Thursday, 25 July 2013

Trying to get back in the habit...

This month has been hard. I've not had the chance for much me-made sewing, as I'm still finishing off curtains for our lounge/diner, etc. They're taking a loooong time!

Along with curtains for the lounge, I've joined in with midwinter Christmas, a shopping trip to Palmerston North (more of these later), and...

I did manage to finish my Alma for Indie pattern month, but I've not taken any photos, the weather hasn't been the most favourable when I'm at home to take them. Plus you know what it's like in the winter - you leave home for work in the dark and get back in the dark. Daylight only seems to occur during the weekends!

Plus these last few days have been especially hard. We had three earthquakes here in Wellington last weekend. The quake Sunday afternoon was the strongest around here for a while (measuring 6.5). It was certainly nothing like I've ever felt and life in the UK doesn't really prepare you for these things. The quake has given me more respect for the country I live in now. The Kiwis are amazing people and everyone I speak to seems to have bounced back so quickly, whereas I'm still really jumpy and feel like everything is permanently swaying. I know I need to get used to these, they are a way of life here in NZ, but at the moment, I'm finding it hard. Yes, life does go on. Our house survived perfectly as it is designed to do and we had no damage, no breakages. Although somehow, since then, I find it lonely in the house now and my sewing room downstairs is not as welcoming as it was. Even going downstairs is not fun in the dark.

I'm completely digressing, but I'm hoping sharing what I feel at the moment will help me to accept my life and what it throws at me. Even if it does include learning to cope with earthquakes. My life here in NZ is infinitely better than it ever was in the UK and even with the quakes, it would take a lot to make me move back. NZ is my home now.

To get back to more cheerful things - being creative...

As a small thing to keep me out of mischief in the evenings, I decided to have a go at some more knitting. Now I don't consider myself as much of a knitter and apart from a few things I kitted when I was in my early teens, all I've made since is my snood! Well I created an account on Ravelry and got searching for free patterns. That site is bad, once you get searching, you end up with far too many patterns in your library! I digress. I decided I'd like a slouchy beret, so I found this...


Well to be honest I found a few more than just this one, but once I'd looked at the patterns, I decided this one I could decifer and work out how much wool I needed.

It was not all plain sailing. I needed a circular needle - those things are a pain when there's not many stitches on the row. I got my supplies from MrsC's shop, Made on Marion on Lambton Quay. This great cream wool confused me anyway, it says 8-ply. What's this 8-ply, wool comes as 4-ply, double knitting and chunky, well it did in my brain! 8-ply is double knitting apparently. My poor brain!

Sorry it's sideways, I can't work out how to twist it!

I learned a lot. Cast on using long-tail cast on method - what is that? Make one by making "a tight backward loop using your thumb, as if to cast on the right needle." Fortunately YouTube is great for knitting nowadays. No wishing Mum/Nanna was sat by helping, just reach for your nearest Interweb connected device and go searching! :-)

I got there, even if I did have to undo the pattern three times. Yep, you heard that right. I stated it and got it wrong, ended up unpicking it and starting again. Then I went wrong again, so third time lucky it worked. Fortunately the first time I unpicked it I had the lovely Jo from Making it Well next to me. She was a star in helping me pick up the stitches and getting me going again. Thanks Jo.

Anyways, once I got into my stride the lace pattern was actually really easy and even if I found it hard to keep remembering to count, it worked and I have a beret!

Here are also a couple of the beret in action!

Have you ever tried taking a photo of the back of your head?

I'm really pleased with this. It's certainly getting lots of wear. It's even got me trying to decide on something else to knit! I can curl up on the sofa and knit, I can't curl up on the sofa with my sewing machine!

In the meantime, I'm joining in with my fellow Wellington Sewing Bloggers and taking part in our Cake party this weekend. Don't forget this Sunday is Cake day. Are you ready to party?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Self-drafted pencil skirt

This has been a LONG time in the making.

I bought this fabric the first time I went to Goldhawk Road, London, when I was still in the UK. Erm, that was about September 2011. It's wool with a silver thread running through it. I think the lining was actually bought in John Lewis, not on Goldhawk Road. At the time, I remember thinking ooh, that's expensive, but when I consider now, I think the fabric was about GBP15 a metre. Being wool, it was 60 inches wide, so I had a metre. Bargain! (Sorry, I'm using both imperial and metric at the same time. A bad habit of mine which I need to curtail!)

The pattern started as my first ever self-drafted skirt. In October 2011, Sew Country Chick ran a pencil skirt draft-a-long, which I decided to join in with. I got so far. I drafted the pattern in October and even managed to stitch up a muslin. Yes, you did read that right, I sewed a muslin! I even got the fabric and lining cut and managed to sew the darts in the shell. Then life changed, we finally sold up and moved to New Zealand!

I didn't get to finish the skirt last winter, so I was determined to finish it for this. I managed to get some sewing done while I had my ankle in plaster, but it was slow going...

Anyway, the skirt is finally finished.

I found a bias binding which managed the lining to use for the seams. All seams for the main skirt are bound using this bias binding. It's the first time I've used Hong Kong seams, but believe you me, this fabric frays like anything! All seams on the lining fabric are French seams.


The zip is just a centred zip in the back of the skirt. For the waistband, I stitched the lining to the skirt, then attached curved Petersham to the top. The lining doesn't have darts in it, I ended up changing allegiance and following Sunni's pencil skirt sewalong who suggested that the lining should just have pleats in it.


The back of the skirt has a back vent. I think a back vent looks so much better, plus it's stronger for fabric which is as loosely woven as this. I got a bit confused with the lining for the vent and ended up fudging it, but this can't be seen on the outside and it now looks like it's just a seam that's meant to be there! [I cut back both sides of the lining by the vent and had to stitch one cut part back on again - oops!]

The inside of the vent and the hem are all finished with the bias binding too. The wool fabric was really bulky and just wouldn't have worked hemming up without the binding.

So the finished article...

I really pleased with myself how this skirt has turned out. The only problem with it, is that it's now too big around the waist. I think perhaps my drafting wasn't great, but it was a first. I get loads of compliments when I wear it. The colours are great for cheering me up on a grotty day. Plus the skirt is warm and is great for wearing on a windy day in Wellington!

The details
Fabric:  Teal green and black wool with a silver thread running through, purchased on Goldhawk Road, October 2011
Notions and lining:   Green lining fabric from John Lewis, also purchased October 2011, black zipper, green bias binding
Pattern:  Self-drafted pencil skirt, based on sewalongs from Sew Country Chick and a Fashionable Stitch
First worn:  Ages ago at a Wellington Sewing Bloggers meet on 19th May, it's just taken me a long time to get the photos done...
Worn with:  In these photos, a white T-shirt and dark green cardigan from Glassons (the former is losing it's shape...), black tights (most likely from Marks and Spencer in the UK!) and black pumps bought cheaply recently as a stop gap.