adult's clothing · crochet · sewing

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress

It seems to me that many sewing bloggers – many people in general – love a fit and flare dress.  You know, a dress where the bodice stays close to the body then it flares out significantly from the waist.  To me, a fit and flare dress is one that is shaped with princess seams and panels (not simply a fitted bodice with a waist seam and gathered/flared/circle/pleated/full in another way skirt).  The Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress fits this definition perfectly.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

Firstly – this is NOT a silhouette that I usually wear. I feel that it best highlights a small waist and traditional ideals of female body shapes. I am very thick through my mid-section, especially on my abdomen. I’ve said it before – although I try to embrace my shape and accept that my body is what it is, I still don’t like to emphasise that middle, and you won’t often see side-on photos of me. I’m a committed feminist, but western societal ideas of beauty are still extremely ingrained. However, in the past I have found that Crafty Mamas patterns do a good job of emphasising the parts of my shape that I embrace and de-emphasise those that I don’t. And I’m often interesting in trying a new-to-me silhouette. Hence sewing the Queen Bee dress.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

The description of the pattern from the Crafty Mamas website is as follows: The Queen Bee is one pattern we guarantee you’ll be sewing up often! In ladies sizes S (4-8) up to 4X ( 26-28), Queen Bee makes you look and feel fabulous!  The flattering princess seams elongate and sling your torso, while the skater style skirt twirls magically about! Sewn from soft cotton lycra knits, you’ll also be super comfortable wearing Queen Bee .  The dress hits below the knee, we have added our very cool pixie style hood, it’s longer than regular hoods and looks amazing knotted up a couple of times/ With a optional kanga style front pocket, choice of regular OR scoop neckline and sleeve variations of sleeveless, cap, short, elbow, 3/4, wrist, or long. The tunik hits mid thigh.  Included at no extra cost is the photo shop size file to be printed out at A0 ( save you cutting and sticky taping!).  Designed for knit fabrics only.

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As you can see, I chose the dress length with long sleeves and a scoop neckline.  There are plenty of options in this pattern.  The fabric is a scuba knit, originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics but given to me from Anna – thanks Anna!  It is a great fabric for this dress for me because of the way that it skims over bulges rather than clings to them.  I also love the colours in the print.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

I sewed the size L, which is 12-14. I did make a short back waist length alteration (pretty much the same as a sway back alteration), but it hasn’t completely eliminated problems with excess fabric in that area. It still looks a little long there.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

I topstitched in green thread beside the front and back princess seams for a bit of added interest. Otherwise construction was on the overlocker, with hems and the neckband secured on the sewing machine in a zig-zag stitch – also in green thread. The overlocking was in green too – from memory, the colours that were in the machines from the previous project. Too lazy to change them!

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

There is a LOT of fullness in that skirt, it swishes beautifully! I didn’t anticipate that the scuba fabric would drop where the curves of the skirt are on the bias, but after wearing this dress a couple of times I think that it has. Looks like time to level out and re-hem. Or just embrace the “design feature”.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

So, overall verdict? I have worn this dress a few times. It’s nice to play with a new silhouette, although it doesn’t quite feel like “me”. I probably wouldn’t wear a summer version of this dress, but in winter worn with stockings, boots, a scarf and a coat, I really rather like it.

Amber Wintergreen Cowl with Queen Bee Dress

Oh, I’d better comment on the cowl. It’s yet another Wintergreen Cowl, this one in yarn I had left after crocheting my Sea Flower Wrap.  The yarn is Rowan Cocoon, and I crocheted it with a 5mm hook.  Fast, satisfying, and a cowl that I have already worn quite a lot.  It just sits so nicely around the neck.

Amber Wintergreen Cowl with Queen Bee Dress

adult's clothing · crochet · sewing

Kwik Sew 3977 vest

My friend Kathryn sewed a Kwik Sew 3977 jacket and vest when we were at Sewjourn in May.  Both looked fabulous – so the pattern quickly joined my stash.

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Shortly after I was at The Cloth Shop in Ivanhoe, and spotted some teal boiled wool knit.  Oh, how perfect for a Kwik Sew 3977 vest!

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

Now, the lapels on my vest don’t fall the same way as the line drawing or the cover photos. I figure that there are possibly a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, fabric choice. This wool knit is pretty thick. Secondly, I hemmed all the edges, and the pattern instructions would have you leave them raw. I found that the knit wanted to curl so looked better with a simple hem that was turned once then zig-zagged along its edges to secure it.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

Deciding which side of the fabric was the “right” side3 was also difficult. In the end I went with the smoother side on the outside and the fluffier side on the inside. This also meant that the fluffier side showed on the collar. I made sure that the centre back neck seam was finished so that it would look neat when turned back. Other construction was on the overlocker.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

I especially like wearing this vest over a teal top and paired with my crocheted Montville shawl, which was finished in March and blogged here.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

I’ve think I’ve been taking photo posing inspiration from Stella!  I really love this vest – it’s super warm to wear, and that colour is absolutely me.  I plan on sewing a jacket at some stage too.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

crochet

Wintergreen and Belmont

My lovely friend Tan adores green.  She also lives in a place where it gets rather cold.  So I crocheted her a gift.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

The cowl is the Wintergreen Cowl by Ellen Gormley. I have crocheted this pattern before, and find it a lovely cowl to wear. It sits beautifully around the neck like a crocheted collar.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

I used Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 in Highland Green, purchased from my favourite local yarn shop Woolarium. The colour screamed Tanya to me. It’s a worsted weight, around 10 ply. I combined it with a 5.00mm hook.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

This is a very fast item to crochet, once you get your head around the basic pattern. It’s actually Bruges lace, but worked in 10 ply, so the effect is completely different from the usual Bruges lace worked in thread or very fine yarn. I really like the arches and loops. It used about 1.2 skeins of yarn. This left me with enough to crochet matching boot toppers.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

There are loads of free patterns out there on the internet for crocheted (or knitted) boot toppers. I chose to use the Belmont Boot Toppers pattern by Jenn Wolfe Kaiser. Once again, I used a 5mm hook. This pattern comes in a variety of sizes, so it helps to know calf measurement before you start. I called on another friend who I know wears similar size shoes to measure hers! That way I was able to keep my gift a surprise.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

These boot toppers combine stitches that I rather enjoy working, with the crocheted BLO rib and shells on top. I had been dubious about boot toppers as a general concept, but Tan has assured me that they actually do provide warmth as well as providing a fashion statement! I really enjoyed crocheting this set, and suspect that I will return to this pattern combination over time.

Wintergreen Cowl and Belmont Boot Toppers

crochet

Braided and Broken Wrap

Another one of my recent crochet projects.

Braided and Broken Wrap

I bought 300g of 4ply Tonofwool Cormo yarn in a crowdfunded project a couple of years ago. The raw wool for this yarn was supplied by Peter Downie, founding family of the Cormo breed in Bothwell, Tasmania.  It was scoured in Australia and processed and spun in New Zealand.  It is the most delightful yarn to work with and to wear. It has amazing softness and squishiness. I bought Black, which is naturally coloured fleece and looks to me to be right on the border of darkest brown and black in colour.  Sadly there is no more available.

Braided and Broken Wrap

It took me ages to decide on a pattern for this yarn. In the end I decided that an accessory would be more practical than a garment. I also wanted to use up as much of the yarn as possible, so a wrap or scarf seemed like a logical choice. I could just keep on crocheting until the yarn was used up! As it turned out I did stop a little bit before it was all gone because my scarf was getting SO long.

Braided and Broken Wrap

The pattern that I chose to use was the Braided and Broken Wrap by Lorene Hawthorn Eppolite of Cre8tion Crochet.  I used a 4.5mm hook.  Every second ladder of chain spaces is used to form the braided effect on the finished wrap, and is done just before the last row is worked.  Otherwise it’s a straightforward one row repeat.  Doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Braided and Broken Wrap begins

The first photo gives you the best idea of the colour of the yarn as it was taken outdoors in natural light. I am very pleased with my wrap and suspect that I will wear it for years and years.

Braided and Broken Wrap

crochet

Sea Flower Wrap

Over the past few months I’ve managed to fit in a bit of crochet.  It’s always good to have a hand-held craft that can be worked on while watching telly or sitting with friends or family.  It’s more social than the hum and whirr of the sewing machine and the overlocker!  When I was on a weekend away with some of the school mums in March I bought some beautiful yarn from Pick Up Stitches in Kyneton and made a start on the Sea Flower Wrap from the book Rustic Modern Crochet by Yumiko Alexander.

Sea Flower Wrap

This yarn is quite thick – it is classified as a bulky or 12 ply weight – and I was extremely surprised at how quickly it worked up into this wrap/scarf. It is Rowan Cocoon, which is a blend of merino and mohair, in the Amber colourway.  I used a 7mm hook.

Sea Flower Wrap

The pattern was surprisingly easy to follow, and had charts as well as written instructions. I always appreciate the combination. The flower edging is worked along one side as you go. The edging on the other side is worked at the end.

Sea Flower Wrap

I find that mohair can irritate my eyes a little when I work with it. It wasn’t really much of a problem with this yarn though as the mohair content is significantly outweighed by the merino. It is a delightfully soft and squishy yarn that gave pleasing stitch definition. I did steam block the scarf once I was finished.

Sea Flower Wrap

My Ravelry notes tell me that I actually finished crocheting this scarf in less than two weeks – and that would have been in short stints of crocheting. A bulky yarn certainly yields fast results! This is very much a statement piece however, and is more of a wrap than a scarf. This is how I wore it recently with a yet-to-be-blogged jacket.

Sea Flower Wrap

There’s more crochet to come!

crochet

Montville shawl

Some of you will remember that I crochet as well as sew!  My crocheting has really taken a back seat over the past few years.  I had a sore arm and shoulder, so stopped for quite some time as the motion of crochet was aggravating it.  Anyway, in recent months I’ve started up again.  I’m making sure not to crochet for too long in one sitting, and so far all seems to be going well!  In March I completed a Montville shawl.

Montville scarf in Poems Socks yarn colour 965 and Zarina colour 1628

This is a lovely pattern, simple to crochet but highly effective. I always enjoy Addydae Designs patterns – Deanne writes clear instructions and the finished product is always pleasing.

Montville scarf in Poems Socks yarn colour 965 and Zarina colour 1628

This was crocheted in a combination of Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock in the pumpkin patch colourway for the body, and Filatura Di Crosa Zarina in teal for the edging. I used a 4.5mm Tulip Etimo Rose hook, which I find very ergonomic.

Montville crocheted wrap

Further details from the Ravelry pattern page are as follows:

Montville is the second in the Hinterland series of shawl designs. Intended to showcase yarns with long colour changes, its asymmetrical shape and simple lace edge allow your feature yarn to take centre stage.  The Montville shawl is worked sideways with the edging added afterward. It can be made in multiple yarn weights according to your preference. Suited to the confident beginner, simply choose your favourite yarn, grab a hook and get started! Pattern includes both written and charted instructions. Approximate Size: 61”/156cm wide (around the curve) x 15.5”/40cm deep after blocking. Of course, this is a suggestion only. You can make yours as wide as you wish. Yarn: Whatever yarn you like! This design can be worked up using just about any fibre and yarn weight. Cotton, silk, alpaca and bamboo blends would be the most ideal as they are more likely to drape gently. But if you are after a squishy warm winter shawl, 100% wool will also work beautifully. Gauge: For this design, gauge is not critical.Simply aim for a soft fluid fabric suited to the yarn you have chosen.

Montville crocheted wrap

crochet

Bridges

I’ve crocheted something.  Something for me.  Something that was started way back in August 2014.  Yes, it took me that long. Not because of the pattern complexity, but because of juggling the process with everything else in my life.  Anyway, in March 2015 it was finished – and it’s finally made it to the blog in April.

Crochet tunic.  Pattern is Bridges by Yumiko Alexander, worked in cotton from Woolarium

The pattern is Bridges, by Yumiko Alexander. It’s from her book Rustic Modern Crochet. The book is full of gorgeous designs, and I can definitely see myself crocheting more of them. I used Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, purchased from Woolarium. I really, really like this colour. This was a beautiful yarn to work with, but I needed almost five skeins for the the tunic. The total cost of the yarn worked out to around $85.

Crochet tunic.  Pattern is Bridges by Yumiko Alexander, worked in cotton from Woolarium

The front and the back of this tunic are identical, which made it very straightforward to make. The pattern does have a sample chart, but I could have done with a full sized one. I think this design would have been easy to work just from a chart, rather than from written instructions. I made size S-L, which is the smaller of the two size options. Once the two panels have been completed they are seamed at the shoulders, leaving an opening for the neckline, then a simple edging is worked around both the neckline and the edges. The sides are laced together with crocheted cord.

Crochet tunic.  Pattern is Bridges by Yumiko Alexander, worked in cotton from Woolarium

This is definitely a statement piece. I am looking forward to experimenting a little more with outfit combinations and seeing what it goes over best. The mustard was a fluke really, but I think that it works well. I felt great wearing this outfit. There are more details over on Ravelry here.

Crochet tunic.  Pattern is Bridges by Yumiko Alexander, worked in cotton from Woolarium