A massive Breckon cardigan!

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I have finished my Breckon! I am very pleased with it indeed! I love the colour, I love the wool and I think the lace has come out very well.

I wasn’t quite sure about the buttons when I was first sewing them on. I thought that they looked a bit small given the size of the button band. However now it’s all finished and blocked I think they look great! I really like wooden buttons and think they go particularly well with the felted tweed wool.
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On the whole the pattern was pretty simple to follow. The lace repeat was easy to remember so I was able to stop looking at the pattern fairly quickly. The instructions for the button hole and button band were a bit of a pain though. Rather than specifying exactly where the button holes should be placed the instructions were really vague and meant I had to spend an annoying amount of time counting rows and measuring stuff and moving things about (I went for roughly every 17 rows). I think the spacing worked out alright but it was not the most fun evening I have ever had! I ignored the fancy button band bind-off as I am lazy. Instead I opted for a normal loose bind off which seems to be okay.

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The cardigan doesn’t really go with what I’m wearing in this picture but I was super keen to blog about it but too lazy to get changed for a picture (especially a slightly questionable one taken in the mirror! ).

As with almost everything I make it has turned out rather huge. I suspected that it might when I was making it. I think that the reason why I’ve never started bothering to try and prevented my knitted items being on the big side is that I don’t mind my clothes baggy. I’d much rather something was too big than too small! The sleeves are the only really big problem as they are massively long! I’m going to have to turn over the cuff which makes me feel a bit like a child in a school jumper they need to ‘grow into’. I’m hoping that no-one will notice though! 

 

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Dusting off my sewing machine

My awesome 70s Singer sewing book. I would have used a nice portrait photo but WordPress didn’t like it for some reason

After a rather long hiatus I have once again started work on the Colette Peony dress I have been making for what seems like one hundred years. I am rather monogamous with my knitting and my sewing so once I’ve started I tend to carry on until the end rather than having lots and lots of things on the go. So, my main motivation in starting this up again was to get it finished, so that I can start something else. Something much easier which will task my brain in no way! My other motivation was the sight of my lovely sewing machine starting to look a little dusty and unloved and the table it sits on fast getting so cluttered with other random items that it might disappear!

So, I dusted off the machine, cleaned up the table, ironed the pattern pieces (which were looking rather creased after some weeks in the sewing box) and made a start. I’d come to a stop because I was having problems with setting in the sleeves. I just couldn’t get them to look right. I’d sewn the gathering stitches and tacked up 2 or 3 times and it still looked rubbish.

This time around I decided to take the same approach to sewing as I usually do with knitting; just have a go in a slightly slap-dash manner and hope for the best (substituting the mantra ‘it’ll block out’ with ‘it’ll press out’). I think I’ve been too precious with my sewing in the past; really wanting it to be perfect and so giving up every time I hit something hard because I don’t want to mess it up. This time I am just going to get on with it and have faith that it will turn out okay.

I hand sewed the gathers to make sure that they were good and close to the edge and then tacked the sleeves. I took advice from my awesome 70s Singer sewing book and ironed the sleeves after tacking and before machine stitching. This seemed to help and I took the plunge and machine stitched. They are not the best looking sleeves that the world has ever seen, and I still prefer setting in knitted sleeves because you can easily bodge it and make it work by pulling it a bit, but they look okay and I am rather proud!

Buoyed by my success I made a start on the skirt. That was much easier and involved no worrying at all. I’ve gone for nice purple pockets to contrast with the light purple of the dress and I’m planning on a purple zip to match (well as much as it is possible to match things when ordering on the internet). I had to go for the pocket option as I love pockets and it’s one of the things I look for in a skirt or dress.

The wrong side of the skirt and purple pockets

The next step is going to be the fear inducing task of attaching the bodice to the skirt, I have never done that before. However I am going to take the precaution of tacking it up first and then sew it right up! Wish me luck!

 

Emelie is a very pretty cardigan……just not for me

My Emelie by Elin Berglund is finished. It’s very pretty. I like the colour and the wool is soft. However, I’m not sure if I’m going to wear it:

  • It’s a little tighter than I normally like my cardigans and I don’t think it’s entirely flattering  when it’s buttoned up. There certainly no room for eating lots of cake.. (this isn’t helped by the fact that I accidentally put in an extra decrease at the waist making it even smaller…)
  • I’ve tried in on with various items of clothing and it just doesn’t go with anything.
  • It’s an odd length; neither cropped or long just kind of ‘meh’.
  • The neckline is a bit too high.

Looking again at the finished projects on Ravelry, most of the above was already pretty clear from the pictures, I’m not entirely sure now why I didn’t make it a) cropped or b) bigger. It’s not that I don’t like it in general-it would look awesome on  someone else -I just don’t like it for me.

It took me a little bit longer to finish off than normal as I had to make a few little modifications. I couldn’t make the suggested button-hole technique look nice how every many time I tried it so I ended up undoing that and going for a classic ‘yarn over knit two together’ approach. I think that looks fine though.

I also had to fiddle about a bit with the sleeves to make it look neat. Both sleeves were looking very messy from picking up the stitches. I’ve done sleeves like that a few times before and its worked fine but this time it looked awful! There were huge gaps. I’m not sure if it’s the cash-cotton which is unforgiving (I do love the way that tweedy and fluffy wools hide your mistakes) or if it was the proportion of stitches picked up in relation to the size of the arm hole. I had a lot of trouble getting the right number as the ‘two stitches for every three’ suggested didn’t come up with the right number. Once I’d finished the cardigan and blocking hadn’t worked any miracles I tried to fix it from the back but that didn’t want to work so I ended up sewing it up from the front. Of course that kind of negated picking up the stitches in the first place. At least it looks neat now!

I’m going to put this cardigan away for a little while and see if it grows on me. If not I think I’ll see any of my friends want it. It makes me a bit sad to make things which never get worn so I’d much rather it went to a good home than gathered dust in my wardrobe.

Dress from Prima pattern

My dress (and a bunny in the background)

About a year and a half ago I started making this dress. My mum had given me a free pattern from Prima and I had some pretty fabric lying around so I thought I’d give it a go.

I started off quite enthusiastically but before I could even cut out the pattern pieces I noticed a problem. The full pattern wasn’t included and the body of the dress needed additional length. After quite a bit of faffing around trying to get the line right I gave in and called in the help of a more experienced sewer who showed me how to use newspaper to complete the pattern. I cut out the pattern pieces and did the tucks quite quickly but then I came to the darts….for some reason I was really scared of darts and despite getting instructions and reassurance from various people I just couldn’t bring myself to get started. I should point out that at this point my sewing machine hadn’t been fixed and was temperamental to say the least. It took forever to get the tension right and even then it was pretty hit and miss with actually working. The bobbin winder also wasn’t very happy….. To get the sewing machine to actually stitch was such a pain in the arse that I had to really really want to sew other wise it just wasn’t worth the hassle!

The dress sat about in my sewing box for months and months. Occasionally I’d spot it and feel a bit guilty about not doing anything about it but then I hid it under some clutter and forget about it again. Finally, when I had my sewing machine fixed and got my sewing mojo back, I got around to digging out the pieces, giving them a good iron, and getting started again.

Embarrassingly, after all the fuss I made the darts, they were really simple and only took me one try! I did have to consult my massive 70s sewing book but it was all pretty self explanatory. After I’d got those sorted out the rest of the dress came together quickly. It was just like making a very long top.

the black tights I'm wearing here really don't go......

Now that I’ve finished the dress I’m really not sure about it. I like the pattern of the fabric and the colour but there’s something about the fit and the way it hangs that I’m not quite sure about. I’m not sure that cotton was the best fabric to use. I think it would have been better in something with more movement.  When you wear it without a belt it looks a little bit sack like. However when you put a belt with it the cotton drapes in a weird way and looks a bit unflattering.

it looks very odd with a belt

The other thing I’m not sure about are the sleeves. These were my first effort at gathering a sleeve and I don’t think I’ve gathered them quite enough. They are still a bit big and make me think of kimonos.  On the plus side they are both the same size which is what most worried me when I was making them.

I’m not quite ready to wear this out in public yet so it’s going to go into the wardrobe and hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll be a bit more keen on it.