Monday, 17 April 2017

Catching up with Cleo

Hello Folks, I felt I needed to post to prove I was still alive! It has been busy busy busy here. Kids are hectic as always, and I have been in the throws of applying for Uni, with essays and interviews stressing me out. The real hard work will begin in September; I am very excited and not a little terrified. In the meantime I am going to use that deadline to get our house up to scratch - decluttering and decorating! I will have to be ruthless, chucking everything out and I will also have to pack up my beloved sewing room as we are going to need a spare room for an au pair if I am going to be out full-time. What will I do with all my stuff? I have so much sewing paraphernalia and up till now it's been luxuriously spread out. Part of me is scheming to see if there is another way to save my sewing room, but I don't think there is!

In the meantime, here is another Cleo, and I love it. I previously made two others here.  The green one has gone off to the charity shop as it was too tight to be comfortable, but the sparkly grey one I wear all the time. There was just about enough of the gold denim leftover from the Anya bag I made my Mum. But only just enough. Luckily, I don't need long straps or I would have run out!

It should have been an easy sew, having made it twice before, but I still had to faff around with those side seams. I thought Id got the pattern just right but I still had to unpick twice!

I am really pleased with the brass clips, they suit the colour perfectly.  And speaking of colour, I have had so many IRL compliments on this. "What a great colour" has often been heard, and one person said "I never find things like this on the high street."  Dead chuffed to be able to blow her mind by telling her I made it!

Not much more to say about this other than to repeat that I love it! I see at least another Cleo in my life, if not two. Bye for now.  Hope you've had a great Easter.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Hi friends! Are you taking part in #MIYMarch17 on IG? It's really good fun: a series of prompts for things to go and photograph. One such prompt was "Stash Bust", and I proudly took a pic of a skirt I was making for the little girl, using up fabric left over from making my husband some boxer shorts.   This made me realise that those boxers were still in my WIP box (work in progress, for those non-sewers amongst you). And all it wanted was the threading of the elastic. It seemed shameful to have something perfectly wearable not being worn, so I got right back to it.

The pattern is simplicity  8180 which is a good value one IMHO, as it has several patterns (pants, easy shirt and tie) for the money, in both boy and adult sizes; and it's currently half price too, I notice. The shirt figures in my future plans.

The Hubs was game enough to have blog photos taken, as long as they were very close up with no identifying features visible!

These are substantially smaller than "as drafted". The toile I made was like a pair of clown trousers down to his knees! No photos of that thankfully. He wore them all day and reported back that they were comfy; so, a success. I think I will make him a bunch of brightly coloured knickers.

Afterwards, I was left with a little piece of the fabric with which to make something for Small. A skirt seemed the obvious answer. I used a vintage pattern that was donated by a lady to the Brighton Sewing Bee meet-ups. She very kindly donated about a hundred patterns, and everyone there found something they liked.

The skirt is bias cut, and would be great in a striped fabric. I hemmed this with bias binding, which has given it a bit of structure and helped to keep it in shape.

The fabulous fabric is from Fabricland and is available in different colourways. I may well go back and buy more at some point; the eldest suggested it would look good as a shirt for him, and I think he may be right.

The top is also a vintage pattern, this time from Bobbin Along in Worthing, where they often have a few vintage patterns to chose from. I bought it for the tracksuit trousers, but sadly - as with some older patterns - it was missing vital pieces. Never mind, because the top is lovely. This is a wearable toile made out of a top of mine that I no longer wore, which had a small rip so was no good for the charity shop.  It's a lovely thick jersey, cosy and soft. I am really pleased with the fit for her: it's just a tiny bit long in the arm, but I shall not change anything as she grows so fast. I have the most beautiful bunny sweatshirting fabric that she is desperate for me to make it up in ASAP.  But there is a queue so she will have to wait.

That's all for now, folks! Hopefully the next post won't be such a mish-mash!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

An Anya bag for my Mummy

Hi friends. Long time no sew! I've been absent lately: lots of volunteering and soul-searching have left me a bit wrung out. Sewing usually helps my mood, but I find if I start when I am tired I just make a mess.

I have been doing little easy bits, like cutting out children's patterns and altering hems, but nothing really blog worthy. That was until my Mum's birthday was imminent, as it was recently, and I wanted to make her something. But what? A trip to M&S revealed that mustard was a key colour this season: it was everywhere, and it reminded me of my hoarded bit of gold denim from the fabric godmother.

A good capture of the colour.

I'd been keeping it for something special, and this was it. The fabric's destiny was clearly to become a birthday handbag! I used the Anya pattern from SoZo, it's such a clever little pattern.  It creates a fully lined beautiful bag with gorgeous pleats and sturdy handles.

Pretty lining.

I had made one before at Christmas for a friend, and I knew it came together nicely and quickly. My friend was very happy with hers.

Silvery sparkly denim version made as an Xmas present.

I knew Mum's bag would look lovely from the second I put in the pleats, so I was thrilled she likes it, and it goes beautifully with her purple winter jacket.

At some point I must make a version for myself. But, in the meantime, I have some mustard denim remnants that I need to use up. Watch this space...

Monday, 6 February 2017

Felting Workshop

Hello. It's cold and foggy here, so I have been staying in and reading lots of Australian sewing blogs, warming myself up looking at all their sunny pictures! But today I braved the cold, and went out to do a felting workshop at Hove Museum. When I arrived, all the materials were out on display and looking better than sweets in a sweet shop!

So many nice goodies. Nadya, our teacher, demoed a basic technique whilst we had coffee and croissants! Bliss. There seem to be two main ways to felt: needle felting with a hooked needle with which to interlock the fibres, or smooching them together with soap and water. The latter seemed more fun and hands on, so I went for that.

Demonstrating rolling felt beads

A fellow student needle felting

Some of my fellow crafters made felt beads, one made a felt bowl, another a flower,  and one a really cute little bee!

Needle felted bee, made by another student

First step is to choose your wool and colours. I tried to keep my colour palette simple, so I could embellish with glitter and small beads (which you can trap in the felt between the fibres).

Light and fluffy before felting

We worked on a rattan table mat, and trapped our wool between some netting to create a felting sandwich. After rubbing the soapy wool for five minutes, we washed the soap out and dried our pieces on the radiators.

My work drying on the radiators!

A versatile craft and one I really enjoyed. But will I be rushing out to buy felting wool?  Probably not. It's not an expensive craft; Nadya explained you could buy a mixed bag of wool for £10, and we found that a little went a long way.  So possibly in the future it would be fun to dabble and make a no-seam bag or hat. But for now I have to get my thinking cap on and decide how I am going to use my finished pieces!

Pinks and purples

Felted sausage

Reminiscent of grass or meadows, actually looks much nicer in real life!

I'm thinking of making a couple of brooches and a bracelet, but any other ideas would be welcomed.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Sewing Cleo

Greetings friends. I am a lot more upbeat than I was in my last post! Thank you all for your nice comments both here and on IG. To know so many of you have had similar experiences and persevered has been inspiring and reassuring, so many thanks.

Today I am going to share my latest make: Cleo, the newish pattern by Tilly and the Buttons. I made two versions, one too big and one too small, but luckily I've been able to rescue them.

My first version was a toile, to check the fit using the cheapy cord left over from my trousers. Even though I cut this version out at the size that corresponded to my measurements, I couldn't even get it on. Then, my friend Jenny (Silverbellsandcockleshells on IG) suggested unpicking and using smaller seam allowance and that's what I did. It's not roomy, as I think dungarees should be, but it's wearable.

So, having learnt my lesson, I then got my nice fabric out. Although I kept the bib the same for the side seams, I cut out the next one a size up. And would you believe it but it was huge and gapey!! Much cursing ensued, then unpicking and increasing the seam allowance this time!

I love the style, I think the aesthetic suits me. It is also a happy, easy shape to wear, flattering and loose around the tum, perfect for eating in!

The fabric is a sparkly denim with stretch, and perhaps the stretch was why it was too big for me. The sparkles catch the light and shine in the sun, which is fun. I still don't feel I have nailed the fit, and I am going to have one more go in due course, with some gorgeous gold denim from my stash. I fear the green version will not keep its place in my wardrobe, but the denim is a keeper!

If you have made Cleo how did you get on with fit/gaping?
Lou xx

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Hello 2017

Hope everyone has had a great Christmas and New Year. We had a fab time here, but once 2017 hit, so did illness. Feverish and sick is not the best way to be to usher in a new year. But the family are now finally surfacing from the arena of the unwell.

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? I need something to change in my life. My number one priority is to get some purpose. Those of you who know me personally will know I do a great deal of voluntary work, and obviously I also do and enjoy the sewing intern work too. However, making the jump from voluntary to paid work in my chosen sphere (public sector) has eluded me. Over the past three years I have applied for more jobs than I can remember, each application taking days to fill in. I am not even getting close; not even an interview in three years. Feedback is always the same: you are a strong candidate with good experience, but we were inundated and can take our pick.

To say it gets me down is an understatement. I have given up a large portion of my adult working life to raise my beautiful babies, but they have all started school now, and I need to do something challenging. But here's the rub... I need it to be part-time.

So, why am I writing about this on a sewing blog? Sorry folks, I just needed to say it 'out loud' to hear myself think, and this is a space I feel safe in. The sewing won't stop, I love it, but I need to acknowledge that life cannot carry on like this. So what next?  Short term, more voluntary work with different charities to gain more skills. Long term... I don't know; back to university, maybe? Expensive, but possibly worth it if I finally get to use my brain again.

Well thanks for reading if you got this far. I just needed to put it out there to make myself realise that I need to find a solution.  Come on 2017, reveal your secrets.  Louise xx

P.S. As far as sewing resolutions go, mine is to sew what I enjoy, plus to try hard to use up the fabric I already own before buying more!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Sheath Dress, by The Avid Seamstress

Greetings Stitchers. Today, I want to share with you a very wearable toile.

This, as the title says, is the sheath dress by The Avid Seamstress. It looks similar in style to Tilly and the Buttons's Bettine dress.  At first I wasn't desperately drawn to it, until I saw it on Josie aka The Fabric Godmother, and then I thought... I NEED that dress!

The sheath dress

The pattern envelope says it needs 2.5 metres of fabric; this was a stumbling block, as I didn't have anything appropriate in that length. Luckily, wise counsel from sewists advised: "trace it out, and I bet it doesn't need that much".  And indeed they were right! I got this out of 1.5 metres, though I did shorten the pattern piece, as I am tiny (5ft, FYI) in height. The sleeves are one piece with the bodice, kimono style; it creates a bat-wing effect and drape under the arm.

Excuse odd facial expressions, but this pic shows the almost bat-wing sleeve shape.

I wanted to make a toile to check out the fit/shape/feel of this dress. Clearly I have chosen not to include the waist elastic, but I may do in the future: I love the silhouette anyway. The toile feels comfy and looks stylish.  I feel this dress is crying out for a big broach or colourful necklace to make it sing (so I am hoping for the perfect big necklace for Christmas!).

The pattern includes in-seam pockets, but I chose to remove them from this version as they were distorting the side seams. Perhaps I did them wrong?  I will try again on my next version as they would be good to have. I also ballsed up the hem.  I always stabilise the hem before sewing with knit tape and always have great results. With this make, I couldn't find the tape, but carried on regardless. Wavy hems ahoy - lesson learnt.
Think I need a sway back adjustment here to get rid of pooling fabric.
I left out the back zip, as the dress is roomy and the neckline big enough that it's not needed. I love the feel of this dress, classy but also cosy.  To amp up the comfort factor, I plan to make my next version in fleece-backed sweatshirting for a real winter dress. I also have a great Ikat woven fabric that I think will look good with the cinched-in middle. A lovely pattern, and I look forward to making more!