About Joanne

I'm a web editor by day and a sewing enthusiast at beginner level by night. This is my first and only blog.

Um it’s another Coco… but it’s got polka dots on it!

Yeeees so I seem to only be making Cocos at the moment but shizzly can you blame me? It’s amazeballs!

Coco Polka

So after my Bedtime Coco and my Animal Print Coco I decided that whilst terribly comfy they weren’t giving me the more fitted look that I’ve been admiring on other Cocos around the blogosphere. So I decided on a whim to come two whole sizes down on the pattern and take about an inch from the length. Yikes. Bit of a spur of the moment decision there and I also just chopped straight into my pattern pieces. Oops. Oh well. I think the overall effect is definitely better from the front.

Coco Polka

However this rather fabulous knit from Walthamstow Market (where else?) is extremely stable and doesn’t have a lot of give, which effectively means that my boobs feel like I’ve strapped them down a bit. And I have a bit of tightness across the back of the dress – you can see it here.

Coco Polka back view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So whilst it doesn’t bother me with this dress I’d much rather perfect the fit so I can go on making Cocos, and I will DIE if I can’t make more, ya know what I’m sayin’? Literally DIE.

So I’ve fiddled with my pattern and with the help of printer paper and sellotape I’ve effectively added a half inch to the underarm and bust area, smoothing out the line to just above the waist. I’ve also added the same amount to the sleeve sides. I hope I’ve gone the right way about it – we shall see with my next Coco I guess!

Oh and here is a new addition which I haven’t done before – the cuff. Very easy to do I have to say – and such a lovely detail with a knit dress.

Coco Polka cuff

That’s my latest installment for you. Have you ever had a pattern you just keep making? I think the last pattern I got so into was the Colette Violet which I made four times, including one for my mum.

Bedtime Coco anyone?

Well I think we all know by now that I love Coco. I so enjoyed twirling about in my first animal print version – it was simply so comfortable – I thought ‘why leave Coco for daytime? Why not bring the little madam to bed too?’ And so I give you… Bedtime Coco.

Bedtime Coco

Shh. Don’t tell anyone – but Bedtime Coco is a bit of a slut. She didn’t care that I was so excited to get started I didn’t prewash my fabric. Or that I didn’t smooth it out properly before laying and cutting. She just lay back and said whatever. She didn’t mind when I double folded the fabric to squeeze her out of just under two metres. She barely murmured when I couldn’t be bothered pinning and just weighed her down with a biscuit tin and a candle. IT WAS ALL OVER IN LESS THAN TWO HOURS.

Bedtime Coco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fabric is a warm soft, practically fleecy knit from Walthamstow Market – I think it was just under £5 a metre which actually made it the most expensive fabric I bought that day. It’s perfect for snuggling up in .

Bedtime Coco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I’m in love with Bedtime Coco. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing each other again soon. In fact, I’ve just hooked up with her polka dot sister – more on that another time.

Bedtime Coco

 

A bit of a meh Airelle

Hello campers how are you all on this sunny but quixotic Sunday? We’ve had hailstones and chilly winds in between the sunshine so it was a case of grab yer camera phone and run outside while it’s dry (if not exactly warm) to take pictures of a top I finished last week but didn’t have time to photograph. And to be honest with you, I wasn’t that bothered about taking pics either as this is one of those makes that I know I won’t wear again. But let’s talk this through…       Airelle by StitchandWitter

Airelle by Deer and Doe is one of those patterns that I’ve lusted after for a while. Just look at these by Rachel and Made by 6 if you want to see how gorgeous it can be. I thought it would be the perfect blouse for me – bit preppy, bit sweet etc. Plus it has the cutest collar. After my sewing funk ended thanks to Coco I thought it would be the perfect next project. And it was, after a fashion. No fastenings or tricksy bits which was great. I graded from a 38 at the bust to a 40 at the waist and then back to a 38 at the hip and the sizing worked out pretty good. I used some stash fabric for both collar and blouse and bought some black satin piping in Walthamstow market for 60p a metre. So far so cheap!

Airelle by StitchandWitter

Yet this blouse isn’t right for me. It’s just… I don’t know… maybe draining me of colour or something? Or perhaps it’s the blousey nature of the sleeves. I’m not a huge fan of blousey sleeves and these feel pretty voluminous. On the whole it just feels a bit too billowy for my liking.

Airelle by StitchandWitter

Any suggestions as to what changes I could make, to make it worth another shot? I was wondering if maybe I could do a matching instead of contrast collar, perhaps reduce the sleeves a bit, even make a short-sleeved version perhaps. Maybe just a brighter colour will pep it right up?

Have you ever made something and known right as you finish the last stitch that you’ll probably never wear it in real life?

Coco: A sewing funk solver

Halle-bloody-lujah. My sewing hiatus has come to an abrupt but extremely welcome end, thanks to the power, nay, the glory, of Coco, the latest pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

Coco dress pattern

Do you like the crazy fabric? I loves me an animal print I do. This is some kind of bonkers snakeskin effect double knit from Tissu Fabrics at £6.99 a metre. As soon as I saw it I had to have it, bonkers or no.

Coco dress pattern

Coco is fantastic – a dream of a pattern for a sewing slattern like myself, or indeed a newbie looking for something simple but flattering. Psst – although I actually have an overlocker I have yet to read the instruction manual so I did this on my regular sewing machine using a stretch needle and a zigzag stitch.

I cut a size 3 straight from the pattern. Now I NEVER do that – I pretty much always trace off my size. But armed with the knowledge that a knit can be forgiving and that it was a simple front and back bodice with no closures or darts, I took a deep breath and cut straight in. The fit was dang near perfect thank goodness. All I did was take up the hem by an inch or so more than the recommended 2 cms.

In all, this dress took me about three hours from start to finish. That’s including cutting the pattern and the fabric. What a win! The only tricksy bit was sewing through four layers of knit around the funnel neck. My needle bent, then snapped and whizzed past my eye. Intense sewing, dudes.

I can’t recommend this pattern enough if you’re looking for a tasty nutritious sewing snack. I’ll be making more Cocos soon. Cheers Tilly, for pulling me out of this sewing stupor I’ve been rolling around in!

Coco dress pattern

Tilly’s done a big ol’ sewalong on her site for the Coco so if you’ve not made it yet there’s plenty of information and detail to help you along. Oh and there’s a Coco party happening on Friday 21st March. I may even make another one for that!

Ripple me this

No, there’s been no sewing going on in these parts. And precious little knitting too. It’s all about crochet my dears!

Ripple blanket

I’ve revisited my first woolly hooky love in recent days by starting a lovely ripple blanket using up scraps of wool left over from this project and these projects and whatever else I can find. It’s for general purposes (in other words – it’s MINE, gerroff baby, gerroff husband and gerroff cats). It’s the width of a double bed so it’ll take a while…

It’s so relaxing sitting of an evening with this on my lap, hooking away. Terribly easy but terribly yarn-hungry. Oof – it gobbles up £5 balls of wool quicker than you can say ‘another Hob Nob dearie?’

To those who were wondering if I ever finished the Baby Sophisticate cardigan – yes I did and it’s been worn countless times now. Wish I had a pic of it in action but this will have to do.

Baby Sophisticate

It was fairly straightforward. Used vintage buttons I think I picked up in a second hand shop in Norwich – I love that metrosexual shot of pink in a boy’s cardigan (let’s ignore that they’re a bit leany to the left – dunno what happened there but it’s not obvious when on!). My boy can rock colour you know. He’s got yellow trousers and everything. He gets it from his dad who wore pink shoes on our first date. Make of that what you will.

In sewing news… eurgh. I just can’t get round the lack of time and space thing. I’m trying, really.. I’m often to be found sadly pawing through my patterns and fabrics but I don’t take it further. It’s just getting over that hurdle… any tips on making a return to the needle? I’m just about to watch the Great British Sewing Bee on iPlayer so maybe that will galvanise me into action! I tell you what else has got me excited – Tilly’s brand new pattern! Check out Coco – she’s a proper little madam.

A suitable cardigan?

So I think I’ve found my next project, knitting wise. Isn’t this adorable?

Armande

It’s another Andi Satterlund pattern which suits me just fine as I so enjoyed making the Miette. Andi writes of her new design, “After binge watching Island at War followed by a bunch of Joan Hickson Miss Marple episodes, I decided that I needed a long, cozy, casual, retro sweater. Big pockets and a collar were mandatory, and what I came up with, Armande, is a delightful 40s- and 50s-inspired mishmash of a cardigan.”

And just like the Miette, it’s free! I’m thinking a rich red or a moss green. Though I love this mustard too. I’ll get to it after I finish knitting up a baby cardigan for number one son. It’s the Baby Sophisticate Cardigan by Linden Down. Here’s what it should look like (if I do it right).

Baby Sophisticate Cardigan Linden Down

Cute, huh? What’s on your needles? Or your sewing table for that matter!

Oh and can I just give a shout out to Jennifer who won the giveaway for the Georgia dress a couple of weeks ago. Jennifer – get in touch!

Completed: A winter Miette

Miette

Knitting. Incredibly calming, hypnotic and fulfilling. Simply check out Karen’s post and the wonderful comments on the pleasures of knitting for more lovely thoughts on its benefits.

Knitting. Scary, frustrating, a lot of WTF and ‘awh jaysus I’ve done this bit wrong but I don’t know what I did wrong and now I’ve got to rip out hours of work and start again waaaah’.

Welcome to my first ever knitted garment! It’s the Miette by Andi Satterlund, a free pattern no less. As a new knitter (let’s disregard the knitted ‘ribbons’ I used to make and wear in my hair until EB from primary school scoffed at me one day while we were sitting up a tree. I was GUTTED I tell you) I had plenty of both reactions to this project. I’ve already described having to rip back about 40 or so rows which was pretty annoying but not heartbreaking but from there on in it was pretty much plain sailing.

Miette2

There are mistakes I know. I think using a K2, P2 ribbing technique for the neckline instead of the recommended ktbl2, ptbl2 let it down a bit but I found the latter completely impossible to do. The neckline also seems a little wide to me but maybe just because I’m not used to this deep neckline in a cardigan. I like my knits up round my lugs if ya know what I’m saying. There’s a slight bagginess at the front where the sleeves meet the chest but hey, there’s room to flail.

The wool also isn’t great. I think it was some cut price shit from Hobbycraft or something. I’ve still got two huuuuge balls of it left. It’s really thick and itchy so I’m wearing a thermal vest under it. Yes. A thermal vest. What? Don’t you? You’re missing out mate. Because the yarn is so fluffy I think you also lose some definition on the lace work around the edges. But this is all ok. BECAUSE I KNITTED THIS! Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I can do all the buttons up, but I prefer it half open for some reason.

Miette3

Half of me wants to do another Miette straight away in a less fluffy bright coloured yarn. The other half wants to try another style of cardigan. I’m thinking sweet and preppy, ideally with a higher neckline and suitable for a beginner. Is that a tall order? If you have any recommendations do shout!

And the winner is…

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I do apologise my friends, I’ve been terribly tardy in choosing and announcing the winner of this fabulous competition. I got it into my head it finished yesterday instead of a week ago. Oops! So without further ado, our lucky winner is… Jennifer!

”Now if I made the Georgia dress up as soon as it arrived, it would be in the heart of a very cold, windy and just possibly snowy Chicago winter. That means the dress will be worn for a festive gathering of friends, at home. The evening would feature “the Georgia”, (with me in it), champagne & salmon as starters, pork loin and salad as the main dishes with burgundy, followed by a ridiculously wicked dessert and port…”

Well Jennifer that just sounds divine. I do hope I can get the dress to you before the snow sets in. I love the idea of Georgia in Chicago…

Send your details to me at  stitchandwitter@gmail.com and I’ll get it to you.

Thanks to all who entered!

A Christmas giveaway

Dear friends, there has been little sewing round these parts lately. I can blame most of my inactivity on this:

Miette in progress

Yes the Miette cardigan is almost there and the chocolates are almost gone. It’s pretty much the first thing I’ve knitted since school so it’s slooow going but we’re gradually getting there. I’ve had to rip it back once already (from row 45 so whilst a little soul destroying it didn’t out-and-out kill me) because as a totally novice knitter I don’t actually know how to fix my mistakes. Isn’t this the worst? To say the least? Even more, I don’t actually know what sort of mistakes I could make, never mind how to fix them. I don’t really know what a dropped stitch looks like, or whether I’m knitting a particularly fiddly stitch the right way. If it wasn’t for Youtube I’d have given up weeks ago. Isn’t YouTube amazing? I’ve also been following the knitalong that Today’s Agenda staged back in 2012. It’s ace although not necessarily aimed at a total beginner so there are a few gaps that Youtube fills for me – like picking up stitches for the sleeves.

I’ve started with the 34 bust size and not made any adjustments – like how would I even begin to do that? – except that when it came to the ribbing at the bottom I gave up on the ktbl2, ptbl2 malarkey after three failed attempts and resorted to a simple k2, p2 affair. My stitches were getting so twisted and hard to knit I must have been doing something wrong but I didn’t know what. I’ll do the same for the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeves too.

Anyway – yakking on and on about knitting JoJo, where’s the goddamn giveaway I hear you say!

So a while back I got an email from the scrumptious By Hand London gals asking if I’d like a copy of their gorgeous new pattern – the Georgia Dress. Featuring fitted cups, a panelled skirt and some knockout strap variations, the hemline can be raised or lowered depending on your particular fetish.

Georgia Dress

Isn’t it darling? So sexy and glamorous. In fact, too sexy and glamorous for me. This dress would be made up, twirled about in and loved for an hour and then it would languish in the back of my wardrobe feeling unloved for ever. I have nowhere to wear it! I have nothing to go to! This isn’t self-pity – this is my practical side coming out. Hear my brusque no-nonsense nannying tone? Wise up, Joanne – you ain’t never gonna wear this baby to the ball. So… because I’m a kind, loving sort, I told the By Hand London ladies just this very thing, but added that if they were kind enough to shake their diamante-encrusted wands and send the Georgia my way, I would become your very own fairy godmother and offer it up to you guys. And because Elisalex and the gang are the nicest ladies in the sewing business, no I’m not one bit biased that is FACT, here it is! Cinderellas – you SHALL go to the ball (cue some sparkly noises).

Georgia dress pattern

The giveaway is open to all and sundry across the globe and will close at midnight on the 30th of November GMT. Any entries after that time will turn into pumpkins. I will get it posted straight away so that you might even have time to knock it up for your Christmas party! All you have to do is comment here telling me what event you will wear this dress to. Make it special, exciting, daring, raunchy. Give me cheap vicarious thrills why doncha? Winner will be selected at random.

And we’ll all live happily ever after.

Finished: Anna dress, part 1…

Anna dress

Hooray – I finished a dress for the summer just as a storm hit the UK. Doh, never mind. It was always going to be a little stepping stone of a dress in any case. But tis finished and I am fairly happy with it.

This is the Anna dress from By Hand London – if you haven’t heard of them already then you must be living under at least three rocks. If you have, then you’ll know their patterns are the latest craze amongst us stitchers, and with good reason. They’ve got a unique and refreshing style with an urban twist which you can dial up or down as you wish.

IMG_5422

This is a wearable muslin  – I wanted to test the fit before I plunged my rotary cutter into some glorious fabric from Liberty which I’ve earmarked for a final Anna. In the end there was some adjustment – the inevitable gaping back had to be dealt with and I used Ginger Makes’ great tutorial for this as well as By Hand London’s tip (during the Anna Sewalong) for placing the top of the zipper in a few more centimetres in than normal when inserting. I still find the back a bit gapey though so I’ve taken more width out of the back bodice for the next version. I’ve also taken some length out of the v neck as I think there’s a bit too much in this version, using a similar method of slashing and overlapping.

IMG_5425

I’m really tempted to try the boat neck version next time, along with the three quarter length sleeves as well as a full lining. If that all goes to plan and looks good then the Liberty fabric is up next! Here’s a sneaky peek of the Tana Lawn I’ve got…

Liberty Tana Lawn

See the dancing hipsters with the beards? Awesome yes? Love this fabric. It’s called Tiny Dancer which makes me hum Private Dancer by Tina Turner to myself every single time I look at it. You can’t beat fabric that makes you sing, eh?

In my previous post I mentioned I’d done some really STUPID things during the construction of this dress. These included, in no particular order, sewing facings the wrong way round, sewing dress panels the wrong way round, melting some of the fabric with an iron and having to patch it up with one of those little iron on patches and allowing a cat with a shitty bum to sit on the fabric. Tell me, what stupid things have you done recently in sewing? Can you beat the shitty bum scenario?

Oh yah – and I cut off all my hair! Apologies for the poor hairdressing skillz above but it is really very nice when I bother to do it properly. And it’s so refreshing not having to wrestle with long locks every morning, not to mention having little yoghurty hands pulling on my plaits. So nice to have a change.