Monday, February 18, 2013

Work in progress

My interpretation of this dress.

Source: via Helen on Pinterest

Captured by my three year old wielding an iPhone.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Colette Juniper Trouser Pattern

A few little ta-da's to do around these parts… All my classes have rather got me back on the saddle as it were and I’ve been enjoying foraying into knitting, crochet, sewing and patchwork, inspired by the enthusiasm I’ve had from the Homespun sessions.

First up, a pair of trousers that were finished just before Christmas and have had plenty of wear already. I have plans for a heavy denim/smart jeans pair for the spring, as well as maybe a linen pair or five too…

I’ve never really had a particularly satisfying relationship with trouser sewing, to be honest, and as Tilly & The Buttons found out when she did her statistical analysis last year, most home sewers agree with me. I find there are just too many factors to get just right, and too many margins for fitting errors to lend themselves well to make-it-yourself with all the time, money and effort that that entails. I’ve tried, goodness knows I’ve tried. As a 5’11” lady, I’ve tried plenty of times, but the length has always been a faff, the fittings are usually dodgy around the *ahem* crotch area and the waist-line has rarely sat where I’d like it too – the slightly dropped-waist-but-not-bumster level…

Anyway… Onto this project…

As with most of my inspiration, I saw a fabulous pair of wide-legged thick corduroy trousers in Toast and fell in love. I was not able or willing to pay the £179 price tag and initially, warded off by years of disastrous encounters between sewing machine and thighs, I hit the high street. What a failure! Will to pay up to £80, I could find NOTHING that wasn’t skinny in cut, flimsy in fabric or worst – high waisted, boot cut and too short in the leg! I attempted, for 24hours, to channel a bit of Chanel and wear a pair of men’s Joules cords, but the fit (shockingly!) just didn’t accommodate my hips and they had to go back.

And then Colette released their autumn patterns… And the Juniper Trouser pattern caught my eye…

And I just had to see if all the hype was worth it…

The pattern itself is a thing of beauty. Having been brought up on a diet of McCalls, Style, Simplicity and Butterick, with the odd Vogue thrown in on sale, I was happily and beautifully bowled over…

Gone are the architectural-drawing-scale instructions with their acres of uninspiring drawings and strange and wonderful suggestions for pattern piece construction of the major companies.

Gone are the almightily terrible illustrations and ugly fabrics of the major companies

Gone are the tissue-paper thin pattern pieces with unhelpful fits, measurements and sizings that bear no relation to my posterior…

If you forgive the happily-worn-for-two-days bagginess at the knees, I like to think that the trousers speak for themselves…

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I was also inspired by a growing inheritance of seam binding and Laura Mae’s utterly gorgeous internal finishes, to bind all my seams in red, to coordinate to the Liberty print pockets. The red stitching of the waist-band hook and bar has been less successful and I’m going to try a bound buttonhole next time, but that’s a minor gripe.

The fit is just fabulous. The slightly dropped waist with rounded waistband is comfortable and modern without gaping. I took in about an inch at the centre back due to my hollow spine, but that’s always an issue for me so nothing wrong with the pattern at all! The fly front is beautifully instructed, but I would probably put an internal placket to prevent zipping in my knickers in the next pair. (I’ve learned on these ones to ‘suck in’ when doing up the fly!). The pockets are simple but shapely and a decent enough size to be useful. I had no issues with the length at all and had sufficient in the pattern pieces to make a generous hem and not end up with clamdiggers!

I can’t recommend Colette patterns enough. I’ve been dressmaking for over 15 years but still learned a few tips and tricks from the pattern instructions, while believing them to be detailed enough to be tackled by a confident beginner. The detail is helpful without being patronising and the images for the construction are clear and well illustrated.

I will without doubt be returning to their catalogue for my next few makes, not least of all as I’ve just bought their fabulous book and have my eye on the dress, top and skirt patterns contained within!

Top worn with the trousers above is my completed Jan Sweater which I’ll be blogging shortly too!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Teacosy Pattern

As detailed here, an Oh-So-Simple Teacosy for beginners in the art of knitting. This would be a great ‘next steps’ project to get you from your garter stitch scarf to put a couple more stitches into your repertoire without over-complicating yourself too early on. Any terms that you’re not sure of can be looked up on The pale green edge was a simple crochet round around the bottom edge to coordinate the rose in, but this was purely decorative and wasn’t required to make the cosy function!

Teacosy: Make two in DK yarn on 4mm needles

The cosy is made up of two rectangles which are sewn together with gaps for handle and spout. The top is then gathered using a piece of ribbon, either narrow ribbon through the stitches themselves or wider ribbon through a row made of ‘Yarn Over Eyelets’ to create the rounded cosy shape.

Cast on 52 stitches.

Knit all rows (this creates the ‘garter stitch’ bumps) until piece measures about 7” from the needle to the cast on edge.

[Optional row at 6” – Knit 1, YO, K2tog until one stitch remains, Knit 1, then continue knitting all rows until piece measures 7”]

Cast off all stitches and repeat for other side of cosy.

Seam sides, leaving room for spout and handle.

Weave length of ribbon approx 1” from upper edge (or through eyelet row) to gather top together. Tie into bow.

Flower adornment: Optional!

Cast on 40 stitches. 

Row 1: Knit across (40 stitches).

Row 2: KFB (knit through the front and back loop) across (80 stitches).

Row 3: Knit across (80 stitches).

Cast off, leaving a long tail to stitch to cosy.

Encourage the twirl and wind the rose up on itself into a loose spiral to create a flower. Secure with stitches using the leftover yarn and attach to teacosy at the side weaving in the cast on tail too in the same manner. Use buttons or beads, if desired to complete the fabulousness!

Put the kettle on and smile smugly!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Garter stitch tea cosy

I've been enjoying putting together my summer programme for Homespun Living and also for Lavender Green, a homeware shop that's branching out into craft workshops.

Working out what's possible in the timeframe of a workshop is a tricky business. Too much to do and the student goes away feeling overwhelmed or worse, disappointed at not being able to achieve the class objectives. Too little to do, and the student may feel bored or that they have not had value for money. Also, as the classes are supposed to be fun, there is a fine line to tread in not filling up the class so much that there is no time for tea, cake, chat and laughter.

With all this in mind, I have abandoned my thoughts of producing a teacosy in an introduction to knitting workshop lasting three hours. The project is great for many reasons but perhaps not in a 3 hour session. It is perfect for consolidating garter stitch as well as learning seaming, yarn over eyelet rows and also the rose adornment includes knit front and backs too.

And so... I have decided to share this oh so basic pattern on here, in part so I can pass the link on to workshop participants and also to enable new stitches to have another idea of things to do with garter stitch squares

Watch this space for an uploaded pattern shortly… :-)