best layer of the month # April

We’ve had a few weird eggs in the nesting boxes this month.  All laid by Miss Moneypenny:  several funny shapes, a couple with soft shells, and then this

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This isn’t an optical illusion due to perspective . . . it’s teeny tiny, hardly bigger than a quail’s egg, and only containing egg white.

Miss Moneypenny seems to be in fine fettle, but I reckon the odd egg-laying must be because she’s starting to get on in years.  Total egg count this month (not counting the soft shells, which were a flattened mess in the nest) was 77 eggs.  Miss Moneypenny’s contribution was 24, or I suppose only 23 and a half, as we can hardly call the above an egg!  Miss Plumpton also laid 24 – all normal sized.  And Mauricette was the winner this month, with 29 eggs.

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the spotty dotty top (NewLook 6483) warts & all

I seem to be on a roll with sewing at the moment.  And trying my hand at several new (to me) patterns.  Ones that I’ve had in my stash for quite a while, but never got around to opening.  After the two success stories with the shirt pattern recently, I decided to open NewLook 6483

spotty 6483

. . . another pattern that’s marked “easy” with promises of 1 hour sewing time.  When will I learn to ignore that sort of info?  I expect an experienced sewer would find this pattern easy, and would no doubt run it up in under 60 minutes.  But surely, it’s the beginner sewer who is drawn to the “easy” patterns?  In which case, a top like this will require several hours of patient sewing, and much head-scratching trying to understand some of the instructions.

Anyway . . . I picked a summery cotton print fabric from my stash (this is leftover from a huge piece I bought as backing fabric for my F2F quilt way back in 2017).  And selected pattern pieces to make top C (the red version).  I’m quite narrow shouldered so thought the way shoulders were shaped on this would be a better fit.  As usual, I ummed and ahhed for ages, about what size to cut.  Pattern didn’t give FINISHED bust measurement, only finished length so . . . since I’m rather busty (not meaning to get too personal, but the following proved to be a problem with this pattern:  I’m a 40” bust and wear a 36 D-cup bra).  I therefore cut the largest pattern size which was for a 38” bust . . . slightly worried that the top would be too tight, but deciding I’d take the chance.

Something I learned from this sewing experience is:  check out other sewers pattern reviews on the internet before cutting or sewing!!!!! Because . . .

spotty 01 before

THIS is what I ended up with.  Absolutely massive!!!!  Now, I do have a tailor’s dummy, but I’ll admit, I don’t really know how to use it properly.  I’ve got it set to my vital statistics, but I don’t really know enough about clothes making to make the necessary ajustments to a pattern to make a “fitted” garment.  Besides, I have always felt I’m a fairly standard size. I can walk into any clothes shop and buy something that fits, off the rail.  I’ve made quite a few tunics, and the recent 2 shirts, without having to modify the pattern in any way.  In fact, I’ve used mainly NewLook patterns in the past so I had no reason to think there would be a problem with sizing.  Although, on hindsight . . . I did end up with exactly the same problem with NewLook 6602 in July last year – which funnily enough was also a tunic with facings for neck & armholes.   

Another view, to show you the gaping armholes

spotty 02 before

The above photos were after about 4 hours of sewing.  I was not a happy bunny! 

This is when I went looking on the internet for pattern reviews.  And realised I should have started with that!  Of the twenty or so reviews I read . . . a good 75% of sewers had made pattern changes along the way, or quite simply not really followed the pattern at all.  Many chose not to bother with facings, and just added binding.  And almost everyone said that the pattern sized up way too big.

So hmmmmffffff!!!!  What to do?  I  couldn’t do a great deal about the gaping armholes because they were faced (and should have been cut smaller if I wanted a smaller size) but I did manage to make a few improvements.  First . . . I unpicked side seams, and unpicked darts which were simply there, and miles away from my boobs.  Redrew and sewed darts much lower and longer . . . which improved things somewhat, but not 100%.

spotty 02 after

And I scooped out the neckline, simply drawing a curve freehand and bringing it down quite a bit.

spotty 01 after 

That doesn’t solve the too big armholes or the fact that shoulders are much wider than on the pattern picture because (as said above) I refused to unpick the arm facing and redo that part. 

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As long as I don’t walk about with my arms sticking out like that though, it doesn’t look too bad.

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Since I scooped out the neckline, I’ve got a button fastening at the back which is purely decorative as, with the saggy baggy arms, and lower neckline, I can just slip it on over my head without undoing the button. 

The big question is: will I use the pattern again? And to that I’ll say: I honestly don’t know!  I do like to try the same pattern several times, in different fabrics, to get my money’s worth, so to speak. In fact, I had big plans of making all five of the different options this pattern offered.  But that was before all the hassle with the first top. 

SAL “Bag Ladies” #10

It’s time for the 3-weekly SAL update . . . linking up with a group of stitchers/crafters world wide, and with our SAL updates helping us to all to motivate each other to keep up steady progess.  I am sorry to say, I didn’t quite meet the objective I had set myself this time around.  Last time I showed you this photo

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I had hoped to have completed another cat for this time but . . . I’ve been rather busy with some secret crafting, so this is all I have to show for the past 3 weeks.

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Let’s see if other SAL members were more industrious than I was.

AvisGun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

And we’ll be back on 19th May.

lots of greens

It’s that time of year . . . when those with green fingers are outdoors, on their hands & knees, getting their hands dirty, and either weeding or busily planting for the new growing season.  I’m not one of those people.  I enjoy sitting out in the garden, but I leave all the work to the husband.  I also enjoy eating fresh home-grown veggies, but again, I leave that to the husband.

It’s still a little early in the season to be planting certain crops, but we have begun enjoying a few home-grown vegetables . . . ones that survive from one year to the next.  The newest growing experiment here is: asparagus.  The husband and a neighbour decided, last year, that they were going to give asparagus a go.  They therefore bought in loads of sand last summer, to build their sand mounds and bought some asparagus plants that were already a couple of years old (if I followed the proceedings correctly).  Anyway, despite hens escaping and having fun in the sand earlier this month . . . and despite Ducky enjoying a sand bath too . . . the husband (and neighbour) have been comparing sand mounds and counting all the shoots coming through.

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We’ve already enjoyed four (very modest) harvests.

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Here’s a batch, fresh from the sand. 

Another survivor, despite hens reeking havoc, is the chard.  That was planted from seed last Spring, and we enjoyed a healthy harvest last year.  The husband left it in the ground over the winter months.  The hens pecked it half to death in March . . . but now hens can no longer escape, the chard is flourishing . . . and how lovely it is, just to wander out and harvest just enough fresh veg for a healthy dinner for two.

veg 01

So, plenty of greens in the veggie garden . . . and a little bit of greenery indoors too.  We redecorated our living room late Feb to early March.  Nothing very exciting. Just ripping off old wall paper, then giving walls a coat of white paint, and painting the ceiling inbetween wooden beams.  Once that was done, everything looked very white, and a little bare . . . so the husband had fun with some paper napkins.

wall

They were my idea, as was the ivy motif, but it was the husband who did the actual work.  My job was supposed to be making new covers for our sofas.  That started off well, but then I stalled.  It’s something I need to get motivated about, but I seem to have found other things to distract me since!

the “dances with hens” shirt (see & sew B6270)

On 9th of this month, I showed you my first ever sewing project with sleeves and a collar.

shirt 01

made following the pattern

shirt pattern

Well, I was so pleased with how it turned out, I was raring to make a second one.  For my second version, I went for the rounded shirt tails, on both front & back, but kept sleeves as 3/4 and the grandad style collar. 

And just to make things a little different, I decided to use a white “piqué” cotton for the collar, front yokes and the button loopy bits.

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Main fabric is a very fun feather print . . . hence the Indian name for this new version of the shirt:  “Dances with hens” lol.

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I really love it!   It looks so different from the first version, because of the bright colours. 

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Just look how cleverly the feathers match up when sleeves are rolled!

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Everything went ever so smoothly this time around.  Collar went on first time.  Sleeve insertion was still rather daunting, but I’d done it before, so I knew I could do it again.  Overall, it really was a joy to make and I am already planning on making it a third time!  I’m even toying with the idea of making the proper pointy collar of version B for my next attempt, despite having said that I don’t like pointy collars.  Definitely won’t be adding a pocket or going for the full length sleeves though. 

ScrapHappy # April (making for Baby Viking)

Followers know that I became a grandma in August last year, to a bonny baby girl, who I have nick-named Baby Viking, because her dad, our second son, is known here as Daddy Viking.  Well, in true grandma form, I made some presents to celebrate the birth:  quilt, cloth book, crinkle toy, crocheted bear and a couple of bibs.  I then knitted up 2 very cheerful bolero cardies, as an excuse to get some practice knitting in February.

Since then, I have been busy at my sewing machine.  And using scraps for the first two items, so an excuse to link up with Gun and Kate!

First up . . . I made a little pinafore dress, using pattern NewLook 6970, and leftover fabric from a summer tunic I made myself a few years ago.  Buttons, came from the family button box, and I learned they were originally from the husband’s grandmother’s button box!  The husband affectionately called her “Bonne Maman” which is the title I have asked to be called by Baby Viking, when she’s old enough to talk.  How lovely, I thought, that as the newest Bonne Maman, I should have used buttons from Bonne Maman senior’s button box!  Meaning that this little dress was made for Baby Viking by one grandma, with buttons that came from her great great grandma’s button box!

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With the very last bits of the pretty floral fabric, a matching sunhat, using NewLook 6274.

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And then . . . worrying that the UK summer might not be as warm as a French summer, I decided Baby Viking might need something to keep those chubby legs warm.  Not to mention that she’ll probably be at the crawling stage this summer and those knees will need protecting . . . so, some trials with stretch fabrics.  First, making use of a free pattern by Made by Rae (but adapting the size)

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a sort of “sarouel” type of leggings, with (I hope) plenty of room for a nappy.  And then another attempt, this time to make a pair of 3/4 length, closer fitting leggings

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Husband kindly pointed out to me that one leg is longer than the other – thank you darling!  But I’m sure once they’re on (assuming they fit) and Baby Viking is crawling around, no one will notice.

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I thought they’d look rather pretty with the pinafore dress.

for bb viking 06

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Both “bottoms” were made from adult Tshirts.  The stripey pair, from one of my too small Tshirts that was otherwise destined for the Red Cross clothes bin.  The pink pair were made from a brand new adult Tshirt I bought in Noz for only 1€.   And, if you think the waist band looks neat on those, it’s because I used the original hem of the Tshirt bottom as the channel for the elastic waist band.

Anyway . . . here are links to other ScrapHappy posters.

Kate Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn (me), Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki and Pauline

easy trousers (NewLook #6399)

After the success of my first ever shirt . . . I was on a roll, and decided to try one of the trouser patterns I’ve had in my stash for years.

trouser pattern

Namely: NewLook #6399.  Pattern cover states “easy 2 hour” . . . with the little asterix lower down, specifiying this is “sewing time only per item” lol.  There were only 4 pattern pieces to pin and cut out, so preparation didn’t take forever, and surprisingly neither did the sewing together!  I did make the job slightly harder for myself than I needed to though.  Rather than cutting into any of the bought fabrics in my stash, I picked an unknown fabric, that I inherited from MIL.  Not the slightest idea what it was, although I suspect it’s what’s called a “Jacquard” fabric since it looks woven not printed.

trouser fabric

The raw edges had all this blue & yellow thread escaping, but the fabric itself looks beige, from a distance, with shimmers of blue depending on what angle you look at it.  Anyway . . . while pressing before pattern cutting, it seemed okay with a hot setting on the iron, as long as iron didn’t stay on one spot for too long.  Some scorching happened later in the making process . . . so I’m guessing it’s not cotton lol.  Whatever it is, it wrinkles quite a bit.  Frays abominably, and all seams had to be overlocked . . . but I was determined to use it for my first attempt with this pattern as my “toile”.

Pattern sizing had me somewhat confused.  It has “Misses” sizes (like the shirt pattern) so I ended up just getting out the tape measure and cutting out the size which corresponded to my hip measurement.  That (sadly) was the largest pattern size (EU 42 or FR 44).  Rather too large than too tight, is my motto!

As always . . . I didn’t follow the pattern completely.  Was making view A (the full length trouser version) but didn’t see the need for the ribbon in the waist band.  That band is there to encase 5cm wide elastic.  I honestly didn’t see why I would need a draw string ribbon in as well.  Especially since that would just make for volume under a top.

trousers 01

Anyway . . . one serious sewing session of about 3 hours.  Followed by an hour’s sewing the next day to finish off hems . . . and I have a pair of very comfortable pull-on trousers!  [For Tialys . . . I also seem to be related to David Nivon aka “The Brain” lol.  Not sure why my head is always cocked to that side for photos].

trousers 02a

This second photo to show the waist band, which isn’t actually on waist, as pattern stipulates “worn 1 inch below waist”.  Not quite sure I see the point in having the open flappy bits at the ankles.  Maybe my fabric is too lightweight, but all that opening does is make the leg hang funnily.   Maybe I’ve left the hem too long?    Anyway . . . I am glad I didn’t bother with the extra draw-string ribbon bit.  Trousers sit nicely with just the wide elastic.  And, in case you’re wondering, because I certainly was . . . the pieces  of fabric for the elastic casing are cut on the bias.  So even in a non-stretchy fabric like this one, the band has just enough stretch to pull trousers up over bum and then sit 1” below waist, comfortably, where hips (and love handles) prevent trousers from falling down lol.

Please note new shoes also!  I found this pair of TMA “desert boots” in Noz the other week, priced only 15€ and they fit, so I grabbed TWO identical pairs.

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I think they’re lots of fun!  Well, a lot more fun than wearing mens’ black trainers all the time.  I’ve got my orthopedic insoles now (to be worn religiously for at least 12 months until my next check-up) and since these are a German brand, they size up nice & wide, so I can get insoles AND feet in without too much of a squeeze, provided I wear pop-socks.

Before I sign off for today . . . I’ll leave you with a photo of 3 new fabrics bought recently, with a mind to another shirt and more trousers (maybe with a zip fastener next time!).

new fabrics

The green & white print is a polycotton.  I grabbed that because it was only 5€ for a 3 metre length.  Total bargain!  And the other two are cotton (with 4% elastathane) gabardines.  15€ for 3 metres of each . . . I’m seeing two pairs of trousers and one polycotton shirt, with maybe a pair of polycotton shorts for this summer.    We’ll see!