Friday, 18 July 2014

Abandon project?

Okay, this is a bit of a non post really I admit that.  But I felt I should be posting successes and failures. Although technically, this is neither, and is instead a story of giving up.

I needed a nice easy project that would fit in with how manic life is at the moment.  Last few days of the school term are coming up, though, so things should ease up soon.  Enter a simple refashion.


These are a pair of 80's Harem trousers in a size 20.  Easy job, I thought - take in an inch each side and again on the inner leg seam.

But I can't control the fabric!  It's a slippy-slidey thin rayon.  And it either moves under my needle, or gets pulled down to be chewed up in my machine.  Not sure what I am doing wrong.  I am cross, as I have just bought 2 metres of the loveliest softest drapiest rayon, and these pants were supposed to be my dress rehearsal for sewing it!

Any tips, peeps?   Think the pants might end up in fabric recycle, but I don't want my new fabric going to waste.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Simplicity 6842

Bit late in the day (or year) but I decided to join in A Stitching Odyssey's  vintage sewing pattern pledge!


The idea is that you pledge to actually sew up some vintage patterns, rather than just mooning over them.  Admittedly, it is phrased a little nicer than that! I have pledged to sew up three items this year.

This is the first of my vintage sewing pattern makes.  It is from 1975, and I think it looks great; the pattern is a little bit battered but it's intact. The little tabs on the neckline and the flared shape at the hem are rather fun and lovely.


So here is my attempt.  It is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not terrible.


I've used a nice soft knit in a 4-way stretch. The finished garment is so soft and comfy, I may never take it off! I don't think it was a very wise fabric choice, though, as it was too stretchy.  The suggested fabrics were a little more stable: crepe, double knit, shantung,or wool.


The dress looks okay, but due to the stretch it was a bugger to sew. I used a walking foot for the sewing and this made it a little easier.  But I made mistakes - I forgot to stay-stitch first, and this meant the neck and armcycles are not perfect.


Luckily those little tabs take your eyes off it, so it is not too noticeable.


I stabilised the shoulder seams with stay tape.  The instructions didn't say to, but I'd read about it a lot on other people's blogs, so I gave it a go. It really helps keep the shape of the seam and stops the seam moving.



I think I may give the pattern another go in a woven fabric. This would make it much easier for me to sew, but I may need to tweak the sizing a little. The pattern was a size 12; not knowing how to down-size a pattern properly, I literally brought the pattern in by a cm all around. It worked (sort of) and it is at least a workable base pattern for tweaking in the future.


Given the slightly stretched seams, dodgy sizing and fabric choice, I'm not sure I should wear this out in public much!  The only trouble with that is... it is so comfy, and I feel good in it!  So I'll just have to brazen it out.  Either that, or wear it as a fancy nightie.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Stylish Dress Book: Dress T

I have wanted to make this dress from The Stylish Dress Book since the day I bought the book. 


It is dress T from the original book, and it is lovely. What put me off for so long was that the neckline looked rather complicated.


It wasn't easy to get my head around making the neckline but I got there. Because I'd been so worried about doing it, when I actually finished, I felt ridiculously proud. And if I did it again I would be confident. This, despite my 8 year old pronouncing it as "rubbish"!  I think he's in a "trying to be cool, aloof and amusing" phase rather than giving his honest opinion - may be wrong though


The pattern is supposed to have a voluptuously gathered skirt, but I didn't have enough fabric! I'd  forgotten to calculate the extra needed for a one directional print fabric. So, I opted for a subtle a-line shape and actually I rather like it.


I also added very simple patch pockets to my dress. Cute yet practical. The design also features gathered cuffs that are bound with the same fabric as the neckline.  I did try it (see below) but I didn't like it as much as the loose bell shape, so I unpicked and went with my gut instinct.


If I made another, I might go for this cuff edging, but with little puff sleeves.


When my dress was almost finished, my sewing blogger friend Danielle over at Ivy Arch posted her latest make. And we have become sewing twins! Find her fantastic dresses here, spot the difference!


The fabric is lovely a sturdy cotton, breathable and light. The print shows lots of little ticket stubs for trains, buses and theatre shows.  It's quite kitsch.

I love my new dress - it has been a pleasure to make and lovely to wear.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

My first sew along, Happy Homemade

Elsie Marley and You and Mie have been running a sew-along for Happy Homemade's Pullover Parka.  Although I had already made this once before as a winter fleece jumper I thought I'd give the sew along a whirl and make a light summer version.



The sew along walks you through each section of the make, from choosing fabrics and designing your Parka, to cutting out and sewing it up.


The design is a cute hooded top with midi length sleeves, elastic at the neckline and a drawstring at the waist.  It is from Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, and I have gushed before about how wonderful I think this book is - truly worth getting if you are sewing for children.


I chose to try my hand at refashioning. My darling husband was about to throw away a rather lovely soft blue cotton shirt which was too scruffy at collar, wrists and armpits to be worth donating to the charity shop, but had plenty of usable fabric nonetheless.


As it was an old shirt, I decided to include the button placket, but sew it down to make it only decorative.


Because I wanted to keep this feature, I decided to omit the drawstring tie at the bottom. To be honest, little one is only four, so I doubt he'd be able to tie it anyway. This way he'll be able to take it on and off without adult help.


I rather like the way it gathers around the middle button placket - it gives it a cool vibe.  The cotton is thin, so this will be perfect on hot sunny days down on the beach.  And if it gets wet due to excessive paddling, it will air-dry in no time.


It is rather nice to have made a wearable top out of what was going to end up in the bin.  This is all that was left of the shirt, so near to zero waste again:


I enjoyed making the parka and it has been lovely seeing what everyone else has made: there are some fine versions out there.  But... I am not sure I would do it again. I've found it hard sewing to a deadline.  It has resulted in an okay make, but definitely not my best or neatest sewing. I have to remind myself I'm sewing because I enjoying the process, not to be the quickest or the best!  Having said that, it was nice to feel we were all doing it together.  For the moment, I am undecided. 


I think the boy looks mighty fine in his hooded parka, and I'm looking forward to him wearing it over the summer.

Next, to make something for... ME!



Saturday, 14 June 2014

More Simplicity 5776

During Me Made May I lived in my two Simplicity 5776 skirts (see posts here and here). They are so comfy and easy to wear.  I don't feel dressed up in them, just "me". However, the warm weather has finally struck and I can no longer wear my woollen tartan beauty, as it just wouldn't be right without opaque tights. So, enter version three.


This time with pockets!  I'm getting to the stage where I want pockets on everything I wear. You may recognise the fabric, as it is the remnants of the camo design from which I made my boys trousers. Those trousers, by the way, are a massive hit with the boys and they are always chosen above RTW; this fact fills my heart with joy, and is one of the many reasons why I sew.


Needless to say, we will NOT be seen out wearing these at same time, matching mummy and boys - I will have to dress them before I dress myself, or risk us ending up looking like the Von Trapp family.


Back to the skirt: having made it twice before, I didn't even need to read the instructions - it pretty much threw itself together.


Can you spot my zip?  This is my best zip ever, wahoo and hurrah. I actually sewed it in by hand. Not because I was trying to be fancy, but because middle child was misbehaving at bedtime; it gave me something to do whilst sitting outside his room putting him back to bed every five minutes!


His naughtiness went on so long that night that I sewed the waistband on by hand as well. It was rather calming and Zen-like.  It saved me getting cross with the boy too, so win-win.


I am really pleased with this skirt: it is the perfect weight for the summer, and holds it shape beautifully. I decided to make the waistband bigger on this version and I rather like the chunky look.


Cost effective too, as I was again using up leftover bits from my stash. I now only have a  few centimetres of this fabric left, and I am cutting out some hexies from it.  It will only yield a few, but it will mean I've achieved zero waste. I've cut out some hexies from other teeny tiny scraps of fabric too. Not sure what I will do with them but soon I'll have enough to do something fun and multicoloured.


At the risk of being boring I am going to make one more, but next time a maxi-length. I just have to find the right fabric for it.


 But for now I am super happy with my latest make.  It has been a joy to get sewing again.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sewing a litte home decoration

Okay; I've found it hard to find the time to sew lately, so my latest make is rather small; but, on the plus side, it meant that I could get it together very quickly.


In case you are wondering what in the name of crikey they are, they are stuffed fish!  I've just decorated our downstairs loo and have put a few seaside themed pieces in to snaz it up. I've added a painting of a seagull by a local artist, and a mirror framed with found driftwood. I thought a little handful of hanging fabric fish would look cute too.


As it was a simple idea, I drew out my own design and then added a 1cm seam allowance. I cut the shapes out of scrap fabric.


As they were so small, sewing them only took a matter of moments. I sewed in some string, as I wanted them to hang down when on display.


Next up was stuffing them and sewing up the gap. This was done while sitting on the couch watching "Moonlighting"!  My husband has bought the box-set to wallow in some 80's nostalgia.  They make for fun viewing, especially when accompanied with a nice glass of wine.  I'd forgotten how handsome Bruce Willis was before he became a bald Hollywood action hero!  But I digress! The finishing touch was a button added for an eye.


Tee hee! They are a bit of fun: I rather like them hanging off my loo roll holder. Still deciding exactly where to put them, but they definitely add some life to a boring room.


Hoping to get my energies back soon to tackle a larger project, as I am bursting with dressmaking ideas. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sewing I have bought

I wasn't sure what to do with the blog this week, I'm absolutely exhausted and I have been much too tired for sewing.  I want to sew, but even the effort of plugging the machine in seems too much!  Early nights instead.  So I thought I'd share some sewing that I'd bought instead.  I have two quilts in my house, neither made by me, but both are lovely.


This was bought at the Christmas fayre held in our local community centre four years ago; we go as a family annually and it is great fun.  They have stalls with teddies, endless raffles, lace-making, cakes and sweets,  dancing by local children's groups, watercolours. My favourite stall is always The Quilters Society.

I got this before I could sew, I just liked it.  I had no idea what I'd use it for.  The lady who sold it described it as a wall hanging but I can't imagine having  it displayed like that.


It has lots of hand sewn shapes. I've subsequently learnt this is called English paper piecing, and it is so fun with so many different pictures to look at.


The lady who made it is an American, now living in the UK, and she told me every stitch is done by hand.  She also said that she is addicted to quilting, works on them all-day long. She adores making them, and even sews her name into the quilts.


I loved it so much that the following year, I went straight to her stall and purchased another.


This one has even more of a nursery feel I think!  Even though both quilts were sewn entirely by hand they've been through the wars: they've been used as playmats for puking babies, a quilt on a toddler bed, picnic rugs, parts of a fortress or play house.  These have been in and out of the wash and now have that lovely soft worn feel of loved items.

They almost make me want to make my own quilt. Almost.  I'm still in the thrall of the quick hit you get from making a garment, and I'm under no illusions: quilts take time, and lots of it.

Have you ever made one?