Three Amazing things

Do you ever make a project that really doesn’t turn out the way you planned, but you still learn loads and are super pleased with the outcome, despite the garment’s inevitable destination of the charity shop bin? That’s exactly what happened to me with the project I made a week or so ago.

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I wanted a floaty, breezy top to go with the Capri trousers I’ve recently made (yet to be blogged, as is half of the current contents of my wardrobe). As a Base for the pattern I used the Silk Woven tee pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book (3rd series book). I’ve already made this pattern once and the only adjustment I needed then for a well fitting garment was to drop the bust darts by 1.5″- a common adjustment for me; not sure if it’s because of my long body or because my ladies have headed south after years of ballooning weight, weight loss, 2 pregnancies and breast feeding.  In order to get the floaty feel I wanted I slashed and spread the sleeve pattern piece to give me a flutter sleeve,  added an inverted box pleat to the centre back and gave it a subtle high-low hem.

Now, the pattern hacks worked just as intended but didn’t give me the garment I envisioned on my head. It doesn’t have as much flare and float as I wanted and the sleeves aren’t fluttery enough and are a strange length. However, I learnt some cool tricks during the construction. Well, not so much learnt as finally put things into practice that I knew existed.

As the fabric I used is soft and floaty I decided to use French seams throughout.  Although I buggered up the shoulder seams, don’t look too closely on the inside; my brain apparently won’t allow me to stitch with wrong sides together. The astounding thing is that I actually set in the sleeves with a French seam too.

Amazing Thing number 1:

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Previously when I’ve made garments with French seams that have set-in sleeves I’ve chickened out when it comes to the armscye and just used a plain open seam. This time though I thought that the width added to the sleeve through the flutter sleeve hack might make it a bit easier and I was right. It looks soooooooooooooooo neat on the inside besides the aforementioned shoulder

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Amazing thing number 2:

Frixion marker pens. I saw a post on these pens a while ago and immediately put them in my Amazon wish list.  If you haven’t heard of these wonder pens before they are heat erasable. So, if used to transfer pattern markings to fabric the marks then iron off easily in the process of pressing your garment. So cool and so much better than those cruddy air erasable pens- with mine the markings seem to disappear within seconds, making the whole marking process pointless.  I was feeling a bit glum last week so accidentally on purposely hit the buy now button whilst at wotk, along with a japanese girls sewing book.   These pens go on easily and are very visible and clear. They do not fade or rub off or coat your machine with dust (a bugbear of mine when using tailor’s chalk). And then when you’ve stitched your dart, or whatever, with a wave of a warm iron there is no sight of a mark to be seen. They are my new favourite non-sewing intended Sewing gadget.

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Amazing Thing number 3:

Last but not least the other fab thing I discovered in this ‘meh’ project was the rolled hem feature on my overlocker. I’ve attempted to use this before but I was too lazy to remove a needle from the machine (the rolled hem feature uses a three thread overlock stitch) and forgot to remove the stitch finger, which resulted in a whole lot of rubbish looking hem. This time I dug my overlocker manual out from the bottom of the craft box in which it resided and set the machine up properly. OMG! How cute is the tiniest hem in the world! And so lazy to complete too- just stick the fabric under machine and put your foot down- my favourite kind of hemming.

So, although this project was a bit of a wadder I enjoyed the things I learnt from it. What about you? Ever made a garment that was a disaster but taught you lots? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Sewing station tidy and more

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I don’t buy sewing magazines, other than Burdastyle, regularly and when I do I have never made any of the projects from them. I’m primarily a garment sewer and I rarely find that the sewing magazines on offer cater to my preferences. But I’m not here to tell you I didn’t make something. That would be a really boring post. I recently bought Simply Sewing issue 4 and have already used the great fabric clips that came as a free gift. There’s a series of tutorials to make co-ordinating items to spruce up your sewing area; including a sewing machine cover, Sewing pinafore and (the item I made) an ironing board/machine tidy.

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I am constantly misplacing my scissors, seam gauge or any number of other items when I’m sewing and I’ve been meaning to make one of these tidies for ages. The magazine was the prompt I needed and had handily done the thinking on size measurements for me. I picked up a fat quarter of tula pink ‘Dear Me‘ print fabric in Strawberry colourway from the Range recently. No idea why, as I never use fat quarters, but I couldn’t resist the colourway.   I’ve already made a dress out of the “Dear me” fabric in the meadow colourway and I adore it. This project proved the perfect use for the fat quarter. I had no bump interlining for the filling (in fact I have no idea what that is, but Google tells me this) so I used a piece of sweatshirt fabric to give it the required loft. As it was sandwiched between woven cotton there was no risk of the stretch factor causing a problem.

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I switched up the design from the magazine as I decided I would use the tidy most at my machine so having the pockets at either end of the tidy served no useful purpose so I doubled up the pockets on one side. I prettied them up using two ribbons I was given by Andrea during Kestrel Makes Spring Sewing swap last year. The tape measure ribbon was too perfect for this project not to use.

I love the way it turned out. I did find myself wishing, during the construction, that the walking foot, I ordered at the same time as buying my new sewing machine, hadn’t got lost in the post. You can see where the top layer has been dragged along slightly. I tried to counteract this to a degree by alternating the direction I stitched the quilting lines. All in all though, I love it and use it every time I sit down at my sewing machine. Because there aren’t pockets at both ends I can also wrap it up so it acts as a sewing tool roll. I also get to look at those gorgeous stags all the time.

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Unselfish sewing

A quick aside on the garment sewing front. My son, Eli (4) guilt tripped me into making him something as, in the 2 years I’ve been sewing I’ve never made anything for him. I chose a Burdastyle pattern for a short sleeved boys shirt with camp style collar (5/2014 #146). It was a surprisingly quick make and my first make so far that there isn’t something that I’m dissatisfied with.

To cut a long story short, he hated it. But I managed to snatch a picture of him in it, although he refused to shut his mouth for the picture. How do those other mummy sewers get such beautiful pics of their kids? Anyway, here’s the scruffy little wotsit, with my 12 year old step-son in the background engrossed on a game on the tablet.

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And the shirt.

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Podcast-tastic

There’s been quite a few posts around recently about what people listen to while sewing; like So Zo’s post, Phoebe and Egg’s post and While she naps post.    Lots of podcasts have been mentionned such as This American Life, Serial and The Sewing Affair.   Make no mistake, I listen to all of these too (in fact, while searching for the link for Serial I stumbled accross a new to me podcast called the Mystery Show which sounds pretty good and has been added to my podcast app) but there’s a few podcasts I listen to that I haven’t heard anyone else mention in the Sewing Blogosphere and I think they’re worth a listen to.

Risk! – This is my current favourite podcast and I love listening to it whilst stitching away (as long as my kids aren’t within earshot as it’s pretty risque).   The strap line for Risk! is “True tales, boldly told” and is real people, sometimes famous, sometimes not, sharing true stories they never thought they’d dare to share- think sex, drugs and rock and roll.   I love it and have found myself roaring with laughter and getting very strange looks, especially when I listen with my headphones at work and can’t tell my colleagues what I’m laughing at as it would turn the air blue.   They usually feature several stories each episode either recorded at their live shows or in a radio style.

Scummy Mummies – This is a podcast by two female comediennes, one English, one Australian, talking about parenting topics without being in anyway prim and proper.   They usually get drunk during the recording and eat copious amounts of humous whilst giggling about the latest revolting item they have found in the depths of their handbags, deposited by a small sticky child.   This is not the Annabel Karmel of parenting, with perfectly coiffed and preened mothers and children in spotless homes and ponies in the garden; it’s real life and they talk frankly about what it’s really like to be a parent in a hilarious way.

Story Worthy – This is another Story telling podcast usually featuring one story per episode, padded out either side with witty conversations between the two hosts as their weekly guests.   I’m really enjoying story telling poscasts at the moment and Story Worthy is no exception.   It used to be my favourite podcast until I was introduced to Risk! via an episode of Story Worthy.   I sometimes find the witty banter before and after the story to be just too much and I wish they’d pack in more stories instead.

Sex Nerd Sandra – This choice of podcast may reveal more about me than I care to, but nevermind, I’ve never been easily embarassed.   This podcast is a sex-positive podcast exploring different areas of our sexuality, some of the recent topics being “sex and disability”, “Asexuality 101″, “Mulitple Orgasms” and “Sex and Depression”.   I find it a fascinating, often funny, listen and the host, Sandra, is a sex educator whom is honest, funny and warm.   I’m a firm believer that natural functions of our body, including sex and reproduction, are not things that we should not shy away talking about and should not be taboo or embarassing.   This podcast may not be for everyone, and I’m sure I’ll get some very interesting traffic having mentionned it, but I think it’s worth exploring for the open-minded.

Sewing Machine Review

I came in to a small amount of money recently and I decided, as this is unlikely to happen again in the foreseeable future, to upgrade my sewing machine.   I’ve had my new baby for a few weeks now so she has been given a good testing, so I thought I’d write about both of my machines- the basic model and the all-singing, all-dancing beast.

I originally bought myself a sewing machine two years ago, after borrowing a colleague’s to make a fancy dress outfit and falling back in love with stitching.  Although I didn’t buy an expensive model, The Brother LS14, it was a considerable outlay at that time as finances were tight.   Therefore my husband made me swear that I would use it at least once a week for 6 weeks.   It was that challenge that started me down the slippery rabbit hole of sewing obsession.

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This machine claims to have 14 stitch options but several of them are different lengths of straight stitch, or widths of zig-zag.   Having said that I never found myself lacking the stitch type I needed for all of the projects I made over 2 years.   There was a silly moment, bourne out of my lack of sewing experience at the time, when I returned my machine to the shop and got a replacement as I thought the tension dials had become faulty.   What I realised later was that this was not the case- it had just been skipping stitches as I hadn’t used the correct combination of needle, thread, tension and fabric.   However, the replacement of the machine did mean that I had a new screwdriver, having lost mine early on under the sofa somewhere.

This machine tackled everything I asked of it and I never had any troubles with it.   The only reason I changed was that my sewing abilities had improved and I wanted a machine with options of different settings that the Brother didn’t have.

When the time came to upgrade I ummed and ahhed for a while and finally settled on this beauty, the Janome DKS100. What a difference this has made to my life.   Not only does it have the option to backstitch, it also has a built in locking stitch and a pre-programmed stitch that automatically does the locking stitch at the beginning and end of the seams for you.   Utter genius as I so often forget to backstitch at the beginning.   When you take your foot off the pedal it automatically stops in the needle down position and there is a handy button to lower the needle before you start stitching- No more fiddling around with the hand wheel- in fact I don’t think I’ve touched that since I bought it.
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The foot control my Janome came with initially was faulty- it was trying to run off with itself when my foot wasn’t on the pedal.   I realised this halfway through making a skirt and Tobi asked how on earth I was going to complete my project. “Easy peasey” I responded and unplugged the foot control and used the start/stop button and the speed control to finish my garment.

There’s so many features of this machine that I love but what I didn’t really expect was that it would make sewing so much easier, smoother and quieter.   My four-year old son, Eli, hates loud noises- he can’t stand it when I get the overlocker out, but he doesn’t even comment when the Janome comes out.   It’s so quiet you can easily have a conversation whilst stitching and I definitely can’t say that for the overlocker.

Obviously I haven’t tried every sewing machine on the market but I can say that I love my Janome and I’m so pleased about the decision I made.   I keep my fingers crossed for many more years of easy sewing.

 

Disclaimer: I was not asked to review these machines by anyone and the opinions are all my own.   The Brother LS14 is available from other sites but the one I have included is NOT an affiliate link.

Me-made May 2015 Part 2

Well, I made it. Although I sort of cheated on day 31, but more of that later. If your memory is as fleeting as mine I shall remind you that I pledged you wear at least one me-made item every day during the month of May. My unofficial hope was that I would do this with no repeats; or if I did repeat a garment it would be with another previous unworn item.

So here’s the run down from the second half of May.

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I had some issues with my collage app this evening and couldn’t figure out getting the numbers on- technology fails me late on a Sunday evening. I’ll just go clockwise from top left.

Spit up and Stilettos Atalie top with Closet Case files Ginger Jeans, Colette Patterns Meringue skirt with RTW t-shirt and cardi, silk tee from the second Great British Sewing Bee book and my daughter wearing leggings and a Burdastyle dress.

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Tunic from a Prima magazine and self-drafted leggings. Top right needs a special mention as the skirt is one of my early makes which I made for my father-in-law’s funeral. I wore it on the two year anniversary of his death. Worn with grey Deer and Doe plantain top. Burdastyle Culottes and RTW top and gingham shirtwaist dress from Gertie’s Book for Better Sewing.

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Self-drafted sweatshirt skirt and RTW tee, oversized Burdastyle raglan sweatshirt with experimental lace overlays, By Hand London Anna dress and a new make- the wrap dress from Gertie Sews vintage casual.

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Burdastyle Palazzo trousers with a Portrait blouse from Gertie’s book for better sewing, Colette patterns Sorbetto top with mini version of easy knit pencil skirt from Gertie Sews vintage casual, Capri trousers from the third Great British Sewing Bee book and a Plantain top and my Ginger jeans again.

I cheated a bit on day 31 (capri trousers) because, although unique me-made remained in my wardrobe, none of them are particularly wearable, mainly due to fitting issues. These sadly need to be pulled out and passed on to better homes. So on day 31 I sewed up the Capri trousers, having been working on the fitting since the previous weekend. Being only 4 pattern pieces they sew up really quickly so I chucked them on and snapped my selfie mid-afternoon. However I quickly took them off again because I haven’t got the fitting quite right and they’re still a bit gapey at the back. I can’t make up my mind whether to unpick the facing and take in the back darts. I may just perfect the fit in the next pair.

Anyway, I didn’t find any massive wardrobe holes. My Burdastyle sweatshirt was made a little while ago to fill the casual lounging around the house hole. My work wardrobe had dresses and co-ordinating separates. I have a few cardis but I’m missing slightly smarter outer layers. With that in mind I have just ordered the Grainline Morris blazer pattern and the Moss mini just because. I’ve been after a stable knit blazer for ages, so I’m excited about my first steps into outer-ish wear!!

#sewingdares & Me-made May 2015

So apparently the emergency resuscitation the blog received back in February was not sufficient to keep the momentum going. So this time for motivation I’ve turned to Sewing Dares that Gillian is running over at Crafting a Rainbow. I asked for a dare and she very perceptivly dared me to blog about my current instagram feed and what I’ve been up to lately.   What have I come to where I have to be dared to blog! Ha ha!

Anyway, not being one to shirk on a dare here goes. If u follow me on instagram you can’t have failed to notice that I’m taking part in Me-made May again this year. Last year my Me-made wardrobe was considerably smaller than currently so I’ve upped my game this year and pledged to wear at least one me-made a day. I didn’t officially pledge no repeats but I’m aiming to only repeat items with another garment that hasn’t already been worn. So here’s the run down.

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1. Colette Patterns Meringue skirt (unblogged but one of my favourites- made from Charity shop wool plaid that cost me £1 and pleather hem facing), Burdastyle Wrap top (unblogged and rarely worn as it’s uncomfortable).

2. Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans in stretch cotton twill from Croft Mill

3. Gertie Sews Vintage casual easy knit pencil skirt in Scuba knit from Minerva crafts.

4. Second pair of Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans worn with Cotton Shell top from the third Great British Sewing Bee book
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5. Repeat of the cotton shell top from the third Great British Sewing Bee book, black mini skirt version of Gertie Sews Vintage Casual easy knit pencil skirt.
6. Prima magazine easy dress/tunic and Drapey Knit Cardi from the third GBSB book.
7. Dr. Who Emery dress by Christine Haynes.
8. One piece scoop neck tee from Drape Drape 2

 

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9. Drapey Knit Dress from the third GBSB book
10. Ginger Jeans repeat with Cotton version of the silk woven tee from the third GBSB book.
11. Colette patterns Rooibos dress in lovely Batik from Croft Mill.
12. Maxi skirt refashioned from an RTW dress, Drapey cardi from GBSB book three in a stretch lace.

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13. Burdastyle cowl neck sleeveless top, skirt hacked from free Garden party dress pattern by Honigdesign.
14. RTW pencil skirt with silk woven tee from second GBSB book.
15.By Hand London Anna hack with midriff panel and gathered skirt in the most amazing cow fabric from Makower
16. Deer and Doe Plantain hack/ mock lady skater dress

There’s a good number of garments there that haven’t been blogged. Gillian also dared me to make a pair of Ginger jeans and blog the fit. You’ll see above that I’ve already made two pairs, I just haven’t got round to taking pictures and writing posts. I will do asap.

The rest of May will be rounded up at the end of the month. This is probably the challenging part as I’ve worked through my recent and favourite makes in the first part of the month. There’s still a few beauties in the wardrobe to pull out though so keep your eyes peeled.

So, take that #sewingdares!

Seamstress Erin: Monsterwear Pattern Testing

I have been following Seamstress Erin  for quite a while now and when I saw that she was starting a line of patterns and needed testers I jumped at the chance.   I love Erin’s quirky sense of style and was sure that whatever patterns she produced would be fun to make and wear.

So I volunteered as a tester and before I knew it the amazing Monsterwear hood and mittens pattern pinged into my inbox How cool are the versions that Erin has made?

The pattern calls for faux fur or fleece material and I knew I had some fleece in the stash that had been passed to me from Tobi’s grandmother, Big Nana, so I immediately cut this out.   Unfortunately I only had the time to make the hood before the feedback deadline, but I do have the mittens cut out waiting for me to stitch up.

The hat is described in the pattern as a lined hood-style Faux fur hat featuring in-seam ears and ribbon ties.   I used the tester version for my version, which I received for free in exchange for testing and feedback*, and I know there have been some changes to the pattern as a result of testing.

The hat is a really quick and fun make and I got lots of smiles from my work colleagues and passersby on the day I wore it to work.

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It also goes perfectly with the infinity scarf I made from the same fleece over a year ago.

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Unfortunately Maya, my 5 year old daughter, spotted the hat and has completely fallen in love with it and so I am destined to never see it again.   My 4 year old son, Eli, has also asked for one for himself but the only fabric I have that is suitable is more of the same blue spotted fleece.   I think we might look like the Brady bunch if we’re all wearing accessories made of the same fleece. I’ll have to get some fun faux fur.

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I wont go into the construction process too much as I used the tester version and there are significant changes, as I said.   But if you want to have a quick fun project to make, that is sure to raise a few smiles, go grab yourself a copy at Erin’s shop.