Thursday, 28 January 2010

Remember this dress?

I bought it in the Summer for 50p from my favourite charity shop. It is labelled a medium, well I’m medium by most standards and although it fit my hips, I couldn’t zip it past my ribcage. It has been sitting in my ‘to do’ pile (winking at me) ever since and I decided, finally, to do something with it.
Isn’t the fabric great?
It looks like a much easier refashion than it was. Well, it wasn’t really hard, I detached the skirt and waistband, made button loops out of one of the straps and resewed the waistband back on to the skirt. It was a faff because it was overlocked to within an inch of its life, and took ages to take apart. Actually sewing it took about ten minutes, and there were threads everywhere!
I’ve also nearly finished my second Kasia skirt from Burdastyle – I forgot about that waistband fandangle though!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

An easy skirt refashion….

Yes it’s another granny skirt, I just can’t get enough of them at the moment, and since charity shops are full of them I’m happy as Larry!
I’d already slit the pleats higher on this calf-length skirt before I took the first photo, they started much lower down, somewhere near my knees – why can’t I ever remember to take a before pic? All I did then was hack off about 6” (enough to make a scarf or something?) and re-hem it. It’s fully lined, so I did the same there too.
At this point I decided it was better, but not finished – it needed something else… buttons! White, plastic and 80’s never looked so cute.
IMG_8249 IMG_8250
And a little pocket, a girls gotta have somewhere to keep her lipbalm!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Vintage sewing goodies…


As well as hunting out old knitting patterns, I also have a soft spot for sewing patterns too – especially those from the 50’s and 60’s.


I’m hugely inspired by Mena at The Sew Weekly – she’s making a dress a week (!) so you’ve really got to click on the link to see what she’s made so far. She even tells you which pattern she used and where she got the fabric from – what a sweetie! A lot of her patterns are vintage 40’s which I’d love to buy but all the really nice ones are waaaay out of my price range.


I picked these up in charity shops and on Ebay, but I’m always on the hunt. If they are already cut, I’ll use them as is, but if not, I’m going to have to get me some tracing paper – who could cut these?


Every so often I pick up a 70’s pattern too, if I like it – I want to make that coat, and I’m a sucker for yoked dresses.


And if I’m lucky, I find a real gem like this Young Designers Mary Quant. I got this for a few pence in a charity shop.

All I need now are a few dozen yards of double knit poly and I’m away!


Sunday, 24 January 2010

When frogging goes wrong…

This is a cautionary tale if ever there was one. I bought this Jane Norman jumper last week with a view to ripping it apart for the wool. It is 40% angora, 30% lambswool and 30% nylon. What’s that you cry? Don’t try and frog angora you fool? Yeah. Well I knew that but since it’s a UK size 10 (US 6), and I’m not, I thought I’d have a go. And anyway, I’m a frogging genius – no yarn blend has me intimidated!


I took it apart at the seams – which took the best part of Jaws 2 – and started frogging. It was going ok until I yanked a knot and the yarn broke. I fixed it, cursing my heavy-handedness, but a few yards later it broke again, and then again, and again.

Bah! Arrogance makes fools of us all :)

I managed to unravel the cowl part fine (only 19% angora, 15% lambswool, 14% nylon and 52% acrylic) so I have a ball big enough for a one-skein-wonder, but the rest is going in the next boil wash I do for felting. I’m sure I can get something out of it!

By the way, the colour in the photo is pretty accurate. It’s very zingy!


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

My Coffee Date dress version…

I bought this fabric, um, pair of curtains, from a charity shop on Saturday.
They were double layer, white on one side and green on the other, and although they cost £6 (over my flinch point) they were big, and I though the right dress pattern might not look too much like curtains-made-dress.
I dragged out all my patterns but none were right, and I wanted to use one fabric as main and the other as accent. Enter the Coffee Date dress, a free printable pattern from the blessed Burdastyle :)
Here’s how it came out…
I added sleeves because I’m not really built for that shift-dress thing. The sleeves are just a basic light puff, and I added a turn up hem in contrasting green. Obviously I haven’t done the final pressing, it needs hemming and I need to add a button at the top back but I had some light and took the chance for a photo!
The pattern wasn’t too hard but it doesn’t come with any instructions so you’d need to have made a dress before (or just grab the instructions from another frock) so you do things in the right order! I just winged it really, so the sewing (and ripping and re-sewing…) took from 12 lunchtime until 1 in the morning, with a break for tea. Yawn. I’ve also lost some weight and am now smaller than my dressform (don’t get too excited, she’s the larger sized Singer, I’m not a size ‘0’ or anything!) so that made it a bit harder.
I was hoping with the addition of the sleeves it would look more vintagey, and it looks much better on – imagine it with a vintage cardi, belt and some pointy shoes.
I have also cut the pieces for the Kasia skirt, with the dark green for the main body and the white for the pockets. I’ve made that before, so it should be quicker than the dress!
On the same charity shopping expedition, I also got this fabric, um, duvet cover:
And this is the other side:
It’s honestly nicer than the photo, it’s grey and almost black with this amazing shot of red. Can’t you imagine a 50’s-style dress using one of the borders as a hem? Graduated-like, and worn with a bright red wide patent belt and heels? Maybe a red bolero jacket? It could be awesomesauce, but I haven’t got a clue where I’d wear it!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Something from the Cath Kidston book…

Ok, so this is the bag that comes with the book. You get the pieces ready cut and all you have to do is sew them together, but it’s still sewing. Right?
I don’t like unlined bags, and the pattern came with no lining, so I hacked the legs off a pair of lovely pj’s I never wear (I move about a lot in bed and hate getting tangled up in long pyjama trousers) and made a lining. I hemmed the pj’s into shorts and killed birds with stones :) Because I didn’t use the provided facings, I have two strips of CK fabric left just big enough to make bracelets. Or something.
I like the buttonholes so you can adjust the length of the strap (part of me wants to take them all the way round) but I think it’s a wee bit wide for the size of the bag. If I make it again I’ll make them slimmer.
So that’s some sewing from me, now I’m off to knit some more November sweater…

Monday, 11 January 2010

Thrifty finds for a snow day

chooks in snow

Well, it’s been snowy again – we’ve had to dig the chooks out each morning but that’s as far as we’ve been, no getting out and about for us! So here are a few thrifty finds I didn’t get around to posting before Christmas.


This is my new knitting bag. No, I didn’t make it, I snagged it for £1 from a charity shop. It’s big enough to hold a jumper’s worth of wool, but small enough to cart around. It’s currently holding this:


It’s Allergic to Wool’s November sweater. Easy enough to not have to think too much while knitting, but interesting enough to avoid second-sock syndrome. Click the linky above or find it here on Ravelry.

IMG_8088 IMG_8089

I also found this old wallet embossed with ‘handkerchiefs and gloves’ – Somewhere (the same somewhere I put everything I want to keep safe) I have a beautiful tiny pair of kid leather embroidered ladies gloves to put in it. No hankies though.


This book cost 10p from the sally Army! So did this one:


While I’m in no way a busy dressmaker (even if I’d like to be), I love a good shortcut! It’s a bit like ‘Yeah! I made it myself’ for the 70’s, and along with hints and tips for speedy dressmaking, it has patterns like this one:


Haha! Gotta make me a hooded snuggler! I got this amazing embroidery book too:


It’s got these great psychedelic illustrations in it and soft-focus photos of ladies looking pale and interesting in embroidered smocks. Fabulous! 

Although the price on the corner of this knitting album says £6, I think I only paid £4.50. It’s over my flinch point, but there must be 50 or 60 patterns in it,


Quite a few of which look like this lovely painted lady:


and like this smug-looking lady:


Score, I think! You know I love those vintage patterns, I want to share them all with you, but I suspect you might not all be a nutty as me :)

So that’s a few things for now, I have a few more to show you tomorrow and (hopefully) it’ll be a sewing day too.


Monday, 4 January 2010

Checking the thickness of your newly frogged thrifted sweater yarn…

I had a question from Annette about how to check the weight of your newly unravelled yarn. Well, here’s how I do it, but by no means is this a definitive way of finding your yarn thickness!

Here is the grey/blue merino I got from that vile jumper, all newly de-kinked and wound into lots of little balls (isn’t it lovely?):


Now I’m going to wrap it around a ruler. Starting one inch in, wrap your yarn around the ruler – making sure the wraps are touching, but not overlapping until you have covered a whole inch. Mine comes out at 18 wraps per inch (wpi).


Different books, websites, championship knitters often have slightly different ranges for weights of yarn, but generally speaking less than 5 wpi is super bulky, 6-7 is bulky, 8-9 is worsted/aran, 11-12 is dk/sport, 14 is 4-ply/fingering and 16-18 is baby/3-ply.

So, my lovely merino at 18 wpi is 3-ply :)

3-ply is usually knit using 3.25mm (US size 3) needles, so I could knit a tension square, write the gauge on a tag (it should be something like 32 stitches over 40 rows), and attach it to one of the balls so I don’t need to do it later. But I’m lazy. I’ll do it later.

Hope this helps!


*Update* Ok, I caved and did a gauge swatch and it comes out at 30 stitches over 36 rows on 3.25mm. Aha, not so lazy as you thought!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Ribbit, ribbit!

I’ve recently been doing a lot of knitting – I have a mountain of stash yarn, and I really do need to get rid of it, the only thing is I don’t have enough of any one yarn to make something worthwhile. I seem to have a small amount of a lot of different types, colours, weights but I want to make epically intricate jumpers not teensy potholders!

The thing is nice wool is so expensive and the cheap acrylic is shiny, scratchy and well, cheap. No, there’s no malabrigo or noro for me. So, I did a trawl of charity shops – Thirsk, Northallerton, Acomb, I must have visited about 30 looking for jumpers knitted in nice wool. I thought I would easily find loads of them, but they all seem to be knitted in such a fine yarn they’d be useless to me and the devil to frog.

I did find a few though:


Isn’t this jumper vile? It is however 100% merino and when I frogged it I got this:


And these:


It cost £4.50, but just think how much I would have paid for new merino, never mind the mother of pearl buttons! It’s 3ply (I think, haven’t checked it yet) but it’ll be great for knitting one of these patterns which all seem to be 3 or 4ply:


I also got a few more, they’re just waiting to be washed and stretched to get the kinks out.


This was a huge, chunky handknit cardi that cost something like £3.50. I don’t know what it’s made of, there’s definitely some acrylic in there but I burnt a scrap and could definitely smell burning wool. Either way, it doesn’t look like acrylic and it’s very, very soft.


The buttons are plastic, but they might come in useful for something.


This one is 100% cotton, dk or worsted I think – don’t you just love the colour?

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them after gauge swatches, but the great thing is I know I have enough for a jumper. I’ve got two more to frog, one pure wool cream jumper that looks dk and I’ll probably dye, and another handknit cardi that is probably acrylic but it was only 70p so I couldn’t pass it up. Oh, and an angora/lambswool mix cardi in a similar colour to the cotton above. So three more to frog :)

I’ve become a Ravelry hound, if you haven’t visited do so now! It’s fantastic, it really is. Everyone is so helpful and it’s great to see all the variations of each pattern willingly shared.

If you want to have a go at frogging your own thrifted jumpers (or even some you have stashed in the back of your wardrobe) there is a great tutorial here.