handmade wardrobe 2013



Oh gracious! I seem to have started rather a lot of things lately. Some you know about, others have sort of started without me quite realising ...

I'm not too bad at juggling a couple of projects, but six? Nope. Too many. Especially with all the kids home for six weeks of summer holidays. I've got to finish a couple of things, and quick. 

Let me tell you where I'm at.


A while ago I started a sleeveless Washi top in black & white fabric, but it was put to one side when it seemed summer would never start. After enjoying my recent sewing I pulled it out again and resolved to finish it and put it together with something from my stash for a second bonus outfit (I've also resolved that all "bonus outfits" can be made only from fabric and yarn in my stash).

The snag is that I can't seem to find the rest of the black & white fabric to make binding for the sleeves ... goodness knows where it's gone. So instead, I've decided to make bias binding from the pumpkin coloured cotton in the picture. It was originally cream but I dyed it, along with the burnt orange denim underneath. Do you recognise the denim? It's the remainder of the fabric I used for my trousers in outfit 2. I'm rather in love with the rich shade it's turned with this recent dye job.

My plan is to make a short denim skirt to go with my top. Initially, I thought I'd use a pattern for my skirt - I've had my eye on the Moss Mini skirt from Grainline Studio, but I'm toying with the idea of copying a pattern from a skirt I've already got. 

So, there's a bonus outfit to finish. The top should be quick, but the skirt ... hmmm.


I am desperate to get my poncho for outfit 6 done. It was great learning how to do the crochet stitches and follow the pattern, but now I'm more than ready to block it, sew it up and not crochet another stitch of it. 

Look how small my ball of yarn is. Really, I should just sit down and crochet until it's done.


I'm loving spinning the bluefaced Leicester and it's going pretty quickly. But, I'm planning to buy more fibre this weekend and would rather like it off my wheel pronto so I can get the luscious new stuff on.

I'm sounding impatient aren't I? I'm sure it's a case of the old "so much to do, so little time". Anyway, there's more:


There's a part of me that's regretting taking this project on. It's my party dress for outfit 6 and I'm using an old pattern that comes in only one size and it's much too big for me.

I started by cutting out a muslin in my trusty lime cotton and basting it together to get a feel for how big the dress would be. I thought I'd adjust the muslin, transfer my changes to the pattern and all would be good. Oh, how wrong I was!

Basically, the muslin is massive. There's just too much to change and aside from the fact I've not done something like this before, it's super hard making those sorts of adjustments on yourself. Mr Myrtle and the kids wouldn't be much help in that department and I haven't got a sewing dummy. So, my new plan is to alter the paper pattern, then make another muslin and then fitting that. Sound doable? I'm crossing my fingers I'll be fine, when I muster the enthusiasm to tackle it. 

(What I'd really like is a fantastic sewer at my elbow to talk me through it.  Anyone keen?)


Mr Myrtle's new socks are coming along nicely. They're a perfect project to take places, great for "chatting knitting" and they're looking great. I'm nearly at the toe on one and about halfway down the foot on the other. Soooo close and I'm tempted to get these off the needles first because I'm enjoying knitting them.


And finally, something that's making my brain buzz. I've started writing up and grading my tank pattern. I'm including some changes to the design and am going to knit up another in this lovely blue yarn.

If I'm honest, this is all I really want to do. All the time. I am absolutely loving figuring it out and I'm learning so much. But, I can't do it all the time, especially during the school holidays! I expect it will be done in fits and starts and probably be ready to release just in time for winter!  Remember, I released a winter hat just in time for spring? Hopeless! 

So, there you have it. All my "living" works in progress (WIP's). All six of them. Six that will hopefully become three pretty quickly, if I get the socks, poncho and spinning done ...

How's your juggling?

The Big Reveal - Outfit 5


Here it finally is: Outfit 5!

Goodness this one was a long time in the making. When realising that we were off to photograph Outfit 5 (due to be finished at the end of May) one of my kids commented "Oh man, you are soooo far behind!"

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Well, behind or not, I'm so glad I can actually now wear the bits and pieces from Outfit 5. 

Especially the cardigan. I'm super proud of this design. It's a great cropped summer cardy and I know that I'll live in it. I love the way it sits open, I love the stripes, the cropped sleeves and of course the neckline that matches the tank underneath.

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When I was knitting the tank top I was convinced I'd freeze during the photoshoot. Perhaps a delay has been the best thing? When we took these photos it was super hot. Summer has arrived with a bang.


I am also so looking forward to wearing my bangles. It's taken a lot of effort, but I've managed to control the urge to slip them over my hand, and instead have looked at them hanging on my cotton reel holder for ages now. Teasing me with their loveliness. 

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I seemed to lose my sewing mojo after I was ill. Consequently, it look absolutely ages to muster up the energy to sew this skirt. I dilly dallied around with my linen-tea skirt first and when I did finally get to to business, I whipped up this skirt in no time. It's another version of my tea party skirt (remember I also made a yellow version too?). I love the way this pattern (Simplicity 2152) fits me. For this skirt I cut out the front and back as one piece, by laying the panel pieces together on the fabric, slightly overlapped to account for seams I'd be missing out and ignored the pockets. I tried my hardest to match the pattern on the fabric, it's ok, not entirely matching, but good enough I think. What I am terribly proud of is my invisible zip. Can you see it? No, you can't. It's INVISIBLE! I actually did it twice, just to make sure the pattern did line up absolutely perfectly.

Finally, after dithering around with the hem, I used bias binding and hand-stitched it. I haven't top-stitched the skirt at all and I rather like the clean line that this creates. All the focus is on that cute print. A hand-picked hem is quick and you can't see it from the outside giving a clean finish.


So, there you have it. Outfit 5. Done. Phew.

As usual, I have ravelry project pages for the knitwear. My tank top is here and my cardigan here.  

See you soon. X

Time For A New Outfit


With my bonus outfit finished (before I properly realised I'd started) and Outfit 5 finally done, it's time to tell you about my plans for Outfit 6. (Yip, you read that right. Outfit 5 is DONE! I know, phew! It took a bit of determination, but I got there in the end. You'll see it just as soon as we get some photos).

So, Outfit 6, what am I making? Being a decidedly optimistic person, I'm planning a summertime outfit, something dressy enough for a summer party, but not so dressy, that I can't wear it everyday too. I'm thinking a dress, with a lightweight, but ever so fabulous, poncho to throw over the top when the evenings cool, and a funky wee bag to fling over my shoulder. Just big enough for those essential bits and bobs: purse, keys, phone and spare knickers for the toddler.


I mentioned recently that I've been trying a bit of crochet. It's been for Outfit 6; I managed to get a bit of a head-start in between other projects. I've chosen a lovely pattern called Berula Poncho, from The Crochet Project, for my poncho. It's designed by Anniken Allis and it's basically a big rectangle so I figured I couldn't go too wrong - or could I? The poncho pattern I've chosen is very lovely, but as I know next to nothing about crochet I've pretty much had to start from scratch, even reminding myself how I should hold the needle and the yarn.

You would not believe how many times I started this thing ... countless. In the end, a lot of ripping and many youtube videos later, I added a couple of repeats and an extra stitch to each edge, and was finally off. Amazingly, it is looking pretty good and I'm now at the stage where I can "read" where I'm up to and crochet sans pattern!

Have you heard of The Crochet Project? It's the brainchild of Joanne Scrace and Kat Goldin and I was wowed when it was released earlier this year. I'd previously thought of crochet as stiff, dense and decidedly un-wearable. The Crochet Project proves this doesn't have to be so. The patterns are just lovely and you'll have to check it out. Anyway, after feeling like my eyes had been opened, I felt an overwhelming urge to learn how to properly wield a hook and my poncho idea was born.

The glorious multi-coloured yarn is a fingering weight yarn dyed by Sparkleduck, who are local to me, on their Socka base; 80% superwash merino wool and 20% nylon. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the colourway, but it looks great over the blue fabric for my skirt.

My Ravelry project page is here.


The dress is going to be fun. Tricky, but fun. A couple of months ago my mum sent me a bunch of sewing patterns from her stash. They are all patterns that she's made herself and patterns that I fondly remember looking at as a kid. Most of them date from the 50's and 60's and are the kind of "vintage" patterns that sewers seem to be scouring the Internet for. I feel pretty lucky to have them.

My plan is to make the sleeveless version 2, without the pockets but maybe with a belt. I've also received a bag full of fantastic old buckles from my mum's stash (and I think she inherited most of them herself!) and I'd love to try to use one for my belt if it works. 

But, there is a rather large challenge. I am not a size 18 bust no matter how much I'd like to be. This pattern will have to be majorly adjusted to fit me and I'm super nervous about it. I'll have to make a muslin first but whether I can pull this off remains to be seen. You'll cheer me on, right?!

I've chosen some pretty gorgeous fabric to make my dress with. It's called indigo linen and it's lightish, crinkles terribly but has great texture and I love it.

I haven't entirely chosen my bag pattern yet. I'm toying between another St. Heliers bag of my own design or an Amy Butler pattern. What I have decided is that I'm going to have a go at printing some fabric for it. Just to spice things up.

And, as we know, no outfit is complete without a bit of jewellery. I'm going very simple this time, doing something with wooden beads.

Slugs On The Refrigerator Crochet Camp

One last thing. If, like me, you're interested in learning to crochet, you might like to join in with Crochet Camp starting next week. Kat Goldin is running a (free) virtual camp on her very groovy blog Slugs on the Refrigerator which looks like it'll be brilliant. She's starting with the basics and taking campers step by step through some cute wee projects over four weeks!

I'm joining in with my 9 year old daughter - I'm going to re-learn all my self-taught mistakes ... and she's a brand new crocheter. See you there?

The Big Reveal - The Bonus Outfit

Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit

Picture if you will, a driveway full of kids on bikes, scooters and other wheeled toys, rather a lot of shouting and squealing, and Mr Myrtle and I spending more time "shoo-ing" than taking photos. Some might call it chaos, we call it a pretty normal photoshoot. 

Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit
Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit

I'm pleased I can show you a new outfit. It feels like AGES since I've had one finished. This little bonus outfit has been fun to put together. I'm looking forward to wearing it now the sun is finally shining.

Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit
Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit

My skirt is made from an old French linen sheet which I dyed in tea.  I used Megan Neilsen's Kelly skirt pattern and it's pretty cute, but it's not a style I've worn for years and years and I'm still convincing myself I'm not too old for it. It certainly makes me feel fancy and free and I just love the big pockets and the old green buttons.

Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit
Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit

(See, there was squabbling that I had to shout at ...)

My tank top is based on a Vogue pattern (The designer was Tamotsu - pattern number 2454). The pattern envelope is stamped "Barker & Pollock". That is a sign of how old it is - does anyone in New Zealand remember Barker & Pollock? I might have been in my late teens when I bought that pattern, no older than my mid-twenties at least ... 

It would have been quick and easy to put together except that I had cut the pattern tissue (although I don't remember making it before) and I was dubious that I'd still fit that size. I slid and cut the pieces a bit bigger, only to discover once I'd done the neck band that actually, it would be better smaller .... Grrr.  Queue a cross moment and some hasty fitting and adjustment.

I also wanted a scooped bottom hem, like the famous Wilksten Tank. That was easy, I folded the top in half lengthways and drew a curve to imitate that bottom hem. Although I don't have a picture of it, you'll have to trust me that once cut and hemmed it looked good and if you know me in "true life" (as my 5 year old would say) you'll see me wearing it as long as the sun keeps shining.

Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit
Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit Handmade Wardrobe 2013: Bonus Outfit

No outfit is complete without a little jewellery, even this bonus outfit. My ring and my necklace belonged to my grandmother, the same one who inspired my fur stole in outfit 1. My grandfather gave both pieces to her years ago, I think after he returned from WWII.

The ring is ivory and although very politically incorrect, it is very beautiful, fits my finger perfectly and I love it. I can't imagine how carefully it must have been carved, the flowers are tiny and exquisite.

The necklace is a funny old thing but I think it's cool. It looks polynesian, tiny pips, the size of apple pips strung together with slightly larger, white gourds.  They are both from plants and  I imagine that when they were first strung they may have been soft and have hardened with time as they dried out. It's very fragile as it's been threaded onto a linen thread that will be quite old now, and I'm worried that it will break with the slightest tug, so I'm going to restring it onto fresh thread before I wear it again.

So, there you have it. A little bonus outfit. I'm still to finish my coffee pot skirt so that I can show you outfit 5. But, now I've decided how I want it to look, I can start it, finish it and show you soon :)