Thursday, 30 August 2012

Change of plans..

My sewing plans for this week changed when I realised that the kimono t-shirt I'd sewn up as a trial run of working with jersey actually looked quite nice.

I decided that instead of working on a toile for a skirt I'd do something that I knew would be done in time to take on holiday.   To make this t-shirt I just cut round a kimono style t-shirt I have which has a bit of a boat neck.  I found some dark lilac bias-tape I'd made a while back and never used and attached it to the neckline and sleeves - though I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to attach cotton binding to a jersey!  I really like how it's turned out even though it's got a bit of a larger boat neck than I'd intended! The jersey really stretched when I was sewing the bias binding on but I don't care as the wider neck makes it look a bit more dressy.  I zig-zagged all the seams then used the vari-overlock stitch on my machine.  I used a twin-needle for the hem but didn't bother overlocking the hem fabric as I thought it might add extra bulk to quite a fine jersey.  The jersey was a bargain from the remnants bin at Mandors in Glasgow and it's got a really lovely drape to it and feels very luxurious. 

Jersey maxi-skirt - I love the yoga pants style waist, so comfy!

My other jersey make was a maxi skirt which I used this tutorial at Elle Apparel to make.  The instructions for attaching the waistband sound a bit strange but after a bit of trial and error I worked it out.  This jersey was thicker than the khaki stuff which seemed easier to sew with, particularly the hem.   The weather's changed a bit this week and it's not been warm or dry enough to wear it but, ever the optimist, I'll take it on holiday to Copenhagen where I'm sure I'll get to wear it. even further north. in September. yeah! Optimism or stupidity, who knows?! I'm so happy with how both these makes turned out and am now well and truly hooked on the quick thrill of sewing with jersey!

Monday, 27 August 2012

This week I'm...

Making -a toile with my newly drafted skirt block - exciting!
Reading – back to John Cheever's Collected Stories - I've been reading this book for over a year and although I'm really enjoying it the stories are quite similar in style so I tend to read it in fits and starts.
Listening – rediscovering Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me. This kept me calm whilst doing the maths calculations on the skirt block.
Watching – I've got plans to make a tiny pocket tank, plus fix the gaping back on a pair of jeans before we go on holiday so I doubt I'll be watching much this week.
Planning – our holiday to Copenhagen next Saturday!
Loving – the corded loop pocket tutorial on Coletterie.  I'm thinking of trying to incorporate this into a Sorbetto dress I've got planned for making when we get back our holidays.

and today? I finished hemming my jersey maxi-skirt today and I love it! I'll write up a post about it another day when I can get a photo of me wearing it.  This was my first time using my twin needle and only my second time sewing with jersey (I've currently got a half-finished kimono sleeve t-shirt that I started last week).  Right now I'm enjoying watching The Ladykillers (original version) whilst cutting out and sticking together my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank pattern.  What a great bank holiday weekend this has been!  I've relaxed a bit about living in London and, rather than feel guilty about all the things I could be out and about seeing, I'm just enjoying having the time to spend at home, sew, listen to music and watch films.  Though I did go to Notting Hill Carnival yesterday so I have left the house!

Writing these weekly updates and plans has been really helping me stick to sewing plans.  I know it's only been a few weeks I've been doing them but hopefully I'll be able to keep the motivation and good planning up!

Friday, 24 August 2012

First attempt at pattern drafting

Today was a bonus day off for me as the Uni I work at was closed - as it's a bank holiday on Monday that means a four day weekend, yay!  My original plan was a day of sewing. It all started off well, drafting a skirt block using these instructions, until I got to calculating the back dart.  I've tried the numbers again and again and keep getting 10.2cm - it just seems really large for a dart so I must be doing something wrong I think?  Here's my calculations below, followed by the blank table from the skirt block instructions I'm using.  If anyone has any ideas of where I'm going wrong I'd love to hear them! I also don't have a hip curve and am a bit hesitant about drawing in the side seam curves without one so I'm off to some fabric shops tomorrow to buy one.

Hip – waist:
÷2 = total fabric to be removed:
Front dart size (2 – 2.5cm max):

Side seam ‘dart’ (3–4cm)
÷2 = fabric from each side:
Back dart = total – front dart – side seam (5 -9cm):

So, I gave it a break and did some picture framing and hanging instead.  Our new flat is much larger than our last one so we've finally got space to hang up all our photos and art work.  The one below was a wedding present from Leo Blamire, an artist, framer, and friend, whose work is for sale through McGill Duncan Gallery (an amazing gallery in Castle Douglas run by Jill and Zoe Blamire - a family affair!).  I absolutely love this painting and the story behind it.  Leo found the frame, with real butterflies inside it.  They were all brittle and falling apart so he took them out, painted the back of the frame the gorgeous turquoise colour, then cut all the butterflies out of wood and painted them in oil paints. Much nicer than having real butterflies in a frame!

I got lots of small pictures framed up and just need to buy some small tacks tomorrow to put the rest of them up.  I also found this gorgeous photo below, of my mum, aunt and Grandma.  It was taken by my Grandpa who was a keen photographer and part of an amateur photography group.  It's quite large 15.5 x 11.5 cm.  I'm pretty sure it's Italy and would say it's about mid 60s.  My mum is wearing the full skirt and has a scarf in her hair.  I found the perfect black frame for it and it's now hanging up in our living room. So, although I didn't get a whole lot of sewing done I've had a very relaxing and still quite creative day off.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Scalloped shorts re-fashion

Quickest refashion ever! These jeans were almost 2 years old and had gone totally white at the knees.  A year or so ago I'd have just put them in the clothes recycling bin or given them to the charity shop but not now as I knew I'd be able to find a use for them.  Turning them into shorts isn't exactly the most original idea but I thought So Zo's scallop hem short refashion made it that bit different.  I used a mustard jar lid as my template for the scallops, marked it out in biro then simply cut it out.  However I didn't get a chance to sew round the scallops like Zoe suggests before the blazing sun came out on Saturday and I just had to get out to the park and wear them!  I will take her advice though and sew round them to try and stop any fraying.  I just love these and here's hoping the sunny weather keeps up so I can get some more wear out of these before Autumn starts!

And I've just seen another great jeans to shorts refashion using painted sections to add detail. It's over at LulaLouise - check it out!

Monday, 20 August 2012

This week I'm...

Making - a jersey maxi skirt out of some bright coral fabric I got in the remnants bin in Mandors in Glasgow (that's it above, with my book, though the colour is a lot brighter in real life)
Reading – The Canal (I'm really enjoying it, it's just taking me a bit longer to get through than usual due to all this sunshine - too hot to concentrate on a book!) and Alice in Wonderland with gorgeous illustrations by Tove Jansson. I love re-reading children's books!
Listening – lots of reggae in anticipation for my first time at Notting Hill Carnival next weekend
Watching – catching up on new series' of CSI and CSI Miami
Planning – to draft a pencil skirt pattern and make a muslin
Loving – sunny days and spontaneous mid-week picnics in the park! 

Practice makes perfect

and tonight? I'm... practising sewing with jersey in anticipation of making my maxi-skirt.  This khaki jersey is a lot finer than the coral I'm going to use for the skirt so I figure, if anything it'll be harder to sew with? I'm using Lladybird's Conquering knits and Maria's kimono t-shirt instructions for guidance and help.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The magic number

In order to practise basic sewing skills like sewing in a straight line and finishing seams (when I said basic I meant basic!) I decided to use Karen's pyjama party sew-along another couple of times.  Instead of PJ trousers I made two pairs of shorts for the summer- and given the recent heat I'm so glad I did!

I'm really pleased with both pairs as I've definitely improved sewing in a straight line, finishing seams and I've learned how to sew a buttonhole using the buttonhole settings on my Bernina 1008. I finished the seams with a vari-overlock stitch and am so happy with how much neater these two pairs are. My final attempt, in the grey fabric, are definitely my favourite as I reduced the length from waist to crotch and they sit a lot better than the other pairs. However I just love the feel of the Liberty fabric of the blue pair so I know I'll get lots of wear out of both pairs.  Copying the style of a pair of M&S PJ's I own I only put elastic in the back and used ribbon for the front.  It was nice to feel confident enough to change the pattern as well! Even on the first pair I made I thought the fit was wrong but it wasn't until the third that I felt confident enough to go with my instincts and cut different to the pattern!

So, I think for the next wee while at least, 3 is the magic number! I'm going to try some basic patterns, such as a pencil skirt, kimono style t-shirt, a dress, three times each - improving my basic skills and my confidence each time.

P.S. I forgot to say where the fabrics are from - the original pair of stripey pyjamas are made with really cheap fabric from Goldhawk Road, a coupe of pounds a metre; the blue fabric is Liberty from their recent sale I think it was reduced to about £9 for a metre remnant; and the grey pair are made from an old pillowcase.

Monday, 13 August 2012

New Monday posts and.. I'm a winner!

I just discovered a lovely new blog Peas and Needles and thought I'd shamelessly copy her 'just a minute' series. Instead of a monthly update I'm going to go for a weekly one on a Monday as I'm planning to use it as motivation to keep on the sewing learning curve and stop me getting too discouraged by my slow progress! 

So. This week I'm...

Making - some more pyjamas, this time pj shorts
Listening – William Basinki's Disintegration Loops
Watching – no more Olympics, what to watch?!
Planning – to make a jersey maxi skirt
Loving – the lift I get every time I see the watercolours and photographs of flowers & fauna created by Rosemary's Blog.  Recent favourite - purple clemetis.

Practising buttonholes

And tonight? I'm... practising buttonholes for a ribbon opening on the pair of PJ shorts I'm working on. Far right was the first attempt, far left the most recent - I think there's an improvement but maybe that's just what I want to see!

And last, but by no means least I'm super excited to have won a sewing giveaway hosted by the lovely Shivani at Pins & Needles! When I'd just started this blog Shivani was kind enough to leave me some encouraging comments.  I was so pleased to receive comments from someone whose blog I' ve enjoyed since I started reading sewing blogs. When she posted about her giveaway I immediately fell for the Vintage Simplicity 4947, even though I think I'll need to grade it up (is that the right term?!) as it might be too small.  It's just the perfect pattern for this vintage Liberty fabric I've got (which you can see here) so I'm so so happy to have won! Also, only 3 main pattern pieces - sounds appealing right?!

Sunday, 5 August 2012


After reading Sarai's post on developing good sewing habits, and reading about needles in the Colette Sewing Handbook I thought it was about time to change my needle and think about which one I should be using for which fabric.  I opened up the messy box containing all my needles, lots of ribbon and thread, and tailor's chalk - yes it's very messy! - and found a huge selection of needles. I've now thrown away the one in the machine that had been there for, well I don't know how long but I've never changed it, and I've put in one for the light cotton fabric you can see in the background of the photo. This fabric is in the process of becoming a pair of PJ shorts - the legs are sewn up, an it's a rainy day today so I'm hoping I'll get them finished today.

When I was deciding what, out of my mum's room-full of sewing, embroidery and other art supplies I should keep, it was hard to know what I might use in the future.  There were lots of things I had sentimental attachments to that I couldn't get rid of, but as a non-sewer I found it hard to know what would be most useful.  In the end I gave most of the craft supplies to friends of hers and of mine, people that I knew would get lots of use out of them.  I kept the sewing machine, all the machine threads, needles, scissors and a selection of fabric as I just couldn't keep it all.  It's lovely as I still get surprises when I go through boxes - for example just after taking the photo above I found another little needle box containing 3 twin needles!  Another discovery this week is that my sewing machine has a light bulb! I can't find the little gadget that my instruction book says should be there to remove the bulb and put in a new one - maybe it was one of the things I got rid of as I didn't know what it was! It's going to come in really useful in the winter though to be able to add some extra light to my wee sewing table.