Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Vintage knitting pattern - finally finished

After many a blog post about the jumper I've been knitting for at least the past 6 months, it brings me great pleasure to finally blog about it being finished!

I had only ever knitted one jumper before and it was in one colour of super chunky yarn so knitted up really quickly. Then I started to discover vintage patterns and there was something about the old fashioned pictures and nostalgia that made me want to knit one up. Little did I know how dam complicated it would be! Blood, sweat and lots of tears have literally gone into this jumper.

I choose this pattern. A fitted jumper with a modest neck line which used the fair isle technique to create the wavy stripes.

First problem I hit was all the measurements were in the old UK system. Sizes 10 and 13 needles and the amount of yarn was in ozs. Google soon resolved that hurdle for me. Next up it recommended 3ply yarn. Most of what I could find in 3 ply was baby stuff so after a discussion with my Mum I went for 4ply, did a tension square and adjusted my needle size so it corresponded to the tension in the pattern. I was ready to go.

I know we all learn and read differently but the description of the pattern repeat was literally boggling my mind, especially when I had to start accounting for the increases.

My first major stumbling block hit..... I got onto ravelry and found a local knitting group and went along in the hope of some much needed help. By the end of the night I had been shown how to use stitch markers to make increasing while maintaining the pattern a heck of a lot easier and off I trotted home to write a grid of the pattern repeat so I didn't have to read the complicated written version.

After that it was plain sailing...just for a while. Until I ran out of yarn and the extra stuff I bought was a from a different dye lot, thankfully its not too noticeable. Then I knitted a whole sleeve wrong because I forgot a crucial increase row and it turned out just a bit too small...doh!

But last Thursday I finally finished it, with all its little imperfections, I can truly say I gave it my best shot and I'm proud of it anyway.

One thing I didn't realise is, is that as people went Simon Cowell stylee with their high waistbands back then, the top is a bit short on the body. Ah well...guess I need to embrace the full retro style and get something high waisted myself to go with it. I'm thinking maybe a Colette pattern Ginger skirt....

Monday, 23 April 2012

Hand screen printed lampshade

I LOVE screen printing. I think its the quick results you get once you've set up your screen. I like the clean sharp lines you get when you print and I like creating repeats with the same image too. So my weekend has been amazing fun as I've been on a weekend screen printing course at Leicester Print Workshop and the best bit was you got to print on fabric and then turn it into a lampshade! 

The Leicester Print Workshop is set up to cater for any type of printing, a lot of which I don't quite understand yet but the old machines and letter press stamps looked lovely. 

We made our screens by coating a screen with emulsion that is sensitive to UV light. They have a big machine that exposes the screen to a certain amount of UV light. Black and white contrast images that have been copied onto acetate are used during this UV light exposure to create areas where the emulsion is removed, thus creating a type of stencil. The now dried in emulsion is fixed until you remove it with a special chemical, meaning you can print to your hearts content now with the prepared screen. 

My screen had quite a lot of images on it so to select the image I wanted to work with I just used masking tape to cover up the surrounding images. 

 I used system 3 acrylics which were mixed with a special binder.

 The screen was secured onto hinges that were attached to a melamine board. This made it super easy to print consistently in the same place. So much quicker than trying to line up prints by placing the screen down on your own. 

Registration prints were then done on acetate. The acetate was masked to the board at one edge. This meant that you could position your paper or fabric under the acetate and see where the print would end up. Then just flip the acetate to the side and print!

The key thing to remember so that your screen doesn't get blocked or ruined is to flood the screen after each print. This is done by just pulling ink over the image after you've done your print.

 Its best to set up your area with a clean and dirty section...below obviously being the dirty section. 

 To print the fabric for the lampshade we were given a long strip of calico. I then decided to create a border at the top and bottom. It took a while as the image had to be repeated (printed) many times. The picture below shows 4 repeats of my pattern. 

 I then masked off a section of 3 butterflies and printed them in-between the borders. I then used a lemon yellow colour for a second row of butterflies in-between the purple. 

I then used a lampshade kit to turn the fabric into the lampshade and here it is....I need to get a larger base for the shade but I wanted to try it out to get an idea of how it would look. 

 When the light is on, it makes the colours look even more vibrant. 

Below is a selection of prints that I did onto paper.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hazel dress from Colette Patterns

After making the Parfait dress and the Sobretto top recently from the retro range at Colette Patterns I couldn't wait to get started when they released there spring & summer styles last week.

Two new dresses, called Hazel and Lily, and a cute pair of summer shorts, called Iris, adds to the already fab range of patterns they have. I love that they have real names too.

When I was about 14 or 15 I got really into making handbags. My Mum had taught me how to sew but she made more clothes than bags so it meant that I had to figure out a lot of how to do things by myself. Never a bad thing...I think experimentation is the best way to learn! Anyway, I used to name them with real names Rachel, Louise, Betty (to name but a few). I had a little note book with all my designs and names next to them. So I guess the naming of the Colette patterns makes me a bit nostalgic really.

You can order the patterns to be delivered or download them. Feeling a bit impatient, as you do, I went for the download and print at home option. Despite the extra time it takes to tape all the A4 bits together its still quicker than snail mail from the US so I was able to get started ASAP. I'm never sure how things will look on me once made so I decided to go for a less expensive ploy cotton fabric for my first dress. I choose the Hazel dress, mostly because I liked the picture on the website of one they had made up in a gorgeous stripy fabric which looked lovely.

So here is my first Hazel dress. Also in a stripe but a much narrower one that I had seen on the colette website. I really like it so I've got some fabrics in mind for more dresses. I'm just wearing it with jeans or leggings until the weather gets a bit warmer. The top section is fitted but the skirt is gathered to easily fits over trousers or jeans.

 When I was cutting out the side panel I decided to cut it so the stripes would contrast with the middle panel, rather than try to get things all matching. 

If you fancy giving Colette Patterns a go then try out the free downloadable Sobretto Top. Its a nice and easy one to get started, especially if you buy bias binding as opposed to making your own which is easily do-able, just a bit more time consuming and fiddly.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hexagon paper piecing

A few months ago I spotted The Liberty Book of Home Sewing for a bargain price in a local shop and couldn't resist. Its full of lots of gorgeous pictures of some of the classic Liberty prints and lots of inspiring projects - one of which uses traditional hexagon patchwork to make a cot quilt. I hadn't tried it before but was tempted as it a great way to use little scraps of fabric and show them off in a really beautiful way.

Then I had the opportunity to attend a paper piecing workshop with author Nikki Trench at the the Craft Hobby and Stitch show at the NEC in February. She was promoting her latest book, A Passion for Quilting,  and was sharing her paper piecing tricks and tips - and it got me hooked.

So, paper piecing is basically done by cutting out lots of paper hexagons..I just used normal paper..then temporarily stitching scraps of fabric to the paper, making sure you have enough of a seam allowance. You need a fair few hexagons to get you anywhere but I've made a good start with the liberty print scrap pack I recently bought.
Lots of colourful scraps

I've used a red thread to tack my fabric onto the paper so its easy to spot when I remove it later, once all the hexagons are stitched together. 

Once you have your fabric covered hexagons you then use a whip stitch to stitch all the hexagons together. First make up 'flowers' of 7 hexagons and then stitch your 'flowers' together. I couldn't resist making up one of the 'flowers' to see how it would turn out. The red taking stitches won't get taken out until the very end.

After attending the workshop with Nikki I used the sample I had made to make a pin cushion. Its done in exactly the same way but to create the width of the pin cushion I used little squares that were the same dimension as the length of one of the sides of the hexagons. Bit fiddly I got there eventually. I then used a self cover button for the centre to create more depth and shape. It also helps to make it look a bit more flower like. 

Its a nice way to use up scraps of a favourite fabric that you might otherwise throw away. Its also a good way to test the water the paper piecing instead of committing to a whole quilt. It does take a while so really is a labor of love.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Customised sobretto top by Colette

A few weeks ago I found, just by chance on my google reader, a link to a free pattern download from Colette for the Sorbretto top. It's quite a simple easy top made up from just two pattern pieces with a pleat down the front and endless opportunities for customising it to your own preferences.

I had a few fabrics that I've been wanting to make into vest type tops for a while but I couldn't find a pattern I wanted....until now.

Last week I completed my first top with a Liberty print fabric. I ended up only using about 60cm of the fabric (and the whole width of that) and made my own bias tape for the edging too from this tutorial (I would recommend that you made the tape a bit wider than it suggests though).

The modifications I made were:
  • added an extra two darts at the front to make it more fitted
  • brought the side seams in a bit to make it more fitted
  • created a button opening down the back (so I could get it on and off, now that it was more fitted)
  • lowered the neck line slightly
  • lowered the seam under the arm (I think it was digging in a bit because I made the top more fitted)
Below is how much I took the side seam in

And these are the extra darts I added to the front either side of the pleat. 
 The front dart again, showing what size I made it. 

I you want to practise pattern manipulation to really make a top fit you well, I would recommend this one as  its pretty straight forward. I just kept trying the top on as I went along to make sure it was sitting the way I wanted. Also, always make sure that any changes you do make are symmetrical on each side or else the top won't sit right. Remember the download is if you have any spare fabric around..which I'm sure a lot of you will...then there is no reason not to get started on one!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Parfait dress from Colette

I've been wanting to make the Parfait dress by Colette Patterns since spotting it online a while ago now. It has a gathered bust, a fitted waist with an invisible zipper and fastens with buttons at the strap. 

I've not made many patterns for a long time. My Mum taught me how to do it when I was about 16 or 17 and I made a few little blouses. Then when I was at uni I made a winter coat but since then I've made mostly smaller items where I just figure it out as I go along, or roughly sketch out my own template. When I decided I wanted to start making patterns again I decided to do it on a smaller scale first and made up a lovely little dress from Oliver + S, see this blog post for pictures.  I was pleased with how it turned out and all the terminology all came back so I decided it was time to move onto something that I could actually wear!

I choose a tan coloured, lightweight cotton poplin with pale pink buttons for my first version of the dress. I wasn't entirely sure how it would go and didn't want to use fabric that was too expensive for my first try at an adult pattern since I was a teenager.

Here is how it turned out....

This is my invisible zipper, perfect for a dress like this as it just looks like a seam and all you see is the little toggle at the top (which is hidden under the arm anyway). 

I didn't have to change the pattern at all really. I cut out the size corresponding to my measurements and I just had to make the straps a little shorter by adjusting where the buttons go.