Saturday, 24 January 2015

Super Cozy Slipper Socks

The weather at the moment is so cold here in the UK that even though I've got loads of lovely things on my sewing list, I'm not feeling particularly motivated to sew dresses and blouses or even to emerge from under my snuggie on the sofa. Besides which after all the placket/pocket matching business of the Negroni shirt, I was ready for a little sewing break.
So I did some knitting.
I found this sock pattern on Ravelry here a few years ago and it's super easy, perfect for a first go at sewing socks. Its also really quick, these took me just one evening of knitting, could be even quicker if you do two at a time (not attempted this yet!) I used some wool I had left from last years bulk buy from Ice yarns, a cream 'Flamme' wool which is 50% wool, 50% acrylic, I think it's been discontinued now. This makes it great for socks, harder wearing than wool and able to machine wash easily but still lovely and soft. It's a sort of variegated yarn, some thin bits and some fluffier thick bits which gives a nice look. 
I made a couple of changes to the pattern to fit my size 6 ladies feet. I increased to just 11 stitches to begin with, then knitted until it measured 5.5 inches before the gusset increases.
I also added some homemade puffy paint to the soles, this makes them non-slip and you can do something pretty with it :). You need just 3 ingredients to make this, mix them together until they combine. I used a disposable piping bag to paint little hearts onto the socks... don't use your usual piping bag, unless of course you like the flavour of shaving foam.
Make sure the paint is COMPLETELY dry before wearing the socks. Otherwise it'll stick to your carpet, get mushed into the socks and generally not look so pretty anymore. (Trust me....)
These are perfect for wearing around the house in this cold weather, and look great with ankle boots!

Happy knitting!
Emily Kate.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lace Hem Sweater

Something that seemed to be really 'in' last Autumn/fall, was jumpers with crochet lace trim added to the hem. I saw one I loved in Topshop, but I'd set myself a challenge in 2014 not to buy anything I could make myself, and this definitely fell in that category. Besides which, this was definitely an instance where any budding sewer (sewist?) would be saying to themselves 'I could make that!'

The fabric I used is a navy double jersey, and I found the lace on eBay. I used a sweater that fitted me well as a template for cutting out the pattern, and cut a wide, high neckline.

 I decided to make the sleeves 3/4 length, which does mean its not great for this kind of weather (it's freezing in London right now!)

I hemmed the sweater as normal and then hand-sewed the lace to the hem, with a third or so on top of the hem, and the rest hanging below.

It was a such a simple project, finished in a couple of hours. I used less than a metre of fabric so even with the lace trim the cost came to less than £10. I love being able to make my own version of something in the shops so easily, something I never imagined I'd be able to do.
navy jumper with lace trim

Have you seen something in the shops recently that you are planning to recreate yourself?

Emily Kate.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

My 5 Patterns To Sew in 2015

Today I thought I'd share with you the main projects on my to-sew list for 2015, and also my pattern wish list since I don't own most of these yet..! Most have been on it for quite a while, but the Rigel Bomber Jacket is a new addition after reading about the 'sew together' over on Ginger Makes.

1. Clover Trousers - Colette Patterns

This has been on my list for ages. If I can get the fit right (a pretty big if..), this could be a great pattern for a wardrobe staple.
2. Mimi Blouse - Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes
I think 2015 may be the year of the blouse for me...I make loads of dresses, but I could really do with more blouses and tops to wear with jeans or skirts. This is the only pattern I've not used yet in Tilly's book, and given how much I love the others I'm sure I'll be making several Mimi's.
3. Chardon Skirt - Deer&Doe
I saw this in a lovely plum colour on a blog somewhere and had to find out where the pattern was from. I would just love to fill my wardrobe with one of these in every colour of the rainbow.
4. 1940's Tea Dress - Sew Over It Pattern
I have a piano pupil who lives just around the corner from the Clapham Sew Over It, so I walk past its beautiful window displays every week. I've been drooling over a stunning navy version of this tea dress in the window for weeks so I've just got to make one for myself.
5. Rigel Bomber Jacket - Papercut Patterns
I never knew I wanted a bomber jacket until I saw this on Ginger Makes' blog. I'm not sure how brave I'll be with pattern choice, or if I'm really cool enough to pull this one off... but we'll find out I guess!
What's on your to-sew list for 2015?
Emily Kate.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

First Men's Shirt! - Colette Negroni Pattern Review

Today I'm going to share with you something I'm very proud of. Its my first men's pattern, and my first proper shirt with a yoke and a placket and everything!

I've had several Colette patterns on my 'to make' list for a while, in particular the Negroni shirt. Mr Makes has been asking me to start making him shirts and suits and basically be his own personal tailor ever since I first took up sewing, so I agreed I'd make him a shirt for Christmas. I have made items for other people before, I gave both my mum and sister a pencil skirt last Christmas, but sewing for Mr Makes is a whole different ball game. He can be rather snobbish particular about clothes he wears, shirts in particular.

We agreed on a nice blue/grey tartan check I got from Fabrics Galore, but he insisted he wanted the pockets in line with the pattern rather than at right-angles to it, like most tartan check shirts have.
I left it a bit late to start the project, and after spending literally HOURS lining up and sewing the pockets, had to leave for my Christmas holidays in Somerset. I had intended to finish it there, but after somehow leaving half in London, it came as a blessing in disguise as I had no deadline and a much better machine to finish it on when I got back home.
So only 2 weeks and 5 days late, Mr Makes finally got to wear it. And the verdict?

He rather likes it!

The pockets line up perfectly, as does the yoke. The collar and sleeves also do, although I have to admit that was pretty much a complete fluke!


What did I think of the instructions?
I flat out loved them. Everything about them was clear, well explained, well laid out. I didn't even need any other help via blogs or google for the flat-felled seams or the plackets. It seems Colette patterns really are worth the money, and I can't wait to buy others (for myself this time!)

What did I like/dislike about the pattern?
I'm not sure about the loop exactly, it seems like it should have been at right angles to the buttonholes instead of perpendicular.

Any alterations?
The arms were too short, as he does have rather lanky ones, so I had to redo the cuff and add an inch to it. The idea of redoing the entire sleeves, placket and all made me break out in cold sweats so it had to do.

Would I sew it again?
Most definitely. I'm not sure I have a choice in the matter....
I would probably omit the loop detail and perhaps try a more formal standing collar, like the one demonstrated here. I think it would be much easier in a crisp cotton fabric. This flannel type soft cotton tartan does fray terribly so its difficult to unpick.

He does look like a lumberjack a bit..

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Year of No Shopping...Roundup

At the beginning of 2014 I made a few crafty new year resolutions, so it's about time to look back at them....
Keep making my own clothes, and learning more difficult sewing techniques. - I've kept sewing, even more often as the year went on and tackled more difficult projects.
Wear a handmade dress to each of the 2 weddings I'm attending this year! - done..although I haven't shared either with you on here...I will do ! And it ended up being 3 weddings...
Learn to crochet so I can make a granny blanket- I have learnt to crochet, but the blanket is only half done currently.
Keep blogging regularly - Yes, although I want to keep to one a week.
Open a new Etsy shop for my free motion stitching, and get on with making more cushions with various city skylines on! - Yes, although I haven't spent much time on it really, I need to fill it with more items, which is this years plan!

At the beginning of the year, I also set myself a challenge. Which I'm sure I had blogged about, but I can't find anywhere, so perhaps not. I decided I would try to go the whole year without buying anything from the high street that I couldn't have a good shot at making myself.
And how has it gone?
Well this year I have bought... one pair of jeans and two basic t-shirt tops. And I got another pair of jeans and a jumper as a presents.

So all in all I think I did pretty well in my challenge. I didn't buy any skirts, tops, dresses but made them all myself. I even made myself a hacking jacket and a shirt. This year I've learnt to do invisible zips, flat felled seams, princess seams and dealt with collars, lapels and yokes. The one item I'm most proud about I think is my jacket.

So now the year is over, will I keep sewing all my own clothes or start shopping again?
Well I'm certainly not going to stop sewing anytime soon, but if I saw an item in a shop I really loved I wouldn't stop myself from buying it either.
What this year has done is made me really appreciate each item in my wardrobe. Gone are the days of buying cheap tat in Primark that I sometimes wouldn't even get around to wearing. When you make the effort to find fabric, cut, press and spend hours sewing together a garment, you wear it, even if its not as perfect as you'd like. It also makes me think about the hours put into making ready-to-wear clothing in factories out in places like Bangladesh, compared to how little we pay for it and I'm proud that I'm not as much a part of the problem as I used to be.

Here's to 2015!

Emily Kate

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Puffy Pouffes

Knitted pouffes seem to be the must have home accessorie for this year. Every interior magazine going has one featured in it's pages, and they can cost up to £100 ($150). Even the cheapest I found online was £40 ($60). So this is the perfect reason to DIY your own one. All you need is some acrylic wool, and basic knitting skills. All you really need to know is a long tail cast-on, basic garter stitch and how to cast off and be able to knit reasonably evenly. No increases, decreases or even purling.
The wool you use doesnt need to be expensive, in fact I think it's better using cheaper acrylic wool as it is put under quite a lot of stress pulling the lines of stitches together at the end. The pattern I used is from the brilliant Norwegian website Pickles, but it's more of a rough guide as you may need to adjust your cast on or how much wool you use, if you use a different wool weight.
I used Ice yarns atlas wool which is 100g and 130m long, and bulky weight. The pattern calls for superbulky/chunky yarn so I held 3 strands together and cast on 42 stitches. I made two pouffes for Christmas presents this year and ordered 12 balls of wool in each colour, but I only ended up using 6 so the cost of the wool was about £20, so only £10 per pouffe.
I cast on 42 stitches and then knitted in garter stitch until my rectangle was roughly 40inches long and 20inches wide, leaving a very long tail. Then I put the two short ends next to each other and sewed them together using a darning needle.
Using the long tail I put the needle through every 3rd stitch and pulled to bring the stitches together like a drawstring, then I carried on pulling stitches together until there was no hole in the centre. To stuff my pouffes, I bought a brand new double size duvet for each pouffe. Using a new one worked really well as it was already pre-rolled, so I was able to take off the wrapping and slip the knitted cover on like a sock, keeping the round shape. Then I used a new length of yarn to pull every 3rd stitch together like the other end. I did need to put in quite a bit of effort to keep pulling and bring the stitches together so there was no hole.

I'm really very happy with the final result, they turned out better than I hoped for, given the issues some people seemed to have on ravelry. I can't wait to have room to make a lovely mustard yellow one in my own home. The total cost for each pouffe I mate was just £18 ($27) less than half the amount of the cheapest one I found online.
Emily Kate

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Hamper Treats - Cranberry and Apple Chutney

Something that you find in pretty much every hamper, is a type of jam or chutney. Preserves are great gifts as they last for a long time, and one big batch can make several jars. I particularly like this chutney in a homemade hamper as its something savoury to go with all those sweet things, and its got ingredients that are in season in winter and liked by most. No worrying if you chucked in too much chilli for granny or where you're going to buy figs in December. Giving preserves as gifts is also a great reason to clear out the fridge of all those jam jars with a tablespoon of mouldy jam left in them and use them for something new!

1kg cooking apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
500g eating apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
450g sliced onions
50g fresh root ginger, chopped
1tsp peppercorns
500g sugar
250ml cider vinegar
508g cranberries

Add all the ingredients apart from cranberries to a large saucepan and pit on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely.
Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for around 50mins. Until the apples are tender and no watery juice remains.
Add the cranberries and cook for another 10mins until the cranberries have softened and turned the chutney red, but only a few have burst.
Spoon the chutney into sterilised jam jars and seal. To sterilise the jars, wash them in hot soapy water then put in the oven at 120C/gas mark 1 until completely dry.
Wack a bit of ribbon round the top with a little label, and you're done!

I'm not a big chutney person myself but I always keep a jar back for me to make a few cheese, chutney, ham and salad sandwiches (in that order of course, no one wants chutney making your bread soggy)


Emily Kate