Wednesday, 12 December 2012

So, what have we learned?

We have learned that setting a one-week deadline to achieve things does not achieve those things, but instead leads us to avoid posting anything since August.

We are therefore going to draw a line under projects achieved and non, and move on.

Canopy and bumpers for the crib- sort of finished, as far as I need them at the moment

 Negroni Shirt- done...eventually.

 Knickers - not one but two pairs done, ACTUALLY

Swaddle bag - done, partial success, some fitting 'issues', but technically completed and since abandoned.

 Drill pouch - done

 Bedroom blind - what was I THINKING????

Chisel cosy - maybe in another lifetime. Not mine.

Actually, that's not too bad, now that I come to look at it.

I have two baby Xmas projects underway and so the new deadline for those is obviously looming.  They've been on the go since October in 5 min sessions when I can.  Hopefully the end is nigh on both counts.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Unfeasible plan for next week

After the Ravellenics, I suddenly found myself with NOTHING to knit.  No idea how this is possible, other than I have a million clothes and nothing to wear and my current situation is following the same laws of physics.

Anyway, I thought this would be a chance to get back into sewing and if I do one project a day, I'll be pretty much clear to get back into knitting stress again the following week.  How we'll laugh that I still believe this is possible.

Today- Canopy and bumpers for the crib, as she's likely to start sleeping in there from tonight as we all keep waking each other up with our respective noise and it's way too hot in the room with the door shut, but if it's open, she stares madly at the light outside and wakes with the dawn.  This way, she'll sleep and I get to listen out for her all night from further away...

Saturday- getting the buttons finally onto Rich's Negroni Shirt.

Sunday- Sewing a pair of  Knickers - the hardest part will be deciding which size I think I am.

Monday-making a swaddle bag as she's growing out of her swaddle pod, none of the other designs are what I want, and our sleep depends on this.

Tuesday- Parents over, so will try to get elastic onto Rich's drill pouch today or tomorrow

Wednesday- friend over, so unlikely to get anything done- especially the bedroom blind on my list.

Thursday - chisel cosy to go with spanner cosy- saving the best for last.

less than 12 hours to fail to get the first project done...

Craft since the birth- the good, the bad, and the overambitious

Well, life has changed somewhat since the last post.

I have got behind with blogging, and therefore have stopped putting on new posts as I have old posts backing up.  It's lovely that this is all I have to worry about, really.

So- today I am going to put up everything I've managed to make since the little one came along, then I will put up a list of overambitious projects I intend to do.  We shall see if I manage to do any of this before the week is out....

1- I did manage to find a use for the leftover denim from the maternity skirt- it's gone into being a haphazardly made tissue box cover, as yet unfinished, and a prototype for a birthday present for my mother.

2- The spanner cosy.  Rich desperately needed a spanner cosy (what man doesn't) and as I was about to go away for a week to rest, guilt got the better of me and it was completed somewhere after midnight, long after husband and baby had gone to bed.  I had to tiptoe into the bedroom midst their respective snoring, which was almost more than I could bear.  It is not my best work. It is finished.  The thread also decided to snap every couple of inches, which I haven't fathomed out a reason for yet, other than cheap IKEA thread, nasty IKEA fabric, ancient needle in machine, or the need for a service.  Anyway, it works, he loves it and I think it complements his manliness:

The picture has decided to turn itself around while uploading, yet is fine on the pc.  I have no clue what to do about this and would rather move on with my life, frankly.  Tutorial and superior spanner cosies here: soresourceful

3- Tissue box holder - For my mother's birthday, to go with her green living room and accent plum cushion.  And to have fun with buttons- really good fun to make, so much so that I even lined the thing.  The fabric and buttons came from a phone call to The Eternal Maker, which is safer than going in and still being there in open-mouthed wonder until being asked to leave.  And I took the opportunity to try a bound buttonhole for the opening, with no thought to the irony of buttons, buttons everywhere and not one to go through the buttonhole.  Tutorial here

Now- the toys.  These vary depending on sleep deprivation. However, they're done, so they're going on the list.

4- Timmy.  Love this- I'd all but finished it on the bus while still at work, but seeing that baby liked high contrast things to stare at gave me motivation to finish it.  Still needs a dummy, but I don't like the one on the pattern, so still hunting around.  I also changed the eyes to look like Timmy's and stuffed the ears slightly.  My greatest success over the last few weeks, I'd say.

I'm not even going to attempt to get these photos to line up- I'm typing on borrowed time as it is- very soon duty will call, loudly...

5- the ball that looks more like a brain.  I don't care- she likes it and it's saved me trying to make another load of squares into a garish jacket for her.

My first attempt at weaving on the Martha Stewart Knit and Weave Loom

and here is what was going to be a ball, but I couldn't be bothered, so it looks more like a brain, but she can grab it and stare at it, so I feel my work here is done.

6- Shaun the sheep mobile- I've waited years for an excuse to knit this.  Currently waiting for mother to put the faces on them, then I'll do the hats and scarves, but at least the sheep are done:

7- Sailor jumper- knitted in a week - I changed the wool from DK to chunky to make it quicker, but it's a bit stiff and shapeless and I can't afford to have any less shape at the moment.  Will probably knit it into a jacket next year.  Quite impressed by the wool- Wendy Supreme Chunky- nice sheen and doesn't dry your hands like most cotton. Under no illusion that I look like the Phildar lady...

8- and finally- the dreaded Mason Dixon After Dark Robe.  This was supposed to use up a ton of Louet flax yarn I'd bought years ago, and be a bath robe for the birth centre.  Even if I had got to the birth centre, it was still 10 weeks too late, but in fairness, I did carry my project bag around the hospital under the delusion that I would finish it while in labour....  So, not only did it only use up half of the yarn, I had to make the borders separately as I only have one ball of each colour, and one side is one badly, so has sagged.  But mostly I can blame the pattern- there's something wrong with the shoulders, so it doesn't sit right.  My options are to redo it with a similar pattern, or make it into something that doesn't have to fit, to use it all up, eg a Mason Dixon Big Dotty pattern on a throw.  Except I don't need a throw and don't know how big it will knit up, so stressing about that already....

Thursday, 24 May 2012

How to make a maternity skirt for about a fiver

Going to brave the photo formatting once again and see if I can get a comprehensible 'How To' out before insanity strikes.

I managed to make a couple of skirts with belly bands attached, for pennies, thanks to various US blogs, so thought I'd put up my version of events. 

Really wanted a denim skirt for the spring/summer, seeing as jeans don't fit at the best of times, and this is not the best of times. 

First thing to look for- make sure the skirt is widest to go around your widest part, wherever that happens to be now, and that it will still be long enough if cut under your bump at this point.

So here it is: yes it IS very large and saggy.

Here's the point where the belly band is going to be attached:
The belly band.  I got a nice piece of jersey, as time was against, me, but it would be even cheaper and easier to get an old T-shirt the same width as you want the band, so you'd just have to slice it up, with no measuring, cutting out and no side seams.

The blogs I followed said to use the measurements from an existing garment with belly band, which meant no guesswork and no wondering which bits to measure.  I made mine a tiny bit larger for ease with one piece of jersey twice the height needed, plus hem, and joined at the side to make a tube.  I used the softest waistband elastic I could find, which turned out to be buttonholing, made a circle large enough to stretch over the bump, but small enough to sit comfortably above or below, without cutting or falling down:

Next job is attaching all the bits: fold the jersey over, pin the elastic up into the fold and stitch with a stretchy stitch

Then, using the new pins you used this as an excuse to buy

Pin and sew band to skirt and neaten seam, again using a stretch stitch and stretching the band slightly to fit snugly,
taking care not to stitch over any pins,
and that's it! I think the whole thing took under half an hour. The skirt's been transformed from a big long droopy thing, to a just below the knee full skirt that has proved essential for weekends and 'smarter' slobbing around at home.

Only thing I'd change now is that as the bump has got bigger, the band wants to sit below it, which means if I'm not wearing the right top, letting it all hang out, which is not my thing, or ride up above it, which is fine unless there's anyone else or a mirror around, as what this does is put all the fullness of the skirt around my widest point and it's the lampshade effect all over again.  

A longer band would have corrected this, but how was I to know- and it's certainly not information I will be able to use again in future.  Ever.

You could also just make a taller belly band and use it to fill the gap between tops riding up and bottoms riding down, for a fraction of what they cost to buy, just neatening up the bottom, rather than attaching it to a skirt. Again, too late now, possibly.  Well, by the time I got round to doing it, it certainly would be. 

Next stop is to finish Rich's shirt that seemed like a really good idea at the time....

Finally- I kept the cut off part of the skirt- why???

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

This is as good as it's going to get

This pattern called to me and wanted me to make something I could be proud of, as well as something I won't have the chance to make/wear again. Ever.

After realising that trying to churn out a top each weekend was conflicting with my other plan of sleeping at every opportunity, I spent the last 3 weekends before going on leave trying to make this look as good as I could.

1950s Pattern bought from the States via eBay

1950s repro fabric bought from the V&A museum shop online for a song.

However, the stripes were horizontal, so much calculating needed before buying, then each section had to be cut out and turned round.

Which is when I noticed the stripes STARTED out straight, but had progressively banana-ed out to the right hand selvedge: so more cutting and trying to match straight stripes where it mattered and bendy ones where it didn't.

And keep the flowers the right way round. And not swear.

Nearly lost one of the pattern pieces.

Nice to see I'm not the only one with a taste for vintage.

One nice thing was that the stripes in the pleats at the back actually matched up to the pattern, so they look ok without any special effort from me. So here, after much struggling with Blogger formatting, is the finished article:

And finally, official bump photo of April 2012

Yes, I do look rather horrified about something, don't I?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Smock, Stocky and Looks Like a Barrel

Taking a break from tyre-related posts, unless you count the spare tyre...

Well, I've been thwarted in my plans to make an entire 50s style wardrobe of demure, flattering and adorable maternity garments, partly due to being laid up for so long, partly as everything takes longer than planned, and partly as I think there's something going on with these patterns.  Many photos have been withheld to protect the aesthetically minded.

So far I have made:


a rather startling smock dress with long sleeves in emerald velour which was intended for Xmas, got finished at end of February and makes me look like Margot from the Good Life (if she was a foot shorter and had let herself go to seed).  It's St Patrick's Day soon, so if there's a shortage of leprechauns on the Kent/Sussex border, it may still be in with a chance.

from the same pattern, a pinafore dress in black watch, which thankfully looks acceptable, yet not brilliantly similar to the picture on the pattern, being quite boxy and shapeless.

a no-pattern pencil skirt from a blog I found.  It seemed to easy to be true, but actually it was fine.  Managed to make it in half an hour and put a kick pleat in for good measure.  This gave me a false sense of confidence.

Another pencil skirt to go with a trapeze top, and therefore make a suit... from this:

This is the biggest issue.  I know I have had to widen the pattern, but I also know I did it in proportion and it worked.  However, what I saw in a photo of myself in it, was a pin head poking out of the top of one green saggy bag resting on top of another green saggy bag.  This is not the effect I was hoping to convey.  However, since starting this post, a good few weeks ago, various things have changed:

1- I have got bigger and it now fits a lot better
2- various people have commented that they like it
3- one of the bows has fallen off...

Having run out of making time, I'm going to keep back the final piece of fabric for when I'm 'back' to a size 8, which I understand can take anything up to an hour after delivery, stick the patterns back on eBay and do something less frustrating instead. So we shall never know what this would have looked like:

However, I've had niggling doubts and looked into it. My conclusions are that actually I've done nothing wrong and the image on the patterns are being less than honest.  These two prove my suspicions:
 So- if this lady is pregnant at all, she is so very recently so, that it would explain her general air of someone who had to run to catch the bus to the artist's studio for her portrait, as well as why she didn't have time to change and actually be wearing the baggy, saggy smock top.  I find it very unlikely that there is the same amount of fabric in her dress as in that top and all it takes is a bit of belting up in the early weeks to get the dress to see you through the whole 9 months.  How convenient that there were no photos printed onto patterns at the time- I don't think reality would have helped sales.  Add to which that this pattern is intended for a 40" bust for a 1940s pattern, and I can only assume that the ladies in question would have kept themselves securely hidden from view down a dark air raid shelter for the duration.
Pretty much all of the above applies here to, other than the two bows implying the garment can be let out to accommodate expansion.  Which is surely what you need to see?  Otherwise, anyone that had the figure in the drawing would have had no need of a maternity garment.  Mind you, these ladies look like they're even more in denial than I am. 

 The patterns I have bought are no better- the ladies wearing the clothes I am trying to make in the ever-dwindling belief I will resemble them in any way at all, don't so much look pregnant in any way (that would never do) as convey pregnancy by holding a bonnet, looking at a bootee, or just staring dreamily into the distance with a secret air of knowing and fabulous pointy stilettos. 

Since starting this post, I have had one more successful project and will share that on a separate post.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Three wheels on the bus go round and round, the other is nowhere to be found

for never giving me a dull moment.

Whether it's the excitement of seeing the bus arriving, or hopping off after it's broken down onto the 'replacement' which is actually just the next one, an hour later, or the challenges of flagging down an out of service bus, a school bus and persuading it to go off route to the station and getting a train,  wondering how you're going to get home after the last bus at 6.30 doesn't show, or simply giving up after 45 mins of waiting and hitching a lift with strangers, there are certainly no two days the same. 

Except of course for the ones where the bus doesn't show up two days running either due to a lack of drivers (so badly and irregularly paid you can hardly blame them for phoning in sick with no notice to get someone else in), or just grinding to a halt somewhere on the Kent/Sussex border. 

Today's fun and frolics was a wheel blowing, taking a panel with it and the driver managing to steer it to a halt alongside the grass after a couple of hundred metres of driving on the three remaining wheels and the metal where the fourth one used to be, in the dark. 

 Luckily I was near enough to home for Rich to come and get me. 

 How we laughed.

By the way, if you are thinking of adding to your vintage bus collection, Countryliner have a remarkably vast range,  actually for sale from their website:

Hurry, while stocks last. One less today...