Lotus Bolero for Stella

Finally, the small girl gets something!  My commuter crochet over the past few months has been this little bolero for Stella.

Lotus Shrug by Doris Chan

How could something so small take so long, I hear you ask? Mostly because I had to unpull it when it was only a few rows away from being finished because I realised that I’d made a mistake. Back in row 5. WAY back in row 5.

Lotus Shrug by Doris Chan

This pretty bolero is actually quite straightforward to crochet. The pattern is by Doris Chan, and she really spells everything out in her patterns. If you’ve crocheted any of her patterns before then you’ll find this one super easy. I made the smallest pattern size for Stella, size 24/S. The yarn is from Spotlight but from quite a few seasons ago. It’s called Gardenia, pretty much translates to an 8ply or DK weight, and is 75% acrylic and 25% viscose derived from bamboo. It’s a lovely soft yarn to work with and both my girls like the feel of it to wear. It’s a cable construction rather than a twist, and really very good quality for a predominantly synthetic yarn. I used a 4.5mm hook.

Lotus Shrug by Doris Chan

The pattern is a four row repeat. The whole bolero is worked in one piece from the neck down, a technique that I particularly like. Just make sure that you count as you go and use markers where suggested so that you don’t have to do what I did and unpull back to row 5!

Lotus Shrug by Doris Chan

Sizes from 24/S – Stella’s size – right up to 53/3XL adult are included in this pattern. I think that it would be quite easy to lengthen the body to make a longer cardigan, or to extend the cap sleeves to make them whatever length that you like. I considered putting a tie or button closure on the front of Stella’s bolero, but she wanted it left the way that it was.

Lotus Shrug by Doris Chan

Now I am about to start another in the next size up for Clare. Over the last year I haven’t been crocheting as much as I used to. Partly this has been because my work-related arm/neck/shoulder pain is also aggravated by the motion of the crochet hook. Partly it is because I am using commuting time to check on blogs and instagram. Partly it is because I am prioritising sewing. And partly it is because I am trying to read more novels. Whatever the reasons, it was very satisfying to finally complete another crochet project, even it was a fairly small one. I have a top for me that is almost finished, and there are still a whole lot of crochet squares that I hooked back in 2012 that need to be joined into a blanket. Plenty to do, as always!

Olivia and the Moss Mini

I work remotely from home a few days a week at the moment, logging in to a work server.  On Friday the server went down.  The downside?  No work for most of the day – and therefore no pay (I’m a contractor).  The upside?  I finished off a tee-shirt and skirt – as well as various domestic tasks!

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

The top is the Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee. I have used this pattern a couple of times before with the 3/4 length sleeve. This time I chose the short sleeve. It’s an extremely straightforward pattern, all constructed on the overlocker. I used the same size as last time, a little shortened, and with all waist shaping removed.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee

It’s a little difficult to get that neck band to sit nice and flat. The curve at the bottom is quite pronounced, so you really do ned to get the right amount of stretch – which of course varies depending on what fabric you are using. I find that twin needling around the neckline helps enormously with getting it to sit properly. I used two different colours in the twin needle to pick up on a couple of the different colours in the fabric. I really love the colours in this fabric, which was a gift to me from Anna. Except – and don’t you hate it when there is an except – it turns out that the fabric is quite delicate.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee

After one car trip there was a pull on the teal section near the waist and marks on the teal sections near the left shoulder, both from the seat belt. My seat belt isn’t in bad condition, I must tell you! It’s just that this fabric is far from sturdy. Which is a little upsetting, because the colours and pattern are superb. I’ve washed and pressed it since without it improving things. Sob!

Grainline Moss Mini

So, to the skirt. It’s a Grainline Moss Mini, without the added band. This definitely does make it rather mini, but it is long enough for me to bend over without any unintentional exposure. The fabric is a twill from stash – I think it’s cotton. I used a lighter weight cotton for the pockets. And as you can see, I decided to topstitch in chocolate brown. Just to make my life difficult.

Grainline Moss Mini

I used upholstery thread in the needle and normal polyester sewing thread in the bottom. I also switched the needle to size 14 to accomodate the thicker thread. It was hard to get the topstitching super straight and the lines parallel to one another, but I think I did okay! Any slight sways and deviations are now declared to be “rustic”. I like the ease of the zipper insertion method in the pattern, but after having made this skirt four times I now think that it often gives a bit of a bump at the bottom of the zipper rather than allowing it to lie flat and smooth. In wearing it just forms to the body though, and curves over my stomach curves.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

White skirts definitely do show all the sitting wrinkles. The fit is actually rather good over my hips and bottom. I sewed approximately size 8-10 in this pattern. The waistband is quite firm on me, but because of my relative lack of hips that keeps it fitting well. You can’t see my perfectly matched lines of back yoke topstitching in the above photo because my top covers them, but rest assured, they are there!

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

This is a fun and easy to wear hot day outfit, and I’m actually rather glad that I was game to get my legs out after all. My husband does think that the whiteness of my legs blends in to the whiteness of the skirt, but I don’t really care. This is me, complete with moon tan. I reckon I’m doing okay for someone heading rapidly towards 47!

Hide and Seek

Let’s turn back the clocks to 2014 again, as this dress was made when I went to Sewjourn last November.  Sometimes it takes a while to get photos!

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

This is the Oliver + S Hide and Seek Dress. I’ll have to pull out the pattern to check what size I made, but I’m guessing it was size 10. As is always the case with Oliver + S patterns there are many lovely features in this dress, but as far as I am concerned the main feature of this version is the fabric used for the yokes and pocket welts.

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

Do you remember this? It’s fabric we had printed by Spoonflower from one of Clare’s drawings. Her own fabric design, now part her own dress!

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

We used up pretty much every bit of the fat quarter we’d ordered. There was just enough for both the front and back yokes as well as the pocket welts.

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

The pattern description from the website is as follows: This relaxed-fit dress and tunic pattern features a front and back yoke, V-notch neckline, and back button closure. The dress has easy-to-sew welt pockets and cuffed, three-quarter-length sleeves, while the tunic has hemmed short sleeves. The yoke on this pattern can highlight a favorite print or fabric, and the number of included sleeve styles and hem lengths offer a variety of design options.

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

The fabric is the same one I used in my Tessuti Sophie dress, a silk/cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics. The ric rac was in stash, and adds another little detail to the bottom of the front and back yoke. The buttons used on the back are vintage, also from stash. They’re not as good a match to the fabric as I’d like, but not glaringly out of place either. I have seen some delightful versions of this dress on the internet; it can be made in so many pretty ways and really does give the opportunity for creative fabric placement. Worth googling!

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

As is always the case with Oliver + S patterns, the drafting is impeccable. The sleeve eases perfectly into the armscye, and all the seams line up and join to one another to give beautiful fit. This is a roomy style, especially on Clare, and will fit for some time. It’s also cool and comfortable in this fabric, but in a winter weight it would layer well over a long sleeved tee and tights. I think I’m an Oliver + S fangirl.

Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress

Another Aeolian

Whenever I look at a knit fabric, I wonder how it would look as an Aeolian tee.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

It doesn’t take long to find out! I have stopped counting them now. This one is in size Medium, as per usual. You’ve seen the fabric before – I used it recently for a Tonic tee. The fabric is a double sided knit from Clear It. This time I used the finer stripe for the body of the tee and the wider stripe for the sleeves and neckband. There was still stripe matching required, and I really had to be careful to cut everything straight and on the grain.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

I decided to add some more detail and highlight the raglan seams by twin needle stitching alongside them, as well as around the neckband.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

I used a new-to-me tape to secure the hemline before stitching. This is Wash Away Wonder Tape – I bought it from Stitch 56.

Wash away wonder tape

It is a tape that doesn’t require ironing to adhere. You just pull it off the roll and stick it in place, then peel off the paper backing to expose the other adhesive side. I then turned the hem to the depth that I wanted and pressed the adhesive in place to secure it. No pins needed, hooray! It can be repositioned, and still stabilised the hem so that it didn’t stretch out.

Wonder tape to secure facing

Because this is a deep hem a marker like a sticky note on the sewing machine bed is usually needed to keep it even and straight. As this fabric is striped I was simply able to follow the stripe.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

Yes, I’m addicted to Aeolians.

Why I don’t monetise my blog.

I’ve read a couple of posts by “big-name” sewing bloggers recently about why they are monetising their blogs.  They provide great arguments and rationale.  I especially understand why you would want to monetise your sewing blog if you have a sewing related business – or if you have a huge readership who clearly do follow your links.  But here’s why I don’t monetise mine.

  • Sewing – and by extension, blogging about it – is my hobby.  By definition, a hobby isn’t a job.  I don’t make money out of it.
  • If I wanted to make more money, I’d do more hours at my day job.  The hourly return there is far more than I would ever get from blogging.
  • I’m a small-time blogger.  Why would I want to bother monetising?
  • Money creates expectation.  If I’m being paid or receiving financial reward in some way from what I am doing, there are certain obligations that go along with that, whether explicit or implicit.  I’m not interested in those obligations.
  • No-one makes me blog.  I blog for me.  I am thrilled that there are people who like to read my blog, but the main driver of my blogging is to record my sewing and crocheting.  It’s an online journal.
  • I link to patterns I like, products I use, books that I read, web-sites that I frequent, shops that I buy from.  Because they are what I use.  Not for any other reason.  I don’t want to link for any other reason.
  • Not everything in life has to be about money or financial reward for effort.  What about karma?

Many of these points are inter-related.  I suspect that others may have similar reasons for not monetising their blogs.  I am not saying that people shouldn’t monetise, but I also think that there are valid reasons for not heading in that direction.  Your thoughts?

Cambie for Freya

One of the fun things about sewing for my cousin Freya is getting to sew up styles that I really wouldn’t wear myself.  You know, those styles that show off a tiny waist.  I don’t have a tiny waist – but Freya does.  Despite having jumped on the Tessuti Sophie bandwagon quickly, I was very slow to jump on the Sewaholic Cambie bandwagon.  This pattern came out a couple of years ago, and was number two on the Sewing Review Best Patterns of 2012 list.  This meant that there were what seemed like a million reviews and tutorials on the internet, so there were plenty of resources available for reference.  Not that I used any of them actually – I just followed the pattern instructions.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Oh it’s a good thing for me that Ada is adjustable and I could dial her down to Freya’s measurements! I chose to make the A-line skirt version, mostly due to fabric restrictions. The bodice is lined, and I used the same fabric for lining, but decided not to line the skirt.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Freya’s measurements exactly correspond with Sewaholic’s size 10. Yippee! So that’s what I sewed. The invisible zipper through the back shows ever so slightly at the waistband, where the fabric is thicker, but otherwise it is basically invisible as per the name. When it was on Freya it was quite invisible at the skirt – the photo above is deceptive.  I wasn’t able to pattern match the florals, but didn’t actually try to. (I watched the first episode of the 3rd series of the Great British Sewing Bee yesterday and now every tiny imperfection in my sewing is glaring at me each time I sit at the machine or touch anything I’ve made). The seams do line up nicely though!

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

There are side seam pockets, which were straightforward to construct. I stabilised the angled pocket openings with stay tape before stitching. It’s always worth remembering to do that on seams that are cut on an angle to the grain.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Unfortunately when Freya eventually tried her dress on it fit perfectly everywhere except vertically through the upper bodice. The perils of sewing for someone else without having them available for fitting! We have finally decided that she is proportionately shorter from the bust to the shoulder, which leads to bodice gaping in styles like this one.  As it turns out, lately she has been getting ready to wear clothes altered to shorten them in that area, and she’s going to get her alterations person to alter this dress too (I could have done it but Freya lives half an hour’s drive away from me and this way she’ll have her dress back much sooner). The sleeves/straps need to be shortened, which in this case means unpicking the bodice lining to access the straps, unpicking them from the top of the bodice then pulling them through an inch or so before restitching. That will eliminate the bodice gaping that is currently there. I will now remember to do this with future garments I make for Freya. We are similar heights, but interestingly for me I usually make the petite adjustment through the body between the bust and the waist, and rarely between the bust and shoulder.  Different proportions and alterations are needed for different bodies, even when their heights are similar and often even when their circumferential measurements seem similar!  We are three dimensional, and simple measurements don’t always reflect our similarities and differences accurately.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

I’ll add a modelled photo when one becomes available.  ETA – a photo just came through!  Hooray!  It looks fantastic on Freya!  Construction was shared between the sewing machine and the overlocker, and I used the machine to blind hem the skirt. This was quite straightforward to make, and does end with a pretty result. The cotton (a gift) was easy to sew, and I was pleased to move this pattern from the unsewn pattern drawer to the sewn pattern drawer! (Don’t you organise your patterns like that too?)

Sewaholic Cambie for Freya

pencil case

Oh the blog post titles are getting even more mundane.  This one is about a – you guessed it – pencil case.

New pencil case to start year 7

Just before school started and we were sorting through Clare’s things, making sure that we had everything she needed for high school, she realised that she needed/wanted a new pencil case. One large enough to fit her ruler and assorted other bits and pieces. So it was off to the stash we went, where we chose some fabrics and even managed to find a coordinating chunky zipper. The outer fabric is a home decorating weight designed by Denyse Schmidt, and the lining is a quilting cotton. Both very pretty colours. Because the outer was a heavier weight I didn’t even interface it.

New pencil case to start year 7

There are a plethora of instructions on the internet that can help you to make a simple lined zippered pencil case, but I used a combination of the instructions for the zippered pouches in You Sew, Girl! by Nicole Mallalieu and those in her make-up purse pattern. I strongly recommend Nicole’s book(s) for anyone wanting to know how to make bags/purses and similar items well – they are packed full of simple tips and tricks that really improve the finish. I based the pencil case size on an existing pencil case and then tweaked it to Clare’s specifications.

New pencil case to start year 7

I can hardly believe that I managed a whole blog post on this! It was very quick to make and highly satisfying, fits all Clare’s stationery requirements (including her calculator) and apparently the other girls in her class have admired it quite a bit. It’s a winner!