Rounding off 2020

What a year!  I know there’s been precious little action on the blog this month, but I have a really, really good excuse..  Making Christmas presents!  And obviously I cannot show those until they’ve been recieved, so.  I wish I could show them now, as Christmas day has been, but Boris stuffed up my Christmas plans, so those presents are still here with me and not with the people they were for!  Except for one.

I wanted to make little things for the girls’ advent calendar, one of those ones you can fill with goodies, and not just chocolate!  Although chocolate did feature heavily!  In our garden, we’re frequently visited by lots of birds, chief amongst them are the tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits and the little Willow Tit.  I thought it would be cute to find a little decoration that I could make, in the shape of one of those birds.  After much trawling on Etsy, I found this pattern.  American, so they call the bird a Chickadee, but it’s a tit!

willow tit 2

After downloading and printing, I decided the bird was a little big, so reduced the pattern pieces to 80% of the original size to be more lifelike.  Perfect!  The felt was also from Etsy, and came relatively quickly, given the state of the post office!  I had most of the required colours of embroidery thread in my stash and only needed to buy a couple from a local store.  Cutting the felt was fiddly, because the pieces are so small.  Best tool to cut with?  Curved nail scissors!  Trust me on this, they work a treat!  I decided the birds needed to be “double-sided” as they’d probably swing around on the tree.  My embroidery skills need some work, but I’m happy with the individuality of the birdies!!  There were going to be 5, but as these 3 took so long to make and time was not on my side, I will have to make the other 2 for next Christmas!

willow tit 1

They’re so cute and were very well recieved!!

So what else have I been up to?  Well, back in April when I was in South Africa with my mum and getting fidgity to make something, I thought I’d take advantage of her copious knitting knowlegde and knit something.  I made a beanie and a pair of mittens and came away with a couple of very easy patterns and the desire to knit a little more.  I am a very reluctant knitter, I just don’t have the patience to knit for months and then find I don’t like what I’ve made, or worse still – what I’ve made doesn’t fit!!!!

Anyway, I eventually bought some Aran weight yarn in a pretty misty blue/green colour and raided a friend’s pattern stash.  I picked what I thought was going to be an easy pattern, but I still needed to learn some tricks!  I needed to learn how to knit on a circular needle, how to make German Short rows, increasing and decreasing (on purpose), and how to make a Magic Loop in order to knit the sleeves.  But I did it, and from starting in October, I have a jumper finished before Christmas!!  Never did I think that would happen!  Now I want more Aran weight yarn, or chunkier, so I can knit something else just as fast!

jumper
Finish it and put it on immediately! Blocking – naa – later!!

At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to learn new things, have a “year of firsts”.  Ahem..  So, what did I manage then?  Well, I made my first quilt.  Still not finished, but I’m getting there.  I knitted my first beanie, and first pair of gloves – fingerless!  I spent more time on the allotment than in my sewing room and went for extended periods of time without sewing anything!  In the Christmas present pile is another first, but those details will have to wait!  And of course, there’s this jumper.  The first one I’ve started and finished by myself, and I actually like!  So it’s not been all bad.

There are a couple of projects that haven’t made it to the blog yet, and probably won’t get their own posts.  I used the remainder of the blue floral print viscose to make a cowl cami, using my old favourite camisole pattern, Butterick 5487 .  The scraps left over have gone into making a couple of masks and the lining of some pouches.  I also had some gorgeous navy blue fine knit that I brought back from South Africa – made a Toaster Sweater #2.  I had to take it in drastically at the sides, 10cm in total, shorten the body and the sleeves, and narrowed the sleeves too.  It’s been a brilliant extra layer, I like fine knits for layering in the winter!

cowl cami

Next year is going to be a wait and see year, I think, not too much planning.  As the government seems to be changing the rules an a fortnightly basis, I think that’s the way to go in the beginning.  So for now, I think I’ll start January with some #SewJapaneseInJanuary, I have two books I got in 2018 that I have yet to trace a single pattern from!  There must be something in the stash I can use for a pattern somewhere.  Then there is that fabric I got from Rainbow Fabrics in November/October – still haven’t cut them out!  I also want to make a denim coat from old jeans – I collected a large pile in the summer and that pile is making me feel guilty everytime I look at it!  So it’s not like I’ve nothing to make or no ideas – I just need my sewing room back again!

So that’s it, I guess I’ll be seeing you all in 2021!  Happy New Year everyone!

What did I do?

xmas zadie 3

I made an outfit almost exclusively for one or two days wear.  A bit of a waste?  Well…  Hopefully not!  I’ve seen people making Christmas and Birthday dresses on Instagram for ages now, and I never really saw the appeal.  Sure, I might wear something recently made on the day, but it wouldn’t have been made specifically with that purpose in mind.  So why did I do it?  I had just over a metre of sparkly sequin fabric leftover from a 1920s dress I made for a friend a few years ago.  And every time I looked in the special fabrics box for other things, this sparkly sequin fabric said “Hi!”.  And I love a bit of sparkle.

xmas zadie 7

So I hatched a plan – use the sequin fabric for the top part of something, and go plain on the rest.  I cannot see myself wearing a fully sequined getup anywhere!  I just don’t lead that sort of lifestyle.  I had in my mind a jumpsuit, and the Zadie fit the bill rather nicely.  I wouldn’t need to try to hem or face edges, and the leg part of the jumpsuit is nice a wide, so a flowy fabric would work perfectly.  I took a leap of faith and ordered 2m of black crepe from Croft Mill Fabrics and stashed the lot until I had the time to think about working with sequins again.

xmas zadie 8

Of course, when not planning things out properly, something is always going to go awry.  The leftover sequin fabric was’t nice and neat, and the pieces for the Zadie top are big, especially the crossover front.  I just couldn’t get the front, back and sleeves onto the remaining shape of the sequins, so the back had to go.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, from the back you’ll still see sequinned sleeves, and it might be more comfortable to wear as a plain fabric.

But that meant I needed space on the 2m of 150 wide crepe for two lengthened (by 10cm), wide trouser legs, one (the front) with a crossover extension.  And the pocket bag, tie belt and bias strips, and the bodice back.  It just didn’t all fit on, so I decided to forgo self bias for shop-bought black satin bias, and to echo that, and bring in a bit of texture contrast, to cut the pocket bags from some leftover black crepe-backed satin.  A bit of tuxedo vibe, if you like.  To line the sequin front bodice pieces I dived back into the special fabrics box and found another leftover piece of fabric, this time a lightweight piece of dark grey satin that worked perfectly under the sequin fabric.  The sleeves are unlined and would be finished with black bias instead of being hemmed.

xmas zadie 5

With everything cutout and marked up, I then proceeded to have endless fun flicking sequins around the sewing room.  They had to be removed from the dart area on the bodice front (FBA) and in all the seam allowances.  To be fair, I tried not flicking the sqwuins too far, I needed to keep some for reinstating along the seam edges to fill the gaps.  However, two weeks later, I’m still finding the little sparkly buggers under and behind things, and nestled in the pile of the carpet.

xmas zadie 9

I used a narrow zigzag to sew the seams of the sequin fabric as the mesh has some stretch, then the seam allowances were zigzagged together and pressed – carefully- to the back.  I herringbone stitched the seam allowance onto the back bodice so it wouldn’t be flapping around.  The grey satin lining was attached to the front sequin pieces after the darts were sewn and the two treated as one.  The sequins did end up making the pleats on the waistline a bit bulky, but I really couldn’t have removed any of them.

I overlocked the crepe trouser pieces and satin pocket bags before starting to sew, and French seamed the bottom seam of the pockets.  As always, the Zadie goes together really easily, it’s just choice of fabric that might take time…  I took this project a little slower than normal, I had no intention of trying to use a seam ripper on a mesh seam!  I used just under 2 rolls of black satin biasbinding, I like the definitive edge it gives to the front, and the sleeve edges.  On trying the jumpsuit on to check the hem length, however, I realised it was the right length as it was!  Damn, should have lengthened the legs by 12cm!  But that would have given me other issues with getting the pieces on the fabric.  Anyway, it wasn’t a disaster, I just used the bias binding as hem facing, sewing it on the bottom edge with 5mm seam and turning it in to make the proper hem.  It’s worked ok, and the length is now right.

xmas zadie 6

And now I have a very sparkly outfit, fit for Christmas, birthdays, New Year and just about any wedding (evenings only) we might get invited to for the next few years!!  I’m glad I only needed to buy the crepe and bias binding, and that the sequined fabric now has a use, rather than sitting in the stash.

xmas zadie 2
Merry Christmas!!