Now, here’s a little story about some pants named Jed!

This is a tale of three parts.

One good…one less so…one really fun.

Let’s start with the good.  The Jedediah toile.

I rustled that up earlier in the week from an old sheet.  Obviously not comparable in weight to the denim I was planning to make these up in, but I really just wanted to check whether the Mr could get his rugby thighs into them.  We have so much trouble with RTW it seemed prudent.

I swore black and blue that I wouldn't put this up on the interwebs.  Ooops!

I swore black and blue that I wouldn’t put this up on the interwebs. Ooops!

As you can see apart from a little bit of saddlebagging at the hips there is plenty of room in the thighs. Which is all good.

I’d show you the front and side views but:

  • I forgot to put the yoke piece on the back before trying them on so they hang all sorts of peculiar at the front and I’m sparing both our blushes.
  • Mr decided to test the fit by throwing a very deep squat.  Neither the fabric nor the stitching held.  Again, blushes being spared.

But, I’m happy to go ahead with cutting these in the fashion fabric and making fitting tweaks as I go along.  I think that bubble on his tush will even out in a weightier fabric and once the side seams are fitting better.

I’m delighted with this pattern so far.  How often do you get to throw a pattern on to your fashion fabric straight out of the envelope?

So today I did just that.  The denim had already been prewashed and dried 3 times so was good to go.

I laid it out on the table.

I laid the pattern on top.

Crappity!

Crappity!

I thought the fabric was wider than it is.  There is no way on earth I can get both front and back legs cut out of this length for jeans for either The Husband or myself.  If I were a size 12 or 14 then this would work fine.  But I’m not. And there’s way too much cake in the world for me ever to be so again I think!

Pattern overhanging the fabric is not a good thing.  At All!

Pattern overhanging the fabric is not a good thing. At All!

At first I was more than a little frustrated.  This is a beautiful weighty denim with just a hint of stretch bought last year from The Cloth House in London. It’s the good stuff.  But there’s just not enough.  That’s what you get for buying fabric on spec.

It seems a waste to cut it up for jeans for the kids. There’s way too much of it for that. Soooooooo, I’ve got an idea about what I’m going to do. But I’m going to save that for another post.  All I’ll say now is that it ties in nicely with my Wardrobe Architect project.

The fun part is that I’ve promised to make these so make them I shall.  We shall just have to go fabric shopping.

Oh…the horror! 😉

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Vintage sewing pattern giveaway at The Vintage Home Sewist

Do you feel like snagging yourself a whole bundle of vintage sewing patterns?

scan-1504I thought that might get your attention! 😉

Well, Bessie from The Vintage Home Sewist has a giveaway running at the moment with a prize of not one, not two, but three $50 credits to her vintage pattern store.

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I know…it’s a fabulous giveaway, right?

Why not hop right over there, right now, and throw your hat in the ring.

All images are shamelessly pilfered from The Vintage Home Sewist.  I cannot tell you how much I love that bottom pattern, even if I would have to grade the bejeezus out of it!

Wardrobe Architect – proportions and silhouettes

wardrobe architectMy, I’m so behind with posting on this topic, and for no other reason than, once again, I’ve found the subject matter so very challenging.

Anyone whose followed my blog for a while will know that there have been some spectacular hits and misses when it comes to flattering shapes and silhouettes in the clothing that I’ve sewn for myself.

The biggest hit so far can only be my Giverny Liberty print dress:

giverny liberty print

This “ensemble” was an epic fail and soon relegated to the charity shop:

purple knitsThis issue of fit, proportion, shape and silhouette is one of the biggest challenges I personally face as a seamstress.

Yes, I have a long, long way to go with my skill-set, but it doesn’t matter how well you can sew if the clothes you are producing don’t flatter you and your figure.

Taking aside the colours of these outfits, which is, of course, a whole new post in itself, the shapes and silhouettes (s&s) are such a contrast that I feel they really illustrate why I’ve struggled so long and hard to formulate this post, and to narrow down the s&s that really work for me, and that I want to sew going forwards.

I’d downloaded the worksheet that Sarai created for this, but still I struggled.

I needed to do this visually and spent quite a bit of time wishing I had the graphics skills to whizz up some fancy schmancy illustrations.  But I don’t.

And then I ventured across to Polyvore.  Oh my word.  It’s nearly as dangerous as Pinterest. But mightily useful for helping me to visualise this process.

I did realise that I could quite easily be sucked in and spend another month faffing about with this.  So I gave myself some strict constraints:

  1. a tight time window
  2. to follow my instincts
  3. to choose s&s that flatter my figure
  4. to choose s&s that I actually wear
  5. to not be swayed by fabric choices
  6. they must fit my key words: Modest :: Comfortable :: Simple :: Polished :: Classic
  7. they must be lifestyle appropriate

Much easier!

And to make it even simpler I selected the black colourway for each section to make the silhouette even more pronounced.  We all know how hard it is to make the details stand out in a black photo, don’t we.  I only reverted back to colour if I couldn’t find the shape I was looking for in black.

So…that’s the why and the how…here’s the bit you’ve been waiting for.  Unless of course you’ve lost the will and pootled off to play on Polyvore yourself, or grab a glass of wine.

Or both! 😉

my trouser silhouettes

my dress silhouettes

my dress silhouettes

my tops silhouettes

my tops silhouettes

my skirts silhouettes

my skirts silhouettes

my coats silhouettes

my coats silhouettes

my shoes silhouettes

my shoes silhouettes

This is nothing short of enlightening and may revolutionise my sewing (and my shopping) going forwards.

At the risk of becoming all ‘corporate’ on you…the findings of this ‘enquiry’ are as follows:

  • Looking at this it becomes abundantly clear that if I perfect the fit on a small     number of garments I need never buy another sewing pattern again. I no doubt will…but I could quite easily use this small collection of perfectly fitted patterns to create outfit after outfit after outfit that look great and work for my lifestyle
  • I also became aware that I have two quite distinctive seasonal preferences. Cold weather it’s all about the trousers and tops.  Warm weather…I love a dress.  
  • Once I’ve cracked the suite of master patterns, it will be easy to tweak details and to make each garment an individual piece.
  • Roisin and Carolyn already know this…and to be fair I knew this too at the back of my head, I just didn’t listen to the voices!
  • Shopping for light weight knitwear will also be easier.  I need to concentrate on getting the basic shapes in place in fine yarn in a range of colours.
  • All of this applies to knitting too.  Hopefully I’ll make fewer knitterly mistakes that are so costly in terms of time and yarn.
  • I’ll save money on buying patterns that don’t fit this remit and so languish unloved and unused. 
  • I’ll save time fitting patterns that are never going to work.
  • All this saved time and money can then be spent on making things that do work for my lifestyle, that work together to give me more outfit options, that fit and flatter my figure as I work to get healthier, and that make me feel pretty smashing into the bargain.
  • I need to identify a suite of patterns that reflect these thoughts and which will become the backbone of my wardrobe.  Patterns that can be fitted to perfection and then made again and again…quickly, simply, perfectly.

This is something I can get excited about.

This is the solution to lack of sewing mojo!

What do you think?

Work in progress

The problem with making progress on projects is that there is nothing really to show for it.

Larry is becoming known as the Sweater of Doom in these parts. I am Beyond Bored with knitting this simply because I’ve already knit this yarn before. Knitting it again is Tedious (yes…with a capital T!).

The Sweater of Doom...it really just looks like a pile of knitted fabric at the moment.

The Sweater of Doom…it really just looks like a pile of knitted fabric at the moment.

Thankfully, I finished the first sleeve last night, and the second sleeve will seem less Tedious because I’ve got the row count written down, so I just need to crack on and tick off those rows as quickly as possible.  I’m waiting in today for a courier so I’m planning to make use of the time by watching Marple box sets and picking up that second sleeve.

marple 1

I do have an added incentive at the moment.  Not only does The Husband sit next to me on the sofa each evening making sad eyes and muttering about wanting to wear the damned thing before the good weather finally arrives; but I also didn’t have enough yarn.

*grits teeth to refrain from uttering stream of invective and expletives*

As this yarn is now discontinued (of course) tracking it down could have been tricky, but the lovely folks at McA have some in stock and sent me 3 balls, aaaaannnnd are holding another 3 for a few weeks, just in case.  I suspect I may need one more of them for the neck.  We shall see.

We are also making progress in a project I’m calling “Shabby to Chic”.  Our house hasn’t been decorated since before the kids came home.  With 2 adults, 2 kids and a large dog, the place is starting to look more than a little bit worn around the edges.  And the middle.  And all points in-between.

The need for a complete rewire has created the impetus to do a complete top down spruce up.  The sewing loft is to be ripped out, remodelled and turned into our bedroom.  Our bedroom will become The Boy’s.  His bedroom will become my new sewing room…eventually.  Just as blasted Ikea are withdrawing their fabulous Expedit range.  What possessed them?

This is a huge project that will take a good couple of years to finish, I think, but at the end of it we will have replaced all windows and external doors, rewired the place with many more socket outlets and more usefully placed light switches, and will be using all the space in the house more efficiently.  Oh and the hideous porch at the front of the house that has plagued me for years WILL  finally be replaced.

Most importantly (far more important than the risk of the electrics frying us all in our beds) I will have a new sewing room.  With storage!  And good daylight!

Until then though I’m sewing on the kitchen table.  I do not like this at all.  I realise I’ve been completely spoiled with the Sewing Loft (however shabby and disorganised), but I’ve got my eye on the prize and a sewing project on the go (in between meals, homework and painting projects that the kids insist on).

Thread Theory Jedediah Pants

Yep…I’m making the Mr the pair of trousers I promised him a couple of years ago. Or maybe 6 years ago.

I’m not counting.

I’m sure he is.

These are the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants and so far I’m really impressed. Printing and taping the PDF was a breeze.  Great tiling.  It bodes well, I hope, for the sewing.

New knits…Made by Ma

My friend Liz has a seemingly bottomless stash of mystery yarn, and every now and again she passes a bag to me to be knitted into something lovely for the kids.

Invariably I pass this yarn to Ma, and she works the magic with her lightning quick needles.

These two sweaters are no exception.

First up is Igor…a free pattern from Drops Design available to download from Ravelry here.

IgorSuch a cute pattern….cables and moss/seed stitch get me every single time.

Add in an adorable sea-foam yarn and my sweet little blonde girl, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

igorThe matching hair clips were serendipitous.

igorThis yarn is soft and has a beautiful drape.  The sweater is just oversized enough to be slouchy and give some growing room.

IMG_0252_edited-1I know I’m biased, but seriously, could she be any more adorable?

And if that’s not enough…Boy got a new cardigan too.

IMG_0180_edited-1I love his this James Dean pose.  He cracks me up!

jolly beachcomberI also love this honeycomb cable.  This pattern is from the Jolly Beachcomber book that Ma has knitted from many times before.  If you haven’t bought that book yet, go an do it now. Please! We absolutely love the patterns and just keep going back to this book time and again.

jolly beachcomberThat smile!  I die!

It being the first dry day of the week we made the most of our trip to the park.

igor jolly beachcomberThe walled garden is the perfect place for high speed scooter races.

Cool dude!

Cool dude!

We couldn’t leave Carter at home.

Blondes!

Blondes!

And finished with a quick pit-stop at the cafe.

Those cheeks...sure sign of an impending growth spurt!

Those cheeks…sure sign of an impending growth spurt!

IMG_0339_edited-1Perfect!

Johnny B Good shirt

Despite my own best efforts not to finish this shirt, I did, and in good time for Boy’s birthday party on Saturday.  Phew!

johnny be good shirtBefore I get into the review of this shirt, let me just remind you that this shirt was upcycled from a shirt gifted to us by our friend, Martin.  The fabric is a thick and temperamental cotton, that acts like a very brattish polyester.

But…it’s wonderfully soft and cosy and Boy, who normally throws a fit of the screaming ab-dabs when you ask him to wear a shirt, couldn’t wait to get it on, and didn’t want to take it off. So it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned.

I did change the buttons.  On the original shirt they were a yellowy cream button and really looked a bit odd against the lilac/pink/blue fabric.

shirt buttons

The new buttons are a variegated lilac that I found on our local market stall.  I like them much more.

shirt buttons

Oops…a bit blurry, but you get the idea, no?

And, in one final change, I “drafted” a mandarin/grandad collar by simply folding the collar part of the pattern up and using just the stand to cut my fabric.  I did, of course, remember to add a seam allowance to the top of the collar!

johnny b good

The pattern is Shwinn Designs Johnny B Good shirt, and, I’ll admit I have mixed feelings about this pattern.

johnnybgoodLet’s start with the good:

  • The tiling on the pdf is really good and the pattern tapes together quickly and cleanly.
  • The drafting of the pattern is excellent.  I found all the separate pieces stitched up perfectly.
  • The sizing is good too.  Boy is a small 5 and this shirt fits him now but has room to grow into.  In my book this is perfect.  If I’m sewing something for the kids I’d like it to last more than a couple of weeks!

However, this pattern does have some challenges:

  • I found the instructions to be a little less than straightforward and clear.
  • I thought the sleeve placket is a little long.  It reaches right up to the elbow. This is, of course, just a matter of personal taste.
  • I also thought the sleeve placket to be placed just a little too far towards the front of the sleeve.
  • There are no placement marks for the buttonholes on the sleeves.  The idea is that you place them where you’d like them to go, but, personally, I would have preferred them to be added on the pattern.
johnny b good

I think this shows how far forwards the sleeve placket sits on the sleeve and also how high up the sleeve it goes. Please ignore the shoddy buttonholes. 

Despite the things I’m not fond of with this pattern, I will be using it again.  I think I’ll adjust the sleeve placket to move it more to the back of the arm, and shorten the placket a little bit.  

I plan to measure this shirt to get a really good idea for button placement and mark them on the pattern.

And lastly, I  think I’ll redraft the hem of this shirt to give it tails rather than a straight edge.  I think it will look really cute.

Once the pattern has been tweaked there’s one other thing I’ll change. I’ll use better thread so the topstitching isn’t quite so shocking.  I’m eternally grateful that this fabric hides a multitude of sins!

However, all my gripes are moot.  Boy loves his shirt, which is nothing short of a birthday miracle.

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And yes, that is a bus cake.  As his party was held on the play bus (officially making him the coolest boy in the class…who knew?) I really had no say in the matter.

bus cakeHe loved it 😉

Five

Oh my amazing little man,

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How did you get to be 5 already?

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It’s seems only a blink of an eye that you were such a small and frightened little boy.  A little boy uncomfortable in his own skin and unable to articulate the confusion and frustration you so obviously experienced.

IMG_2449

And yet on Monday, your birthday, you charmed the optician, flirted outrageously with the nurse, and had all the little old ladies in the waiting room eating out of your hand.  Then you skipped into school laden with goodies for the multitude of friends you have made since September, without so much as a backwards glance.

IMG_8073_edited-1

I was so very proud.

Proud of the fearless little man you have become.  Proud of your old fashioned manners and insistence on carrying bags and holding doors for ladies.  Proud of your hilarious sense of humour and impeccable comic timing.

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Proud of just how kind and loving you are.

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Most of all I am proud to be your mummy.

I know everyone always says that you are so lucky that we found you.  But you and Button and Daddy and I know the truth.

You found us.

And we are the lucky ones.

Happy birthday, my wonderful boy.

IMG_0114_edited-1

We love you.

Self-hosting…a call for help

Last year I bought the Pendle Stitches domain name.  And it has languished ever since.  Which seems a bit mean, frankly. But I’m cautious about hosting services, as this is a completely Brave New World to little old technophobe me.

And then I realised.  Lots of you guys have .com domains and might be able to give me some advise/recommendations regarding service providers.

Can you?

I’d be very grateful.

As would my lonely .com!

The Almost Orla Mitts

KCW came and went and still the wee small boy doesn’t have a completed shirt. I’ve only the cuffs, collar and hem to do so it will be finished this week. I have 6 days till his birthday (although, and let’s not tell my brain this, I’ve actually got 10 days until his party which is when he’ll wear it!).  So all is well.

However, I did finish the Almost Orla mitts in time for my friend Liz to fly to Australia with them and gift them to her daughter-in-law.  As Liz had done the final stitching on these I’d not had the opportunity to photograph the mitts.  I was really happy to receive these photos from Oz.

AO1

Liz also sewed the brown stems on afterwards in duplicate stitch.  I’m eternally grateful.

AO2These little mitts are far from perfect but given they were my first attempt at intarsia and the colourwork was very tiny and fiddly, I’m really pleased with how they turned out.  They haven’t scared me off colourwork, which is a good thing.

More importantly, the recipient loves them. That’s the main thing!

PS…I’ve put all the pattern/yarn details on Ravelry here.

Guest La Mia Boutique reviewer

I am really happy to say that I was recently asked by Silvia, the Sewing Princess, to be her first Guest Reviewer for her monthly La Mia Boutique magazine review.

guest-la-mia-boutique-reviewer-button

I’ve loved the reviews that she had done up till now with Anna of La Paunnet. Sadly, Anna’s schedule precludes her from continuing with the joint reviews with Silvia.

I, obviously, jumped at the chance.  I adore Silvia’s blog…she’s got amazing skills and exquisite taste, and having met her IRL, I can tell you she’s just a delightful person.

silvia

You can read our review here.

Let’s just say, I’d love a copy of this magazine for myself.  Thankfully Silvia has 2 copies to giveaway.

What are you waiting for?  Off you go… 😉