Knit ALL the Yarns!

6 Apr


I showed the beginnings of it here, and it’s finally finished! Inspired by the beautiful multicolour pullovers that one of my lecturers knits, I made my own odds’n’ends magic sweater with all the 4-ply yarn in my stash. Mostly sock yarn, some yarn I spun myself, some I bought on overseas travel, and some my Mum gave me especially for this project. Knitted in the round from the bottom up, with a circular yoke. It’s amazingly light and drapey and soft, and I can’t wait for the weather to get cool enough so I can wear it ALL THE TIME.


So I got really tricksy and knitted the v-neck as a steek, which I then sewed by machine and cut afterwards. I did this because I didn’t want to  a) interrupt the circular yoke bands and b) I didn’t want to purl a single stitch! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, as I had never steeked anything before, but using these instructions as a reference made it super-simple. The cut edges turned under just beautifully, and I finished the v-neck with an unobtrusive i-cord bindoff.


I-cord neckline


Finished and blocking


Now hurry up Autumn, I want to wear my magic sweater!


Find this project here on Ravelry.


Costume School Final Year Project // 1. Inspiration

3 Apr

Hello dear readers,

Again, sorry it’s been a while! With all the best intentions in the world, life – or rather, school – got in the way of both my updating this blog and working on my Lady Mechanika project. Now that I’m in my final year of my costuming course, most of my sewing energy has to go into my final assignment, where we have to create a pair of historical garments for a man and a woman, from the underwear out. Part of our assessment includes keeping an art/progress/inspiration journal, and I thought I might transfer what I write in there to this blog, along with other pictures and information I find.


Our loose theme this year is ‘Historical Costume Inspired by Art’. That’s a huge topic! We can look at any era, anywhere in the world, from about 1400-1950. Believe me, too much choice is worse than too little in this case! It’s taken me a lot of thinking and over-thinking to narrow down my ideas. I had to create some constraints for myself.

•  I want to look at an era I have not previously explored. That rules out my favourite (Georgian), some Victorian, some Medieval.

•  I want to try some new techniques, ie. embroidery, a new historical method of construction, etc.

•  As we have to make corsets, I want to try a style of corset I have not made previously. Again, no Victorian, or 18th Century Stays.

•  I don’t really want to make another men’s suit jacket, as I have made a few over the past few years!

• Being on a very tight student budget, I am going to use mostly fabric I already have in my stash. If I have to buy, it’s gotta be cheap!


In the end, it was the high-budget production values of a trashy Hollywood film that pointed me in an interesting direction.


Extravagant ladies' costumes in 'The Three Musketeers' 2011

Manly Musketeers

I’m such a sucker for terrible swashbuckling movies. The 2011 version of ‘The Three Musketeers’ is pretty outrageous – I mean, airships?! – but as much as the American accents and cheesy action are good for a laugh, the costumes are gorgeous. So lovely, in fact, that I was rather inspired to go and have a closer look at fashions of the mid-17th Century.

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Rainbows everywhere!

20 Jan

Everything is colourful!

I chained my bike (the big turquoise one!) next to this tiny knit-bombed rainbow covered trike outside work last week. All around town these yarn-covered bikes have appeared, a lovely impromptu street art to brighten up our car-infested streets.



One of my costume lecturers is knitting these amazing sweater dresses out of 4-ply sock wool. She has made three so far, and by all accounts it is totally addictive, watching the colours change and grow. They are truly beautiful, light and colourful works of art! She keeps one in the car so she can knit wherever she finds a spare minute.



A whole basket full of 4-ply yarns ready to be knitted up. Irresistible!



Of course I couldn’t resist! I have a whole bunch of 4-ply wool in the stash myself, and socks are not my favourite thing to knit (I suffer dreadfully from ‘second-sock-syndrome’!). Tomorrow I am flying to Tasmania to visit my Mum for a few days, and this will be something to take along and keep my hands busy. That gold sparkly yarn will be in there somewhere, oh yes…

Pretty Little Herringbone Stitches

7 Jan

Herringbone stitches on the inside neckline

Although overlockers leave the insides of your garments looking neat and tidy and professionally finished, sometimes I feel it takes something away from the ‘feel’ of a handmade garment, especially one made from a vintage pattern or vintage fabric. I love looking at the insides of old garments and finding where the maker has left their personal touches – stitches to alter size, mend holes, or finish raw edges. Once upon a time someone took the time to sit down and finish all the unseen parts of their creation, little guessing that it would survive many decades for another seamstress to marvel at.

Herringbone stitches are particularly lovely. Originally a decorative stitch often used in embroidery, you can use it to finish a raw edge to stop it ravelling, or to hold up a hem securely. It works really well on loosely woven fabrics as well as it makes kind of a ‘net’ to hold the threads down.


Image from


In the first picture I have used it to finish a strip of bias tape to the back of a neckline. Folding the tape under and slipstitching it proved to be too bulky and not pliable enough to curve around the sweetheart neckline, so I experimented with the herringbone stitch. I think it looks rather pretty! This dress, made from a 1940’s evening dress pattern (but in a much more daytime gingham), felt suited to a more handmade finish rather than having the insides overlocked. I think I might even pull out the pinking shears!


Fun fact: the German word for herringbone stitch is ‘hexenstich’ – literally, ‘witches stitch’. It does look a bit like old runes or pagan symbols, I think!