Before we start, the Get Your Knit ON competition is up at Bluegingerdoll. If you’re so inclined, mosey over there and vote for your favourite make.

Continuing in the theme of knit dresses (I love them. They don’t have darts to get all pointy or ANYTHING), I made a Jasper sweaterdress, from Paprika Patterns. The designer/model has such a different bodyshape from me, and the look of it on her is something I love but have accepted I will never achieve in the same way. So I probably wouldn’t have put it on my ‘to sew’ list except that I saw Gillians’ version at Crafting a Rainbow version and fell in love.

I had some rayon ponte from Spotlight that I’d bought when it was on special. I was planning to make a plain straight skirt, but I bought two metres of it and it’s 150cm so there is a LOT of fabric. I have no idea why I thought I would need that much. I bought some black at the same time, to make a ¾ circle skirt (as yet unmade) and I guess I just bought the same amount for both without thinking. The ponte is nice and dense, although it is something like 90% polyester, so it’s also a bit shiny and weird, in the way that oil-based fabrics are. But the rayon does take the edge off. It was really nice to sew with, I have to say. The pattern calls for a heavy ponte or thicker, and this worked pretty well, I think.

The photos aren’t the best, I’m still working out how to focus my camera properly with the timer, and it was early in the morning before work. So I just snapped some quickly and my face looks like it’s a ghost but just go with it, ok?

 

Anyhow, the dress. It comes with really thorough instructions on how to pick a size – the smaller sizes are drafted for a B cup and the larger ones for a C cup. I’m a DDD or an E, so obviously I knew I would need to do something about that, but luckily Paprika patterns also provides some excellent instructions for adjustments. There are also details on which pattern pieces you need to print for which version but I got overwhelmed and just printed them all. It wouldn’t be that hard to spend five seconds thinking about it but there you go. Anyway, it means that if you know you just want to make the jumper with the hood for example, you don’t ALSO have to print all the length of the dress and the collar, and wrangle that paper. I really appreciate the thought that went into making this pattern easy to access and use.

It was a nice pattern to tape together – I generally don’t mind taping but sometimes you get patterns that make it hard. This one was simple. It had circles to match up the sides and I found it much easier to make sure the circles were round rather than that triangles met each other, or other systems I’ve seen. Also the pieces are laid out sensibly so even though I didn’t selectively print, I could cut pieces off as I went. It took me maybe an hour to tape together, and I was going slow because I basically only ever tape patterns together when I am too tired and useless to do anything actually creative.

I cut it out the next day, when I was home from work with a migraine. That’s how nice and simple this pattern is, I could even sew it with a migraine. I did the FBA then, too. It’s a freaking MIRACLE I made it through that. Thankfully, the tute was extremely clear, and it links to Mary’s tute which I needed, because I did a 2.5” FBA and ended up with a weird, ripply, 3D piece of paper. I almost cried but then Mary was to the rescue and taught me how to straighten it out. I think this was probably great practice for doing a princess seam FBA on a woven – I figured this one’s a knit so it would be a bit more forgiving if I fudged things while I worked out what I was doing. The FBA has lots of steps and looks complicated but is actually one of the easiest adjustments I’ve ever done. I’d say it’s easier than an FBA on a darted bodice, even. Just a bit more mind bending trying to think about it.

I really should have pressed that skirt seam.

 

My high bust is exactly 41.5”, and my full bust is 46” so I cut a size 7 and did that 2.5” FBA – probably a bit generous of an FBA for my measurements, but it turned out well. I also folded the back piece in so that the centre back tapered up – I still cut it on the fold but it meant there was basically a built-in dart for my dowager’s hump (such an attractive term, no? JOKES ON THEM you have to have been married to be a dowager. Ha HA!!), basically the no-seam, pre-cutting version of the back adjustment I did on my Violet. I left the pockets off because I wanted to see how the fit was first, and also I was hoping to get a dress I could wear to work on those days when you just can’t be bothered and it’s cold and you’d rather stay in pyjamas, but you don’t actually want to LOOK like you can’t be bothered. I thought pockets would make it more casual. I also taped the bottom band pattern to the bottom of the pieces, and cut them together [get photo], again because I thought it would make it look a bit more casual than I was after.

Pattern piece with the cuff piece taped to it.

I always knew I wanted to make the plain dress, and I don’t love big collars on me – they make me look top heavy and also I feel like I’m choking all the time – so I just ‘self drafted’ a binding. That is to say, I cut a strip of fabric and pinned it until it looked like it’d be tight enough, and then sewed it on. Tres fancy, non? (How do you say ‘fancy’ in French?) It was a good thing this was how I wanted it because I would have struggled to get the collar out of the fabric I had, and the hood out have been totally out. If I’d cut the bands separate I might have been able to do some tricky cutting, but as it was I was left with about 25cm of fabric once I was done cutting.

I didn’t follow the sewing instructions, just sewed it up myself. I did glance at them and they looked very clear, with excellent diagrams.

So, I sewed it up sloooowly over that day (see, migraine). When I tried it on it looked like a SACK.

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It looks like an inmate’s uniform. Not precisely the look I was after…

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Sorry for the poor photos, I was just using my phone. Also please excuse my pants in a pile behind me. I am SO CLASSY, for reals.

I could see, when I pulled it this way and that, that most of the extra fabric was in the centre front. I tried unpicking the front princess seams and taking 1” out of the centre front when I sewed them back together. I also nipped this seam in at the waist a bit. This helped but it was still saggy baggy. There is the front piece, a side piece which wraps around, and a back piece that starts after your shoulders, so I couldn’t really just nip in the sides.

You can see the two seams here, indicating the three pieces – front, side, and back.

 

Besides, I realised, the front seam wasn’t anywhere near my actual bust. You can see the same thing in Chloe’s version here. I ended up unpicking the front piece altogether, and recutting it to take FOUR INCHES out of the front. I tapered it back out so the bit where it meets the shoulder is the same width, because I didn’t want to futz with the armholes if I didn’t have to – they were fitting ok and also armholes are the devil to futz with. I think this is just a body/pattern meeting in a weird way thing. The front doesn’t get adjusted at all with the FBA (except to lengthen it to match) and it DOES fit in the upper torso just fine, so… idk. Is it a shape thing or a drafting quirk for a body that’s not mine? Who knows. It was an easy fix, anyway.

I can see that there are significant drag lines, here. It’s not at all obvious in real life. I’m not quite sure how I’d go about fixing this – a bigger FBA, since I have reduced the centre width? Or maybe a big booty adjustment – actually I think that’s what it’s dragging on. It does hitch up slightly when I sit down, and I have to tug it down. I think, because of the three-piece construction, the back affects the front more than if it had more pieces, like the penny pinny.

Looking at this, I can see the back seam straining a little, so I think that probably is the problem. Obviously there is also a whole bunch of fabric pooling in my lower back, as well. Just for funsies. Not sure how to deal with that without a waist seam, I think I could probably narrow the back piece there, but to be honest it’s not a fitting issue I’m particularly concerned about at this point, especially on a knit dress. I’ll get to figuring out my back fitting issues once I’ve dealt with the front.

I did think about cutting it to match the centre piece of the penny pinny, because I think part of the problem is that Jasper goes out a bit where I would probably want it to go in – see comments above about it being a different shape than I would normally choose. It’s NOT a ‘fit and flare’ type pattern. I didn’t use the penny pattern piece (say that six times fast) because the penny is constructed differently (three pieces for front and back, not a front, two sides and a back), and I didn’t want to have to deal with that + adjusting the front curve if I didn’t have to. Not with a migraine.

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Penny pattern on top of the already cut out Jasper size 7 (before my adjsutments)

 

It came out great! I am really pleased with it. It still is not a shape I am used to, and I feel a bit self conscious that I might be sack-like. But objectively I think it’s totally fine and it’s just that I’m not used to it. I didn’t finish the inside seams at all. I did end up taking 1” off the end of the sleeves because they were too long, and I wish I’d tapered them down a bit and made the cuff smaller, because it’s a bit large. And also, I discovered when I wore it yesterday, the cuffs are cut slightly off grain. Whoops. I topstitched the sleeves and neck and did the hem with my twin needle. My babylock and I still aren’t on speaking terms.

I’m not 100% sure the deep hem is the look I want but I’m going to wear it a bit and see, I can always chop it off at a later date.

I’m really happy with this make, it was a really pleasant experience. I’m keen to make a jumper with a hood and a pocket, too. I have some fleece in the stash but it’s just from spotters, I think I might wait and get something better quality because I think this is a pattern that could feel fancy and nice, I don’t want to undermine it with sub par fabric.

I also have some two-sided doubleknit I bought from the Fabric Store yonks ago that might make a nice sweater dress? It is deep stash now and I’m kind of scared to cut into it, so I’d like to get over it and make it into something this winter. I’m going to wear this dress and if I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll cut into the doubleknit.

 

I’ve been eyeing off Abby Horskin’s designs at Bluegingerdoll for a while now. They keep popping up and every time they do I love them. I think I first saw them on Idle Fancy or maybe Handmade by Heather B. I love the proportions and the lines, and how they are classic and a bit retro while still very wearable in a modern context. I can safely say I’ve loved every make I’ve seen from these patterns, so a while ago I took the plunge and bought a pattern package. I’ve looked at them a lot since then, and took a few to craft camp, but my sewing hasn’t been particularly prolific so nothing got made yet.

Posing with some very fancy plant-protecting shadecloth

 

Then Abby announced the Get Your Knit On competition, and it gave me a bit of a kick in the rump. I already knew I was going to make a Violet someday, so I bumped it up the list. I still have a pile of finishing to do from craft camp – things needing zips or tweaking, and I probably should be prioritising those. On the other hand, it was very invigorating to sew something quick and simple like a knit dress!

The instructions for this dress are great – very clear, great illustrations, some clever little drafting and construction bits. Even though it’s a reasonably complicated shape with the three piece bodice, it was so simple and easy to sew. I loved about everything about sewing this dress up. I sewed view C, with the long sleeves and the flared skirt. (Which is symmetrical, just so you know, in case you cut it with the wrong bit on the fold and freak out. Not that I would know anything about that. But if I did, it would be fine.)

I did make a bunch of adjustments before I even started sewing. Although the patterns are drafted for a D cup, there was still a two size difference between my upper and lower bust. My favourite bra is a DDD, but otherwise I wear an E. But I also have a low-ish bust, and sloping shoulders, which make my upper bust and shoulders proportionately small. I struggled with this with the Lady Skater dress and tops I made, and although I wear them all the time I also am really bothered by the way they sit. It’s an area where I really notice the fit – partly cos it’s close to my face and I see it but also because it makes the shoulder seam sit below my shoulders, and then the sleeves drag down and the neck drags out and I’m always adjusting it and feeling kind of sloppy and ill dressed.

The three-piece construction of the front bodice made this pretty easy to adjust for, actually. I cut a 16 at the top of the middle front yoke, tapering down to a 20 at the underarm, and the same with the corresponding back piece. I cut the skirt and the main front as a 20, and everything else as a 16. Oh except I cut the arms as a size 20 sleeve and a size 16 sleeve cap. As I was making it I was worried it would be too short in the torso, but I did want to make it up mostly from the packet to see how the pattern behaved, because sometimes it’s hard to tell from the flat pattern. Especially in a knit. In the end it worked out really well but I would consider dropping the waist a half inch or so if I made this in something more stable like a ponte – I do have a long waist but the fabric stretched enough that it sits about perfect.

Standing with my arms down reveals a bunch of fit issues. Unfortunately I don’t spend the majority of my time with hands on hips…

 

The results were… good. Ish. It was not as… something, as I was thinking it would be. I think a lot of that has to do with the fabric, which is pretty thin and has good recovery in general but because it’s so thin it does sag since the skirt is pretty heavy. I think a more stable fabric would be better for this pattern – for most knit dresses in general, to be honest. Instead of looking like a vintage pinup girl I just look comfy. Which is fine! I like to be comfy and this is a pretty fancy version of comfy, but I would also like to look a bit neater, too, sometimes. So I think I will hunt down some more stable fabric and make this again.

The fabric is some jersey from spottters that I bought ages ago to make bikeshorts out. I have been doing that too, but there was enough left for this dress, and probably another pair of shorts from the scraps. I have no idea what the fabric content is but from memory it has some spandex in it but is mostly cotton. It’s the same material that I used for my lady skaters. Good to be using stash!

Actually standing hand-on-hips reveals fit issues, too. Just on the back. You can see the gaping neck here.

 

Apart from, or maybe also exacerbated by, the fabric, I still had problems with the upper bust/shoulder area. I could tell right away this was going to be a problem, as it was bunching there, but I wanted to see how that would change with wear and as the fabric settled and stretched.

Closeup of dragging shoulder, gaping neckline. You can juuust see my brastrap here. Not a great look.

 

I wore this out for a few hours after I first made it, and it just kept dragging down off of my shoulders. It was really disappointing. I was thinking up all kinds of fixes and future pattern adjustments, but then I realised that the back was really really baggy.

Holy gaping back neck, batman! At least my glasses are real cool.

 

When I pinched out that excess, the shoulders sat beautifully. I got S to pin it for me, traced it in chalk, sewed it up and cut off the excess. Problem solvered!

Good place to show you my unfinished seams – I sewed the whole thing on my machine with lightning stitch, and twin needled the hems and the neckline topstitching. And you can also see the elastic stabilising the ruching. I would apologise for the cat hair permanently covering everything, but you know what? It’s not MY fault..

What???

 

The excess was mostly, conveniently, in the top portion of the back bodice. I cut about 2.5 inches total out of the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. I kept the cutout bit so I can make the change on the pattern piece (should get on that). I also took regular seam allowance out of the rest of the back, so I probably brought it back down to an 18. And I tapered the sleeves in a bit from the elbow down, too.

I promise it does not sit as wonky as that, I was trying to capture a twirl here and the light was getting weird so most of the pictures of my fixed version came out funny. So. This will have to do. It does wrinkle a bit, as you can see here. Hazard of adding an impromtu seam where there shouldn’t be one.

Next time I would consider still taking a little wedge out of the upper bit of the lower front bodice. You can see it pooching a little here – I also didn’t manage to take any good arms-down photos of the fixed dress. Good work, me. Anyway, doing that would basically be making it a proper FBA shape. Conveniently the seam hits me right where I need that change. And I should work out what I need to do for a swayback adjustment, to get rid of the back bunching.

Also I would either staystitch the skirt pieces or else just not cut them out until I was about to sew them – I forgot to cut two pieces because it was getting late by that point, and the one I cut with the rest of the pattern had stretched out a bit by the time I sewed them up.

I also need to re-hem the sleeves because I had to unpick and re-do them after I fixed the shoulders, as they were way too short once the shoulders weren’t dropping low, but my twin needle broke. So they are not as neat as I like.

Yup! I’m pleased! Also in case anyone is wondering, my shoes are from Wittners and they are SO COMFY

 

All up, though, I am very happy. I will wear this dress a lot, even with the limitations of the fabric. It is comfy and I think looks nice. The ruching and v neck and the other little touches of the pattern save it from being just a plain old knit dress. The pattern was an utter delight to sew and makes me really keen to delve into more of Abby’s patterns!

Ta da!

 

We recently moved house. It’s great! I will hopefully blog some actual house stuff at some point, since I will be doing curtains and the like. For now, let me just say, it’s bigger, cleaner, lighter, and near the beach. This beach:

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So that’s pretty amazing (I still can’t quite believe it). Also, I have a craft room again! The king bed fit perfectly in what was the last owner’s nursery. So all that’s in there is the bed, side tables, and the built in wardrobe. A couple of people have expressed surprise that the biggest room isn’t the bedroom, but that seems like a real waste of space to me, since for sleep hygiene purposes I don’t like to hang out in the bedroom.

Instead, I scored the big room. Mwhahahaha! I do have my/the spare bed in there.We always like to have a spare bed since both of us snore, usually mildly but if we have a cold or it’s very pollen-y it gets worse. So it’s nice to have somewhere else to go when that’s an issue. Plus we have pretty different body clocks, so it’s nice to be able to pass out without someone keeping you up if they aren’t ready for bed yet. At the moment my sister is home – she’s come back from Ireland to study in Melbourne, and she’s spending a couple of weeks here first. So she’s got the use of the room and the bed. Very nice to be able to host people easily!

Before we moved, most of my stash was in the shed for six months or more. I did have crafting space but I gave most of it up for general living space, since the last house was so cramped. It was much better for everyone but it meant organising to craft was a big palaver. I know having designated crafting space at all is a pretty big luxury, but it was hard to adjust to not having any after having a whole house to myself.

In the summer holidays, our task was to unpack all the shed boxes from the last house. We’d unpacked the everyday stuff but stuff from the last shed just went into this shed. I knew if we didn’t get to it soon it would just be there for the next five years. It included the majority of my stash, and I wanted it. So I got to the task of finding it a home.

You guys… I have a lot of stash.

I am ok with having a lot of stash. I use it. I like it. But it’s a bit unbalanced and poorly planned and used. I have a lot of random crafting supplies that I’ve been hanging onto for years. I have nice materials that I am afraid I’ll ruin. I have a WHOLE BOX of plain black fabric. I keep buying it because I think ‘oh! I need some more plain black work skirts!’ and then I don’t sew them, and then the next time I see appropriate fabric and it’s nice or on sale I think ‘I DO need some work skirts. This is a sensible purchase!’.

I have no problem with having stash, but I want to use it. I want it to be useful. I want it to be small enough that I know where everything is, and it would be nice if it were small enough to fit into my room! Or at least mostly. At the moment I have:DSCF7595

Drawers of my sewing table have mostly bits and pieces in them, since this is the most sensible way to store this stuff. There is a drawer for things I use while sewing, like pins and scissors. A drawer for projects I am working on and have put aside for now. A drawer for interfacing, one for knitting needles, one for computer stuff, stationery, you get the idea. I have more of these drawer units but I’ve put them in the shed because I want the legroom more.

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This will eventually be my cutting table. I mean it IS my cutting table, perfectly functional as is but it’s not finished – I need to paint the wood and attach it and put castors on it so I can wheel it away from the wall and get all around it for cutting out. (also, say hello to my purple terlet). Those bins hold a whole lot, which is nice! This is where my fabric is, and it basically all fits, with a few exceptions. I also have my patterns in a big IKEA box in one of the cubes. They all fit, but just. Books obviously are on the shelves above the desk. I need to re-sort the bins so they are logically organised, and maybe label them.

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Half the linen closet. Ok, it’s a big space and we don’t have that much linen but really I would prefer to not have filled this up as much. It’s not an ideal use of the space, and if I AM using it, the stuff in here isn’t very well arranged. There’s a lot of misc. crafting stuff here – beading stuff, tatting, candle making stuff that I ordered and never used, quilting, vintage sheets that I want to use for crafting that don’t fit in the other room. Notebooks that I’ve never used but they’re cute and I don’t want to throw them. I just realised I bought most of them in China, which means they are 10 years old. What is wrong with me? That was rhetorical, thanks.

This is the bit I am the most unhappy with. It’s just not what I want to be using this space for, and it’s not organised in a way that I can access the stuff anyway. It’s basically just shoved into a cupboard to be forgotten about. (Soap making stuff is in the laundry cupboard and can stay there, it fits nicely and it gets used).

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One third of the wardrobe in S’s study. S has the third bedroom as his study, although the plan is that when G moves out in a year (or so) S will move into the external bedroom – it was the garage and the last owners refinished it to be a room, and added a carport instead. When that happens the study will probably just be a spare bedroom, but the details are still in flux. In the meantime it’s S’s study/private hangout room, but he kindly volunteered the wardrobe for misc. storage. Most of it has things like board games and winter coats, but this side holds my yarn, in four fabric bins. I have been pretty brutal in culling the yarn, to be honest. I don’t want to have stash yarn I am not excited to knit with, since knitting takes so long. I do not knit at the speed I used to!

So, that is what is there. It is too much, not proportionate to how I use it, and poorly organised. But that’s ok! I have a plan!

I almost didn’t blog this because I want this to be pretty loose, and not to set myself up for (inevitable) failure. But I think I need to put it out there and make it solid. You’all won’t judge me if I proceed to not do any of this… right?

I am going to do a fairly casual quarter based stashdown. I need a bit of a push, I think, to get back to crafting as a default activity. I just totally got out of the habit when I didn’t have designated crafting space. I am trying to not look at screens after I get home, which is actually going ok now, after a rocky start. Not a strict rule, more a guideline to get me to stop frittering away my time – I’m on the computer in the evening now, for instance, but I’m DOING a THING, not just checking Instagram every five minutes. But I often find myself at a loss without a screen, and I want to use that time to craft instead of looking at my craft room and thinking ‘nahhh, no time’ and then staring at the wall for an hour. (Ok not exactly but you know. Not doing anything that couldn’t be put off or done quicker).

I was going to start this from January but obvs that’s almost over, and my sister will be in my craft room until start of Feb. So I’m starting it for myself Feb 1st, which also means the last quarter will get some of my regular summer break in it. It also means the first three quarters all get a craft camp in them – whether I go or not, there’s an extra push there to prioritise crafting. Here are my aims:

Q1 (Feb-April) – Basics

Gonna get through that tub of black fabrics. Gonna sew some things I know will work and get worn, and some new things that fill specific needs. Gonna pump up my wardrobe which needs some gaps filled (I was going really well and then dropped the ball).

Q2 (May-July) – Non core crafts

My main crafts are sewing and knitting. I also have, as you have seen, random craft tools. Some of those are useful and worth keeping. Some are crafts I regularly dabble in. Some are… not ever going to be my thing, not unless I retire and have far far more time I need to kill. So I would prefer to use the space they are taking up. This quarter will be about getting some of those crafts out, having a go  If I reach the end of the quarter with a particular craft untouched, that means I am not into it and the supplies have to go.

My main focus in this bit will be quilting, though. I’ve got most of a quilt cut out that I started in my honours year. It’s flannel (mmm snuggly!) in autumn colours (uuugh) because that’s what I could find at the time. I don’t love it. But I am pretty sure S will! I need to take it out and assess if I want to finish making it. If not, out it goes. If yes, I would like to at least get a good way through piecing the top. I also have some random jelly rolls etc that I’ve been given over the years, it would be nice to make a mini quilt for the living room, and maybe one for the spare bed. Not that I think all those things will happen in this quarter, but aim high, right?

Q3 (August-October) – Knitting

Wintertime! Crack that yarn out! As I said I was pretty brutal with the yarn but there are some jumper’s worths of yarn that could be knit up or gotten rid of. I would actually like to accumulate some MORE stash yarn, more yarn I am excited about, but I want to clear the space for it first. I’d like to keep my yarn stash essentially the same size, but with more good stuff in. I don’t anticipate knitting several jumpers, but winter is a good time to concentrate on the pointy sticks and get some movement happening there.

Q4 (November – January) – No pressure!

Back to sewing. I have things in my stash I am scared to sew because they are too nice. Or clothes I want to wear that I am putting off sewing because they are fiddlier and harder, like fitted shirts and shirtdresses and a dress out of that butterfly fabric I bought two years ago, and a By Hand London Anna dress with proper bust darts and maybe that Sewaholic maxi skirt with the pieced hem, or a Colette pattern or two. This is the time for them! Possibly setting myself up for failure at the tired end of the year, but it’s got to be some time.

 

My aim in this is to focus on those themes in those quarters, but not exclusively. I particularly want to be knitting and sewing basics throughout the year. The stashdown doesn’t only mean using things up. It also means assessing the stash and passing it on where it doesn’t suit my needs anymore, or is unlikely to get used in the next five years. It also means no acquiring new stuff until I at least START to make some headway. Unless it is perfect and/or on sale. No, wait! Not even then. If I’m not sewing all of these things I have the supplies for and am really excited about, then I’m not going to sew whatever it is I want the new fabric for. I’m not making strict rules for myself about when I am allowed to buy stuff again, just going to try to be a bit sensible about it.

Ideally, I would LOVE to be able to fit my yarn stash into my craft room, and the linen press stuff into where the yarn is now. Even getting close to that would be great.

Anyone else out there have too much stash? Don’t lie. Anyone else have exactly the right amount of stash, but needs to use it? Want to play along, with mine or your own goals?

 

 

Sometimes I find looking for gluten free recipes to be frustrating. A lot of the ones explicitly labelled as gf come with a lot of diet/weight loss/’clean food’ baggage, which I find hard to take. And then I’ll read ‘regular’ recipes with an eye to adaption only to stumble across gluten where there’s no need for it – in soba noodles and tortillas, for instance. Or THEN there’s the recipes where you would think conversion would be simple, but every recipe has five billion flours and heapings of xanthan gum instead of the flour. Nothing against xanthan gum, I just don’t want to use it where it’s not necessary.

All this to say: gnocchi. It’s mostly potato, right? So, I thought, surely a gf recipe wouldn’t be too hard to find! Especially since any time I’ve tried to make gnocchi with gluten flour, they’ve come out tough and gluggy, surely a sign of overworked gluten. So a gf recipe would probably be EASIER! I spent an afternoon wading through recipe after recipe with the above millions of flours and additives. Sorghum gnocchi, anyone? No thanks.

I did eventually find one, from Italy on My Mind. The recipe is here and I won’t reproduce it, but I’ll tell you what I did differently.

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The first time I made it I was pushed for time, so instead of boiling the potatoes I did them in the microwave. This worked so well that I’ve done it every time since. They take about ten minutes, although my microwave has an autocook function that does them to perfection. Actually, they take about twenty minutes, because I doubled the recipe. One batch is about right for three adults, or two adults and leftovers. Since we’ve got two adults + one teenager + I want leftovers for lunch the next day, a double batch is about right. Plus, it’s not much more work so why not!

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The pink bits are potato skin. Yum!

So, a double batch, and I nuked ’em, and since I was pressed for time I also spread them on the tray and then popped it in the freezer. Last time I did one (double) batch of potatoes, put them in the freezer, then decided I would double the batch after all. The twenty minutes the second batch took to cook was about perfect for the first batch to cool down – they actually work up easier if they are still a teeny bit warm.

The first batch I also didn’t read the instructions all the way through. Instead of making a loaf, I rolled them individually by hand. This meant they were flexible enough to make fork dents on, and they look more like ‘proper’ gnocchi, but they were a bit chewy for my taste. The boys loved them, though, and prefer them this way. Too bad, I’m the one cooking them cooking them. So the next time I compromised. I still didn’t do a loaf, instead I rolled squarish snakes and chopped them.

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This was much better, I could get a real rhythm going so it was quicker, and the gnocchi came out fluffier and lighter.

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The first time we had them with the sauce from the original recipe (first picture in this post). I forgot to take a photo until my bowl was almost finished. The second time we had them with a sauce of cream, white wine and mushrooms (above). And we just had them again tonight with pesto and cream, and a salad on the side (below, looking… look I am not a food blogger ok. Use your imagination).

 

 

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I am DEFINITELY not a food photographer. But it was delicious.

Tonight’s batch was made and frozen last time. I wanted to test the freezing process. It worked really well! I just put them in the freezer on a tray when they were made, and the next day I popped them in ziplock bags. Then to cook, I just did them as normal. They take a bit longer but not really even noticeably, and they are a little bit wetter and goopier but not by much. Enough to make the photo less appetising, though. Sorry.

I am very pleased to be able to make up some of a weekend and stock up my freezer – or my best friend’s freezer – with good, simple, delicious food. And the teenager asked if we could have it again, and has requested it twice since. I’d call that a win.

Do you ever do that thing where you think about an item of clothing you’ve never considered owning, and suddenly you HAVE TO HAVE IT? The other day I was on my way to work, and people watching, and I saw a few women in a row wearing variations on ‘wafty, loose white top’. And all of a sudden I knew, I had to have one. I had a clear picture in my mind – not too loose, but not fitted. Must be white. Must be flowy and drapey but not so big as to be sack like. Must have a high-ish neckline, but not so high it makes my proportions look weird. Must have set in sleeves, not raglan or cut on, and sleeves must be at least halfway down my upper arm. I don’t know why this was the top I needed, but it was.

I spent some time that day looking at patterns on the internet. Most of the commercial patterns were, unsurprisingly, terrible. If you only take the ones that come in my size, they were TERRIBLE. Not a set in sleeve among them. Barely a raglan. So so many kimono and cut on sleeves. Which are fine, but they look odd on me and really do we need FIVE plus size patterns in one pattern line that are variations on ‘sack, with cut on sleeves’? It’s bad enough that those are my options when buying RTW clothes. I debated buying the Scout woven tee, but it doesn’t come nearly big enough, and I resent paying a premium for something I then have to grade up. So I decided to look in my existing pattern stash, thinking that Ottobre might be a good bet for something like that – basic, but with SOME understanding that fashion at least exists somewhere in the world.

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Ottobre came through, with not only my dream haircut but the exact shirt I had in mind. It’s called ‘Painted roses’ in the pattern list, and it’s in the 2/2014 edition, with the trenchcoat on the front. Quite a few nice basics in this one.

You’ll have to excuse my dead face in all of these. It was early and I hadn’t had breakfast. Also that’s pretty much what my face looks like…

I made a quick muslin, and decided the arms were too baggy and it made it look frumpy, so I took some width out of them, which turned out to be a mistake. They were far too tight when I tried them on. I let the seams out as far as they could go  and it’s wearable but I should have just let them be, as you can see there’s still some pulling. The only other adjustments I made were to raise the armscye a tiny bit and taper the shoulders in a tiny bit at the sleeve, and also at the neck so the neck opening is about 1cm smaller. I made a size 50, and for reference my bust is 116cm.

I don’t know why these photos are so grainy, but they’ll have to do.

Then I made another one! And….

Another!

They are all rayon, the white and roses from Lincraft, the teal from spotters. All of them were on sale, so none of these shirts cost more than about $14, which is pretty great in my books. I did buy 2m, the pattern says you need 1.5 but I only had about 30cm left. So I’d say budget for 1.75 and you should be right. They feel nice too, we’ll see how they wear. I should note that the white one was worn for one day, and when I took it off I hung it on the back of the bathroom door to air/get passively steamed. The next day it was as wrinkle-free as rayon will ever be. They do crease but not so that it looks messy. The other two are straight from the wash, just hung up quickly to reduce wrinkles. No iron involved.

The rose is not really my usual kind of thing but I saw it when I bought the white and couldn’t get it out of my head so I went back for it.

I set the sleeves in flat, and french seamed everything. The neckline is finished with a teeny bias facing, which I topstitched in two rows because it was flapping around – the instructions have you just understitch it but it wasn’t cutting it for me. I was worried I wouldn’t like how it looked but I think it looks pretty neat in the end.

The sleeves and bottom are finished by just folding under twice and sewing. This was a bit fiddly because the rayon is slippery and getting it straight was a bit annoying, especially for the bottom hem. I think it ended up a bit wonky in the teal one (or maybe just being pulled up by my boobs? Both?) but I intend to mostly wear them tucked in so… whatever.

The second two took exactly 1.5 hours, including cutting. I timed it. Really happy with this pattern, I’m definitely keeping it on my ‘basics’ list. I can see this made up in cotton or linen – I think it probably needs some drape but could be pretty versatile. My only regrets are the sleeves on the white one (the other two are sleeves as-is, from the pattern) and that I didn’t self-line it. I debated, because I thought the white would be a bit see through, and I talked myself out of it. But it IS see through, you can’t tell in the photo but it’s just enough that you can see my bra. Not too scandalous but too see through for work so I wear it with a cami, which is annoying. I’m thinking of making a cami from the leftover white rayon, which might be less annoying than the too-long, clingy jersey one I have now, but I wish I’d gone with my original plan to make a self-lining joined only at the shoulders, and stopping a few inches shorter.

Here’s a bonus one with the swoon cardi, and my princess line pencil skirt which I ended up doing some adjustments on (the waist ended up being too big. More on that later if I can be organised enough) and now is in high rotation in the wardrobe.

Most of my work wardrobe now is me-made. It feels really good. Both because my skill level is at a stage where I really CAN just whip things up, provided they’re simple, or I CAN plan and sew a more complex thing over a few weeks without quitting in a rage because I got stuck on a hard bit. And also because it means I am wearing clothes that fit me, fit how I want to look, and feel nice to wear. Such a luxury!

I had a cardigan-shaped gap in my work wardrobe. While noodling around on various sewing blogs, I came across the Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan. I wish I could remember where I saw it, but that’s lost in the mists of time, but I liked it, it was free, I printed it off and taped it up.  had some heavy merino knit fabric that I bought at the Alanna Hill outlet at least six years ago, that I’d been mulling over. I had initially bought it to make a jumper dress, but put it off because it’s SO nice I didn’t want to muck it up, and then eventually decided it was probably too heavy to hold up to a whole dress. But I thought it would make a perfect cardi.

First I made the pattern up in some random jersey I had lying around. It’s from spotters, I bought it in an end-of-line sale some time ago, for I have no idea how much.

The pattern construction is a bit confusing – you sew the front pieces together and then connect them at the cowl part, which sits over the back of the neck, and then sew THAT to the back. But the instructions were really clear, and included a diagram and notes on the pattern pieces, which helped.

The only thing I did differently was to sew the sleeves in flat and then sew them and the sideseam together, instead of sewing the sideseam and then setting them in. I sewed the whole thing up on my overlocker, and hemmed the bottom and the sleeves with a twin needle. I left the collar edge unfinished, since I didn’t want to mess with the drape. The pattern suggests french seaming if you don’t have an overlocker, as some of the seams might be visible. I’d never thought of french seaming a knit! It would be neater but to be honest, I think a regular seam would be fine. The seams are hardly ever on show.

This is a thicker knit than would be ideal, I think. It would be lovely in a really drapey thin jersey, but this was deep stash and now it’s being worn quite a bit, so that’s a definite win! The only thing is I think the colour is a bit washed out and powdery, if that makes sense? I bought a RIT packet dye to dye it a darker navy, and it did exactly nothing. Should have gone with the dylon dye which I know works, even though it was twice the price.

The sleeves are REALLY long on this pattern, btw. Which is good – it meant I could try it on and fold them down to how I wanted them before hemming. But if you’re trying to save fabric, I ended up taking a good 10cm off them, so you could measure your arms first. It did cause a problem, though, because when I was trimming the already-hemmed sleeves, I took a chunk out of them in what I was hoping would be an inconspicuous place but turned out to be right at the top of the sleeve, near my wrist. I zigzagged over it but it doesn’t look great, gotta say.

The thread colour is how dark I wish the fabric was.

I have worn this to work three or so times, because the cardi gap in my wardrobe is large, but I feel a bit frumpy in it because of the less-than-crisp fabric. I like it better as a casual weekend top. Luckily, I FINALLY got around to hemming the black merino one, which I did make.

Not much to say, once again just made the pattern up as is. I overlocked this one too, it would have been nice in a nicer finish but the fabric is so heavy and drapey and puckered under a straight stitch, and I thought it might need the extra strength of the serging.

Can’t even really show it to you, it’s so dark! But it’s so lovely and buttery and soft. This fabric is really special. I have a bit left over but not enough to really do anything with, more’s the pity. I can see this one getting a lot of wear, though. It feels so luxurious.

And here’s another one where you can’t really see anything, and it’s fuzzy to boot, but my witchy stance is making me laugh:

Do they even make gluten free gingerbread cottages?

As for the vests, in my craft camp catchup post I was prevaricating about my white shirt being sheer. Sooz mentioned the idea of vests, and VERY kindly traced and sent me an Ottobre cowl neck knit vest pattern from issue 2/2010. I’m pretty fussy about cowl necks, I find they often are too voluminous or else sit too high, but this one looked pretty good. I wanted to make this in the same merino (I cut out the vest and the cardi at the same time, to be sure I had enough for both). But first, I made a muslin, with some remnant fabric from the fabric store.

I’m attempting to circumvent the ‘I’m too embarrassed to take photos outside on weekend when everyone else is home’ issue by taking them inside. The quality isn’t great, but it’s better than no photos I guess.

I should have taken a photo before I made adjustments. I did a few – nipped in the side seams from the waist up by about 3cm, took the shoulders up at an angle, brought the armscye in although I should have done it a bit more I think. Then I just turned it under and hemmed it with a twin needle. I left the neck unfinished, although I might hem the back because as you can see it sticks up quite a lot. But I think this will only get worn as a summer at-home top, so I might not bother.

I thought it worked well enough to make up in my merino knit, but I wish I’d tweaked a bit more.

It’s hard to see, with the black, but I’ve actually basically hemmed the cowl out of the top. Again, I wish I’d thought to take photos! But it ended up just looking like a regular shirt with a stretched-out neck. It still does! I might put a pleat in it maybe. I don’t know. In the heavier knit the cowl was just not pronounced enough, or maybe it’s because I fiddled with the shoulder seams. You can see the front sticking out more in this super unflattering photo:

As well as the back bulging. The back is sort of cowled too, which I find a bit weird actually. And I should have made the armscye higher, wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. Oh well, bygones. I also should have shortened only the BACK shoulders, it ends up pulling forward and the shoulder seam sits in front of my shoulders, which can’t help the cowl. Really, looking at these photos, what I should have done is just drawn the armscye higher, and left the shoulders alone.

This photo is unintentionally Fashion Pose. I’m quite enjoying it.

This has actually been sulking in the WIP pile because when I first sewed it I was so disappointed by how different it was from my expectations of the pattern and for the beautiful fabric. I only just hemmed it today. I am hoping it will get wear because the fabric is so lovely. I think probably not with this shirt – it doesn’t sit well enough to avoid tugging at my clothes all day, which I do NOT want to be doing. Maybe over a jersey top though? The more I think about it the more I think I will put a tuck into the neck. Maybe an asymmetrical one. Bit bummed out about this to be honest, but then my expectations were probably much too high. I’m going to try and wear it and maybe I’ll discover that it’s fantastic, after all.

Guess it’s time for my yearly blog post where I go ‘so I’ve been to two craft camps and made some stuff and I never blogged it’.

I really wish I’d managed to blog these sooner, because when I blog right after craft camp I can remember the flavour of it, when I made what, who had input, bad jokes we made, all of that. Now I can barely remember whether I made something in March or June.

March

March craft camp I started off with some quick and easy knits. I’d just bought the Lady Skater pattern after seeing it all over the internet and noting that it looked good on just about every single person I saw wearing it. I cut the largest size and muslined it (I can’t remember what fabric I used for that though) and ended up adding 3cm to each side, tapering out from the armpits. I like knit tops to be tight but I find it uncomfortable when they cling to my stomach, so that’s where I wanted extra room. From my notes it looks like I made the dress first.

No idea where I bought the black fabric. Spotters I guess? I’d forgotten to bring clear elastic so I used regular old elastic on the waistline. I’m glad I did, it does need the support, but it makes it a little bit less comfortable to wear. I noted at the time that I thought the waistline was too low, but I didn’t go back and take length out because the skirt is hitting me exactly where I like it to. If I made this again, which I would like to because it’s a very nice dress to wear and a really well drafted pattern, I will take a centimetre or so off the body and add two to the skirt length.

As you can see, though, the neckline is too wide. This was the case with all of these but I didn’t figure out how to fix it until the next camp. In fact, I didn’t figure it out at all – Sue suggested that I cut a size or two smaller on the shoulders. It’s wearable as is but I do find myself tugging on it a lot. I cut long sleeves, but when I cut the muslin the sleeves were too long to add the cuffs to, as the pattern required. So I cut them shorter, and then they were somehow shorter this time? So if I’d put the cuffs on they would have just come to my wrist bone. So I just hemmed them, and the bottom hem, with a double needle.

Next up I made a lady skater top in the same fabric.

I adjusted the shoulders by sewing the seam at an angle, so it starts at the same place on the arm side, and then tapers in almost 2cm at the neck side. Surely there is a neater way to say that? Also I added 1cm more to the sides, for a total of 4cm. I left the sleeves at the ‘long’ length and as you see they are over my wrists.

Same problem with the neck, and the top has stretched out, so that it’s a bit daggy to wear now. I have worn it pretty constantly since I made it, to be fair. I still wear it, but mostly under things. Here it is a couple of months ago, the photo is blown out but at least that means you can see it.

Heaps of bagginess at the shoulders. Ugh that’s annoying. At least this one doesn’t bother me when I wear it, only when I look at it. I also made a short sleeved version which got lots of wear until I tucked it in the back of a drawer and forgot about it until I was taking photos of this post. And then I didn’t even take one, because it’s just a black tshirt. Here’s one from camp. Look how smug I am about it!

Again with the poufiness at the shoulder, but since there isn’t as much weight from the arms, and the jersey is pretty light, it doesn’t feel as annoying.

Then I girded my loins and made a shirt for S.

It’s Kwik Sew 3883. I’d made a muslin before camp, and noted some adjustments needed. I don’t recall exactly what, since I can’t find the notes I made. I did adjust the pattern pieces so I know they’re fine. I know I brought the shoulders in a bit, so the back width is smaller. I think maybe it needed shortening as well? The fabric is just cheapo homespun or broadcloth or something from spotters. He wanted a coverup type shirt for when we go to the beach, because he burns easily. So it wasn’t too intimidating because if I mucked it up or it was a bit dodgy that wouldn’t matter too much.

But I think it came out great! (Those collar points could be sharper, now I look at them.) I took my time over it because I wanted to use it to learn how to make shirts properly, so I could make some for me. I was really impressed with this pattern. The instructions were really clear, and suitable I think for a semi-beginner like myself, or even someone slightly less familiar with general garment construction.

I borrowed someone’s machine to do the buttons – Sue’s, I think? Those automatic buttonholers, man. I covet them. My dinky Brother machine at home does pretty well but it only has a manual buttonholer with one of those flimsy plastic efforts, and it is just impossible to do two the same.

The shirt hasn’t been worn more than once because by March it was getting cold, but it got the tick of approval.

I also muslined the By Hand London Anna dress, but there was too much adjustment needed so I abandoned it for the time being. And I finished my Essential Cardigan but I might give that its own post.

June

For June craft camp I decided to stick with a winning tactic and sew some quick and easy knits first. This time I started with the Penny Pinafore.

I’d cut out a pinny in blue knit fabric at the end of March craft camp, intending to sew it up at home. Obviously that didn’t happen! So I sewed that first at the June craft camp.

Backfat ugh! Oh well. I have fat on my back, whadya gonna do? Also there is pooling fabric on my swayback but I don’t really care, not even enough to scoop that out if I make another one.

I really really love this pattern. Princess seams 4 lyf. I sewed this up with no adjustments, largest size, and it fits like a dream. EXCEPT the dang shoulder issue. You can’t really see it here but it’s super puffy. This one makes it a bit clearer:

Look at all that excess fabric! After I’d sewn this, Sue M suggested the grading down two sizes at the shoulder, and I cut out another one to try it.

My face is a bit weird in some of these photos because I was watching my cat get shouted at by the local magpies and it was very entertaining.

MUCH better. Still bra showing, though. I might need to cut in a centimetre or two on the neck side. Almost everyone else I’ve seen make this, their necklines seem much thinner and firmer, even on lighter fabric. I sewed this one really tight because I’d had issues with gaping with the black skaters, but I think it might just be the shape of my shoulders.

I really love these dresses and I wear them all the time. But I wish I’d known about the shoulder thing for the blue dress, because the sleeves bug me. I can see them out of the corner of my eye, and feel them poofing up. I thought they might settle a bit with washing but they have not. It makes me sad because I really love the colour of the blue. I am not really sure about the red one, it’s a bit more orange than I’d normally wear. And somehow it feels a bit pyjama-y. I feel like that would be less of an issue with a darker colour but I’m not sure why I think that. I’ve considered overdying it but I haven’t been bothered yet. I do wear both dresses all the time, though. Both fabrics are a discontinued spotlight knit called ‘seaspray’ or something like that. I bought a whole bunch on clearance, and I wish they still had it because it’s nice and thick, with enough cotton that it’s not too hot for summer, and the recovery is great.

I also made a tunic length penny.

The only decent pics I could get are super blown out. Otherwise it just looks… black.

This must have been before the red one, come to think of it, because it has the same sleeve issue. That’s exacerbated by the fabric, which is a merino knit from the Fabric Store. It’s lovely but it doesn’t have much recovery, and constantly slips off my shoulders. I am debating sewing some elastic behind the neckline all the way around, to pull it in, because it doesn’t get much wear which is a shame.

Another reason it doesn’t get much wear is that it’s still A-line shape. I just cut to the ‘tunic length’ line on the pattern. I wish I’d straightened out the princess seams and made it straight because I just don’t really know what to wear it with. I have exactly one pair of jeans, which don’t get much wear, and I am ok with leggings as pants in theory but I just feel uncomfortable with it for me except for photo purposes, apparently. It’s a feeling physically exposed thing, I think, not an aesthetic one. Anyway, mostly I wear this under things, tucked in. Like this:

It was bright. Also, egg-on-sticks effect going on here again.

Here I am wearing my long sleeved skater, and this over the top, tucked in to a skirt, and then I had a jumper over it.

I would like to make up a pattern of this that’s straight from the waist down, because I would like to use the pattern to make some simple knit tops and also perhaps a jumper, like Heather did.

I then made a pair of Juniper pants that were a complete disaster. My last pair are great but the crotch curve is clearly not long enough. I did take in the legs and wear them much more now, although they are still linen so obviously not very warm! But they still creep up my bum a bit so I wanted to try to fix that. I adjusted the pattern and lengthened the crotch curve and scooped it out a bit, like this, and like Patti did here. I sewed them up, with the fly and everything, and tried them on and… they were too small. I clearly needed more room at the front where I couldn’t let them out any more because that’s where the fly was. I looked for them to take a photo of, and also to diagnose what went wrong, but I can’t find them. Maybe they’ve slunk off in shame.

I’m considering trying them again but moving the fly to the side, which might make it easier to adjust especially since I clearly have issues with my crotch depth because of my full belly. Or maybe I’ll pull out Simplicity 3688 and see how they go, since they already have that feature. I’m not going to do either of those things short term, though.

Back to what I made that was a success. When I got S’s shirt home after March camp, I tried it on and found that it was a PERFECT fit, except obviously being too big in the torso. So I decided to make myself one and whack a bust dart in it.

I clearly did not iron this for photos. Also god I look like my mother when I stand like that. Note to self. Never stand like that again. Or maybe it’s the oversized shirt + leggings = mothers in the 80s?

The fabric is this GORGEOUS brushed cotton from DK fabric. I had seen it there ages ago and I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t what I was there for. But I thought about it all the time and when I went back not only was it there, but it was on special for $8 a metre. So I bought something like five metres. I should have enough left for a dress, maybe it wants to be a binge dress? Or maybe a shirtdress? It’s like wearing a hug.

Anyhoo, I made this up exactly as I made up S’s, tried it on, and improvised bust darts. I did make the arms and torse, and nipped in the side seams some arbitrary amount, but didn’t shape them at all. I wanted this to be snuggly and big. I LOVE IT. Although in fact I haven’t worn it at all this winter because I took forever to find buttons I liked, then when I finally sewed them on I put it on over my head and broke the shank off of the second-to-top one. It’s almost like you’re meant to unbutton things when you put them on? Like that’s what buttons are for or something??

Anyway I have new buttons now – plural because I also bought some more for the cuffs, which are buttonless because Caroline kindly lent me her machine to do the buttonholes, but it couldn’t cope with the thickness there. I am debating whether to hand sew buttonholes, take it to a place that does alterations and get them to do it, or just sew press studs on and fake buttons on the top. I’ll probably hand sew them, it’s not like they take that long in the scheme of things. In the meantime it’s crumpled from being in the mending pile, but I did wear it for the rest of the day after taking these photos, over a thermal shirt and a tshirt and with the sleeves cuffed. I’m considering going back and putting a pocket on the front, too.

I also made a version of the shirt in this light voile, also from DKs. I bought enough to underline it with itself but then couldn’t be bothered. It actually isn’t as see through as I remembered – obviously it is still sheer, you can see my bra but I would be ok wearing it like this in summer, or with a cami under to work. It is VERY crumply and wrinkly though.

This one I nipped in at the waist a bit, and I think I shortened the arms a bit more than the flanney. You can see when I stretch they pull, but they pull at the arms not at the shoulders, look at me showing off how I can totally cross my arms in this without it pulling! Such a novelty for me. And they are the correct length when not reaching for the sky.There are still pull lines across the front, I could probably tweak the fit a bit more but you know what? I don’t care. It fits way better than a boughten one would, and it’s comfortable and looks fine. And I don’t want to overfit it and end up not being able to move.

After not having looked at this for ages and then putting it on for photos, I like this far more than I remembered. I think I was put off by the sheerness and wrinkliness making it less practical. But now I’m thinking about making another one of these in the heavier cotton I bought for work shirts, before I attempt the princess line shirt. Although both have the issue of needing to put in buttonholes. I’ve been debating chucking a pleat in the back next time, but I don’t know that it needs it. I need the most width in the upper back/yoke area, so if that’s big enough for my hunched shoulders then the rest will be broad enough for my back.

Both of these just have a turned and rolled hem. The pattern also only calls fro 0.6cm seam allowances. From memory on the sheer one I upped the allowances so I could french seam it, because it was so sheer, but I think that’s nice to do for a shirt anyway so you can roll up the sleeves or whatever without exposing overlocking. The only exposed seams are the sleeves, armholes, and sides, anyway, since everything else is encased in a cuff or the yoke. Also next time I would shift the buttons a bit so that there is one exactly on my bustline where it pulls the most. They’re big enough, just the physics of it means it will always pull and gape a bit there if the button isn’t right in the right place.

And now I am almost all caught up!

What an exciting title!

When I wrote the last post I already had Simplicity 1541 cut out, and I’ve since sewn it up. I was apprehensive at first because the largest size (size 24) says it has a waist of 99cm, and my waist measures 105 depending on where you are counting my waist, because having a belly kind of throws that measurement out a bit. I should be spot on for the size 24 hips, though, at 122cm. I cut view A (they are all the same except B has piping in the princess seams and C has trim over the top) and length B.

I just wanted a light coloured tshirt so you could actually see the waistband etc. When I bought this (men’s size M. No partying fat ladies, I guess?) the VERY skinny shop attendant said she had one to and was going to wear it out on New Years Eve, because after christmas she is sooooooooooo fat lol! I don’t even know what to do with that.

Anyhoo, I measured the waistband pattern pieces and they were clearly bigger than they said, so I ended up cutting a size 24 for the front, with the hips tapering down to 22, and cut the back at size 22. I muslined that size and the hips were still too big but I cut it like that because I figured I could always take them in, and I wasn’t sure what difference the change in fabric would make. As it turns out, it probably would have fit better straight out of the packet – when I tried on the real skirt it was a bit tight at the hips. I ended up sewing the side and back seams at 0.75cm, so I probably added in as much room as I took out when cutting.

So next time I make it, I’ll probably cut a straight size 24, but take a couple of centimetres out of the centre back, because it’s very gappy there. Not too much, though, because although it feels unnervingly loose when I’m standing, it’s actually fine and (so far) stays put, and it means when I sit down I’m not feeling like I’m being cut in half.

Look at that stright side seam! Delightful. Straighter than when I’m not pulling out the excess, I see.

It’s got a regular zipper, which I forgot to take a photo of, but is pretty neat, especially considering I had to sew it in on a 0.75cm seam allowance! I didn’t bother lining it, which I’m still second guessing. And the pattern comes with a nice lined back vent so I didn’t have to draft one.

I overlocked all the pieces before sewing them together, so I could do a basting fit. I muslined it in an old sheet but that fabric was obviously a lot thinner, which did make a significant difference to the fit. I couldn’t be bothered changing the thread, so it’s overlocked navy. Oh well. I hand did the hem because when I tried it on it was pretty much exactly the right length and I didn’t want to loose any length doing a machine blind hem. It was pretty quick to hand hem anyway, although I think it needs a better pressing because it still looks a bit wibbly. Next time I will cut view B but give myself a bit more length to play with.

Oh and the waistband is not very neat because I accidentally sewed the facing on upside down the first time, and didn’t realise until I’d fought with it for some time, so the detaching and re-attaching process was a bit fraught. You can see the front seams puckering a bit, too. I overexposed the photos so they weren’t just a black blob – in real life, I can see them because I’m looking, but they’re not super noticeable. I wish I’d mucked around with the tension settings a bit more because it does bug me, but I went window shopping today and saw a couple of $80+ skirts with even worse puckering so I guess I can live with it. I’m trying to do a solid job but also not get too precious about things, since I am sewing for a need. I’m not going to faff around with french seams and the like unless there’s a specific reason – but I AM unpicking a lot, because I want wearable garments that I feel good in.

This came together really quickly, and the instructions were suprisingly clear and helpful, where I used them. The Amazing Fit line generally gets good reviews and I would say they are well deserved, if this pattern is anything to go by. I can definitely see this becoming a TNT.

Summary

Pattern: Simplicity 1541 bought on sale (the only way I buy patterns) so probably $5

Fabric: Gaberdine from spotters, $13 a metre and I only used one metre. Really nice to work with, actually.

Total cost including thread and notions (but not time): Let’s say $20ish.

Time to sew: About two hours to cut the pattern and muslin it. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably another two hours.

Wearable?: Yes, definitely.

 

Next up is the first Binge Dress  (It’s the School Teacher Dress from Ottobre 05-2011).

It was bright. I should have waited an hour, it’s overcast now and would have been much easier to take photos, both in terms of being able to see the details in black garments, and in terms of not blinding myself.

The fabric is some kind of mystery material from the stash, I am pretty sure it is drill that I bought for a pair of Junipers, but I’m not exactly sure. It was nice to work with – heavy but not too heavy for a dress, takes a pressing well etc – but it does wrinkle like a bastard. I wore it today, ironed it before I wore it, and took the photos about lunchtime. I think I can live with it, but we’ll see. Again it’s a bit more obvious because I overexposed these. And also it is ALREADY LINTY. Just like the first Binge Dress. What is this about? It is not the washing machine, because I haven’t washed the dress. It is just attracting lint from thin air! I could scream. I bought some fabric softener to do a DIY static reducer spray thing, let’s hope that works.

I futzed with the pattern a bit. As I mentioned last time I embiggened it by just adding 2cm to each edge. Then I made the bust dart bigger, to account for neck gape. This worked perfectly on the muslin, but when I tried on the bodice of this version, the armholes were gapey. I took about 1cm off the width of the shoulders, tapering to the armpit, and also put a dart in the armscye which is a bit ad hoc but seems to work pretty well.

You can sort of see the dart coming down from the armpit. Also LINT. GAH!

I started to futz with the dart, too, I thought it came out too high on my bust, then I thought maybe it needed to come from higher up the side seam, I did a few different ones and then ended up going back to the original position and depth. You can see it wanting to make a dart coming from the side (see below), so I might split the dart next time I make it. Or maybe not? I think it looks pretty good as is, actually. I don’t want to over fit it, and my range of movement is REALLY good in this and part of that is that extra fabric. Not sure whether to just keep putting the armpit dart in, or if I can fix that some other way.

There’s also a fair bit of extra fabric in the back sleeve, again for movement.

The sleeve is a frankenstein effort. I took a sleeve from another Ottobre pattern – one of the shirts in 05-2013, which is my size but was still too tight on the arm. I added in a triangle of fabric in the muslin until it fit, and then I cut it down the seamline and used that as the pattern piece. The sleeves were originally just above elbow length, but they were a bit too tight at the bottom so I cut them down about two inches and rehemmed them. I like them this length but would like a version with longer sleeves, so I’ll widen the pattern piece. I also too a LOT of ease out of the sleevecap, by sewing the sleeve as it was into the muslin armscye as it seemed to fit and then just lopping off the excess. Although there was still enough that I did gathering threads to set it in. I am really pleased with how these sleeves turned out. I do not have an easy relationship with sleeves but these ones are good.

Look! I am totally not even cutting off my circulation by standing like this! I am squinting though.

I ended up sewing the centre seam at 2cm instead of 1cm, taking a good 2cm of width out. It is maybe a teeny bit tight on my upper back, but otherwise it’s good. I think this will be pretty standard for me, needing a size smaller on the back. Must try to remember that. I didn’t put a zip in – I tried it on and I can get it on and off without. Although I probably will go back and put it in because it’s annoying to do. But I wanted to finish it quickly because I had a job interview! Just filling in for someone for two months, doing admin/reception stuff, but it will be good experience and also as much money as I was earning in my other, harder job, so I am not complaining. So yes, that will cut into my sewing time! And also makes me very glad I got started when I did, because otherwise I don’t know what I would have worn. I felt good in this dress, which is nice.

I initially wasn’t going to line this, but when I got to the end I decided to line the skirt. I made up the skirt lining (giving myself a bit of extra ease at the hips and pleating instead of darting) but since the skirt and top were sewn together at that point I improvised. I sewed the lining on to the skirt/bodice seam allowance upside down, flipped it back down and topstitched it. I don’t know if that’s clear but oh well. The neck is faced (and I really love how the neckline turned out and how the facing makes it sit), the arms and skirt just turned over and machine hemmed with a straight stitch. I’m glad I lined the skirt and I think next time I will line the bodice if I’m not in a hurry. I also need to tack down the back facings (I cut them a bit short by forgetting seam allowance on one edge) but they can wait until I put the zip back in.

Yeah, the inside’s aren’t the neatest. But the outside is and that’s what counts. Also LINT. UGH!!! Where is it even coming from?? No vent, which is fine, I can walk without restriction and the only time I felt it tug was when I had to step really far to get onto the bus. But I might give it a vent next time because I think it hangs nicer that way.

Summary

Pattern: Dress with Variation (School Teacher) from Ottobre 05-2013. The magazine is about AU$13 and I haven’t sewn anything else from it (except for this same dress which I don’t wear because of LINT) so I’m counting the whole cost.

Fabric: Mystery drill, probably from spotters. I can’t imagine I paid more than $9 a metre for it, and I used about 2.5m because it wasn’t very wide, so $22ish.

Total cost including thread and notions: Once I put a zip in it probably $40ish.

Time to sew: About three hours to cut the pattern and muslin it because I did a lot of mucking around and sleeve fitting. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably about four hours. Next one will be quicker, a lot of that was dart futzing, and retrofitting the lining took longer than just sewing it in would (although not as long as lining the bodice as well).

Wearable?: Yes, if the wrinkles and lint don’t become more of an issue.

Other notes: I saw a very similar dress in Harris Scarfe today, reduced to $30 down from $100, except the polyester was already fraying and when I tried it on for interest’s sake, the fit was AWFUL. So I feel pretty good about this dress from a fiscal point of view and although it is wrinklier than the poly dress would be, it doesn’t bag and pill so I’m calling it even.

I have another one of these half cut out, because I bought 2m of the gaberdine for the skirt, but the fabric was really wide so I only used 1m of it. I thought I could get a whole dress out of the remains and I was almost right – everything but one back bodice and the sleeves. I bought another 0.5m today to finish it.  I really could use some tops, though, since I have to start actually wearing my work wardrobe soon!

 

I work in a pretty casual office, where work-appropriate clothing just means you’re covered, basically. My (female) boss often wears shorts and thongs to work in the summer. I am probably the most formally dressed of the lot of us – I never wear shoes with laces to the office (well except for that one pair of oxfords) and I never wear jeans. But still, my work wardrobe has tended more casual and comfortable, especially over the last two years where I have not felt well (gluten stuff) and not really had the extra energy to think about how I dress for work. For instance for the last few weeks, all I’ve worn to work are my penny pinafores and lady skater dresses – comfy, stretchy knits.

It’s nice to be able to be so casual, but I’d also like to be able to put some thought and care into how I present myself. It makes me feel happy to do so. I’m starting to have the energy to do so more and more – but not the means. Plus sized work clothes are expensive, and scarce. And then you’re faced with the issue, universal to all sizes but really accentuated at the upper end, of whether you really want to pay $70 for a polyester skirt that barely fits.

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Here’s a photo of some clouds to break up the wall of text.

So I’ve been meaning to sew some more work gear for some time, but just not getting to it. But now my job is dwindling, the work the business is getting in has slowed to a trickle, and so I’m really upping my job searching. For which I obviously need, at a minimum, some interview clothes. And ideally enough clothes for a week, so if (when? Please?) I do get a new job I don’t have to worry about getting or making more clothes. I’m only working 2 days a week at the moment, and I’m trying to use one of my free days for job applications, and another day for sewing. It’s nice to have big blocks of time to sew in, especially since I am currently sharing my sewing room with several computers. Uh… did I even mention that S and his son have moved in with me? Well, they have. And now the craft room is the study/craft room. Most of my stash is in boxes in the shed, and my sewing machines are still set up on their own table but I’ve not got as much room to spread out as I used to. They are happy to work around me, or to move to another room, but it’s just more tricky to sew when they’re home.

Anyway, since I have almost nothing in my wardrobe, this is the perfect opportunity to think about what I actually wear and like, and make a capsule type wardrobe. I spent a couple hundred dollars of my tax return on fabric at spotlight during their 40% off sale, and I have a stash of patterns already. So now I have to sew!

Fair warning, I’m going to bang on a fair bit about what I want to sew, because it’s helpful to me to have a plan. And it’ll be interesting to check back and see what changed in the process. Feel free to check out and come back when the actual sewing starts. I already own all the patterns and fabric mentioned, unless otherwise specified, and I want to avoid buying much more until I am working again. I can justify a metre or two, especially if it’s for something specific. But if I already have pattern and fabric for something in that category, I need to make do first. No buying more navy fabric for skirts until I have sewn all the black skirts I need, for example. That way lies empty wallets and too-full craft rooms. I can’t deny that part of this effort is also to use up some of the fabric in my drawers. Then I can bring in more from the shed, maybe!

Excessive talking below the cut.

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Rounding out the FOs now. We’re down to the dregs, don’t worry, I’m almost done! Just in time for Craft Camp and hopefully some more FOs.

First, the fixes.

At the last craft camp I made a McCalls 6559 maxi dress. The not-maxi version, because that was the length I had fabric for. It came out a bit big – the pattern has SO much ease. At camp I had run the sides in, but the neckline and armscyes were too low by a good two inches, so I didn’t even bother finishing the edges. I figured it was a good muslin and maybe I’d wear it as a heatwave housedress.

Then a couple months after camp I was thinking about it and it occured to me… neck too low… armscye too low… maybe the SHOULDERS were too long? Like, duh. I took it up two inches and it was perfect. I finished the neck and arms with binding from an almost-but-not-quite-the-same piece of fabric. The fabric of the dress is really light, so instead of hemming it I attached a wider band of the same fabric I bound the neck in. That was a slight miscalculation, as it doesn’t sit right, but given that this fabric is thinnnnnn I don’t wear it out of the house except in heatwaves.

The thing about heatwaves, though, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, is that we’ve had quite a lot of them lately. I wore this dress almost every day I wasn’t working for a good two months. All that wear means it’s stretched out a bit – again, thin fabric, but that really just made it even better for those days where you think, if you let fabric touch your skin, you might actually melt.

I would definitely make this dress again, it was so easy – basically cut it out, sew the side seams and shoulders, finish the edges, done. And I love wearing it. Next time I would cut the neckline about an inch higher, though. Although I see in the photo that it’s pulling a bit under the shoulder, so maybe I’d only raise it 1.5″ and cut the neckline 1.3″ higher. Side seam-wise I would probably cut it to the first adjusted size, because it’s super easy to accommodate any stretching later by whipping in the side seams, and I don’t know that I’d want a skin-tight maxidress. I suspect maxidress season is over, although if I can work out sleeves for this I might make a winter weight one – I had a bought one that I LOVED that I friend called my ‘goddess dress’ but I wore it in winter and stood in front of a heater and, it being polyester, it melted. I still have it and I’ll probably just hem it shorter and wear it, but I’ve kept it to copy.

Next up are some pencil skirts I made at last year’s March Craft Camp. They are both Kasia, which I have made before. I added lined kick-pleats to them, but they stuck out.


Added to that, I sewed these both up on the overlocker, and didn’t use the whole seam allowance. So I had planned, at March Craft Camp, to undo them and bring them in, and add a lining, and fix the pleat. Janet even very kindly picked me up some stretch lining for them. But then that was the Craft Camp of the Great Pestilence, and I was too ill to concentrate on anything much, so they didn’t get fixed. They sat in the sewing room waiting for attention, and never got them.

So the other day I pulled them out again and tried them on. They… did not seem too big? Although I have actually lost some volume around my belly since I stopped eating gluten and am not bloated all the time, so who even knows what that’s about. I did nip in the black skirt’s waist by a centimetre or so. So I fixed the kickpleats and have been wearing them.

I fixed the pleats by topstitching the outside edge, pressing a lot, and sewing the pleat to the skirt at the top. In the case of the black skirt, the pleat was probably too big, so I brought the edges in as well. I just serged them off. It still sits a bit funny but is much improved. I tried to get some photos but they just look like… fabric. Nothing to see, really, but this paragraph can serve my own future reference. They do look much better.

Feb 001

 

I was going to crop this but I’m quite fond of pics whee you can see the random crap in people’s lives. This is my laundry. It is actually relatively tidy in this picture. It’s just that there is no storage to speak of in my house, it makes me crazy.

Anyway, excuse the crappy photo please, but you can see that it is much better. You can ALSO see the same waist/hemline problem I described last time. The waistline is about even (my shirt is covering it a bit at the front) but you can see the bottom of the yoke angles down, as does the hemline. The way I am standing in the photo above is my normal posture, it’s not particularly bad (for me) or anything. All my family have slight scoliosis and I have rounded shoulders and I just stick my butt out. That’s the way it is, no point making clothes pretending I’m going to ever stand up straight.

I… might have to start making yoked that are thinner at the front? I am really just kind of stumped, guys. Any suggestions welcome. I also think that yokes may be my answer to my circle skirt conundrums, maybe? I have worn those skirts again this week in the name of figuring out my options, and they are just… not COMFORTABLE. Which is a shame.

Anyhoodle, I also pulled out the zip in the black skirt and put in an invisible one, because you could see the tape in the old one, and I would have done the same for the red one but I didn’t have a red invisible zip. I have since bought one. I might swap them one day. I wore the red skirt today and it did actually bag out a bit so that it was a bit loose by the end of the day. I might whip in the side seams, although the extra room is really at the centre front yoke seams, but I am not changing them because it’s faced and everything’s overlocked and I can’t be bothered.

These would certainly benefit from a lining, they stick to everything and since I always wear shorts of leggings there is always something to stick to. But I am thinking of making bikeshorts out of the satin lining that Janet bought for me, instead.

So that’s the fixes.

The first knit is also a fix – and it isn’t even finished yet. It’s my Essential Cardigan, which I had finished up to the bands at September Craft Camp.

I actually finished the band in September, and started sewing it up. But because I had put so much work into the fitting process, I wanted to sew it properly. This is why I never do anything properly, guys, it is not finished yet. I sewed petersham ribbon onto the button bands because they pulled a bit, but then I had to hand sew the buttonholes by hand. My sewing machine can barely manage one ok-looking buttonhole on regular fabric, let alone several on a hand knit. I did about four before getting tired. Also it was hot and that wasn’t motivating me.

Also, once the bands were done and I tried it on, I was… a bit underwhelmed. It fits me well, but I am just not sure I did the shaping in the right place. I don’t know. I think it’s probably fine, except that I was expecting it to shoot glowing rainbows of unicorns, and obviously it didn’t. It only managed one shitty pegasus, you guys. So disappointing.

No, but really, the sleeves were also about an inch too long. I made the sleeves up myself because I wanted full-length, and I guess I overcompensated. That’s ok, they have cuffs so it’s easy enough to chop them off and regraft, and I also made them a bit thin so they could actually use being taken up like that. I might try to remember to bring this to craft camp and do that then.

I also cast on for Neon, in the flush of an almost-finished essential. Then when the Essential bogged down, so did Neon. It still looks pretty much like this:

and I am concerned that the red is too light for me and might make me look washed out. I’ve picked it up again this week and once I have sleeve holes I’ll try it on and see. The yarn is Bendigo Woolen Mills Luxury. I think I might need to go through my stash because there is a bunch of ‘fine but nothing special’ yarn and to be honest, I don’t want to knit it. I only want to knit special yarn. Really, I knit so slowly these days that I could put a whole year’s yarn budget towards one jumper. (Not that I have an actual dedicated yarn budget, but you know). But if the fine but nothing special yarn is in my stash, I feel like I have to knit it.

Well, that’s 1600 words about not very much, so that’s probably enough from me. The next two days are going to be crazy busy so I should really go PACK FOR CRAFT CAMP. Which is actually quite annoying at the moment because I am catsitting my cousin’s cat for a month. He’s in the spare/craft room, because he and my cat are both pretty territorial. So if I want to go into the craft room I have to either squeeze in without letting him out and my cat in, or else lock my cat in the bedroom. So I can’t pack both clothes and craft stuff at the same time. It’s very ‘don’t leave the fox with the chicken’ and frankly, I’m not enough of a lateral thinker for that kind of business.

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Jasper Dress by paprika patterns https://craftastrophies.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/jasper-sweaterdress/

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