Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas!


No last minute finished projects today, due to being stuck in bed for the last couple of days with a mystery aching all over, unable to stand up straight, type of thing. This, as you might imagine, was not in the plan, for the festivities. I am upright today, and finished the cake, and may be able to do the finishing touches for Husbands shirt for tomorrow....

Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year to everyone.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Denim Portfolio dress

I have been on a bit of a sewing roll recently and have another finished item for my wardrobe:

This is the denim I bought at Goldhawk Road during half term. It is quite crisp and a bit thin, but I liked its dark colour. I cut the facings and pockets from a piece of Liberty fabric, that I have had for some years, to try and reduce bulk in some areas.
I also decided not to interface any of the pieces that require it, due the crispness of the denim on its own. I'm pretty sure that with a bit of washing the denim will soften up, so will have to wait and and see if the interfacing decision was the right one!

I have interspersed the sewing of this with sewing the muslin for Husbands shirt. He has tried it on and there don't seem to be any problems with the fit, so it is going to be a 'wearable muslin' and hopefully one of his Christmas presents. He did originally try it on with with his eyes closed, but that didn't seem to work very well, and he did ask if he could wear it on Christmas day! A post for another day.

The construction of this went well, probably because I have made it before, the only slightly different thing I did was to take in the seams either side of the front panel. This was to reduce poofiness in the stomach area - the crispness of the denim made it stick out rather obviously.

Pocket detail:
I bought 3 pairs of tights today to change up the look - red cable knit, teal and on Youngest's insistance leopard print!

My last two projects have been blue, as is Husband's shirt, so my sewing space has become somewhat untidy. I normally have a good old tidy up after each project, but have let it slide with these being all the same colour. I still have some work to do on the shirt (buttonholes), but had a bit of a hoover this morning, and feel that I can now go back in there and carry on!

Friday, 2 December 2011

New Top

I made a new top last week.

I was looking at the Burdastyle site the week or so before, and saw that Melissa of Fehr Trade had put up alot of her projects. I clicked through and read about loads of her projects. There was one top of hers that I particularly liked, from a magazine called InStyle. I love cowl neck tops, and had been thinking I might try and alter a straight forward t-shirt type top to have this style of neckline. Having seen this top I decided that I didn't need to bother (not yet anyway!) I also really liked the super long sleeves.

I ordered the magazine, which took less than a week to come, then put off doing anything whilst I continued to prepare for the disasterous table top sale. Once that was out of the way I wanted something relatively simple to try, so I traced this out one morning last week when I had a daughter off sick. She was very interested in what I was doing and much better for her to help/watch me than slump in front of the TV. I had a minor panic when I realised that I didn't know whether to add seam allowances or not and I couldn't find anything in the magazine to tell me. I emailed Melissa and she very promptly replied that I did - Thanks Melissa!

That evening I chose the material from my small collection of jerseys from Goldhawk Road, and decided on a navy/french navy piece, which I think is a viscose jersey:

Melissa said in her post that she made her top in an hour, and I can see how this can be done, but this is the first all jersey peice I have made (rather than chopping up old t-shirts), so I took my time. I cut out, followed Melissa's tutorial for a neat finish on a cowl, and did the side seams in one sitting, I really struggled putting in one sleeve in a second sitting (probably due to a couple of glasses of wine and sewing too late in the evening). I then managed to get the second sleeve in without too much drama, and finished of the hems in a third sitting. I overlocked the hem of the sleeves and body, but I wasn't sure what else to do with them. So for me this was quite a quick make...

When I appeared wearing it on Sunday, my girls though it was something I had bought (as did my mother -in-law when she saw it).
The pictures are all a bit dark. It seems quite hard to a decent indoor photo at any time of day at the moment. In the last photo, I am wearing a RTW cardigan that I bought some time ago and for some reason the collar rolls up after I have worn it for a while. This is clearly seen in the photo - is there anything I can do to the collar to stop it doing this?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guest post: Slumpy Hat Crochet

This is a guest post by Husband.

Random crocheting continues.  I decided that I needed to move on from crap nets and (steadily improving) slippers.  I still have endless problems with counting rows, rounds increasing mysteriously by one stich and joins that look nearer to the San Andreas fault than a neat row of stitches.  Ah well.

So, I thought "Beanie for me", did my usual thorough research on crochet patterns and with my usual precision found myself making a, er, Marguerite Beret.  To be honest, I might have been influenced my Grandmother churning out slouchy hats for Daughters and the lovely looking triangular stitches.  Anyway, tongue clamped firmly between my teeth I was soon twisting and turning the hook trying to work out "what the hell was a Marguerite stitch anyway?".

I slavishly followed the pattern with the usual disregard for common sense (I never have any idea what these things are going to look like).  I had to return to the shop for wool (there is about £15 of wool in this hat!) since I had initially bought the wool for some slippers for Wife and not to make a giant hat.

All seemed to go swimmingly, although it did seem to be a little elongated.  I couldn't tell if this was by design or incompetence.  I had the usual issues with joining and counting.

The hat should have looked like this (note how flat it is at the top, I did not realise this until comparing the hats):
How it should be!


This view is the best :)
I produced this:

Hmmmm
For novelty value it scores highly, but I think when I can find the will I will be pulling it apart and trying again.  I think in the outdoor pictures Eldest is wearing it inside out, but there was certainly no sign of the beautiful triangles either way around, and it can make people look like a very silly bishop (see below).

Slightly self conscious
Not convinced this looks cool!
This look is not so bad

I guess I will just keep trying when the whim takes me, but I am not convinced I will crack this. Eldest much prefers the hair down look, though you see people with hair up in the hat a far bit.  Maybe they have dreadlocks?

I found some earlier photos where it looks better, but still can't for the life of me work out why it has the crazy point?



The mad bishop look

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Sew what have I been up to?

So, no posts for a while, but I have been sewing quite alot, in short bursts.

I started a dress making course in September. All the courses I was interested in, in Cambridge, were full with extremely long waiting lists, however I found one run at a village college near Cambridge so signed up for that. I appear to be the first new person to start for a while, and most of the ladies there all do the pattern drafting course that the runs for the previous 2 hours, so they get a good four hours sewing done. The dress I have chosen is Simplicity 2591, a favourite of Karen's from Didyoumakethat? She has made several lovely versions of this. I have chosen the gathered v-neck version - which doesn't look that great on the pattern cover, but will suit the fabric I am using. Finally, I have cut into another of my Fabric Fandango purchases, at last. This one is my favourite from that haul and I didn't want to get it wrong even though I bought 4.5mtrs, so have room for mistakes if necessary!

My instructor took all the relevant measurements which resulted in my cutting out a size 12 on top and a size 16(!) for the skirt. I have never worn that size anywhere, but my measurement were firmly in that size column. The fabric I am using has a loose weave, so I wanted to underline it. I followed Tasia's instruction's for this, but ended up hand basting some of the layers together, because what ever I did to the tension on my machine, the stitching was too tight and distorted the shape of the pieces slightly.

The next thing my intructor wanted to do was have to the whole dress hand basted together to get a feel for the fit. This was surprisingly soothing to do as I could do it in front of the TV, while Husband worked on the computer. The size 16 skirt required more gathering to fit the size 12 bodice, but it came together very nicely and gave me high hopes for the finished dress! The only fitting issue was that the back is too wide at the top of the zip, which my intructor wants sort out at the end of the construction process rather than putting the zip in halfway through as per the instructions. Having now almost finished the dress, we found the the front gaped at the sleeve seam, so some very careful unpicking had to be done in order to take it in a little.

So far I don't feel that I have learnt anything new - I am re-acquainting myself with some techniques that I learnt when I did 'O' level Home EC textiles. It is good to know that what I am, or have been doing is correct, though.

I have also been sewing some dolls.

The whole process has been intensive. The girls Primary School had a Table Top sale soon and I rashly said I would have a table. I had a vague idea that I would make some dolls for this having seen the dolls that Jorth has made, and following the tutorial from the original maker. I used mostly material that I've had lying around for a while, but unfortunatley I didn't sell a single one. I wasn't the only one who didn't make their pitch fee though.

Middlest daughter has been after a new pencil case since the beginning of term. We had a look at the offerings in our local WHSmith, but she didn't really like any and I didn't want to spend upwards of £5.99 on something that she didn't like. Having gone through my collection of fabric, she settled on some cupcake material I found in a rememnant at And Sew On near Dunmow in Essex. I did a quick Google of pencil cases and found this which seem to fullfill requirements. This blogger also has a tutorial to make these rather sweet little things called Sarubobo plushes, so I made one out of the lining material. Middlest seems very taken with the pencil case and the plush.


Half term found me in London for a few days. Unfortunatley, I was laid up in bed for the first day, but felt sufficiently recovered to go to Goldhawk Road the next day. This time I went with a shopping list, looking for specific things.

I am planning a denim Portfolio dress, a corduroy Beignet/trousers and some jersey for tops (not that I have used up the jersey that I bought at the Fabric Fandango yet). Having seen Karen's latest 'Star Wars' skirt, I think that I have bought the same corduroy she has just made her latest Beignet from - great minds think alike, or something like that !

Well, that's enough for now. I'm off to start the muslin for a shirt for husband (that has been cut out for a couple of months). I sat down last night and wrote a list of what I would like to sew. It was quiet long. Subject for a different post perhaps!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Autumnal Portfolio


Well, if you can't beat'em, join'em. I have followed the world and made myself a Lisette Portfolio tunic. Having seen some fab renditions of this, most notably Karen from Didyoumakethat?, Roobeedoo's versions here, here, and here and Nadines stripey number, I was beginning to think my Autumn wardrobe would not be complete without one.

Just before the school summer holidays, I met up with my great friend for lunch at Blake House Craft Centre about halfway between Saffron Walden and Chelmsford, where we found And Sew On Fabrics. I had a happy time poking around and came away with a few samples and quite a few ideas. Later on, during one of the summer's less summery days, I persuaded the family to come out for a drive (with the lure of cake at the tea rooms) and came home with some lovely flowery cotton lawn, some chocolatey brown linen poly mix, half a metre each of red cotton and blue cotton, and a metre each of differing camo fabrics (possible later post on this one!). Unable to concentrate on much sewing during the holidays, I embarked on this make once everyone was safely back at school.

I had decided that I was going to have the contrast neck band, yoke and sleeve cuffs hence the purchase of the blue and red cottons. I spent some time holding the fabric up to me in front of the mirror trying to work out which of the two colours looked best on me. The blue was the best match to the blue in the main fabric, the red looked better next to my skin but didn't really go with the red of the flowers, and both of them looked pretty awful on me. I really wanted to to use some of the brown linen poly mix but then remembered that I have a pair of brown linen trousers that had never been very comfortable, and I had put to one side to pass on to my sister. These turned out to be just the right colour and weight for what I wanted. I could only get the neck bands and yoke out of the trousers - however I played with it I could not squeeze the cuffs out as well.

One evening, when I was too tired to understand the instructions for the sleeve cuff, I found a post on this blog, which gave pointers to the
Sew Lisette website,
a SewLisette flickr group and
a Portfolio dress sewalong,

all of which provided great distraction from actually sewing my own and the sewalong was very useful athought not for the cuff! I had not really taken in what I was supposed to do on the cuff, but when I went back to it, it all became clear, I had just been too fatigued!

Apart from my incomprehension re cuffs, the tunic came together nicely and I'm really pleased with how it looks. I had great fun playing with self covered buttons, which stand out nicely on the neck band and I love the pockets.


I am wearing it over jeans in the photo, but plan to wear it with leggings, boots and a polo neck jumper (according to Woman's Hour this morning, this will be very 'on trend'!) in the winter.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Turquoise top

So, apart from the Geometric refashion, I did actually manage to make an item of clothing for me, during the summer holidays.

For the second week of the summer holidays my m-i-l took my girls to Norfolk for a week, which enabled Husband and I to go to Liverpool for a few days. Lots of walking, eating, galleries, shopping, mixed weather - we had a great time!

The afternoon and evening before we left, I concentrated on cutting out my new top. I was using one of the fabrics I bought at the fantastic Goldhawk Road Fabric Fandango and one of the patterns Husband gave me for my birthday. I have had many ideas for the various pieces of material I bought, some of which was quite conflicting, so it felt really good to actually cut into some of it.

The pattern was Simplicity 2255:



I had looked at this pattern several times but not really made a decision on it until I saw a post from Jorth on this top. Her shirt looked so professional I decided that it was a pattern I wanted to have a go at after all. I have a sleeveless shirt from Boden that I've had for years, which I love but is on it last legs, and it is difficult to tuck in due to a ruffle all the way down the front. So I decided to go for view D (not completely sleeveless) with the small half ruffle thing from view C.

The fabric is 100% cotton, quite fine with a loose-ish weave, which for parts of it was a complete nightmare. For example, the front ruffle needed a narrow hem, which seemed simple enough, however, my sewing machine had other ideas. After chewing up the hem, I managed to unpick the stitching without any damage to the fabric. I repinned the hem and found some tissue paper, so tried stitching the hem with the tissue, which worked really well, although tearing away the tissue was a bit fiddly.

As Jorth mentioned in her post, whilst labeled 'easy to sew', it is fiddly. My iron and I became firm friends during this make as I wanted to make this look as good as possible. I used french seams on the inside. The whole shirt took a while to make, an hour here, couple of hours there. I was, however, determined to finish the shirt in time for Eldest's birthday treat. The last thing to do were the buttonholes, which I have to admit, I'd put off the previous evening. They weren't so bad after all and I was able to wear it the next day.

The picture I have of me wearing it isn't great, taken on my phone in a poorly lit room:
Note for another make: I made a size 10, which is mostly ok, but I need to grade out to a larger size in the hip if I make one of the longer versions. If I had put the last buttonhole in I would not be able to do it up, so I didn't bother. I think I probably need to take out some of the width in the front shoulder area - there seemed to be a fairly constant fold of excess material.

So far, I think this is my favourite of anything I have made!