My First Hand-Knitted Jumper

Handmade Shetland wool Jumper Attie and Dora Shetland

Bit of a change of subject today. Although I think of Attie and Dora as very much a sewing focused blog, I have recently become interested in knitting and want to incorporate lots of warm practical knitwear into my handmade wardrobe.

Knitting my first garment was an interesting process for me. I had very little experience of knitting, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I was a bit out of my depth, but jumping head first into this new challenge worked for me. I admit I did need help with deciphering some of the instructions. I find knitting pattern jargon really confusing. Luckily I know a few knitters who were happy to answer my questions. My mum taught me how to graft the armholes, I would have been clueless at that stage without her guidance. I used a youtube tutorial to figure out how to knit on four needles when I got to the neckline, but mostly I just went for it and figured it out as I went along.

The pattern included an icelandic style yoke, but I wanted a block colour for a more versatile garment. There is no name of the designer on the pattern, my mum bought it in a charity shop.

I bought the wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. It is ‘mirrydancers’ Shetland Marl and I think I used 8 or 9 100g balls.

This project took me quite a while as I was only doing a few rows at a time in the evenings. I find knitting really relaxing and a fun alternative to sewing, particularly if I want to feel that I am doing something creative, but can’t be bothered to go up into my sewing room. I find I will knit while I watch tv and I love that  working in stocking stitch doesn’t require much concentration. It is sort of meditative.

It wasn’t all a breeze, there were moments when I made silly mistakes and was despairing a bit, but once I finished it I felt such a massive sense of achievement and have started my next knitting project already, a grey mohair cardigan using a pattern from Wool and the Gang.

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Oilskin Kelly Anorak

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Close Up

It’s finally done! My first handmade jacket.

I have to be honest I really struggled with this project, not at all because of the pattern, but due to my fabric choice. I think my mum’s quote on seeing the jacket half way through sums it up nicely – ‘you don’t make things easy for yourself do you’– no mam, no I don’t!

It was totally worth it though as I LOVE this jacket. I would go as far as saying it’s my favourite piece of outerwear that I have ever owned, and I made it! I have Closet Case Patterns to thank for that. What an excellent pattern. I strongly recommend you buy it if you want to make your own anorak, although I wouldn’t recommend using oilskin for this unless you have a powerful sewing machine.

I love the design of this jacket. The pockets are roomy and look really professional. I opted for the hood rather than the collar, but didn’t include the drawstring as my fabric was very stiff and I didn’t think it would gather well.

I made some adjustments for my height (I am 5’11”). I lengthened the bodice by 5cm and also lengthened the sleeves. I deliberated about where to add the extra length to the sleeves and decided to just double the length of the cuff. They are now the perfect length for me.

The fabric I used is superb quality khaki oilskin from Merchant and Mills. Oilskin isn’t terrible to work with, but when you have multiple layers to sew through you need some power behind you and unfortunately my sewing machine at the time, a Janome 432S, just didn’t have enough. I have since bought myself a new sewing machine, a Bernina 350PE, and it was able to handle the fabric much better. I found the topstitching particularly tricky on my old Janome. I really struggled to sew the pockets and any other bulky seams. My other traumatic memory of this project was trying to set in the sleeves, easing in oilskin is a nightmare. I managed it eventually, but it took a good few hours.

My tips for working with this oilskin would be:

  • to use bulldog clips, not pins as they mark the fabric
  • use a denim needle, it worked well for me
  • take your time, as the needle will leave permanent and very visible holes in the fabric, so there is no room for error
  • when setting in sleeves, baste first and hold in place with bulldog clips or use pins inside the seam allowance
  • grade seams to reduce bulk wherever possible
  • invest in a hump jumper, or make one out of a piece of card
  • press seams with fingers or use an iron on a low heat with a pressing cloth, test on a scrap of fabric first
  • topstitching this material with topstitching thread is really tricky, so it may be easier to use normal thread as I really struggled to do this neatly, especially on my old Janome.
  • be prepared for one long slow project, as you can’t really make mistakes you will have to really take your time over this, so not a speedy project.

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora side

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Hood

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora back

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Zip

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front 2

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora silly

Pattern – Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns

Fabric – Khaki Oilskin from Merchant and Mills

Hardware – Hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns 

 

 

Morgan Jeans

Lately I have been making jeans.

When I first set eyes on the new Closet Case Files pattern, Morgan Jeans, I was overjoyed. I had actually been on the lookout for some boyfriend style jeans, so the timing was excellent, I bought it straight away. The pattern is so well drafted, Heather seems to have a real knack for designing patterns that flatter women’s figures. I also love that she caters for sewers who want to attempt more challenging projects. I am always keen to try sewing new types of garments and to learn new skills, but sometimes jumping into a new area of sewing, such as making your own jeans, can seem a bit daunting. Heather’s patterns give you the confidence to stretch the boundaries of your sewing skills. Making Jeans was a really interesting process and I definitely learnt a lot.

I ordered denim needles, topstitching thread, rivets and buttons from Jaycotts and my denim was purchased from Merchant and Mills online shop.

I didn’t make a toile, which is rare for me as I love a good toile, I just lengthened the pattern pieces by 5cm to account for my height and basted the seams together before stitching and checking the fit as I went. I was happy with the fit of the end product, but next time I might try lengthening the crotch depth slightly.

I found the construction straight forward with the help of the instructions, although I have managed to sew my coin pocket on the wrong side…oops. I decided to just go with it as I’d already top stitched it down, so please excuse that faux pas.

Speaking of topstitching, that was probably the thing that I found the most challenging about making jeans, and oddly the most satisfying once I’d got the hang of it. My machine struggled a bit over the bulky seams even after I flattened them down with a mallet. I found it took a bit of practice to achieve neat topstitching, so I recommend practicing on scraps before you attempt it on your garment. I don’t have an edge stitch foot for my machine so I used my hem foot which when lined up against the edge of the fabric acted as a guide and helped me to achieve neat even stitching close to the edge. For the second row of topstitching I drew a line of chalk to act as a guide to sew along and this worked well for me.

Some progress shots….

Making Jeans Topstitching

Making Jeans

Making Jeans buttons

I chose some lovely soft cotton from India from my fabric stash to use for the pocket bags. I love that you can personalise your jeans in this way, it makes them feel even more unique. The pattern suggests you can try out your own topstitch design on the back pockets, but I kept things simple for my first pair. I did, however, change my topstitching thread colour from light grey to black for the waistband and hem, I was worried it might look a bit odd, but I quite like the effect.

I’ve been wearing my Morgan jeans rolled up. I love the look of these jeans, the relaxed style is so laid back and cool, and they are so versatile as they can be dressed up or down.I’ve always been a skinny jeans kind of girl, but I am totally embracing this new looser jean trend.

What do you think?

Morgan Jeans frontMorgan Jeans front

Morgan Jeans side

Morgan Jeans back closeMorgan Jeans Yoga Pose