Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pattern Review: Vogue 8815 - Peplum Top


Every year I do it. I go on a mad sewing jig, and make myself nothing but dresses, dresses and more dresses. And that's fun for a while - I mean, who doesn't love a good frock on a sunshiney day? - but one day you wake up and think "Gah! I have hairy legs, a thumping headache and I've got loads of running around to do. Today is NOT a day for dresses. I simply cannot be bothered. Today is pants."

But my problem is that I then go to the wardrobe and do you think I can find a half-decent top amongst all those dresses? The sad truth, which I discover and then obviously promptly forget on a yearly basis, is nope. Nut. Nihna nihna zero. But this year I decided to buck the trend. I was going to make some tops, and make them funky! So when I saw that Vogue had a peplum pattern out, I was all over it.

Now, normally I don't really follow fashion trends. I tend to just buy patterns that I like, and often it can take me years to get around to sewing them, but because I'm not slavishly trying to emulate what is currently in the shops then that isn't a problem. But I cannot go past a good peplum. Even the name is good. Pep. Lum. Yum! So for once I find myself in the curious, for me, position of being on-trend. I figured that since I was embracing the whole 'wear-what's-in-the-fashion-mags' thing that I may as well go the whole hog.

So peplum? Check! Florals? Check! Fluros? Check! People turning to stare at me when I wear this down the street because it's so peplummey/florally/fluroey? Check!

This pattern was easy peasey to sew up. I made a couple of adjustments, namely creating a double layer peplum, plus I omitted the binding from the armholes. Instead of using binding there, I did a narrow hem instead.

The double peplum was simple to create - I simply measured off one that was half the length of the original peplum pattern piece. When it came to attaching the peplum to the bodice, the pattern asks you to sew each peplum piece to the corresponding bodice piece, then sew your side seams together. Instead of doing that, I sewed my bodice pieces together first, then sewed my peplum side seams to each other. I then basted the two peplum layers together, then attached those to the bodice. That way my peplum floats free all the way around the bodice.

Would I make this pattern again? Sure! It's comfy to wear, hides the mummy-tummy well (also means you can eat far too much at lunch and nobody will ever know - cue evil self-satisfied laugh) and fits well thanks to the double darts in the back. And it only takes 1m of fabric. Can't go wrong with that!

Project Details
Pattern - Vogue 8815, view A
Fabric - 1m of Amy Butler fabric from the Lark collection, purchased from GJ's Discount Fabrics.
Notions - 51cm invisible zip, yellow bias binding for the neckline, hook and eye.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's show time!

Darn good day out at the Royal Melbourne Show on Monday. There were rides! And cute lambs to pat! And jelly slice at the CWA pavilion (jelly slice is never safe around me)! And yarn-bombing everywhere! And cranky looking chickens! And woodchoppers with rippling muscles on display doing their best to annihilate big logs of wood! And so many other awesome things to see and do that by the time the Tyger and I arrived home it was all we could do to kick off our shoes before collapsing onto the couch. We were tuckered out by all that Show goodness!

Royal Melbourne Show #7

Royal Melbourne Show #5

Royal Melbourne Show #4

Royal Melbourne Show #1

Royal Melbourne Show #8

Royal Melbourne Show #3

Royal Melbourne Show #2

Friday, September 21, 2012

She's inherited the crafting gene

A few weeks ago I found myself in Lincraft on urgent thread-buying business (don't pretend you don't know what that's like!) when I stumbled across these doll making kits by studiogirl. The Tyger, who was with me, pounced on them immediately, and asked if she could get one.

Who am I to deny my own offspring crafting opportunities? Plus these dolls were pretty darn cute! So I said yes, on the strictest proviso that it was put away until the school holidays. Tyger faithfully agreed, and the doll was duly placed in a cupboard, with only the occasional sneak peek by Tyger on the sly when she thought I wasn't looking.

Before we knew it, the last day of school had rolled around. Since it rained, we decided to skip the break-up party at the park, and headed on home to relax after a long term.

So there we are, a mere 25 minutes into our usual Friday afternoon (22 minutes of which it took to walk home) and who do you think is crafting away at the kitchen table? That's right, Grumbles. "Hang on a cotton-picking minute!" I said. "I though that doll was meant for the school holidays?"

"Muuuuuum", groaned Tyger with the air of one who can't believe that she's been saddled with such a daft git of a mother, "it is the school holidays." The silent 'Duh!' hung in the air, suffocating my attempts to explain that as far as I was concerned, school holidays officially begin on the Monday, as you would have gotten the weekend regardless.

An hour after that and the kid was done. I don't know whether I should feel exasperated or proud!

Doll studiogirl craft pink happy

Speaking of school holidays, our are jampacked with lots of activites, sleep overs, outings etc so I'm not sure how much I'll be around for the next couple of weeks, but I will try my darndest to pop in because I have loads, absolute buckets of finished projects to show y'all!

Ok, so by 'buckets' I mean two. But trust me, you'll want to see them! Right, I'd best skedaddle and get that Friday night pizza going. I've already slightly burnt the tomato sauce in my rush to do a thousand things at once... no wonder they say that multi-tasking is bad for your brain. To quote from this article, "Something's got to give," says David E. Meyer, PhD, director of the Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. "Either your cell phone conversation will suffer or your driving will suffer."

Or in my case, the pizza sauce will suffer. Arrrgggghhhh!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yarn bombed tractor!

I'm not usually one for the whole whack-a-video-into-your-blog-post thing, but this was too cool not to share! According to a source of mine, the Royal Melbourne Show is going to be filled with yarn-bombed goodness this year, and this very same source did a time lapse video of the yarn-bombers bombing a tractor.

It's pretty frigging awesome!

I've totally got to tell my dad about this. He's got some pretty ancient Massey Ferguson tractors hanging around his farm that could definitely use some yarn-based jazzing up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The lure of the new

Sublime 4 ply merino

Jorth came home from the Sunspun sale, and thrust five balls of Sublime extra fine merino wool 4 ply at a surprised Galumph, who said mildly "Thanks, honey, but deep magenta isn't really my colour."

"It's not for you, you daft git!" said Jorth. "It's for my summer cardi, but you've got to hide it from me. Lock it away if you must, just don't let me near that soft, silky merino goodness or I'll cast on immediately and poor old Grumble's lacy cardigan will stand no chance of being finished!"

Not wanting to trigger a knitting claims war between wife and daughter, Galumph wisely did as he was told. Anything for household peace!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monster Pet Rocks

Monster Pet Rocks


I was totally hoping to have a whole swag of finished garments to show you, but alas the weekend just trickled away without me getting anything done. Blast!

But I do have a Monster Pet Rocks article over at Mum's Business, so not all is lost, eh?

Signing off,
Jorth, who can't draw a scary face to save herself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Vogue 8815 in progress

Peplum In Progress

"You can say what you like about Jorth", mused Sabrina the dressmakers dummy as the half-completed peplum top was pinned to her, "but one thing is certain - girl ain't afraid of a bit of colour!"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

K1B vs K vs P1B vs P - whaaaaat?

As I mentioned yesterday, the pattern for the lacey cardigan I'm knitting for the Tyger is full of 'knit into back of stitch' and 'purl into back of stitch', and those two pesky techniques are seriously impeding my knitting flow. After all the work involved in the green dress, all I want is a fast speedy knit that I can have dashed off in a couple of weeks (if such a knit for me exists!) Instead I'm being bogged down with the ol' K1B and P1B.

So after I did my swatch, using the K1B and P1B, I had a cunning idea - maybe I should do another swatch, and sub the behind the stitch knitting with regular knit and purl. "Jorthy!", I said to myself, "you are a knitting genius! I bet it turns out just as well, and you won't need to faff around with the written instructions. Let's crank up the music and get knitting!"

Let's just say that it's just as well I did that swatch. The original swatch, featuring the K1B and P1B is on the left, and the other, where I just did knit and purl, is on the right.

Knit Stitches

Oh dear. Would you just look at those flabby, lacklustre stitches? What a mess! Even ignoring the fact that I was so busy rocking out to Hot Hot Heat whilst I was knitting that I accidentally added another pattern repeat, those stitches are ghastly. They're wonky. And messy. And loose, in a most unattractive way, whilst their behind-the-loop counterparts are as neat as neat can be.

So it turns out that if you want lovely neat stitches, particularly in a lace pattern, behind-the-loop knitting is the way to go. I did a bit of ye olde internet research on the matter, and discovered that this technique results in a twisted stitch, and twisted stitches result in a tighter, firmer piece of knitted fabric. And, as in this case, a much nicer looking piece of lace.

Ah, knitting. As always the truths of knitting match up to the truths of life. You can't have it all (super speedy knitting flow) but every cloud has a silver lining (neat stitches! and new techniques learnt!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Next project: red lacy cardi

Red Yarn #1

Red Yarn #2

Oh you guys! No, seriously, you guys! Thanks so much for all the knitting love on the green dress - it totally, absolutely made my day. It's one of those weird sorta-summer sorta-not days here, but tomorrow an icy chill is heading our way, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be wearing my dress. Arctic blasts? Pah, I say - there's 14 balls of superfine merino in that baby!

Whenever I'm close to the finishing line on a knitted project, I like to spur myself on a little to reach the end. Alas, Olympic-sized stadiums full of knitting fans cheering me on are sadly lacking around these parts, so I do the next best thing: I jump on my bike and ride on over to Sunspun, and get myself some new yarn. Although I forbid myself from starting a new project until the current one is completed, just the sight of those lovely, unwound balls of yarn is often enough to send me into a frenzy of finishing. Hey, a knitters gotta do what a knitters gotta do!

This lovely red bamboo/viscose blend (Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK) is going to become a cute little lacy cardi for the Tyger to wear over summer, to stop her shoulders getting sun burnt. After my last 14 ball project, 4 measly balls feels like a total walk in the park! Especially since I'm finished the first one already.

(I'll just gloss over the fact that the knit- and purl-behind-the-loop stitch repeat is doing my head in, and totally ruining my knitting flow. Gah. Just as well this is going to be a small cardigan...)

What's on your needles? Any summer knitting planned? Would it be naughty of me to tell you that Sunspun has a sale on for two weeks, beginning on the 15th September? Just in time for the school holidays... I feel an excursion with the Tyger coming on!

*****UPDATE: The cardigan in question is Sirdar Pattern # 1325. Cute, huh?*****

Monday, September 10, 2012

One finished green knitted dress!

Green Knitted Dress #4

Green Knitted Dress #3

Finally, finally, finally, finally! The green knitted dress is done! Finito! Completed and ready to wear! And do you know what? I'm really, really happy with it. Thank goodness - imagine if, after all that effort, all those stitches, you put it on, stood in front of the mirror and thought "By gee, that looks CRAP!" I think I would hang up my needles for once and for all if that had of been the case, but thankfully it wasn't, and I shall live to knit another day.

Make no mistake about it - this dress was a lot of work. I think I used 14 balls of yarn (Filatura Di Crosa's Zara in shade 1889) all up. The knitting in itself took quite a while, but it was the finishing that was the real humdinger. It never seemed to end, but I was determined not to rush it and botch things up. I'm glad I took the time over it that I did, because it has come up beautifully.

I sewed up my side and sleeve seams using invisible vertical seaming, which is also known as mattress stitch, just to confuse things - you can learn how to do it here. They take a lot of work, but the result is absolutely worth it. Then, I had the fun task of attaching my sleeves and the sleeve tabs onto the dress. The key to making the tabs sit flat was to use a thin thread. In the past, I've simply divided a piece of yarn into its separate strands, but I didn't think the strands would be strong enough to stand the wear and tear of such a large piece of knitting, particularly the arms, which I tend to wave around a lot (anybody who knows me in real life will be nodding their head in agreement at this point!) The solution - I used embroidery thread in a matching colour, which is a trick I'd learnt years ago from This gives you a lovely flat finish, as your seaming doesn't end up bulky, and it makes your seaming stitches pretty much invisible, as they hide away nicely in between your knitted stitches.

The buttons were a bit of a challenge - I really wanted to give the dress a slight nautical look but just a slight one - I didn't want to come across all ho ho sailor, but couldn't find any suitable ones anywhere until I visited Buttonmania. They are just lovely - burnished metal, with the colour on each varying just enough to give them a vintagey, worn look. I was worried that the shanks of the buttons would mean that my buttons wouldn't sit flat, but I sewed them on tightly using the embroidery thread, nestling the shank in between knitted stitches, and they are as flat as I could have desired them.

All in all, it's a fab dress, and the knitting was, despite the amount, nice and easy. Maybe one in red for next winter?!? That Zara yarn sure is nice to work with!

Project details
Pattern: Robe No. 043-T10-273 from Phildar Creations Automne No. 043
Yarn: Zara by Filatura di Crosa, in shade 1889, purchased from Sunspun. I used 14 balls. This yarn is a superfine merino in DK weight.
Needles: 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.5mm
Notions: 12 buttons from Buttonmania, Sajou embroidery thread from L'uccello