The Latter Six Months of 2016

Mid-year I shared a blog post with you all about the dressmaking progress (mostly!) I’d made since starting out in January. As it’s now the all but final day of December, I thought I’d document the last six months. 

The Bermuda Shorts

Remember these bad boys? Ironically, considering how long I worked on them, I completely forgot about them until I saw them in my clothes drawer the other day! I think it’s because I didn’t have chance to wear them before summer ended or my legs tanned (the latter never happened). So they were resigned to the drawer in preparedness for Summer 2017.


Still pretty proud of these. 🙂 

The Pintuck Betty Blouse


After the taxing nature of the shorts, I opted for a quick basic t-shirt in yellow floral chiffon. The pintucks down the front started out well but the distance between the rows did lengthen as I grew impatient. Would really have loved to have had a pintuck foot on my machine for this one! 

The pattern was so simple due to being only two pieces but the neckband was fiddly to put on as chiffon slides about so darn much! 

This is one of those ‘okay’ tops that has been, and will be, worn but it’s not one I’m particularly pleased with. It’s more of a slouching-around-the-house-in-summer type of make.


Dotty Chelsea Blouse

After the butterfly top I made in the earlier part of the year, this blouse is my most worn make. I love it! I recently got to proudly show it off to my Grandma as well, which was special. 


My only gripe is with the length – I should have lengthened the body as it’s only suitable for high-waisted skirts or trousers as it is.


Rushed Bike Sweatshirt


I was so desperate to sew after an enforced hiatus due to uni work that I scrapped together this sweatshirt rather than take on anything too long-winded. Strictly household only attire!


Er…

Emmbarassingly, that’s it for 6 months worth of dressmaking! :S I have not had the time to dedicate to my hobby as much as before so projects are much fewer and further between. 

I’m currently working (slowly) on a grey blazer, which is looking promising. I’m stoked to have a jacket that fits my bust and my waist at the same time!!

I fancy making up the dress from this pattern pack as well.

Aside from sewing projects, I have been crocheting more. I’ve recently completed two rugs, a pouffe and several baskets using t-shirt yarn. I’ve also been plodding on with my purple blanket occasionally and toyed around with different stitch techniques in mini projects.

On Yer Bike!

I finished my quick sweatshirt make with mixed results. Using a pattern from Burda Style magazine as guidance (but it was from their plus size section so too big for me if sewn accurately), I chopped some grey fabric with multiple black bikes all over it into two parts and measured out strips for the cuffs and collar band. 

I wanted a very loose fit in the body but tighter on the arms. I fancied a wide neck as I was going for the ‘Oh-just-shrug-it-on-after-exercising’ look (even though I don’t exercise that much!) so a slant to the side to expose a shoulder wouldn’t be a bad thing. 🙂

It’s no work of art but it was okay to make and I was impatient to finish it! 

I’ve blocked my face as I’m a bit under the weather so my skin does not look good. 

It’s quite cosy and the sleeves worked out well. The back comes down lower than the front which is perfect for if I’ve worn leggings to exercise as it covers one’s bottom! 

The fabric was stretchier than I’d thought so it wasn’t as easy to work with as I’d hoped but I got there in the end. I did lots of stitching  around the cuffs, hem and neckline to give it a proper sweatshirt finish. 

I guess it’ll do.

I don’t feel I can spend too much time on detailed projects at the moment because I always feel a guilt for not spending the time studying so quick projects are what I’m doing right now. However, I have got some lovely fabric (below) to start on my dress for a close friend’s wedding next summer so I might make a start on Christmas Day so it can progress as slowly as it needs to in order to be perfect. 

In other news, I made this basket the other evening using some of that fabulous Tek-Tek t-shirt yarn I mentioned before;

I seem to make a lot of circular crocheted things! It might be a Christmas present but for whom I know not. This only took a couple of hours to whip up quite leisurely during an evening whilst watching TV. It’s not easy to see in this photo but the gray has speckles of turquoise in it so it co-ordinates with the main yarn colour really well. 


That’s all for now, folks!

Happy CROCHETversary!  


This month marks a year since I first started crocheting. Needless to say, I haven’t completed half as many projects as I intended to buy then I am splitting my time between learning to bake and sew as well so I’ve done less crochet than I originally thought I would be.

My favourite yarn to create with has got to be t-shirt yarn. I love the stretch and it feels nice to work with, unlike some wools. It’s also pretty economical. I like chunky results best so my hook of preference is a 10mm or 12mm.

I’m terrible at following patterns so I start well and then just make it up as I go along… At least they are unique! 😉 I haven’t tried to make an item of clothing though so I can get away with it if the size isn’t quite the same as the pattern intended.

Right now I’m sat in the garden working on a present for someone in a navy t-shirt yarn. It’s working up really quickly because of the size of the hook and thickness of the yarn so it’s quite a gratifying project. It won’t be gifted until Christmas so I won’t be able to share it online any time soon but I’ll be sure to take a couple of photos to post in 2017. Christmas gift making in September – what has the world come to?! 😉

I’m debating what hobby/skill to learn next year… Any ideas? My list so far:

  • 2016 – Baking and dressmaking and tennis
  • 2015 – Crochet
  • 2014 – Driving
  • 2013 – Swimming

(Pre 2013 I was at uni and learning midwifery skills with little time for anything else hence why I’m only going back as far as 2013.)

Obviously I’m still learning all the time with all of the above – it’s not as though they are all mastered! (Even driving, though I have passed my test. There’s always more to learn.) The year marks when I started learning.

I was intending to do upholstery/furniture restoration but it’s an expensive hobby so it might have to wait.

2017 is the year I go on my first ski holiday so maybe I can put skiing down as a skill to learn next year?

Learning Spanish is ongoing as is photography. Maybe Karl should teach me car maintainence?! 😂

I’ll be completing a Masters over the next couple of years so there’ll be lots to learn there but I’d like to add another ‘soft skill’ to my list! Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Bean There, Hooked That

At last I’ve completed something resembling a pouffe!

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I started this project many moons ago when I had insomnia one night. It started with two ‘balls’ of Boodles yarn from Hobbycraft and it worked up quite quickly. Making the circular base was rather therapeutic.

I bought another ball of yarn but sadly, because the yarn is made up of offcuts, the shade of purple was different to the original two I’d used. It bothered me so the project was resigned to the bottom drawer.

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Original, much smaller, unfinished pouffe

Craving a crochet project I could complete quicker than my everlasting tweed blanket, I pulled it back out the other day and decided to integrate some Tek-Tek yarn I’d bought from The T-Shirt Yarn Shop. It’s a patterned yarn with purple hints so I thought it would work well.

 

The finished product is 14 inches in diameter and 12 inches (approximately) high. I whipped up a quick drawstring bag from an old purple sheet, which sits inside and is filled with bean bag beans. Oh what fun it was trying to get those in! Cue a two-person job, a saucepan, escapee beans and under door draughts…!

Although it’s not what I originally had in mind, I’m pleased it’s a functional pouffe after all. I realised too late that the difference in thickness from the Boodles to the Tek-Tek has made the pouffe a little narrower towards the top but because it’s filled with dynamic beans, rather than foam or a cushion pad, the shape changes upon each use so it’s not noticeable in the main.

Overall, it was not a cheap project; Boodles balls were £6.50 each and I used three, and I used about 1/3 of the Tek-Tek yarn (approx. £3) plus the filling (£4.99 for the beans but have about half a bag left for ‘topping up’) so around the £27 mark. However, it’s unique, it’s functional, it’s not ugly (but I’m still undecided whether it’s pretty), and it was enjoyable to make. 🙂

British Summer Time-Out

Oh my goodness! Somehow over a month has passed since my last post… I knew it had been a while but didn’t think it was that long! On the whole, July has sped by and I honestly don’t know where it’s gone. I’ve not been too well over the last week  (I lost my voice completely for a few days and still sound ‘croaky’) so I haven’t been as creative as normal. I’ve also had a couple of people visiting on weekends over the past month so that has meant I’ve had less time available.

Another thing that’s prevented me from crafting as much as usual is a little something called adult life. You know, work, finances, life decisions… That stuff. :s

Baking-wise, I’ve made a few cakes but I haven’t tried any new recipes. I made a lemon drizzle, chocolate brownie and a banana loaf for a family gathering, which, I’m pleased to say, all went down very well. They were amongst the first cakes to go. 😀 Probably helped that they were still warm from the oven when we arrived at the venue!

I also made a Victoria Sponge with real strawberries for a social club for visually impaired people. A few faces around the table lit up as they tasted the light sponge, fresh cream and raspberry jam!

I made a batch of gingerbread cake the other week for me and Karl (it freezes well so I stuck half in the freezer for another time). I gave a piece to my colleague, which she said ‘transported her back to Jamaica’! 🙂

Oh yes, and I’ve made about a million-zillion batches of Scotch pancakes for weekend mornings…!

Crochet-wise, I’ve been meaning to go to Dunelm for weeks to get more yarn for my purple chunky blanket (blogged about here). Because I work in the community now I’ve regularly been past several of their shops but somehow still not actually made it in! Must rectify this soon before I forget how to crochet a tweed stitch!

I was disappointed to see Hobbycraft is no longer selling Boodles yarn as I enjoyed the pouffe I started to make with this unusual fabric yarn, which is made up of cut-offs from T-shirt manufacturing. It’s basically jersey fabric so it’s quite interesting to work with because of the stretch. I trawled online and found some great alternatives like Zpagetti from Hoooked.co.uk but the shipping charges are hefty. (And yes, it is spelt ‘Hoooked’ – that’s not a typo!)

So I hunted a bit more and found the T-Shirt Yarn Shop (does what it says on the tin), which stocks Tek-Tek, Bobbiny, Hoooked, and Jolly Good, and offers free shipping on orders over £25. Add to that the fact that they are based on Exeter Road in Exmouth, Devon (a stone’s throw from where I grew up) and I felt compelled to support them in their endeavour! I’ve put in an order for two ‘balls’ of chunky navy Tek-Tek and one patterned one which I hope to use to make a pouffe. It’s tricky to know how much I’ll need and, because of the nature of the yarn being recycled rather than produced on demand, I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to get the same colours again so it may be another patterned one is required!

My original pouffe could do with being pulled back and added to because it’s a bit small so I might get a grey or cream yarn to add stripes or something. Hmmmm… decisions, decisions. (Photos below are of the early stages of the project – I actually completed the pouffe but haven’t stuffed it yet.)

 

I also love this blanket that Emily has made and fancy making one myself. 🙂

Sewing-wise, I’m on a self-imposed ban on buying any more fabric or patterns for at least two months. I certainly have a big enough stash to be getting on with so I need to get around to using up some of that!

I’ve still not finished either the maxi skirt or the pink tank dress I’ve been working on for what seems like forever! :s

What I have done is start yet another project…! I’m currently making my first pair of shorts using a pattern from Burda Style July 2016. They are Bermuda-style with big pockets and I’m making them in a navy Cloud Nine fabric I bought on eBay. I’ve made many, many silly mistakes on this project but I’m still pretty chuffed with how it’s looking so far. I hope to be able to share the result with you soon!

The first photo was taken when I was trying to make the waist the right size so it was in ‘skirt-mode’ at that time. The second photo shows the lining I’m using for the pockets and also for the inside as the navy cotton can be a little transparent in places. Pattern matching on this garment is harder than it first appears!

Right… I best get back to the machine and make the most of my day off! 🙂

 

 

Baby’s Headband with Bow

My quick (ish) make of the week is an adaptation of the ‘pretty headbands’ pattern in my DK ‘Bumper Book of Crochet’. It was only meant to be an adaptation in terms of using a 3mm crochet hook instead of a 4mm, and using thinner yarn (Women’s Institute Soft and Silky in cream and coral). However, as ever I made some mistakes so I adapted it to my requirements! 😉

Obviously, using a smaller hook and thinner yarn meant it worked up smaller but that was okay with me as I was just faffing about with stitches and techniques rather than making a serious project. It would fit a baby with a head circumfrence of 38cms so it’s for a newborn to 3 months really.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any newborns cwtched up anywhere so Red the Ted had to stand in as a model! It rather suits her! 😛

  

 

Cwtch Up

I’ve neglected to talk much about crochet so far on the blog, other than to tell you what projects I am working on and what I aspire to make (pastel coloured unicorns!) Crochet has taken a bit of a back seat this month as I’ve been consumed with my sewing machine and buying fabric. And then my sudden interest in clay got in the way. Anyway, I’ll show you in this post the long-term crochet project I’m working on:

  • The 50 x 50 inch purple tweed stitch blanket

When I first decided to learn to crochet in September 2015, it was with the intention of creating chunky, snuggly projects predominantly. I’m not really interested in making granny square blankets and tea cosies. So I knew my first project (once I’d practiced a little) would be the cowl scarf in grey and, concurrently, the lap blanket which I adapted to be larger and in purple. The book these are taken from is the DK ‘Complete Guide to Crochet’ which has been my teacher-slash-bible.

I did these two projects at the same time because they use the same stitch; the tweed stitch. This is a delightfully dense stitch and when coupled with thick yarn and a 10mm hook, it creates an exceptionally warm blanket. Possibly a little too warm for the mild winters of the UK… In Norway it would fit right in!

The tweed stitch is a basic chain stitch and double crochet stitch into the stitch space in a pattern. For the cowl scarf this was made up in the round so it was one long, continuous row. For the blanket, however, it’s normal rows and at the end of each you have to add three chain stitches to ensure the edges are even. I started this blanket in October so I was learning ‘on the job’. As such, I mistakenly missed out some of the chain stitches on the end of the rows and, consequently, have a blanket which is slightly wider at the bottom than further up. In other words, my 50 x 50 blanket isn’t square but it’s not too noticeable.

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The above photo was about 5 inches in (in terms of height) and it hit me how many balls of yarn (at £6 a pop) I would need to complete this project – yep, ten. Right then and there my pace slowed because I knew I would have to stretch this project out across several months in order to afford to finish it! In all likelihood, I’ll need another two balls of yarn in a contrasting colour (possibly cream) to trim it.

This project makes up really fast, because the yarn is so chunky and the hook so big. It was a bit of a shock to go back to a 4mm hook for another project!

This is the beautiful ‘waffle-like’ texture the tweed stitch gives the blanket:

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Crochet is usually full of ‘holes’ (intentionally) but this type of crochet is a lot heavier than traditional lace or trim making, etc. It does still have gaps in it but they are much less noticeable unless the piece is stretched. Whilst I always used to find tension really hard to maintain when knitting, I find this easy with crochet and so this has become a project I can work on without needing to look at it all the time; I can watch TV, have a chat with someone, daydream or read a book whilst doing this.

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I take this project into work a lot so I can do it during my lunch break. It attracts a lot of comments and compliments from my colleagues! However, it’s becoming too bulky and big for this bag now so I reckon I’ll soon need one of those Big Blue Bags from IKEA to lug it around!

I’m just over half way through this project now – as of today the height measures at 26 inches. Only 24 more to go and then it’ll be on to the trim and tidying up the loose threads. I’m not sure when it will be finished but hopefully in time for next winter! 😉

You can see the blanket in it’s standard size and original colours here at a blog by a fellow crochet enthusiast who also learnt using the DK book.

(NB: It’s hard to get the colour of my blanket to photograph accurately on my iPhone so when it’s finished I’ll take some snaps on my Nixon in daylight so you can see it properly.)