Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sewaholic Patternaholic

It's official...i am a Sewaholic Patternaholic. A week or so ago came the exciting news is that Tasia, who designed the pattern for the wonderful Crescent Skirt, has a new pattern out...and it's a dress!

I immediately thought that this would be a perfect pattern for my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge and so yesterday i pre-ordered the pattern. Woop! I am really hoping the style will suit me - Tasia's patterns are designed with pair shapes in mind, and i think i am more curvy than pear. However, i was unsure about the crescent skirt initially and i love it, so i figured i should take a chance as it looks like such a fun pattern. I especially like the pockets and the mock halterneck style (there are straps down the back) and i reckon with a good strapless bra all will be well! While i was at it i took advantage of the free shipping offer Tasia kindly has going to complete my trio of Sewaholic patterns by ordering the Pendrell Blouse too. This has been seen in many versions around the blogosphere, for example this lovely version by Jane. I can't wait to get my hands on both these patterns and get sewing!

Thanks for your helpful comments about pre-washing fabrics in response to my last post, especially to Ashley for the genius tip to use colour catchers to prevent colour run. I pre-washed all my new fabrics over the weekend so they are all ready to go. I have a busy week coming up but am already looking forward to some serious sewing time at the weekend.

Knitted Square Count: 8 and a half! After Marie's query about how my mum is doing with her side of the knitting, i thought i would mention that she is currently at 50+....i like to think that i am catching up....slowly!!

Happy sewing everyone, i hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Oh and for anyone who is interested....Glee was AWESOME!

K xx

Friday, 24 June 2011

How do you prewash your fabrics?

Fellow bloggers, i am in need of your advice....

I am lucky enough to be in the possession of some gorgeous new fabrics which i bought last weekend, as well as some other odd bits and bobs. However, the other day when i was trying to decide on my next make, i realised that i had no fashion fabric "ready to go" so to speak. Since they are destined to be garments, i have read again and again advice to prewash. So, i need your help! I would like to know...

1) Do you prewash your fabrics? If not, have you experienced fabric shrinkage as a result?

2) Do you handwash or machine wash?

3) Do you wash fabrics together or do each separately? The environmentally friendly part of my brain is screaming "wash them all together!" but the paranoid part is terrified that this may result in disaster, for example if even one of them runs slightly, this could ruin the rest of my stash!

I am keen to hear your results and experiences on this one!

In other news, i completed a muslin for the Butterick B5209 pattern last night...unfortunately the results were not good! I cut the halterneck view and the skirt fit perfectly, however the top half was at least 2 sizes too big. Too big even for photos, as there would have been no way of preserving my modesty!! I am actually having second thoughts on the style after seeing how the top half lies, because even if it fit properly i think it would be very exposing and I just don't think i would be comfortable wearing it. I may try view B which has capped sleeves this space!

I have a very busy weekend coming up catching up with friends which i am very much looking forward to, however it will leave little time for sewing. Excitingly, on Sunday i am heading to the O2 arena to see....

Yep, i am off to see the cast of Glee perform live! Yes i am too cool for words, and yes i am almost too excited about this....!!!! I hope your weekends are equally full of excitement...

Knitted Square Count: 7 (woop!)

K xx

Monday, 20 June 2011

Holiday Wardrobe Challenge and a fabric splurge!

So in just over 8 weeks time (and counting) the boyfriend and i will be heading over to the US of A for almost 4 weeks! I may have mentioned this once or twice say i am excited is an understatement! We are starting off in New York before heading to Vegas for the wedding of a good friend, and then driving up through California to finish in San Francisco. Things are finally coming together, we have booked hotels in the main cities and are starting to feel a lot more organised. So naturally my thoughts are turning to my holiday wardrobe. I would love to sneak a few me-made items in there so am taking inspiration from Marie and am setting myself a Holiday Wardrobe Challenge. And what better way to motivate yourself to complete a challenge than to speak about it publicly?? My aim is to make at least 3 new items over the next 8 weeks to take with me on my travels. The current plan is two dresses, the patterns for which i have blogged about here and here, as well as a Sorbetto top. I have already started on muslins for one of the dresses and the sorbetto, so hopefully this challenge should be doable in the time limit. Watch this space for regular updates on my progress!

Under the guise of helping myself with this challenge (!) i went on a fabric splurge at the weekend. Fenwick's department store was having a massive 20% off sale on fabrics....dangerous! Here are my purchases...i don't know what all of them are destined to be yet, so suggestions are more than welcome :)

This first fabric is the softest cotton i have ever seen...i think it would be good for a sorbetto as it has a nice drape.

You can't tell in the picture but the best feature of this blue floral print (which is a lot brighter blue than in the picture) is that is has a pattern embroidered on top which gives it a lovely feel. I will need to think of a use for this which accentuates the lovely texture.

This green fabric is destined for a dress to wear to my friend's wedding in Vegas, as well as a christening in October. I think it has a lovely summery feel!

Hopefully that little lot will keep me going for a while! Is anyone else planning new makes for their holidays? I'd love to see what everyone else is making!

Knitted Square Count: Still 6. Opps. 

K xx

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Kreativ Blogger Award

Ashley over at Jellybean's Odds and Ends has been kind enough to bestow me with the Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank you Ashley :) If you are not aware of her blog already i would highly recommend that you go and check it out - she has some really lovely makes!

So for this award i have to come up with 10 random facts about me. Hmmm! I often have trouble thinking up things like this, but let's give it a go...

1) I have a PhD in Genetics, which means that i am officially Dr Kat. This sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is. While i was working towards my PhD i was really excited about the prospect of being a Dr, but sadly the novelty wears off pretty quickly. However i do get a certain amount of satisfaction about choosing "Dr" from the list of titles in forms.

2) I was born 6 weeks premature and my parents often tell me how little i was, how i had no eyebrows or eyelashes and had to be kept in an incubator. My mum likes to use me as an example to people who have premature babies and are worried about their development, as in "My daughter was 6 weeks premature and look at her now". I'm never quite sure how to take this, when i was younger i used to get offended about her telling people how "big and strong" i am!

3) I have a GCSE in Agriculture and Horticulture. My secondary school had a farm on site, where we kept animals such as cows, goats, sheep and chickens. This also means that i have all sorts of random skills, for example i can milk a goat (although it's been a while!).

4) I play Flute and Alto Saxophone. When i was at school i was in pretty much every band we had going, and i was quite good at one point, but i am very out of practise these days. In 6th Form i was going to do my Grade 8 Flute (the highest grade) but i decided to concentrate on my A Levels instead....i kind of wish i had taken the exam now.

5) I can raise both of my eyebrows independently. People tell me this is unusual but I'm not convinced (go on, have a go, you know you want to! I'd be interested to know if it's just me...)

6) Ever since i was little i have been a collector of all things owl-y. When i was small i used to have a knitted poncho which i pretended was my wings. Apparently i once answered the front door to a stranger with "Hello, I'm Owl!". Although i no longer pretend to be one (!) I still love owls, i think they are fantastic. I am interested to see that they seem to have had a bit of a renaissance recently, as there are suddenly things with owls on in all the shops. I'm not sure how i feel about being "on trend"! 

7) I eat very little meat. Whenever i am asked to give dietary requirements for meetings/dinners/weddings etc i usually describe myself as a vegetarian as this is easiest, but in reality i am just fussy. I eat chicken, sausages and bacon, and that's about it. Definitely no beef or lamb - i just don't like them. I also hate tofu/quorn or any meat replacements. This drives my friends mad as it makes me very tricky to cook for (sorry everyone!).

8) I grew up in a small town called Saffron Walden, which few people have heard of. Therefore i am very excited by the fact that it is mentioned in an episode of Spooks, as well as an episode of Blackadder (Series 4, General Hospital incase you're interested!) 

OK this is getting tricky now....2 more to go!!

9) I am very into music, and have a very eclectic taste from classical to indie, jazz to musicals. I will basically listen to anything as long as it has a tune! I love listening to live music and going to festivals. This year will be the first year i haven't been to Glastonbury for 5 years (sniff). 

10) I still know all the dance moves to a lot of very uncool 90s tunes including Saturday Night; The Macarena and 5,6,7,8 (yes that's by Steps...)...I'm sure there are more but that is all i am prepared to admit to at present. I am still also more than willing to bust a groove to these tunes at every opportunity, much to the embarrassment of my friends!

There we go, did it :) I'm sure better answers will come to me later, but ah well. I now have to pass this award onto some other Kreativ Bloggers...i think 4 seems to be the required number! So the blogs i have chosen, in no particular order, are:

- Hattie of Hattie's Boutique
- Marie from A Sewing Odyssey

I looking forward to finding out some random facts about the 4 of you :)

K xx

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A super speedy Sorbetto Muslin

After admiring the array of Sorbettos which were recently modelled by the lovely Marie of A Sewing Odyssey, i just couldn't resist having a go myself. This pattern is very kindly available as a free (yes FREE!) download here from Colette Patterns. You print out the patterns as a series of rectangles, stick them together at the relevant points, and tada....a pattern. Marie mentioned that she cut a much smaller size than usual, so i thought it best to produce a quick muslin. And i mean quick. I started cutting out about 9.15. I was in bed by 11.30. Compared to the dress muslin's i have been struggling with recently, i couldn't believe how quick and easy this was to whip up!

A few pictures...these we taken in my bedroom so please excuse the shots of my dressing gown and towel in the background!!

I definitely think that tucking in is the way to go with this top. Despite the fact that i cut out a size 8 (!!!) it is still very baggy around the front, giving me a rather unflattering pregnant-look! Except across the chest, where it is ever so slightly tight. I realise that the style is for a loose, flowing top, but I'm not sure that this effect will work for me. So, i am considering making the following alterations....

1) Add about an inch across the chest

2) Increase the length of the top by 1-2 inches

3) Possibly try and take the top a little around the waist so it is slightly less voluminous. Maybe moving the darts, or adding some under the chest would help to obtain the desired effect here?

What do you think? I really love the finished effect of this top, especially with the contrast bias binding as used by Marie, so i think it is definitely worth persisting with. I would also highly recommend giving this top a go as it is so quick and satisfying to make.

Before i go, to motivate myself i have decided to keep a public record of my shockingly slow knitting progress with the blanket squares in an attempt to shame myself into speeding up. So far: 6 down, 40 to go!

K xx

Monday, 13 June 2011

Knitting in Miniature...

....not that i can boast of ever having knitted in (what's the opposite of miniature? Giant? I've certainly never knitted in giant!) but there we go. Although, my only other finished knitted make so far is a scarf which ended up stretching quite a lot so i suppose it may be suitable for a giant....

Anyway, i digress. A few weeks ago, 3 weeks today in fact, one of my bestest friends had a baby, and i am now a very proud honoury auntie of a gorgeous little boy called Douglas (Dougie). I met him for the first time this weekend just gone, which was all very exciting :) Way back in April i first blogged about my baby cardigan, which has actually been a work in progress since Christmas (!!!). Well, i am pleased to announce that it is FINALLY finished and has been delivered to little Dougie :) I am pretty pleased with how it turned out, although it is by no means perfect so don't look too closely!

It was actually pretty easy to put together - the reason it took so long was because i am a very slow knitter! The arms seems really long to me, although i have been told that babies have long limbs, so lets hope this is true. I made the second size which i think is about 6-12 months, so hopefully it will be perfect for the winter. My favourite thing about this cardigan are the blue polka dot buttons, which you can only just see in the last blurry picture, but believe me they are very cute. I started the cardigan way before i knew my friend would have a boy, so i lucked out! Although there are pink flecks and i reckon it would have worked for either a boy or a girl. I have more friends expecting so perhaps there will be more of these cardigans in the future....hopefully the next run will be completed in less than 6 months!!!

My next knitted project will be a blanket that my mum and i are working on together, previously mentioned here. We will be doing a combination of knitted and crocheted squares. My mum is super speedy and has already completed about 50 squares. My contribution so far is...

Actually i may have done 2 more, but still, pretty pathetic in comparison! I think we worked out about 40 more are needed each, so i best get knitting!! Luckily these are in garter stitch and knit up pretty quickly, i just need to get into the habit of knitting while watching TV.

OK so I'm off to find out if i actually have anything in my cupboard which can reasonably been thrown together to make an acceptable dinner. I am feeling very snuffly and hayfevery today so i am after comfort food. Any other UK readers incredibly excited about the last episode of the current season of Glee which is on tonight? No? Just me?! Oh well...

K xx

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Make Do and Mend Wardrobe Refashion

So, i will be joining The Creative Miss W in a wardrobe refashion project. I am quite excited for this, for several reasons. Firstly, in these thrifty times, i am all for making the best of what i already own. Which is a LOT of clothes. I am fortunate enough to live on my own, which means that i have spread to fill 2 wardrobes and one complete (and very full) chest of drawers. And yet, like most people, i actually wear a very small percentage of this. So, i figure that it is time for a clear out. Also, i have done a couple of refashions recently, and they turned out great, so I'm keen to do more!

I made a start last weekend on wardrobe #1. I sorted my clothes into 5 piles...keep, refashion, sell on eBay, sell at car boot sale, and throw away. I tried to be ruthless, but i am a bit of a hoarder so it was hard! I ended up making some cuts though, so it was productive! The clothes for discarding which were in the best condition i am going to try and sell on eBay. I have listed a few and one has been sold already - exciting stuff! My first eBay sale :) I'm not expecting everything to sell, but even a few sales would be great. Anything left over, plus the stuff which is more worn, i will be taking a a car boot sale in a few weeks time.

I ended up with a number of items which i plan to refashion - a good start methinks :) I haven't quite decided what to do with them all yet, so suggestions welcome!

This skirt i used to love, but don't tend to wear anymore. Not sure why. I think i maybe I'll shorten it.

These shorts are knee-length, but, again, i think i would wear them more if they were a little shorter.

This skirt i bought from a vintage fair. I really like the print, but i don't think i would wear it as a skirt. I am thinking about turning it into a top somehow. I like the plain band around the top.

This dress i love, but the way that the fabric is gathered around the front it makes me look a bit pregnant! I'm hoping that i might be able to alter it so that it is more fitted in the bodice.

So what refashions are you planning/have you carried out? If you want to join in with the Make Do and Mend Wardrobe Refashion, pop along and check it out at Adventures of the Creative Miss W!

K xx

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A (Relatively) Productive Weekend

Hi Everyone!

So, i am pleased to report that i have had a relatively productive weekend. Yesterday i went into town with the plan to buy some fabric for summer dresses. Due to the fact that i am incredibly indecisive, this took longer than expected, and in the end i only picked up fabric for one dress. However, in an attempt to be organised, i also picked up lining, a zip, thread and even bias tape to line the hem (i was pleased with how this worked for the Crescent Skirt and so plan to use the same method again). Here is (hopefully) everything i need to make the Butterick B5209 (shown here):

I am undecided whether to make a lining or a slip...i am planning to wear this dress during my trip to America in the autumn, and for part of this we will be in the desert (pretty much!) so i am worried that a full lining may be too warm. I think I'll wait and see how heavy the skirt is. I made some headway with my muslin for the dress as well...i have started with view A, however it is looking like i may have some pretty serious fit issues around the bust, so we shall see.

I also made some more bias tape, which is destined for another bag like this. Here is my bias tape hanging out to dry! I used wash-off marker pen to mark the cutting lines...this stuff is great as it disappears on the first touch of water.

On a non-sewing note (mostly), this morning my boyfriend and i went to an Owl and Falconry Centre. I absolutely love owls, i have done ever since i was tiny, they are such gorgeous birds. There were lots and lots to be seen here...below are a few of my favourite pictures from the day...

I especially like the second picture - it looks like the owl is laughing at us! And yes, for the eagle-eyed of you, that is a Crescent Skirt i am rocking in the last picture! The more i wear it the more i love fact, i am thinking of making another!

I hope you have all had an equally productive weekend :)

K xx

Friday, 3 June 2011


Hi Everyone!

I warn you right from the start that this post has nothing at all to do with sewing. Sadly i have had no time for any crafting this week, due to a work trip to Amsterdam over the Bank Holiday weekend. I did wear my finished Crescent Skirt, (which i still love!) however sadly there are no photos to document this!

I really liked the city of Amsterdam. I have been once before, 5 years ago at the start of an inter-railing trip, however i was less impressed that time, possibly because the weather was cold and grey, and it turns out that we didn't actually see an awful lot of the city. This time, around the massive amounts of science i was required to ingest, we did get a chance to have a bit of a wander, and i really liked what i saw. Here are a few pictures for you...

As you may be able to see from the pictures, there are LOTS of bikes in Amsterdam. And i mean lots (and i grew up in Cambridge - Amsterdam has more!). The city is really well set up for biking too, with cycle paths everywhere. This was something i really liked - if only cities in England were so well set up for cycling, i would definitely do it more. One thing that struck me was that i didn't see one person wearing a helmet the whole time i was there - quite a difference for someone used to the British obsession with health and safety (not that everyone here, or probably even most people, wear a cycle helmet on a regular basis). Amsterdam is much more relaxed. I was very amused to see people cycling along holding an umbrella in one hand on a rainy day. I also saw quite a few young children in cute little wagons being pulled by the bikes - adorable! As a consequence of the popularity of cycling, as well as the fact they have trams, the roads seemed a lot less busy, even at rush hour, which can only be a good thing! So definitely a thumbs up for Amsterdam. If only they would adopt my two favourite beverages (Tea and Cider, the former was mostly shelved or substandard in place of coffee, and the later i failed to find anywhere) i could definitely live there :)

Has anyone else been to Amsterdam? What did you think? Which European cities would you most like to live in?

K xx


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