Going Like the Clappers

Outfit 3 - necklace & tshirt

I've been working like a wee bee. After not being able to get started on the sewing for Outfit 3 last week, the weekend turned into something of a sew-a-thon. I was up and at 'em on Saturday morning and had my skirt cut out before I'd even gotten out of my PJ's. Queue Saturday evening and, aside from accidentally sewing on the yoke upside down, my skirt was coming along nicely. By Sunday evening I had a long flouncy skirt on a deep yoke (the right way up) and a cute black t-shirt. Phew.

Outfit 3 - handpicked zipper Outfit 3 - drying skirt, necklace & tshirt

(In real life my black fabric looks less of a lint-magnet than it does in my photos! )

Anyway, first my skirt. I based it on Simplicity pattern 5752 view D but drafted a new yoke to make it longer, and wider at the waist and lower hips. It wasn't tricky, although I did use a calculator to work it out.

I'm pretty pleased with my zipper. It's the first time I've tried a hand-picked zipper. I was inspired to try one by Tasia at Sewaholic and used her tutorial as a guide. Apparently hand-picked zips are stronger and although it took longer to put in, I like hand-sewing and I'm really pleased with how neat it looks and how easy it was to do. 

Do you see my skirt all twisted up to dry in the photo above? I'm trying out a crinkled look for a bit of interest. Fingers crossed.

Outfit 3 - necklace & tshirt Outfit 3 - necklace & tshirt

Remember my "back to school" resolution? Well, I'm still trying to learn everything I can. My t-shirt for Outfit 3 is based on the  same pattern as my top in Outfit 2 but I've tried a different neckline. This one is a shallow-wide scoop and, rather than top stitch it, I've tried something else new. I've cut and ironed strips of double stick fusible web around the neckline then, after tearing off the top layer of paper, folded the neckline over and ironed it down again. I used Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 and apparently ironing it permanently bonds the two layers together (there's a lot in one pack, it'll last me years). 

I'll admit, it does feel a bit wrong. No sewing? Glue? I have no idea how it will hold up in the wash, but I rather like the simplicity of the edge and have used it around the neck and at the top of the sleeves. If it comes apart I'll let you know, and I'll sew it down!

Outfit 3 - necklace & tshirt
Outfit 3 - necklace & tshirt

And finally, my necklace. It's the first time I've tried beading ... oooo it's so fun!!! You'll be seeing more this year I think ...

Totally inspired by this very fabulous necklace by Toast, I set off to make a version of my own. We are lucky enough to have a very lovely wee bead shop here in Cambridge. The Beaderie is like Aladdin's cave and I spent a very long time in there (with a very patient 3 year old) picking through the beads like they were treasures.

In the end, I've come up with a sort of symmetrical but eclectic string of colours, shapes and textures. They're strung on an acrylic thread, knotted at the end and the ends sealed with a bit of clear nail vanish. Hopefully they'll add just the right amount of pop to my outfit. I'm pretty in love with the gloss and clink of the black stone beads and was grateful for the suggestion to space them with seed beads to keep the price down.

We're nearly there! I'm soooooo close to finishing my Grace cardigan (someone in the knit along is already done! Yay!). Just the last cuff to knit and ends to weave in before blocking and buttons. Then, my bag. I spent last night ripping back to find my mistake(s) in the lace pattern and was back on track today. I'm going to have to go like the wind to get it done ...

And, will someone do something about the weather?! It's so cold! I was planning bare legs for this outfit. But, unless it gets warmer, there's no way that'll happen. I'm working on a plan B.

The Story of the Scoop Neck T

scoop neck T - Nani Iro

scoop neck T - Nani Iro

I am metric, born and bred. I am okay with inches but yards? No way. I can't even remember whether a yard is longer than a metre or visa versa. Useless. I have to look it up every time ... so, as you can imagine, US patterns send me into a bit of a spin. 

Apparently I needed 1 3/4 yards of 58" wide cotton jersey. Well, I got a bit bamboozled by the maths and ended up with 1.5 metres of 80 cm wide cotton jersey. That turns out to be almost half as wide as I need. Whoops! For the briefest of moments I thought about buying more ... nope, it's a bit pricey anyway. Maybe a sleeveless top? Nope. I resolved to make it work.

At first I thought I'd need a seam up the middle of my back, but after measuring the pattern pieces against a top I like the fit of, I decided to make it narrower, but longer, through the sleeves and body. A bit of fancy pinning, cutting and figuring out and I managed to get it out. All without a seam down the back. Yay!

scoop neck T - Nani Iro

The band for the neck is a bit of a mash but hopefully no one will notice in the flesh. I cobbled it together from three strips of fabric. There's the usual seam at the back of the neck but I've had to include two more, on either side of the front. You can see one in this photo at the top.

The kids were at the movies when I whipped up this top and in my haste to get it done before they got home I made a little boo boo. You see, the other day I'd seen this great tutorial for putting on a neckband and wanted to try it out. Simple enough. What I forgot to take into account was that the band would make my scoop neck scoopier. In the Craftsy pattern I used to base my top on, the neck band folds up into the scoop, making it higher and narrower. Mine folds down, over the scoop so that it's sturdy and neat on both sides, but deeper and wider. When I realised, I had a little freak out, but after trying it on I decided that it was actually okay. It's probably slightly bigger than I'd ideally like, but I can't do anything about it now .... I've absolutely no fabric left ...

As you can see I'm almost done. Just the top stitching and hems to go. It will only take a minute to do, but in my hurry I also broke my twin needle ... 

I guess there's a lesson for me in here somewhere ;)

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.

Outfit 1 - The Big Reveal

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

Phew! Outfit 1 is done and I'm super pleased with how it turned out. Cambridge provided the perfect backdrop for the photos - we wandered through some of the colleges and I felt like I'd just leapt out of a wartime spy film :)

Shall we have a quick run through of the pieces?

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

My cardigan is the very lovely pattern Audrey in Unst and I am totally thrilled with how it turned out. The yarn is a delicious blend of hand-dyed baby alpaca, silk and cashmere and it is surprisingly warm :) It's finished with pretty wee shell buttons.

The beret is a vogue pattern sensibly named #13 Lace Beret and I adore the lace pattern and the teal blue alpaca/wool fuzzy yarn.

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

My dress is the Washi dress pattern in cotton Liberty print that I don't think is available any more. I picked mine up on Ebay. It was just too chilly to show my dress off properly, but I'm making a tunic version too (can't resist) so I'll show you that one in more detail soon. My Liberty Washi has capped sleeves, pockets and a keyhole neckline. 

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

My stole is faux fur and I based it on my grandmother's real one :) It's lined with a silky paisley fabric and fastens at the neck by slipping one end through a loop on the underside of the other end.

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

('scuse the legs. Mr Myrtle said it was "great action". The tights are from H&M.)

My ring and my earrings are glass. I've never tried making anything with glass before and I loved it. A couple of friends showed me what to do, then fired my little chunks in their little glass kiln. Alison helped me turn the caramel & cream chunks into earrings by shaping and hammering some stirling silver wire into earring hooks. Aren't they gorgeous! 

Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1 Handmade Wardrobe 2013 - Outfit 1

So there you have it! Outfit 1 is officially in use. I'd put off wearing any individual items until I'd taken the photos and now, looking at it all together, I'm slightly stunned I managed to get it all done. Although it took a while for the look to evolve, once I figured it out, it flowed pretty well. I loved working on a whole outfit - it gave me a great focus and I'm so glad I decided to make the jewellery too because it was so much fun trying something new on a small scale.

You'll be pleased to hear that Outfit 2 is underway. It's totally different and I'll pop back to give you a run down of my plans soon. All I can say at this stage is, I've discovered Malabrigo. 

(If you're interested, the photos were shot in Clare College, Cambridge. The rather majestic gothic building behind me in some photos is King's College Chapel.  Everybody in Cambridge cycles, so there are bikes everywhere. And yes, most of the tourists about had umbrellas. It wasn't really raining, just English drizzle.)

Just Like Nanum

Outfit 1 2013 - Just like Nanum

Outfit 1 2013 - Just like Nanum

Outfit 1 2013 - Just like Nanum

All of her grandchildren called my maternal grandmother "Nanum". Apparently, I started it. She wanted to be called Nana, and my grandfather Grandpa, but I called them  "Nanum" and "Umpa", and it stuck.

Nanum was a slim, immaculately dressed lady, with a twinkle in her eye and the capacity to rally people into action and make it seem like fun. She and Umpa regularly moved with his work and she seemed to take it in her stride, arriving in a new town, getting new groups off the ground and leaving them thriving. Their most exciting move was from New Zealand to London in the 1960's where they lived a very glamorous lifestyle, wining and dining at Embassies and living in grand houses. My all time favourite story as a small child was of a ball at Buckingham Palace and I asked to hear it many times. My mum, 18 at the time, went with them. She sewed both her dress and Nanum's dress from beautiful silk they'd bought in Bombay and they wore them with long kid gloves that had a line of tiny pearl buttons at the wrist. I imagine Nanum wore a fur around her shoulders. Umpa drove them through the big gates of the Palace in his little car. Inside they met the Queen and danced with the richest man in the world. It was the stuff of dreams for a little girl in New Zealand. 

Many years later we had two of Nanum's old furs in our dress-up box. One was a fox, complete with a head and little claws. It was fascinating, but a little creepy. The other was long and slim, with caramel satin lining. As a child I didn't really understand how to wear that one, but it all came back to me as I pondered over how to make my faux fur scarf for the first outfit of my Handmade Wardrobe. Although it was a bit tattered, I can clearly remember the lining and the strip of fabric on the back of Nanum's fur and I've tried to recreate it from memory.

Mine is about 4" wide and 32" long with curved ends. It's lined with some silky fabric I've had for years and finished with a strip of the same silky fabric that I've stitched on by hand. It's simple to wear; one end is slipped through the fabric loop underneath and, hey presto, it's on. 

What do you think? I was surprised at how warm it it - cosy. (I apologise to anyone who isn't keen on fur, even if it is fake...)

I'm nearly done with my first outfit. Apparently my glass chunks have been fired so hopefully I'll get them back this week and do something with them. I've got an awesome location in mind for the photoshoot - making the most of what Cambridge has to offer - but I need Mr Myrtle to take the photos, so we'll take them this coming weekend.

In the meantime, I've got a FANTASTIC giveaway later this week (see my sidebar for a clue) and I'm busy planning Outfit 2. See you soon!