Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Season's Harvest

It is a time of gathering inspiration and resources. 

This is helped along by the kind friends and family who bought me books over the holidays. I have also made efforts of my own by going to the Liberty sale and the Porte des Vanves flea market whilst visiting my brother just outside Paris. Tough job etc.

So many beautiful things to make and do:

First is this exquisite Japanese crochet book, title unknown. I read a post about a similar book recently so was very happy to receive this. The styling! The hooking! Swoon. 

I need to learn how to decipher Japanese crochet diagrams. These are almost as intricate and lovely as the slippers. I will make these one day, oh yes.

Next is a strange and wonderful book called Crochet Finger Puppets by Gina Alton. I can't decide if my favourite is the mermaid:

Or the ninjas: 

How have I lived this long without crocheting a ninja?

Selvedge magazine was a staple in my old studio. I have become a subscriber and I love it. Always interesting and inspiring:

Next, Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. Easily my favourite new book. For me, so many project books have one or two good ideas and a lot of fillers. This stylish, clear and warmly written book is full of things I want to make. Like these bloomers:

The match-day man bag in my last post came from here. 

From time to time I check in on Amy Karol's blog to see how her hardcore sewing addiction is going. Like Weekend SewingBend-the-Rules Sewing is smart, stylish and in no way naff. This would be a great book for someone just beginning their sewing machine odyssey:

Next comes Summer Crochet by Rowan. I have never had much luck crocheting garments before. Partly because I never used to check my tension. As a result, my only effort was a misshapen pistachio mohair bedjacket (why?). The other reason for my lack of crochet clothing is that I never saw any patterns that I would actually wear. Until now. 

Look at this gorgeous poncho:

Summer Crochet by Rowan
Fact: crocheting in a poncho is impossible, I have tried it.

There is a great 'just hanging around by the harbour crocheting with the fishermen' vibe to it:

Shown above is the start of the tunic on the front cover. 

Above and below is the booty from the Liberty's sale and the Porte des Vanves flea market in Paris. There is a piece of silk satin I might inflict my dressmaking skills on to.

I am only allowed to go to the Porte des Vanves flea market every couple of years and then only for about half an hour as it drives my brother insane with boredom. But my word it is amazing.

Shown amongst the fabric bundle is a pillow for a tired dolly I knocked together using all four thread spools on my overlocker. It was wild:

Now I just need a big 'do not disturb' sign.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Match day man-bag

I bought my husband a new bag for Christmas. It is a thing of beauty, all soft black leather and lots of pockets to have fun with.

The plan is to use it for his football kit. But this seemed a bit cruel, those muddy post-match boots are something a bag's eyes should never see.

Only in the Liberty sale can £11.95 per metre seem like a bargain

I bought this gorgeous piece of tana lawn in the Liberty sale. The lovely geometric pattern caught my eye. It seemed rich with man-making possibility, a very good thing as I am always slightly at a loss as to what to make for Mr Year.

All of this dovetailed neatly with his recent birthday.

My thought was to use the fabric (lined with plastic) to make a smaller drawstring bag for mucky boots and kit, thereby protecting the bag. I used the drawstring bag pattern from 'Weekend Sewing' by Heather Ross with some changes.

Our tablecloth provided the lining, hence the mug rings in the photograph. I started with two rectangles of the tana lawn and two of the plastic (the plastic rectangles were a few centimetres shorter):

They were then sewn right sides together and the corners boxed. Then, a little fold at the top, followed by a 5cm fold. Turned right way out, the top was edgestitched and the bottom of the drawstring encasing stitched.

David Bowie admires the boxed corners before (top) and after (bottom) turning out.

 I then followed her (brilliantly clear) instructions for making drawstring openings:

What a great pattern. Really quick and easy. I would definitely make this again.

I had to keep the iron on the lowest setting and only press very briefly or the plastic would have melted. I found this out the hard way. As a result, the seams are not as flat as I would have liked. 

But frankly, inadequately ironed seams are the least of this bag's worries. 

PS Many thanks to Rebecca for this kind post.

Friday, 14 January 2011

New year scarf

I wanted to make a black and white striped scarf. Why? I am not entirely sure. There is something very classic and appealing about the football-y look of a stripey scarf. Makes me nostalgic for my brother's Roy of the Rovers comics. Didn't Hotshot Hamish's team play in black and white?

But the thought of endless rows of double or treble crochet filled me with boredom. How to make clean stripes with enough for me to stay interested? I needed to learn a new stitch.

So I went to my magical compendium of stitches: this old kitting and crochet magazine, another fantastic aunt Sue find of course.

Palm leaves was just right: it would still hold the stripe, but with a bit of syncopation in the rhythm to keep it fun. It worked up very quickly and soon I was flying through the rows.

In a few evenings and a motorway trip or two over the holidays, it was done.

I was going to add some bright colourful tassels, but when it was done it felt, well, done.

To complete the look all this needs is a wooden rattle and a cup of steaming Bovril. I think Roy would approve, as he effortlessly chips the ball in a smooth arc into the back of the away team's net.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Matroyshka skirt

Following on from this post my older daughter's anti-trousers policy has deepened. Like all good management I am trying to avoid dispute. Instead, my new position is pro-skirt. It is below freezing but knock yourself out, I say.

But, we did not have any skirts that fitted her. I then remembered that my aunt Sue had found me an old clothkits skirt kit in a car boot fair.

It looks circa 1985 to me.

I never wore these when I was little but remember them well. I have made a doll and bought a few lovely bits since they relaunched.

These apple-cheeked daughters of the revolution sewed up into a skirt in no time. It was essentially a long strip joined at the back, then hemmed, and two channels for the elastic sewn. I really am no dressmaker so the simplicity came as a relief.

With the offcuts I made a little doll/sash/pendant. This was just two dolls cut out from the fabric sandwiched around a layer of quilting then sewn together with a tight zig zag stitch.

She liked it. And I love it, in all its '80s primary coloured glory.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Blanco y negro

In the bleak midwinter my world is looking very monochrome. I am trying to look beyond the soggy grey northern European light and see the beauty in a landscape drained of colour.

For example:

Looking upwards in my local park last month.

The piano at my friend's house: a great accompaniment to new years day.

A very enjoyable work in progress.

Black and white bookspines with a bookmark for me. I found the ribbon in this lovely place.

These legs wearing their Christmas present. Mary Jane tights from here.

Happy new year!

a year above the shop

a year above the shop