Lilac by Kim Hargreaves (my wedding cardigan!)

Well it was only seven months late for the wedding… but I finally finished my cardigan!

It still doesn’t have buttons… I did buy some, but they’re a bit weddingy. I’d like some simple mother of pearl ones but haven’t found the right thing yet. It doesn’t have buttonholes anyway as you put the buttons through the eyelets so I think it looks okay without.

It’s really nice having a cardigan in this colour! It feels really summery and goes with everything. As it’s cotton – I can always dye it if it starts to look grubby (which it inevitably will).

It fits really nicely and the length is great with most of my summery clothes – but I think I was right that it wouldn’t have worked with the shape of my wedding top. Good job we had a heatwave last year!

It was a a pain in the bum to knit, but I think it was worth it. It’s knitted on 2.25mm & 2.75mm needles so I decided to use metal needles… and confirmed that tiny metal needles and cotton yarn with no stretch are a very bad combination if you have wrist/hand/elbow pain!

The pattern is Lilac from Breeze by Kim Hargreaves and I knitted it in Rowan Summerlite 4ply. The book is now out of print – but there is a similar cardigan (Tally) in her more recent book Sway.

I have some gorgeous coral Summerlite 4ply and really want to knit Tally as well… but I definitely need to pace myself with tiny needle/lace pattern/cotton knitting!

Best Bitches

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote a wedding related blog… I thought you might want a little rest from the wedding spam! But I just had to write a blog about my fantastic unofficial bridesmaids – who later became known as my Best Bitches after I gave them these fabulous pin badges from Hello Sunshine.

Best Bitch brooches by Hello Sunshine

I say “unofficial” bridesmaids purely because we didn’t have a traditional wedding party. We had a small registry office ceremony with parents and siblings before joining everyone else at the village hall for food, drink and general merriment.

Oh Photobooth

From word go, my Best Bitches did everything your traditional bridesmaids would do and more! They gave me much needed encouragement and moral support while I was making and having disasters with my wedding top!

All three were there alongside our families and Andrew’s unofficial groomsmen the day before the wedding – arranging flowers, hanging bunting and helping with everything else that needed doing!

Wedding chair pom pom decorations

While we were getting married Lou, Rosie and Steph were at the village hall setting up afternoon tea, greeting alpacas and welcoming guests – they were just generally the Best Bitches a girl could ask for!

Wedding Alpaca

Rosie and Steph have also been a fantastic support with shows and if you’ve been to see me at Yarndale, Woolfest or Yarn Expo then it’s likely that you will have met them – I couldn’t have done shows without them!

Rosie made her lovely yellow dress. It’s the Betty dress by Sew Over It using the v-neck add-on pack with fabric from Guthrie & Ghani.

Wedding Alpaca

Steph also made her lovely dress! Again with fabric from Guthrie & Ghani (we had a day trip). You can read more about the dress over on her blog here.

Oh Photobooth

Mr Weston and I were really blown away by all the help we had from family and friends and I don’t know how to put our gratitude into words without sounding super soppy! We’re very lucky.

Thank you for all the lovely messages on here and on social media – and to everyone who dropped by at Yarndale to say congratulations! I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about our wedding makes x

Hydrangea Flower Crown

Continuing the series of blogs about my wedding-makes… I thought I would tell you a bit more about my flower crowns!

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that this has been a fantastic year for Heidi the hydrangea! She produced a huge amount of flowers – mostly purple with a few pinks and bright blues.

Hydrangea Flower Crown

You might also know that with the heatwave my other hydrangeas (baby Heidi and Shirley) got scorched and didn’t look too healthy. I was concerned that Heidi’s colours would fade and that the flowers would dry up before the big day.

We were so lucky that, despite some fading, all the flowers survived and looked gorgeous!

Hydrangea Flower Crown

We also had a lot of flowers from my parents plant which were more pink. The combination of the two looked great and we had a lovely mix of shades which we colour-matched to the table runners.

Handmade wedding table runners | Jem Weston blog

As well as adorning the hall with hydrangea, I wanted to make a flower crown. But I couldn’t decide whether to make a subtle hairpiece or a full-on crown… so I did both!

These were made in a bit of a rush before going to set up the hall on the Friday so I’m afraid I didn’t get many photos. The “daytime” crown was made on a narrow headband and the “disco” crown was made on a circle of garden wire.

Hydrangea Flower Crown

Hayley from Wilderness Flowers kindly gave me some advice on how to get started and sent me some floristry wire and tape – thanks Hayley!

I dissected a bloom to get lots of little flowers, threaded wire through, bent it back and wrapped it around itself and the stem. Ideally – I think you would have a longer stem and thread the wire through a bit further down, but as I was working with small sections of a single bloom I didn’t have much to play with. It worked okay!

Hydrangea Flower Crown

I then wrapped floristry tape around the stem and wire. This is a tape I bought on ebay and it went sort of gummy when wet and stuck to itself.

Hydrangea Flower Crown

I then attached the flowers to the headband/circle of wire by wrapping the wire around. I’m not sure whether I should have removed the extra uncovered wire at this point? But I was wrapping with more floristry tape as I went along so everything was covered and looked quite neat.

I was feeling quite pleased with myself as I finished with a few minutes to spare before our friends arrived to help us transport everything to the village hall. And then Andrew asked me what would be the best way to transport his buttonhole flower that I’d forgotten to make…

So I quickly made him a buttonhole flower in a similar way, with part of a hydrangea bloom and a couple of leaves. It looked lovely with his knitted Summer Tie!

Hydrangea Flower Crown

The headband was lovely and comfortable to wear and I was really happy with the colours in it having chosen mostly blue.

But I’m glad I also made the bigger crown so that I could have a costume change in the evening!Hydrangea Flower Crown

Wedding Cardigan

Quite a few of you have been asking whether I finished my wedding cardigan in time and whether I wore it while we were on honeymoon. The answer to both of those questions is unfortunately no!

Kim Hargreaves Lilac cardigan from Breeze

When I put a post on Instagram saying that I was admitting defeat, a very kind follower emailed me and offered to post me her version of the cardigan from Denmark to borrow for the the day… knitters are just so lovely!

I admitted defeat partly because it would’ve meant a lot of late nights running up to the wedding in order to get it finished, partly because I wasn’t expecting to need it as the weather had been so warm… but largely because it didn’t actually look good with my wedding top. So I turned down the kind offer of a loan and decided to just go without.

Jem Weston - wedding cardigan. Lilac by Kim Hargreaves from Breeze

I knew how the cardigan would turn out, and I had a picture in my mind of the top. But as I mentioned in my wedding top blog… it had evolved over time! I was happy with the shape and fit of the top, but it wasn’t exactly how I’d planned it. It was more fitted and the neckline sat higher than I intended – and it was the neckline that looked odd with the cardigan.

I finished the top two weeks before the wedding and at that point I had finished the main body of the cardigan, joined the shoulder seams (with three needle cast off), knitted the neck edge and blocked the main body (minus sleeves) – so I could try it on with the top and skirt.

The general fit was nice and the fancy edging sat in the right place on the waist of the skirt/top, but the neckline of the cardigan sat below that of the top and looked odd. I also wasn’t keen on the combination of the beading on the top and the lace of the cardigan. It was all a bit too fancy for me! Again – the beading was something that had evolved as I made the top… if I’d had an exact plan for the top then I probably would’ve chosen a different pattern for the cardigan.

I don’t mind that I didn’t get it finished for the wedding or even for the honeymoon. We had ten days in Cumbria and I was definitely sensing early Autumn. I only have the sleeve heads left to knit so I could’ve easily finished it while we were away… but I was desperate to cast on something a bit more woolly (and a lot more teal!).

I’ve got plans to sew some new dresses and skirts for next summer and my wedding cardigan will be perfect with them. Can I still call it a wedding cardigan?!

I’m planning to finish knitting the sleeves and then put it into hibernation to sew up next Spring. I love sewing up so it’ll be lovely to have all the pieces ready to join!

Table Runners

One of the most fun makes for our wedding was the table runners!

I had a massive sort out of my fabric stash last year and created a box of all my favourite pieces thinking that one day I would use them to make a quilt.

Handmade wedding table runners | Jem Weston blog

We had decided to hire some nice tables and chairs so that we didn’t need to think about chair covers and table cloths and as we weren’t having a formal sit down meal there wouldn’t be much on the tables – so I wanted to add some colour and knew it was time to raid the special fabric box!

Handmade wedding table runners | Jem Weston blog

I started by cutting all the fabric into squares and planning it out as a quilt, based on this Anna Maria Horner quilt which I’d seen on Instagram. Not the easiest job on the floor in our little living room!

Wedding table runners/quilt | Jem Weston blog

I made 10 two metre strips of 10 squares for our 10 tables, with each alternate square being formed by two triangles. Each strip is approx 20cm wide which was a good table runner width and will also make the finished quilt nice and big at approx two metres square.

Handmade wedding table runners | Jem Weston blog

I loved that each table had a different colourway.

Handmade wedding table runners | Jem Weston blog

It will probably be a while before the table runners become a finished quilt. I think I’ll sew them together to make the quilt top and then complete it if and when we move house!

Photos by Nettynot.

Wedding Top

I’ll warn you in advance…this is longer than my usual blogs! I’ve been desperate to share the making of this top with you and it’s lovely to finally be able to do so!

When we first got engaged I didn’t have an immediate idea of what I wanted to wear. I was sort of thinking teal… but I wear teal all the time so decided that traditional white or ivory would be a bit more special.

My decision to wear separates rather than a dress came from my desire to design and knit a top. But then I started to think that a knitted top (even in a fine cotton) might be a bit too warm for an August wedding. When the heatwave kicked in I was glad I’d made that decision! But I had already fallen in love with and bought my skirt from Monsoon… so separates it was!

By this point I had been attending sewing classes with Deidre at All Things Creative for a while and felt confident that I could make a simple top to go with my skirt. It ended up being far from simple, but with Deidre’s expert knowledge and calming influence I got it finished two weeks before the wedding.

I decided to use a beaded top I bought from Topshop last year as a starting point for the shape because I liked the fit. The final top is a similar shape, but I had to change the measurements and darts quite dramatically because the fabric I bought behaved so differently.

The original top has a bottom layer of jersey polyester with the beading on a fine fabric sitting on top. I like the fact that the layers are only joined at the shoulder and hem so there’s quite a lot of movement in the fabric. It hangs beautifully with the weight of the beads and although it’s not a snug fit it’s still flattering and the perfect length with my skirt.

I had numerous moments where I thought maybe I should’ve just worn this top!

For my wedding top I chose a beautiful floaty silk for my lining and bottom layer which was an absolute nightmare to work with! And a fine tulle to do the beading on (which was also a pain in the bum). I regularly lost bits of the tulle because it was basically invisible when sitting on top of white fabric!

I’d been spending many enjoyable hours browsing weddings on Pinterest and was feeling drawn to art deco, beaded 1930’s style dresses – with this one being my favourite.

The beading was the most time-consuming element of the top.I settled on a design which was largely based on the dress above. I love the large petals at the waistline so I used that shape and the rest developed from there.

I drew my design out on paper – traced it onto the tulle in running stitch and used the running stitch lines as guidelines which I removed as I beaded. I worked on the large areas of beading in an embroidery hoop which made it portable enough to take to knit group.

Once the larger sections were beaded, I removed the fabric from the hoop and pinned it to the floor on top of my paper template to complete. This is when I discovered my hips and knees can no longer cope with hours of kneeling on the floor! I’m sure there’s a better way to do it but it worked!

I left areas near the seams and darts free of beading as much as possible so that I could ensure the lines of beads met at the seams and across the darts after making up.

In the meantime I had been making many toiles to finalise the fit of the top. It’s surprisingly difficult to make a loose(ish) simple shape look flattering! The second toile looked fine in cotton but as soon as I made it in the silk it looked awful as the fabric was bagging out around the darts. I ended up removing the waist darts because it just hung so much better without. And a few toiles later I was ready to cut the final peices!

Because I had to do the majority of the beading before cutting out and joining the layers of fabric… cutting was a bit scary!

I was worried that something would go wrong and the beading would be wasted but it more or less went to plan. The tulle was shifting all over the place and the only thing keeping the silk in place was the interfacing tacked to the lining – but it more or less fitted together so I could breath a sigh of relief and move onto the side seams and armholes…

By this point I was feeling pretty confident. Nearly finished right? And then….

One of the armholes was a disaster! I was folding in the outer layers of silk and tulle from one side, the inner layers of silk and interfacing from the other side and hand-stitching them together along the edge, clipping as I went, to work with the curve.

The first one went okay. I wouldn’t be winning the sewing bee… but it was okay. And then the second one was really bad! I didn’t catch in the tacked interfacing (I couldn’t use iron-on with the silk), the fabric for the top layers was shifting around so there seemed to be too much silk and not enough tulle. The result was a very messy armhole that was beautifully set off by the fact that it was on my more sloped shoulder! I didn’t know until I started sewing that my left shoulder sits higher than my right (?!).

I was scared to undo it because I thought it might just fall apart where I had clipped it as the silk was fraying a lot. So obviously the best solution was to cry and look online for alternative wedding tops!

After getting that out of my system and deciding that it was unwearable as it was – I took some deep breaths and very carefully unpicked and re-tacked the layers. It still wasn’t perfect but it was so much better and certainly wearable.

I think we analyse our hand-makes more than shop-bought clothes. I’ve since noticed that most of my clothes crease a bit around my right arm… so it must be my wonky shoulder and definitely not my bad sewing!

By the time I’d done all this faffing, the silk at the hem had frayed so much that I no longer had any seam allowance at the centre front. I tacked the layers together to try and stop it fraying more and then Deidre showed me how to add a false hem which folded to the inside and sandwiched in the lining.

This meant that the top ended up a bit shorter that my original plan, but it still sits over the waistband of my skirt (just!) and the false hem gives the edge a nice weight.

The most fun part of the whole process was beading the edges! I used Swarovski pearls which come on a string so I just had to ‘couch’ over the string rather than going through the beads.

I had the buttons and loops made by Harlequin – the service was quick and great value. So much easier than fiddling about to make your own tiny cover buttons and loops! You just send a small amount of fabric and details of what you need. The rouleau loops come on a tape which you can then insert into the seam

All of my beads were bought from The Bead Shop Nottingham. They were super helpful with choosing what I needed and giving me tips on how to do the couching. I also bought some memory wire to make some matching, quick and easy bracelets with leftover beads.

I’m not sure that I would have taken on this project if I’d known how long it would take and how difficult it would be. But I’m so glad that I didn’t know – because I’m so happy with my wedding top! It’s truly unique and that’s a very special thing.

Photos above by Adam BrettNettynot.

Wedding!

I’ve scheduled this weeks blog for today instead of my usual Sunday morning blog because…Today is our wedding day!

And I would love you to join us for a boogie wherever you are, so here are a few of our favourite tunes.

We will be using #jemdrew2018 over on Instagram – so hop over there and follow the hashtag if you want to see some photos.

I’m so excited about sharing our wedding makes with you over the next few blogs!

Happy dancing x

Wedding Makes

I’m writing this blog pre-royal wedding. But now that’s out of the way – we can start thinking about the real wedding of the year… mine and Beardies!

We knew from the start that we wanted a small wedding. We quickly agreed on a registry office ceremony with just immediate family, followed by a village hall party with close friends and family. So with the basics sorted – the big question was… what to make?!

I didn’t want to give myself so much to do that it becomes stressful- but I had so many idea’s! So I’ve inevitably taken on a bit too much… but I’m sure it will all come together.

Jem Weston - wedding cardigan. Lilac by Kim Hargreaves from Breeze

The main things I’m making at the moment are my top and cardigan. Having a dress that is only worn once doesn’t really fit in with a minimalist lifestyle! I thought a top and skirt would give me more options after the wedding. I could shorten the skirt and wear it with other tops and I could dress down the top with a denim skirt.

I found the perfect skirt pretty quickly, but making decisions on the style of the top has been a lot mire difficult! I’m currently on version 3_B and I’m really hoping to start the final top soon! If it all goes completely wrong then I could always just buy a top… but fingers crossed V3_B will work out.

Beardie doesn’t want to know exactly what I’m wearing so no pics if the top yet I’m afraid. He doesn’t mind seeing the cardigan I’m knitting though so you can see that above. I knew I wouldn’t get that done in time if I had to knit in secret!

Kim Hargreaves Lilac cardigan from Breeze

With our wedding being in August- it will hopefully be gloriously sunny, but just in case it’s not I’m knitting Lilac by Kim Hargreaves using Rowan Summerlite 4ply. It’ll be a lovely summer cardigan to have in my wardrobe after the wedding as well.

I’m also knitting a tie for Beardie. I will be updating the Tweed Tie pattern for different yarns as the Fine Tweed is now discontinued- so keep your eye out for that!

Jem Weston Tweed Tie - knitted tie pattern

I will also be making some fabric table runners. I’ve done a lot of fabric chopping but keep getting distracted by how gorgeous the prints are so it’s a slow process!

Jem Weston - wedding table runners

And our friends have been helping us with making pom poms to adorn the village hall.

Jem Weston - pom poms

It’s all very exciting!