Me Made May 2016 – I’m finally taking part!

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 ‘I, Anna-Jo, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment or accessory each day for the duration of May 2016.  I also pledge to take photos of each outfit and post them on my blog as weekly roundups.’

So, after a couple of years of wishing I had enough everyday me-made clothing to take part in Me Made May, I’m finally giving it a go. I’m hoping that wearing something handmade every day will prove an enjoyable challenge, and am anticipating the following results:

  • Getting a better idea of how to creatively style my existing clothes, both handmade and RTW, using accessories and new combinations. And lots of scarves, probably.
  • Getting up to speed with using the DSLR, tripod, and my new garden (moving house on Wednesday–eek!) to take my own outfit pics.
  • Using the photographs to help make some tough decisions about which clothes are unflattering and ready to be donated/refashioned.
  • Coming up with a summer sewing plan to plug any wardrobe gaps I notice during the month. Practical sewing, not party sewing!

At the moment I’m using the prospect of MMMay to spur me on to finish my long-hibernating brown knitted cardigan, and to get going on a few simple makes I know I could do with. First up are a grey Plantain tee and a brown corduroy Osaka skirt. All fabrics from my stash. Now if only I could spend the next hour sewing, but I suppose I’d better get packing for the move… *Sigh*

*Stares longingly at sewing machine*

*Glares at stack of flatpacked cardboard boxes*

Anyone else out there ready to take up the #MMMay16 challenge?

A quilt for Daisy

Aug 15 078 (Copy)This quilt was about eighteen years in the making, I kid you not. Now it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out it was started way before Daisy was even a twinkle in her daddy’s eye. Originally it was intended to be a sofa throw for my parents, and it was my sister who started it. I think it’s fair to say she knew bugger all about quilting, and back then in the days of 56k dial up modems the internet was not as comprehensive a source of crafting knowledge as it is now.

So there were some odd choices made. A peculiar mix of quilting cottons and dressmaking fabrics, chosen purely for the colour and pattern. And Bek cut them out using pinking shears with a 1.5 cm seam allowances as that was all she’d ever sewn with. She ended up piecing about five rows, pressing seam allowances open and painstakingly making sure every square lined up perfectly. She’s that kind of person. A perfectionist through and through.

It’s fair to say it took her forever to get that far, and then Mum redecorated her living room in vibrant peach (why, Mum? Why?!) and the colours didn’t go any longer. She got me to batik her a few blue and peach sofa throws instead. Continue reading A quilt for Daisy

The knitty gritty

Hey peeps, what’s up? I’ve been busy crafting away, trying not to think too much about the impending move (likely to be over the Easter holidays sometime). Actually, I should be thinking about the move and setting up lots of easy to work on knitting and crochet projects to get me through the time when I won’t have any sewing machine access. I was inspired by the recent couple of posts by Stitch Diva’s Jennifer Hansen (here and here) to get more organised with my crafting. I have yet to work on all my electronic lists of project ideas, but I’m going to search out some simple patterns to work on that fit my lifestyle. Just recently I ran out of easy to work on projects as everything was at that stage where I needed to concentrate and look up techniques for the next step. It’s made me realise the value of simple knit and crochet projects, and that I should always have a pair of socks on the go!

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Yep, Gabriel likes his cardie. And Daisy’s Frozen wand, apparently.

However, this dearth of patterns to work on actually made me go back through the WIP basket and pull out a few things to finish off. I finally completed Gabriel’s cardie (it fits him, phew!) and have finished knitting the last sleeve for my own boring brown cardie. I’m worried it won’t suit me when I sew it all together, but I’ve got to at least try. At best, I’ll get a valuable new outfit-building garment for my wardrobe in a lovely soft woollen yarn. At worst I’ll frog it and start again. The yarn is wasted leaving it in an unfinished state, so I have to at least give it a go. Continue reading The knitty gritty

Dad’s nightshirt – Kwik Sew 2650

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Headless shot of a very ill Andy doing some last-minute modelling for me.

This is a nightshirt I made for my dad for his birthday in January, following repeated requests for another one. Apparently long nightshirts for men are impossible to buy, and my dad likes them really long. He’s six foot, so I had to add another six inches to the length to get it where he wanted it.  I made the first version of it in a gorgeous tartan doublecloth about seven years ago when I was just getting started with garment sewing, and I remember it being fairly straightforward, so a likely candidate for a gift with my limited sewing time.

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And here’s the back. Not going to get cold legs in this. Especially not over trousers…

Continue reading Dad’s nightshirt – Kwik Sew 2650

Pencil skirts galore!

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Skirt #2, complete with boots that really don’t go with the rest of the outfit. Ah well. Them’s the breaks when you don’t have a full length mirror by the front door.

This post is a tale of two skirts, in my quest to get a perfectly fitted and comfortable knit pencil skirt. A pencil skirt might not seem all that practical when looking after a toddler, but I much prefer a straight or pegged style to a full skirt. And provided it’s short and stretchy enough, with thick tights or leggings underneath it can be a really versatile item of clothing perfectly suited to getting down on the floor and playing.

The first version I made was using some plain black ponte from Minerva. I used the free pattern at So Sew Easy as I liked the look of the four panels and topstitched seam lines, although I knew these wouldn’t be so obvious in just black.

It was a qualified success. I loved how easy it was to sew and think I did a really good job on the topstitching and twin needle hemming, but it really didn’t fit well as you can see by all the pull lines in the photos (taken back in the summer). I think this was down to me getting really confused about what size to cut. I measured the pattern pieces but the one suggested by my measurements looked like it would be huge, so I cut down a couple of sizes to one with a small amount of negative ease. What I didn’t realise until after sewing it was that ponte should be treated more like a stretch woven, with a minimum of no ease rather than negative ease. Continue reading Pencil skirts galore!

20 minute sewing sprints

 

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Yay for self-striping sock yarn!
 
So, I’ve actually managed to stick to my idea of sewing or crafting for at least 20 minutes day so far. And in that time I’ve knitted one and a bit socks! That’s pretty good going considering it took me years to finish the last pair. I’ve also sewn a knit pencil skirt for myself (without a pattern and fitted directly to my body). It’s without a doubt the cosiest, comfiest skirts I’ve ever owned! It’s been perfect for this cold snap and I haven’t wanted to wear anything else… Except leggings and a top and underwear of course 😛 I will take some pictures and blog it properly soon. 

After the success of the skirt I hit a snag. I’d run out of things ready to sew, and 20 minutes is not an ideal length of time for cutting out garments. I started making a simple darted, zippered pouch instead, following the recent tutorial on Ikat bag.

However, this weekend I had a couple of hours spare while Gabriel was napping, so I cut out my next sewing project: a nightshirt for my dad for his upcoming birthday. It’s a simple pattern I made for him many years ago, but he’s been requesting another for ages so I thought it was about time I obliged!

I think my strategy for the future is going to have to be to do all cutting out at weekend nap times whenever I get the chance. I know I am going to have a challenge finding sewing time over the next few months as we are planning on moving house, but I’m sure if I prioritise then I can still do it. After all, just 20 minutes a day for something I love doing is not that much. I deserve at least that much me time!

Who else out there is making sure they take the time to sew every day?

Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016

It’s the time of year for a round up, because there’s something about the post-Christmas period that makes me determined to do better. Eat less chocolate! Exercise more! Enjoy life to the full! And set myself loads of stupid goals I’ll never manage to keep…

Okay, so I don’t manage to sew or blog as often as I’d like to (and I have several unblogged projects waiting), but it’s hardly surprising with a baby around the place. Add in moving house last year and no longer having a dedicated sewing room (and currently house-hunting to buy somewhere, so probably moving again in a few months) and I’m amazed I’ve managed to get anything done. Go me!

Here are my goals from last year, and how I think I did with them:

  • Make a selection of dresses and tops in knit fabrics, all with concealed nursing access.

IMG_0723 (Copy)Does two tops and a dress count as a selection? I think so! And better yet, I’ve been wearing them regularly. Except one of the tops (unblogged), but more about that another day…

  • Make at least a couple of bras and pairs of knickers to match.

Err, I think I was too ambitious with my first bra project. Learning the technique while trying to deal with all the layers of a nursing bra, while merrily adapting a regular bra pattern? Nope, wasn’t working. I’m saving bra-making for when I’ve stopped nursing, which should be at some point over the next few months.

  • Begin to build a foundation wardrobe of versatile, TNT patterns. I shall be following the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge to give me some motivation. I want this to include patterns for a t-shirt, a dress, a skirt, trousers, a shrug and perhaps a jacket if there’s time.

Continue reading Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016