Category Archives: Homemade Presents

Knitting Baby Cardigans

I’ve recently got back into knitting, after making my hat I took a little break but then wanted to make all the things, like blankets and a Lauren Aston cardigan but I figured I couldn’t really justify buying yarn for new projects when I had a whole box full of yarn I’d had for years sitting there. I decided I needed to use a big chunk of what I already had before I was ‘allowed’ to buy new things (because once I learned to sew my knitting enthusiasm waned for years and I feared it would again, but with a very expensive stash sitting there!). I had a bunch of individual balls of acrylics so I thought ‘what better to make than baby cardigans for my 2 friends, one of which has had his son and the other is expecting later this month’? The pattern is one I’ve had for ages and now can’t remember where it came from but it’s so satisfying and quick to make – especially by the 6th time through!

So Ta Da!

I think this last one might be my favourite! Also they ended up a slight range of sizes because the yarns were slightly different weights I think – and I also think my tension is not very consistent. But this is good because then hopefully they will see the babies through a good few months, and maybe they’ll stretch and last even longer, who knows?!

My knitting enthusiasm is not waning yet – I made these cardigans between March and April – and I’m now knitting myself a jumper, which is taking shape considerably faster than the 4 years it took me to finish the last jumper I made for myself!

Some Homemade Presents

I know it’s February and maybe a little late to be sharing some homemade Christmas presents, but I actually sent these off in January so it’s not that late really!

My uni friends and I usually get together for a second Christmas (Christmas 2) in January or February of each year – though sadly for obviously plague-related reasons we haven’t been able to this year. I think it’s over 10 years we’ve been doing Christmas 2 but hopefully we’ll be able to get together next year.

Anyway to start with we all bought little presents for each other – there are 8 adults and 2 children usually in attendance so the presents got a bit much and we switched to secret santa. We thought about still doing that this year and did a secret santa charity donation instead of actual presents (where you donate to the charity the person you picked has chosen) but we girls in the group decided to exchange little things anyway to cheer each other up – but with the budget of free!

So enter trying to thing of things to make from stuff already in my stash – which is vastly depleted because of sewing all the things last year!

I decided to make them each some reusable make-up pads as I love mine so much! I used 2 different jerseys for the back to make them specific to the person.

I then crocheted a bag to keep them in – which doubles up as a bag you can wash them in so they don’t clog up your washing machine!

And then I made us each (I made one for myself too while I was making them) a sleep mask as I find it much easier to get to sleep, if I’m having trouble drifting off, if I’m wearing a sleep mask.

I also included some books from my collection for each of my friends to make the gift a bit more substantial – I’ve felt a desire to get rid of lots of stuff since being in lockdown for so much of the year. Maybe you just look around your house more when you’re in it for so much?! I found myself looking at my bookcases going ‘why do I still have that’ so I had a massive clear out and passed things I thought they would like to my friends – win win!

 

 

2 Pink Mini Chestnut Tops

I didn’t end up making any Christmas presents for actual Christmas, but my uni friends and I always get together in January for ‘Christmas 2’ (which I originally suggested when I knitted 2 cushions for my 2 best friends and I knew I wouldn’t get them finished in time so I suggested meeting up in January to give myself a couple of extra weeks!) and then CocoWawa Crafts released the Mini Chestnut pattern. I had already bought the adult version for myself and then thought the mini version would be perfect for my friend’s daughter (who I’ve made things for before, including the Norman wall hanging, felt allotment, travel matching game, and I knitted a baby cardigan when she was first born) who is now 6!! I checked with her mum, my friend, and she said she would probably like it and that her favourite colours are pink, teal and turquoise.

I got this lovely pink speckled jersey from Sew Me Sunshine. I ordered 1.5m because the pattern said 1.2m but I assume this is for the biggest size – I made the age 7 size (based on my friend’s recommendation of how big her daughter is) and I made 2 easily out of the 1.5m of fabric. The fabric was a little thinner than I thought but she can easily layer up the top with a cardigan over the top (which she did on Sunday) and it means she can still wear them when it’s a bit warmer.

I bought 2 colours of ribbon from my local fabric shop – in a matching pink and a contrasting teal. The teal picks up the colour of some of the specks in the jersey and I think it looks really nice.

I used my normal sewing machine to stitch the seams and then overlocked everything (except the cuffs as they were too small and I didn’t want to shred the sleeves at the last moment! I also didn’t overlock around the edge of the facing on the back as the overlocker did not like a single layer of this fabric! I’m glad I tested it on a scrap of fabric before putting the actual pieces through! I zig-zagged the raw edge, though it wasn’t totally necessary as jersey doesn’t fray.

I used some off-cuts from the ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams, which is an optional step in the instructions. I thought it would help the tops last as long as possible (hopefully until she grows out of them rather than they fall apart).

I used my twin needle to top-stitch all the bits that needed topstitching – the facing on the back (which I also understitched), the hem band and the cuffs. I love how a twin needle makes things look really professional – as does the overlocking I think, even if the tension is still not quite right.

   

Making these tops was really fun – because the clothes are small, they’re quick to make up and making 2 at the same time definitely saved some time! I had hoped to have mine made in time for Christmas 2 so we could match, but I didn’t get chance to make mine yet. It’s going to hopefully be my first make for myself of 2018. I’ve got some really lovely thick sweatshirting all cut out ready and I could definitely do with a warm top/jumper at the moment as it’s pretty cold in our flat!

 

 

Review of 2017

As this year approaches its end I (like many other sewists and bloggers) thought it would be fun to look back and see what I achieved sewing-wise.

The main part of my planning for this year had been my #2017MakeNine but I only managed to make 4 of the 9 patterns I had planned to make.

To slightly defend myself (against who?!) I did make 3 of the 4 patterns twice. (For all the makes below, click on the photo to be taken to the full blog post).

I made 2 Marianne Dresses and I love them both – both are from quite light weight jersey so they’re not the best for the cold weather we’ve been having in the UK recently.

I also make 2 Moneta dresses, though I don’t really wear the first one because I stretched out the neckline while making it.

I also make 2 Inari Tees, and I have a dress version cut out ready for next Summer – I didn’t get around to making it last Summer as it didn’t seem to last long enough!

The other make I managed from my Make Nine was my Roberts Collection dungaree dress. I did want to make the dungaree version as well but I didn’t get around to it.

I bought denim to make both pairs of jeans back in April but I didn’t quite get around to making them. I also have 2 fabrics to make the Carolyn Pyjamas from so I think I’ll bump them onto next year’s list too.

I also had joined the #SewMyStyle project and although I knew at the outset that I wasn’t going to make all 12 garments throughout the year, I only managed one – the Toaster Sweater, which I think was the pattern from January (though I’m pretty sure I made it late).

Although I didn’t make loads of the things I had planned at the beginning of the year, I did make quite a few things in the last 12 months.

I made a few presents and non-clothes, including 2 pyjama cases (a monkey and a penguin), a sack for work, a tailor’s ham and sausage (stuffed with fabric scraps), and a moomin embroidery (which helped me realise I actually quite enjoy embroidery).

I managed to refashion 3 garments: a simple tee refashion, my Christmas Party Dress and – the one I’m probably most proud of – I refashioned one of my dad’s suits into a suit for me.

In terms of sewing from scratch, this year I made:

  • 8 dresses
  • 1 pair of trousers and one pair of culottes
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 tops
  • 1 pair of shoes

The shoes were definitely a highlight! And after listening to Jasika’s episode of the Love to Sew Podcast, I feel inspired to make more shoes!

I am also proud of having made trousers for the first time! Shame I didn’t parley this into making more pairs of trousers as they are the thing that is really lacking in my wardrobe now.

These trousers are probably my most worn make of the year, but also getting honorable mentions are my stripey jersey dress which I’ve worn loads considering it was a late-in-the-year make.

I’ve also worn my grey-blue melilot shirt loads this year, so I definitely have more planned.

I feel like I can’t do a round up of the year without mentioning my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – ooh, I’ve just realised I made an extra pair of trousers than I listed above because my dress had trousers underneath! It was definitely one of my favourite makes from the year and it was fun to do some – very basic – drafting to alter the Emery dress to make the copy of the Emma Watson outfit I liked so much.

There were some other things that I mentioned I wanted to do in 2017, like make a quilt, re-upholster a chair and make a wall hanging. I did none of these things. I did, however, complete the Wardrobe Architect project and I do think this helped me to focus my sewing and fabric buying.

Obviously on a personal level, 2017 wasn’t the best – and 2016 sucked too – so here’s hoping 2018 isn’t quite so crap and I have no family sadnesses.

Did you meet your goals in 2017? Are you rolling some of them into 2018 if not? I will – I think some of my #2018MakeNine will be the ones I didn’t make in 2017!

Moomin Embroidery

Following on from the success of my Meme Cushion embroidery which I made for my Aunt last year, I decided to make her another embroidered gift for her birthday this year. She loves the Moomins and she is Moominmama and I am Snorkmaiden, so I decided to embroider the 2 of them, smiling at each other.


I tried to draw the moomins myself, but it turns out I’m not Tove Jansson. So I traced them off my computer screen, because it allowed me to resize the 2 separate pictures so they matched. Plus I flipped the paper as they were both facing the same way but I wanted them facing each other. I then pinned the paper to my fabric and used the lines to sew the outlines in black, using a back stitch.

I should really have used tracing paper – or certainly something thinner than printer paper – because it was not as easy as I had anticipated to remove the paper between the stitches. It took ages and needed my overlocker tweezers! You can see tiny bits of white left around the eyes.

The main stitch I used for the moomins was split stitch – which looks a lot like chain stitch when you’re using 2 strands of embroidery thread, as I was using. It was really lucky I discovered this stitch because my original idea was to fill them in with straight lines going back and forth, but I had started doing that and it looked a bit rubbish. Then we happened across a programme on BBC iPlayer about the history of British embroidery, and specifically about religious embroidery, where they demonstrated this split stitch as a way of filling in sections of embroidery, to make them look particularly full. So I tried this and it looked so much better than the previous thing I was doing.

The apron (and the other bits in other colours) is still filled in in the old style I was going to do all of it in. I thought the apron looked fine as it was and it had taken ages and I didn’t want to undo it and redo it.

The circles on the bottom of the apron were done with french knots, which I think I knew how to do at one point years ago, but I looked up how to do them on youtube. I love youtube – you can find how to do anything on youtube!

I’m really quite pleased with the swirls on the noses. I tried to make sure the direction of the stitches didn’t look odd compared to the shape of the moomins as I thought that would look weird.

My original plan had been to cover the back, but a) I ran out of time and b) I didn’t know how to do it! The back doesn’t look toooo messy, but I probably would have preferred it if I had covered it up.

I decided to leave this as a sort of display thing, and not to make it into something else. The only thing I could really think of to make it into apart from another cushion and I didn’t think giving cushions for 2 birthdays in a row would be the thing to do.

I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out, if I do say so myself! I think I might have been bitten by the embroidery bug which seems to be growing amongst sewists. I’ve no idea what I’m going to make next year…….

 

 

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