Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Men's Jumper

This is my final handmade Christmas present of 2017: a men's jumper. After making a shirt for my Dad's birthday last year (which he still wears and is still one of my favourite makes for others!) I offered to make him a jumper. During the summer, he chose a lovely knit fabric from a haberdashery we came across, and asked me to sew him a jumper out of it. Although it took me an embarassingly long time to actually get on with it, once started it was a quick and easy project and completed in time for Christmas.

Finding a pattern was definitely the hardest part of this project. I know that there are quite a few men's patterns out there, but the difficult part is finding them! I would love any recommendations that you have. There is a great round up of patterns here, but unfortunately the guide came out after I made this jumper! I will definitely be having a look through this next time though. The problem I was faced with was finding a mens jumper pattern which did not feature raglan sleeves, no hoodies, had cuffs etc. My favourite one I came across was the Paxson jumper, but it has raglan sleeves, which was a feature that was clearly pointed out should not be part of the success criteria! After a lot of research, I actually decided to use a t-shirt pattern and bought the Oliver + S men's Metro t-shirt pattern. I actually think it worked really well. I sewed it with a slightly smaller seam allowance to allow for the thicker than intended fabric, and also added cuffs at the end. I wasn't sure wether or not to add a waistband, and this might still be something I will add on my next one, although it does work well with just a hem.

Although the colour of the fabric is showing up quite well in these photos, I would say it is slightly duller in real life. Because of this, upon purchasing the fabric my Dad asked me to add in a pop of colour - orange, to be precise (probably inspired by these!). I was faced with the dilemma of wanting to keep the jumper a surprise for Christmas but wanting to make it wearable, so I compromised: my Dad chose the fabric and style, but didn't see the fabric made into a jumper until Christmas day. I really like the extra touch of orange, which is just a small amount of bias tape folded and sewn into the side seam. It's hardly noticeable but is a nice detail and makes it both more interesting and more unique.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Midnight-blue Velvet Skirt

It feels like an awfully long time since I've talked about a dressmaking project! I have been doing lots of sewing though (including starting my anorak!). This skirt is a lovely garment to talk about, as it's a way of clinging on to the festivities in this bleak late January weather! I made this skirt in December, and wore it on Christmas day (because what screams Christmas more than velvet?) and I really love it. It felt perfectly festive.

I bought the fabric quite a while ago, when I visited Stoff and Stil. The great thing with a skirt like this is that it uses minimal fabric. I didn't have enough fabric to make a circle skirt, which would probably have been my first choice, but I actually really like the straight skirt. It was extremely simple to sew. I self drafted the pattern, and it couldn't have been easier: two rectangles sewn together and then folded down at the top to provide room for an elastic. I did still manage to make mistake though! I originally sewed the skirt with the pile going horizontally. It looked, as you can imagine, really odd! So I unpicked the whole thing, re-sewed it the right way, and am now much happier!

This was really such an easy make, great to sew up in a couple of hours. If you'd like to make one but would rather use a pattern, view b of the Dominique skirt looks great in velvet, although it has more of a flaring skirt. It was my first time sewing with velvet, and I love it so much! Although velvet is very much associated with Christmas and new year, I think it'll be the perfect thing to wear in January to remember the festive season.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

An Embroidered Comb Case

This is my last non-dressmaking related Christmas present to share after my cushion and my embroidery, and also the most time-consuming! When I was little, about 7 years old I believe, I started doing very simple crossstitch - the kind where each cross is about 0.5 x 0.5cm. The not-particularly-good-and-very-childish kind. Anyway, I made a comb case for my grandpa with a 'G' on the front. Roughly 7 years later, it has completely fallen apart (actually it stated to fall apart before then, but I wanted to replace it with something lovely rather than something quickly made... and I hadn't gotten round to it!). So, for Christmas, I made my Grandpa a comb case. On a side note, this isn't the first  present I have made for my Grandpa replacing one I made years ago!

Much like my free-motion embroidery, this was very much a learn as you go project. I have done some embroidery before, but never on this scale or using a satin stitch. However, after watching a couple of YouTube videos on it, it appeared relatively easy and I gave it a go. I love it! I found the process quite easy to get to grips with, and although the first couple of letters took a long time, I sped up a lot towards the end. I used the full six strands of embroidery thread at once, and traced my letters using an iron-off pen. I did decided to go for a rainbow effect, which does seem slightly crazy, but I like it!

Once I'd stitched the letters, I sewed them into a rectangular pouch, which was extremely quick to do.  I lined it fully, and included a drawstring at the top for purposes of voyage etc. I really loved making this, it was absolutely sewn with love, and is both a practical and pretty present. The receiver was very happy. I'm also pleased to have learnt a new skill, I really enjoyed embroidering and can imagine many more projects with a touch of embroidery in the future. The case has been put to use, and you'll be pleased to know that the old one has been kept too, I look forward to comparing both cases in many years time!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Bridge and the Ballons

Christmas already feels like a long time ago, so it seems a little strange to be talking about a Christmas present even though it was opened less than 3 weeks ago! This is one of the gifts that I made my Mum for Christmas, and I think that it might be my proudest Christmas gift of 2017. I had the idea to do a free motion embroidery after admiring the artwork I saw whilst on an Arts Trail. Needless to say, the artwork in question was incredibly intricate and sewn with hands far more experienced than my own! This picture was very much an experiment, and I'm delighted that it worked out so well as at the time of starting I was half expecting a complete fail. I dapple in machine embroidery, but it is not an area of sewing that I feel as confident in as, say, dressmaking.

One of the techniques that I noticed at the aforementioned Arts Trail was the use of fabric cut in circles and then sewn on top of each other. I absolutely love the effect this gives, and used five different shades of green fabrics to create my foliage in the picture. Although its a fiddly and somewhat laborious process, I actually really enjoyed sewing in swirls using my darning foot. You really have the power to create anything with the thread! It was easy to spend hours sewing on each piece of fabric individually. I also included pops of my favourite Liberty fabric, of which I own but a very meagre amount and so it is used only on very special projects such as this one! I think that the spark of pink looks lovely admits the green.

Other details include the two hot air balloons (both in Liberty fabric!) and the houses. I love both of these extra touches and I think that the colours brighten the picture nicely too. I sewed it all with black thread, and when everything was on I felt that something was missing underneath the bridge. Originally, I considered adding boats, but decided not to overcrowd it, and went for the seemingly obvious: water. I wasn't sure how to do this at first, but I'm so happy with the end result of it. I used a blue coloured thread to sew some more swirls, which I drew on using an iron-off pen first and then sewed on top of. I'm really pleased with the delicate touch that this brings, and I like the way that the swirls of water echoe those in the foliage.
I also really like the idea of framing things in embroidery hoops (see my Jam Jar patchwork for proof!) and so I bought a 10" hoop to go around my embroidery. I couldn't be happier with the finished result, and my Mum loves it too! Once again, the benefits of making things for family members is that I still get to see them, so it doesn't really feel as though I've parted with this, instead it feels as though I'm sharing it!

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Big Fluffy Cushion

2018 is now here, and January weather is as bleak as always! Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to share some of the Christmas presents that I made to give to people. I made pretty much all of my gifts this year which I'm really pleased about. So, let's start with... a huge fluffy cushion! A few months ago, we saw a lovely and soft but expesive cushion at John Lewis. At the time, Christmas was a few months away, but after seeing that cushion (which my sister loved) I knew I wanted to make her one for Christmas. Finding the fabric was actually really difficult, it was all either too expensive or faux-fur which wasn't soft - until I stumbled accross Higgs and Higgs at the sewing bee live and I found the perfect fabric. It's called a 'fur fleece' and it is so incredibly soft! I needed less than a metre too, so overall the cushion cost a lot less to make than to buy.

It was a very simple construction. I knew I wanted it to be big, so I bought a super long (60cm to be precise) white zip from Fabric Land. I then folded the fabric in half and sewed around the edges - it really couldn't have been easier. The cushion is approximately 80x80cm. To give you an idea of how big that is, this is my sister holding the cushion. As you can see it is suitably big and fluffy and squishy! It's the perfect size for her anyhow (although can a fluffy cushion really be too big?!).

I'm really happy with this make overall and so is the recipient! It was really fun as well as quick and easy to make, I'd highly reccommend this idea as a present for the small (or big!) people in your lives.  You can see from the close up that there is a lovely almost clamshell effect on the fabric, which adds a really nice bit of texture. I've got several more Christmas makes to share too, so keep an eye out for those!