Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi friends; now, I know this is a sewing blog, and I am not about to change that, but I really wanted to address Mental Health Awareness week.  I do talk about sewing too, so please stay with me on this tangent. This initiative aims to raise public debate, with the object to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.


I yesterday listened to a great talk by Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor, who is famously open about his own mental health breakdown. He proposed that the more it becomes acceptable to talk about breakdowns and depression, the better our society will become at dealing with - and helping those - in distress.

So, to that end, I am outing myself and "talking" openly about my own mental health. I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember; certainly at age 14, I was aware how it would just come over me, all-consuming. It can be crippling living with a heavy, deadening darkness crushing you.  I have tended to hide this side of myself, as to admit to it can feel like admitting to a weakness, as if I was broken in some way! Also I couldn't bear that completely irrelevant and frankly hurtful question "but what are you depressed about...?"

Depressive episodes are horrible, but with experience I have learnt that they don't last forever, and I will emerge the other side eventually!  One thing that helps me a great deal with my mental health is sewing. It lightens my mood, relieves my stress levels. It has given me a great deal of pleasure. The flow you achieve whilst making is really Zen-like, your mind clearing to focus on the detail.  Now, I am not saying this would help whilst in a dark phase, but the joy that sewing brings helps lengthen the times between the gloom, and sustains happiness.

Lots of wonderful sewing bloggers at our wonderful meet ups.
The other joy sewing has brought me is friendship and relationships; through blogging I have made virtual friends with fellow sewers in many different countries. The relationships have strengthened over time and through commenting on blogs and interaction through IG these friendships have really blossomed so that we look forward to updates on each other's days, our fabric shopping and general plans. I have also met up with fellow bloggers and IG friends at meet ups. It's so fun meeting others who have the same passion for fabric hunting and stitching. They feel like happy and inspiring friendships. Locally too I have formed relationships  through sewing. At the "Brighton Sewing Bee", organised by the vivacious and gorgeous Stacie Madden, I've met other local stitchers, shared tea and cake with friends.

Brighton Sewing Bee at St Georges Church Kemptown.

Life with depression is manageable; medication, friends, and the most supportive of husbands means that most of the time my life is good.

Well I've outed myself now and it feels liberating. Apparently 1 in 4 adults suffer with mental health problems. I hope that by being honest, I will encourage others to think about these issues. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mimi blouse; Love at First Stitch.

Hello all. There's been no sewing this weekend, as life has been full of birthday parties and old friends. Therefore, today's make is from a few weeks ago; it's the Mimi blouse, from Tilly Walnes book Love at First Stitch. I have to admit, I held out against buying this book, and determined that I didn't need it. But fate had other plans, as a great friend bought me a copy for my birthday last year.


I have a quasi-rule that, if I have a book in the house like this (as with recipes in a cookery book), then I must make something from it, to justify its place on the shelves. I was trying to work out which pattern I would play with, and I saw so many lovely versions of the Mimi Blouse on the internet (e.g. Pootlemakes did a lovely version here) I felt inspired to give it a go! The gathers are very pretty too.


This is another fabric that I inherited from my Nan's stash, which has been patiently waiting for a project. It is a voile, and definitely seethrough! I will always need to wear something underneath, but that's fine. I think it will work with little bralettes, which are my preferred underwear anyway.


I had trouble with the sleeves, hence it became a sleeveless top!  When I sewed them on, the top was suddenly too tight across the bust. Thanks to sewing friends on Instagram, I have lots of ideas to rectify this on version #2, but for this one I have cut my losses and got rid of the sleeves; I used binding to finish the armholes, to create the sleeveless version you can see in the photos.

I am pointing at the gathers and pointy collar like a crazy, here!

I am pleased with the top and will very likely make it again, however I felt the instructions in the book were somewhat lacking. Had I not made the vintage shirtdress recently I doubt I could have followed the instructions. This surprised me, as nearly every review of Love at First Stitch waxes lyrical on Tilly's instructions and general hand-holding. Well, I like the pattern but the "how to" could have been a good deal clearer!



All's well that ends well, though, as I have a cute summer top to go with skirts, jeans or shorts. So, I am happy.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sew Over It; Vintage shirt dress! Love it.

Hello fellow stitchers, I am ridiculously excited by today's make, it's the Vintage Shirt Dress by Sew Over It. And I really enjoyed making it.

Tulips picked by my youngest - no stems!
The pattern had appealed to me for ages, and I thought it was something I would enjoy wearing. In fact, I was happy from the moment I owned my pattern! The packaging is lovely, and the instruction booklet is detailed, well-illustrated, and easy to follow.


Indeed my favourite instruction was one telling me to drink plenty of tea and eat cake. I am always happy to follow those kind of instructions!


I deviated from the pattern in two places, cutting length out of the skirt pieces, and secondly making a narrow shoulder adjustment. I didn't muslin it, as I have suddenly come to the realisation that anything I make with sleeves needs this alteration. The adjustments have worked well, and the sleeve caps hit just the right spot.


The fabric is from "Timeless Treasures", a cotton poplin with lines of repeating perpendicular spots as its pattern. The cotton behaved beautifully and pressed and sewed like a dream.


The dress comes together easily, and the dress tucks make a nice change from darts. Although it wasn't a particularly hard make it was pretty time-consuming. I think the longer process will make me treasure this dress and really look after it.


There was also some lazy hemming in front of the telly, which is always good. All in all I think version #1 is a good wearable muslin - it's helped me get to grips with the construction and I am looking forward to making version #2 already, though I may try sleeveless next to mix it up.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Stylish Dress book; box dress D.

Hi there, the sun was shining today and my tulips sparkled in the light.  For the first time in ages, it's actually been warm enough to have blog photos taken without needing to run back indoors for warmth! Of course having said that it did hail heavily over the weekend so who knows!

Looking at my tulips!

This gorgeous little dress is dress D from the stylish dress book. If you haven't got it and you like Japanese style, this is a must have! The pattern was actually the first dress I made.  I recently let out the sides, as I had sewn it with a wide seam allowance; in doing that, I fell in love with this dress all over again.


Fortunately for this dress, I decided to make it at the same time I was going through my stash and scolding myself for having beautiful fabric and not using it up! So, enter this fabulous fabric from the Fabric Godmother. I had bought it at her last open day, and was subsequently scared of it because it was expensive!

Pattern matched pocket for the win!
Well, Josie told me it was ex liberty needlecord and it is so soft that it's actually lovely just to sit and stroke it!  In fact she still has the fabric in stock in a mocha colour-way. But this is cream, mossy green and brown. I did have a brief moment of "should this be a classy skirt?" But, in reality, I have nowhere to wear a fancy skirt, and this is much more me.


This is slightly adapted from the pattern, in that I took 1.5cm out of the centre fold both front and back. I also re-drew the front neckline slightly lower than drafting. This meant changing the facings, but it was no big deal really.


Had I had a solid amount of time, I'm sure I could have whizzed through this dress quite quickly, but I seem only to be able to be able to sew in ten minute chunks at the moment due to kid based distraction!


Well, I am really happy with this dress, it will really come into its own when the sun cranks up the heat, and I can ditch the tights for bare legs and sandals.

I will be back soon with my Sew Over It Vintage Shirt dress, just need to photograph it.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Refashioning for the win

Hello folks; a couple of weeks ago, the whole family was laid low with fever. One of the worst things about being ill is that as you start to get better you crave to sew again before you're ready; still slightly befuddled and below par, I didn't want to mess with any of my lovely fabrics and ruin them! My thoughts turned to refashioning.

Old Ben Sherman Shirt.
I'd sourced three raggedy shirts from my Beloved last year when Portia from Makery ran her refashioners challenge. As usual, time passed by, and I didn't even start the challenge! Oh well, I have used them now. They are all 100% cotton lawn. So so soft!

Old M&S shirts.


The pattern is The Sailor Top by Marilla Walker.  I really love my knit version;  Marilla said it was also suitable for woven fabric, and I wanted to try it out in a risk-free way. She's right, it works really well. These are comfy, if a little patchwork in aesthetic!


I found the top so much easier to sew up than my first version. Always easier the second time, I suppose. It flew together quickly, and even though I had to colour block with different shirts, I think it works for an everyday kinda shirt.

Original button placket down the back!

I've already worn the check one quite a bit even though these were only really to play with the pattern in woven.


Next up, my Sew Over It vintage shirt dress, which I am almost finished with. I just need to find the right buttons and not get distracted by a shiny, new project! Must... not... get... distracted...

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Snuggly Linden!

How-do folks! The weather is perking up and spring is on its way. I love this time of year, probably my favourite.


Today I am sharing with you my snuggly Grainline Linden sweatshirt. I have sized up by two sizes from my muslin. I wanted a slightly baggier top so I could use it as a jumper layer on top of shirts or tops.


The fabric is gorgeous, dark moss green with flecks of yellow, blue and red scattered throughout.  It reminded me of a knitted jumer I had many years ago in the same colour. I bought the fabric from Guthrie and Ghani, and despite having been sewing for three years this was surprisingly my very first online fabric purchase. I had always before been wary on not being able to feel the fabric before I bought, but this is truly scrummy, soft and fleecy on one side and sweatshirting on the other.


Construction-wise, I made this up on my overlocker! For many that won't sound like an achievement, but I am dancing at that! I am getting more confident on it now, though still nervous of how bloomin'  fast it goes! It's made the sweatshirt look nice and neat on the inside, which is pleasing.


My only troublesome area was the neckline: it didn't lay flat after my first attempt and I was worried that unpicking would permanently stretch the neck out of shape. Now the neckline is so tightly stretched that the jumper looks like it has little puckers around the neck probably due to the lack of recovery in the fabric.


So my question, experienced friends, is will I ruin the neck if I unpick again? I have enough fabric for another slightly longer neck piece. I probably should have cut the neckpiece on the bias, which I could try. What would you do.? It's been bugging me so badly it's sat neglected on the back of my sewing chair for over two weeks.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Sew ill and a sewing pledge!

Cough, cough, splutter, splutter. Hello sewing friends. So far this week, I have watched all my family fall like dominoes with fevers and colds. All five of us shivering and hot at the same time!

I want to sew, but any attempt to do anything other than sit very still or sleep sees me bimbling around, useless. Can you sew when ill? I managed before to sew bunting when ill, but that was just straight lines, and this fever has wracked my limbs and fuzzed my vision.

Instead I thought I would plan! I want to take part in the Vintage Pattern Pledge again this year, hosted by Marie and Kerry.  The idea being to actually make use of the vintage patterns rather than just looking at them! I particularly like the 1970s patterns I own, and have been riffling through my box of treasures in bed to help me feel creative and awake. Here are some that I would like to make up for this challenge...


Firstly, this: "style 4191", I love the shape of this, and think it would flatter me. It would be something easy to wear in Spring and Autumn. I was thinking a fine needlecord would work well, possibly one of the following.


This first is from Ditto Fabrics, bought years ago and patiently sitting waiting for the right project. For some reason it always loses out to another fabric. I love the colour, but perhaps it's too autumnal?


The other contender is this fun print picked up in the sales from Dragonfly Fabrics. Originally intended for my daughter, I actually rather like it myself! So that's pledge No 1.

Another make that's high on my list is this beauty. I first saw it on the Somnolent Daschund - really worth a look. I then scoured the internet until I found a copy!


The version I prefer is the dress-length with sleeves. I adore the maxi, but it would never get worn. Also being a shorty, I am never sure that style would suit me anyway. I have the perfect fabric for this: a turquoise viscose with be beautiful drape. It was bought at least a year ago in Fabricland Brighton, and was real gem of a find!



My only worry with this pattern is changing it to fit my petite form. I will have to change the length, the shoulders, and the bust, plus deal with a tricky slippery fabric. I am hoping that by documenting my plans I will force myself to actually carry them through at some point this year! So that's my vintage pledge two adult patterns and a bonus childs pattern to make up before December 31st!

I also want to make the Vintage Shirt Dress from Sew Over It. Not sure that counts as "Vintage" but want to have a play with it anyway, as I have seen so many great versions. Most notably Becky's from Back to Blighty. She's made four of these, and having seen one in real life, I would like to have a go at my own version.


No contender yet fabric-wise, but I want to shop from my stash. I fear I have too much fabric and no need of any more, which is really hard when I see so much temptation on Instagram daily. I am trying only to buy if I absolutely need to, having nothing at all suitable already. So far I have done very well, but then I haven't been to a blogger meet-up yet this year!

Wow, I feel a bit better for sitting up and focusing for a bit. What are your plans? Are you doing the vintage pledge?