Miette skirt

I think I’ve found an new favourite skirt pattern!  I know, I know – I say that every time.  But I mean it every time!  This time, I’m talking about Miette, from Tilly and the Buttons.  I love it!

This skirt was an absolute pleasure to sew!  It all went together very easily in one afternoon 🙂  I loved (loved, loved!) that there were no fiddly bits, like zips or buttonholes to grapple with – definitely a great pattern for a beginner.  It’s a wrap skirt – don’t worry, there’s no danger of flashing anyone, or at least, I haven’t done it yet…  It’s secured at the front with a bow with the help of a handy opening on the right side of the waistband, with the wrap at the back which I thought was quite unusual.  Unusual in a good way 🙂  I wondered whether the tie would be secure enough, but it’s been absolutely fine.  I’ve never been in danger of losing my skirt (imagine!).  If anyone has any tips on how to tie a nice bow instead of this clumsy thing I’ve come up with that’d be great!  I made the version with pockets (who wouldn’t?!), and never one to miss an opportunity to add a nautical touch I faced them with a contrasting anchor fabric from my stash.  Other than that, the only change I made to the pattern was to shorten it, because I only have little legs.  Tilly’s instructions are always great so I never feel the need to deviate away from them.

I actually got the fabric for this from Plush Addict months ago.  It’s a cotton drill – I don’t think the one I got is listed anymore, but there are lots of colours (and patterns!) available.  I put off making it for a long while because I wasn’t always convinced I would like this skirt.  On me, I mean – I’ve always loved it on other people.  I’m quite hippy so I was worried the exaggerated A line of Miette would make my bum look big, that the bow would look unflattering right on the front of my tummy, or that the brilliantly ginormous pockets would add too much bulk on my belly.  I spent a great deal of time wondering whether I was wasting my time making it.  As it turns out, I’m really pleasantly surprised at how it looks.  I’m pleased because it would have been such a shame to have a perfectly pleasant sewing experience tainted.  I love the look of it and I’ve worn it a lot.  I’ll definitely make more 😀

P.S.  Should I be worried about how ghostly pale I look in that first photograph?  I think I’ve reached a stage of paleness where my skin just reflects sunlight!

Milla Mia Elk Cushion

I forget exactly where, but I picked up a Milla Mia Elk Cushion kit a few years ago.  I thought it would be a good project for trialing Fair Isle knitting, but it soon became clear that I was a bit out of my depth.  I’d never done Fair Isle knitting before and it turned out to be a bit more technical than I’d expected.  So, I booked myself onto a workshop at Woolaballoo, where we made these little bags.

I thought I’d done quite well!  I mean, my bag looked okay and my tension was alright.  Now, I don’t know what happened to between the workshop and me actually starting my cushion (which was a while, I’ll admit), but obviously everything I’d learned had managed to fall out of my brain.  I just could not get my Fair Isle to look right.  I’ll show you.

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Can you see the way the stitches are sitting on top of each other strangely and making little zigzags?  It was all lumpy and bumpy and wonky.  I re-started it about half a dozen times and tried adjusting my tension and using different sized needles, but it just wasn’t happening.  After consulting with all of my knitter friends, I finally realised what I was doing wrong.  It turned out to be something to do with the way I was carrying my yarn across the back.  One tiny adjustment and I finally had my ‘Eureka!’ moment.  On about attempt number eight and months after I’d started, I’d finally cracked it.  I still had some tension problems, but I was happy enough with it to carry on and hope for improvement as I went.  And after weaving in approximately six thousand ends (will I ever learn to weave them in as I go?!), here’s what I came up with!

I found that the further I went, the more I got used to the technique, which was great, after months of being convinced I would never be able to do it.  I figured out the best ways to stop my two yarns from getting horribly tangled.  By the end I was really quite enjoying it!

I made some changes to the back of the pattern.  I did stripes to line up with my front.  I knitted it in two halves so the cover would be removable, which it wasn’t in the original pattern – I want to be able to wash my cushion easily if I need to.  Plus, any excuse to add buttons to something!

Let me finish by telling you why I decided to try Fair Isle in the first place.  My Dad bought a book called Knitting Wildlife in 1989, which was published in partnership with the Worl Wildlife Foundation to raise money for endangered animals.  The book contains colour work knitting patterns (mostly jumpers) based on various endangered species.  In said book, there is a tiger jumper, modelled rather impressively by Imran Khan.  Dad has wanted this jumper since 1989.  That’s a long time.  My Dad is blind, so he can’t knit it himself, but he mentioned it to me a few years ago and I decided I’d learn Fair Isle and intarsia so I could make him this hideous jumper.  He’s now gifted the book to me.  Here’s a pic I snapped from the book so you can appreciate just how wild this jumper is.

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I mean, I’m not sure this jumper was ever fashionable, even in 1989, but Dad insists he doesn’t care whether it’s stylish or not.  So, here I am, still planning to make this mad jumper for him, 26 years after he first spotted it.  I might switch up the colours – I’m just not convinced about the different shades of cream and beige going on here. Honestly, if you get a chance to look through this book, please do.  Believe it or not, this is one of the nicest patterns in the book.  There are some utterly insane jumpers in there.  It was all for a brilliant cause though!

Cressida skirt

Now that I’ve refashioned a pair of denim shorts instead of making some from scratch, I have been able to use my leftover denim to sew a skirt 🙂

At a bit of a squeeze, I had just enough fabric left to make a Cressida Skirt from Jennifer Lauren Vintage, which I’ve wanted to make for a while.  To save on fabric, I used a navy polka dot fabric from my stash for the facings and pockets.  This is becoming a bit of a habit for me anyway, but on this occasion, I don’t think I would have had enough of my main fabric not to.

It was a pleasure to sew!  The instructions were brilliant – so easy to follow.  The only part I got a tad confused over was the button bands, but I just trusted the instructions to get me through it and they did.  I made things a little easier for myself by not using a contrasting thread to do all of the topstitching.  There’s topstitching all around the placket and waistband and I knew any wobbly bits would stick out like a sore thumb (wherever that saying comes from – do sore thumbs stick out?), so I just used a thread I knew would blend in with the fabric.  Maybe I’ll pluck up the courage to do some contrasting topstitching next time, as I think it would look nice.  I’d spent the entire project dreading lining up the buttons with the buttonholes, but that part turned out to be alright – I managed to line them up first time, which I’m hoping wasn’t beginner’s luck.  The scariest bit was gashing the buttonholes open, knowing that one false move would ruin the entire skirt!  I didn’t ruin it though – phew.  I think I placed the top buttonhole (the horizontal one) a little close to the edge – I felt like the top button looked like it was wandering to one side, so I added a hook and bar to try to keep them more in alignment.  Next time, I will make sure the horizontal buttonhole is  a bit further in.

Speaking of next time, I will definitely make more of these!  I love it – I love the style and the way it hangs, I think I could wear it all year round, it has lots of buttons, and let’s not forget the all-important pockets (for sweets!).  There’s a different style I could try at some point that has two rows of buttons down the front!

Wouldn’t this skirt look lovely with a top made from this marvellous Girl Charlee fabric?  I won two metres of this in a giveaway over at ‘So, Zo, What Do You Know?’ to celebrate the launch of Girl Charlee’s UK and Europe branch.  I’d like to say a big thank you to Zoe and Girl Charlee for running the giveaway and for picking me as the winner!  I love the pattern (dachshunds!) and the fabric feels lovely and soft.  I can’t wait to get stitching!  Girl Charlee specialise in knit fabrics, so you should definitely check out their website.  I think I’ll make a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top, but I should have enough left to make something else as well.  At least, I hope I will.  😀

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