Nyssa Jayne Makes It! on shoesandblues.com

Is that… Spring?


What is this warm stuff coming from the sky?

Confession: I started making spring clothes while it was still rubbish outside.  The winter was quite mild, especially compared to my own expectations, but I was missing bare legs and frozen daiquiris from Lady Jays.  So when I saw this spotty, lacy fabric from Chic Fabrics during their closing sale (are they really closed?  I haven’t been into town to check recently), I figured I could probably will the weather to change by making the perfect spring skirt.

Back vieww

I wouldn’t tolerate a fit like this on a handmade top, but somehow it doesn’t bother me as much when it’s something I didn’t make.

I decided to make a simple dirndl skirt to take advantage of the scalloped edge on the selvedge side of the fabric.  A dirndl skirt also meant I didn’t have to fight too much with the lining, which is a blush pink silk also from Chic Fabrics.  Silk and I historically don’t get along, but it’s such a lovely fabric to wear, so I’ve committed to getting over my frustration.  The lining is finished with a narrow hem, and I did a handpicked lapped zipper.  They’re one of my favourite zipper installations, mainly because they don’t involve fighting with a sewing machine as much.

There’s not a lot more to say about such a simple garment, but it does make me very happy.  The silk feels fantastic, especially since stockings are optional on a day like today.

April 10th, 2017 | No Comments
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Biased Opinions

It was sunny enough to take photos!

on the balcony

SHOCK! Spring!

Neil and I were in Brooklyn Industries awhile ago and I saw a flannel shirtwaist dress.  I think I had already tried on a dress in the store that day where the armscyes were way too low, so I didn’t bother trying the flannel number on, but I knew I wanted one.  I had the perfect pattern after all.  (In other news, Neil has repeatedly said I am the worst person to go shopping with and what is an armscye anyway?)

So I know that I said I was sick of McCall’s 6696, but that was back in the summer.  Literally years ago.  Who can remember weather that warm?  Not I.  I found this fab flannel at Chic Fabrics for $4 a yard.  The colour combo might be a bit loud for some, but it’s just so perfect to me.  I love yellow but yellow doesn’t love my skin tone, so having the pink and navy to mix it up let’s me have my cake and eat it too.  The buttons are from Pacific Trimmings, aka My Button Central, they’re super simple purple shank buttons that likely cost about 50c each.

McCall’s 6696 has a 3/4 sleeve option, but I find sleeves that length a bit meaningless, so I lengthened the sleeves, using the sleeves from Vogue 8772 as a guide.  I used the cuffs from that pattern too, but I subbed out the continuous lap for the tower placket from Colette’s Negroni. Erica from The Handmade Wardrobe did something similar and mentioned the length of the placket, so I lopped an inch off mine to make sure it didn’t run all the way up my arm or anything.  I also took 15cm/6″ from the length of the dress.  I like longer summer dresses, but I find that they look very dowdy with tights.  If I’m covering my legs, I can definitely afford to go up!

from the side

The Good

I am in love with the length of this dress.  I did try the dress on during construction to gauge where I wanted the hem to sit, so I had an idea it was coming, but I was still pretty excited when I put the finished dress on to see where it ended up.  The fabric also makes me very happy, it’s so cozy and bright.

The Bad

Plaids.  They should match, right?  So I worked diligently to make sure the plaids match where they should, which is mainly on the side seams from the bust down down and across the front. I’m quite happy with how that turned out, it was painstaking work that might not be 100% perfect, but it was worth it.  Sewing wisdom says don’t match plaids if you don’t have to, so I cut the outer yoke, cuffs, tower placket, waistband button placket and collar stand on the bias.  This fabric then proceeded to stretch like it was going out of fashion.  I did what I could to ease the fabric in where required, but there are still tiny ripples everywhere, especially across the inside of the collar stand and the back of the waistband.  The interfaced pieces didn’t suffer this fate, so next time I work with bias pieces that require structure, I’m going to interface them, even if their companion piece is already interfaced (like with the collar stand).  I was tempted to rip out and reverse the waistband, so that the interfaced side faced outwards, but I knew that that would just put more strain on the un-interfaced piece, so I’ve left it.

from the back

My tower placket hack was also a good one in theory, but by the time you had the placket, you’ve added just over 2cm/almost an inch to the width of the sleeve, way too much to ease into a cuff.  I put the excess into the pleat, which is now so large it borders on ridiculous.  I’m surprised this Threads article doesn’t cover what to, but next time, I intended to reduce the width of the sleeve.

The Learned

The first thing I need to remember is that one doesn’t just “whip” this dress up.  From cutting to sewing on the final buttons, this is two or three days work for me.  I’m sure if I didn’t have chores to do I could do it faster, but there’s never any point rushing.  Making Neil all those Negroni’s has helped — I remembered to interface the tower placket, plus my application is getting neater.    I do still struggle with topstitching however, and it looks quite clunky around the collar.  I feel like my buttonholes look haphazard too, but I know the contrast is making them stand out a little more.

I feel like the bodice is a little long on this dress as well, however I do feel like that could be blamed on how the fabric behaved during construction!

front angle

My hipster blog pose.

So I actually made this dress months ago — it’s since been laundered almost once a week!  This means that despite any perceived imperfections, it really did work for me.  The buttons have started to chip which is disappointing, I mean, I could replace individual buttons, but I think I am after a longer-term solution.  But all those other imperfections didn’t stop me from wearing it, and I even got a few questions about where I got the dress from in public, which was lovely for the ego, I’ll tell you.

March 31st, 2017 | No Comments
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The Blu-Tack Posters Infiltrate My Eyes

I have been doing a lot of sewing and knitting, but conditions still don’t really allow for photos.  Today’s project I could do without having to second guess a tripod though!

When we moved, I packed all of my favourite posters.  It felt quite trivial to do so, but I had to take a poster tube for something anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stash the posters.  There’s a lot of sentimental meaning in there.

Once we had put up all of our framed pictures, Neil suggested that we maybe do something about the concert posters.  Admittedly, most were damaged — I stole took them from venues and bollards around the city, so they were ripped in places, and had sticky tape around the edges.  Then I had put them up on my walls with blu-tack, which meant there were oil marks in the corners.  We couldn’t justify getting them custom framed, because the rock ‘n’ roll wear ‘n’ tear didn’t really gel with the neat ‘n’ tidy of a frame.  We needed to do something to honour the history of the posters.


Curator of the Bedroom Museum

Neil had the idea that we mount them to poster board.  With this vague notion, I asked the internet how to do something like this — and the internet delivered.  There’s thousands of tutorials explaining how to do this kind of thing.  It’s not hard and it’s not expensive.  I just wanted to add my voice because we did learn some things.

We used a product called Gatorboard to mount the posters onto.  I’d read somewhere that if you’re using Mod Podge, a water-based product, you want something that can cope with that, otherwise it’ll warp.  We used spray adhesive to stick the posters onto the board, then used one coat of matte Mod Podge over the top.  One of the posters has the gig dates printed and taped onto the poster, so I just covered that with clear sticky tape.  If I had’ve left it, there was a chance it would’ve become smudged once Mod Podged.

The Hovercrafts.

For the record, it looks like permanent markers, like Sharpies, tolerate Mod Podge just fine.

The idea was to make it look like the posters had been “postered” to wall, similar to how street teamers and promoters glue posters to bollards and worksites.  I felt it represented the history of the posters, but was also a new lease of life for them — to me, they’re works that started on someone’s computer (I knew the designer for two of them), ended up on a bollard, on my bedroom walls, and now as a mounted piece.

The Good

Given that the posters were already damaged, the stakes weren’t very high.  If we made a mistake, we could attribute it to the effect that we were going for.  This is also a fairly inexpensive project — the gatorboard pieces were about $7-$8 each, the Mod Podge was around $6 or so, same with the spray adhesive.  For comparison’s sake, we do have one concert poster framed, our Primavera Sound 2016 poster, and that set us back more than $50 I think.  (Worth it, it was from our honeymoon).


I distinctly remember dashing out of Ding Dong with this one.

The Bad

We didn’t use enough spray adhesive.  When I Mod Podged the posters, they bubbled a little bit.  As mentioned, I had calculated something like this happening, hence why I worked with already damaged posters.  If I were to do this again, I’d either Mod Podge the gatorboard, as some tutorials suggest, or use a heck of a lot more spray adhesive.  Neil isn’t 100% convinced by the matte Mod Podge either, as the posters did start off glossy, but I feel the imperfections may have been more prominent if glossy.

The Learned

We probably should’ve practiced this technique a little more to learn more about the results — if you have extra materials you can practice on, definitely do that.  I didn’t have any posters I fancied sacrificing so I just jumped straight in.  Given their sentimental nature, I would’ve just kept “practicing” and never actually get this done.

The Wellingtons.

My brother helped me nick this one from a bollard on Johnston St.

So ignore every third article on Apartment Therapy or whatever about how hanging concert posters should be relegated to your “college days”.  Neil and I still love live music, so it makes sense to put the posters to use and make our home represent us a little more.

And finally, for those interested, you can definitely find the Skybombers and The Wellingtons on Spotify (The Wellingtons still play and tour even), but if you’re curious about The Hovercrafts, my favourites from the time, then you’ll need to spend some time on YouTube:

March 26th, 2017 | No Comments
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Still Missing: Lambs

Ages ago, I made a Bo-Peep Scarf and I really did love it.  There came a time when we were packing up the flat in Brunswick where I had to make a decision whether to keep it or not.  The yarn was a little scratchy and I didn’t like the acetate lining that much, so in a moment of utter ruthlessness, I donated it.  This isn’t a decision I regret, but I knew I would likely replace it in the future.

I'm over here.

So I did the reasonable thing and made another one!  This one is made out of some light fingering Madelinetosh yarn.  Madelinetosh yarns were one of those brands I was really keen to try when we moved, because it basically doesn’t exist in Australia (at least it didn’t when I last went yarn shopping, which was a long time ago).  This particular batch came from Knitty City on the Upper West Side, purchased during the NYC Yarn Crawl with this particular project in mind.  I remember googling the colourway in the store just to make sure I’d like the results, as I have a history of buying yarn because it looks pretty in a skein, but not in a project.

Flat out.

Blocking Bo Peep.

The Good

Well, the yarn was as much fun to work with as I could’ve hoped!  It’s not cheap, but I found the yardage to be generous, and the little specks of colour make me very happy.  It’s a lot softer than my previous scarf as well, which is a bonus.

The Bad

Honestly, there’s nothing I don’t like about this project, other than it’s not a terribly useful scarf — it’s difficult to get on and off and it’s not particularly warm when it’s on.  I’ve not really been able to wear it here because it’s been too cold!  I’m hoping I can get some days out of it during the spring.

The Learned

Two things to get the most out of this scarf.  I felt that my previous version held itself up a little better and I think that’s got to do with the drape of the fabric.  To get a nice, stiff bow, I would recommend a tight gauge.  I got the gauge as requested by the pattern by using 3mm needles and the yarn held double, but I think it could be a little tighter.  My previous version was made before I knew how to really match a yarn to a pattern, so that I know this at all is a bit of a fluke.  I’d throw it into the wash to felt a little bit if the yarn wasn’t so expensive!  I might consider lining it like I did with my last scarf — I have some silk organza that would do that trick.

The other thing I recommend is not tying it around your neck “like a present” as the pattern suggests.  That’s a bit of a vague description.  In my pictures here, and in the older blog post, I have tied it like a man’s bow tie.  If you’ve never done it before, there is a bit of fiddling about and cursing, but your results will look much neater.



I have been quite prolific recently — the cold weather has kept me indoors, plus I cut out 3 projects in a row so that I could just sew, sew, sew, which has been very efficient.  I have avoided doing that because I didn’t want half-finished projects around, but I actually worked for the best.  I intend to make one or two more things with sleeves before thinking about spring projects…


February 8th, 2017 | No Comments
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Merry Christmas, Baby!

I have made quite a few garments I’m excited to post about, however many of the photographs I’ve taken aren’t up to scratch because we’re not getting enough quality sunlight at the moment!  This post I could cobble together though.

I am not super keen on Christmas — the consumerism gets to me.  However, when you’re on the other side of the world, you can distance yourself from it, provided you don’t get stuck on 5th Avenue out the front of Saks in a crowd crush.

Neil is much more into Christmas than me.  It was the first year in ten for him that it was cold enough to wear a Christmas sweater.  We tried really hard to find the perfect one, but couldn’t hit upon a price/size combo that would appease him.  I couldn’t knit the complicated colourwork required in a month, in secret, but I could do the next best thing and put together a Christmas shirt.

Chill AF

The fabric is quilting cotton and it’s by Riley Blake.  I was going to pick a fabric with poinsettias on it, and do what Peter did and make a Hawaiian shirt of sorts, however I wasn’t able to guarantee that the wrong side of the fabric was appropriate. Instead, I decided to dial down the kitch and pick a fabric that was a little more in line with other shirts he had in his wardrobe.

The pattern is once again, Colette’s Negroni.  We made a few alterations, I slimmed out the hips by 1cm and increased the curve of the hem by 1.5cm, as per Neil’s request.  The next shirt I make him will definitely be one with a collar and stand, but I figured this casual style was appropriate for a novelty shirt.

So once I decided Neil was getting a Christmas shirt, I kind of wanted a Christmas outfit too.

Kitty skirt out in the wild.

Photographer Neil is way taller than me.

I did look for poinsettia fabric for Neil and then I found this!  I kind of love how “off” the cats are, there is just something wrong with them that really appeals to me.  I mean, if I’m going to do novelty, let’s do it properly.

The skirt is just a regular dirndl skirt.  I calculated my waist x3 and attached it to a waistband.  I used shirring elastic again, but because it was so tightly gathered, it was a little hard to wrangle, so that is worth remembering for next time.

I intended to have a deep hem to give the skirt some body, but something went off-grain while I was cutting the panels for the skirt, so I ended up losing an inch or so trying to fix it.  I did a hem facing so I didn’t lose any more length, which gave me the chance to easily include some pretty lace I had brought from Australia.  I intend to make another dirndl skirt for the spring/summer, and I think I would actually consider using interfacing on the hem facing for even more body.  I’ve seen horsehair braid recommended for a hem, but I feel that works more for circle skirts.

Christmas ended up being really relaxed.  We went out Christmas Eve with some pals who were visiting from Australia, then Christmas Day we opened with champagne brunch at home.  It was unusually warm on Christmas Day here, so we went for a walk in the sun, then came back home for wine and cheese.  We finished the day in Midtown, eating peking duck for dinner.  So perfect and low key!

January 27th, 2017 | No Comments
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Farewell Tilly

Long cat is long.

Today Neil and I said goodbye to our favourite, furry family member.  Tilly’s health has been declining for a couple of months now, but he had crashed very rapidly this week.  It was a difficult decision to let him go.

Tilly, or Tilly Dylan Tyers-McGwyre, Cat of Brunswick (his full name, as depicted on his PBS radio membership) has been a fixture in our lives for the past 9 years, when I adopted him from a shelter in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  He was estimated to be about 7 years old when he came to live with me.  I chose to adopt a “senior” cat because I wasn’t sure how long I could dedicate to looking after a cat, given that I was pretty young and stupid.  Senior cats don’t get adopted as readily as younger cats, so I felt like we were helping each other.  Neil gave him his name — the shelter told us he was a girl, his actual gender was uncovered about a year later when he fell ill.  I’ll never forget the look on the vet’s face when he told me that.  We let Tilly keep his name, it’s not like he knew it was a “girls” name or anything.

Tilly's homecoming

This is about an hour after Tilly escaped the shelter.  Much smug.

Tilly was a chatty and personable cat, who was able to adapt to just about any situation, provided you let him sit on you and you would talk to him.  He was not aloof or nervous when it came to new things.  When it came time to decide whether to move to New York or not, we knew that so long as he was fit to fly, he was fit to settle into a new life.  His vet and his travel agency gave him the a-ok and so we arranged for him to join us.  He flourished in NYC — a thyroid condition we had struggled to keep a lid on became much more manageable with different medication not available in Australia.

Tilly takes Manhattan

Tilly takes Manhattan.

Who knew a cat that’s apparently from Mornington, Australia, who might have been 16 or 19 years old, and who wore a Peter Alexander rhinestone bow-tie would make it this far?  I’m going to miss him a lot, and I know Neil will too.  Farewell, my furry little intern.

The last family photo

The last family photo.

January 19th, 2017 | No Comments
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The Pussyhat Project

On the 21st of March, the day after the inauguration, The Women’s March on Washington is happening!  The march isn’t just about women, but about all the voices who were demonised and shunned during the toxic American election.  For me, protesting isn’t whining, it’s about speaking up as a group so that a message is heard, plus when the message is clear, real change can happen.

Pussyhat Power!

I can’t make it to the march, but a yarn store I’ve been visiting, Knitty City, brought The Pussyhat Project to my attention.  The Pussyhat Project aims to provide a pink “pussyhat” for those attending the march, all 1.17million anticipated attendees!  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate this way initially, because sometimes I feel that efforts like this can be tokenistic.  Then I approached it from a marketing perspective, the sight of a million pink hats would be very impressive and, more importantly, memorable.  The Pussyhat Project website does a fantastic job too of talking about the power of knitting circles and the handmade in feminism, which is what ultimately tipped me over into making some hats.

My first hat I didn’t photograph, but I did go to the knitting meetup at Knitty City to make it.  I spoke to some women who had been to Washington to march before, including some women who had protested the Vietnam War.  It was great to speak to these women about their experience in activism.  I feel that there is a perception of activists as hyper-partisan, perhaps even crazy, but that has rarely been my experience.  These women marched because it was the right thing to do, and these days, they march for their kids and their future.  There was a sense of, “gosh, do we still have to do this?” but they’re doing it because their kids deserve it.  It was enlightening to hear.

from the top

Check out my ears, meow.

The hat itself is easy to make.  The instructions have you knit it flat then seam the edges, but I knitted both of mine in the round, then kitchener stitched the top shut.  My first hat was made out of Lamb’s Pride Worsted, and then my second hat, the one I’ve photographed, was made from the remenants of the Lamb’s Pride.  I added in some cream and pink stripes using some leftover Cascade 220.

I hope someone at the march receives my hats and knows that they have an ally in New York, hearing what they have to say.  Things are scary right now, no doubt, but I feel that in these uncertain times there are voices getting lost and that they need to be heard — and acted upon.

January 12th, 2017 | No Comments
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Adventures in Coatmaking

So I’ve lived in Australia almost my entire life, except for the 8 months I spent living in Sweden when I was 18 or so.  Living in Melbourne means mild weather — during the summer, it can get hot, up to 40C, but only for a couple of days at a time.  During the winter it never goes below freezing.  I have an unlined wool coat that used to belong to my Dad that I wear during July and August, but that’s about the warmest thing I own.  Most of the time I got away with a leather jacket if I need an extra layer.  I wasn’t in Sweden for a lot of the winter admittedly, but those couple of weeks with below zero temperatures (-22C was my personal record) I didn’t really spend a lot of time outside.  No-one did, it was cold and dark!  I don’t remember if the coat I had was entirely appropriate, but I obviously lived to tell the tale.

I’ve had two summers this year and the weather has finally broken, which means I had to start thinking about a coat.  My Dad’s coat, while warm, wasn’t going to cut it for those exceptionally cold days over the holidays.  I could buy a coat, however deep down, I knew I wanted to make a coat.  Along with bras and jeans, a coat is like a rite of passage for a home sewer.

I made a coat!

I don’t know what is with these pictures, hopefully you can see my work.

I chose McCall’s 7442 as my coat pattern.  The envelope image is admittedly a bit goofy, but the technical drawing is really lovely.  I made a toile in size 14, grading down to a 12 in the shoulders, plus I made all the petite adjustments in the bodice and sleeves, which… seemed to have worked!  My curves aren’t as pronounced once I’m bundled up in thermals and sweaters.

from the back

After much research, I decided on a wool and Kasha/Sunback lining combination, plus any underlining required to stabilise the fashion fabric.  I don’t anticipate spending a lot of time outside when the weather is rubbish, I basically just need something to get me from home, to the subway, to wherever I’m going.

I bought my fashion fabric from Paron’s during their closing down sale.  It was bittersweet visiting Paron’s — the staff were still upbeat and the bargains were fantastic (my fabric was $9 per yard), but there was very much a sense there was some livelihoods taking a hit because the store was closing.  I also bought some silk organza from Chic Fabrics to underline the fabric.  The weave is fairly solid, but I just wanted to make sure.

The lining came from B&J Fabrics, as my researched indicated they were the only ones who stocked this kind of lining in the city.  That was another new-to-me store, and I must say, it was very exciting to touch $240 per yard fabric (should I admit I did that)?  They had a small collection of Sunback, but it did include the polka dot fabric I fell in love with!

The buttons were close out buttons from M&J Trimmings.  Gosh, they were hard to find, I just wasn’t happy with anything.  These aren’t really a perfect match, but I really liked them, so I figured I would just go for it.  The faux fur trim is from Mood, it’s an Alexander Wang piece.  I was worried that it would be a lot of look, but once I refrained from attaching the fur to the cuffs as well, it evened out (note, I still might do that).

up close!

I do worry that I haven’t packed enough layers into my coat.  I have been reading about Tasha’s coat, where she intends to use Thinsulate in her jacket, plus I considered lambswool like Gertie did all those years ago.  I’m kind of banking on the expertise I read on this Artisan’s Square thread to come through though and while I wouldn’t describe my combination as toasty, it’s warmer than what I had.

from the side

Once I had collected everything for the coat, I stalled a lot, nervous about cutting into fabric I couldn’t replace and just generally being a wimp, but once I got started, there was no stopping me!  I did make a couple of adjustments on the fly.  I added a pleat to the lining, which isn’t in the original pattern, plus I ran the lining all the way down the skirt of the coat.  My tailoring textbook was such a valuable resource on this project and I would recommend getting it into your library if you don’t already.



The Good

All the hand stitching required left me very zen.  Each seam is cross-stitched down to help it lay flat — I don’t have a clapper and didn’t want the wool to lose its bounce because I steamed the heck out of it.  There’s feather stitching on the lining to keep the pleats closed, and the faux-fur collar is actually basted to the coat, so that it can be removed when the coat requires cleaning.  Inserting the sleeves was kind of amazing too, I used a technique from the aforementioned tailoring text that is also detailed here on the Lolita Patterns website.  It’s magic, it made setting the sleeves so easy and it makes them look great.

The Bad

So I finished this coat back at the start of December, which means I’ve had a chance to wear it quite a bit.  The wool I chose isn’t holding up like I hoped it would.  You may be able to see from the photos where it’s starting to wear.  It will be fine for this season, and perhaps even next season, but I do want to chose something a lot sturdier next time.  I would also try to include something warmer as well, I feel like I could beef this up a little bit.

I also want to practice hemming and using horsehair braid a little more.  The hem is fine, but when you see it from my angle, you can pick out some slight puckering, as the lining might be a smidge shorter than the shell.

The Learned

So much!!  It has been a confidence boost, that’s for sure.  I am actually making another coat in a couple of weeks with Jennifer at Workroom Social, so I’m looking forward to what tips and tricks she has up her sleeve (hint, it’s many).

January 10th, 2017 | 1 Comment
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Christmas Knitting

I have been making quite a few things over the last couple of months, but I haven’t taken as many chances to photograph and blog them as soon as I finish them.  Christmas was surprisingly busy, plus my dear kitty Tilly, seen here asking for dinner, has been sick, which has been a little rough.  He’s okay for now, his main ailment is that he is old — he is anywhere between sixteen and nineteen years old, depending on which certificate you look at — which really can’t be helped.  Knowing what a stubborn little furbag he is, he’s probably making me worry prematurely (“I’m pretty sure [the mean ones] stay alive out of spite,” one of his vets suggested after Tilly tried to take her eye out), but I can’t help it, it’s my job as his cat companion and food dispenser.

Another reason why I haven’t blogged the things I made is because they were gifts!

Eleanor's blanket

First up is a baby blanket I made for our pals John and Maggi and their brand new human, Eleanor.  I got Maggi’s blessing to make a blanket before Eleanor was born, as I know some new parents either have family who make heirloom gifts, or don’t have a need for such a thing.  Maggi was thrilled with the idea though, so after the baby arrived (Neil and I are superstitious), I got to work.

Close up of chevron blanket

I suggested chevrons to Maggi — I wanted to riff on granny square blankets, every 30-something pal of mine has got one that was made for them as a child, but I also wanted to respect that Eleanor was a child of 2016, not 1985.  I had this idea in my head that she’d take this blanket to college, like we did with our blankets, and when asked about it, she’d roll her eyes and say, “our parents were so obsessed with chevrons when we were kids, weren’t they?”

Speaking of taking things from your childhood home, that’s my mother’s coffee table she received as a 21st birthday present back in 19-seventy-mumble.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish worsted.  I chose this yarn because Maggi could chose the colours online and have an idea of what she might get back in return, plus it could be machine washed and tumbled dried, things I figured were important to new parents.  There are a squillion chevron baby blankets on Ravelry, I happened to chose this one, omitting the yarn-overs and incorporating left and right leaning make-ones instead.  Super quick, super easy, the only reason why it wasn’t delivered sooner is because I was waiting for some brand new blocking boards to arrive.

I had some yarn left over, so I made a bonus gift.

Matching hats!

Matching hats!  These are the Classic Cuffed Hat from Purl Soho, a very simple ribbed beanie in a couple of sizes, including adult and infant (although mind you, the infant size is by no means small).  It’s a great base pattern and I’m tempted to revisit it for myself later, perhaps with some cables or lace.  This used up pretty much every scrap of yarn I ordered for the blankets, which is the most satisfying thing ever.  Maggi has shown me a picture of Eleanor being cute in her hat and I couldn’t be more stoked.

My next gift was for my godmother-in-law, Aunty Jan.

What a shawl.

Neil and I have been talking about what makes a thoughtful gift.  Aunty Jan, who lives in England, often sends us some money on our birthdays and for Christmas, crisp notes straight from the bureau de change, and it’s enclosed in these fantastic handmade cards, which usually stay up long past whatever the occasion is.  Neil has at times expressed something akin to guilt over these gifts, mainly because he works and I am usually employed, but I suggested that Aunty Jan likes to do this, there’s something about the small sacrifice that provides meaning.  Because we work, we don’t always have time, which is the sacrifice that is present in a handmade gift.  One day, the dynamics will be different, and we’ll be sending money to the young whippersnappers instead.

zoom in on shawl.

The pattern is Sweet Shoppe Shawlette, a top-down shawl pattern basically designed for the kind of pretty yarn you buy as a souvenir when on holidays.  The yarn is Bertha by DirtyWater Dye Works, and I bought it at Gather Here when on a small trip to Boston last year.  I already had the idea that I wanted to make Aunty Jan a shawl, so when we visited Gather Here, I narrowed down some appropriate yarns and Neil picked a colourway he thought she’d like, so it was a joint effort.

The pattern was quite simple and if you’re in the market for your first shawl, this one is a bit of a winner.  I found that I couldn’t memorise that honeycomb stitch, which was a little annoying, I’m usually quite good at that, but other than that, there was no issues with it.  I did do a few more repeats of the honeycomb stitch to use up as much yarn as possible, so it’s slightly larger than pattern suggests.

I’m looking forward to showing you some of the other things I’ve made recently too — there’s some trousers, some shorts, two skirts, another shirt for Neil, and legit winter coat to come!

January 4th, 2017 | No Comments
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I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered The Replacements

OK, the title of this post is a lie, I haven’t just discovered The Replacements, it actually turns out that I’ve just gotten into replacing things.  (And I like to periodically rediscover Art Brut.)

New cardigan!

One of my favourite cardigans was a green and blue fair isle number from Valley Girl (it’s like an Australian Forever 21) that I bought about 10 years ago.  It dutifully saw me through numerous winters, which is unusual for a cheap garment, but finally I noticed some holes developing, plus it had stretched out a little, so I decided to retire it.  I knew I would miss it though, so before I donated it, I vowed to replicate it.

I originally intended to use a vintage pattern, but my patterns were on the boat, so I didn’t see them for a couple of months.  I searched Ravelry for a good base cardigan instead and settled on Walnuss.  It’s a slightly different style to the original cardigan, but I’ve never made a contiguous cardigan with saddle shoulders before.  There are pleats on the front that run down the side as well, which I figured would help with the fit — I can do an FBA on a sewn garment no worries, but I’ve never made a similar adjustment while knitting.

Closer up.

The yarn I used is Wool of the Andes by Knit Picks in a sport weight.  Upon reflection, I think that this weight may have been a bit thick considering all of the fair isle, but it has made the cardigan super-warm, which definitely saved me when I was wandering around Central Park the other day.  I matched the colours as closely as I could to my original cardigan, and I think I did an okay job.  I have done a double take when looking at it in my wardrobe, which I think counts as a win.

All the pretty fair isle

So!  The fair isle!  I can be a bit cocky about mashing up patterns and techniques so I didn’t see a problem with just adding fair isle in.  I didn’t chart the pattern, I just copied it from the original cardigan, fudging it where I needed to and ripping back if necessary.  But you know what else I didn’t do?  I did do a swatch, but I didn’t do a swatch in fair isle.  The first iteration of the cardigan, before I picked up stitches to commence the sleeves, was way too tight, because the fair isle isn’t as flexible as plain stockinette.  Whoops.  I don’t mind ripping projects back — I took this one back to the shoulders — but it does upset Neil (“All that work!”).  I redid the body with some extra stitches around the bust and it has improved greatly.

Inside the cardigan.

A view from the inside.

I finished the button band with some grosgrain ribbon, using Lladybird’s tutorial.  I did adjust my technique slightly though and instead of folding the ribbon underneath itself at the top and the bottom of the band to prevent fraying, I melted the edge using a lighter instead (that’s a link to the first tutorial I found on Google, I actually learned about it when making Lolita-inspired clothes).  This prevents fraying and is less bulky, but only works if you’re using nylon or polyester ribbon.  I splurged on the buttons, I picked them up from M&J Trimmings.

Heat sealed ribbon.

A close-up of how neat the ribbon looks after heat sealing.

I’m pretty happy with the finished result.  The contiguous method is definitely fun, but as Kay The Sewing (and Knitting) Lawyer explains, the garment lacks the structure to hold itself up in places.  I’ve opted not to do anything about it straight away — I did try the crochet chain idea, but didn’t quite get the tension right, so I might mull it over a little more first.  I figured there’s no rush.  I also think if I were to make this pattern again, and I think I would, I would make it without the pleats and do shortrows for a bust adjustment instead.  I like the uneven hem of this cardigan, but I don’t think I would need two.

Looking down.


November 29th, 2016 | No Comments
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