Friday, 24 January 2014

A quick top and two quick dresses

A couple of things from the end of 2013 to catch up on, all quick makes.

Sweater-knit batwing top

I'd been fiddling around with a skirt that ended up being a time-consuming wadder, so I wanted something quick and palate-cleansing, and a knit top always fits that bill. I also like doing this sort of quick thing between longer projects as I'm trying to replace my RTW basic tops with nicer and better fitting self-made ones. This was super simple: just the sleeves from a Burda dress frankensteined onto my stretch block, with a low-ish round neckline.

This is made from a rayon-poly sweater-knit from The neckline is stabilised with fusible bias tape, and finished with a strip of self fabric turned to the inside and topstitched (the same way a bias facing would be applied). This looks nice, but was a bit fiddly with this fabric as it doesn't press terribly well, so needed basting, which sort of defeats the purpose of a quick top... The sleeves and hem are finished with a three-step zig-zag. You can see me wearing this top in the picture from when I met Melissa.

Doubleknit dresses

These were whipped up before going back to the UK in November, with the intention of being warm and comfy travelling outfits. The bodice is based on the Burda peplum cardie-jacket, and the skirt is just a simple A-line. I left the darts in the back of the skirt, but used my usual method for a dart-free bodice. I think in this heavier and less stretchy fabric it would have been better to add bust darts.

The shoulders in both are reinforced with grosgrain tape and the waistband with clear elastic. I've actually replaced the clear elastic with regular elastic in the grey dress - it's a slightly lighter weight fabric and the clear elastic just made it look ripply and horrid. The neckline is stabilised with fusible bias tape and has a (purchased) bias facing, which is finished by hand to avoid visible stitches on the right side. I decided to finish the sleeves and hem by hand as well, to keep the look nice and clean.

I think the black one works better than the grey one, there's something about the latter that just seems a bit frumpy. I'm trying to put my finger on it so I can change it - I think I will make a matching tie-belt to soften it a bit, and possibly shorten it a bit. I haven't actually worn these as much as I thought I would. One reason is that they could really do with having pockets, and the other is that they don't look very good with the winter coat I have. It's an "egg"-shaped one (as Burda like to describe it), so anything that's not slim at the bottom gets all bunched up. Maybe time to make a winter coat...?

Burda Challenge

Err, yeah. I got stuck on November's issue. There were several things in there that I liked well enough, but nothing I really needed enough to want to spend time on. And then I felt I couldn't do December's until I'd done November's, and then Christmas came along and blah blah blah... So, November still hasn't been done (although I did cut out the ponte trousers: disaster), but I've made December's. A full review coming up, but here's a sneak preview:

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Christmas 2013

So, before I join the masses with the Top 5 lists, I'll squeeze in a quick Christmas post (well it is still before twelfth night - just). There's actually a few me-made and sewing/knitting/crocheting/crafting-related things to show you, so let's go in chronological order I suppose!

Ivy wreath

I made this wreath at the beginning of December, intending for it to go on the door to our flat. However, I hung it up for some pictures before I put a nail in the door, and decided I actually liked it far too much for it to go outside, where I would only see it intermittently. The wreath base is shop-bought, and I made the decoration with felt, covered wire, and ribbon.

Christmas dress

I bought some cute retro printed cotton in November to make this year's Christmas outfit, and this dress was originally started (but not completed) for some pre-Christmas drinks with friends. As it was by that time only a week to go and I hadn't made a start on a Christmas dress, I figured I'd just finish this one, it being suitably festive (and also stretchy: key when doing the amount of eating I tend to do at Christmas...).

This is a bit of a bodged together pattern, a modified combination of a BurdaStyle Magazine pattern, and my stretch block. The lapped curves of the sleeves and the skirt were judged by eye rather than properly drafted, but they work well enough (well, apart from the skirt needing a leeeeetle more overlap - there is a safety pin preserving some sort of decency in these photos).

It is made from a fairly hideous velour knit that was given to me by my mother-in-law. I cut them with the nap running from bottom to top to minimise the shiny-ness, and it actually doesn't look too bad made up into a dress. To finish the neckline, hem and sleeve hems I just turned the edge under and topstitched it, first stabilising the neck and hem with bias tape.

The bodice ended up being a bit too short, so I just added a strip of fabric as a sort of midriff band. I underlined this with powernet, hoping that this would give a nicely defined waist on the dress, but the strip was a bit too long and this didn't really work. Never mind! I covered this up with the sash from my Budapest dress, which didn't look quite as glamorous as intended - it would have looked better with a slimmer waist, but I work with what I have! All in all, this isn't my best ever make (and was only ever intended to be a stunt dress), but was comfortable to wear and definitely festive.

Gifts for others

I only made a few small bits and pieces for other people this year. Once again, I'd intended to make a shirt for my husband, but once again time slipped away and it didn't get done... Oops! I've promised it as a new-ish year gift instead, so we'll wait and see if it does appear. Other than that, I made a necklace and a brooch for my mum, a pair of earrings for my sister, a pair of earrings for a friend, and a scarf for my husband.

The necklace is identical to the one I made myself a couple of years ago, as she's always admired it, and shares the same taste as me for bold and bright jewellery. The brooch is crocheted, just "freestyle", starting with a chain loop. The backing is interfaced felt. I made Mum another brooch ages and ages ago (before starting my blog), and she's always asking me to make more. Unfortunately I freestyled the first one and can't remember quite what I did... I'm not as pleased with how this one turned out, but Mum still likes it.

The two pairs of earrings are both effectively just covered hoops, but done in slightly different ways. The turquoise pair (for a friend) are made from wooden curtain rings, covered, then another row of singles worked around (or maybe doubles, I can't actually remember). They're quite large, about 2 inches across. The black pair (for my sister) use a smaller "silver" jewellery hoop, and I included black glass beads in the second row of stitches.

The scarf for my husband is almost exactly the same as the one I made for my dad last year, just shorter (2 balls of wool rather than 3) and again joined with a twist so it sits better when worn.

So, I think that's Christmas done and dusted, I'll leave you with my new favourite mug (a gift from my husband), which of course I use solely for Earl Grey tea, hot...