Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Woodland Stroll Cape.... for Loch Erne

I have had a weekend away booked for ages, but of course left the wardrobe planning to the last minute. It was to be a hotel break for myself and 6 female friends, the main aims to obviously have a lot of laughs, relax in the hot tub, eat and generally be merry. We all dressed up on the Friday evening  - for this I made the +Maria Denmark Day to night top into a dress. I love this pattern as it is quick and easy to make and has a lovely flattering cowl-type neckline.  Incredibly I have no decent photos of it so I will put it on the blog later.

I was tired of my winter 'dressy' coats, so I thought I would make a cape.  The Liesl & Co Woodland Stroll Cape seemed perfect and turned out to be perfect for my weekend.  I used a black cashmere coating fabric which I had purchased last January from Dragonflyfabrics in their sale.  I had thought of making a dress with it, but then thought it was too thick, so it seemed right for this project.

The lining is a multi-coloured polyester blend spotty fabric, which is lovely and bright and I do like it, but in retrospect I wish I had used a flannel fabric for extra warmth, as the coating is surprisingly light.

So, the pattern itself? Well it really couldn't be better.  I cut it out last Saturday and it was sitting ready on Monday afternoon waiting for the closures to arrive in the post.

So, the pattern consists of 1 back piece, 2 front pieces and a simple facing and the same for the lining.  I didn't use any interfacing mainly because I didn't have any and I was in a rush.  Tut, tut. But I thought my fabric was sturdy enough without it.

Probably the only potentially tricky bit might be keeping your lining nice and smooth when you are attaching to main fabric.  It is worth taking your time over this as there is nothing worse than a hanging down lining.   Other than that it is a simple make and I am delighted with the result.

  As I haven't done that many buttonholes yet, I decided to get these closures from Minerva Crafts.  They have a great range of metal, wooden and plastic closures and toggles, which I think work quite well on this cape.  Where the buttons were meant to be on the underarm I used the Prym sport and camping  stud fasteners which work fine too.

Another good think about this cape is that it only uses 1.5 yards of the main fabric so even if you use a wool fabric, it's not going to break the bank.  Black probably wouldn't have been my first choice, it would look great in tweed, tartan or a lovely bright coloured boiled wool. You could even use a water repellent cotton. It looks great with trousers, jeans, dresses and a straight pencil skirt and, of course, very 'in' right now.  Can you tell I like it?  I think there will definitely be more!  Perfect for the weekend away.

Sorry, the photos don't really do it justice between dark days and dark fabric and I look like I've seen a ghost in some of them.

I'll leave you with a wee photo of the marina at the +Manor House Hotel and view from my room.  The colours of the trees were lovely.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Cosy red jersey dress.

The past week has been a pretty busy one, but I did find time for another quick knit dress, as it is getting a bit nippy now. This one is mad from this lovely ponte jersey from Trurofabrics.  It is a mix of polyester, rayon and spandex.  I'm not normally into polyester but these ponte jerseys are probably the exception as they are so easy to work with and very easy care. Also they are great for winter as they are cosy.

I used one of the 'Onion' patterns on the Maria Denmark website.  This one is the Knit Dress (2007) which is a simple knit dress with raglan sleeves and a crew neck.  It's great doing this blog and taking photos as it highlights the good and the bad.  Above is obviously the back view which highlights both a wrinkly waist area (hadn't noticed that - oops) and also slight points on my shoulder darts. (and I thought they were so smooth too) It does give you an idea of the style with the raglan sleeves, highlighted even more by my rather broad shoulders.  It was the first time I had done shoulder darts, not sure I even knew there was such a thing, if I'm honest, but they were very easy.

As well as the shoulder darts (which I think just need another press) there are front bust darts which gives a bit more shape.  The neckline (sorry I forgot to take a non-scarf photo) is a simple bound crew neck.

The other little detail of this pattern is a lovely shapely narrow sleeve with a slit on the inside sleeve.  All simple details and yet they just add that little bit extra to the overall style.

As I am broad in the shoulder/chest area I cut a 44 in the bodice, but graduated down to a about a 41 in the skirt part.  With these patterns this is easy to do and you also have to allow for seam allowances as they are not included in the pattern.  I have a few of these patterns and they are great, they seem to suit my shape, I think.  The pattern is sent in the post and you receive an email with the instructions translated in English.  Maria Denmark also has her own patterns which are pdf download patterns.  I particularly like the day to night drape top and the Birgitte top.

Also still working on my winthrop cardigan, so near the finish line. Have also made a start on the woodland stroll cape in black coating which I hope to have finished for a weekend away this coming weekend.  Seems appropriate .... here's hoping.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Getting the foundations right.

This week I returned to one of the first patterns I ever used, which is great for basic tops.  It seems to be a very popular pattern for obvious reasons and there are numerous versions on the blogs.  It is the Renfrew top from Sewaholic. Up to now I have made both the round and v-neck versions in all different sleeve lengths, but I decided to give the cowl neck a go this time.

I made it in a fuchsia jersey, another from Tessuti fabrics with a bit if stretch in it.  At first I couldn't figure out the cowl, but after a bit of puzzling I realised that there was a little error in my pattern. On the sixth point it says to 'Sew collar pieces wrong sides together' instead of right sides, kind of obvious I suppose.  Once I realised what was wrong it was, of course, very easy and I really like the cowl neck.  It is not a high cowl, it comes to about normal tee shirt neckline, so today (as it is getting cold) I wore a merino tee under it.

I have some lovely merino from New Zealand Merino which I will be using to make another cowl top.  It's a fuchsia and navy diamond pattern so will probably be a bit similar but hopefully warmer.  I recently got my first order from the company.  The one mentioned here is quite light weight, I also have a green one which is slightly heavier and they have coat weight too.  I wear a lot of merino base layers for outdoor activities in the winter, so I thought I would give it a go.  Whenever you order you are charged a basic postage and then you receive another email with the actual postage.  (It tells you this on the website) Mine worked out to be about £14 for 6 metres fabric and my fabrics were on offer, so I thought it wasn't too bad.

Overall a great basic pattern with cosy cuffs and a cosy neckline, a good pattern for beginners starting to sew with stretch fabrics, one that I will always return too.

This week I have been continuing with my Winthrop cardigan from Kelbourne Woolens and learned a new technique, thanks to a great tutorial (more on that later).  This was 'wrap and turn', very pleased that I got it sorted, so should be finished it soon.

On a completely different note, I tried an idea I saw in +Country Living magazine, using dried bunches of herbs as kindling.  We had a glut of sage, thyme and a few others, so last Saturday I picked a load and tied them into kindling bunches, then hung them on the stair railings all week. They have dried out well.

Having now lit the fire and thrown a couple of bunches on, I am sorry to report that I smell nothing. Boo hoo.  I presume that was the idea - however the whole house did smell herby all week so I guess we had that benefit and it did look kind of Halloweeny and autumnal.  Got to try these things. I can use them in cooking anyway.

Also after much soul searching and deliberation (I right) I have succumbed to ordering the Camber set dress pattern from Merchant and Mills. Having seen lovely versions on roobeedoo's blog of both the dress and the top, I was hooked.  Well I have mad 2 versions each of the Dress shirt and the Panel dress, so I think I will get my money's worth.  Can't wait.