Friday, 18 April 2014

Simplicity 5776

I am a bit of a skinny Minny ... normally!  But sadly, my tummy has lately expanded to the extent that I don't fit my old skirts very well.  Time to bite the bullet and make something larger!  I found this pattern in my Mum's sewing box, which is odd considering she is slimmer than me.

This is Simplicity 5776 - looks rather smart. 60s/70s?

With only two main pattern pieces, the pattern promises and delivers on being easy cut, easy sew. Here's the close up:

Seeing as I don't know how long I'll be keeping the wine- and chocolate-induced bulge, I thought I'd use up remnants of old fabric rather than buying new.

Great posing, Lou!  It looks like I've just been goosed!  Anyway, this is my rather wearable muslin.  The fabric is a nice thick double-knit jersey, and because it has some stretch, it is so comfy I could wear it all the time.

The shape and the size are flattering and comfortable; though it isn't quite as short as I thought it would be.  I see a few more of these being sewn up very soon, as I think these will be my entry for "Sewing Double" (this month's category for the The Monthly Stitch).   That way, I'll complete a challenge and have skirts I can breathe in - everyone's a winner!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Award Time

Wow, I have now been nominated for a Liebster Award - twice! So it's time to pass on the love.

Firstly the two lovely bloggers who nominated me are:
One Small Stitch 
http://Yellow Submarine Time.

A huge thanks to both of them; to say I was thrilled is an absolute understatement.

The nature of the award is the nominators ask you questions, you answer, then nominate 5 blogs you love and set them questions in turn.  Here goes...  (I've chosen to answer a few questions from each of my nominators as otherwise it would go on forever!)

1. What is your favourite make so far?   It would have to be my my blue jacket.

I wear this all the time, I love how it makes me feel really confident.

2. What is your favourite thing about your home?  This is easy, it is my garden.  I LOVE it, full of colour, light and joy.

3. Who was your first crush?  Okay, a bit embarrassing, looking back, but it was Kenneth Branagh.

He was my hero. He's still a great actor, but not my pash any more - went off him when he married someone roughly my own age and it was not me! I'd got my hopes up when he divorced from Emma Thompson and his relationship with Helena Bonham Carter didn't work out!

4. Early bird or night owl?  Definitely night owl, I don't function at all well in the morning until I've eaten and had my morning cup of tea.  My children know not to annoy me in the morning as my tolerance levels are very low.

5. What is your favourite tool/gadget in your sewing box? Actually my favourite thing is my little sewing box.

It is beautiful: a Japanese wooden lacquered box with inlaid mother-of-pearl flowers. It makes me smile every time I open it.  It's very small, but even so I can fit machine needles, bobbins and spare feet inside it.

Here are the five new blogs I am nominating for their own award. The idea is that hopefully there will be some blogs here you don't know yet, but which I am sure you will enjoy.

1. Nightingale and Dolittle  I love Ruth's blog, her dressmaking and her knitting are lovely. Oh how I wish I could knit.
2. Grosgrain Green  Now technically Helen's already had one of these awards but I don't care she deserves another one.  She's on fire, eight months pregnant, and sewing up a storm.
3. Ladystitcher Sue is a prolific sewer, vintage and the very on-trend Cocos. I love her style.
4. KitchenTable Sewing relatively new to me, this mum of four teaches sewing and offers her advice.  A good read.
5. Seams right to me I found this blog as it had a similar name to mine! I've been blown away by what this young sewer can achieve.  When I was 18, I doubt I could have sewn on a button, much less have knocked up a stylish wardobe.

My five questions for them are:
1. What is your biggest, most ambitious make to date?
2. What do you get out of blogging?
3. What's next on your sewing to-do list?
4. What advice would you give a new blogger?
5. Where would you most like to go on holiday and why?

Well, I've waffled on for far too long now, so I'll finish before they start the music!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Sewn greetings cards - a quick sewing fix

The other night, I had lots of fun doing something new with my sewing machine. It started out of necessity, as I had to send a birthday card to a friend urgently, and had nothing in the house that was at all suitable. So, I thought I'll make one. I used scraps of fabric, shoved the darning foot on my machine, et voila!

I only needed to make one card, but it was such fun, and rather addictive. With each card, I got a little bit better - I just couldn't stop.

The original card that inspired my play isn't pictured as I had to send it off asap.  But I'm rather glad now that I had nothing suitable to send. I won't be buying cards for a while at least, till the novelty wears off!

I had such a lovely time playing with sewn cards. They do take a little thought and care, though: my tip would be to sew onto a backing fabric or card, and then attach that to the card-stock; that way you hide the wrong side of the stitches inside your card. I didn't at first, so I got around this by gluing tissue paper on the inside of the cards to hide stitching.  Also, the paper/card will ruin your needles so use old worn-out ones.

Have you tried machine embroidery?  One day I'd like to try it on some clothing, when I have a little more control over my machine!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mother's day and chores.

Wow, I have had the BEST mother's day (or should that be mothers' day?!) ever today! Breakfast in bed, homemade cards and flowers, and millions of kisses.  Then, I had tea and cake with my own mum - wonderful.  Days like today I LOVE having three children.

But the down side to being a Mum is.... chore sewing! For example, Beavers badges:

In the last couple of weeks I've sewn eight badges on my eldest boy's Beavers uniform. His first year, he seemed to get no badges, now they are positively throwing them at him.  He is so proud of the achievement, and checks off each one on a little list. So I'd have to be a terrible Mummy not to want to help him display them; but that doesn't stop it being booooooring! After many attempts to put it off, I finally had to suck it up and do it.


I've also re-hemmed seven pairs of school trousers this weekend - the boys will keep growing!

Grey trousers, followed by grey trousers, and more grey trousers. So dull. But, the boys tell me they're doing me a favour, as "you really love sewing, don't you, mummy?" Grrr.  Do other stitchers try to wriggle out of sewing chores, or is it just me that's lazy?!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dress J "sew chic kids" times 2!

These dresses took an age to make. This was mainly due to procrastination and stubbornness rather than extensive sewing time. I started with enthusiasm, cutting out the fabric. And it wasn't that my enthusiasm waned, but I wanted to do the dresses justice.  So, I tended to double-think every stitch. In hindsight, I should have just cracked on!

I've spent hours on pinterest, literally hours: anything but actually sewing!  I even hosted a sewing evening with friends in the hope it would inspire me. I did precisely naff all!

I read the instructions over and over until I was bleary-eyed!  Slow progress, then, but the garments are done now and lovely. I definitely learnt lots by making two dresses - the larger one for my niece, Katie, and the smaller for Immy, my daughter.

Katie's dress is better, as I'd worked a few problems out doing Immy's first. The dresses are design J from Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids,  The pattern has raw edges at the neck and armcycle, which are hidden by a lace trim on the right side of the garment. I decided to avoid these raw edges being on show by fully lining the garments, and I'm really pleased with how neat they are on the inside.

I won't pretend that I flew through this lining process, I had a mental block and couldn't work out how to do it!  In the end, I used French seams, then bias binding to disguise the seams.

(Immy models her own dress; but, as Katie lives a little way away, and I haven't sent the dress to her yet, my son Rowan - who is a similar age and size - is modelling it here. He moaned a lot and insisted on wearing the mask to protect his identity, but he loved it once he was doing it, as you can see!)

The back is finished with a little loop.  They really do look great, and the cousins will look cool in matching dresses.

By the end, everyone wanted to have a go modelling the dresses - oh the power of Mum's blog!  The only advice I should give others sewing this design is that the sizing is generous and little Immy's dress will probably fit her for a year or two.  My other son Laurie is modelling the age two size dress above - he is four and a half, and it's still fitting him nicely!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sewing for others

My current project is making me feel a bit overwhelmed, as though I'll never finish it! So I need to share my thoughts out loud...

I really want to make a dress for my beautiful niece, but I've not made anything before for someone outside the immediate family - I'm getting a bit freaked.

I knew I wanted to make something from HappyHomemade Sew Chic Kids.  This book is AWESOME.  I've spent a long time umming and ahhing, before choosing which one I'd go for: design E with beautiful pin tucks on the front.

Once I'd chosen, I thought "Cool, let's rock!"  I traced out my pattern and bought my fabric. But then I had doubts about my ability to "finish" it nicely enough to give as a gift.  I worried about the elastic in the neckline.

I've never had these anxieties sewing for myself or my own children.  Why am I so freaked out?  She's only 8 years old, so rationally I know she won't judge my sewing.  But I do want it to be nice for her, something special just from me.  My word - I feel as though I've never sewn before!

My doubts multiplied until I gave up on dress E and decided to opt instead for design J - the V neck dress.  It looked easier to achieve.  So I drafted the pattern, cut out my fabric, then realised there will be raw edges on show around the neckline hidden only by some lace.  After mulling this over, I've decided to abandon the lace and line it instead.

Still haven't put needle to fabric yet; and, to procrastinate further I've decided I'd do a "practice" version in miniature for my young daughter Immy, to iron out any construction worries.  Now I just need to crack on.

Did anyone else feel this way the first time they made something as a gift?  How do you feel when you sew for others?

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Trousers for the boys

I've recently joined The Monthly Stitch collective.  I'd been reading their posts for a while, but didn't feel I could sew to order like that.

Then, I realised: hey, I don't need to do every challenge, just ones that fit in with my general plans. Well, February's challenge is to sew trousers, and my boys desperately need some new ones, so here goes...


They love a bit of army camouflage! I liked the blue, but versions in green have already been requested by the boys (as that's the proper army colour)!

The fabric is a thick heavy duty cotton; it has the weight of a light denim, and it was a joy to cut and sew.

The pattern is one from my Nan's stash.  She must have brought it to sew for me back in the Seventies.  It feels fab to be sewing it for my boys. It's an easy pattern with no zip, just an elasticated waistband. This suits me as I still need to develop my limited zip skills, and it suits them as it makes the trousers super easy to pull on when you are aged 4 or 7.

I nearly had a coronary trying to work out how to do a blind hem stitch! I've lost count of how many  tutorials I watched online, but I couldn't get my head around it! Eventually I decided I just had to walk away.  Laurie's pair I hand sewed, but with Rowan's I persevered the following day, and eventually managed it. But not without rather a lot of swearing! The trick will be if I can do it again next time.

Even though there is three years between the boys they rather like to be matchy-matchy.  Despite much squabbling, I think they love each other really.

Details include cute little pockets which have already been used for stones, mud and stolen coins!

Theses picture were taken at Emmaus in Portslade, It's so lovely there with vintage finds in the chapel shop, a fabulous cafe and secret gardens to discover.  They had a lovely time and it was a great way to kick-start their half-term holiday.

In other news, Onesmallstitch has nominated me for a Liebster blogging award.  Very chuffed! Just got to put my thinking cap on for my answers...