Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Me-Made-May '13

Who else is in?

'I, Ginny of Buttons and Bobbins, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item at least five days a week for the duration of May 2013.'

I took part in Me Made May last year, hosted by Zoe of "So, Zo... What do you know?" with a challenge to wear me-made items three days a week. Here is last year's pledge. I've upped my challenge to at least five days a week this month. This year I wear a lot more home sewn clothing, but I've never really kept a record of just how often I wear me-mades, so this month will hopefully be very useful in assessing my wardrobe and finding the gaps!

The plan is to write a weekly round-up post for my outfits, though any new makes might still get their own post for more detail of course. I already have a few new things I haven't got round to blogging yet, so expect to see some new stuff appearing over the next month!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Vintage Design Workshop: A Book Review

For my birthday this year my mum gave me a copy of Vintage Design Workshop: Knitting techniques for modern style, by Geraldine Warner. This book is a fairly new release, written by the owner of Skiff Vintage Knitting.

This book differs from many vintage knitting books in that it does not contain actual garment patterns, but rather detailed techniques about working with vintage patterns. The book is divided into two main sections, 'Updating Vintage Patterns' and 'Retro-styling Modern Patterns', which are in turn divided into smaller chapters as follows:

Updating Vintage Patterns:

1. Preparation. Includes assessing your pattern, swatching and tension, and taking measurements.

2. Substituting yarns. How to find suitable yarns, quantities and period-appropriate colours.

3. Adjusting vintage sizes. Adjusting widths, lengths, sleeves, shoulders and necklines, and working with stitch patterns.

Retro-styling Modern Patterns

4. Adjusting sizes. Work out how to get a vintage fit, including ease, shaping, darts and lengths.

5. Patterns For Vintage Elements. Basic patterns for pattern elements, including sleeves, neckline treatments, pleats, pockets and cuffs. This chapter also has instructions for stitch patterns, fair isle designs, embroidery and edgings.

6. Adding elements to patterns. Adding shoulder pads, buttons and finishing tips.

The back of the book had good lists of resources, a needle size conversion chart, glossaries, a thorough index and instructions on making knitters graph paper for charting!

This book is beautiful throughout. While there are no garment patterns in the book, there is a wealth of images of inspiring vintage patterns and advertisements, as well as reproduced garments.

The chapters dedicated to the more mathematical aspects, such as resizing and pattern adaptation are clear and concise, with written instructions and diagrams for clarity. The author also includes case-study style working examples to show how the numbers work.

The author uses one pattern as a continuous example throughout the book, this Bestway "Tea-Time Jumper". This gives a good visual example for many of the aspects covered in the book, particularly the effect of yarn choice.

The Patterns

The 'Elements' section with the patterns is a lovely addition in the book. The patterns are all written for double knitting weight yarn on 4mm needles. The sleeve types included are short set-in, short puff, short pleated cap, box top, and fitted long sleeves. The collars include peter pan, pointed and tied. There are instructions for various pleats and pockets, as well as cuff styles and hem treatments.

There are written instructions for nine decorative stitch patterns, and charted instructions for five fair isle designs. This is my favourite design: so cute!

This book is ideal for those of you who, like me, love the vintage styles but want or need to make a few changes. One issue many of us may be familiar with is sizing issues. Vintage patterns so often come in a single size, often in sizes smaller than you may need. A 34 or 36 inch bust seems to be most common in my collection, but that's no good for my 40 inch measurement! This book takes you through the necessary steps for making a pattern fit, and brings to light things you need to consider when making alterations that may not seem obvious until you run into trouble. For example, what would happen to the points on this jumper if you simply cast on more stitches without considering the stitch pattern?

I've already used this book to help with adapting the sleeves on my current knit from short to long sleeves, using the instructions on page 115.

All in all a highly recommended read for those who want to widen their knowledge in this area, and divert from following patterns to the letter. This book is great if you have the essential knitting skills but aren't sure how to go about making changes to patterns. I know I'll certainly be referring to it often as I rarely follow a pattern directly, mostly due to the sizing issues I already mentioned. This book opens up a world of opportunity for adapting and designing knitting patterns exactly as you'd like, and will be an invaluable resource for me.

Thanks Mum!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

FPF: Bestway Feather and Fan summer sweater

This week's free pattern is for this lovely late '50s short sleeved jumper by Bestway, in a sweet lacey feather and fan stitch pattern.

The pattern is in two sizes, for a 34 and 36 inch bust. It is worked in 4 ply yarn on old UK size 10 and 11 needles.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Gertie's Shirtwaist Dress

I finally got round to making up one of the patterns from Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing. I got this as soon as it was out and hadn't got round to making anything from it yet, until this last week. I'd had this fabric pinned as a shirtdress for a while, but didn't think I'd have enough for this particular pattern as the fabric requirements stated 3m of 60" width. Let me tell you that was WAY off! I had about 2.1m and managed to squeeze out everything except the back yoke lining and the pockets (which I wouldn't normally use the main fabric for anyway). I would think you could easily get this out of 2.5m or less, depending on the size you cut.

On to the details. As I said, I didn't cut the yoke lining- instead I cut a facing for the back neck, traced off the back yoke piece. Thanks to my dodgy cutting it ended up slightly too wide, so it now has a pleat stitched up the centre back of the facing. Never mind. No-one will ever know except you guys! 

I chose little black buttons with a swirl pattern. I can safely bet this design has been in production for at least a good twenty years- I found an identical one in my button tin that belonged to my nanna! I bought a good number of these in two sizes as they have a nice mid-century feel to them. I won't show you the buttonholes though. This fabric did NOT like doing buttonholes, in spite of being a nice crisp cotton that ought to have behaved itself. You just can't win sometimes.

The only alteration I made was to the width of the shoulders. Rather than simply take them in, I only took width off the back shoulder edge, then gathered the front in to add an extra detail there. While I like the visual effect it has, the extra width at the front means it slips off the shoulders here slightly and pulls, something I've only found out after wearing it all day! I'll probably go back and add some rows of shirring or gathering below the shoulder to help pull it in. Probably not though. I can rarely be bothered going back to fix little problems like that!

The brooch is one of my most recent purchases, a little 1950s bow. I think a few of the stones must be replacements, as there are several clear ones in mixed in with the rows of smokey grey toned ones. It's very pretty and easy to wear though.

All in all I'm pretty happy with this dress. My only misgiving is with the shirred back: I think it's a little unflattering on my erm... generous proportions back there. See the pooling fabric where the excess is released from the shirring? I don't know. I might try adding some tuck-darts on my next version and see how they work instead. Other than that I really love this dress! Now we just need the weather to let me wear them without the slip, tights and cardigans. We've had lovely sunshine this week, but there's still snow on the fells and a bite in the wind.

Oh, and hats off to my not yet three-year-old  for taking the photos!