Tuesday, 26 April 2011

possibilities for mistaken traffic

Oliver has pointed out to me that 'busytown' reads slightly like 'busty town' - oops! Oh well, anyone visiting Kathryn's Busytown looking for Kathryn's Busty Town is sure to be mighty disappointed!

Did anyone else spend absolutely ages deciding on a blog name, then decide it wasn't so good after all?! 

Fabric shopping on Goldhawk Road

I had a bonus day off last Thursday in my relatively new job as the Library was closed for the day - so when Jessica suggested I join her on a fabric shopping trip I was so excited to be able to say yes (of course the fact that we now work together helped as we both had the day off!).  Jessica was on a mission to find lining for a very important project and I was just looking to take advantage of her advice on which fabrics would be good for various fixing projects and my first full-on handmade project.  The first clothing item I'm going to make is a top - 'New Look 6483'.  I chose this design for two reasons, obviously because I like it, but also because it says '1 hour easy *sewing time' - so I'll let you know how that goes!

Even before we got to Goldhawk Road I got distracted by the Shepherds Bush market and ended up buying another fabric - the patterned fabric you can see in the photo above.  I just fell in love with it - the colours and the pattern, though it's a very light fabric and even I, a totally inexperienced sewer could see it would need another fabric below.  Luckily this wasn't a problem as Jessica was on hand to advise me on what type of fabric I needed to go beneath it!  I'm going to use it to make a skirt - but that's a later project, after the '1 hour' top!

I'm going to try the version E first, the top left one, with the cheapest fabric I got which was the yellow/white stripe (also from the market) which was £2.99 a metre.  I love stripes, and I love yellow so it's perfect!  The green fabric is a Liberty print which was a bit more expensive but still a bargain I think - £6 a metre from one of the fabric shops on Goldhawk Road.  I'll maybe do the top right style or the centre one for that.  However I thought it was safer to start with the cheaper fabric and see how it goes.  Watch this space...!

It was such a lovely, and successful day out - Jessica also got the silk lining she needed for Catherine's wedding dress.  After that we went to the Westfield Shopping Centre.  it was my first time at Westfield and I have to say, that given that I always said I hate shopping malls, I really enjoyed it! I had a recent shopping nightmare on Oxford and Regent Street, trying to find a belt to match a dress for a wedding next weekend (not 'the wedding', even better than that - a friend's wedding in Guernsey!) - the streets were so busy I couldn't actually move.  So Westfield was fantastic - so quiet and spacious! I got the belt I wanted from Topshop and we went to Wahaca for lunch - much deserved after all our shopping and wandering!

I've got a rip to fix in husband's jacket first, and straps to extend on a dress (for Catherine's hen do!) then I can get down to starting my top.  Next week at the earliest realistically.  I'm already day dreaming, and dreaming, sewing projects so I can't wait to get started!

Forever in Blue Jeans

Another beginner's sewing project - re-hemming a pair of jeans. I got an amazing pair of See By Chloe jeans from TKMaxx a year past September for the bargain price of £40. I wanted to wear them on my New York holiday that month but they were far too long. At that point getting out the sewing machine and redoing the hem didn't even occur to me so I got out my needle and thread and did some pretty terrible tacking stitching as you can see in the photo below.

This did for the holiday but because I'd had to fold up so much fabric it was starting to leave marks (see photo below).

So when I got back from New York I put the jeans back in my drawer to do at a later date.  Well I decided to bite the bullet this Spring and got them back out.  You can see just how much fabric I had to chop off below (the weird marks on the photo are greasy prints on my camera lens - sorry!).

So I looked at a few YouTube tutorials but they all seemed a bit complicated as they started giving measurements and instructions on how to re-hem using the original hem - all seemed a bit too much for me!
What I did take from them though was the advice to zig-zag or overlock the cut off edge so it doesn't fray.  I chose to do a zig-zag stitch on this.  Then I measure the jeans on me, pinned them, checked they were both even, and cut into the jeans.  I found thread that was as near a match as could be, after asking for help in John Lewis about the right kind of thread to use on jeans.  I did a straight stitch, very small, and I think it looks like a pretty good match.  I wore them out on Thursday night and they haven't come undone or frayed yet so I'm pretty happy - new jeans for the summer yay!

Monday, 25 April 2011

First sewing projects

My very first sewing project was born out of necessity - a draft excluder.  However it took me so long to make it that by the time I'd finished it wasn't really so necessary anymore - however it'll come in handy next Autumn/Winter!  I got the instructions from the Guardian website here and after a few hiccups - totally my own fault - I got it finished as you can see below.  The main problem was I made it far too wide so it took way more rice to fill it than I had thought - I kept running out then taking about another week to remember to buy more as no way was I using our Tilda Basmati for a draft excluder!

I thought for my next project I would choose something else quite straightforward - a cushion.  To be honest I can't remember where I got the measurements from for this but I added an extra inch or so onto the width of the cushion to give myself room to sew.  As it had been a while since I made the draft excluder I had to look at my Bernina instruction book again to remind myself how to thread up the machine and how to put thread on to the bobbin as I hadn't done it since I was a young teenager!  I just used a straight stitch to do the sewing and sewed up three sides of the cushion.  I know it would have been better to include a zip or buttons on the fourth side but I just wanted to make it easy so I just stitched it up by hand once I'd put the cushion pad inside.  The front piece of fabric was a lovely design my mum had in the house for years. She had this magical plastic container in the hall cupboard that was filled with old pieces of clothes she couldn't throw out because of the fabric pattern, a beautiful big piece of Liberty fabric (which I still have, but am waiting till I improve my sewing skills before I use!), and a Chinese quilted waistcoat which I'm hoping against hope I have stored in my Dad's garage and not thrown out (I'll find out the next time I'm up in Glasgow!).   I don't know where she picked this piece up, it looks like a circus performer on a horse, I really wish I'd asked her the story behind it, where she got it, what it inspired in her art work, why she kept it all that time without using it.

I had a bit of a problem as it wasn't quite big enough for the front piece of the cushion so I had to add on a piece of gingham at the top - I think I did quite well in terms of neatness, for a first attempt!  I did the back of the cushion in the pink gingham as well.  I really enjoyed this project - I know it was easy but it was a good way to start getting into using the sewing machine.

My sewing machine

This is a photo of my lovely Bernina sewing machine. I have a great sentimental attachment to this sewing machine as it belonged to my mum, Christine Mackenzie. My mum was a wonderful artist, in addition to being the best mum I could ever have wished for, and most of her art work, particularly after me and my brother were born, was embroidery and textile based. The noise of a sewing machine going takes me back to my childhood! When my mum passed away I was clearing out her house and just could not bear to part with her sewing machine. I told myself I would make use of it. It has taken me over two and a half years, two house moves and one city move, to finally get round to using it!

I am hoping that this blog will work for me as a means of spurring me on in my sewing projects and keeping me enthusiastic when things get hard. I'm also hoping, of course, that it will be of interest to others, and that others might get some inspiration from my attempts at sewing in the same way that I've been getting so much inspiration from other sewing/craft blogs and style blogs I've been reading recently.  I'll also post things that have inspired me and other adventures from my new life in London.  Me and my husband moved down in September, having only got married earlier that year, in March - so a busy year last year!  When I moved down I spent the first 6 months commuting to another town, Winchester, so although I was living in London I wasn't spending a whole lot of time here mid-week.  I now have a job in London (which you can read more about here on my other blog) and with the Spring time here in full glory I am fully enjoying my life in a new home town - ok, city, but town fitted in better with the title of my blog!