Monday, 29 March 2010

Spring sort-out

New fabric
Springtime stash additions

We're up to our eyes in clutter this week. Trying to have a bit of a sort out as Spring-cleaning season will be somewhat curtailed this year due to the arrival of our newest family member. As a result, our bedroom is full of piles destined for various places - charity shops, handmedowns for friends, outgrown clothes to be bagged and put in the attic, sewing stash in need of a home.

In spite of the general chaos which surrounds me, I have had a fairly productive week. On Friday I sent off a finished pattern and sample for a magazine (which has to remain under wraps until publication, so more on that another time). I'm also fine tuning and perfecting a couple of patterns which I hope to have on sale soon - for a wallet and a bag. I did have a small setback in my pledge to destash before re-stashing in the form of an order from Gone to Earth, but I don't think it counts as I've already cut into the fabric. This must represent a record-breaking turnaround from acquisition to use for me (I normally average about 12 months by the time I've finished admiring my neatly folded, yet-to-be-cut fabric). What's more, my March make-a-month is in the works - a pair of aprons for my two small people in their choice of fabrics.

I'm now daydreaming of pretty matching outfits for my girls for a party we'll be going to in July - a Summer dress for the baby and a tiered skirt for the big sister in some combination of these three fabrics, and perhaps the boy might be persuaded to a tie in the red and pink apples - this free pattern looks perfect. It may seem like madness to be adding all these things to the to-do list when I only have 6 weeks to go before all hell breaks loose in this household, but I'm taking advantage of a burst of Springtime energy - I even cleaned by windows the other day, and goodness knows that's out of character!

Giveaway winner

Thanks for all the entries to the Natural Nursery Knits giveaway. In total, there were 24 comments, one of which wasn't an entry to the draw, so numbering the remaining comments from 1-23, I used a random number to pick a winner, no. 18, which is ClareBears.

Clare, if you'd like to get in touch with your address, I'll pop the book in the post to you.

For those who didn't win, you can find the pattern for the hat as a free download here if you'd like to try one of the patterns from the book. Good luck to all the other expectant mums/aunts/godmothers!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Polka dots and appliques

Last week saw me on a drive to make up some new stock for my etsy shop with the only fabric purchase I've made this year (I'm serious about using up the stash before buying more!). I bought these gorgeous Japanese linen/cotton mix polka dots in this etsy shop (and must add what lovely customer service I received) with this specific project in mind (you see, no more buying just in case!).

work in progress

This was such fun sewing, making tiny applique patches from my hoarded scraps of Japanese kawaii prints and adding pretty polka dot buttons. The result is a shop choc-full of spotty pencil cases and change purses which I listed at the beginning of this week.

pencil cases

coin purses

I always like to have a stack of finished items, no matter how great the pain of cutting out in bulk, it makes me feel as if I've achieved something with my week!

The other thing I've been working on is a custom iphone case request from my brother's girlfriend. These are the fabrics she chose, and here is the finished article.

As I am sadly not an i-phone owner myself, I had to rely on my mathematical skills (haha!) to make sure it would fit. If you're of a mind to make your own, then Florence has just written a lovely pattern, which will save you doing the sums! I am happy to report that the case was a success, and I even made a smaller version for my own not-an-iphone in the process of drafting the pattern.

mobile phone case

Looking forward to a quiet weekend now, and thinking about what to sew next week. Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight - giveaway!

The nice people at Quadrille kindly sent me some craft books to review recently, one of which was Erika Knight's Natural Nursery Knits (Quadrille publishing ltd, ISBN: 1844007073).

The book features 20 projects for babies including hats and bootees, soaker pants for real nappy users, blankets, toys and my personal favourite, the knitted papoose (pictured below). The emphasis is very much on simple designs with a definite heirloom feel, showcasing the natural yarns suggested.

The book is beautifully photographed by Kristin Perrers, making much of vintage accessories as a backdrop for the finished items, and is very reminiscent of the muted tones and soft focus of a Toast catalogue.

This is not really a book for complete beginners as it's not going to teach you to knit, but with a few basic stitches under your belt, it is easy to recreate these simple designs. I made the bonnet and bootees set for my imminent arrival in the recommended Rowan fine milk cotton (you can see the project details on my ravelry page and photos of the finished items in my last post). As the book suggested, the yarn is beautifully soft and I loved the simplicity of the garter stitch hat with scalloped cast on edge (very simple to achieve provided you can count - I, apparently, cannot, and it took a couple of attempts ripping back each time before I managed it!). The bootees have a sweet shaped sole knitted with a double thickness of yarn and a pretty detail on the toe.

(As a small footnote I did need more than the single ball of yarn stated in the instructions to make the set, using a few yards of a second ball to complete the bootees, though I must confess to not having checked my gauge before setting to work).

I'm giving away my review copy of Natural Nursery Knits, so if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning, just comment on this post by Sunday 28th March, and I'll draw a winner on the following Monday. Please be aware that blogger doesn't always provide me with email addresses for comments, so you may need to check back to see if you've won.

**the winner is ClareBears if you'd like to get in touch with your address**

Monday, 1 March 2010

Baby Makes

Baby dress with fawn applique

Yesterday, in between ferrying a small girl to her first ballet exam (she got honours!) and a celebratory trip to the cinema, I put the finishing touches to my make-a-month for February. Buttonholes were stitched, buttons sewed on, and the floral facings hand-hemmed into place. This pattern is from Ottobre kids design, January 2008 and is full of those pretty little details that always make Ottobre patterns stand out, like the cute fawn applique and piping and facings in pretty floral cottons.

baby dress detail
Dress detail

The Japanese fabric Joanne gave me is perfect for a project like this too, as it's double-sided, so it's nice to get a glimpse of the checked side on the inside of the dress instead of it being hidden behind a lining. I loved the Japanese feel of the original design, so tried to replicate this with the polka dot linen/cotton mix fabric and floral cotton for the details and facings.

I had the tiniest remnant of the fabric left after finishing the dress so I decided to make a pair of baby shoes from Cotton Time magazine (January 2009, no. 82).

matching baby shoes

As I neither speak nor read Japanese, I had to rely on the illustrations of the steps, but as I've always found with Japanese patterns, these were really clear.

Japanese pattern from Cotton Time

The one thing that I couldn't work out just from the pictures was seam allowances - so a quick google of 'Japanese sewing terms translated into English' and I came across this really useful list over at Moving Hands now bookmarked for future use!

All in all, this was a good bit of stash busting - hoarded fabric and buttons - and using of purchased but neglected pattern books! Hoping to carry on the good work in March with some makes for my boy and girl.

There was also a bit of baby knitting this week. Having had to abandon my ravelympic Veyla gloves as the yarn I had chosen was just too fuzzy to show the pretty lace, I cast on instead for a baby hat and bootees (junior category). I was sent some craft books to review by Quadrille, one of which was the beautiful Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight. I immediately fell in love with the garter stitch bonnet and matching bootees and cast on hastily a couple of days ahead of the finish line.

baby set

This make involved acquiring stash (Rowan fine milk cotton yarn) but also allowed me to delve into my haberdashery collection for the pretty vintage embossed buttons. I made it to the finish line just in time to collect my ravelympic medal!

I'm planning to review Natural Nursery Knits in my next post and give away my copy, so do pop back if you're interested in winning.

It's as if I've turned a psychological corner in making these little baby things - suddenly I'm calling the baby 'she' instead of 'it'! It's taken a while - I've known since our scan back in December, but somehow making these things has made it a bit more real.
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