Floral Dress

1 Sep

If you read my last blog post you’ll know the trials of getting to this point and I’d almost finished this dress at that point. I was getting quite excited as it was fitting really well and definitely my best make to date.

I’m feeling far more confident about under stitching, zips and dart, which has come with practice. Zips no longer fill me with dread (button holes are another matter entirely).

I chose the bodice of a vintage style dress pattern called Bette that came from Sew magazine back in September 2009, it was a simple shape with just one bust dart from the waist and strap in a more flattering position for me. I teamed it with an ever trusty emery skirt (with pockets).

My first bodice toile dictated I needed a few alteration but not much, it just came out a little bit big around the arm hole and a touch tight on the waist, so I went down half a size on the shoulder/bust sizing and graded out with curved seams to 2.5 sizes larger at the waist. I took my usual 2.5cm out of the length and I also lengthened the bust dart and back dart by an extra 1cm. This did the trick.

When I’d finished the dress (the Wednesday before the lovely Jem & Andew’s wedding on Saturday) I was very happy – I’d tried it on, the fit was great, it didn’t feel too snug or look baggy and it felt comfortable. I was feeling rather pleased with myself.

floral dress - nettynot blog

Within half an hour of wearing my dress it had rubbed my arms raw! They’d quickly got uncomfortably sore, having resigned myself to the fact that there was NOTHING I could do about it I just decided to get on with things and ignore it and although my arms remained sore, it really didn’t really bother me too much, and the initial rubbing occurred while we (the unofficial bridesmaids) were plating up cakes and carrying trays of tea cups so possibly the most active part of the afternoon (before the dancing starting later on) so maybe it just wasn’t bothering me so much or mind over matter came into full force. That said I was very please to get home, take off my dress and smother my raw patches in Sudocrem (they were much better by the morning).

Having spent a lot of money (for me) on this fabric and genuinely loving the dress, I do not want it to become yet another handmade dress that is worn once and sits in the wardrobe forever more. So I have decided to try and fix the issues. I actually have enough fabric left to cut another bodice if I need to, however I thought I would just simply try and fix this dress.

I am going to attempt to make the problematic front arm holes and straps a little slimmer and hope this works. I don’t really have anything to lose by trying to fix the existing dress, I don’t know if this will work, I fear I will just make the arm holes gape too much, but we’ll see. Wish me luck.

Alpacas at Jem Weston's wedding - nettynot blog

This photo was taken many time, not one of them had us all looking at teh camera, but I liked this one. The wonderful Eleanor of Knit Nottingham, the lovely Jem Weston, me & some Alpacas (guest of honor at Jem’s wedding)!

As a side note, I would highly recommend reading Jem’s post about her Wedding top, yes she made it! It’s stunning, isn’t it? A lot of time, effort, patience, beads and a few tears went into it! My trials and tribulations with a simple dress pale into insignificance in comparison, but well worth the work!

The lovely floral fabric was from Guthrie & Ghani, a cotton lawn called Mulberry Magnificence.

Thanks for reading.
Steph

 

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Dresses for weddings…

8 Aug

I decided back in March, as I had 3 wedding to attend this year, I could make a dress & knit a cardigan and wear the outfit to all 3 weddings, simple! I selected the fabric and bought it on a fabric trip to Birmingham &  Guthrie and Ghani with the lovely Jem Weston who was shopping for her actual wedding top fabric (Jem’s wedding being wedding no.2 for me this year)  – you can read Jem’s post about the fabric trip here.  Jem’s friend Rosie also bought lovely fabric to make a dress for Jem’s wedding (looking forward to seeing the finished dress). Obviously I then headed to Knit Nottingham to select a lovely summery yarn to go with the gorgeous fabric.

Fabric and yarn - nettynot blog.jpg

I had already decided which dress I wanted to make, having made a Lilou dress (from Love and first Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons) for a previous wedding a couple of years ago I knew I wanted to make a sleeveless dress but I also didn’t want to cover up the lovely flower print with pleats so decided to make the skirt gathered and also add pockets so I used the bottom half of the Emery dress by Christine Haynes, which I’d also made and wore to a wedding 2 years ago.


I knew I needed to do a bit more work on the fit of the lilou bodice as my first dress wasn’t perfect, doesn’t look too bad here, but I re-tried it on and it’s not great. Too roomy over the bust and sat awkwardly over the shoulders so I made a few small tweaks to the pattern and cut a smaller size. I had help from Jem and Rosie (different Rosie) at our knit group’s spin off  sewing gathering, getting the darts fitting my shape better. I made these adjustments, whether they were the right things to do or not I’m not sure….
– Graded from size 3 at shoulders to size 4 at the waist and curved the side seems.
– Took 2.5cm out of the bodice length (I have a short torso, I did this to the first dress too).
– curved the darts inwards on the back.
– extended the back darts by 2cm.
– cut down the arm holes by 0.5cm.
– Trimmed 1cm off the back pieces graded from sides to center back.

I was feeling apprehensive about the over all fit, so decided to buy some cheep polycotton from the market and did a full (wearable) toile. I’m glad I did, it didn’t turn out too badly, it fitted and looked ok. The fabric felt cheap and a bit crinkly, however it did resolve an issue, which was that it wasn’t so much that it didn’t fit me ,more that I just didn’t like the fit, if that that makes sense; I realised I wasn’t a fan of the strap positioning, they come in too much on the shoulders highlighting that fleshy underarm bit and exposing my bra straps at the sides (I don’t think it helped that I think the finished dress is actually a touch too small). Please bare in mind that these photos were taken at the end of a long day (at wedding no 1 –  my Boyfriend’s bothers wedding), complete with frizzy rained on hair, (I was literally about to crash into bed and then thought…quick get a photo of the dress – as you do – and stuck my feet back into my shoes – these were the best ones :/ …. second photo was just to show off the pockets & the lilac lining)!

Having deciding that the Lilou dress wasn’t for me or my lovely posh fabric, I didn’t have the time to make a toile of an entirely new bodice, before wedding 1 hence wearing the polycotton toile, which wasn’t so bad.  Also doing this meant I didn’t have to rush to finish knitting my cardigan as it didn’t go with the fabric I’d used. Instead I had a look though my existing hand knits and found a navy lace cotton wrap cardigan I’d knitted to wear at yet another friends wedding about 5 years ago (YES there’s a definitely theme here). I haven’t worn the cardigan much since as it slips off my shoulders A LOT, so decided to address this and I unpicked the edging, resewing it back on, making a shorter edge. I also added some ribbon in  between the shoulder seams inside, to help stop it slouching off any more. This worked well and with the wedding being pre-heat wave at the start of June I wore it all day (this will be a test to see if my boyfriend reads my blog, he’s not a fan of having his photo taken, I happen to think this is a lovely photo – despite my mad/unruly hair).

At the Wedding - Nettynot Blog

I also made a necklace to match. Based on a workshop I designed for work; Mandala Pendant.

Necklace to macth dress - nettynot blog

I felt the lilou dress making was a useful exercise. I often find dressmaking incredibly frustrating (unlike knitting which I find incredibly relaxing). This is because I had delusions about making my own dresses, that it would mean they would fit beautifully, and that is sort of true, but not without a huge amount of work and I don’t have enough of an understanding or experience yet to know how to adapt patterns to fit me well.  I’m an odd, short pear shape (which is fine). I often increase from shoulders to waist by 1 size and then waist to hip another size, I have a short torso and a bust size smaller than most patterns cater for – that’s a lot of adapting.  I’m not confident enough to do a small bust adjustment yet and so have managed to adjust darts and side seams enough to take out the volume needed.  I realise this will come with practice and experience (and a lot of patience) but I do find it exasperating sometimes – if anyone has words of wisdom on this subject or similar experiences I’d love to hear them!

My new dress for Jem’s wedding is almost complete now and fitting quite well (whooh, *happy dance/prance*), so I will write a post about that soon too.

Thanks for reading.
Steph

 

Sew Organised

25 Jul

I’d been thinking for a while that I needed a better way to store my sewing scissors and related paraphernalia (isn’t that such a lovely word). I’m constantly moving everything on and off my table and it all ends up piled up in a bit if a jumble.

Wire Basket - Nettynot Blog.jpg

So when I was recently having a tidy in my garage and rediscover this wire shelf and hooks I use to store and hang my jewellery from, I had a wave of inspiration. The hooks are a perfect size for scissor handles, however the reason I stopped using it was the awkward gaps in the wire shelf, I used to loose things through them and get bracelets stuck between the wire. So I thought I would just make a little fabric cover to sit in the shelf to stop items dropping though. This idea brewed for about a week until I had a bit of time to sit down and actually make it. In that time the idea had brewed into a small piece of patchwork.

Cut fabric - mini patchwork - nettynot blog

I kept it simple with straight forward squares (I cut 2” x 2”), to make a 9 by 6 square mat. I made it a little longer than I needed so I could tuck under the edge which would be visible from the front.

Sewn fabric - mini patchwork - nettynot blog

I often wonder whether I’m a bit crazy for keeping so many small faffy bits of scrap fabric, however they came into their own for this little project!

Fabric scraps - Nettynot Blog

I think as long as I limit it to just this one box I can justify it (the lid does fit on, honest)!

Hooks in Sewing Room - Nettynot Blog

I think the finished shelf and hooks look great, I like it below my colour collage, and will be so handy right above my sewing table.

Finished hooks - Nettynot Blog Post
Sewing Table - Nettynot Blog

It’s not the most attractive sewing table, however it is perfect for what I need, my sewing space doubles as the spare room, so I need something that is a sensible size, can fold down small, is pretty solid, I don’t mind about scratching and I found it in a local charity shop for £20!!! One of my best finds, I had a little sand underneath to see if I could remove the dark varnish and it looks pretty good under that horrid finish, so maybe that’s a project for the future!

Side note…

I did also sort out storing my ever expanding jewellery collection sometime ago with another flash of inspiration! I simply hammered large nails into a piece of wood I’d painted, then glued buttons to the heads of the nails (to make it look less industrial), it’s not perfect but very functional and I love it. Having this much jewellery is unavoidable when you work at a Bead shop and design jewellery as part of your job (that’s my excuse & I’m sticking to it!)


Thanks for reading!
Steph

Two little Magpies – Screen Printing

4 Jul

Back in May my Boyfriend & I went on a screen printing workshop at Two little Magpies in Beeston. I’ve been following them on Facebook & was delighted to see they run workshops on Wednesday evenings as well as Saturday’s. I often miss workshops I want to attend as they mostly run on a Saturday when I’m usually working, also teaching Workshops. With Wednesday’s being my day off I don’t even need to rush around getting there.

We started off by creating simple stencils from free style cut and torn paper, I kept it straight forward & created several leaves from folded paper in different sizes & then decided to arrange them around a central stalk. I love the combination of red & grey together (the colour theme of my bathroom) so for my first print used grey paint on red paper. I loved the result and my first print of the evening ended up being my favorite of the whole workshop.

Red & Grey print - nettynot blog

First Print up and framed in my bathroom.

I actually printed a couple of this design in different colourways, unfortunately I did not get my stencil quite central so I had to trim down the edges, not the end of the world, but I do quite like the rough edges on screen prints, adds a bit of charm and maintains the hand made quality. I have added some blue leaves to my bedroom picture shelf too.

Bedroom shelf - nettynot blog

Having done some screen printing before I knew what I could potentially created and I had planned to go with a pre-prepared stencil, but as these things go I wasn’t organised enough & I ran out of time beforehand. So when it came to creating a second stencil from the various prepared ones provided, I had a bit of a mental block. So just dived in and had go, as a result I didn’t really like my second run of prints, (birds in a sky full of airplane trails). I also took inspiration from another participant & printed some simple large cheese plant leave. They came out alright, but just not destined for a wall any time soon.

All was not lost with these prints as I have since turned several parts of the prints I made into birthday cards for friends, I think picking and choosing the best bits has worked well.

I really enjoyed the few hours just experimenting and producing art work in a simple and fun way, especially given that it’s not the easiest thing to set up and do at home. My boyfriend who hasn’t really done craft workshops before, enjoyed it too, though he was gutted to accidentally get some pink paint on his favorite print of the evening. However I have since managed to rescue it, I wish I’d taken a before picture so you could see what I’ve done, basically there where two smallish, but obvious splodges near the middle and top, so given their positioning I decided to add some bubbles coming from the fish, in my vast array of random paper and crafty bits & bobs I had the right colours of card to make them look at part and I think it turned out quite well. You’d never know it wasn’t supposed to be like this (except for the fact I’ve told you all here).

Rich fishes - nettynot blog

Two Little Magpies is a great little shop providing a variety of workshops, selling gifts and handmade goods, I’m sure I’ll be back from more workshops. I took the opportunity to have a good browse too, I don’t always have the funds or space to splash out on large handmade pieces. However I often buy a card or two, as it’s a great way to support local independents and they have a great range of cards. I absolutely loved all the designs by Karoline Rerrie, who’s a screen printer, her vibrant Scandi style images just jumped out at me. I spent a while choosing, as I wanted them all, but settled on these 3, I’m now on the look out for a frame (or 3) to put them in as I’m going to keep them all!

Karoline Rerrie cards - nettynot blog

Thanks for reading!
Steph

Morning Echo Cardigan

29 May

I finished knitting this cardigan some time ago (last November to be precise… just in time to wear to the first Nottingham yarn expo (which was rather lovely – I got to go with many of the Knit in Notts, knit group members, which for several of them, their first knitting show).

morning echo cardigan - photos - nettynot

I was missing a navy cardigan from my wardrobe after loosing one a while ago (I accidentally left it on the tram). I wanted something fairly simple but with a little interest so I could wear it with lots of different things and not get bored knitting it. After an advanced Rav search (v-neck, raglan sleeves, dk, 1 colour) I chose Morning Echo by sweet paprika designs. It’s lovely lace edge detail and v neck shaping was perfect for my criteria. Knitted from the bottom up in the round, it was a nice quick start to the pattern. However when I got to the sleeves I decided to veer off the pattern path.

morning echo cardigan - blocking - nettynot

I much prefer to knit most things in the round and in one piece, it makes it easier to try on as you knit and less sewing up, however the sleeves for morning echo are knitted flat and then sewn in. I decided to do a provisional cast on for each sleeve before starting the raglan shaping in the body so that I could knit the whole top of the cardigan in one piece. I worked out how many dec there would have been on the edges of each piece and spread incorporated that in my re-design of the top. I ended up adding a few more rows into sleeve tops, I think we’re supposed to me more stretched, but I don’t think my alterations were have turned out too badly and the cardigan fits well, I’m really not much of a fan of sewing up awkward seams.

morning echo cardigan flat - nettynot

Other adjustments I made were knitting the hips a size larger and then adding more decreases so that I ended up with the right number of stitches for the second size at the waist, this worked well and the cardigan flares out over my wider hips and I now have a cardigan that fits my shoulder, bust & hips all at the same time which it rather wonderful!

Shoulder morning echo - Nettynot

I really liked the way the edging was incorporated up the sides and around the next band, however I really don’t like vague instructions in patterns, to finish the neck band the pattern states to knit until “…reaches centre back of neck when stretched…” stretched a bit? Stretched a lot…I don’t know? I realise why it’s been written this way, it will be different for each size and possibly vary with neck sizes/shapes, but a little guidance at least would have been appreciated. I knitted, grafted, sewed into place then unpicked, ripped back a bit, re-graphed, re-sewed 3 times in total, it hibernated for a week or so too as I’d found it so frustrating. I knitted a size 2 at the top and made each side of the neck band 17.5cm before graphing together, in the end.

Despite my frustrations, I did finish it and had a lot of wear out of it and I’m sure I’ll get s lot more wear too.

morning echo cardigan - button band - nettynot

Yarn was Patons diploma gold dk originally bought from my lys Knit Nottingham, though it has since been discontinued by the the shop.

Nettynot in Morning Echo cardigan

I really need to work on my posing, I usually look too serious, but mostly too awkward (I’m always envious of instaesque photos people post of casually not looking at the camera, yet looking cool & perfectly showing off their handmade garment – I look so unnatural in my poses)!

More cardigan details on Ravelry (nettynot).

Thanks for reading

Steph

Mosaics : a new challenge

10 Feb

I’ve always liked mosaics, the more inventive and colourful the better. I dream of having loads of colourful mosaics in my garden and took a lot of inspiration from my trip to Barcelona back in October.

My trip also made me just get on a book a workshop I had been pondering doing for some time, so the same day I got back from my holiday I booked a workshop with Lily Mosaics & attended a day later!

It was a lovely relaxed day, I loved picking out colours and seeing all the different mosaic bits n bobs on offer to work with. I went with the intention of making a small plaque of an owl/bird, that I might have hung in my bathroom, but then on a whim started creating a bold geometric design on a small tray.

It is quite a time consuming activity, (well it is when you do something far from simple as a beginner), I found it very relaxing cutting and playing around with different pieces. I got most of my larger motifs done in the workshop and then took a few spare bits to continue at home. I had already acquired several mosaic tiles myself and I ended up incorporating several of these into my patterns at home, as my design evolved.

I had originally planned to do a grey background, however a went for a lighter white, as I thought it’d make the colourful tiles standout more and match the already white tray.

I rather like my finish tray and found the grouting less arduous than I expected, though some of the really tiny pieces I used were a pain in the bum (lesson learnt).


mosaic tray - nettynot blog

mosaic tray close up - nettynot blog

I have since covered a simple picture frame, I’m not a huge fan of the finished result, I didn’t think enough about the edge where the tiles meet, but it looks alright in situ and still an improvement on the boring pine (fortunately I’m not too much of a perfectionist)!

I also made a set of Rennie Macintosh inspired coasters for part of my parents Christmas present. I really enjoyed making them. It was one of those rare occasions where the idea in my head worked out exactly as I imagined!

macintosh ungrouted - nettynot blog
macintosh grouted coasters - nettynot blog
The only thing I’ve not figured out, is what’s the best way to seal them, I didn’t want to make the lovely matte tiles shiny, but equally don’t want them to end up tea stained. I gifted them as they are, but keep meaning to do further research, does anyone what any suggestions?

 

I’m eager to do more now & started collecting ideas on a mosaic & garden board on Pinterest. Just need some warmer drier weather now.

Thanks for reading!

Procraftination

12 Dec

I like all my crafty pursuits to have a purpose, I like to have some thing tangible to show for the time spent creating something, which is one of many reasons why I love knitting. I can appreciate why others colour-in or scrapbook for relaxation, but I’ve always felt it’s not my cup of tea.

That said, many years ago when I went on the Amy Butler colour workshop at the festival of quilts (bought as a 30th birthday gift by my wonderful friends). I found it fascinating to see how her themes develop and they mostly start off with a trip, photos and then collages, from which she picks out colours, which then inform the pallet for her new range. I found her talk inspiring and actually really enjoyed making the collage we created on the day (something that has no real practical use). I have actually framed it and hung it in my spare room (which doubles as my sewing room).

When I was feeling a little uninspired recently, I’ve had a tea leaf of an idea brewing away in brain for a little while and sometimes when I have a vision for something I’m quite apprehensive to get it started in case in turns out terribly. However I found collating a few things, ripped out of old magazines and creating a collage helped with the idea brew further and I’m feeling more confident to see it through.

My collage just focused entirely on colour, I found it very therapeutic and I now have a great colour palette of my own to inform my projects.

This was very therapeutic to do, helped with my creative though processes, and I cleared out a loaf of old magazines too (a whole shelf’s worth)!

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