Crafts

Ship-Shape quilt

I finally delivered this quilt to the baby I made it for, so I can blog about it now! I actually even had it made *before* said baby was born, but covid+everything meant I was only able to deliver it today, but the baby is only about 3 months, so honestly I think that’s pretty timely in the terms of handmade gifts.

Pattern

Ship-Shape by Alice Kennedy, quilt by Lucy A. Fazely – Lap Quilt size (c. 52″ x 64″) – found here: http://quiltinspiration.blogspot.com/2012/07/free-pattern-day-sailboats.html

Fabric

The boat sails were from my quilting remnants stash (it is possible to look on there and identify a number of other garments or projects, in particular the cushion I made in Introduction to Quilting).

The water background was bought new for this project online from the Bellarine Sewing Centre.1

The backing was bought new for this project from Spotlight, as was the batting (50% bamboo/50% cotton blend).

The binding is quilting cotton from Spotlight that used to be a Tilly and the Buttons dress, but I took it apart for use in other things.

Piecing process

For piecing, I mostly used grey Rasant thread, because grey goes with everything, and pieced using my Pfaff 1222 which is still my favourite machine. For the borders, I used black all-purpose Gütermann thread because I was trying out my treadle Singer 66 and that’s what I had wound the bobbin with. I think the treadle piecing is comparable to the Pfaff piecing. There’s no backstitch available on the Singer 66 2 but I don’t think that makes a ton of difference, since I was chain piecing anyway.

Sandwich process

I started off doing the sandwich process just on the floor, but then I wasn’t sure if I was getting it done properly, so I did some googling and found an option for sandwiching that seemed (and was) much easier. The basis principle is that you mark a raised cross in the middle of a table (I taped down some pencils; the tutorial I watched used kebab skewers), then mark the vertical and horizontal centre of each layer of the quilt sandwich, then put each layer on the table, matching up with the marked centre cross (which you can feel through the fabric) clipping the layers to the sides of the table as you go.

This was the tutorial I watched (I think the captioner could have used less sass, personally.) — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnke_KzeTI8

It was all relatively painless, and doing it all on my all-purpose-but-mostly-cutting table was much more spine-friendly. Can recommend. I did have to go to Bunnings and buy some clamps, which I used instead of binder clips 3 because my table is relatively thick, so I figured that clamps would be more functional. I went with clamps rather than clips, because the clips required a *lot* of grip strength to operate.

Quilting

This was my first proper quilting project, so the actual quilting was a bit of a learning experience. I really wanted to try quilting on my Singer 66 treadle machine (because it was new-to-me, shh, but also because it’s classic straight stitch stuff) but I was having too much trouble with the differential feed and I didn’t have a walking foot for that machine. I ended up mostly using my Pfaff 1222 because of the IDT4 and because it’s my favourite.

The quilting ‘pattern’ was stitch-in-the-ditch vertically and horizontally along the sides of the individual blocks.

I then filled in the vertical gaps with straight lines 2″ apart. This posed more of a problem because my Pfaff 1222 does not have an IDT foot with a quilting guide. I switched over to my other Pfaff (2038) because it had an IDT foot with a quilting guide, but I just don’t like the machine as much and it doesn’t feed as evenly, so I switched back again and jury-rigged a 2″ quilting guide with a paper clip.

That was all mostly fine, but the horizontal gaps required more thought. The best width to use was 3″, because of the nature of the two different blocks. However, I couldn’t jury-rig a 3″ paper clip guide (or other sorts of wire) because it was just too unwieldy and wasn’t secure, and the quilting guide on my other Pfaff didn’t actually extend that far. I did a lot of googling about DIY quilting guides and came up with very little. Then I considered eyeballing it, but that was honestly never going to work. My eventual solution was to quilt with wavy lines, because then I didn’t have to be as accurate, but it would also be fine because wavy lines are reminiscent of the sea and are therefore thematic.5

It didn’t take that long and wasn’t too unwieldy to get through the machine, so that was nice. I did find that I really needed to restrict the amount I did per evening, because it’s a type of sewing machine use that really stresses out my neck/shoulders/upper back.

Finishing

I used 2.5″ wide binding strips cut on the crossgrain and then sewn together to form a single long strip of binding, which was then folded in half lengthways and pressed. I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and doing the thing where you sew to 1/4″ before the end, then folding the binding upwards and down again, then starting on the next edge from 1/4″ into the edge. (It was kind of weird and I was confused, but it seemed to come out ok? I’d probably do a different mitering technique next time.) Then I folded over the binding to the back, and stitched in the ditch on the front to sew down the binding on the back. I only had to go back and redo a few sections because I missed the binding.

I did read a technique where you sew the first pass of the binding to the back of the quilt, because then when you fold over the binding for the second pass, you can just topstitch from the front and you don’t have to worry about catching the binding on the other side, and if you have a suitably busy backing, the bobbin thread won’t be that noticeable. I think I will try that next time.

Because this is a gift for a friend’s baby, I washed the finished quilt on standard cottons wash at 40C and line dried it. It seemed to turn out fine, although I did get a bit of bearding through some of the boat fabrics. Unfortunately, there was a tissue in the wash, so it was sometimes hard to tell if the lint was from the quilt or not. I washed it again for luck and got most of the bearding off with the sticky tape lint removal technique.

Conclusion

First quilt! Pretty happy!

Maighdean-ròin Shawl by Wolf & Faun Knits

Seal Maiden Shawl, as modelled by my mum in her garden.

Pattern

Maighdean-ròin Shawl, available from the designer’s website and described as:

This shawl is a homage to my Gaelic roots and a journey though the legends of the Maighdeann-ròin. Also known as a selkie, in Gaelic lore a Maighdeann-ròin is a seal maiden caught on land against her will and taken as a wife when her seal skin is stolen away from her and carefully hidden by her husband so that she may never return to her true home the sea. Caught between land and sea as though trapped in a net, she forever searches for her seal skin until one day years later her children reveal its location to her. She acts without hesitation and immediately runs to the ocean shore, dons her skin and returns to the depths of the sea, forever after watching over her heartbroken human family from amidst the frothy white-capped churning ocean waves offshore.

Also sometimes titled Seal Maiden Shawl, and I cannot tell you how difficult it is finding a consistent hashtag on Instagram, because of the accent on the “o”. Hashtags do not like characters with typographical marks, which sucks for everything that isn’t bog-standard English.

Designer

Nat Raedwulf of Wolf & Faun Knits, whose aesthetic I really like, and who has a large collection of shawl patterns of which I own a sizeable proportion. She designed the Henwife shawl, which I have also made and love.

Yarn

Yarn is from Adagio Mills, an alpaca farm and yarn mill located in Orange, NSW (Australia) which came to my attention because my cousin lives out that way and is also a musical person, so clearly she knows the people who run the mill. They have alpacas with all different colour fleeces and the colourways of the yarn are based on the alpaca colour rather than being dyed. So they’re all various shades of cream, brown and grey.

I used the 4 ply/fingering weight yarn in the colours Weathered Wood (dark brown), Concerto (grey) and Natural White (cream).

General commentary

The pattern came to my attention because I saw a picture of the sample on Instagram and was hooked because of how much it looked like an actual ocean, so I was completely sold on the mythos. This coupled neatly with my mum saying how she’d like something made out of Adagio Mills yarn (she lives in Lithgow, which is also in the Central West) and so I checked with her to see if this pattern would work for her. She said it would, so I proceeded to purchase yarn and then think about it for a long time and get through a number of other craft projects first.

Cast on on 17 March 2020, just in time for the start of COVID becoming a thing in Australia, and then finished on 17 April 2020, which is uncharacteristically fast and probably reflects the fact that EVERYTHING WAS ON FIRE SO LET’S KNIT. I had to restart from scratch once, because I dropped a stitch at the edge of a section and couldn’t get it back into shape, despite various attempts to reconstruct the edge using pins stuck into the carpet – this was a lesson to use more lifelines, because the alpaca yarn is fuzzy and grippy, and likes to stick to itself.

The bind-off is a picot bind off and took years a while, but honestly I’m beginning to think that this is just par for the course when it comes to shawls, just because of how long the edges are. If I were knitting it again (which I am not unlikely to do, since I have yarn in colours A and B for this purpose and am just waiting to find a good colour C) I would make sure that the top edge is looser, because it’s a bit restricted at the moment.

I finally got around to blocking the shawl this week [ed. this was early October], because it’s my mum’s birthday and this is a good opportunity to actually give it to her.

Posed photos of my mum with shawl were accomplished, and are in the selection of photos below. I think she looks super cute but don’t tell her about them, because she doesn’t like photos of herself.1 The dogs in the photos are English pointers called Michael and Juno.2

Photos

Notes re blocking and a cautionary tale about buying colourful blocking mats

I have been meaning to do a bunch of blocking for ages and, in pursuit of this goal, purchased some blocking pins from a knitting site and some squishy mats on eBay. The mats (which are 50cm by 50cm) came in grey or pink, and because we’re living through a time that could use more colour, I bought the pink ones. Then, when they arrived, I realised that this was really stupid, because of how red dye (i.e. pink dye) is very unstable and therefore likely to run and affect the things being blocked. However, in a moment of inspiration, I realised that because red dye is so unstable, it will therefore break down pretty quickly in sunlight, which would resolve this problem! The foam mats were promptly put out in the backyard and left at the mercy of the elements for…some weeks?…until I thought they’d faded enough, and then they sat in the hallway and/or the shower recess until I got up the energy to wash them. They faded a LOT (see photo below that shows the original colour compared with the current colour).

Faded top colour vs original colour

Cashmerette: Upton Dress

In order:

  1. Wearable toile in quilting cotton for my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary party.
  2. Echino Hill fabric for my cousin’s park wedding
  3. Black wool for concert blacks
  4. Navy Jocelyn Proust grevillea for Mr. Octopus’ friend’s upmarket wedding
  5. Green Cotton + Steel cotton linen fabric, which was why I made the wearable toile
  6. Frocktails dress
  7. Grumpy tigers dress

Helen’s Closet – Blackwood cardigan

I’d been looking at the Blackwood cardigan for some time and debating whether to spend the money on it, or whether to just go with the free pattern from Peppermint. But the Blackwood is more my shape and it wasn’t that expensive, and it’s been having a bad time with pattern adjustments and need a quick win, so I bought it, stuck it together and made one in a day.

Totally worth it.

I have now made two more and have been wearing them for weeks on end.

Cashmerette Upton

Finished (somewhat modified) Cashmerette Upton dress.

Fabric is Echino Hill cotton from Pitt Trading and rayon bemberg lining from the Remnant Warehouse.

Bodice is McCall’s M6927 because apparently I have narrow shoulders (e.g. I have to take out 4″ or so from the back neck and also lots from front centre) and fitting is such a pain that I didn’t want to have to start from scratch when I’d already spent time getting that one to fit. Then I couldn’t be bothered lowering the neckline when I really liked the fabric and wanted to see more of the print.

The cotton was nice to sew and feels nice (not scratchy). I saw it on sale and loved it 🙂 This is made out of 2.5m of the main fabric, with some careful pattern placement. The stripe matching suffered from this, although I don’t really know what I could have done about the gores. The bodice stripes match up mostly (even over the back zip!!!) so I’m fine with it, tbh.

Waistband is reduced to 1″, which I’m on the fence about. The previous Upton that I made had the standard waistband and I thought maybe it looked too high, hence the decision to narrow it. Tried to get the waistband to have lots of the red birds, with mixed success (limited fabric!). Skirt is straight size 18 view B from the Upton pattern, because I found in my previous version that the gores created an appropriate amount of swish but *without* blowing up on windy days. (Big fan of this.)

Hemmed by overlocking the raw edge, folding up an inch and then machine sewing it. Hems are boring.

I really like the pockets.

The rayon bemberg was a poor choice for lining this because it’s too dark and not really stable enough to stay under. You can see in the second photo that there’s really obvious visible lining around the neck. It’s also a bit hot and clammy and was a pain to sew. I’m thinking of taking it out and replacing it with a beige cotton or something. When I do that, I’ll fix up some of the other wonky bits. (This was a bit of a rush job – finished sewing and then was out the door to the social occasion I was wearing it to.)

Photos by partner. (Tips on training partners to take better craft project photos welcomed!)

lots of shirts! – Cashmerette Concord edition

Here are several versions of Cashmerette’s Concord t-shirt, which I like overall as a pattern. Link here.

Version 1

I love this fabric — it is amazingly colourful, and it was $5/m in the random specials bin at Lincraft.

I did the curved and faced hem option in this one, which I liked, but I also had some trouble with the pattern pieces not matching up. Not sure if just me.

It’s really obvious in some of the photos how wide the neckline is on me, which is what makes this version not fantastic to wear, because bra straps are quite visible.

Additional photo of me looking like someone off the cover of an indie pattern 😀

Version 2

Another Liberty jersey from the Fabric Store. I don’t like the colour, but I really like the little animals in the print (the other colour option was red, and I preferred the yellow. I think neither option really work on me, tbh).

Some amendments made (e.g. to the neckline) but there are still a lot of fit problems, particularly around the armscye.

For some reason the high-low curved hem ended up at even heights — not sure how that happened. This style of hem didn’t work massively well with the fabric, as it was a bit too light to hang properly.

Version 3

This is a random knit from the Remnant Warehouse which I bought as a pre-cut piece, and which was scratchier and more polyester-y than I’d thought. It’s fine to wear, but it retains sweat smell after washing more than I’d like.

This version was a start from scratch version and it’s a much better fit. I was really happy with the neck and shoulders. The bust is still not right though, sigh. This time I finished it with a cuff hem, which worked quite well on this fabric, as it’s quite stable.

This was the first one I made using my overlocker. (I love my overlocker 😀 😀 :D)

This was also the first version in which I topstitched down the sleeve cuffs as well as the neck band, and this has mostly worked really well to stop the sleeve cuffs from flipping out.

Version 4

This is some sort of rayon blend from the Fabric Store, and it is amazingly soft, drapey and comfortable. It was an absolute beast to sew though, because it’s not very stable and stretches like anything when you try to sew it. I had to change the differential feed on my overlocker to one extreme (can’t remember which way at the moment) in order to get the seams to work. When I topstitched the sleeve cuffs, it stretched them out and made them very large 🙁

This is fundamentally the same as Version 3, except I made some fit adjustments to the underarm, but the fabric was so different that everything turned out differently.

It would have been better to do a rolled hem on this, I think. The fabric isn’t stable enough to do a cuff hem.

Not a fantastic fit/look, but soooooooo comfortable to wear.

Version 5

This is one of a number of 95% cotton/5% spandex blends that I got on sale from Spotlight. This one seems quite good so far, although the base fabric is white and this shows through a fair bit when you stretch the fabric.

This is pretty much the same as Version 5, in order to see whether those fit adjustments worked (they didn’t). I did however make the sleeves longer and bigger, and I really like this change. This time (because I was under some time pressure) I just folded up an inch at the hem and stitched it down with the baseball stitch, which I find works really well on knits.

Conclusion

All these photos have given me a much clearer idea of what’s wrong: it’s too wide under the arms, and then not wide enough at the bust — I think because my bust is lower than the pattern thinks it should be. There’s also some sort of sway back thing going on, which could also be because the garment is not wide enough at the high hip.

lots of shirts! – McCall’s M6963 edition

McCall’s M6963

Version 1

Not shown, because I cut it out with the grainline the wrong way, so it’s very wonky.

Version 2

This is made from mediaeval animal print rayon from the Fabric Store. It stretched out when I prewashed it, because I hung it to dry, rather than laying it flat. It feels really lovely and cool in summer though. This fabric was the best suited to this top out of the four I made (it has the best drape) but also is the least easy-care.

I bound the armscyes with woven bias binding, which turned out to be a real mistake in Version 3, but which you could kind of get away with in this version because the armscyes were bigger and the fabric stretches out more (more room).

The bust darts are too low, and I think this is partly to do with the weight of the fabric (but also because I can’t do darts properly yet).

The shoulders are also too wide, which is a standard thing for me (except I didn’t know this at the time).

Have worn this one to work lots.

Version 3

Version 3 is a Liberty jersey, also from the Fabric Store. I tried to raise the bust darts, but because the fabric is less heavy, they are too high. The cowl neck also doesn’t work on this iteration, and the ill-advisedness of using woven bias binding on a knit top is very obvious.

Have worn this to work, but it’s not the best. Am thinking of taking it apart and trying something new.

The remnants did make amazing shorts for my toddler (the people at the overlocker class I went to looked utterly appalled that I’d made toddler clothing out of Liberty print, until I explained they were leftovers…)

Version 4

This is a black ponte knit from Lincraft which really doesn’t have enough drape for the cowl neck style.

This was a complete redraft, starting from the beginning pattern, and it still doesn’t work. The darts are way too high (close up picture below) and there’s not enough room across the bust.

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Still: 100% wearable. This is the point, however, at which I realised that I honestly don’t even like the cowl neck style, so I’ve put this pattern aside for now.