Summer sews

I’d been hankering after the goodies on the Clothkits site for some time when their sale came around in June. The kits are pretty pricy, so I used the sale as an opportunity to justify the purchase of a Birdie bag and purse kit, and a Rob Ryan ‘Hold me‘ skirt. For those unfamiliar with clothkits, essentially they contain everything you need for one sewing project. There are no paper patterns to deal with, as these are printed direct onto the fabric. Clothkits was originally launched in the late 1960’s before being taken over in 1988. It was relaunched back in 2008, and immediately caught my attention, given that I was a clothkits child of the 80’s 🙂 I still have photos of me sporting some of the original designs, and fondly recall ‘Little Ted’s’ matching outfits (kits incorporated doll-sized garments into the spare fabric).

The kits are aimed at beginners, so I was slightly disappointed (okay, more than slightly) to find that the Birdie kit was completely lacking any instructions to create the purse (so I followed instructions from elsewhere), and that the bag instructions contained obvious omissions in measurement details. I’ll make sure to provide Clothkits with some feedback along these lines.

Here’s a snap of the finished articles. They are a lovely red needlecord (one of my absolute favourite fabrics), lined with a heavy striped fabric. They look great, but I actually found the fabric a bit of a nightmare to work with. Will definitely never be attempting another purse in cord- far too bulky for such a small fiddly article. Here’s hoping the skirt project runs more smoothly!



This project has only taken me… erm… approximately half a year! I think they were supposed to be a quick Christmas knitting project 🙂 Hmm. I was plagued with problems (chiefly, me not concentrating on the pattern), resulting in a traumatic ripping back of sock number 2, and a few months hiatus. When I finally returned to the project a few weeks back I failed to remember (probably should write these things down…) that I’d made some quite significant amendments to the original pattern…resulting in the finished pair being pretty mismatched. The difference is probably fairly obvious to even the untrained eye, but I’m still happy to have my own pair of Hedera socks made from gorgeous ‘(mmmm)malabrigo’- Library girl Knits assures me that’s how it’s pronounced 🙂

Retro sewing

Hot on the tail of the Jacobs Ladder project was the following pin cushion- yet another pattern from the BBC ‘Discovering patchwork’ book. I was making this one for another keen crafter’s birthday, and it seems to have been a hit 🙂

This project was rather more interesting than the cushion in my previous post, in that it involved hand sewing, and the use of paper patterns. On a small project like this I’m quite happy hand sewing, and the paper patterns method isn’t half as fiddly as it might look. I’d definitely encourage others to have a go at this method, as it’s very satisfying.

Way back now, whilst browsing in Huddersfield’s Oxfam bookstore I came across the perfect introductory book to the art of patchwork. ‘Discovering Patchwork’ is a BBC book, originally published in the 1970’s, to accompany a series of the same name. I’m not going to lie, it’s dated! It’s packed full of retro projects which take me right back to my childhood. However, it gives a fantastic overview of patchwork techniques from the use of templates, hand sewing using paper patterns, and machined patchwork, as well as providing images of many of the traditional American block patterns for inspiration.

For my first project I used the traditional method of hand sewing with paper to embellish a tote bag with a six-pointed star (sadly no photos as it was a gift). For the following cushion cover however, I opted for machine sewing the pieces together- probably wiser for a larger project! The reason that it’s been some time in the making was that I accidentally inserted one of the blocks the wrong way around, meaning it didn’t match the intended Jacob’s Ladder pattern. Thankfully, Mum came to the rescue, and offered to unpick and resew it! This week, I’ve finally gotten around to backing the cushion. I’ve never made a cushion cover before, so pretty much made this up as I went along. I’ve created a kind of envelope design, so that it can be easily removed for washing- a must in my less than spotless abode!

Following the completion of the Anna Tunic I was feeling inspired to crack on with more items for the Summer wardrobe! This is the dress I promised myself I would make using the seersucker fabric I bought in Harrogate. It’s a version of the Simplicity 2591. I’m also keen on the cap sleeve variation, but thought that a tad ambitious, particularly as I wasn’t confident I’d gone for the correct sizing. I quite possibly spent hours debating what size to make. To further complicate things, I’m not a standard dress size, so it wasn’t a case of debating one size, but 2- one for the bodice and one for the skirt. Simplicity seem to build in a *ridiculous* amount of ease into their finished garments- which I had guessed before starting, but has now been confirmed.

I’m over the moon with the bodice. This was my first ever attempt at creating darts, and it has resulted in a perfectly fitting bodice- which I could easily re-use and attach to other skirts if I was feeling ambitious! However, I’m less than happy with the skirt 😦 I opted for the size 12 skirt, but with hindsight would definitely have gone 1 size, if not 2 smaller. With off the peg skirts, I’m a size 10 waist, but the Simplicity measurements had me at a 14- just crazy! Anyway, what I’ve found is that the finished skirt is just too full at the front. The gathering in the centre causes the fabric to hang in a big pleat, which looks really odd. I’ve tried pressing it in a way to alleviate this, but to no avail. I’m determined to wear it though, so will just have to live with it I guess!

Oh, and I’ve been paranoid that it looks like a nurse’s uniform. somebody please tell me it doesn’t. Even if it does.

And apologies for the lack of full length photos, I really struggle with self-photography!

Sunny days

Perhaps I was prompted by the lovely Spring weather we’ve been experiencing over the last week, but a couple of days ago I dug out the following project, which had been languishing incomplete in my spare room since last Summer!

The pattern is an Amy Butler design, from her midwest modern range. I hit on it last year, when searching for mini dress patterns. The standard pattern is for a tunic, but I was working to the mini dress version, which hangs just a bit longer- though not much on me, I must admit! Definitely one to be worn over leggings or jeans 🙂

I decided against using fabric from the Amy Butler range, instead using a very lightweight cotton print I picked up at Abakhans in Manchester. I find it’s really important to have a feel for how the fabric will drape when making clothes, and think I would always hesitate to buy online- even though the choice is so much wider. The dress is lined with muslin, so this deals with the slight transparency of the exterior fabric whilst detracting little from the drape. I really like the button up yoke at the back of the dress. I opted for wooden buttons, and I think they work well against the fabric.

Overall, this project was fairly straightforward. Assembling the yoke was the most complicated part of the process (and inevitably that’s where the gap in the project occurred!), but aside from that I had little problems. I had read about other peoples experiences of using the pattern, and it was highlighted that the armholes could be a touch on the tight side. For this reason, I decided to adjust the armholes by 1/2″ , and it seems to have worked really well- so am glad I took heed of this advice!

Stash busting

I recently knitted this iphone cosy as a gift for a friend. It turned out to be a wonderful way of using up oddments of leftover sock yarn. This one’s made out of the malabrigo I used for the Anastasia socks last year. The pattern is really straightforward, and is worked from the bottom up to the cuff. My top tip with this one is to trust the sizing. It might look super dinky, but it’s actually a nice snug fit. Unfortunately it might not be immediately obvious from my amateurish snap, but the pattern also incorporates a pouch on the front to store headphones 🙂 Handy!