Knitting’s natural enemy…

Yep. Kitties.

So I’m working on this 1940s knitted tunic at the moment. Hiding it from the cat so she doesn’t assault it when I’m not looking is proving quite the challenge. She can sniff out wool anywhere in the house – and has figured out how to unzip my knitting bag.

She managed to get her paws on the work in progress yesterday morning. See exhibit A:

Kitty Attack

Yikes! Fortunately, no damage done to the actual knitting, but I’m really not looking forward to resolving the woolen nightmare that was formerly a lovely neat ball of wool. You win this round, Kitty…

In other (better) news, the pattern is really easy to work with and the Debbie Bliss 4-ply yarn knits up well with a lovely finish!

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Pesky pleats: working on New Look 6000 dress

I decided to tackle a few new skills in one go with the lovely New Look 6000 dress pattern. I had just ordered the pattern when I came across Scruffy Badger’s great slideshow of different projects using it.

I’ve been holding out on using the pattern until I found the right fabric to work it with, but eventually decided to just give it a lash using some mystery remnant I picked up weeks ago (think it’s a cotton and wool blend, quite lightweight). I’ve never worked with check before but I thought that this fabric would suit the pattern’s 60s vibe.

Cutting it out was not as difficult as I had anticipated, though I took a lot more time and care than usual. I followed the advice of the Colette sewing book in lining up the shoulder sections to match the check on the front and back panels (I guess we’ll find out later how well that panned out!).

Cutting New Look 6000

I’m working on version C, shown in red on the pattern cover, which involves some inventive pleating along one side. Without a single pleat under my belt, I found the instructions a bit vague (they’re along the lines of ‘go on and make the pleats already’) but I figured it out while pinning it together.

Pleats stitched

It gave a lovely smooth finish on the right side once the pleats were ironed into place:

Pleats finished

Next step: inset the zipper. Then I’ll be able to put the front and back panels together and crack on with the collar and cuffed sleeves (neither of which I’ve done before, so quite the steep learning curve with New Look 6000!)

Vintage knitting – working with 1940s patterns

Several years ago, I came across a lovely book on sale on Amazon called Knitting Fashions of the 1940s by Jane Waller. The book has a great selection of patterns, but I found it quite hard for a beginner knitter to use given the limited sizing ranges (a more seasoned knitter would likely make the necessary adjustments without much hassle). I recently picked it back up again and am determined to see at least one project through!

Jane Waller's lovely 1940s knitting pattern book.

Jane Waller’s lovely 1940s knitting pattern book.

I’ve started working on the ‘pull-on vest’ pattern – which is actually for men, but I thought it would make a very useful short-sleeved woolen tunic top to wear with leggings or skinny jeans. Crucially, though, what drew me to the pattern was the simplicity of the stitches involved (basically, knits and pearls). Phew…

I think the style of tunic also means that the fit doesn’t have to be spot-on:

The 'pull-on vest' pattern from Jane Waller's book.

The ‘pull-on vest’ pattern from Jane Waller’s book.

The only downside is that I’m working with a 4-ply wool and that stuff takes an age to knit up (I’m using a stone grey from the Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply range). After about a fortnight I’m almost finished the back section, though, and the front follows exactly the same pattern so I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll manage to get through it without too much stress (and before the end of the year!).

I’ll post details of the fit and finish (the pattern is presented in just one size) once I’ve completed it.

Sewing resources in Ireland

Fabric stores are few and far between in Ireland, limiting a sewer’s options for finding interesting and inspiring materials. With that in mind, I’m compiling a list of each one that I come across as a resource to come back to later when planning or executing different projects. I’ve spent more time as a sewer in Dublin than the rest of the country so I’ll start there:

Dublin

The Cloth Shop – lovely (though limited and quite pricey) range of fabrics at this South King Street shop. They stock a decent range of notions, especially zips and bias bindings, and lots of lovely Colette patterns. Their website is more of an intro to their business rather than a comprehensive resource for ordering from the store.

Fabric Select – impressive range of fabrics in a rather small shop on Parnell Street. Awkwardly, the prices aren’t marked on anything, which can mean a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the shop staff. They do have a good remnant bin under the stairs though which can be well worth a rummage (the prices tend to be marked on that stuff, alright). Website is pretty rudimentary, but they seem to be quite thorough with phone queries.

Floppy Fabrics – based in Booterstown, this shop focuses on quilting and home fabrics rather than dress fabrics. I haven’t been in store in person, but their website carries comprehensive listings of their stock.

Hickeys – the Stephen’s Green branch closed a few years back, leaving the Henry Street store as their sole Dublin city centre outlet. They also have branches in Galway and Limerick, but I’m not very familiar with them. The Henry Street shop is brilliant for notions as well as all manner of sewing and knitting tools. Their dress fabric range leaves a lot to be desired though, being (apparently) primarily aimed at home ec students and costume-makers. Their website is pretty abysmal.

Murphy Sheehy – Interesting range of fabrics at this small Castlemarket shop (set between the Powerscourt Centre and George’s Street Arcade). Their fabric turns over fairly regularly, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them now and again, and they have really good sales on whatever manages to last long enough in stock. Their Facebook page is marginally better than their website, given that it’s more regularly updated with new fabric arrivals. (Neither is a great reflection on the stock, though.)

Sligo

The Crafter’s Basket – I haven’t been in person yet, but they have a good online resource for sewing and knitting supplies. Their website is a bit clunky, but it’s by far the most comprehensive in terms of listing the store’s wares that I’ve come across in Ireland.

Galway

Hickeys – based in Galway city centre. They stock a good range of notions and a decent selection of wool and sewing and knitting patterns, but, as with the Henry St branch, their fabric selection is a tad grim.

This Blog

Hello! I started this blog to track my sewing progress as I learn new dressmaking techniques. I haven’t been able to find a good app or programme to help track sewing projects (most project planning apps don’t allow photos or other uploads without subscriptions) and I thought this might be a good way to do that. Having only recently started to sew my own clothes, I’m keen to develop my skills and try increasingly complex and more professionally finished garments. I’m setting myself a target of one new item per month, and will post details of the pattern selected, fabric used and any good tutorials or books that I turned to along the way for help in putting it all together. I’ll also include the occasional knitting project I manage to get stuck into (I’m a terribly slow knitter!).