Sunday, 26 January 2014

Albion Coat is finished!

Yes the Albion coat is finished and I can't quite believe I have actually made a coat.  This pattern makes it entirely possible to do so for someone, like myself, who has no training at all and only started sewing less than two years ago.  It is an amazing pattern, although I would say you definitely need some experience, for example, setting in a sleeve and general knowledge of sewing techniques and how patterns work.

So amazingly the rain stopped for a while yesterday so I seized the photographic opportunity for my husband to do some nonchalant modelling.  (I suspect he has been looking at those lovely Toast catalogues on the quiet)

So here he is.

The 'demure looking in the distance pose'

The wonderful yoke and hood.

'See that wonderful cosy lining'

'Yes it even has in-seam pockets too'

I think it's safe to say that he is rather pleased with his new coat.

So a bit about the pattern then.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that because the instructions are broken down into sections it was a great dip in and out of type project.  Up until that point there had been nothing difficult at all, but then I go to the 'attach sleeve linings to sleeve shell' section.  Eek!  I had those sleeve linings every which way, inside out, right side out, literally every way imaginable and I could not figure it out.  I couldn't understand the diagram at all.  Went away had a cup of tea, came back and was able to do it first attempt of trying.  Phew!  Bearing in mind I have never made a coat before this is hardly surprising, but I would imagine that the sew-along will be very helpful for this.  Other than that the rest of it was fine.

So what did it all cost.

Outer fabric wool blend coating from Guthrie and Ghani 5m @ 14.50 = 72.50
Lining fabric brushed cotton from Calicolaine 3m @6.99                     = 20.97
4 Toggles from  4 @ 3.49                                        = 13.96
4 buttons from minervacrafts           4 @ 0.60                                        = 2.40
Total                                                                                                      = 109.83

Could you buy one for that?  I don't think so and sure it wouldn't be as special.
I made it in size Large and I started it just after Xmas so it took be about 4 weeks doing a section most days.
Overall my husband is delighted and so am I.  I would highly recommend the pattern.

But now I have some dresses to make!!

Friday, 17 January 2014

January Works in progress, polytunnel, Albion duffle coat and some knitting.

January can be such a forlorn month.  The trees look so dark and bare and, of course, rather than the thick snow that we have had in previous years everywhere is sodden. However it is the beginning of a new year and lots of positive thinking and planning.  So it's not that I haven't been busy... luckily it hasn't been too cold, so my hubbie and I have taken the chance to clear out the polytunnel, which performed rather well this year.  Most stuff had been eaten or is in the freezer waiting to be used up.

As we grew rather hungry crops like french beans and varieties of climbing courgette and squash this year it will have to be topped up with lots of compost and manure. (all organic, of course) so that will be the next job.  I will also have to take the time to wash all pots and modules and probably the plastic too.  Then by February the planning what to grow will start.  I try not to grow the same group of veg in the same place each year.

Apologies to those not interested in vegetable growing, this is as good a place as any for me to keep a record of my growing for the year.

I have been making as well though.  I am pleased with the progress of the Albion duffle coat for my husband.  I haven't been working for long periods at it, but it is a great pattern for dipping in and out of as it is beautifully broken down in to bite-sized sections, you can maybe do one in an evening, so it has been great that way.  So far nothing difficult, all really well shown in the pattern instructions, there are just lots of little bits to it.

The above shows the front pocket and the in-seam pocket.

Front yoke

My teenage son reluctantly 'modelling' the coat obviously way too big for him but fits his dad well, which is good.

"Please can I go back to my PS3 now mum?"

Anyway it is actually starting to look like a duffle coat now... Yeah!

Knitting wise, I am knitting a wee cardigan for my niece, nice to do selfless knitting now and again.

It is the girls V-neck cardigan here knit in Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter dk yarn, lovely and soft.  On to the sleeves so nearly finished.

Better get back to that Albion as I want to start some sewing of my own... surprise, surprise.  In my resolution post here I said I wanted to make more fitted items with woven fabric.  I have a couple of functions to go to in February so the perfect excuse to make a dress.  At the minute, I am contemplating the Emery dress by Christine Haynes which is pretty fitted and looks as if it would suit an hour-glass (ish) figure or maybe the Hazel dress by Victory patterns.  (less fitted and probably a lot less challenging, but very nice.)  Both these dresses are out of my comfort zone so a good challenge. I will try to use from my stash of fabric, it will all depend on what time I have after I finish the Albion!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

50 shades of grey.... I like to call it silver.

Wow, where did the first week of January go to? No doubt, the month will go slower as it goes on, isn't that always the way in January?

Anyway, I thought I would bite the bullet and share my experiences of allowing myself to go grey or 'au naturel'.  Maybe someone is at a similar stage that I was just over two years ago, (I had just turned 45) in that, I wasn't happy having got into a rather expensive viscous circle of having to get my hair dyed every four weeks.

This was a big, big step for me as I had always dyed my hair.  Since I was about 16 I have experimented with auburns, blondes, red, every shade you could imagine.  I have always loved nice clothes, wear make-up, nail polish and take care with my appearance so could I ever consider not dying.

Thought it appropriate to wear my grey sweater, it is the Lyra Crew from Rowan Cocoon Collection.

I was quite fair as a child but my adult colour was just simply brown.  I started to go grey when I was in my early 30's.  My hair is naturally wavy and I have had all lengths of hairstyles, in my 20's longer and curlier, in my 30's got gradually shorter as the children and work life balance thing kicked in. That's just a bit of background, so here are my reasons for finally deciding to stop.

1.  Tired of having to go every four weeks to get roots done, which is also quite expensive.

2.  I am a trained nutritional advisor (in particular Metabolic Typing)  While training I became aware that there may be risks in using chemicals as cosmetics, make-up, hair dye and everyday cleaning items.
I had already got rid of all chemicals and began using organic or at least more natural products.  There is conflicting evidence about all this, of course, but I feel that it is just because not enough research is done and the beauty market is huge and probably quite powerful.

3.  I was starting to feel less happy in myself about getting my hair dyed and also felt that although my hairdresser was good, I just felt my hair always took on a yellowy tinge after a while.

4.  After googling 'going grey' on the web, I found a great website here  and found lots of women were feeling the same way and was inspired and helped by it.  There were some beautiful grey haired women and some a lot younger than me.  I have since discovered pinterest and there are loads of grey-haired women on there.

5.  I started to feel there is an inequality between men and women with this.  Gray-haired men have a suave, sophisticated, sexy image ... just think of the gorgeous George Clooney, but yet with women there is just an association with looking older or just letting yourself go.  I just don't think this is fair.

6.  I went to a 'Colour me Beautiful' advisor.  She told me that I am in the 'Cool' category and need to wear colours with blue or cool undertone and to avoid colours that have a yellow or golden base.  Before I even mentioned hair colour she told me that I would suit going grey.  That was it... I made my decision, so my next problem was how to go about it.

I will not lie, the transition of the first few months was not nice, it really did look as if I had 'let myself go'.  I started by letting my hair grow, it was a really snowy winter so I wore hats a lot, although I did have a few social occasions that winter when I didn't feel great.  Then in the spring I got a really short chopped hair cut and the worst seemed over.

Luckily my husband was supportive and my hairdresser was great too.  Most of my female friends were really against it.  "You're too young, wait until your 50's"  "Maybe you'd feel different if you had daughters"  "Your hair will be dry and frizzy" and other such comments.  Lately some have said that they now prefer it.

So what's the result

1.  I am happier in myself, I feel brighter.
2.  I have much less hair falling out now. (Didn't even really realise this was an issue before).  My hair is in great condition and some of it's curliness has come back.
3.  I have more money to spend on the things I like, like fabric, patterns, yarn ha,ha.
4.  I need less hair products, I use more expensive type shampoos, like Organic Pharmacy, Miessence and Liz Earle.
5.  I suppose it has made me take more care with make-up and colour choice of clothes.  This is good.
6.  My hair is actually true salt and pepper which I like.

So there you go, that's my experience of 'going gray' and I love it.

Having been short haired now for a while, I am trying to grow my hair.  That will be another dilemma.

Apologies for not having 'before' picture but I lost a lot of photos off my last computer when it died.

Meanwhile, in my sewing world I have cut out the fabric for my husbands Albion Coat and the lining fabric has just arrived.  Busy, busy.

Definitely not my colours, but then it's not for me.