Purl Alpaca Mayan Jumper – Downsized

When I was knitting the cable jumper for myself earlier this year my 9 year old was asking if I could knit her one. I couldn’t really face months of knitting another Aran jumper but didn’t want to disappoint. I had ordered myself the Mayan Jumper pattern from Purl Alpaca, I found this company from reading a post on Kate’s Fabricated blog. I showed my daughter this pattern and it was to her liking.

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With a fair bit of stocking stitch and simpler cables this looked like a reasonable quick knit. In fact I spent 5 weeks working on this, which after 3 1/2 months was a quick knit.

I didn’t go with the Purl Alpaca yarn. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that she would grow out of in a year and worst of all may not even like when finished. So I went for Paintbox yarns DK acrylic from Love Knitting. I struggled a bit with it just being too cheap, 4 balls for £9 and time will tell how it washes and wears. I wasn’t sure of the colour either but as she tells me, mustard is her 2nd favourite colour.

Now I did mean to knit a tension square but completely forgot. Because I was sizing down to a 26″ chest I studied the pattern and reduced stitches accordingly and started knitting away. It was very narrow, way too narrow! I then stopped and did a tension square and realised I was going to need a lot more stitches, I also found that knitting with size 4 rather than 4.5 needles gave the stocking stitch a much neater appearance. So I needed to order a size 4 60cm circular needle. Whilst I was waiting for my new needle I started on the sleeves which I knitted two at the same time on straight needles. This helped me sort out the issue of how many stitches I needed for the body as it was easy to see on the flat knitting how wide it was working out.

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Top knitting is the first attempt, you can see how small it is! Plus I’d made a mistake in the cable which I couldn’t live with.

 

When I got around to starting the body for the 3rd time – second time I only had done the rib before I thought that more stitches were needed – I found that following the stitch amounts for the size M actually gave me what I wanted.

I had to think carefully about the sleeve head shape and the armhole on the body, I just couldn’t follow the pattern as  ‘knit x amount of rows’ wouldn’t have worked out with the different yarn and smaller needles that I was using. The pattern had the measurements of the armhole depth so I followed that.

When casting off the neck the pattern advises to ‘cast off loosely’. Luckily I had my wits about me and remembered the stretchy bind off I needed when I knitted a pair of toe up socks. Jenny’s surprising stretchy bind off. In this method you wrap the yarn around the needle before each stitch, the extra stretch you get is really noticeable.

cast off edges (2160 x 1620)

The top sock shows the standard cast off method and the bottom sock shows the stretch cast off method

The body up to the armhole is knitted in the round on a circular needle. This is the first time I had done this and found knitting like this quite different from having straight needles. My only issue is when you need to start a new ball. I’m not sure of the best way of finishing off and starting. I made sure the join was at the side body and I when I came to sew in all the ends I knotted and wove the loose ends in. It looks OK but not perfect from the right side as you can tell that small area is just a bit thicker. I did Google this this but didn’t come up with any solutions. So I actually would prefer a side seam to finish the loose ends.

Anyway, the customer likes it. It’s better than I thought it would be, I was worried about the width and then about the length of the arms but it’s worked out fine. It doesn’t look it’s best being modelled with a royal blue netball dress.

I think I’ll make this later in the year for myself but will probably use a better quality yarn and will definitely do a tension square first. In fact I will never knit anything again without doing a tension square first!

What to knit next. At Christmas a friend bought me the Jamie’s family superfood cookbook and there is a picture of his wife Jools wearing a white jumper with a rainbow stripe across the chest and sleeves and I’m quite taken with it. Looking closely it seems as if the white area is stocking stitch and the stripes are purl, giving a different texture. It’s a basic crew neck pattern so I shall investigate and see what I can come up with.

As for sewing, I’m finding it hard to run sewing and knitting projects along side each other but I am slowly working on a shirt which if I try could be done by the end of the week.

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Girl’s ‘Renfrew Style’ Cowl Neck Tee

A few weeks back when I was sewing the orange striped Sewaholic Renfrew my 8 year daughter saw the fabric and expressed an interest. I had fab some of the single jersey fabric left over so I said I’d make her a top and to which she added ‘with that neck bit’.

girls renfrew.jpg

Girls Renfrew style top using the Girl Skater Dress pattern

 

For the pattern I used the Kitschy coo girl skater dress as a base. I’ve made two of these dresses for my daughter, long sleeved in this great Russian doll print and a red spotted short sleeve one. The pattern only goes up to age 7/8 which is the size I used to make the dresses. The width of the dresses are still fine but I did add an extra 1cm to the width and dropped the underarm by 1cm. The bodice pattern for the dress only goes to the waist so I needed to add length. With the sleeve pattern I needed to drop the underarm point to match the changes to the bodice and add length.

adjusting pattern

Pattern adjustments

 

For the cowl pattern piece I measured the front and back neck and added together. For the depth of the cowl I made it 2/3 of the adult pattern piece and followed the shaping of the bottom edge.

I used the same banding technique for the cuffs and hem as the adults style.

It’s a great little top and I’m amazed that I got the two garments out of 1.8mts of fabric!

My only issue is that it is more polo neck than cowl neck. I left the front neck line as the original girl skater dress but to get a better cowl I should have scooped out the front neck more. It could have been a little bit longer in the body but I was limited by the  amount of fabric available. So a few pattern adjustments and it should be spot on for next time.

Just to add…we will not be wearing our tops at the same time in the same place, I’d think she’d like to but it’s not going to be happening!

‘Dorothy’ For World Book Day

For World Book Day last Thursday my 8 year old chose to go as Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. In the end I gave myself two evenings to make up this outfit but luckily it was quite straightforward.

dorothy (1368 x 1824)

I started with a plain white tee shirt. I was hoping to use some narrow stretch lace for the blue trimming but I’d left it too late to order any online so I was left with the choice from my local fancy dress / haberdashery shop. I got some ric-rac braid to use around the cuffs but the neck line needed something stretchy. There was nothing suitable then it came to me, use a machine stitch in contrast thread. I chose one of the stretch stitches and stitched around the neck seam.

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The pinafore isn’t completely accurate. The real Dorothy dress had a back with straps cut on the bias which came across the front and buttoned at the waistband. Time wasn’t on my side so I made a basic pinafore but did cut the waistband on the bais to break up the gingham.

dorothy 2 (1368 x 1824)

It turned out fine and teacher was impressed with my sewing skills!

Nativity Costume

 My 4 year old son’s Reception class staged their Nativity play last week. Last year for carols he was a shepherd, quite easy to knock up with an old tee-shirt, scarf and tea towel on the head. This year he had the very important role of a soldier who has to tell Mary and Joseph that they had to go back to Bethlehem to be counted.

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Roman armour and helmet after spraying with bronze metallic spray paint

So a Roman soldier outfit was needed. I started with using a white tee shirt then made a white skirt, which I couldn’t call a skirt just in case he wouldn’t put it on so we referred to it as the ’tunic bottom’.

The armour was two pieces of cardboard held together at the shoulder with paper pins and tied together at the sides with elastic. The cape was a piece of red knit which I just overlocked the edges and attached to the armour with self-adhesive Velcro.

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Dress rehearsal at home before the bronze spray had arrived.

The sword was a cardboard shape with silver foil for the blade. The wrist bands were cut from the inner tube of kitchen roll.
For the helmet I googled ‘cardboard roman helmet’ and came up with this fantastic template.

http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Wearables/romanimperialhelmet/romanimperialhelmet.html

I cut it out in cardboard then fixed it together with paper pins. The paper pins were great as they had the look of studs.

For the finishing touch I ordered some bronze metallic spray from eBay. It nearly didn’t arrive in time and had to get the costume back after the dress rehearsal to apply it.

I know I’m biased but his costume was the best on show!

There has been more sewing this month. I’m currently working on a pair of Thread Theory Jutland pants for my husband. This is my first attempt at menswear. So far so good. I’ll post finished photos in the New Year.

Gingham pocket bags on the Jutland Pants

Gingham pocket bags on the Jutland Pants

Happy Christmas and many thanks for reading in 2015.

 

Girls Denim Skirt

After finishing the jeans I went straight into another denim project. My 7 year old daughter wanted a new denim skirt to replace the A line skirt I made over a year ago. This time I wanted to do a more classic style of denim skirt, especially now I know how to insert a fly zipper….

Girls denim skirt

Girls denim skirt

The fabric was left over from making the first skirt and was originally from Ditto Fabrics. I think it was 97% cotton 3% lycra and a slightly heavier weight than I used in my jeans.

I started by drafting the basic skirt block from the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern cutting for children’s wear using her individual measurements.

skirt front

I drew on the style lines, yoke, pockets etc following what I had learnt from the Craftsy course. I took the size of back pockets from a pair of current pair of jeans.

I found topstitching this skirt more successful that the jeans. I think this was because instead of using Guttermann topstitch thread I used Guttermann extra strong and it seemed to give me less problems.

skirt back

When I went to stock up on the topstitch thread I noticed the extra strong quality. It looks very similar in thickness. It comes in 100mt reels instead of 30mts and works out cheaper so I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t have any issues with tension and threading the machine needle was easy, it doesn’t seem to untwist like the topstitch thread.  Also because all was going so well, changing the thread to topstitch wasn’t a chore.  In my opinion it give the same look as the regular topstitch thread so in future I think I will chose this quality.

The fly zipper worked out ok. I made the under flap wide enough and long enough to cover the entire zipper inside and I was able to bar tack at the bottom edge this time. I’m no master yet on inserting a fly and still found it a stressful evening of sewing.  In fact I was so tense it made me feel sick by the time I’d finished – hobby sewing isn’t supposed to do that! But I know how to improve for the next fly zip, I’ll get it perfect one day!

front close up

As my daughter is still quite slight around the waist and hips I added buttonhole elastic into the back waistband. You can buy this in different widths from eBay or Amazon.

After sewing on the waistband I positioned the button holes for the elastic exits just to the front of each side seam. Then I sewed on a button just forward of the buttonhole.  I completed the waistband then threaded the elastic through. I secured the elastic at the centre back with a line of vertical stitching which would be hidden by a belt loop.

Adding the buttonhole and button for the elastic - remember sew the button on before finishing the waistband, it's much easier.

Adding the buttonhole and button for the elastic – remember sew the button on before finishing the waistband, it’s much easier.

Thread the elastic through the waistband casing and neaten the ends of the elastic with a small hem.

Thread the elastic through the waistband casing and neaten the ends of the elastic with a small hem.

I think the back pockets are a bit too low, I noticed this when sewing on but I had marked the position with the awl making holes so I couldn’t move up. There is also just enough stride room, in hindsight maybe I should have made slightly A line to allow for this.

Overall skirt is a great success and my daughter loves it and the old skirt has been sent to the charity shop.

Dolly Couture! Barbie Gets A New Outfit

My daughter has been asking me for ages to make her dollies some new clothes and I have been putting it off as I couldn’t face doing something so fiddly. She reminded me that one of the contestants in this years Sewing Bee  (Tamara) made dolls clothes for her children so I was beginning to feel a bit mean spirited.

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I used some of the John Lewis Lucienne Day fabric that I had left over from the capped sleeve dress.

Barbie’s figure posed some problems, her waist is far too narrow and she’s quite chesty.

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The skirt is just a rectangle which has elastic zig zagged to the top edge. It’s a  bit loose around the waist as it was impossible for me to get the elastic tight enough and still fit over her hips. The top started off as a rectangle with a back opening. I added darts to the side seam and back sections and a dart at the top of each bust to get the shaping.  I closed the back with a strip of iron on Velcro trimmed down a narrow width.

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I’m quite impressed with my efforts.

Whilst at the machine my daughter said to me “I thought you said you couldn’t make dolls clothes?”
And now I’ve done it once I’m sure she’ll have lots more plans.

The original design brief for the dress

The original design brief for the dress

Kitschy Coo Girl Skater Dress

This Kitschy Coo girl skater dress was cut out for Kids Clothes Week starting 9th April. It was never going to happen as I was away from the 8th for two weeks and it has been waiting to be sewn up since then. This is the second girl skater I have made, the first girl skater dress I made for KCW last October gets lots of wear. This time I chose the short sleeve version for summer.  One change I made was to give the front neck a deeper scoop. I also thought a lower neck would help with working out which was the front when putting it on – but it still gets put on back to front! I need to add a tag at the back.

Kitschy Coo Girl Skater Dress

Kitschy Coo Girl Skater Dress

My daughter who is 6 ½  has only grown upwards in the last 8 months so I cut the same as last time, size 5-6 for the width and 7-8 for the length.

I find the neck band the most challenging part of sewing knits but I’m getting better, I only had to unpick a small section of this one. I also machine tack it in first before sewing with the stretch stitch. For the neck band I didn’t use the pattern but followed -15% rule I picked up when I made my first tee from Maria of Denmark. Also I sew it on the round rather than leaving one shoulder open.

reasonably successful neck band....

reasonably successful neck band….

I have also just bought a Teflon foot for my machine, amazon £3.55. I use clear elastic for stabilising the shoulder seams and have varying degrees of success when stitching it in. I found the Teflon foot did help and prevented drag and for what it cost was worth it.

I finished the skirt hem with a twin needle. I’m finding this method a bit hit and miss. The finished hem is looking ok on this dress but I find getting the tension right is difficult.

The seam allowances are finished with a zig-zag and trimmed. I was a bit lazy and didn’t get the overlocker out. My machine is still only working as a 3 thread and I really need to get it fixed as it would make sewing up knitted garments so much quicker.

The red and pink polka dot fabric was from myfabrics.com. 95% cotton 5% spandex £9.00 per metre. It’s the same quality that I made this Renfrew top from and I bought it at the same time. I haven’t been impressed with the way the navy fabric has washed. It only took a few washes before it started to look faded. But then I have been washing it at 40 rather than the recommended 30 so I’ll take a bit more care with this dress.

The dress has been a hit and it has been likened to a strawberry which we took as a compliment 🙂

It does have a bit of a strawberry look about it!

It does have a bit of a strawberry look about it!