Named Esme Cardigan Pattern Review 


I downloaded and printed the Named Esme cardigan pattern a few months ago to make with some beautiful Fabworks double faced wool. I actually ended up buying two lots of this fabric as I didn’t have enough the first time I tried to cut it out. The #cosycardichallenge on Instagram motivated me and I finally got round to making it last week. From cutting to finishing the last stitch it took me about four hours. 

There are not many pattern pieces to stick together for the PDF version but you do have to trace off the sleeve and button band as they overlap the other pieces. 

I modified the pattern a bit to suit me. The original length was almost down to my ankles so I reduced the length by about 8 inches. I also decided not to add the cuff or buttons as I liked the look without them.

As the wool is double faced, I could have used either side for the cuffs and neckband. I decided I preferred to keep it one colour and just use the contrast for the pocket. It breaks up the block colour and adds a bit of interest. This did lead to a bit of brain gymnastics as I had to work out which was the right and wrong side for attaching the pockets. 

Next time I would also reduce the length in the top of the front bodice as well as the pockets are a little low for my liking and I definitely can’t reach to the bottom of them easily! They are lovely deep pockets though.


A word about the fabric – the above photo is a product shot from Fabworks mill. I met some friends at GBSB Live who said they never buy fabric online after disappointments, but I have found the sample service from Fabworks very good and the quality and value of their fabrics is amazing. I originally bought this fabric for £5 a metre during their Fabric of the Week offer but at £10 a metre it is still a bargain. I prewashed it on a wool setting on my machine and it came out perfect. It is also soft, non itchy and very sturdy with no sign of pilling. It was easy to sew and overlock as well. I have enough left to make a Finlayson sweater for my husband too, although I will use the navy side so we don’t end up twinning! 

All in all, I’m really pleased with this project and I’m sure it will get lots of use. Despite being a fairly simple sew it has the ‘did you make that?’ factor! It’s so useful and the type of garment that would be £££ in the shops. 

Rachel Top

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There’s been a bit of a blogging hiatus again! Ramadan was busy and then we had the usual end of term madness. You may have seen some of my makes over on Instagram but I will try and catch up here as I’ve made quite a few new things recently that I want to share.

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This is the Rachel top by See Kate Sew. I really liked the shape of the sleeves and the exposed zip at the back.

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Ruffled sleeves are a big trend this summer and they are everywhere at the moment! It was actually very easy to add the ruffle.

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I added a pink exposed zip which pops against the dark blue Art Gallery print fabric. This is a cotton voile from the Katarina Roccella collection.

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I wore it with some pink Biden Richmond trousers and an Inayah collection sleeveless crepe jacket. I also have quite a lot of aqua in my wardrobe so it coordinates well with other items. It is a little short for my preference and has a bit of a maternity look to it because of the gathers above the bust so I’m not sure I’ll make it again but I learned a lot doing this project and will use the skills again.

Why Muslim women should learn to sew

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I’ve been sewing on and off for about 10 years now and although I still consider myself an adventurous beginner I have found it to be a fulfilling and enjoyable creative process which has brought me a lot of pleasure. I have sewn my own clothes on occasion and many times for my children and feel I’m ready to take the next step and make more clothes for myself.

I’d like to share that process here as well as make it easier for other Muslim women to make their own clothes. I enjoyed watching Rumana‘s stellar performance on Great British Sewing Bee  – with some relief, as a friend applied on my behalf a few years ago and I didn’t make it past the interview stage! I don’t think I could have managed a lot of those challenges, especially in front of a camera. I also realised that there was a lot of interest in sewing and dressmaking, but that many people feel like it’s something that they won’t be able to do themselves.With the explosion of hijab blogging and modest fashion for Muslim women, I’ve often been interested but also feel that it taps into the disposable and commercial nature of fashion blogging – looking for the next thing to keep pulling in readers and continuing to perpetuate the myth of looking perfect and having endless clothes and accessories to wear, which most people can’t aspire to. In addition it occasionally doesn’t fit into the ethos of hijab and being less materialistic, but seems another way to display one’s sense of style. This is not by any means a criticism of all Muslim fashion bloggers, who I am often slightly intimidated by!

For myself, sewing is a creative pastime but is also very practical. I personally believe sewing is an essential life skill, in the sense of being able to hem a skirt or sew on buttons. In addition, there are a lot of other benefits, especially for Muslim women who feel they may have less choice on the high street (although many companies are remedying that – Inayah is my favourite). Here are some thoughts I had on the benefits:

  1. Choice – I hear a lot of people complaining about the length of sleeves,  lack of suitable ankle length skirts or dresses. For example, often the fabric and colour will be perfect but the neckline may be too low, or the dress may have short sleeves or a slit. By choosing to make your own clothes, the ball is in your court.
  2. Quality – By and large the quality of high street clothing is now quite poor compared to what it used to be. A lot of clothes in affordable shops are made of cheap synthetics which lose their shape, bobble or fade quickly. Your £15 could go on a beautiful organic cotton jersey rather than on a polyester blend t shirt.
  3. Ethical concerns – We should all be concerned about where our clothes come from. A friend of mine recently visited a clothing factory in Bangladesh run by a well respected organisation yet there were very young looking children laboriously embroidering clothes in silence. By making our own clothes, the labour involved is not a source of guilt, but a source of satisfaction.
  4. Cost – the cost of high street clothes is going up all the time, while the quality is decreasing. Sewing can be expensive or can save money depending on the fabric you buy, but there are many bargains to be had. I do believe that well made clothes are more equivalent to quality designer wear than the high street, without the price tag.
  5. It’s easy! – OK, haute couture is not easy to achieve but the majority of clothes most people will wear are simple to make. T-shirts, blouses, dresses and skirts are all achievable by beginners with the right pattern. There are also many free sewalongs which walk you through from beginning to end, making it even easier. You can also easily achieve much nicer finishes, such as French seams.
  6. Tailored to you – for me,  being shorter than your average European, shopping is often frustrating as sleeves and hems are too long, the waist is in the wrong place or pockets are too low for comfort. You can make clothes to fit you, rather than a standard size.
  7. Slow fashion – by making your own clothes, you appreciate the effort and work that went into them and treat them with more respect. While it’s not practical to assume you will make all your own clothes, throwaway fashion becomes less acceptable.

Convinced? I will be posting some patterns that are hijab friendly or easily adapted to be shortly. In the mean time, please use the hashtag #hijabisewist on Instagram or Twitter so we can find your posts!

 

Minimalist Crafting

I’ve had a busy time over the last few months with having the house redecorated and rethinking how to manage our rather cluttered home. Although I am definitely more magpie than minimalist, I have started to rethink what we keep and whether it has value in our home or not. For ages, I have tried to keep things organised with more storage but have realised that stuff expands to fill the space available! And then I read something which made complete sense – you can’t organise clutter.

Since then, I have eBayed, Freecycled, and given away a number of possessions but still have a long way to go with craft items. I have been reading the Miss Minimalist blog, however I think her philosophy is a little too extreme for me – I think of a home as a warm, comfortable place to come back to; I  like lots of books to flick through and be inspired by, colourful piles of yarn and fabric, pictures and photos that remind me of good memories. At the same time, with stashing comes guilt. Recently I’ve been occupied with a crawling (now walking) baby, going back to work, and decorating, and there has been little time to sew and knit (besides the small problem of the sewing machine being in the room the baby sleeps in).The boxes of yarn and fabric have become something I ‘should’ use up and another source of clutter. I also worry about finished objects becoming part of the problem too, I mean who needs the worry of shawl clutter on top of all the other stresses in life!

I went to the London Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday and feel inspired to get back to sewing, but at the same time I’d like to keep the stash in check and at a level I am comfortable with. I revisited the Slow Stashing article on Knitter’s Review and think it is a great way of making sure the stash is a ‘happy place’. I have decided on a few ground rules for now which should help me to keep my crafting more minimalist. 

1. Knit/sew from stash – sounds obvious, but it is so tempting to buy just the right print for your project instead of using something you already have. Sewing or knitting from stash is doubly gratifying – you’ve made something beautiful and cleared space in your house. I also find it wasteful to keep buying when I already have so much and have felt less and less tempted to splurge recently.  

2. Sell/give away what I don’t intend to use or feel uninspired by. What can’t be sold can always be given away – I have previously not wanted to part with things I’ve paid good money for, but there is a pleasure in giving away things to people who really appreciate them. I gave away a bundle of embroidery magazines to an old lady who shared them with a group of elderly/disabled people and she was so grateful and appreciative. 

3. Approach Pinterest/Flickr with caution – there is a lot of scope for inspiration, but also the temptation of ‘oh I can make that!’ and before you know it, you’ve bought the yarn/fabric and added to the monster stash! 

4. Reduce the number of crafts – I now have scrapbooking, knitting, and sewing supplies, as well as small amounts of jewellery making supplies, yarn dyes and beads. I don’t enjoy the fiddliness of jewellery making and beading so it is probably time to let those go to a good home. 

5. I have more patterns than I have time to make them. So it’s ok to let go of the ones that are so far down the queue that they are unlikely to ever get made. 

6. Have only 1 or 2 projects on the go at a time – this reduces the frustration of never getting anything finished, and reduces clutter as there are fewer half finished bits of fabric hanging around. It also minimises the chance of said bits of fabric getting lost and having to dig out the pattern and cut the piece out again. 

7. Have a dedicated space for crafting which is available when I am free. This is going to be in the living room which has now been divided into two areas. That way I can sew in the evenings or when the baby is asleep. 

8. Make things that can be used and appreciated by others. Sounds obvious, but I often like making shawls, and don’t know anyone who wears them so don’t feel I can give them as gifts! Mittens, scarves, children’s hats, sewn items like aprons, potholders, table runners, pillowcases, bags and pouches are all useful and more likely to be used. 

I think that’s it for now! I’d love to hear your ideas for minimalist crafting or at least keeping the stash under control!

Book Review : Labour of Love

I have recently purchased Lullaby Knits by Vibe Ulrike Sondergaard, after seeing Labour of Love at Loop last year. Labour of Love caught my eye with its beautiful cloth bound cover and vintage style photography, and most importantly, wonderful patterns.

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The patterns are mostly intermediate to advanced, although there are a few simpler patterns that an ambitious beginner could try.

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The pattern on the right is my favourite in the book – the textured yoke and rows of cabling are time consuming but will result in a stunning piece of work that will be treasured.

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The cardigan below is also beautiful, the lace pattern and edging are delicate but it still looks warm and practical. The little model is sweet too!

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This feather and fan jacket is also a pretty piece which would look lovely and work up quickly.

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There are several shawls in the book as well including this mohair scarf.

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Not all the patterns are to my taste however, such as the loopy waistcoat and a couple of the skirts, but overall this book represents amazing value for the quality of the designs and the presentation. It would be an ideal gift for a knitter with a little girl. My only reservation at the time was that the patterns were sized for 3-8 year old girls, so it would be a long time before my daughter would fit into anything! Lullaby Knits is therefore perfect for me at the moment as the patterns are for babies up to 2 years old.

Brand New Knitting Group in Penge

I am really excited about our brand new knitting group in Penge! The idea came about after I enquired about local groups, and although there are several in the vicinity (Bromley, Croydon, Crystal Palace), there were a few knitters in Penge who were interested in setting something up closer to home. I had recently looked at the Alexandra Nurseries website and thought it sounded like a lovely venue, and another Raveller kindly offered to go down and have a chat with Sarah who runs it.

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Alexandra Nurseries is a beautiful independent garden centre, gift shop and cafe in Penge

Thankfully, Sarah was enthusiastic about the idea so I visited myself soon after, and thought it was wonderful – beautiful vintage china, quirky gifts and of course, an amazing selection of plants! The upstairs space is a relaxed setting which will be great for informal knitting, tea-drinking and cake-eating.  We have decided to start off the group on Sunday mornings every fortnight and see what happens. So if you are a knitter, please join us for the first meeting this Sunday (17th March) at 10.15am! If you’d like to join the mailing list, please email se20knitters@gmail.com for updates.

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Even if you’re not a knitter, if you are in the area its a great place for a gift or a leisurely lunch.

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I love the furniture and vintage tins, and have my eye on these little packets of seeds below!

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As an aside, it’s really great to see so many new independent shops and cafes in Penge, as well as interesting events like the SE20 Craft Fair on 7th April. I would love to have been there but will unfortunately be away that week. It sounds really good, and is a 5 minute walk from me! I hope I can make the next one, and perhaps even have a stall there.

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New dress

I wanted to make Rosie a new baby dress as she outgrew her Itty Bitty Dress instantly. She only wore it once when she was three days old! I decided on making an infant peasant dress using this pattern, but she barely fit into that at six weeks, so I decided to enlarge the pattern on the printer and used that instead to make a 3-6 month size. I’m also thinking of buying the pattern as it is a really simple yet satisfying project!

I decided to use this beautiful print from the Andalusia range by Patty Young as it is girly without being pink. By a happy coincidence, her vest matched perfectly. 

It used about half a yard of fabric, but I had to sew two scraps together to make the second sleeve. I don’t think it’s too noticeable though. Using the overlocker made this project incredibly quick – it took 45 mins max!