Monthly Archives: February 2016

My new favourite fabric marker

While I’ve been sewing, I’ve built up a small collection of fabric marking tools, some that get used a lot, some hardly ever. But recently I discovered a surprising new favourite – a slither of soap!

Soap as a fabric marker

I got the tip from Kathy Ruddy in the Craftsy class One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants and only recently tried it, but love it already! The soap glides very easily over the fabric and you can easily create a thin but distinct line. You can also be confident that it will completely wash out.

As I’ve tried a few different methods for marking fabric, I thought I’d do a quick run through of how I find them to work with:

Fabric markers

Air erasable fabric pen

  • Use frequently
  • Pros: glides fairly easily over the fabric to create a smooth line
  • Cons: only one colour so not useful on darker fabrics; with some fabrics it can fade pretty quickly so you need to reapply and/or only use with projects that will be made in a short period of time; if high accuracy is required, the mark created may be too thick

Chalk pencils

  • Use frequently, but generally just for making small marks unless the fabric is very stable
  • Pros: good control over mark size, mark doesn’t fade or brush off through normal fabric handling
  • Cons: need to use reasonable pressure to make mark which can pull fabric out of shape

Clover Chaco line pen

  • Use occasionally
  • Pros: can make a good mark with light pressure, so does not distort the fabric
  • Cons: if you aren’t careful, the chalk can smudge or get a bit messy

Dressmakers carbon paper

  • Only used once or twice
  • Pros: creates a neat marking (dots rather than a line)
  • Cons: I found it a bit tedious to use; I also prefer making a line than the dots this created, especially if you are using fabric with a busy pattern as the dots could easily get lost

Soap slither

  • New, but expect to be frequent
  • Pros: easily glides over fabric; can create a thin line; easily washes out
  • Cons: wouldn’t work on light coloured fabrics unless I can find a dark coloured soap; not useful if you will still need the marking after pressing as it quickly faded under the steam

Thread (using a running stitch)

  • Use frequently
  • Pros: Won’t disappear or fade (I join the ends together to be sure that it won’t get pulled out accidentally); easy to remove
  • Cons: takes longer as I typically use one of the other methods to draw a line first and then stitch over it

Do you have a favourite fabric marker? Have you discovered any regular household objects that make good sewing accessories?

Viscose Colette Laurel

Can you believe I’ve been sewing for around two years and this is the first dress I’ve made?!

Colette Laurel front

There have been a couple of false starts in the past (with patterns from Simplicity and McCalls) where the scale of fitting issues I was facing made me take a break for my own sanity, but I never got back to them. This time however, I used the Colette Laurel which allowed me a little head start as from my previous Colette makes I had an idea of some of the adjustments I’d need to make (lengthening and small bust adjustment). Sure enough, the toile was nearly passable for wearing so I went straight to “proper” fabric with my second round of adjustments. I used a metre and a half of this navy blue viscose from Minerva Crafts so at £6 it wouldn’t be breaking the bank if it didn’t turn out great.

I have to say I’m very happy with the result! I think this is a great easy to wear style, suitable for both work and an evening out. I don’t wear dresses very much (in part due to difficultly finding ready to wear ones that fit my tall frame), but when I do I tend to feel very put together.

Colette Laurel

I did end up making quite a few changes to the pattern:

  • Lengthened both in the body and the skirt
  • Small bust adjustment
  • Broadened the shoulders
  • Added darts at the back neckline
  • Shortened the sleeves
  • Straightened the curve around the hips
  • Increased the depth of the back waist darts
  • Curved the centre back seam in at the waist

But it didn’t feel too onerous as some of them were done while sewing up – deepening the waist darts and adding the back neck darts. Since this fabric is more drapey than the old cotton bedding I used for the toile, the neck darts were especially needed to stop the dress sagging into a hunchback shape.

Also worth mentioning, these are my first set in sleeves! I took my time and hand basted the sleeves before sewing, which was totally worth it as there is not a pucker in sight.

Colette Laurel pocket

Now that I’ve successfully made a dress, with set in sleeves to boot, I feel ready to tackle a host of different pattern styles. But first up will be another Laurel – I want to maximise sewing enjoyment knowing that the fit will be wearable and there’s a plaid fabric that I’ve had my eye on for this style of dress for a little while…

First knitted socks

Hello there! I’ve got some more knitting to share with you today – my first pair of socks.

While out shopping a while ago I found myself drawn to the lovely selection of self patterning sock yarns available. I think I’ve been a little envious of numerous knitted socks that I’ve seen on the blogosphere, so went ahead and brought myself a ball of Regia Snowflake Ski 07708. The practical side of me was very happy to see that the yarn is machine washable up to 40 degrees (can’t be doing with hand washing socks)! Then I set about finding a suitable pattern…

self striping socks front

The a nice ribbed sock pattern by Glenna of Glenna Knits fit the bill nicely – I figured the ribbing would help make all the knitting on small needles a bit more interesting while not adding to the complexity (since this is my first pair after all) and it is kindly provided as a free pattern.

I treated myself to some bamboo 2.5mm double pointed needles (dpns) for this, which were great to work with. I’ve found that I am more comfortable using 5 dpns than the 4 assumed in the pattern which meant I had to concentrate a little more when working the heel and gusset as the pattern references needle number, but it wasn’t a big deal.

self striping socks back view

As I have big feet (that are totally in proportion with my tall frame!) I sized up the pattern by casting on 72 stitches instead of 64. I’ve also since realised that the choice of a ribbed pattern was a great move for my first pair of socks as it makes the fit pretty forgiving!

The stitch repeat in the heel is not one I’ve come across before and I was a little unsure how it would turn out, but all is fine and I guess the pattern helps to give the heel a bit of extra strength? As well as the totally new to me technique of creating the heel and gusset, I enjoyed getting a bit more practice of Kitchener stitch (aided by the free Craftsy class Ins & Outs of Grafting) to close up the toes. It is so satisfying to create the invisible join!

self striping socks side detail

The perfectionist in me of course wanted to knit up two identical socks, so I made sure to start the first sock at a point where there was a distinct colour change in the yarn that I could use again for the second one. Came out pretty well even if I do say so myself!

I’m very happy with these socks and love wearing them around the house keeping my feet warm in cold weather. Unfortunately I’ve found that the wool makes them too itchy to be comfortable wearing next to my skin (a problem I always have with wool), hence I’m usually wearing them over tights as in the pictures.

self striping socks side view

For my next pair I’ll be hunting out some cotton sock yarn so that I have the option of wearing them as regular socks as well as over tights. I’m finding the vast majority of sock yarn is a wool blend, especially the ones dyed to be self patterning, so if you know of any good cotton alternatives please let me know!