. If you adjust the length (as is casually suggested) you will land in deep deep poo when you reach the part where the three "Wave" patterns are supposed to merge at the ankle. I followed the pattern as written, and still found myself having to design it myself at this point. The main problem is the absence of a chart or even a clear photograph. I had no idea that I was knitting a "Yarnissima-meets-Cookie-A" design until it was too late. The words "an interesting challenge" should have given it away, but the photos certainly didn't!
And I washed my winter skirts, ready to go away for the summer....but had to rescue them from the washing line when a hailstorm struck. Hmmm... I may have been a bit premature with the seasonal wardrobe switchover.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Weekend in the Country

Work continues to dominate my waking hours. But I am determined to have this Bank Holiday weekend as time off!

I pre-washed a heap of fabric from the stash - most of the stash actually - in the hope that I might do some sewing.

And I may have had a mini-binge on 1940's vintage buttons. Yay!

The tulips are flowering in the Steadings garden, so I had better weed round them.

FL hopes to golf. But he has had some pain this week. His back has been troubling him, after he bent down to plug something into a socket. There have been more heart spasms. And a gnawing discomfort in his abdomen. The usual "dead" feet.
In farming news, we were invaded by a herd of skittish cows on Thursday. FL rang the neighbour and he drove over to round them up. He was a rubbish cowboy If I was a cow I would not trust this man's farming skills - no wonder they tried to run away! It was after dark before the moo-ing stopped, and there are "country pancakes" everywhere!

FL is thinking of having some of the fields ploughed this year. We might allow a neighbour to plant potatoes in exchange for a share of the crop. The ground has lain fallow for too long and is getting harder and harder to work. I wish I had taken a proper interest four / five years ago - we could have been well on our way to "organic conversion" by now! But the bill to harvest 15 acres of grass almost cleaned us out and I was afraid to get into debt.
P.S. I still want hens!