All Buttoned Up

Bonus Outfit ...

After all your helpful comments and messages about my dyeing experiments, I ended up playing it safe and dyed my skirt in a great big pot of darjeeling tea. 

A few of you mentioned that the beautiful blue of the red cabbage would fade to grey and that the onions would also wash out quickly, and apparently, the beetroot would have turned out red if I'd added some vinegar to my pot. Anyway, tea it is, and other than a couple of splotches where some marks on the fabric took the dye more strongly (and I'm hoping they fade with time and washing), it looks okay.

At first I thought I'd use some wooden buttons down the front, but these green buttons leapt out at me when I opened my button box. I can't remember where I picked them up, but they look old and worn and rather fabulous. Unfortunately it meant some fiddling about with the button holes to make them larger ... and I didn't do the neatest of jobs with that, but I think my shoddy work is mostly hidden behind the buttons, so we'll pretend it never happened and move on.

Bonus Outfit ...

The change of buttons also meant that my plans for a blue top were scarpered. Really, that is no bad thing, because knitting the blue top is dependant on me finishing writing up my new pattern ... and that is taking far too long for my liking. I'm feeling a little cross that I haven't had a new outfit to show you for absolutely ages and sewing a top is much, much quicker. Plus, I found this rather funky Liberty print in my fabric stash and it's just perfect.

So far, I've managed to cut out the pieces for a tank top based on a pattern that I bought nearly 20 years ago ... I'm going to do my very best to sew it together over the next few days and show it to you next week.

I'm also going to do my very best to make another skirt so that I can finish poor old outfit 5. To be honest, I'm dithering about which pattern to use and there is a real possibility it might turn out a little different to my initial plan. We'll see.

Imagine if I had TWO Outfits to show you next week?! Fingers crossed X

Scrummy French Press Slippers

Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

Thank you for all the twin needle suggestions! Lots of you shared so many great ideas for sewing with knits in the comments at the bottom of my last post, as well as on the Truly Myrtle Facebook page. If you haven't seen them, you might like to check them out. I even discovered a fabric shop stocking pretty fantastic cotton knit ... 

You'll see from my picture that my slippers are finished. In the end I went for the simplest of embroidered buttons - a running stitch with the yarn I used for my slippers. It was quick, I think it's effective and I love the way the stitches change colour through the button. Birdy button will have to wait for something else ...

Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

I did manage something a little mind-boggling though. I charted the instructions for the slippers and knitted the side pieces and the bottom as one piece. It took quite a bit of concentrating, but it was worth it. The slippers knitted up fast and I only had a little seaming to do at the heels and toes.

See my green slippers? That's why I need new ones ;)

 Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

The whole felting thing was more nerve-racking than I anticipated. The slippers started off pretty huge but I had little idea of how fast or how much they would shrink in our front loading washing machine, and it's not possible to whip them out quickly because the door locks when water is in the bottom of the drum. I had to drain it then open it.

In the end, I put them in a pillowcase and threw them in a 95°C cycle with a couple of pairs of canvas shoes that needed a wash. I used a little washing powder and washed them in short bursts of about 5 - 10 mins. They started felting pretty quickly but took longer to shrink. Once they were nearly there I soaked them in a bowl of boiling water but impatience over took me and I bunged them back in the machine for another 5 minutes ... that definitely shrunk them. They're a snug fit now.

Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

There's an added complication when you're making two of anything; trying to make them look the same.  My slippers are pretty much the same, but one is definitely better than the other. My seaming up the toe on the right hand slipper looks worse in this picture than when it's on my foot, but it's not great. I must have bunched my seam a bit sewing them up - it sort of puckers a bit. The backs are okay and I'm pleased with the straps across the front.

Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

Underneath, I've squirted some no slip rubbery stuff. Man, it was tricky to control! Splodge, slurp, dribble. Hopeless! It does feel pretty cool and at least it's out of sight.

Outfit 4 - French Press Slippers

Outfit 4 is very nearly done. Some finishing on my cardigan, a soak and block and I'm there. Stay tuned for another big reveal very soon ...

In the meantime, you can find my slippers here, on Ravelry.

Birdy Button

Sometimes ideas that seem fabulous in your head, aren't that great in "real life".

I'm making slippers for Outfit 4 and I thought I'd like to have a crack at making the buttons for them. Linen and embroidery felt like a good idea. I had visions of beautiful, delicate, stunningly complicated, extraordinary patterns, swirling on my beautiful buttons ... yeah, I know.

I failed to take into account that in real life, I am a total novice at embroidery and *whispers* I'm not sure I really want to learn how to do it properly ....

So, although my kids think it's cute, my bird button is embarrassingly twee, and I don't think I'm going to use it on my slippers! But, I'll tell you how I made it anyway.

Birdy Button

I haven't made covered buttons before. I think once upon a time lots of folding under and cursing may have accompanied the making of covered buttons. Or, did people cover up old buttons with fabric? ... These days there is a special contraption which makes covered buttons a total breeze.

Birdy Button

After I drew a little bird shape on the linen with a special pen that vanishes upon contact with water, I stitched a running stitch border, lots of little stitches to fill it in, a sort of chain stitch for a wing and a french knot for an eye. The next step was to cut the linen into a circle.

Birdy ButtonBirdy Button

It was then that the real fun began. The little bird was tucked face down into the appropriate hole in the rubbery base (mine was for a 29mm button) and the smooth button upper wedged in on top. I folded the excess fabric in towards the centre of the button and inserted the button back over the raised shank so that the letters on the back faced the right way.

Birdy ButtonBirdy Button

Next I placed the hard set of circles over the button bottom and pressed firmly. The little fingers in my photo belong to my 3 year old helper. She was a very good finger model but wasn't strong enough to actually do much pressing.

So, I pressed firmly, listened for a little click noise as the button fixed together and then "popped" it out of the rubbery base. Bingo. Button.

Birdy Button

And, from the front. One funny little birdy button with a very uncertain fate.

Outfit 4 - Plans and Dreams

Well, I can't quite believe the wonderful reaction to Outfit 3!  I am so grateful for all your generous comments and kindness! I was a bit nervous about whether it would work, right up until I put the whole outfit on, and I didn't expect anyone to like it quite so much! I'm really thrilled :) Thank you.

But, back to business! April has begun and with it, Outfit 4. Since Spring isn't looking like showing its face anytime soon, despite the clocks changing here in the UK and the kids getting ready to go back to school for the "summer" term, I thought I'd try to freshen things up, but make sure I stay warm at the same time.

Outfit 4 is all about pyjamas, or "loungewear" as they seem to be called these days. I've got grand plans to glamorously lounge about in my new pyjamas so I'm calling this Outfit something like: She wakes up refreshed and invigorated, slips on her cardigan and her luscious slippers and glides downstairs to enjoy a peaceful coffee. It's a fabulous fantasy.

So, what am I making?

Outfit 4 - Cosy Planning

First up, a great big cosy cardigan. I'm not a dressing gown wearer. I prefer to be snuggled up in a cardigan and my current cosy cardy is worn out. Really. Holes and everything. So, it's time for another. I've decided to indulge in a little Amy Christoffers again (addicted...) and have cast on her Bailey cardigan in some soft and silky yarn that I bought a few years ago at Knit Nation in London. Remember, the event that changed my life? This lovely yarn has been waiting patiently for me. It's an Alpaca/Silk blend from Tall Yarns 'n Tales and I've actually dyed it blue myself! Cool huh?!

Outfit 4 - Cosy Planning

I'm going for a sloppy long-sleeved T and comfy bottoms under my cardigan. Take a look at the fabric I've found for the pants!!! LOVE! The yellow just sings to me and the wee sprigs of colour have such a vintage feel. The fabric is a light, silky cotton voile by Art Gallery Voile and it's perfectly named; Praline Honey. 

For the top I've bought some "peach" dye and I'm going to have a go at dyeing some white cotton jersey the subtle coral colour in the sprigs. It might be a bit of trial and error, so wish me luck!

Outfit 4 - Cosy Planning

And finally, I've got plans for my feet. This luscious russet/coco Malabrigo (I KNOW, decadent... terrible...) is destined to become a pair of French Press Slippers. I'm thinking I'll have a go at making the buttons for the toes and right now, embroidery is calling to me. But, I haven't embroidered in .... um ... decades?! ...  so we'll see how that goes. 

Do you have any embroidery tips for me?

Outfit 2 - Planning and Casting on

Outfit 2 - planning

February is marching on ... but never fear. Outfit 2 is underway!

Here's a snapshot of what I've got in mind. It's going to have a more casual vibe than Outfit 1 and I'm calling it "cheerfully embracing winter blues and keeping cosy, whilst running about with the kids". Or something like that.

I'm actually taking a leap of faith and going for skinny jeans and a worsted-weight sweater. That might sound fairly tame to most of you, but I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) for the last decade and have stuck solidly to cardigans... As for the skinny trousers, I'm just gonna do it because I want to, even if I'm shortish with curvy thighs... So, I'm feeling slightly nervous because eventually I have to photograph this outfit and show you all, and because I'm stepping out of my comfort zone. But, what sort of challenge would this be without taking a risk or two? A boring one, that's what.

Anyway, as you can see I've chosen a reddish/tan/blue palette. I've knit the accessories already but I figure you've probably seen enough finished objects for one week so I'll show you those another day. The squishy tan yarn is a very delicious Arbutus cowl and the blue and white stripes are a Here and There slouchy hat. They were super quick to knit and I LOVE them both. Can't wait to show you :)

The blue/silvery fabric in the background is a rather funky Nani Iro print. It's 100% cotton with a reasonable amount of stretch to it and I'm going to turn it into a scoop necked, long sleeved top using a pattern from this craftsy class by Meg McElwee. I'm waiting for some white stretchy denim to arrive and when it does, I'm planning to dye it (maybe a dark mustard or copper, I haven't decided yet) and turn it into some fitted trousers using Colette's Clover pattern.

Right now, I'm casting on my sweater. I've decided to knit Flowing Lines as I've had my eye on this knit since Veera released it. But, since I've suggested a knit along for the cardigan I'm making for Outfit 3, and we're casting on on 1 March, I'd really like to get this sweater finished in two weeks. I know. CRAZY. My only saving grace might be that not only is it worsted weight, but it's Malabrigo yarn. If you haven't used Malabrigo before, believe me, it's like knitting with clouds! I am addicted. This is the pagoda colourway - it's looking a little red in the photos. In fact, it's fairly variegated, ranging from pinky colours to ginger.

Finally, the branch in the photo isn't just randomly placed there to look arty. Oh no. I'm going to make apple branch buttons (I say confidently, having never done it before). If they look any good, they'll go on the shoulders of my sweater. For jewellery, my mum is sending me a brooch that belonged to my grandmother that she thinks will be perfect. It's coming from New Zealand so will take at least a week to get here. It needs a little repair work, but I think it will be perfect too.