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Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country

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costume

Life can be such a drag

What a week I’ve had, running around like a lunatic and keeping the momentum going. The sun’s come out in merry old Bristol and it’s time to think ahead to the summer, aka, costume season for me!

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We don’t mention the year I dressed as Elton ‘Hercules’ John

I’m not a cosplayer, I’m just a maniac who likes dressing up in a field. There’s a camping event I attend every August for Sci Fi and Fantasy fans, with drag night on Friday, a masquerade all day Saturday and the talent show in the evening, I have at least three costumes to prepare every year and I tend to tackle them each differently.

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My ‘crowning’ glory

This week I’ll tell you all about drag night. I did win the ftm category in 2014. There was some stiff competition from a unicorn onesie. What I wear to drag night tends to be a conglomeration of found items. I don’t do ready made costumes because they’re over priced, the quality tends to be poor and it’s just a bit dull in my opinion. The year I won, I was decked out as Beetlejuice. I was pretty poor at the time and had an awesome black and white stripy blazer and black trousers. It was a good look. Some how a black and white stripy corset seemed to work too. I was a very convincing man. My personality may well have been the reason I won. Believe it or not, I can be pretty funny at times.

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I think I got this man posture down!

Last year I didn’t enter. I felt as reigning champion I could hand the honer over to someone else with grace, dignity and pink wellies. I still did the drag though. Each year the whole event has a theme and last it was ‘The Library’. Late night drag and a bookish theme. When I came up with the answer, it was obvious. Arthur Dent. I didn’t need to get changed for bed. When you’re crawling into a tent at 3am and the biggest costume change you have to do it taking off your wellies, you count it as a blessing. When you’re taking all your camping kit on public transport, one less costume to try and squeeze into your case is the sign of a genius. A set of mens PJs for £5, a towel and my kindle case mama sheep made me with the words Don’t Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on the cover and I was sorted. Although one little girl did say I wasn’t dressed as a man or a woman.

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Martin Freeman’s got nothing on me

So what does this year have in store? Well, like in the same way my black and white blazer inspired me to be Beetlejuice, I am once again taking a cue from an item I already own. Real, honesty to god, genuine cowboy boots. Matthew McConaughey. Magic Mike. All I need is a nude coloured top, a black stetson and a black waistcoat and I’m more or less there.

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Bring on August!

To be continued…

Mal-knit-ficent

This week I’m going in a slightly different direction and talking you through how I made my latest creation. I had this idea a while ago and after finally seeing the film and forgiving Angelina Jolie for breaking up Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pit, I decided to have a stab at a Maleficent headdress. It’s still not quite finished, but it’s not far off.

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Isn’t she stunning!

Stage one is breaking the design down into individual elements, studying them and working out how best to recreate each of them in a knitted form. So, looking at it, we have a hat and two horns.

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Turban’d!

After looking at the hat structure for a while, which has an almost ‘widows peak’, turban style hats seemed to be the way forwards, with a deep V shape at the front that an extra piece of knitting could be used to turn it into more of an M shape. It also needed to have a ribbed texture and cover the ears. After a snoop through ravelry, I decided upon this pattern, and knitted it up with no issues.

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With only my phone to take pictures, correctly exposing everything is a bit of a challenge…

So, the insertion to make the M shaped brim! It was a small piece of knitting, created thus.

CO 3 stitches

Row 1: K

Row 2: P

Row 3: K1, M1, K to last stitch, M1, K1 (5 stitches)

Row 4: P

Rep last two rows until you have 9 stitches, ending with a P row.

Next Row: K

Next Row: P

Next Row: K1, SSK, K to last 3 stitches, K2tog, K1

Next Row: P

Rep last two rows until 5 stitches remain

Next Row: K1, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K1

Next Row: P

Next Row: S1, K2tog, PSSO

And it just seams nicely in place! You can play with the proportions if you want, my first attempt was bigger and much much too big.

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Nose warmer!

Now, the really tricky bit. The horns! The first attempt I made, I decided were far too large for Jolie’s Maleficent, but would be quite good for the animated version.

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Round 1: too big!

To make them I used my trusty old Clanger pattern as a guide, and I’ll talk you through how I adapted it. The pattern can be found here for free.

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Round 2: There we go!

I knitted it in DK on 4mm needles. you start out by following the instructions as given on the pattern. except you work in the round. Follow the pattern until you have 30 stitches and then work one more row as given in the pattern. Work 12 rounds stocking stitch. Remove marker, knit 15 stitches, replace marker. Repeat the shape back of head instructions as you used them before, but without making any stitches. Knit in stocking stitch for 12 rounds. [P1 round, K1 round] 3 times and cast off.

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Long Horn? Mooooo!

I still need to work out how to make the horns stay upright and a few other bits, but I’d say I’m not far off a finished piece. I’ll follow that up on another blog and will also document the creation of a complete costume over the coming months. See you next week!

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Black stuffing is a must me thinks…

Lights! Camera! Knitting!

Inspiration for making something can come from all sorts of places, and one of the ones I am most conscious of using myself is film. I love the costumes, when ever I watch a period drama, I always want to make a dress afterwards. Here are a handful of iconic knits from the world of film.

Tom Hanks – Castaway

I love Tom Hanks. Anyone who knows me will tell you, he is my favorite living actor. If a film is ever made of my life, I want him to play me. (I know, I’m a 20something year old woman, but this man can do no wrong in my eyes.)

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Shame it got ruined by the ocean.
Can you imagine my excitement the first time I saw Castaway, before the floods of tears over the loss of Wilson, when I saw him in this masterful creation? Fair isle, cables and Tom Hanks all in one place! Plus, it’s not the only knitting in the film. Here are two more jumpers (and Helen Hunt).

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I like to think she’s thinking ‘Yey! Jumpers!’
Marilyn Monroe

One day I watched a documentary about the wonderful Marilyn and in it was a shot of her wearing a beautiful cardigan. I was in love.

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Diamonds are a girls best friend in this fair isle pattern.
After much Googling, I finally managed to find the right phrase to find a collection of images that would allow me to really study it. This is the only one on the list I’ve actually made. I found an old Starsky and Hutch pattern, researched the unusual stitch and drew out the fair isle element. After a bit of maths and a lot of time, I eventually created something very similar. It’s not perfect, far from, but I am so proud of what I achieved. A whole post devoted to this one will appear in the future.

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

There is plenty to get inspired by in this franchise, but the cowl worn by Katniss in the opening scene of the second film seems to really have caught the online crafting community in particular.

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It’s so cold she’s wearing it inside.
It’s hard to grab decent images of this creation, especially with the naturalistic camera work and dramatic lighting. If I was going to have a go, I’d try to be inspired by it rather than trying to replicate. I love the shape and colour, but I’d probably make the neck a little lower and see how many styles of cables I could include.

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Much easier to get shots of the back.
Mark Darcy – Bridget Jones’s Diary

The original ‘cheesey Christmas jumper’ in my opinion. In the past few years these garments have become a trendy new tradition which I blame on Colin Firth’s character in this classic rom com.

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It’s only a jumper Bridget.
By today’s standard, it’s actually embarrassingly tame. We see ones that light up, play music, have doors that open as an advent calendar and even animated creations. But back in 2001, this was so unfashionable it made Ms Jones question his suitability to be her partner. Little did she know he was actually incredibly fashion forwards.

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Close up, it’s really not a worthy offering by modern standards.
So many more to write about, another time though.

Kids Characters Costume Show Down

Anyone I know will tell you, I love fancy dress. And the more ridiculous the better. Putting a costume together is so much fun, and I find myself making more and more elements every time. I don’t tend to replicate costumes directly from film and TV, not that there’s anything wrong with this, I just enjoy the design factor as much as I enjoy the creation of the piece. Here are two very different approaches I take when I make a costume.

Alice in Wonderland

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A nice sensible concept sketch

This one’s about planning, planning and planning again. To begin with, I sketched out the basic elements of the design. The concept was to make it look like the part where Alice grew and ended up wearing the house. Rather than create some kind of cardboard house to spend the day wearing, I wanted to create an under the bust corset, which would be easier to wear and more fashion rather than costume.

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More detailed sketch. This was the design element I was most excited about.

To achieve this, I decided to look at all the elements individually. I wanted to make a dress and a corset. All the other elements (underskirt, wig, apron…) I was going to buy. Ebay is an excellent resource for buying bits for costumes. The dress I made straight from a pattern, but for the corset, after doing a bit of research, I decided to draft the pattern myself. I made a toile before cutting into my precious brick print fabric, just to be sure it would all work. The embellishment never ended up happening, but I was pleased with the outcome and I can always add it if I wear it again.

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The final costume. Just wish I’d remembered to take my glasses off for pictures.

The Clanger

I want my own knitted clanger outfit. What sane person has never thought these words? My advice? Do not do it. It’s all fun and games and then you realise what you’ve done. I had no plan as to when I would wear this, and in all honesty, I still don’t have a clue.

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Cute or terrifying? You decide.

The idea crossed my head one day and I was already in possession of this book. As I work dangerously close to a well stocked craft shop, it didn’t take long for me to get going Using the pattern as a guide, I made it up as I went along.

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It was somewhere around here I started questioning my decision to make this.

I used the pattern for the adult clanger for the head using chunky wool. I then kept increasing until it looked a reasonable size to wear as a waistcoat, kept going until it was time to split for the arm holes, added some sparse ribbing and kept increasing gradually until it was a reasonably ridiculous length. Finishing it involved constructing a pink fleece cushion to hold her head proudly above mine in addition to adding the ears and felt embellishments. Before these decorations were added was the lowest point where I was questioning what I’d done, but I kept going or I’d never know how she turned out.

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I’m simultaneously impressed at myself and questioning my sanity.

I have plenty of other costumes to write about, but that shall be for another day.

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