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Learning to crochet granny stripes at Toft.

Since learning how to knit recently, it seemed only polite to give crochet a go!

Several years ago, I kind of taught myself how to crochet using YouTube tutorials. I enjoyed it at the time, but over the years have let that hobby go and convinced myself that I have forgotten how to do it.

There is no reason why I couldn’t just go back to YouTube to brush up on my skills, but I decided to treat myself to a workshop at the Toft studio in Warwickshire, not far from where I live. The studio is set in a pretty rural location at the end of a quiet lane in Dunchurch, and the barn style decor is warm and inviting. When I arrived, there were several people knitting and chatting inside and others enjoying cake and coffee at the picnic benches outside – it was a lovely warm afternoon.

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Beckee was my tutor for this course and she was super lovely. Offering me a drink on arrival and making sure I had everything, I was surprised to see that there was only one other lady on the workshop with me. Whilst I believe that there was space on this workshop for more, I think that they do keep their workshop attendee numbers quite small to make sure that everybody is able to receive as much attention as they need, which is great.

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Such a great teaching area.

The granny stripe crochet workshop teaches you how to create the basic stitches of chain, double crochet and triple crochet. You are also shown how to understand crochet abbreviations and follow a chart.  Changing your yarn colour was also part of this workshop and was surprisingly simple. Becky was friendly and patient and helpfully guided us through each step by using a chunky yarn and larger hook so that we could see what she was doing.

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Coffee and delicious cake is provided halfway through the lesson and it was a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. The other lady that was learning with me was keen on amigurumi  (which I was surprised to hear is slightly different from regular crochet), and when she mentioned this, Beckee very helpfully shared with her some tips regarding stitching and stuffing the toys. The company hold free workshops to help sewing up and stuffing your toys on Fridays I think, which is impressive customer service. Several video tutorials are available on the website for those that aren’t local to the studio and I very much get the impression that this company are keen to provide you with as much support as you need following your purchase from them.

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The shop is beautifully displayed and very tempting. If I thought I had a problem wanting all the sewing patterns and new fabrics, then I can totally see a whole new yarn and yarn pattern obsession developing. Time to save up my pennies whilst deciding on a project that I can put my new found skills to use on. I am really loving the look of the animal kits – this bunny kit is so cute and I would love to give this a go one day, whilst this granny stripe blanket would be the perfect way to put my beginner skills to the test.

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Before leaving, I took the opportunity to visit the alpacas which had recently been sheared. How could you not love a face like this!

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The workshop price included a tote bag to take home your crochet sample in and I was really pleased that the yarn that I hadn’t used up during the afternoon was given to me to take home so that I could carry on. Such a good idea as I know if I learn something then I definitely need to keep repeating it or else I’m sure I will forget! Needless to say, as soon as dinner that evening was finished and cleared away, I started another sample again. I’m hooked! Ha!

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I’m so glad that I have discovered the joys of knitting and crochet. I feel these more ‘portable’ hobbies are such a lovely way to still be creative but without being tied away at your sewing machine.

Are you #teamknit or #teamcrochet ?

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

(Before I treat myself to a lovely kit from Toft, I decided that it might be a good idea to practice my stripes, so last night I found a free crochet blanket pattern online, and I’m giving it a go using some cheap yarn that won’t matter if I make a few mistakes. I’m currently about 6 or 7 rows in and I’m loving it)!

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The Out and About Dress from Sew Caroline

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I admit it, I cannot resist a blue floral dress fabric. But really, this fabric could not be ignored could it? It’s a medium weight stretch jersey knit with the most incredible bright orange and pink flowers. It’s hard to see the true beauty of the blue colour – but it’s somewhere between a navy and royal blue, so is really special. Currently at £4.99 per metre, it’s a bit of a bargain too!

This is The Out and About Dress from Sew Caroline Patterns and it is my latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. If you use this link you will be able to access my full review and all of the supplies that I used for it.

I’ll keep it brief today, as I always do with my Minerva Crafts blog posts, but do head on over to get all the details on how I love this dress, and also what I would do differently next time I make one.

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This dress is also another make ticked off my #2018makenine list, so I am pretty pleased about that too! This year I am trying to make nine items using nine independent pattern designers that I haven’t used before, and this dress is make no. 6 – let’s hope I can keep this up and tick them all off by the end of December.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity New Look 6533 babydoll dress pattern review.

I am so very lucky to have been gifted a couple of sewing patterns recently from Simplicity New Look and this is my review of the second. (the other review is for New Look 6449 and can be found here).  I first spotted this pattern last October during the #sewbrum meet up when a lady next to me won it as one of the prizes in the raffle. I quickly took a picture of it to remind me of the pattern number and when this opportunity came along recently I jumped at the chance to choose and sew a pattern that I have been interested in making for a little while now.

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So as you can see from the image, New Look 6533 is a babydoll dress or tunic, for knit fabrics, with different sleeve options and length choices. It also has a legging pattern included.

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I chose to make view D, but with a couple of small adjustments. I didn’t want the side slits so just went right ahead and sewed the side seams as a normal skirt. I also added my own in-seam pockets as this pattern does not include them. As usual I just used my favourite pocket piece from another pattern and measured where I wanted them to be placed, and added them at the time of sewing up the side seam as normal. I decided to reduce any risk of bulk by using a scrap of chiffon type silky fabric that I had in my stash. It has a geometric design, and thought it would be a fun pocket fabric for this make.

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I also didn’t want the hi/lo hem that this pattern features. So I simply cut 2 skirt front pieces (rather than use the longer skirt back piece) ensuring a regular even hem.

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I am so in love with the fabric that I used for this project. I’m quite keen to introduce more grey tones into my wardrobe and this pretty jersey has been in my stash for a few months now waiting for the perfect pattern! It’s a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee UK and has 5% spandex. I’ve had a quick look at their website to see if I can link it for you, and have found this gorgeous almond colourway . How pretty is this colour? – so tempting!! I’m not sure if the grey is still available, or maybe I have just missed it..

Take good care when choosing your size for this pattern. My finished garment measurements put me down as an XS size! ( which I would definitely not describe myself as – I am a UK size 12 ish). As you can see, the finished dress is still quite roomy, I probably would have sized down even more if I could, but I get that this relaxed fit is part of the babydoll style and I think it’s cute.

To complete the dress you need to add some clear elastic at the waist seam. (the skirt is already gathered before attaching to the bodice), and whilst I felt I definitely still needed this elastic, I wanted the bodice at the front to lie smooth and flat and didn’t want the elastic at the front to produce any gathers on the bodice, so I just added the elastic at the waist seam at the back of the dress as this seemed to be where is especially needed cinching in, and this worked for me.

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I have made several jersey dresses in a similar style to this, but this one is a little different in that the waist seam sits higher due to the babydoll style. I like the different options that there are on the pattern – the tunic style with slits and leggings may be something that I could try as this is different to what I would normally go for, and I also think the elastic cuffed long sleeves shown in view B are cute and I will definitely use these another time.

The pattern comes with your standard tissue pattern pieces and step-by-step instructions accompanied with black and white illustrations. It was nice and easy to make (although the clear elastic may require some care if you are new to this method), and it was a quick and rewarding project which is always a winner! You can definitely play around with the pattern as I have, adding pockets, adjusting the side slits and sleeves. Patch pocket would be cute on this dress too don’t you think? Maybe ruffles on the sleeves…

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I was happy with the neckline, it’s always a relief when these lay nice and flat, and as always I finished this off with the twin stretch needle, along with the sleeves and skirt hem.

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Thank you to Simplicity New Look for gifting me this pattern to review. I had great fun making it and it gave me the perfect opportunity to pair it with this wonderful fabric that I had been waiting to use for so long.

Take care. and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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McCalls M7313 Sewing Pattern Review

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I am so happy to share with you my latest make, McCalls M7313, which is a great little skater dress for knit fabrics.

Writing this blog has opened up some wonderful opportunities for me, and I am lucky enough to have been given this stunning fabric and sewing pattern by Lucy and the team at Sewessential.

Lucy, her husband and her Mother in Law, all work together to run this successful online sewing superstore, which started about 13 years ago. Over the years it has grown and not only does it offer you the most beautiful range of fabrics, it stocks the most enormous selection of sewing patterns. Furthermore, I was surprised to see a vast range of haberdashery and sewing gadgets and I was blown away by the choice of sewing machines and overlockers. For those interested I use a Janome sewing machine and overlocker.

Clearly it was going to take some time to choose a pattern and fabric that I wanted to work with, and it did! I knew that I wanted to make a jersey dress. I have loved making several versions of the Colette Patterns ‘Moneta’ Dress, and I adore a dress with a gathered waist, but I have wanted to make a slightly different type of jersey knit dress for a while now, just haven’t found the right pattern.

As soon as I noticed the McCalls M7313 I knew that this was the one! This skater style dress was exactly what I needed, I have never made this fit and flare style before and it looked like it could be ‘right up my street’. I was also very drawn towards this wonderful tropical jersey knit fabric, and thought they would be a perfect pairing. The fabric is lovely and wide which is always a bonus, you can purchase in 0.5 metre increments which is helpful,  and it is super soft, with a lovely drape.

The pattern is very versatile. It has different sleeve, neck and length variations, so there is something for everyone! I chose a scoop neck,  short sleeved version in the shorter length, but this dress would work very nicely in the Winter months with long sleeves and the high neck. Perfect!

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Throughout the make I used ball point pins, and a ball point needle and twin needle on my machine. It is important to use needles and pins with rounded tips to ensure they pierce through the fabric without damaging the individual fibres. I also used my sewing machine entirely for this project, proving that you don’t have to have an overlocker to work with knit fabrics!

The dress came together really quickly, and I love how it has turned out. I finished the neckline and sleeves using a twin needle as I think this gives you a really professional look with very little effort!

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The pattern instructions are clear and easy to follow as you would expect from a McCalls pattern, and it is suitable for beginners, so is lovely and straightforward. A small amount of 1/4″ elastic is needed to give the waistline a tiny bit of shape, but no zips, darts etc make this a pleasure to make. Aren’t dresses that you can just throw over your head the best!

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Such vibrant colours!

I can imagine this dress on a sunny day out worn with wedges and sunglasses, but would totally wear it on a cooler day with a denim jacket and ankle boots. That’s the British Summer weather covered!

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Pop on a belt to dress it up a little!

I have really enjoyed making this dress, and would like to thank all at Sewessential for the supplies. It will certainly be a dress I will wear all Summer and I already have plans for another one as I want it in all the colours!

Thank you for reading, have you made this dress? I would love to hear from you.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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McCall M7530 Sewing Pattern Review

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If you’re after a really quick and easy ‘throw over the head’ Summer dress project then read on…

I was very lucky to be given the choice of a couple of McCall sewing patterns recently as a prize from the lovely Kate and Rachel at The Fold Line. Thank you so much guys! If you haven’t already I would definitely take a look at their website. It’s a great place where all aspects of the sewing community are covered. New pattern releases, sewing news, meet-ups and pattern reviews and photos are available to browse through, and I would recommend signing up to their newsletters, they will certainly keep you on top of what’s happening in the sewing world!

One of my pattern choices was this very simple dress which has an elasticated waist. Probably not the most exciting design but my reasons for choosing it is that it is a style that I reach for on sunny days when I want to wear a dress but don’t want to look too formal. As you might expect there are several variations – sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved and maxi length.

I chose to use a fabric which I bought from Adam Ross Fabrics on a recent fabric meet-up with lots of sewing friends in Birmingham (#FMBHAM).  I think it is a polyester, and I love the colour, maybe not one that I would usually choose for a Summer dress, but I have so many florals in my wardrobe at the moment, it was good to have a change.

Cutting out and the dress construction was easy peasy, you could almost do it with your eyes closed! There are no darts, zips or buttons so this would be a perfect dress for an absolute beginner. Setting in the sleeves and the elasticated waist are the only challenges and these are very well explained by McCall’s with excellent written instructions and illustrations.

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The fit was good for me. Maybe the bodice of the dress was a little roomy, but I quite like this and it suits the design of the dress. Overall I feel it came up pretty true to size, often I end up taking more off the hem due to my height (or lack of it)! but this shows the true length of this skirt on a 5’2″ height. I did feel that it looked a little too plain on it’s own so added a belt and feel that this just gives it that little extra that I was looking for.

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I used one of these ‘elastic glides’ to help me thread my elastic at the waistband. So much quicker and easier than my previous method of using a safety pin attached to the end of the elastic!

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Obviously, I would have preferred the dress to have had pockets, you know me, so next time I will pop some in to the side seams of the skirt pieces, easy enough to do – I don’t know why I didn’t do it this time!

So overall, a very quick satisfying dress make, and I am pleased with the outcome. I will make more of these for the Summer as I know it is a style that I enjoy for everyday wear. I rather like the idea of the sleeveless maxi dress option … how cute would that be with flat sandals on a sunny day!

I do like using McCall patterns, I am always pleased with how they turn out.  I really enjoyed sewing this up, and I have other McCall’s that I am planning to make soon, so will tell you all about them when they are done!

If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in my thoughts on another McCall dress pattern, the M7381, and you can read about that here.

Hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on this pattern.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Grainline Hemlock Tee Pattern Review

It’s so cold here at the moment, I must admit that although I am a skirt and dress girl all the way, the temperature has forced me into my jeans and jumpers rather more than usual.

Bored with always wearing the same tops I decided to make a much overdue pattern that I have wanted to sew for ages. It’s the Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studios. Better still it’s absolutely free – the lovely guys at Grainline will kindly send you a free download if you sign up to receive the newsletters on their website here . It’s a cute slouchy long sleeved tee, one size fits all, designed to be worn loose and perfect for  drapey knit fabrics.

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The PDF printed out beautifully, lovely clear instructions, measurements, cutting layouts and tips for sewing with knits accompany the simple pattern pieces themselves. The pattern itself only consists of a front piece, a back piece, a sleeve and a neck band. Simple. I also had fun cutting this one out when I rediscovered a forgotten guillotine that my husband has in the office. I will definitely use this again when cutting out my PDF’s.

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Because of the slippery, stretchy nature of the jersey knit I was using I decided to use my rotary cutter and mat to cut out the pattern pieces. This is nice and quick and I love how neat the fabric cuts out using this technique. Also just to mention as this is a one size only pattern there is no pattern tracing to your size necessary- again a time saving winner!

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I found that using lots of pins to keep things in place helped me lots with this project. Jersey is notoriously stretchy and also the cut edges have a tendency to curl over a little so use as many pins as you can to help you keep things secure. I chose to use my ball  point pins so that there would be no damage to the fibres of the jersey.

This top was a dream to sew. So quick to make I couldn’t believe it. I did refer to the Grainline Studios tutorial before I started here and one thing in particular from this that I found helpful and used in my make were the tips regarding the neckband. I think I might have struggled if I hadn’t used the techniques recommended in this tutorial.

I used my overlocker/serger throughout this project. Again such a timesaver, and I love any excuse to use it! It coped with the jersey wonderfully. No stretching, nothing.

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To finish off the neck band, sleeves and bottom hem I used my fancy new twin needle (ball point) on my regular sewing machine. Again I was so pleased with the result, although I was a little unclear as to whether the twin line of stitching should sit below the neck band seam or whether to stitch is so that the twin lines of stitching ‘straddled’ the neck band seam. In the end I opted to sew just below the seam line and I’m happy with how neat and finished this makes the neck line look. I don’t think it would have mattered if I had chosen the other option either. Just a preference I guess. Any way this gives a really professional finish to your work.

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I do know that I will be sewing this top again for sure! The grey marl fabric that I used was only £2 from Stuarts Fabrics on Leicester Market, and what with the pattern being free this was a real bargain top!

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Love the relaxed fit and the dropped shoulders.

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Just to mention a couple of things that I found useful for this project:

  • Ball point pins
  • Gutermann polyester thread, great for knits
  • Ball point twin needle

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And before I go, here’s one for the cat lovers amongst you!img_1007

I love, love, love this top and can’t wait to make more. I would thoroughly recommend it to any beginner because of its simplicity and also how quickly it comes together.

I look forward to making the Scout Tee by Grainline Studios which I recently purchased but as this is a short sleeve I may wait until the weather warms up a bit. I must admit I like the look of the Moss skirt too – am definitely interested in sewing more Grainline projects soon!

Have you made the Hemlock Tee or any other Grainline patterns that you would recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts..

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x