Thursday, 20 August 2015

Dr Bambo's New Clothes

Earlier this week my friend's little boy had to go into hospital to have his tonsils taken out. As part of the preparations for this he got new PJs, but what about Bambo his faithful friend? Bambo came with one suit of clothes, but after a while they were not looking a smart as they once had.  I volunteered (or is that was volunteered) to make Bambo's new PJs.

I used Bambo's old clothes as a template; the top is a like-for-like copy in jersey fabric. Bambo originally came wearing shorts made of jersey fabric, but I decided he could do with some long trousers (didn't want Bambo getting cold knees in hospital). I used the originally as a pattern, but extended the length, and as the originals were fairly loose fitting I thought it would be OK to change to cotton instead of stretch fabric. 

Bambo's PJs were a big hit, and I was soon asked to make another pair. Bambo had seen some rather lovely robot fabric he fancied for his next outfit. As it was only a fat quarter I didn't have enough for full length trousers, so this time Bambo got some shorts.

I'd rather got into the swing of making Bambo clothes, and I decided that I would turn out one more outfit. As the whole reason for starting on Bambo's clothes had been a visit to hospital, I decided that what Bambo really needed was a doctor's outfit - made from genuine hospital scrubs.

Dr Bambo was quite the hit when he went into hospital on Wednesday and, thankfully, in no small part due to Dr Bambo I'm sure, the operation went through without a hitch and the patient is well on the way to recovery.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Literary Crafter: Bathsheba Everdene

I'm back to my literary crafters, and this month it is Bathsheba Everdene from Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. Bathsheba first appears knitting at the sheep shearing supper;
The sun went down in an ochreous mist; but they sat, and talked on, and grew as merry as the gods in Homer's heaven. Bathsheba still remained enthroned inside the window, and occupied herself in knitting, from which she sometimes looked up to view the fading scene outside. The slow twilight expanded and enveloped them completely before the signs of moving were shown.
Although she seems quite keen on knitter at this stage, later in the book her enthusiasm has dropped;
"Liddy," she said, with a lighter heart, for youth and hope had begun to reassert themselves; … What shall I do to pass the heavy time away?"
"Hemming handkerchiefs is a very good thing," said Liddy.
"Oh no, no! I hate needlework—I always did."
"And that, too."
"You might finish your sampler. Only the carnations and peacocks want filling in; and then it could be framed and glazed, and hung beside your aunt's ma'am."
"Samplers are out of date—horribly countrified. No Liddy, I'll read. Bring up some books—not new ones. I haven't heart to read anything new."
This scene does take place at a very trying point in the book for Bathsheba so I'm going to put her remarks down to bad temper and unfortunate circumstances.

 Here is Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba in the recent film. I've included this picture as I like her jacket, and have some half formed ideas of trying to make something like this for myself.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Vintage pattern giveaway!

Way back in May I was lucky enough to win a parcel of vintage sewing patterns that Kestrel Makes was giving away as part of a Vintage Pattern Pyramid. (The winner takes the patterns they want from the parcel, and replaces them with ones they no longer want from their stash). It was great timing for me, a we were mid building works on the house, and I was being forcefully kept away from my sewing machine. Receiving the patterns really cheered me up, and I'm just so ashamed that its taken me nearly 3 months to pass them on. In my defense for most of that time my pattern stash has been boxed up and out of easy reach, but it is all unpacked now, and I'm ready to share the Vintage Pattern Pyramid love.

This is what I received in the parcel from Kestrel Makes;

After much thought I decided to keep these two patterns for myself;

And as I was feeling generous (and was mid-clear out) I've added these four patterns to the parcel;

So, if you would like to win this bundle of vintage patterns as part of the Vintage Pattern Pyramid just leave a comment on this post, making sure your email is included or can be easily found in your profile. Comments must be made by 5pm UK time on Sunday 16th August, and a winner will be picked at random.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Exciting news ... I made a dress

Obviously I've made lots of dresses before, but this one is a first ... the first to be made in my newly done up sewing room! I've been out of my sewing room since March, when we had to move out for building works, so it is a pretty exciting development for me to be able to get back in and sew.

The pattern is one I have used before, Simplicity Project Runway 2444. I first used this pattern nearly two years ago, and I'm surprised it has taken me this look to go back to it as I love it. In fact, I have used the pattern in between times, when I moved out of my sewing room earlier in the year I was working on a winter version of this dress in a blue and black checked fabric. I didn't get it finished before I had to pack up my sewing machine, and I didn't want to go back to sewing a winter dress in July. 

The fabric is this dress is an African Wax fabric my friend gave to me earlier in the year - I love the peacock feathers and the blue background. As with the previous versions of this dress, I didn't have to make any changes to the sizing, but I have made some construction changes. I added red bias binding to the sleeves as an added detail.

I also added a lining to the bodice of the dress, partly as the fabric is quite lightweight and also because In January I bought Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing Linings. Its a great book, providing very clear instructions on how to lining any garment, and how to alter the pattern pieces to add lining. In the introduction the author talks about why to add linings;
A lined garment does not cling, is more comfortable to wear, is easier to slide on and off, and looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Adding a lining to a dress or skirt eliminates the need to wear a slip. Lining even the simplest style improves the garment's finished effect and is an important ingredient in sewing clothing that rivals high-quality ready-to-wear.
I've never really bothered with linings before, and I bought the book because I had some tweed fabric I wanted to make trousers from, and felt they would need lining. The did, the book told me how, and I was delighted with the results. Since then I've  been added linings to all my projects. 

The pictures above also give a sneaky peak of my new sewing room - well the purple/grey walls anyway, I'm not going to show the full room just yet, as I'm still working on a couple of elements in the room, but hopeful it will be ready soon. And, as I'm back in my sewing room again, I'm hoping to have more completed sewing projects to blog about soon too.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

So, I accidentally bought four knitting books ...

... well, I guess only three were an accident - the first one I meant to buy.

Last month the boyfriend's sister in New Zealand sent me a link to a blog post by her local library to mark knitting in public day, which reviewed some of the knitting books they had in their collection. (For those who are interested the post is here). I was really impressed with the range of books they had, and was especially taken with Nikol Lohr's Literary Knits.

Given that I collected literary figures who knit, what could be better suited to me than a book of knitting patterns inspired by characters in literature. I was tempted just by the premise but as soon as I saw there was an Anne of Green Gables puffed sleeved tops I was sold. I loved Anne of Green Gables.

As it was my birthday last month, I decided to treat myself to a copy. However, when I went to buy it on Amazon it wasn't enough on its own for free postage - so I decided to treat myself to another book. But which one, there were two on my waiting list?

Jane Austen Knits would fit in nicely with the literary knitter theme, but Coronation Knits had been waiting longer, plus it has a pattern for a jumper with a lion and a unicorn and who doesn't need one of those.

Decision making is not my strong point so I decided to go with both, but, before I could get to the check out I made the fateful error of looking in the 'People who bought this also bought' section and I saw this.

Knitting and history, possible too of my favourite things, and Tudor history as well. The fourteen patterns in the book are inspired by fourteen Tudor ladies from Elizabeth Woodville through to Elizabeth the First. The patterns are amazing, in detail, design and construction. 

This dark and seductive temptress is Catherine Howard; a pattern fit for a Queen - if a short lived one. I think this my favourite of the designs in the book, although it was a hard choice. The book itself is beautiful, more like an art book than a knitting book - with gorgeous photographs and the beautifully styled knitwear.  

All four books have made there way into my collection, and despite a little bit of buyer remorse when I first clicked on the check out button, I didn't regret it once the parcel arrived. My only problem now is that I can't decide which pattern from which book to knit first.

Just to finish off the post, here is a pic of for me the Anne of Green Gables and her Gilbert.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Book Review: Vintage Knits for Modern Babies

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the shelves in my local library, when I came across this little book, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies by Hadley Fierlinger.

I was immediately drawn to the little rabbit in the top corner, the pattern Nana's Bunnies in the book. The Nana in question knitted these little cuties for all her grandchildren, and when they were old enough she then taught the grand kids to knit the bunnies themselves.

The reason the bunny caught my eye was his similarity to this happy chappy.

This is Stripey, won in a fete in France by the boyfriend many years ago. A firm favourite with the boy, I thought some other little kids could do with a special little bunny friend of their own.

The pattern for the bunnies is super simple, uses up only tiny amounts of 4ply and, as the pattern says, can be knitted up in an evening. I've churned out a handful of them already, and they are now a firm favourite on my baby knitting list.

As I had the book out on loan I thought I might as well try some of the other patterns as well, they are mostly for DK weight yarn and I decided to use up the two skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino, I 'borrowed' a couple of months back. The result is some very luxurious baby knits.

The purple hat is Modern Baby Bonnet and the red Vintage Pixie Cap. Both patterns were really clear and very easy to follow. My only issue with the patterns was with attaching the bands at the bottom. The patterns for both give instruction to knit a separate band, and then sew it on. This seemed a bit of a fiddle to me, so instead I picked up stitches along where the bands was to go, cast on a couple of extra stitches to accommodate the buttonhole, and knitted six rows of rib. It seems to have worked out fine, and saved me much dreaded sewing up!

As you can see I had enough left over for a matching pairs of baby slipper for each hat, using the Ruby Slippers pattern. No changes to this one, as it didn't need any. Also, there was so much yarn left that I was able to whip up (well I've nearly finished the second) these hats - using the Layette Cap pattern as a guide. I changed the pattern to be knit in the round, and did the first in stocking stitch rather than garter.

All in all, I love this book. It is beautifully laid out, with gorgeous pictures which makes me want to knit all of the patterns. The premise of a modern twist on vintage designs always appeals to me, and these are simple and well designed. I'd be very tempted to buy the book, but as it seems that I am the only person who has borrowed this book in three years, I could just consider the library as an extension of my own collection! Now I just need to wait for my expectant friends to have their babies, and hope that at least some of them have girls.

In other news now the builders have finally finished digging holes in my garden and generally making a mess, I'm starting to get things back in shape and growing again ... one pot and two plants at a time.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mid summer reflections

Yesterday was mid summer's day, St John's Day or the summer solstice; the longest day and half way though the year. So it seems a good time to do some reflecting. I feel like I have been neglecting the blog of recent weeks, not because I've had nothing to blog about, in some ways I think it might be because I have too much going on.

To sum up:

We've moved back into our house, and all the work is complete (YAY!), but as we have had the whole house re-wired there is A LOT of decorating to be done (BOO!). We have I've decided that it would be sensible to start decorating with one of the smallest rooms in the house which, by total chance, is my sewing room. I've spent most of the last weekend stripping paint in preparation.

Our name made it to the top of the allotment waiting list at the end of last year, and we got our keys on 1st February. Getting the new plot into shape has taken up a fair bit of time, however, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labours with a bumper crop of strawberries, shortly to be followed by peas and beans.

Having been separated from my sewing machine for three months we have finally been reunited, and I have made possible one of the most amazing outfits ever - a gold and silver cycling outfit for a friend's birthday gift. I'm not going to include a photo now, as it's so amazing it deserves its on post. I've also done a good bit of knitting.

So, as you can see, no shortage of material to blog about, so perhaps a shortage of time to write the posts is my problem. However, from today I'm going to be doing my best to fit in a bit more blogging.