Natural Dyeing | The Result

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I think I am a convert to natural dyeing. I did not know what to expect when I started or during the process for that matter. But I am in love with the result. Look at the shades of yellow and brown throughout the yarn, it is subtle but will add a lot of interest. 

I am not going to lie, it was not the easiest process to wash away all the natural dyes stuff I used, and even though I tied the skein together it was not as easy to put it around my yarn winder (I should have tied it in more places) - but I only had to cut the yarn in one place, that's not bad going. But clearly a few things to think about for the next time, because there will be a next time

I am now knitting this - yes I have many WIPs already, but I could not resist, I just had to know what it looked like knitted! This is the beanie hat pattern I have chosen, expect a finish soon (or not as I am knitting in 3 mm, not my most favourite size). 

To see all the other WIPs, head to Ginny's yarn along

I got my kit from Spin City UK if you too are interested in trying it out. 

Maternity Wear #3 - the Carme Blouse | A finish {Dressmaking}

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Here is the dedicated post to the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice and the maternity wear modifications. I made a (very small) mock version of the modifications which I hope will help those who would like to adapt the pattern. I also made minor changes to the pattern. But let me start by saying that I would not have been able to complete the pattern without the sew-along - well I would, but it would have taken even more time than it already did. Also it is quite reassuring knowing that you are doing the right thing. I did not follow all the steps of the sew-along, just a couple (the maternity modification, the pin tucks and the sleeves vents).

The fabric is 'plumetis' (or swiss dot fabric, thanks Sonja for the translation) - a fine lightweight dress fabric of cotton that is woven with raised dots  on a plain background producing an embroidered effect. I tend to use lightweight fabric for maternity wear tops because there is so much bulk you can away with. I had mine in my stash - I found it at Ma Petite Mercerie (a French shop), I got the taupe colour, but there is a wide range of colour. 

I had 5 matching buttons in my stash - bought in a charity shop a bit of time ago - that I really wanted to use. I had to adjust the placket accordingly - 3 buttons for the placket and 2 to be able to roll up the sleeves. I also changed the collar - making it smaller so it is flush with the placket. I like Mao style collar but I thought the original collar sat a bit too high - I suppose my version is more casual. 

So here are the maternity wear modifications. The sew-along modifications suggest a gathering alterations (as I did with Tova) but I wanted to try another modifications - using a pleat. Although I like the finish, it is a bit tricky to match the end of the placket with the middle of the pleat. 

Here are a few pictures on how to make the pleat.

1. Mark the excess fabric (the sew along modification makes this easy) and the centre

2. Match the marks and pin

 3. Draw a line for about 5'

4. Baste (I am a great believer in basting but I know it adds steps). I only use one knot so it is easy to remove. 

5. Iron down the pleat in the middle

6. Match the centre of the top and bottom fabrics

7. Pin and sew according to pattern seam allowance

8. Et voila!  

It is quite a neat way to do it. I think it can really work for both maternity wear and just adding a feature to a top. I am hoping it means that I will also get some wear out of the Carme post-pregnancy. 

I love the sleeves details - it makes the shirt much a more professional finish compared to other tops I have made. 

As you can see it is totally wearable for any occasion, even on a bouncy castle with a toddler (I am not event looking too pregnant in this picture). 

I wished I had left a bit of fabric at the bottom. I am now nearly 7 months pregnant and it is fine, but it is probably not going to last me that long - although the maternity jeans is/will be helpful. 

I made a size 42/44 (following the measurements) but I should have really stuck to my normal size (40/42) - it would have been a bit more hugging, and less pregnancy-like. But give me a month, and I might be happy to have that excess fabric on the sides! 

I do love that shirt, it works for casual look as well as work wear. I like how the plumetis adds interest to the fabric in a subtle way. You can read Michelle's review here

This is of course not my first time sewing a Pauline Alice patterns, and in addition to the sew along videos the illustrations are really good and make the process very enjoyable. You can see my Cami dress and Malvarosa dress here and here - all made when I was not pregnant, those were easy times to sew garments! 

Embroidered Boxy Pouch | Le Challenge

Sunday, 14 September 2014

*For your last chance to win one yard of organic cotton fabric dyed naturally
please make sure you enter the giveaway here*

When I showed my finished le challenge project this month, Mr MiH said, oh look you made another boxy pouch. Yes, I did dear, but this one is special. I added the embroidery, it is felt, can't you see? 

So yes, this is my third boxy pouch - following the steps (but not measurements) of the Kelbysews tutorial - adapted to felt. And it is my le Challenge entry (the theme is era - and the interlining fabric is one that I got from Mary's vintage sheet swap). 

To make your own embroidered boxy pouch, you will need:

- 2 pieces of embroidered felt (tutorial just below) 
       I bought this one measuring 30 cm by 45cm
- 2 pieces of medium-weight interfacing of the same dimensions (30cm by 45 cm)
- 2 pieces of coordinated fabric of the same dimensions (30cm by 45 cm)
- 2 pieces of felt measuring 1.5' x 5' for the side tabs
- a zip which fits with the longest side of the the felt pieces - mine is 14'
- matching thread 


To add the embroidery on felt (or any other fabric), I used some DMC soluble canvas (which is actually quite expensive for what you get, so I am now trying to use waste canvas - I will let you know how I get on). 

To make this embroidery (but you can make whatever pattern you fancy of course) - I marked the middle of the felt pieces.  

Baste the soluble canvas cut to size (making that little square you get last!) in place. It is great way to keep it place, it is a bit annoying to unpick after the cross-stitching is done, so may be better to go for longer stitches. 

Do it on both sides. 

And let the cross-stitching begin. You use the soluble canvas as a normal canvas. I used three threads of DMC thread, I chose (following an IG debate) to go for matching the thread to the vintage interlining fabric. 

Follow the instructions to dissolve the soluble canvas - it works! Et voila! You are ready to make your pouch! You  may find the felt has shrunk a bit, so look check out the pieces again to make sure they have the same size throughout the project. 

The main difference between my pouch and the Kelbysews one is that with felt you don't need to worry about the fabric edges and you leave them showing. It is supposed t make it easier to match the embroidery - but that did not work out as well for me (maybe next time). 

So you place the raw edge of the felt fabric interfaced next to the zip opening, and the interlining as you would normally on a boxy pouch. 

I like to baste everything before sewing with a zip - but this is a personal choice. 

Time to sew the zip into place (easier to open the zip to make neater ends). 

Press and you should end up with something like this (this is the inside)

Sew the two pieces together (the bottom of your pouch) - as you can see I had to make a neater edge. 

You then carry on with the pouch like recommended on the Kelbysews tutorial. 

Finally you have a brand new fancy boxy pouch! 

I love my boxy pouches, but this one is much boxier - because of the sturdiness of the felt I suppose and probably looks like what I had in mind when I started making boxy pouches. I suppose you could adapt the interfacing according to what you need/want. 

For all the other Era entries, go to Le Challenge - the link up party is now open!

Baby Boom | Red Book Cover Tutorial

Friday, 12 September 2014

*For a chance to win one yard of organic cotton fabric dyed naturally
please make sure you enter the giveaway here*

You may remember that I had made a red book cover for Baby MiH (for my non-UK readers the 'red book' is a health book). This has a very specific size which, of course, does not fit in any small handbags, and is not that attractive (think pastic-y cover). The cover I made for Baby MiH, is the one item I use all the time, his actual red book cover has not seen the light of day - but also the one that has received the most (positive) comments from randoms (well his doctor and nurses).

So you all know I am pregnant, what you might not be aware of is that a lot of my friends are also pregnant, and it is all happening right now - literally. And as I am destashing, this is the perfect opportunity to make the most of all the fabrics I have - and finally write down the tutorial - and be able to have handmade presents ready for my friends. 

I already made 3 and I have another 2 to make (for the time being)...

Like the first time, I adapted Bloom's journal cover tutorial to the size of the red book. The difference this time is that I actually took some notes (because I may be making many of those in the future).

You will need: 
  • Three different fabrics (I usually use a solid colour and a pattern fabric for the outside, and a third matching one for the interlining - but this is totally a personal choice). 
  • Lightweight fusible Pellon
  • Enough fusible web for the cross 
  • Matching thread

To make this red book cover you will need to cut:

- From fabric A, two pieces at the following dimensions: 20.5' x 6.75' and 6' x 6.75', and the cross (made from a 2'x2' square)
- From fabric B, one piece measuring 6' x 6.75'
- From the interlining fabric (fabric C), one piece measuring 10' x 6.75' 
- From the Pellon, one long piece measuring 31' x 6.25' 

With the fusible side of the Pellon facing upwards, press the smallest piece cut from fabric A on the right hand-side. Beware of not going over the fabric and onto the pellon. 

Pin the piece from fabric B, right sides facing and stitch using a 1/4' seam allowance.

Flip the piece back across the Pellon and press. (From the back, your fabric should overhang the Pellon by 0.25". This avoids bulk in the seam later).

Repeat this step with the larger rectangle of fabric A, stitching it to the left side of fabric B. 

Cut your cross out of your fusible web and press it onto fabric A. Cut the cross out. I press the cross 0.5' from the top and left-hand side of fabric B (after being stitched or 0.75' before being stitched on the Pellon).

Using a matching thread, I put my sewing machine on its blanket stitch setting, and stitched around the cross. It is a bit funny to go round the cross, so try first on scrap fabric. 

You can topstitch rows of straight stitching - depending the look you are going for. 

You have now finished the exterior of the cover, time, to look after the inside.

Turn the raw, short ends of the rectangle under by 0.25" and topstitch. 

With the right side of your journal cover facing upwards, turn each of the short ends in by 6.5'' and pin.

Pin in place the piece of fabric C over the journal cover, matching centres. If fabric C is patterned, right sides should be facing. Stitch the top and bottom seam using a 0.25" seam allowance. 

You should now be able to turn the entire journal cover in the right way & press. 

And the inside could look something like this:

So yes this tutorial is very specific to the red book cover, but it gives you an alternative to Bloom's A5 book cover tutorial, and may inspire you to adapt this tutorial to another book (or health book) you use all the time. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I will probably be at my machine making a few more anyway. 

On the other note, le Challenge is resuming on Sunday after the summer break - this month's theme is ERA (and yes I could have entered that cover using teddy bears vintage fabric). Here is a sneak peek of mine. 

Don't forget to link in your project for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop as well as a lovely bundle of 10 FQs from Mary Emmens's shop!

Pattern Picks| BT Fall Vol. 14 {Knitting}

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

*For a chance to win one yard of organic cotton fabric dyed naturally
please make sure you enter the giveaway here*

It is out... Another 16 patterns released yesterday by the designer team over at Brooklyn Tweed - and if you are a fan of cables you are in for a treat. These patterns are meant to be knitted in the long nights that are coming with the winter. It is intricate work - and some patterns are beautiful. However I am not totally overwhelmed by one pattern - they are all very beautiful, just maybe not my style, or some awkward shaping? 

I do have some favourites - and it is interesting to compare my favourites to the ones on Ravelry (if you go on the pattern list, you can see for instance that Wake is currently the favourite but does not feature on my list). 

I am not sure what is more appealing - the styling of Ludlow (love the burnt orange/electric blue combo) or the geometric pattern. I like the idea that there is no wrong side to the wrap. It mentions that this would be a project that you can leave and pick up whenever you want, again probably the sort of project that would appeal to me right now, or when the baby is here. I do love a big stole to wrap around my neck in winters. 

I think I like Backbay, but I definitely don't like it in that colour. It reminds me of course of Berenice from BT Kids - and I would actually consider make a short sleeves version of it to layer on top of a chambray shirt - an all-year-round garment. I am not sure about the bottom ribbing, it looks funny - maybe it is a question of proportions, a longer ribbing may be better? 

I am not as inspired by Skiff as I was by Bough but it may be a great hat for Mr MiH especially in that chocolate brown colour. I do love the cable work and how it comes together at the crown of the hat. There is a slouchy version too, but even with the addition of a pompom, and we know how much I like a pompom, Bough still wins. 

Rowe would be like my ultimate knit. Chunky ribbing, amazing cable work - I would be impressed if I were able to every finish it, and how amazing would that be. It would be perfect for the winter. But I have to be realistic, this is not going to happen this year - or until I have to attend the boys' sport training sessions, and get 'free' time to knit. 

Tiller may be also a  for Mr MiH . I gave Wayfarer to my Mum - Mr MiH was never wearing it, and then he decided (of course) that he liked it... The net of it is that I owe him a scarf, and Tiller might just be the ticket. I think it is probably too chunky for me, but at 6'2 Mr MiH could handle all that pattern. Also I think I would be learning quite a few techniques from it, a bonus of course. 
So what is your favourite? What did you think? Other patterns, and beautiful photographs are of course on line in the Ebook available here.

Can normal sewing patterns work for maternity wear? #2

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

*For a chance to win one yard of organic cotton fabric dyed naturally
please make sure you enter the giveaway here*

After the fun and success of our first project together, we decided to sew together again.

So the aim is still to sew the SAME normal pattern, but the choice is probably more limited as we have to be able to adapt for maternity wear. In between the posts, we email each other of course talking about the process, what we learn, how we get on, modifications we are considering but also potential new patterns we should try. We will probably post one post together with our final garment, and another one explaining the modifications made to adapt them to our current shapes. 

Our first pattern was the TOVA from Wiksten. The second one is the Carme Blouse by Pauline Alice. There is a sew-along on Pauline's blog, and it provides instructions on how to modify the pattern for pregnancy wear.  

The Carme Blouse is a feminine shirt with a small mao style collar and lots of details! Depending on the fabric you choose, it has the potential to be very versatile, perfect for work or weekend wear. 

The pattern is definitely the most challenging one that we have used (ever), notably in terms of number of pieces you have to deal with but also the finishing (the pin tucks of course, but also the sleeves). All these details make the shirt look very professional in the end, and the sew-along makes the process as painless as possible. The instructions for this pattern are very detailed and full of illustrations. Now that the Carme is done, it really gives us confident to tackle more advanced projects.  

As for the fit, we both had to grade it, and still wondering whether the fit is right. It may be an idea to go one size smaller than the measurements suggest to make it more fitted, which will work better (even for the maternity version). A lot of bloggers have made a few versions of the Carme blouse for their wardrobe. The look is quite distinctive, and there may be some many Carme you would want to have in your wardrobe. The process may also deter us from making more of them, but it is probably not a definite no - just a no right now.

We would rate this an advanced intermediate pattern - there are few tricky bits and a lot of finishing to do (and many trips to the ironing board for those pin tucks!), and many pieces to handle (and try not to lose). Do choose a fabric that marks easily - there are a lot of things that will go on it. 

Have you made the Carme blouse? What was your experience? For our own modifications, check out our blogs in the course of the week! 

We have chosen our next pattern (with less pieces), and now comes the choice of fabrics - always an exciting part!