Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer of basics

summer of basics plan notebook sketch pad pencil polka dots spotty cath kidston gingham fabric sewing wardrobe planning plaid gingham denim checks stripes

Is anyone else taking part in Fringe Association's Summer of Basics make-along?  All the info can be found by clicking the link, but the general idea is to spend the next three months, from 1st June to 31st August, making yourself three wardrobe basics either by knitting, sewing or crocheting.  I've had some vague sewing plans swirling in my head for a little while but actually sitting down and getting on with things is where I falter.  Sewing garments is by no means my favourite thing to do even if I do like having some pretty handmades in my wardrobe, but I'm looking forward to getting more acquainted with my new sewing machine.

summer of basics plan notebook sketch pad pencil polka dots spotty cath kidston gingham fabric sewing wardrobe planning

Here's what I have in mind for my summer of creating...

PURPLE CARDIGAN - This guy.  I really need to make a start on it.  I've been telling myself that I have more pressing knits to finish first, which is true, but just casting on the cardi would be all the push I need to get on with it.  Hopefully.

SLEEVELESS CHECK BLOUSE - I have such a clear picture of this design in my head that a tiny part of me suspects I already own a similar top.  Or maybe it was something I was desperately coveting at one time and the image stayed with me?  Who knows.  I found the fabric in a charity shop a few weeks ago and bought it with the intention of using it as project bag lining.  It was displayed rolled up and tied with a ribbon so I didn't realise the piece was large enough to make a garment with until I pulled it out of the washing basket.  I'm going to try a pattern hack with one of my favourite blouses.  It will (hopefully) have a little gathering at the shoulders and a v-neck with false button placket.  It's been so long since I made myself a garment so I'm quite excited about trying this out!

DENIM/GINGHAM DRESS - You know that 90s dress that I'm crazy about?  I realised recently that I had stash fabric to make myself another one.  I'm still deciding whether to make a straight copy or make it more of a pinafore style i.e. omit the buttons.  There's nothing I dread more in sewing than making buttonholes.  SUCH A FAFF.  The only flaw in this plan is that the denim is currently in the form of a large pair of jeans, so the front and back panels will both have seams in the centre, which will probably be better disguised as a button down...

CROP TOP - What's that?  I already have one of those?  Yes, I do.  And now I need a fabric version.  This garment is a bit of a bonus entry but the one that would likely be the easiest to achieve.  I have some blue stripe fabric that I got in a swap ages ago (I think it might have come from Helen originally) that would be perfect and again, I can use the blouse from above to make a pattern.

blue fabrics secondhand slow fashion summer of basics stripes denim checks plaid gingham

Here's my fabric.  You'd never guess that my wardrobe mostly consisted of blue clothing, would you?  I don't even do it intentionally - it seems I'm just drawn to certain shades!  At least it makes things easier to match up.  The best thing about this fabric (and yarn) is that it's all secondhand, so the environmental impact is just about as low as I could possibly achieve (not humble bragging, just trying to offset my addiction to oft-plastic-wrapped snack food...).  I may write more about my views on slow fashion at some point, if anyone would be interested?  It's a topic I find really interesting and something that everyone seems to consider in different ways, which could be a good discussion to open up.

Right, time to start sewing!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Buyer's Archive - May

Back in early 2015, I started a series of posts that I called The Buyer's Archive to document what I was spending on wearable items every month.  I also looked back to the previous year to see how my purchases compared to then, and detailed what had survived and was still being worn, and which pieces had found their way to the charity shop.  I'm not usually much of a list maker but this is an area of life that I find endlessly fascinating - what drives people's shopping habits?  why do they wear what they do?  how do they decide what 'enough' looks like in terms of their wardrobe? - and although I can only document my own purchases, I love that others have joined in with the series (search for #buyersarchive on social media!)

Last May I bought three items of clothing that I love and one that got re-donated almost straight away.  It turns out giant white kaftans aren't a great look on me.  Unsurprisingly, the grey cardigan had pretty steady use all year and the dress and trousers were worn a few times last summer, although I find them a little tricky to style.  I don't own many fitted tops and I'm not really a fan of tucking tees in - my usual style is slim fit bottoms with loose tops so I'm finding it awkward to get the balance right with the trousers.  They're so comfy though and will definitely be good work trousers as the weather gets even warmer.

This May ended up being so full on that I didn't get much chance to go near the shops, let alone buy anything.  Then last week came the age old story - I went to Boots and was told the pharmacist was on lunch for another ten minutes.  What to do?  Visit the surrounding charity shops, of course!  One of the closest shops has a 50p rail that's proved quite fruitful in the past, so I popped in for a nosy.  And emerged £2 lighter and one bag heavier, as you do.

Asda pjs via charity shop - 50p
Possibly my favourite find of last month - new pjs!  I can't even remember the last time I bought pjs (they're so easy to make and they last forever, plus there's the tall person length issue) but I couldn't resist for that price.  I don't think they're actually a set (the top and bottoms are different sizes) but I knew I could pass them on to either my mum or Tam's if I didn't like the fit.  The bottoms are definitely in falling-down territory but I reckon I can unpick a side seam and pull the elastic in tighter, and the slim leg style means it doesn't matter if they're slightly short.

Eastex check shirt via charity shop - £2
I'd just started a casual search for some summer work clothes when I found this shirt.  It's just the right amount of oversized and the fabric is nice and drapey, and the fact it's nearly identical to one that my co-worker wears only makes me love it more.  I didn't realise that when I bought it, I hasten to add - it was only when my boss appeared and commented 'hey, you and K are dressed the same!' that we noticed it.  Mondays are now Check Shirt Day in the office.

Red jumper via charity shop - 50p
I grabbed this in the bargain frenzy haze but in hindsight, it's not quite right.  I always find it difficult to judge how something will fit if I can't try it on in store - I can work out pretty easily if a garment will suit my body shape but it's definitely harder to work out whether fabric will cling in the wrong places etc.  I don't think this top will be staying in my wardrobe but I can refashion it into something for one of the many winter babies that I'll be meeting soon.

Primark tshirt via charity shop - 50p
Not a brand I'd buy new clothing from but secondhand with the tags still on is another story.  I wore this tshirt on a particularly hot day last week and really liked it.  The fabric is lovely and soft and the colours are very me.

Sainsburys chinos via charity shop - 50p
I was looking for some trousers to wear to work when it's too hot to be doing anything in jeans and these ones are just the right style.  Originally from the men's department, they'll be having a meeting with my sewing machine soon to remove some of the excess fabric around the waist.

Next jeans via clothes swap - free
Free clothes!  We organised a clothes swap at work a few weeks ago and the last thing I expected to walk away with was jeans.  They're not from the tall range but a longer length, so they'll be fine for summer when I don't mind my ankles getting some air.  The waistband is ridiculously massive, which might explain why they were donated, but I'm cool with wearing a belt now and then.

Total spend for May - £4

Total spend for 2017 so far - £225.99

Thursday, 1 June 2017

FO - Nordic Wind shawl and a speedy cropped top

I've had the idea for a knitted tee in my head for a pretty long time now.  The L├ęger top was fine and I like it, but it doesn't really go with all the things, which was what I prefer from my handmade garments - if I'm going to put that much effort into creating something then it better be able to be paired with as many clothes as possible.  Something fairly plain in both colour and style and preferably made from stash materials.  Not that much to ask for, surely?

In the end, I decided I wanted a cropped tee to go with my denim skirt, summer trousers and dresses, and I wanted it NOW.  I knew top-down would be the quickest way to achieve this, so that was pretty much the only criteria I searched out on Ravelry.  When the Angela sweater popped up, I was sold.

Pattern - Angela by Purl Heroine (knit in size small) 

Yarn - Craft Aran by Aldi (242g)

Needles - 4.5mm and 5mm

Notes - First point to note - I knit up this sweater using cheap acrylic yarn from the charity shop, which pleases me since it's the ultimate slow fashion garment (in my mind) but I knew even before I started that it wasn't the best fabric I could be using.  However, nothing else in my yarn drawers appealed to me and, as I explained above, I wasn't hanging around this time.  However, after feeling fairly 'meh' about it when I cast off and tried it on, it's growing on me slightly.  I think it helps that it looks better in the pictures above than in my mirror...

I like the slightly oversized fit and the length is good.  The style works well with a fair few things in my wardrobe, another plus point.  On a less positive note, the neckline sits a bit higher than I would like - I'm quite broad of shoulder so I tend not to suit any styles that sit too high on my chest.  Also, the fabric ended up being quite stiff, although I've not attempted to block it yet.  I've not had much luck in the past with improving the shape of acrylic knits after finishing but I'll likely have a go anyway to see what happens.  

Right now, I'm on the fence with this guy.  The pattern was well written and I'd use it again (with some neckline modifications) but I think I'll try something in a DK weight next and see if I like the fit any better.  I purchased Ellison by Melissa Schaschwary a few months ago to knit into a striped sweater so I could knit another tee as a tester.

I hadn't intended to cast on this shawl so soon after my last one, especially knowing that I wouldn't get to wear it until autumn rolled around again but when I saw a KAL was in progress on Instagram, I was determined to join in (and oh my goodness, there's some gorgeous shawls on there right now). It would have been finished much sooner if I hadn't decided it was the ultimate cinema companion, saving it for all the times I popped in to watch something after work, like those three times I saw Beauty and the Beast.  (I'm hopelessly addicted, much to the amusement of my boss.  It's just absolute perfection and I'm now listening to the soundtrack on repeat until I can get my virtual paws on a download)

Pattern - Nordic Wind by Cabinfour

Yarn - New Lanark Aran in Woodland, Pebble and Oatmeal (280g)

Needles - 5.5mm

Notes - No surprises about my yarn choice here - New Lanark is my ultimate favourite right now.  It's gorgeous to work with and they have so many rich colours to choose from that I think I'd be quite happy knitting all my future garments with it.  I knit each colour until I only had scraps left, although the pattern does give instructions for when to change skeins to ensure an even spread of each colour.  I just knew I had the yardage to make a slightly bigger shawl and I wanted to take advantage of it!  I also omitted the garter stitch edging which doesn't seem to have been an issue since I blocked it - no curling up at the edges so far, although time will tell how it behaves after wearing.

The pattern itself was so simple that I only read it through once and didn't have to refer to it again.  If I was more of an experienced shawl knitter, I might have been a little bummed about paying nearly £5 for such a basic pattern but now that I'm learning more about shawl construction, I can use it as a base to experiment with.  I'm definitely not opposed to paying a reasonable amount of money for patterns, generally on a sliding scale of how intricate the design/colourwork is and how likely I am to repeat knit it, and I know I'll be making more of these for Christmas pressies.  All the shawls, all the movies.  That might be my new mantra for life.

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