Friday, 30 March 2012

The top that lived to see the light of day

I have not only completed my first (ha! optimistic much?) Spring top, but I have also worn it all day without it falling apart at the seams. I feel triumphant! Finally I have stitched a garment for myself from a pattern which has actually been wearable at the end of the day. A top I really like, which fits me, which looks like the pattern envelope. I know this might happen to you all the time, but for me, this is a new experience.

Here's the photo I've submitted to the Spring Top Sewalong 2012 pool, grinning like a stitch-happy fool!

Butterflies top

The stripes have gone a bit strobe-y here, you can see the fabric a bit better in this one taken on my webcam (more lunatic grins, but in my defence, this is how I look all the time).

Butterflies top

Pattern: New Look 6731 Misses Knit Top or Tunic (I do love a 'Misses' pattern, makes me feel like someone out of Little Women).
Fabric: Yellow butterfly print striped viscose jersey from Ottobre

Seams were stitched on my Toyota Quilt50 machine with a ballpoint needle, using a regular straight stitch and polyester thread but stretching the fabric slightly as I sewed. I overlocked the inside seam where the neckline is attached for neatness, but otherwise simply zig-zagged the seams after sewing them. The hem was turned using Joanne's clever paper method, which made it a whole lot quicker, and had the advantage of not stretching the fabric. I was going to order a twin needle and extra spool pin for my machine, but eagerness to finish took over and I just went ahead, sewing two lines of straight stitching for the hem. I used LOTS of pins as I was so wary of the fabric slipping or stretching. It's amazing what little waves and quirks the iron will fix though. Thanks very much for the tips in the comments to my last post, they were really helpful.

This is a pattern I'll definitely sew again. I really like the scooped neckline and the little capped sleeves and the sizing was spot-on for me. I found it a really great first project for sewing knits as the construction was very straightforward and the instructions were very clear.

I'm really keen now to get started on another top, from my stash of cotton fabric this time. We'll see if I manage to bag some sewing time over the next few days. The husband has already finished his school term, whilst child 1 and 2 are at school until mid-next week, so it wouldn't be too much to ask for him to do a spot of baby-wrangling so that I can sew, would it?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

An impulse purchase

Well the weather continues to be unseasonably warm this week, I've had to break out the Summer shoes and have hopefully consigned my hideous-but-practical boots* to the under-the-stairs cupboard till next Autumn. Realising that a lot of my knit tops have those annoying tiny holes in them (not moths, just general wear on flimsy fabric) I have decided that this year is the year I will finally learn to sew with knits. I bought a handful of patterns when pregnant with my littlest, thinking of sewing some looser tops that would see me through pregnancy but also be wearable the other side without being maternity wear. Of course, I didn't actually sew any of them, but it was a comfort to know they were there in case I felt the urge.

I was pottering around on the internet, as you do, the other day when I stumbled upon Ottobre designs' etsy store, jam-packed with cute stretch prints for children and a really good choice of stripey ribbing which is what initially drew my attention. But then I saw this lovely viscose jersey which was too hard to resist on such a beautiful sunny day (although they sell by the metre, you can contact them to request a customised listing for the length you need, in my case 1.2 metres) and couldn't help myself. Now that I've got it, i can't quite decide whether I like it or not, but the weight really is perfect, and it has a lovely slinky soft feel which looks like it's going to be nice and forgiving but which will probably be awful to sew.

Spring top plans!

The pattern is New Look 6731 (out of print as far as I can see, though ebay has one on sale), which looks like the perfect basic knit top-shape, with a bound scoop neck and capped sleeves, but also with options for an elasticized hem, tunic length, long sleeves and a higher neckline. It scores pretty highly in reviews on, which is a good recommendation as all those reviewers must know 100 times more than I do about dressmaking! And rather fortuitously, it just happens to be Spring Top Sewalong 2012 over at Made by Rae, which is a great incentive to get stitching.


Having abandoned my blog post in favour of cutting out the pattern and starting to sew (I get such itchy fingers sometimes!) I seem to have the makings of an actual real wearable top!! That's as long as I don't botch the sleeves. Can anyone give me some tips on machine hemming knits too? I am thinking of buying a new spool pin and twin needle for my toyota, though I do have an overlocker. What's the best way to do it? Any tips/links will be gratefully received!


*Have you ever put a leather boot through the washing machine on a nice long cottons cycle? Well I have, accidentally gathered up in a pile of sheets (which tells you all you need to know about my housekeeping skills). Just the one boot, mind you. The boot, however, survived to tell the tale and lives on in all its hideousness, stopping me from being able to justify a new pair.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Spring crafting

In spite of having precious little time to actually finish anything, my usual handmaking mode is to have more projects on the go at any one time than I can count on the fingers of both hands. This is probably why I always feel as if I'm not accomplishing anything at all, other than making a lot of mess. I've always been the same - is it just a short attention span? I was the child with at least 4 books on the go at once, stashed under pillows and falling down the side of the bed, and my crafting has taken the same pattern. Can I just put a positive gloss on it as being good at multitasking rather than admitting to being a flibbertigibbet?

A bit of sunshine, and the days getting slightly longer, means I'm keener than ever to Spring clean my to-do list and get some bits and pieces into the 'finished objects' pile. The Spring cleaning urge also extends to my blog and shop which could do with a good overhaul and tidy up. It sadly doesn't extend to any great enthusiasm for real housework, as my family will testify (but hey, I'm patting myself on the back for having spent an hour ironing this evening, even though it's mothering Sunday!).

On the work table this week, and near as dammit to completion, are a quilt for my sister's brand new baby boy (born just a few days ago - hooray!) and a little moss stitch cardigan like this one for my other new nephew born in September.

work in progress - baby boy quilt

work in progress - lined baby cardigan

And because it's important to add two new projects onto the end of the conveyor belt before you finish the last two, I've started on a new batch of zipped pencil cases and coin purses and some tea cosy designs which have been (really badly) sketched in my designs book for about 3 years.

work in progress - pencil cases

work in progress - tea cosies

That should give me plenty to be getting on with, given that these days, I'm lucky to spend a couple of hours a week actually sewing. Anyone else seeing spots?
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