Monday, 19 August 2013

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? The answer is one mouthful at a time, and this has to be my mantra for the next week, month, or more.
I have returned from a wonderful holiday with my family in Cornwall. We had glorious weather and a great time.

We feasted on fresh locally caught fish at idyllic pubs. We sampled the local saffron bread. (I have acquired a recipe, and can't wait to try and re-create it) and relaxed on the wonderful beaches.
If you're wondering why we made a sand turtle, not a sandcastle, it's a Canadian thing apparently - it was a first for me, and just as much fun as a castle!

We were staying on the Lizard and the beaches and scenery were breathtaking. Top left is Lizard Point, the next two are Kynance Cove and the bottom right is Hendra beach. It never ceases to amaze me that if you are just prepared to walk a little way, you can virtually have a beach to yourselves. We swam and fished and generally relaxed, enjoying precious moments of family togetherness.

The villages were so pretty and I love the aqua, red and white splashes of colour in the harbours. And a boat as a flower tub?? I don't think it would have quite the same effect in the Midlands!

So now I'm back home, and my son and daughter-in-law have gone back to Canada. I have a love-hate relationship with airports. They're exciting, bubbly places if I'm there to meet them off an incoming flight, but places of tears and heartache if I'm saying goodbye, especially when I don't know when I'll see them again. But life has to go on, and at least in this day and age we have Skype  and FaceTime, so I should count my blessings.

Inevitably thoughts now turn to tasks that need to be done and works in progress that need to be progressed and that's where the elephant comes in:
I have soooooo many projects to finish, and even more in my head, jostling for first place on the starting line.
I have my Greenfields knitting projects to do....and I'm way behind with those. By my calculation we are 33 weeks into the year, so I should have 33 completed baby items.......I only have 29 and enthusiasm is waning.

Not the enthusiasm for the knitting, just for the yarn that I'm using. I'm left with drab or odd colours that don't make good baby clothes. The point of the exercise is to use up my stash, so I can't justify buying some really cheerful colours to add to it, well, not yet, anyway. I may have to if the finished items start to look really awful!
I have my Swoon quilt to complete - now I don't need any encouragement to work on this, just time.

I need to do a lot more work on my Farmer's Wife quilt. This is supposed to be a quiet moments project, not a "must get done" type, but it keeps getting pushed to the back of the pile.

I have the Rows Quilt Along from Bee in My Bonnet to finish that I started about this time last year, and haven't done any more to since. Ooops!!

I have at least 4 new knitting patterns at various stages of completion for the Etsy and Craftsy shops, and I need to get these done!! Some are so ridiculously close to being finished, I don't know why I haven't done them ages ago.

I have so many ideas for quilty things in my head that it's fit to burst, but I can't start them until I have completed a few of the WIPs, and finally (saving the best till last here) I have a ton of baby knitting, baby sewing and nursery sewing that I want to do because I recently heard that one of my nieces is expecting a baby in February!!! I shall be a great aunt! Yikes, that makes me feel so old!!! My niece is a great photographer too, so maybe, just maybe I shall have a new little model for some of my patterns as well.
I've told myself I can't start any happy, exciting, super special baby projects until some of the WIPs are completed, so in order to stop myself rushing frantically from one half finished project to another, picking them up, putting them down, and generally being in too much of a tizz to finish anything, I have to adopt the "one bite of the elephant at a time" policy and go steadily and methodically through the backlog,  and see if I can get caught up enough to unleash some of the new project ideas buzzing around in my head.
At least it means I don't have too much time to miss my family!
If you have any techniques to help get you through the unfinished projects in your life, please share them with me.

Monday, 5 August 2013

More Sewing For Me

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It's not often that I sew for me, it's usually for family, friends or charity, but this is the second thing I've made in a week.
It was a last minute make, another top for my upcoming holiday. I started it at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and had it finished by the time i went to bed!! I do love projects like that.
This is the Sorbetto top by Collette Patterns and it's a free download.
There are so many wonderful things about this pattern - apart from the fact that it's free!!
Firstly, it's very, very simple.
It uses very little fabric - I had an oddment that was perfect for this top.
It's quick to make.
It's a very flattering fit.
It is very easy to embellish with different trims, buttons, or a frill for instance, so you can use the same pattern time and time again and all your tops will look different.

There are no arm or neck facings, just a bias edging, so you can choose to make it match or contrast. I love my contrasting bias edging. I'm so glad I didn't have enough of the main fabric. I might have been tempted to use that. The fabric I used for the edging is an oddment of voile that I had. It's the perfect colour match, but I did wonder if it was going to be sturdy enough. I needn't have been concerned. It was a little tricky to put through the bias maker as it was so flimsy, but after that it worked wonderfully.

Have you ever used a bias maker before? I have to confess to having mine for about a year, and this was the first time I'd used it! It won't be the last, it was so easy to use. You just cut your bias strips, join them together, pass them through the wide end of the gadget and iron them as they come out the other end ready folded - so simple!!

I added three tiny square buttons to the pleated front to complete the look. By tiny, I mean really tiny! These are scrapbook embellishment buttons and less than 1 centimetre in size. 
I think this top might become one of my favourites. Let's hope there is enough summer weather still to come to be able to wear it.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

sewing with Knits

 Finally, I have had a go at sewing with knits. I've been dressmaking as long as I can remember - dresses, skirts, shorts, even my own wedding dress!, but I've never sewn with knits before.
Sometime last year I bought the Craftsy class Sewing with Knits

I've watched it several times over, but never actually practised what I watched......until now. The trigger was a visit to Stratford upon Avon with a friend, where we came upon a lovely little sewing shop Sew Me Something. It's only tiny, and we didn't have long to browse, but  low down in a corner I spotted some organic cotton knit jersey. How wonderful! I bought 2 metres on the spot without any idea of what I was going to make with it, and made a good mental note of what colours they had for future reference.
So now it was time to put the class viewing into practise.
I didn't want to use my precious organic cotton for my first attempt so I found some knit jersey with the right amount of stretch in my local John Lewis.
It isn't cotton though, it's viscose, and I have to say I wouldn't buy viscose again. It was slippery to work with and I don't really like the feel of it against my skin.
I made the scoop neck T shirt, which is the second project in the class.
I had to buy a few new tools or notions that were recommended.
First, some ballpoint pins:

Regular pins would make holes in the knit fabric. These were easy to find.They stocked them in John Lewis and I also saw them in Sew Me Something in Stratford.

Also I needed some transparent elastic to reinforce the shoulder seams.

I managed to find this, but it was slightly wider than recommended. I shall continue to look for some that is a little narrower.

Finally, I needed a twin needle for sewing machine in order to get the nice double row of stretch stitching along the bottom and sleeve hems.

This I managed to find online from a Bernina sewing machine specialist.
I thoroughly enjoyed following the class.  Cutting out the fabric was probably the hardest part because it was so slippery. It took a long time to make sure the pattern pieces were exactly along the line of the wales in the fabric, but it was worth the effort.
I have an overlocker machine, so sewing the seams was easy. Yes, I have to confess, I've had it for several years, and only used it for neatening seams. (I'm sure I'm not alone in that!).
Sewing the neck band in place was not quite so easy. At the first attempt I decided it was a teeny bit too loose, so I shortened it and then it puckered very slightly, right at the front of the scoop.

It doesn't really show when I'm wearing it, but I've learned not to meddle too much next time!!

Having now made a basic T shirt, I feel confident enough to use my organic cotton and start adding my own design elements to future T shirt makes. I'm think cuffs and button tabs on the sleeves, raw edge rolled finishes on the neck band, pockets and cotton lace inserts.

It certainly isn't cheaper to make your own T, but it's a lot more fun!!

I totally recommend this class if you are considering branching out into sewing with knits. Meg McElwee is a lovely teacher. She fills you with confidence and inspires you to have a go. The detailed stages are easy to follow and I learned a lot about the different types of knit fabrics that are available.
I shall definitely be buying a lot more knit fabric (hopefully organic!) in the future.

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