Sunday, 31 July 2011

Just one Sorbetto...

Well, maybe not, I already have plans for number 2 and number 3.  I've finally joined the ranks of the Sorbetto top wearers - after loving all the different versions I'd seen on-line I couldn't resist having a go myself. I finished my first one on Tuesday night so that I could wear it on Wednesday night when I was going to meet friends in Lincoln's Inn Fields park after work. Stupidly I forgot to take any photos of me wearing it in the park so instead you get another boring photo of me in our home.

I'd read so many blog posts about making the Sorbetto and noticed that quite a few of them mentioned that the length was a bit on the short side. I added a wee bit (can't remember how much) but it still wasn't quite enough so for my next one I'll add a bit more.

This top hardly cost anything to make as the peachy/pink cotton blend was from my mum's stash. I've been carrying it about for years and am so happy to have put it to use.  It's difficult to tell from the photos but the fabric has a lovely fleck through it. The bias tape is made from a pink/white striped fabric by Betty Jackson which cost £10 a metre - quite expensive I know but then I've only used a tiny square of it, in fact I'm sure I've got enough to make another Sorbetto out of what's left! 

The only problem I had with it was, in my determination to finish it for my Wednesday deadline, I came home from a meal out with Oliver and some friends, and 3 bottles of beer down decided I'd be fine to sew the bias tape to the armholes and press and sew the seam.  The armholes came out fine with no incidents to report however the seam wasn't quite so seamless (excuse the terrible pun).  I managed to press my arm as well as the seam and now have a rather large unsightly burn on the underside of my forearm!  I'd like to say 'Lesson Learned' and that I will never ever use the iron or sewing machine after a few beers or glasses of wine.  However I know that to be an untruth as I am terribly impatient sometimes and if I only have a wee bit left to finish off something then a few beers is not going to stop me!

It's a sunny Sunday afternoon and although I feel I should be outside enjoying it I think I'm going to stay in and cut out my next Sorbetto instead.  I don't feel too guilty though as we've had a lovely weekend with my Dad and his wife who've been down visiting us.  We've been out walking all over London, stopping for sherry and Tapas at a great place on Bermondsey street called 'Jose' (another drink to add to my ever-growing list of drinks I never used to like but now do), stopping by the Royal Festival hall for a drink (with the added bonus of seeing all the fantastic clothes at the Vintage at Southbank festival), and finishing it all off last night with dinner at Mangal2 on Stoke Newington Road - basically walking eating and drinking our way round London - fantastic!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

'Cult of Beauty' inspired make-up bag

I had a busy week the week I went to the fabric brooch making workshop as only two nights later I was at another workshop. This was a zipper clinic at the Make Lounge in Angel.  I've never put a zip in before and on my limited experience of reading sewing books it's quite difficult to pick something up without seeing someone else do it so I thought this would be a perfect introduction.  Also, that little disaster I had with a zipper on a dress made me realise it'd be a very handy thing to be able to fix!

The workshop was full and everyone was really friendly.  It's a nice big workshop space, not as cute & cosy as the We Make summer pop-up shop but still a nice space.  The pace of the workshop was pretty fast actually, and they seemed pretty keen to get us all out on time - fair enough I guess but it did feel a bit rushed.  However the girl who taught us was really good and more than happy to go over things again, and again - I found it all quite tricky. By the end of it though I'd done a passable normal zip, a concealed zip and learned lots of useful tips such as moving the zipper round the needle whilst sewing.  We also all got to choose from a lovely selection of oilcloth and make our own make-up bag.  As usual my immediate reaction was to go for the brightest, most garish colour combinations - I picked up a lime-green with a contrasting bright pink zipper. However when I saw the William Morris inspired design below I had to change my mind. 

William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement has been on my mind a lot recently, ever since I went to the 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition at the V&A.  I wish I'd had a chance to go back again as it was such an inspiring, and truly beautiful exhibition.  So I'm glad I chose this fabric for my make-up bag instead, I'll think of the exhibition now when I look at.  I'd definitely recommend this workshop if, like me, you're new to sewing and have never put a zip in before.  Even if you had it'd still be a good fun workshop to go to.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

My next sewing challenge project!

I so enjoyed New Vintage Lady's Make and Mend Challenge that I'm all ready to sign up for another - the Plain Pattern Project.  The idea is to make the most plain, basic pattern, 3 times and 1 of the 3 should be as close to the original as possible.  Sounds perfect for a beginner like me! My only problem, how to choose which pattern?! I'm stuck between these two but I think that the McCall pattern looks more basic. Has anyone else made these up? What do you think? Am I right in thinking the McCall is the most basic?  I picked the McCall because of Tilly's gorgeous version of it here.  The Lisette Simplicity was picked because Casey inspired me with her Blueberry Fields.  Both Tilly and Casey's blogs have been great inspiration to me and I just love reading about their latest projects, and inspirations - thank you both!

Friday, 15 July 2011

First foray into craft workshops...

.. was a huge success!  Last Tuesday night I visited the We Make Summer boutique pop up shop for a workshop with Fabric Nation

Making fabric flower brooches.  I wish I'd wrote this up earlier whilst the pop-up shop was still open as it was such a lovely shop!

The workshop with Gillian of Fabric Nation was so much fun - the time just whizzed by and by the end of the night me and the other two girls, Nana and Kate (I think that's right but apologies if either of you are reading this and I got your name wrong - my memory sucks!), had each learned lots of new techniques and tricks for making lovely brooches.  Even better they could be used for hair clips or hair bands as well as brooches!  Gillian was lovely - so helpful and talented, and willing to share her sewing tips with us.  The brooches were really simple to make once you knew how - so clever!  I made the lilac and yellow brooch, the yellow and red hair pin, and the pink tweed brooch.  I've been wearing the brooch lots and the hair pin.  The pink tweed brooch strikes me as a bit more autumnal so I'm going to save it for a while!

Gillian is also involved in Handmade in Tooting, which organise lots of fun sounding workshops in both South and North London.  I think next pay day I'll book myself on something else.

And as if the thought of learning a new craft and a night of crafty fun wasn't enough to entice you, Gillian also made the best lemon drizzle cake - yum!

Sorry for the terrible photographs - I really do need to do something about my photography skills, or lack of.  The brooch actually looks better on the yellow cardigan in real life than it does in the photo below - it's much brighter in reality. And excuse the terribly cheesy photo but I just wanted to show how proud I am of the first brooch I made!

So guess what everyone's getting for Birthday/Christmas gifts then?!

Make & Mend 2011

I got the last of my mending finished last night whilst watching 'The Devil Wears Prada' - only 4 days late in finishing which isn't too bad considering how busy I've been.

So just to remind myself what the challenge was: -

I made my lap top case using a lovely mustard coloured cashmere fabric, with some quilted turquoise  fabric on the inside. I followed Say Yes to Hoboken's pattern but added in the lining. It worked well though the turquoise fabric was really slidey and hard to work with.

My repurpose was refashioning the green and white flower dress for a wedding.  This worked really well, I love the dress now and will get loads of wear out of it whereas before I was ready to give it to the charity shop.

I fixed all my jackets - attaching buttons (properly this time - so finger's crossed they all stay on longer than my previous attempts!).  I also used Shelley's great tutorial for darning holes in the lining of two of them.

Things I've learned -
  • I'm seriously addicted to sewing. When I first started reading sewing blogs I'd read about sewers dreaming about their next projects, obsessing over fabric, and think 'they must be exaggerating, surely!' Hah! Now I know exactly what they're all talking about, it kind of takes over at first, now I think I've got it under control, but I'm off to a vintage kilo sale followed by fabric shopping tomorrow so maybe I'm just kidding myself!
  • How to mend tears and holes in lining - could now apply this to any darning needing done
  • How to do shirring - I loved this, really loved it, it was so much fun to do! Definitely want to do some more shirring.
  • Quilting - well kind of, this was a bit of a 'just give it a go and see what happens' rather than following any guidelines but I think it worked out pretty well.
  • Attaching buttons properly? - I'll see how the newly fixed buttons hold up and get back to you on this one!
  • That altering the hem on a circle skirt takes a loong time!
  • I need to learn about more about what types of fabric to use as I think it would make things a bit easier. Also I need a new iron so I can have it turned down low.  At the moment it only works if up full, not so good for non-cotton fabric, as I realised when the turquoise fabric turned from a square to a diamond after ironing it on full heat.
  • I really, really need to spend time just practising basic techniques like sewing in a straight line, doing hems and seams etc.  
  • I need to be more careful with my belongings. I made a camera case to match my laptop case.  It was fantastic (even if I do say so myself) as my camera fitted snugly inside. I'd quilted it just the same as the laptop case too so it had lots of padding to protect the camera.  Then I went to see Pulp at Hyde Park (fantastic!) and on the way home trying to get my cardigan out my bag I must have dropped the camera case.  I was so upset at losing it but tried to console myself with the thought that maybe, just maybe, rather than getting ground up in the mud from thousands of feet, it will be found by someone with a camera of a similar size and provide care and happiness to someone else, maybe?! Of course it was also great consolation that I only lost the case and not the camera!
  • I LOVE CHALLENGES! Yes indeedy, it's just what I need for those nights when I get home from work and don't feel particularly creative.  If I know that there's other people also involved in similar projects, and I know I have a deadline I'd like to meet, then most nights the motivation comes back.  Of course some nights I still give in and spend three hours watching CSI instead, or reading a book, or reading sewing blogs, but many nights the challenge worked to restore my creativity!
All my newly mended clothes
Lastly I just want to say a huge thank you to Shelley over at New Vintage Lady for organising Make & Mend 2011!  I'm now looking forward to The Plain Pattern Project.

Monday, 4 July 2011


Well tonight is the first night I'm actually going to sit down and get some mending done as it's been a busy few weeks.  I'm not complaining though as it's been a really fun few weeks! We were up in Glasgow for a wedding (where I wore my re-fashioned dress), I've got to spend lots of time with three of my best pals, in Glasgow and in London, and yesterday we went to see Pulp! Added into that was lots of delicious food and wine, some cocktails, and well, I'm sure you can see why the mending went right to the end of the queue!

Tonight though, I've fixed the lining on a coat and now I'm sitting down to fix on buttons to 2 jackets and 1 skirt.  I know they're pretty basic mending jobs but for me it's still a step forward if I can learn how to fix buttons on properly as up till now my efforts only seem to last a short time till they fall off again - a sure sign I'm doing something wrong. 

it's a pretty big tear! took longer than I thought to whipstitch round it

I didn't have any matching fabric so decided to go for something fun & contrasting instead
Hopefully I'll get it all done tonight as it's the last night I'll be in the house before the end of Make and Mend 201 - another busy week this week then a weekend in the country for me, visiting Zoe in Castle Douglas.  I love going to Dumfries and Galloway - the scenery is so beautiful, good company, and this time a new puppy to play with - yay!