Lil Dreamer Cardigan

This may be of less interest to those of you who only follow my blog for the sewing, but I have something that I’m very proud of to share! This is by far the largest and most complex knitting project that I have undertaken. It might not look like much, but I knit pretty slowly, and had to learn quite a few new techniques in the process of making this little cardigan.

The pattern for this cardigan comes from a West Yorkshire Spinners pattern book called Bo Peep Storybook. It is a really cute book of baby and child patterns, designed to be knitted with their Bo Peep luxury baby wool. I chose the ‘under-the-sea’ colourway from my local knitting shop, which I figured was a good gender neutral colour, without sticking to the traditional white or yellow!

This jumper has taken me almost 18 months to knit to completion. I think it might have taken longer if I didn’t realise that it needed finishing now, or it would be too small by the time I did! It has taught me a whole bunch of new skills, from different ways to make stitches, picking up stitches on an edge, and has improved my sewing up of knitting no end.

Putting Toby in it today to take some photos, I did feel really proud. A project that takes so long has you really invested in the process as much as the final result. Every time I finished a piece or section of the instructions I got another new boost of motivation to work my way through the next part. It actually has made me consider knitting something else, possibly even a jumper for myself, though I know that will be an even bigger process to complete.

The button band is not quite as per the instructions. I got a little confused over the counting of stitches as I cast off the buttonholes. I now know how it should have been done, but I’ve made it work and I’m happy. The buttons weren’t chosen until right at the very end, and I wanted something bright and jolly. The great thing with buttons though is that I can change them out for something different in the future if I want something a little more neutral. Toby seems to like fiddling with them, so I’m taking that as approval.

I did quite a bit of research about the best way to get the buttons attached, and decided on using small backing buttons on the inside. I’m hoping that is will help to distribute the load of doing up and undoing, and will help to protect the knitting itself.

I think the make of a good project is one which motivates you to learn something new, and to then to use the skills you have been developing on the next project. This one definitely did that, and Toby looks so cute wearing it too!


Taylor Trench- still a bit further to go!

I was hoping that by now my coat would be finished and ready to share, but I think it is good to be realistic and honest about how life and sewing don’t always neatly combine! If you looked at the blogs and Instagram accounts, you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone manages to make something new each week and for every special occasion, birthday present and new baby that they encounter. I know however, that that is not the reality, certainly not in my experience, so I think it is good to share the slower sewing, lack of progress, process orientated thinking too.

So what have I been up to in the last couple of weeks? My sewing time has taken a bit of a back seat for the last two weeks as I have been juggling going back to work with my life as a mum. It takes a lot more planning and organisation to get myself out ready for work, and Toby to nursery or to his Grans, so my evenings have consisted of a lot more packing lunches, bags of spare clothes and less sewing! By the time it is all done I don’t always have the energy for sewing.

I have managed to make some progress though, and it is still so satisfying seeing this coat come together. Each stage feels like a milestone and sitting down to sew even for a short time is so relaxing, especially when time to myself and for my hobbies has been in much shorter supply.

The outer shell of the coat is pretty much complete. It still needs buttons and buttonholes once the lining is in, but I can get a good feel for how it is going to look now. The hood also needs constructing separately, but that might be the last job I do because the hood is detachable so I can wear my coat without it until it is finished!

The lining is well underway now too. It does take quite a while sewing and preparing the quilted sections because they can’t really be pressed very well (the insulation melts), and I have been carefully clipping the insulation away from the seam allowances too to reduce bulk. I still need to sew and set in the sleeves, but once that is done, I will be ready to join the outer and the lining.

Hopefully this gives a better insight into the realities of sewing progress. It’s not always plain sailing and finished projects, but I will be all the more proud of my coat when it is complete for the time, energy and perseverance that it took.

Taylor Trench progress report 3- halfway there?

It feels so good to have made progress with a more complex project! I have made a lot of pretty easy knit garments in the last year or so and very few woven ones. I even found the cutting out each piece on a single layer strangely satisfying, when usually cutting out is something to be avoided.

I’ve made some good progress on the construction now. My first welt pockets since making Matt a waistcoat about two years ago are looking pretty good.

Some of the standalone pieces are complete too like the belt. This still needs some extra eyelets installing to give me the holes to tighten through, but I want to check where they need to go before I commit.

I have been taking my time with this. It’s actually quite easy to press and very well behaved to sew. I’m using a new needle, but otherwise no other special preparations. I’ve ended up with a double row of top stitching on my shoulder and sleeve tabs which I’m calling a ‘design choice’ because I got the seam allowance muddled and didn’t want to unpick as this fabric does leave holes where is was stitched. I decided instead to just stitch a second row instead.

I decided to baste the darts into the lining before stitching them. My lining is pretty bulky with the thinsulate. They still haven’t stitched perfectly, but I’m hoping that it is good enough.

I’ve reached about the halfway point I think now. The outer of my coat is pretty much complete and looking good. Now its all about the lining and finishing touches. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!