Friday, 4 December 2020

Free Pattern Friday: Socks for Everyone


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

I've been making my own clothing for a long time now. I've even had a bash at making shoes. But there are a few things that I continue to rely on shops for, namely bras, socks and tights. I can't imagine ever getting good enough at knitting to successfully knit my own socks, and I'm not sure that I'd really want to spend all the time and effort to do so anyway when I prefer thinner, less wooly socks anyhow. However, I've seen a few people in the sewing community who seem to have successful sewn socks, including Carolyn who made these great looking sockettes. I've kept this possibility in my mind for a while. So when I recently chanced upon the free the Ellie & Mac Sew It Forward Sock pattern, I was all in! Thanks heaps to Ellie & Mac for sharing their hard work for free. 

Pattern type:

This pattern is for making basic ankle socks with a cuff band at the top. The pattern is made up of four pattern pieces, and are constructed with just four seams. 

(image source: Ellie & Mac)

Sizing info:

The pattern has been graded to include almost anyone who wears socks, from small children (
UK kid's 7-8) to men (UK adult's 12-13). A sizing table is included for US, EU and UK shoe sizes to help you select the right size to cut, but it is worth noting that the stretchiness of your chosen fabric may affect which size will be more successful. 

One of the reasons why I was excited to try this pattern is that my shoe size (UK 7, FYI) is usually the biggest included in most women's sock size ranges (usually sizes 4-7). So I'm convinced that my socks wear out quicker than other women's who have smaller feet! Therefore, I was excited to see that I could select a size UK 6-7.5 that put my size in the centre of a size range rather than at the outer edge. 


Fabric info: 

Knit fabric with 50% four-way stretch is recommended. I'm guessing that the type of fabric that most people would have in their stash that fits this description would be a cotton/Lycra single jersey. They require very little fabric, so a dig through your scraps and leftovers might provide you with some 'free' fabric to make some really fun, crazy socks!

The grey pair in these photos is made using a scrap of weird knitted stuff that I have no clue about. It looks like tights fabric so I thought it'd be suitable, but in hindsight I feel it is too drapey and slippy. The rust coloured pair uses some very lightweight jersey (once again, can't be sure of fibre content). This pair clings to my feet a bit better but still feels too slippy and thin. I expect both will wear through at the toe or heel pretty quickly. 

(image source: Ellie & Mac)

Findings:

Accessing the pattern is easy, you just need to add it to your cart and go through the check out on the Ellie & Mac site. The pattern pieces and instructions are part of the same PDF document, which makes it easier not to lose either! One issue I did have with the pattern was that the band paper pattern piece looks very different from the fabric band pieces that are photographed at the beginning of the step-by-step instructions on page 9. So much so that I emailed them thinking I'd missed cutting the piece on the fold or something. 

Aside from that confusion, putting these together was ridiculously quick. However, I've found that the second seam that joins the back pieces to the top piece can result in a little pleat where the seam intersects the first seam at the ankle, so that step should be taken slowly. The pair pictured above has no weird pleat, however you can see in the picture of my pair at the top of the post does. It doesn't really effect the fit, and I reckon if you were making a stack of these, you'd get really good at avoiding making a pleat.

As for the fit, I really like the shape of them, and although I was concerned that the band might be too tight, actually it's fine. I felt that they come up a bit high, so I made my rust pair a couple of centimetres less so, although you can't really tell in these pics. The grey pair is made using an overlocker, with three threads rather than four to avoid bulk. I made the rust pair using a narrow lightning flash stitch on my regular sewing machine and the seams of this pair are definitely less noticeable when worn. 

The fabric choice will really make or break this project I think. I'm tempted to try again using a more standard cotton/Lycra jersey that is thicker and more stable than the knits I've used here. 



Customisation ideas:

I like the idea of being able to combine sizes to make narrower or wider socks, if that's something you require. You could also alter the height in either direction: shorter to make sports socks or higher to make knee-highs, or beyond! 

Would I make them again?

Umm, I really don't know. I doubt I'm going to reach for these pairs of socks unless all my other pairs are in the wash. Less slinky fabric may help, but I'm just not really sure I want to wear jersey socks. Maybe I'd get used to it. I do love the idea of being able to make everything that my kids and I wear, although I feel that jersey socks would be an even harder sell for my kids than they are for me! 

Recently, most of my shop-bought socks decided to all developed holes at the exact same time, and I enjoy the idea that I am able to tide myself over with me-mades until I get round to getting myself some more. This really was a very fun and super speedy project, so if you are at all interested in giving them a try and have some suitable leftover fabric to hand, I really do recommend giving them a go.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

40 Free Patterns for Gifts for Kids


There are, of course, downsides to making gifts, particularly for kids. You do run the risk of witnessing your efforts go ignored and unappreciated by the recipient, at least on the day of the actual celebration. However, if you have the time, energy and brain space to spare, there are many reasons why making gifts can be better than buying them: 

  • Most makers would probably prefer to spend an hour or two at their sewing machine than trawling the shops or websites seeking out something to buy.
  • If you already have a stash of fabric and supplies, these projects will most likely work out much cheaper than a bought equivalent.
  • My personal favourite: you can avoid the demand for more plastic to be produced, that takes the form of packaging or perhaps the item itself.
  • At risk of ruining the 'evergreen' nature of this blog post, the current global Covid situation is making going to bricks-and-mortar shops or receiving countless deliveries of online orders less appealing-slash-risky business at the moment. 

The run up to celebrations is usually pretty stressful, so please don't go heaping loads of sewing projects on top of everything else. But if you do fancy making a gift or stocking-filler for a child in your life, I've got a big ol' list below of patterns (plus a couple of tutorials) that will cost you nowt. There are countless free sewing patterns and projects out there on the interwebs. The selection below are ones that appeal to me, keeping my own kids and other kids I know, in mind. I've separated them into four sections:
  1. Toys
  2. Accessories
  3. Simple clothing
  4. Dressing up
Please note: some of these patterns are easily downloadable from the webpages I've included the links to, whereas some require a Facebook account or signing up to a newsletter to access the pattern. I have personally downloaded, and even made a few of the patterns listed below, but cannot vouch for all of them. I want to thank all the talented and generous designers who have shared their hard work for free. Enjoy!

Toys:










Accessories:









Heart Pouch by Patterns for Pirates

Simple Clothing:








(image source: @horsesloveapples on Instagram)



(image source: lilypadmontana)


Dressing Up:








Thursday, 26 November 2020

Mend it, Wear it, Love it: I WROTE A BOOK!!!!!

So, funny story: I WROTE A BOOK!!!! An actual, IRL, paper-and-ink, honest-to-goodness book! I know, I can barely believe it either.

Towards the beginning of Lockdown 1.0 DK publishers approached me to write a beginner-friendly book that will help people make their clothes last longer. After explaining why this is important, it covers simple mending techniques for common garment mishaps, ideas and how-tos for altering the fit and style of your garments, as well as loads of info on how to care for your clothes properly. The book is called ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it’ and will be available from 4th Feb 2021. It’s currently available for pre-order, and if you’re in the U.K., please may I recommend checking out Bookshop.org to support indie bookshops if you’re thinking of ordering a copy (it’s really reasonable, BTW).


Truth be told, when DK contacted me, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the new reality of life in lockdown. I had to think hard about whether or not taking this on was the right thing to do, but writing it ended up being a truly wonderful, if frantic, experience. And now that I have a copy in my possession, I could not be more proud to have been part of its creation. The design team have done an amazing job, and I genuinely think that content is really useful for those wanting to make their wardrobe more sustainable.


DK has a rep for producing very clear, user-friendly, practical guides. So whilst being pretty, I’m also confident that ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it’ sufficiently supports beginners through all the mending, refitting and altering techniques, even if you’re completely new to the sewing game. As I was writing the steps for each technique, I drew sketches for each step that the fantastic illustrator Steven Marsden then made actually recognisable!


For me, the parts of the book that I’m most proud of tho, are the sections where the problems of today’s clothing industry are linked to the practical steps in this book. My aim was to help the reader feel empowered and emboldened to give the techniques a try, including the embracing of imperfection. We also managed to make the topic of laundry and garment care interesting hahaha!


‘Any repair that extends the life of a garment by even one more wear is a major success’ - me!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...