Category: Crafts (page 1 of 27)

Summer of Shorts!

I realised back in December that my wardrobe was pretty light on shorts and set out to rectify that. I ended up making FIVE different pairs from two different patterns, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!

These three pairs are all based on Colette Patterns Iris Shorts. They’re sort of retro, with pockets set into a front seam rather than on the hips. They open with a zipper on the left side. I bought this pattern years ago and made a first attempt at them, but they didn’t fit at all and I was too disheartened to try again. This time I was determined to crack it.

This was my first attempt. I didn’t want to use anything too fancy until I had fixed the fit issues so I used this blue floral quilting cotton I had in my stash. My first attempt was again a complete disaster, so I ended up pulling them apart and recutting the bum pieces to add more width to accommodate my hips. That seemed to do the trick! Wearable, but not perfect.

For my second attempt, I made further adjustments. The blue pair felt like they were, uh, riding a bit high, so I lowered the crotch by half an inch on both the front and back pieces. (The first adjustment detailed on this page.) For this pair, I used a pink fine-wale corduroy I bought from Jody‘s Mum’s destash. I didn’t have much of it, which turned out to be problematic when I screwed up the cutting and had to recut one of the front panels. There’s definitely some bodgy bits around the pockets on these, but overall the adjustment was a success. The fit is relaxed and comfortable!

The last pair were just finished today. These are made from a beautiful denim that I picked up during The Fabric Store‘s recent sale. I made one final adjustment to the fit, to “scoop out” a little more of the front crotch and remove a little excess fabric there. I decided to get a bit fancy with these and apply piping to the top and bottom of the waistband. I used some beautiful Liberty cotton canvas for the piping and the pockets, and I’m so happy how they turned out! (I also documented the whole process of making them, which I’ll be posting soon.)

The other two pairs of shorts I made were from the Prefontaine Shorts pattern by thatmoxiegirl. I ❤ this pattern!

This pattern is a roomy cut and features very inclusive sizing, so I didn’t have to make a single change. These were the first pair I made, which used some quilting cotton I’ve been holding on to for years, waiting for just the right project. I’m slightly annoyed that I wasn’t smart enough to vary the placement across the fronts to avoid the obvious repetition across the crotch seam, but it’s fine. The waist is elastic so you don’t have to bother with putting in a zipper. The black trim along the edges is actually recycled from an old t-shirt! That’s a trick that the pattern suggests, and it’s brilliant. Since it’s a knit it goes around the curves easily without needing special bias tape, and it feels great against your skin.

My second pair turned out so, so well. As soon as I saw this Liberty Meandering Chrysanthemums cotton canvas at The Fabric Store’s sale, I fell in love and immediately knew it was destined for these shorts. The dusty pink trim is again from an old t-shirt.

For this pair, I also added welt pockets on the back. They’re a perfect size for my cell phone!

I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to make your own clothes! It’s getting to the point now where Rodd and I will both be wearing garments that I’ve made, out in public or to work or whatever, and nobody knows that there’s actually no label inside. Hm. Maybe I should get my own labels, huh?

The “Knitted” Laurel Dress

As you may have picked up on yesterday, I made yet another Colette Laurel dress for Frocktober! I used the same mods as the Big Data dress: sleeveless, notched neckline, and pockets. On this one, I moved the pockets outwards slightly as they felt too close together. I also cut the back in one piece rather than having a waist seam.

The fabric is called Breeze by Rosemarie Lavin for Windham Fabrics. It’s actually a quilting cotton that I picked up at Morris & Sons earlier in the year. I bought it on a lark, mostly because it’s printed to look like knitting! I thought I’d make a simple blouse out of it, so I only bought 2m of fabric. Unfortunately that was barely enough to make this dress, so I’ll have to wear shorts under it for modesty. Still – cute dress for a hot day!

The Big Data Dress

I made a new dress last weekend! This is a sleeveless Colette Laurel that I modified to have pockets(!) and a notched neckline (using this free hack). I’ve made a few sleeveless Laurels before, and the main attractions (besides looking nice) are that they’re fast to make and don’t use very much fabric. I had about 2.5m of this fabric, but it’s a quilting cotton and thus very narrow (less than 45″ wide). It’s navy blue and covered with a stream of binary numbers in light blue and silver. (So cute!) It’s called “Binary Solo” from RJR Fabrics’ collection “Silver Circuits.” My Mom made a point of showing it to me at her shop back in Indiana, and I just had to have it!

I’m calling it my “Big Data Dress” because, as Juliet Houghland pointed out at YOW! Data recently, all stock images of “Big Data” are blue and involve binary. 😂 I wore it to Girl Geeks last night and it was a big hit!

Sewing notes: Based on my measurements, I cut a straight 18 (the largest size) on this pattern. It’s roomy, but given the style of the dress and the crispness of the cotton, that’s what I was aiming for. It’s very comfortable. There are bust darts on the front and diamond-shaped darts on the back that keep it from being a completely shapeless sack. The hack instructions were easy to follow, but I didn’t bother tracing the pieces onto new paper. I bought the pattern PDF, so I can just print another one, right? So I just cut the front and back in two and then taped on some extra for the seam allowance. I had been worried about getting the print to line up across that center front seam, but then I hit upon the obvious solution. Cut it on the fold as one piece, and then split it up the middle. Voila! Lines up nicely. I finished the neckline and armhole edges using bias tape that I made – as always – using Colette’s continuous method. (For reference, I used a 9″ x 9″ square and just managed to eke out all three openings.)

What I’d do differently next time: I’m not sure why the back piece needs the corresponding horizontal seam. Maybe it’s because Sarai made hers out of linen, so it’s more visible and looks weird if it’s not there? But my print is so busy that I could have easily left it out and saved myself some cutting and sewing time. I’d also move the pockets out a little bit further as the 2.5″ from center she suggests seems a bit close for me. Lastly, I’d probably consider putting some interfacing behind the neck notch. (I still might do that, actually.) I noticed when I was wearing it yesterday that one side wanted to flop forward and fold down occasionally, so a little bit of extra stiffness there couldn’t hurt.

Overall I’m very, very happy with this one! It’s cute, comfortable to wear, and a real conversation starter.

East Neuk Hoodie

This may well be my favourite thing I’ve ever knitted myself.

The pattern is East Neuk Hoodie by Kristen Orme.  The yarn is KnitPicks Comfy Worsted in Fairytale, and I used about 20 balls. It has a hood, a placket neck with three buttons, a pocket, and (randomly) elbow patches. It’s soft and comfy and well-made, and the colour is beautiful. I ❤️ it!

This was such a fun knit, despite the fact that my tension was way off when I started so I had to frog the whole thing and start over. Once I settled on the right size and needles (4mm), it was smooth sailing. My row gauge was still off, but that’s easy to compensate for as you go. (I did have to do some maths to make sure the sleeve cap came out the right size.) Overall it’s slightly large, but I wanted this to have the ease of a sweatshirt so I’m happy with it.

My one worry is that the yarn is going to pill. It shed a LOT while knitting (my couch is covered in pink fluff), and the comments on the KnitPicks site indicate that others have been disappointed with its tendency to pill. So I’m steeling myself for it now, knowing that I’m going to have to give this the occasional shave. I still love it though.

Ravelry details are here!

Sewing notes: Georgie Tops

It’s time to get serious about my sewing, so I’ve made a resolution this year to not buy any new clothes (excluding undergarments, which are in the Too Hard basket for now). Towards that end, I’ve sewn two more new shirts so far in 2017 from Tessuti’s Georgie Top pattern.

Georgie #1: The first was this short-sleeved version in a vintage fabric remnant I had. (We did a burn test on it and it melts so I reckon it’s probably either nylon or polyester.) I cut the largest size and did an FBA – more on that in a sec – and finished with exposed bindings. For the bindings, since I had limited fabric I didn’t bother cutting them with the provided pattern pieces but instead used a square to make continuous binding via the Colette method. I really like the Tessuti method for doing the back neck keyhole opening. I don’t get their insistence on using tearaway Vilene to stabilise the neck though – it seems like stay-stitching would work just as well? Overall I’m really happy with the finish on this one. All this practice is really paying off! The only outright mistake I made on this project was cutting the sleeves upside-down, so the motif (which looks a little like an insect!) goes the wrong direction. It’s small enough though that (the Snook claims) you only notice when I point it out. 🙂

Okay, so the FBA. Based on my experience with other Tessuti patterns, I decided to do a Full Bust Adjustment on this one before I started. The problem is that I trusted the first result that Google gave me: this Craftsy tutorial. People, this tutorial is WRONG! But I didn’t realise it at the time. So I followed the instructions, not realising that step 7 had a massive error. Then when I went to sew up the side seams, guess what? The front was massively longer than the back. Which makes sense, as that stupid tutorial has you draw the new dart in such a way that you’re adding material to the side. I ended up having to rejig my bodice front on-the-fly and try to make it work, and I still ended up having to cut material off the bottom. So though I’m pleased with the finish on this one, I feel like the fit is slightly weird. The neckline is a little high for me (not really the fault of the FBA though), and there’s excess material on my upper chest. It’s wearable, but not exactly great.

Georgie #2: The second Georgie is this sleeveless version in a vintage cotton remnant. (It’s got little medals all over it!) I was inspired by Gertie’s keyhole blouse to try for a keyhole neckline detail on the front. The first thing I did was print a new bodice front, lower the neckline, and then do a proper FBA. Then I free-handed a U-shape at the center of the bodice front piece and cut it out of my fabric. Rather than using Vilene, I simply stay-stitched the neckline, keyhole, and sleeve openings before I started. I again made my own continuous bias tape via the Colette method. Binding the keyhole was tricky but doable, and I’m really pleased with how flat it turned out! When I bound the neckline, I initially left a gap of about an inch across the keyhole (so it was more of a U-shape than a teardrop). Then I tried it on, and I again had the problem of excess fabric in the upper chest. When I pinched the top of the U-together though (simulating a tuck), it magically disappeared. Huh! So I unpicked half the neckline binding and then redid it, joining the top of the U together into the teardrop. Very happy with that outcome! (If I make this again without a keyhole, I’ll adjust the bodice front to remove that wedge.) As for the sleeves, I did actually cut them and I intended to use them, but when I tried it on for my neckline alterations, I realised I liked it better sleeveless. I debated whether I needed to adjust the sleeve openings – I know that sleeveless garments tend to have larger armholes – but they looked fine. So I simply added an exposed bias binding to each armhole. So far I’m really happy with it!

Lady Skater Dresses

Lady SkatersFinally blogging these two Lady Skater dresses that I made at the start of Frocktober. This pattern’s been on my wish list for a long time. It’s pretty fast to sew up, especially if you have an overlocker. I made the pink one first, and I used a fine merino jersey that I bought at Tessuti’s on clearance a few years back. It has a subtle texture through it, I think created by elastane that has been woven in narrow stripes. It was a pain to work with though, because it was nowhere near square and it curled like crazy. Still, I made that first one in about a day. I could tell while I was sewing it that the waist was going to be too low, but I shrugged, told myself it was a wearable muslin, and kept going. (The fabric had been really cheap as it had a hole at the end that I had to cut around.) The end result doesn’t look too bad in the photo, but it’s practically a drop-waist on me. That waist seam is supposed to be at my natural waist (ie the skinniest point), which is a fair bit higher.

So for the black one, I shortened the bodice by about two inches. (You can see the difference in the photograph.) Better, but I still reckon I could go a bit higher next time. The fabric I used is really, really weird. I bought it at a remnant sale a long time ago, and I have no idea what it is. It feels quite heavy, almost like a rayon, with elastic shot through it. I feel like you easily could use it for leggings or even a bathing suit! But I made a dress out if it, because WHY NOT. It’s actually pretty comfortable to wear.

The pattern itself is clear and easy to follow. I did have a hell of a time with the clear elastic though. It sticks onto my machine and refuses to feed through, so I came up with the idea of putting some wax paper over it. That helped, but it was still annoying and fiddly. Applying the neck and sleeve bands wasn’t too hard, but I haven’t quite mastered getting the joins to line up nicely with the seams. I still find the overlocker very satisfying though! I just need to remember the Cardinal Rule – when it starts misbehaving, check that it hasn’t been threaded wrong. (Every damn time…)

How to: Cotton Candy / Fairy Floss Costume

Cotton Candy CostumeYesterday was Canva’s third birthday, and the plan was to have a “Carnival” themed party to celebrate. As you all know, the Snook and I don’t mess around when it comes to costumes. We wanted to do something original and fun. (No “sexy ringmaster” for us, thank you!) I searched Pinterest for ideas, and I even looked through a gallery of freak show performers.

Me: I had a hilarious image of you as a bearded lady
but that might be offensive
The Snook: well, I’m offended 😛

In the end we decided to play it a bit safer. The original plan was to be sideshow performers – either plate spinners or bottle balancers – until I stumbled across this: DIY Cotton Candy Costume. We both laughed at the idea and decided to go for it. I documented the entire process and figured I’d share it here.

Read more →

Shrödinger’s Christmas Cat

For the Canva 2015 Kris Kringle gift exchange, I got a colleague who is mathematician and engineer. I tried stalking him on social media, but he doesn’t post very much. I knew that he’s into dark European films and quantum physics, so my genius idea was to knit him Shrödinger’s Cat!

You can find more details about the knitted cat over on Ravelry. Obviously, he’s alive on one side and dead on the other! To complete the experiment, I included a bottle of “poison” (ie vodka) and a container full of “radioactive material” (ie Kinder eggs). I packed it all into a cardboard box that I spraypainted silver (since it’s supposed to be steel) and decorated with “PROPERTY OF E. SHRÖDINGER” and “CAUTION: LIVE(?) ANIMALS” labels.

I’m very happy to report that the recipient was delighted with it. 🙂

CampJS Recap & Beanie

Feature photo courtesy of Steven Cooper

I spent last weekend in Springbook, Queensland at CampJS. This is a four-day conference for anyone interested in web technology held at the Koonjewarre Retreat Centre. My Canva colleague Damon was the organiser, and my other colleague Harley came along as well. On a whim, I’d pitched doing a workshop on “Knitting and E-textiles” a few months before and it turned out to be one of the most popular suggestions. I updated my “Granny Was a Hacker” talk and worked with Damon to order knitting supplies for everyone. Then I had the genius idea to knit a special beanie as my prototype for the workshop, and use a Gemma kit with LEDs (based on this Adafruit project) to add some blinky goodness. It was a big hit! I actually ran through the talk on both Saturday and Sunday. I probably had 20+ people at the workshop, and I kept seeing web developers (mostly men!) knitting for the rest of the event. The Camp itself was great, and I met a lot of fantastic people from across the country. Games were played, goon was drunk, and Wi-Fi was cursed. I highly recommend it.


CampJS BeanieThe CampJS Beanie

I knitted the hat out of oddments of leftover 8ply Filatura di Crosa Zara. All up, it probably uses about 2 balls worth (with the majority in brown). You’ll also need some 4mm needles, as well as a blunt darning needle. I actually knitted it flat and sewed it up, but I’ve provided instructions for knitting it in the round too. I got the Gemma controller from Little Bird Electronics, along with some LEDs and a coin cell battery holder. (They also sell a “starter pack” with all this stuff plus some conductive thread and needles, if you don’t have any.)

Size:  Medium / Large  (I knitted the larger size, and it’s roomy for me.)

Requirements: 8ply wool in brown, dark green, light green, and blue; 4mm needles.

GraphTo knit flat:
Using 4mm needles, cast on 121 (133) stitches.

Row 1: K2, *P1, K1, rep from * to last st, K1.
Row 2: K1, *P1, K1, rep from * to end.

Repeat these rows until you have 35 (41) rows of ribbing in total.

Knit 4 rows of stocking stitch.

Knit the graph in stocking stitch as shown, working the odd rows from right-to-left and the even rows from left-to-right. For the first two rows, I used the fairisle technique of carrying the wools along the back. I suggest you ignore the tree trunks and use duplicate stitch to embroider them afterwards. For the tops of the trees, I treated them as intarsia and knitted them in solid blocks of light green. Then I duplicate stitched the dark green accents on later. You can this in progress here.

Once you’re done with the graph, switch back to the brown wool and knit two rows of stocking stitch. (You should have the Right Side facing you.) Then begin your decreases:

Decrease row: K1, *K2tog, K1, rep from * to end
Knit 1 (3) rows stocking stitch
K1, *K2tog, K5, rep from * to end
Purl 1 row
K1, *K2tog, K4, rep from * to end
Purl 1 row…

Keep going like this (narrowing by one stitch between the decreases) until you have only 21 (23) stitches left. Then break off the wool leaving a long tail, thread it on your darning needle, and run it through the remaining stitches. Cinch it up tight.

To finish, sew the back seam. (You’ll need to reverse the seam where the brim folds up.) Weave in your ends. Attach your Gemma as shown on the Adafruit website, and load up the provided sketch. When you plug in your batteries and flip the switch, it’ll blink!

To knit in the round:

Using 4mm circular needle or DPNs, cast on 120 (132) stitches.

Ribbing: *K1, P1, rep from * to end.

Repeat this row until you have 35 (41) rows of ribbing in total.

Knit 4 rows.

Knit the graph in stocking stitch as shown, working all rows from right-to-left. For the first two rows, I used the fairisle technique of carrying the wools along the back. I suggest you ignore the tree trunks and use duplicate stitch to embroider them afterwards. For the tops of the trees, I treated them as intarsia and knitted them in solid blocks of light green. Then I duplicate stitched the dark green accents on later. You can this in progress here.

Once you’re done with the graph, switch back to the brown wool and knit two rows. Then begin your decreases:

Decrease row: *K2tog, K1, rep from * to end
Knit 1 (3) rows
*K2tog, K5, rep from * to end
Knit 1 row
*K2tog, K4, rep from * to end
Knit 1 row…

Keep going like this (narrowing by one stitch between the decreases) until you have only 21 (23) stitches left. Then break off the wool leaving a long tail, thread it on your darning needle, and run it through the remaining stitches. Cinch it up tight.

Weave in your ends. Attach your Gemma as shown on the Adafruit website, and load up the provided sketch. When you plug in your batteries and flip the switch, it’ll blink!

Denim Hazel Dress

Hazel DressI finished another dress! Back in July I was passing Sew Make Create and did a DOUBLE TAKE when I noticed they were having a fabric sale. I couldn’t resist. I ended up buying three pieces, one of which was an interesting stretchy denim with a pintuck detail (almost like stripes). Of course, as soon as I bought it I couldn’t figure out what the hell to do with it. I knew those vertical lines would be difficult to match up. Donna came through with the best suggestion: why not make another Hazel? (I’ve made two before.) I decided to fully line the top of this one with some red voile, and I used that for the pockets as well. I had a hell of a time with the strap placement and length though, and I’m still not 100% happy with them. (I think I unpicked them three or four times.) On the plus side, the denim was so stretchy that I was able to forgo the zipper entirely. But on the negative side, I didn’t use a walking foot so the top of the bodice got a bit stretched out and gapey. I eventually settled on topstitching a line around the top to create a casing that I was able to thread some thin elastic through. That’s enough to pull the top a bit tighter around my bust and armpits. Despite all the headaches, it ended up being a very cute, functional sundress!