23 January 2015

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

I had to call this post "The Big Reveal" so we could have a little chuckle and remember back to my Handmade Wardrobe challenge in 2013.  Ah, wasn't it so much fun?! Crazy busy but fun. I'm not sure if I'll manage to make a whole outfit every month ever again but I'm so glad I did for so many months that year - I've absolutely lived in those clothes. It surprised me how well the outfits coordinated with each other - I'll tell you all about it sometime ...

Anyhow, here we have my first finished summer outfit. I'm both amazed that I've actually done it and super pleased that I have.

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

Of course my Washi top took all of fifteen minutes to finish. I hand-stitched the seam, catching it ever so carefully so you can't see the stitching from the outside and gave it a press.

It's a lovely fit across the chest and I've taken some width out from the waist/hip region so it is a little narrower which works better for me. No pockets this time which I'm kind of missing although they'd probably look silly. I'm wondering about a slightly longer, lightweight, tunic version with a simple scooped neckline and colourful pockets ...

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

It's hard to see the detail on my Moss skirt because it's so dark. The fly worked pretty well although I would like to try it again with lighter fabric. The drill was so thick layer upon layer and my poor sewing machine didn't much like it. I didn't even try a button hole in the waistband. Instead I used a trouser hook and bar to hold the waistband closed.

It's a groovy, comfortable wee skirt if you don't mind having all your legs on show. I made the shorter version of the skirt and I like the details such as the yoke at the back and the angled pockets. I didn't do any top stitching but I think I'd like to try some on another skirt.

I did find however that the skirt came up a little large on me. I could have gone down a couple of sizes and took a chunk out of both sides before I attached the waistband. It wasn't the pattern - it was me. When trying to work out which size to make I found my waist measured four whole sizes larger than my hips. Worried that it wouldn't fit if I made the smaller size I cut out the larger one. Now I've made the skirt I realise that it goes nowhere near my waist. It sits right down on my hips. Next time I'll go with the smaller size.

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

My necklace is fun. I bought the beads on Etsy a couple of years ago and the black beads and leather cord were from my stash. 

I tried a couple of ways of string the beads. Initially I thought I'd string them simply on the leather but it wouldn't fit through the holes on the beads! That's when I added the black beads, trying first one then two between each wooden piece. Two worked better and I added a couple more on each end too. All the beads are strung onto some clear plastic jewellery "wire". I made a small loop at each end and tied my leather cord to each loop with a long tail so I could knot the cord for several inches up itself. The knots are slightly haphard and look a little like crochet. 

I'm the worst critic of my own creatiions. I wasn't sure about the necklace as I made it. Would it look ok? Would it look totally amateur? I tried to look at it as if I was viewing it in a shop. Would I like it then? In the end I decided I would, in a "tribal" meets "urban" sort of way.

Well, I'm so pleased that I've finally got something new to wear this summer. Let's hope the good weather stays around for a while because I'm itching for more summer clothes now! 


20 January 2015

Getting Back to Sewing & My Top Tools

Getting Back To Sewing & My Tops Tools

Getting back to sewing has been no easy feat. I've really wanted to sew, needed to sew but try as I may, I just couldn't manage to get myself in front of my sewing machine. 

I'm very pleased to tell you that that's changed. I've done it! I have been sewing. I actually finished the first of my summer outfits and it feels so good. Was it really September when I started? Oh dear. Never mind, at least I'm feeling motivated now.

But, before I show you my new outfit, I thought I'd tell you a few things that helped get me back to sewing in case you also need some encouragement, and share a few of my favourite sewing tools with you.

Here we go. Ideas that worked for me that you might feel inspired to try:

  • Publicly announce that you're going to sew something. Once I told you on my podcast I was going to sew my skirt and make time for sewing, well I had to do it. I didn't want to turn up here in a couple of months and confess that I still hadn't done it. Perhaps it might work for you to tell someone you're going to sew a specific thing? Even better, suggest you do it together!
  • Break the job into parts and tackle one little bit at a time. I organised my pattern and cut out my fabric long before I sewed a seam. Then, when I did start sewing I broke the pattern down into chunks and told myself I was just going to do steps A, B, and C then have a break. Once I started sewing I actually went on to do more than those first steps because I was having so much fun.
  • Start even if your sewing space/table isn't perfect. This is a biggie for me. I like making things in a tidy space. It's easy with knitting, I can knit anywhere so I tend to plonk myself down somewhere tidy. With sewing I like to tidy up my table before I start and sometimes this task takes all my sewing time. This time, I gave everything a quick straighten and got on with my sewing. I didn't do my big sort and wipe. You know? It was actually ok ;)
  • Stop buying clothes aka get desperate. I haven't bought myself any new clothes for a very long time partly because I don't tend to go to the shops, partly because we're spending any spare money on our house but mostly because I am determined that I should sew my own clothes and wear a handmade wardrobe. Now it's hot I'm starting to feel desperate. It's sew or keep wearing the same couple of cool outfits day in and day out. Do you buy things you could easily sew?
  • And finally, organise a chunk of time to sew. I sat down on Saturday afternoon and made my skirt. Before I started I organised Mr Myrtle to make dinner so I didn't have to stop. I don't like sewing in a rush, I always make mistakes and stopping and starting isn't much fun either. A long stretch of time allows me to relax and sew carefully. 
  • It helps to gather a few good tools too. My favourite sewing tools are lined up in the photo: a magnetic pin-cushion, a good un-picker, sharp scissors, a rubber hoop for bobbins and a tackle box for my sewing machine feet. My iron isn't in the picture but I couldn't sew without my it, essential! Do you have favourite sewing tools? What can't you live without?

So there you go. Some ideas to get you started. What do you think? Fancy doing some sewing too?


16 January 2015

My Epistrophy Cardigan Is Finished!

Epistrophy Cardigan

I may have been heard saying "roll on winter" after taking these photos. Of course I didn't really mean it, the summer is glorious - but I'm so thrilled that my cardigan is ready to wear and I know I'm going to live in it when the cold weather does eventually arrive.

Epistrophy Cardigan

Epistropy is a lovely pattern and I love how mine has worked out but I think the overwhelmingly great thing about my particular cardigan is the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern. They were made for each other. 

You'll remember I used Outlaw Yarn's Vanitas DK? My initial impression was spot on. I'm pleased to say that it's soft, warm and delicious to wear. The halo of the alpaca gives it a rather ethereal look and the colour work knitted up beautifully. I think it'll settle into place even better over time.  

Epistrophy Cardigan

The pattern was good too. Of course I made nearly every mistake possible - but it was my rushing that was the cause of that rather than the pattern. It was well written and straightforward to follow. I really liked how the designer (Kate Davies) numbers each section in big bold text. It makes it easy to find your place again.

Epistrophy Cardigan

The steeking wasn't too bad after all, once I got going. Did you catch it on Instagram? I made a little video when I cut it up the middle. I may have held my breath! 

The only thing I wasn't overly keen on was stitching on the ribbon to hide/secure the cut edge. I was worried that I'd bunch up the stitches and pucker the knitting. Fortunately that didn't happen, although it'll be interesting to see if the back of the cardigan droops over time in comparison to the front.


It was a bit fiddly getting the ribbon flat, even and the same on both sides. I found it it easier to stitch on the ribbon when I laid my cardigan on the carpet and crouched down. The carpet held it in place so that it didn't wriggle around and everything stayed nice and flat. A very sharp needle helps slide through the ribbon too. To make the two sides the same length I lay the finished side next to the second side and tried to match them up. I used the tiniest stitches I could. Be prepared for the stitching to take quite a while!

Epistrophy Cardigan

If I was to make one change I think I'd add a couple of inches to the sleeves. They just fit at the length suggested but I've realised that I tend to pull the top of the my sleeve up a bit and they could really manage being a bit longer. 

I think the whole sleeve length issue is one of the downsides of knitting sleeves bottom up rather than top down. I toyed with the idea of adding a bit more length before I joined the yoke but decided not to after measuring my arms a bunch of times and deciding that it'd likely work ok at the length suggested by the designer. Now I'm done, I can't easily go back and add length.

I'm making an effort to update my Ravelry projects page this year. I've a few things that I haven't put up yet. So, starting as I mean to go on, my Ravelry page for my Epistrophy cardigan is here.


P.S.  You've made me so happy with all your lovely comments and messages about my first podcast! Thank you so much! I was so nervous about showing you but your encouragement has made me really look forward to recording the next one. I loved hearing about the WIPs you've got hidden away and I'm so glad I managed to make a few of you feel better about your piles of half-finished projects! X

P.P.S. If you fancy joining in a very casual Pomme de Pin cardigan KAL, come and find us on Instagram by searching the tag #pommedepinkal. You're welcome to join in whether you're just starting a brand new project or have a half-finished cardigan tucked away. 


13 January 2015

Truly Myrtle Podcast - Episode 1!

Oh my goodness - it's happened! 

I've recorded the first Truly Myrtle Podcast.

I've been so nervous about showing you. It's definitely not perfect, I've got a lot to work on, it's the real me in there ... but at least I've started! ...

Here we go ... 





Happy watching! X


9 January 2015

Tips & Tricks: Using PDF Sewing Patterns

Tips & Tricks - PDF Sewing Patterns

I've generally steered away from pdf sewing patterns. Well, that's not entirely true. When I started sewing there was no such thing as the internet, let alone sewing patterns you could download. In my late teens and twenties I bought loads of paper patterns. I subscribed to the Vogue sewing magazine and bought everything that caught my eye with my hard-earned cash. In recent years, I haven't actually bought many new sewing patterns because more often than not I've adjusted those old patterns. When I've bought new patterns they were mostly paper patterns because that's what I'm used to. I've only used a few pdf patterns and two of those came with a Craftsy classes. So, when I bought the Moss skirt pdf pattern from Grainline Studios, I decided now was a good time to learn a thing or two about using pdf patterns. 

I set about finding out everything I could. Since pdf patterns are available online I figured that was the best place to get information. I found a couple of really popular posts on using pdf sewing patterns*, tips and tricks from sewing bloggers and dozens and dozens of comments and tips written by "sewists" all over the world.

I noted everything down, especially where suggestions contradicted and got to work with my own pattern to see which suggestions I liked. Here's what I discovered:


PRINTING

  • Turn off page scaling and set your print scale to 100% or "actual size". Don't click "scale to fit". You want to make sure you're printing off your pattern at exactly the size it was designed.
  • One of the pages will include a test square, usually between 1 and 3 inches square. Print this page off first and carefully measure that it is the size it says it is. If it is a different size, check your page scaling again.
  • Print your patterns in "draft" mode, it's quicker and uses less ink.

Tips & Tricks - PDF Sewing Patterns

PREPARING THE PATTERN FOR CUTTING

  • When you print the pattern you'll see there are instruction pages and pattern pages. Gather together all the pattern pages.
  • Trim off the left and top margins off all the pattern pages, you don't need to trim the bottom and right hand side margins. (If at this stage you want to work out which pieces will lie at the top and left side you can also leave these ones). Some people suggested folding the sides down instead of trimming them. I preferred cutting them off, it's fast and accurate.
  • I used scissors but lots of people recommend using an old rotary cutter and a quilting ruler. I didn't try either because I don't have them but it sounds like a great idea.
  • The pattern pieces will usually be printing with an alpha-numeric system. That is, numbers and letters. You job is to match up the numbers and letters. Either, lay all the pieces out so that the numbers and letters match up, or match them one by one and get on with the next step. There should be a schematic or "taping key" included with the pattern which will give you a guide as to how the pieces look when they're all joined up. I rather liked getting them roughly organised before I started.
  • Line up two adjoining pages as straight and as flat as possible and tape them together. I tried a glue stick but thought tape was more secure. Use lots of small squares of tape to join the pieces rather than one long strip. Not only is it cheaper but I think it's more accurate. Having said that, a little inaccuracy isn't the end of the world here. 
  • A tape dispenser is really useful at this stage!
  • Matt tape is iron-friendly so if you iron your pieces flat you might consider using either masking tape, a matt washi tape or medical tape. I used some medical tape until I realised I'd likely empty the medicine kit and resorted to plain old sticky tape which was fine. I'm not planning to iron my pieces.
  • Tape is stronger if fixed diagonally to the join and be sure to reinforce areas where three or more pieces come together.
  • You only need to tape the areas inside your pattern pieces but if you can't quite work out where that is at this stage, no matter.



CUTTING OUT YOUR PATTERN

  • Firstly, you don't need to cut out your pattern pieces. Feel free to trace your pieces onto paper if that's what you usually do.
  • I roughly cut out a couple of pieces as soon as they were completed and then cut them more accurately at the end but preferred sticking the whole lot together and then cutting each piece out. There's no right way of doing this, just make sure you've got the right joined together if you're roughly cutting out as you go!
  • I used scissors but again, an old rotary cutter could do this too.
  • Once all your pieces have been assembled and cut out, secure the cut edges and then flip them over and secure the joins on the back.


Tips & Tricks - PDF Sewing Patterns

USING YOUR PATTERN PIECES

  • Use the pattern pieces them as you would a regular pattern.
  • I used weights to hold the pieces down on my fabric rather than pins which are harder to use with thick paper and tend to bend.



STORING YOUR PDF PATTERNS

I rather like these ideas:

  • Folded into zip lock bags
  • Rolled and stored in a tube or secured with a rubber band. Rolled patterns can be stored standing upright in a box.
  • Hang on clip clothes hangers. 
  • Punch a hole in a corner of each piece and the instructions and tie them together with yarn, bakers twine or a metal ring. These patterns could be hung on a hook.
  • Fold and store in a plastic sleeve in a ring-binder.


Do you have any other tips for using pdf patterns? I didn't mention using a commercial printing shop to print everything off in one large piece. I'm not sure if it'd be cost effective - have you tried it?

Righto, best I get sewing!


* Sewaholic & Colette Patterns published checklists for using pdf patterns within a week of each other and both are great.