Monday, 8 August 2016

Sew Easy: New Look 6389

I recently asked Monkeychild to pick out a sewing pattern for a summer outfit. My only conditions was that it had to be age appropriate and easy to sew. Luckily she choose a playsuit with an elasticated waist from the New Look 6389 pattern.

I was pleased that she choose this as its a versatile pattern, which looks appropriate for a tween and not too grown up. Its also a practical cover-up and easy to change into after swimming, which is what Monkeychild had in mind.

For the fabric, we visited Fabric Land in Bristol as it stocks a wide range of fabrics at really great prices; its one of my favourite shops. Monkeychild chose an Aztec print jersey at £3.99 a metre and I only had to buy a metre and half, so I was happy with that.

As the pattern pieces for View D are for ages 8 to 16, I didn't want to cut them up too much as I'll probably re-use them as Monkeychild grows. Instead, I folded the pattern pieces to follow the cutting line for age 10, leaving it intact for the larger sizes. I only had to make a few strategic cuts here and there, but these can be easily taped up later. 

I'd never sewn with jersey before, so was a bit hesitant about its stretch and how it would sew up. Luckily Husband had just treated me to a new Janome sewing machine and I first put it to good use by using its knit stitch to finish the edge of the cut out pieces before seaming. 

I pattern matched the front okay, but matching the back pieces was a bit iffy, which I put down to me pulling at the fabric too much when sewing up.

The pattern was really straightforward and was just what I needed to cleanse my sewing palate after the #VintagePledge 'Disaster Dress'

The outfit had its first outing on Charnmouth beach on our recent holiday in Dorset and it stood up to its rigorous sand and seawater test!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Disaster Dress! #VintagePledge2016

I was excited when Kerry from Kestrel Makes asked me to take part in this year's #VintagePledge by doing a guest post on her blog about one of the vintage projects that I chose to make.

I knew instantly which pattern I was going to sew as it had been lingering in my collection for a while and always caught my eye. Its a McCall's pattern from 1978 so fitted the vintage brief perfectly. I decided to go for View A as its a maxi dress (natch!), has a v-neck which looks good on me and I was attracted by the bodice detail.

All I needed now was the fabric and I was lucky to find some lightweight polyester in Preston's branch of Abakhan for about £2.00 a metre in their sale. That was a great find as I liked the novelty-style print of prancing horses, cowboys and cacti (the colours are 'me' too) and I needed 4.5 metres of the stuff! 

The cutting out stage was tedious especially the skirt sections as they were very long (I know its a maxi - but there''s long and long!). When it came to sewing up the pieces, the seams started to pucker even though I used a fine needle and had the machine's tension settings right.

After  lot of swearing, the dress started to come together and my next hurdle was the zip. Now, zips and I aren't the best of buddies. I can happily manage small ones, but I had an unwieldy 55cm zip to fit this time. I basted and machined it, yet to my critical eye it didn't sit well. Cue more swearing...

I decided to hand-sew the hem as I prefer the finish to a machined one and this was probably the best bit as I sat outside in the sun and happily stitched for an hour.

I'd been trying on and adjusting the dress as I went along and was hoping that it would look great once finished. But after trying on the completed dress I decided that it wasn't one of my best sewing projects and felt 'meh' when I looked in the mirror.

The skirt is too full and the gathers at the waist aren't the most flattering, but I do like the neck and sleeves, and the length is just right.

I wrote my piece for Kerry soon after I had finished it and was feeling gloomy post-sewing; I even thought I'd consign it to our local fabric recycling centre, but I've worn it at home and its not as bad as I first thought. I don't think that I'll wear it out, but will float about the garden with it on!

This hasn't put me off sewing as we all have our 'urgh' projects now and then, and I think its good to share this 'disaster dress' with other people who might be in the same sewing error boat as me so to speak.

You can read about it more on Kerry's blog here: Liza's Vintage Pledge Project: The Disaster Dress

P.S. My next sewing project was more successful. Its a modern pattern so doesn't qualify as part of #VintagePledge, but I'll post about it soon.

Rowan 'Softest Merino Wool' Review

I've been given the chance by online yarn seller Laughing Hens to review Rowan's latest A/W offering 'Softest Merino Wool' before it goes on general sale*, so here's my thoughts and findings.

Vital Statistics: Weighing in at 100g with an approximate length of 100 metres, this is a 100% wool yarn comprising superwash merino. The 'superwash' bit means that the yarn has been processed so that it can be machine washed and won't felt afterwards.

Its recommended needle size of 7mm indicates it being a 'chunky' weight and when it comes to the tension, a swatch should measure (depending on your own personal tension) 10cm x 10cm using 19 rows and 13.5 stitches using those 7mm needles.

Squishability: This yarn is undeniably soft and would make the cosiest, yet lightweight winter cardigan. I reckon it would drape well too and wouldn't have any unwanted bulkiness.

Versatility: I checked out Rowan's website to see what pattern support is available, but there's nothing showing as yet. No doubt they'll be issuing patterns for a variety of jumpers, cardigans and accessories ready in time for autumn knitting. I reckon that this yarn would work well with textured stitches like moss or bramble and also for cables too.

Value for Money: The RRP is £10.50 per ball, which for a 100g ball of merino wool is comparable to other brands offering the same weight, length and yarn composition. Just to put it into actual quantities for a small knitting project, I thought that I'd see how much it would cost to knit up a snood using a pattern from Rowan's 'Boho Chic' book that uses a similar chunky yarn weight.

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According to Rowan, the 'Primrose Snood' requires 421 metres of yarn, which equates to about about four and a quarter balls of 'Softest Merino Wool' retailing at roughly £52.50 for five balls of yarn. From a personal viewpoint, I wouldn't spend this much money on a snood for myself, but I know of Rowan fans out there (mentioning no names - C****e!) who'd be likely to knit a similar accessory for a birthday/Christmas present for someone special using this yarn.

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Wash n' Wear: I've knitted up a swatch but haven't washed it to see how it performs, so the following are considerations rather than observations. I would be interested to see how much blocking a sizeable garment knitted from this yarn would need and if there's much stretching afterwards. As its a superwash yarn I wouldn't expect it to felt or 'pill' after its been washed on its recommended 30 degree machine wash (no tumble drying though!).

Final Verdict: I do like this merino yarn as it felt so smooth to knit with; especially using wooden needles - it virtually glided along the them! If I could find a wearable accessory pattern that required two balls maximum, I would be tempted to buy them - yes, I am a skinflint knitter! However, if you're not on a yarn budget like me and love the feel of chunky-knit merino wool, the quality of Rowan yarns and the added bonus of being able to bung your knit into the washing machine, then 'Softest Merino Wool' might be worth giving a go. Just imagine the the amazing super-cosy blanket you could knit with it...

* A free ball of Rowan's 'Softest Merino Wool' was provided by Laughing Hens for the purpose of undertaking this review.

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