Sunday, 31 August 2014

Big merino seed stitch scarf

It took six months to find the perfect light to photograph this scarf. From Belgium to Britain, Spain to Scandinavia - it's already well-travelled, and well-used. But perhaps I should have guessed from the beginning that its photographic home would be found in Sweden.

There is something rather Nordic about how simple yet stylish, and colourfully understated it is.  But I don't really think it's that. It's rather the absolute luminosity of this yarn; those dramatic, cool tones really glow. Just like the sun setting over the deep blue Baltic, the clear pink light glowing on the sand.  Those who were reading this time last year might recall a post-holiday knitting post full of enthusiasm for Scandinavia, and, well - one summer wasn't enough.  We love the landscapes and the way of life, and the cooler summer climes suit us far, far better than sweltering southern Europe. You just need to be prepared for those evenings when yes, the wind drops - and so do the temperatures.

What you need then is a huge, incredibly warm, soft and drapy merino wrap.

I've blogged about this scarf before, here, when I was half-way through - and really, I have nothing to add about the process of knitting it. It was simple and big; a perfect project to cart around on trips to the playground, or weekends away, and then to just plug on with while chatting (or while mindlessly thinking about nothing. Knitting is so great for that too, isn't it?) Towards the end I could hardly squeeze it into my knitting bag - so I made another, bigger one, and thus solved about the only problem of the whole project.

What was quite scary was the blocking.  I had recently read this post by the yarn harlot, who by the way is an extremely talented and hilarious writer as well as a wonderful knitter, and decided that I was going to Do Things Properly. What that post didn't say, though, is that getting an absolutely enormous scarf out of your bathtub and onto a big-enough flat surface, all without stretching it, is virtually impossible. Also, it takes DAYS to dry. Who knew??  In the end it actually went fine, and the scarf is indeed better for it - but it took me about a week to recover from the stress.

But that's all behind me now. As, sadly, is this year's Swedish holiday.  We walked the forests, then the coasts, met real Vikings, baked pie with the local farmer's apples, ate almost all our meals outdoors.

And when night fell, we cosied up by the wood stove with the next knitting project.  Of which more, soon!

Pattern & yarn both from Purl Soho: Worsted Twist Seed Stitch Scarf, and the yarn kit.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The joy of pockets: field trip cargo pants & raglan tee

It's been a while since we had some kid projects around here, hasn't it? Rest assured, I haven't been entirely neglecting them (the kid projects that is, not the kids themselves - they can be annoying, but in general I do try to keep them well fed and watered at least).  Today, I'm finally getting around to showing you the outfit I made T for his birthday in May.

Excuse the dirty floor

If you sew for kids at all I hope you've tried at least one Oliver & S pattern - they're absolute treasures, delightful to sew, and well worth the money. I always learn something new and valuable, and this was no exception. It's the Field Trip cargo pants and raglan tee. The tee is a pretty straightforward basic, the beauty of which is in the impeccable drafting and pocket detail. But for me the real winner of this project was the linen trousers - I had SO MUCH FUN making all those pockets!  The whole process of construction was a joy from start to finish, and the only thing I changed was to sew a double layer at the front knee panel, because boys. They go through knees like nobody's business. (There's a great flickr tute for doing that on this pattern, here).

Now the other thing about boys is, of course, pockets. Why is that? Part of my glee while sewing this up was knowing how into the pockets he'd be, and I wish I'd managed to video his reaction to them because it was hilarious. Instead, I've got the second best thing - a blow by blow demonstration of each one and exactly how much playmobil you can get in them. I didn't actually know they were full of playmobil until he started taking it out - I was killing myself laughing, which is why these photos are all at different angles.

Fig. 1: right side seam pocket.

Contains two policemen.

Fig. 2: right-hand cargo pocket.

Contains two knight on horses.

Fig. 3: left-hand cargo pocket.

Contains two foot soldiers.

Fig. 4: left side seam pocket.

Contains two more foot soldiers (he has quite a collection).

Fig. 5: the back pocket pièce de resistance.

Contain two hands.



Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Viscose knits: a sonnet

Ah viscose, beautiful viscose knits...  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

OK it won't actually be a sonnet (did you guess already?)  Let's call it an ode. I have been steadily falling in love with viscose knits this summer, and thought I'd show you just two of the ways - in my opinion two of the best ways - I wear them.

The items on display here are a Maria Denmark kimono tee (free pattern!) and a basic quarter-circle skirt with wide elastic at the waist (thank you, By Hand London circle skirt app!) Both very simple shapes and both excellent everyday clothing.

And both elevated beyond their basic-ness by the cool, fluid drape of the fabric. This, readers is why I love viscose knits. They hang wondrously, and they're incredibly, breathably fresh to wear. Lightweight but rarely transparent, they have excellent stretch recovery, and hold up ever so well. Honestly, I know about this: a black maxi skirt worn by the mother of small children generally comes in for a lot of accidental abuse.

This particular black maxi skirt is my replacement for an even-more-basic rectangular H&M maxi I had that died at the end of last summer: the stretch was gone, and it had always been a bit see-through.  No more cotton! I vowed. Only to find that all the black viscose had sold out everywhere in Brussels (I'm clearly not the only fan). I had to go to Antwerp, and once I'd finally got it, I grabbed enough to make a BIGGER skirt than the previous one - because, um, more fabric is always better?

See? Lots of fabric.

The tees, I've been living in - I made three. This one, a black one and hot pink. All viscose, and all easy to wear with almost anything.  They're long enough to cover your bum, which means they're ideal paired with leggings-as-trousers, and they're on just the right side of oversized to let the air circulate. That's the air coming through the lovely, breathable viscose...

Maybe I sound a little obsessed. It's been hot dammit!

Turns out it's quite hard to photograph the wide swish of a slinky maxi skirt. You have to do silly moves.

What do you think - are you a fan of viscose knits, too?  What's your favourite fabric?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Hudson pants

Hudson trousers just doesn't sound quite the same, does it?

So, I don't think these need much in the way of introduction! The first pattern from Kelli at True Bias, these stylish trackpants seem to have taken the sewing world by storm. Or my corner of it, at least - the corner full of women who've had children, wondered where their style went, and then wondered how the hell to get it back again while basically wearing pyjamas as much of the time as possible.

Guys. These are not even secret pyjamas. They're like stealth pyjamas. Nobody expects sweatpants as properly acceptable out-of-the-house-wear, but here they are - hidden in plain sight!

And so easy and satisfying to make, too!

This is some navy lightweight sweatshirting from the Maison Doree in Brussels - on sale at the bargainous price of € 2.50 a metre, which I was overjoyed about as I'd been mightily disappointed to miss it when the roll mysteriously disappeared somewhere in early spring. Turns out it had been removed and then deeply discounted later because there are some little holes in odd bits of the fabric - which I only found out after I got it home.  NOT OK people! Mark it as damaged even if you are selling it off cheap! Fortunately it wasn't too difficult to cut round them, but I'm of a mind to go in and mention it next time I'm there. We'll see.

The red drawstring cord idea came from seeing Heather's lovely neon contrast version (see it here), and also because red white and blue. To me there's something so USA about these! It must just be the name - I'm now itching to go to New York again. Without kids. With a big fabric budget. Might take some planning...

Final detail: the pocket contrast is just the fabric's reverse side.  Mmmmmm... pockets.

There will be more of these. I'm thinking a full-length plain black pair for autumn/winter. Or in fact several, then I need never wear anything else.

Have you made your own Hudson pants yet? If not, are you tempted?  I highly recommend :-)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer swimmers OMG OMG OMG!

Sun, sand...

Feet (mine)

... sea, surf....

Son and sister (also mine)

No prizes for guessing where this is going!


Let's play "Insert your favourite Bombshell blogger cliché here": OMG I made a swimming costume! OMG it totally wasn't as hard as I thought! OMG Heather Lou is a genius! OMG this is the simultaneously the most covered and most sexy I have felt in any swimwear ever and OMG it beats the pants off literally everything to be found in any shop anywhere!

Delete as appropriate: NO NOT DELETING ANYTHING IT's ALL TRUE.

Fully water tested at one temperature extreme in a hot tub (family holiday fun!) - and, at the other, in the North Sea.  Yes, I swam after we took these pictures.  It was... refreshing. The suit holds up really well when wet, despite the enormous amount of fabric it contains, and although I have to admit I was sceptical about the actual swim support it'd give, it was fine. Which is not insignificant - my small back-band and large cup bra-size combination means that I have never in my life been able to find a satisfactorily wearable bikini/swimsuit. And, while wearing this does not feel as 'solid' as wearing an actual bra, it's nonetheless feels pretty darn safe.  In turn rather impressive, as to achieve this I only made a couple of tiny adjustments to the pattern.  For those who're interested,  the lowdown is below.

But in the meantime.


  • Pattern: Bombshell duh, size 38 (I think. Maybe it was 40. Anyway: straight up, no FBA or grading between sizes).
  • Fabric outer: cotton/elastane from the Chien Vert. Fairly heavyweight for swim fabric - my only complaint about this suit is that because of this, it dries slowly. But, the stripes make me think of ice cream, which is good.
  • Fabric inner: cheap-as-chips matte lycra from Berger.
  • Swim elastic: I ordered some from Fabricland UK (bad website but great phone service) and it was really good quality. However, I am an idiot and didn't order enough. To compare, I got some more from Lijfgoed (in Holland). Sadly this was much flimsier and broke easily. Particularly if you want to stretch your elastic to prevent gaping, I wouldn't recommend it.

:: :: ::

What I did: tips for adding support if you too are blessed with large bosoms

Heather Lou mentions in the sewalong (here) a couple of ways to add support, one of which is to sew a strapless bra to the inside front at the side seams, hanging 'free' and next to your skin under both layers of the swimsuit itself.  However, I didn't want the extra layer of bra fabric, and I didn't want the bra itself to be visible - I wanted it hidden between the lining and outer. I also didn't want to go and buy a strapless bra specifically in order to cut it up (plus, I've never liked them anyway, so).

Attempts to just add a line of elastic under the bust quickly demonstrated that this would not keep the girls where they needed to be, so in the end I took the scissors to an old bra - in the process fully vindicating my hoarding of all old items of clothing, worn to death or not, in case they ever come in handy. IT WAS HANDY so take THAT obsessive-clear-outer husband!

Um, anyway - so I turned the suit inside out and sewed the bra's side elastic to the side seams (I'd already cut off the back straps). The middle of the bra was left hanging loose between the lining and the outer, but at the very end I stitched through the centre part when I sewed down the tab over the bust ruching. This keeps everything exactly in place where it needs to be.  For the bust ruching itself I had extended the gathering line by about an inch, to make sure the ruching ended up between my bosoms rather than sitting on top of them. And that was it! Here are some (badly lit, indoor) pics in case it's helpful.

Overall placement - I put the suit on and wriggled till I'd got it about right.

Sewed on at the side seams. After finishing the top edge, the bust-ruching tab holds everything in place at centre front.

Does that all make sense?? Comment or shoot me an email if not!  Hope it helps, fellow busty ones :-)

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