5 Happy things – the one with a mention of Wonder Woman socks

 

The caravan site I stayed in for the wool festival.

Hello! I’m very sorry for my unintentional hiatus. I’m not really sure what I’ve been up to, but somehow I’ve been very busy recently; as a result, I’m pretty tired in the evenings & haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts into any sensible form. Hopefully this post will get me back into the swing of things.

  • A month with lots of time off

Ironically, I have had loads of time off in April. First there was my birthday, and the concert we went to to celebrate; then Easter, then a wool festival…you get the idea. My only full week of work was the last week in April, then we had a bank holiday! I am loving it. I’d love to say I’ve gotten lots done, but the truth is I’ve been sitting around not doing much. I did have a few day trips, though, which I’ll try to write about sooner rather than later.

  • A visit from a friend from home

A former co-worker from my college library is travelling the world at the moment, and last weekend I was lucky enough to have her come see me. It was lovely to see a bit of home. It was also nice to introduce her to a few of my favorite places in England, and maybe one or two things she might have missed on her own.

  • My sister’s successful knee surgery

My sister’s had knee problems since she was a teenager, and continues to have them in spite of having had surgery on both knees. She’s just had an experimental surgery (don’t ask for details; I get queasy thinking about it so haven’t asked for them!) which seems to be a success so far in spite of quite a lot of pain for her. Overall she’s doing well, and that makes me very happy!

  • Getting started on our bedroom curtains (finally)

I bought the fabric for our bedroom curtains last year, but have been too scared to cut it. It was expensive, and also vintage. If I messed up, that was it! I’ve now cut the fabric. Everything seems okay so far…more on this soon.

  • The Big Geeky Craft Swap

One of my favorite things is finding presents for other people. Another is superheroes. How could I possibly resist The Geeky Knitter’s superhero-themed gift swap? I had so much fun thinking about what I could make my recipient, who happened to be Jenny (whose blog I’ve been reading for quite a while). After much pondering, I settled on a pair of Wonder Woman themed socks – I originally planned to make gauntlets, but as those vary in color depending on the version of Wonder Woman, I thought making a sock version of her boots would be ideal. While they didn’t turn out absolutely perfectly, I was pretty happy with them. Sadly, though, I forgot to take a picture of them! Hopefully I can persuade Jenny to share some on my behalf.

I’m linking up with Suzy, who’s also written about what made her happy this week. How about you? I hope there are nice things happening in your life, too.

FO: Oven mitt

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This project hails from my metaphorical (or maybe literal…) pile of unfinished projects. Specifically, this mitt was supposed to be a Christmas present for a friend in 2015. Oops. In my defence, that is the Christmas we moved house! Anyway, I finally managed to finish it & gave it to her last week. She loved it – as expected given how much she loves foxes.

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Making oven mitts was pretty straightforward. I didn’t buy a pattern, but instead just traced my own double oven mitt. I have concerns about how heat-proof it is, given I just used polycotton quilt wadding, but I’ve asked her to let me know (I forgot to test them).

Overall, I was pretty happy with these. It was my first time using bias binding on a curve, and as you can see I had mixed levels of success with being even. I was pretty disappointed with it, but I did find sewing it so stressful that I just couldn’t go back and redo it. I was really pleased with my pattern matching, though, and with the binding on the pockets. Next time I’ll practice a bit more before I take on bias binding.

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In progress: vintage dress

Ages ago, I wrote about starting on my next sewing project: another 60s dress, this time with sleeves, made out of a pair of vintage curtains. A colleague’s wedding is coming up in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to make sure I get it done in time for that. I just need to attach the skirt to the bodice and insert the zip now. Once it’s done, I’ll be sure to share some photos of it out and about. But in the meantime, here are some photos of its construction.

So that’s what’s happening in my sewing room. (No, not a real one!) Do you have any long term projects on the go?

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PS I still haven’t blogged about the new house, but one of the things I’m loving about it is how much softer the light is. Much easier to get decent pictures!

 

Yarn along & a couple of presents

On the knitting front, the saga of the blue willow jumper continues. I really love the way this looks, but I’m really regretting not taking the time to work out how to knit it in the round. Purling colourwork is a pain. I am definitely going to take the time to work out how to knit the sleeves in the round, though.

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On the train this morning, I finished reading The Guest Cat. While I admire the elegance of Japanese prose, and love how descriptive it is, I must admit most Japanese books aren’t really for me. There’s just something that doesn’t click with me. I really enjoyed reading The Guest Cat, though, and found it very moving. It’s slow-moving, eloquent, and emotional. It was a slow and enjoyable book, but I am not sure yet whether it’s memorable. I would still recommend it if someone is in the mood for beautiful reflective writing.

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I think I mentioned before that I was thinking of making a sampler for my friend who was getting married. As you can see, I did! When I asked what the theme for her wedding was, she said pink & glitter (which is very her). This was my interpretation. I would’ve liked to do something prettier, but I have to admit I was quite last minute. I have a long way to go to improve my written embroidery, too. But I liked all the French knots on the outside, and it did look nice when framed. I was also very impressed with my heart, especially given that  I didn’t use a template. Nice and symmetrical! I really hope they liked it. My embroidery still isn’t great, so I always get anxious when I give it as a gift.

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My next present is going to be a set of soft blocks for my friend’s newborn, using some scrap fabric from my stash.

Linking up with the Yarn Along. What are you up to this week?

Sewing plans

Sewing and knitting has been in the backseat for a couple of months, but with my levels of anxiety increasing it’s become more important. Last week I travelled up to Birmingham for work, so of course I stopped by the rag market. I bought some white linen at £3/meter, some mystery teal fabric (maybe a viscose blend?) at £1/meter, and a very charming woodland animals cotton print fabric at £6/meter. Pretty good, I think! I already have projects in mind for all of it.

Ever since I bought those beautiful red buttons in Helsinki, I’ve wanted to make a white linen version of Vogue 5096, which was already in my stash. It’s a 1960s button-back blouse with 3/4 sleeves. I don’t really wear collars, so I will probably leave that off. I think that’ll be my only tweak. Because I have a very specific idea in mind of what I want this to look like, I am a little nervous! I will definitely be making a muslin for this, as I’d e really upset if it didn’t fit properly.

Vogue 5096 / Vintage 60s Sewing Pattern / Blouse Shirt Top / Size 16 Bust 36

The fabric I paid £1/meter for will be ideal lining fabric for another project, or even to use to make muslins for patterns that use viscose fabrics.

Finally, I am very excited to be making a Christmas present for a friend with the printed cotton fabric. She does occasionally read my blog so I can’t say exactly what it is. However, I will say that it’s something practical, so hopefully she’ll get to enjoy looking at the fabric on a regular basis.

As a bonus, I saw the most gorgeous cotton lawn! It’s not as bright as it looks in this photo; it’s actually beautifully subdued and is very lightweight so would definitely require a lining. Sadly I couldn’t buy it, though, as we really need to be saving up for when we manage to find a house we like & I’ve forbidden myself from buying things that don’t have a specific purpose. My mission is now to find the perfect summer dress pattern for it so I have an excuse to go back & buy it. 🙂

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Skirting the issue

It’s been a while since I’ve sewn. It’s not for lack of desire, but things seem to keep going wrong. My plan was to make a circle skirt out of that beautiful green fabric I blogged about. But I’m not quite brave enough to draft my own pattern yet, and all the circle skirt patterns I have were too long for the fabric (which is only 90cm wide). I then realised that maybe I didn’t need a full circle skirt. Mostly I want something with a bit of swing and a bit of swirl. It turns out I have the perfect skirt to base my pattern on – a vintage skirt I bought years ago and wore until I ruined the lining. Eventually I’ll get around to replacing it! In the meantime, isn’t it the perfect fit? I’ve decided to be brave and try copying it using tracing paper. Do you have any tips for basing patterns on existing garments? I think this one is pretty simple, so I am not too worried.

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Isn’t the fabric on that original skirt gorgeous? I can’t wait to get the lining sorted so I can wear it again. It’s even nicer to think that eventually I’ll get a second skirt made out of it.

Signing up for the vintage pledge

Not long after I started Pastry & Purls, I came across A Stitching Odyssey’s vintage pledge, where she and many of her blog’s followers committed to sew 5 vintage patterns. I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to participate, but alas, felt my sewing skills weren’t up to scratch. Also, I couldn’t possibly have sewn 5 objects between October and December! It was a shame, though, because I already knew that I intended to incorporate vintage into my sewing, whether it be in the pattern or the fabric. I also knew that the dress I’ve now finished would be my first project, and why not make it part of a larger commitment to sew vintage? After all, a big part of the reason I wanted to learn was that I keep falling hopelessly in love with vintage fabric I stumble across in secondhand shops. The drawings on vintage patterns (knitting or sewing) are also irresistible. I can’t deny that I bought sewing patterns long before I had a sewing machine.

You can imagine I was thrilled to read the vintage pledge was going to be happening again this year, this time with Kerry over at Kestrel Makes. I hadn’t come across Kestrel Makes before, but have been reading through her blog & really enjoying her open writing style and the fact that she does both knitting and sewing. (Plus, she sewed a horse – how impressive is that?!) So I will definitely be participating with the vintage pledge this year, albeit with my own take on it. I’m new to sewing, but have been knitting for a few years. So here’s my vintage pledge:

I, Jennifer, will sew at least 3 items using vintage patterns and/or fabric, and knit 2 items using vintage patterns.

Why more sewn items than knitted? Well, it’s a nice excuse to find more patterns, as I don’t have many vintage sewing patterns yet. 😉 I also want to make sure I get more sewing practice to build my confidence. There’s also the fact that vintage sewing patterns, while they will probably require as much interpretation (for me, at least) as a vintage knitting pattern, can at least be made using easy-to-find modern material. Vintage knitting patterns, on the other hand, often use yarn weights that are no longer produced, or are extremely expensive; the pattern may need to be adapted to account for modern yarn, etc. I also think I’ll need to make more size adjustments for knitted garments than sewn. (Unless I randomly decide to sew a wiggle dress, in which case I’m in big trouble!) Happily, last year I bought Knit Back in Time, which gives detailed instructions on just that. Even though I’m just planning to knit 2 vintage items, I want to take my time and try out some of the suggestions in the book this year.

Wish me luck! Will you be participating, too? What’s your personal #vintagepledge?