Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Check out the dust on that!

I've had this sewing machine for four years and this is the first time I've cleaned it - shameful isn't it?!
When I got back after new year I started sewing the baby blanket and immediately realised something was wrong by the strange noise my machine was making.  Something made me think that the fact I'd never cleaned it might be to blame so out came the sewing machine oil (ordered from Jaycotts ages ago) and off came the stitch plate (I just had to look that up in my sewing machine manual).  I don't know why I was so shocked by the amount of lint that had collected seeing as I'd never cleaned it but it did make me feel very sad for having made my machine work so hard in such poor conditions! Then I took out the bobbin case and the hook it connects to, gave them a good clean, cleaned inside with a cotton bud and then oiled the hook race (another new term!) and put it all back together again. It really felt like I'd done a good deed for my sewing machine, and for me of course.  I read somewhere last night that you should clean the bobbin case after every thread change but I don't think I'd remember this often. What does everyone else do? How often do you clean your machine? Is anyone as bad as my once in four years?!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Baby blanket No.2

After an initially slow start to sewing plans in January - hampered by flue and quickly followed by starting a new job - I was glad to have a nice quick project to start with.  Yes, another baby blanket, this time for Lily, the daughter of one of my friends.  We've been friends a long time so I think I know the colours and patterns she would like - basically anything with a bit of a 60s/70s vibe and/or lots of colours.  This repeat print elephant fabric in Ray Stitch it seemed like the perfect choice!  I backed it with the same blue fleece given to my by another friend (which may or may not be a smuggled airline blanket - ahem!) and once again I used an embroidery chain stitch to sew on the initial.

 I'm so happy with how this turned out and once again would highly recommend Jane's tutorial for any beginner's like myself, or indeed for anyone in need of a quick, satisfying sewing fix!

Continuing on with this productivity I surprised myself last night by getting on with a turquoise dress, another McCalls 2401, which I've had cut out for ages. Hopefully I'll get it finished by the end of the week! I did make a second McCalls 2401, after the initial toile, in a lovely fabric I got from Walthamstow market.  I made it for a wedding but forgot to get any photos, then I wore it again for my birthday on Saturday and once again forgot to take any photos.  I'll just have to wear it again this weekend and get a photo this time!


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! I hope everyone had a joyful and relaxing Christmas and New Year break.  I've been very lucky and had an extra long break which I spent back in Scotland seeing family and friends.  It was a great break and now I have the excitement of a new job starting tomorrow as a project archivist at London School of Economics! The project is titled The economist and the wider world: the papers of Lionel Robbins (1898-1984) and I'm really excited about getting started.  As it will be my first week though I doubt whether I'll have much time to blog so I thought I'd just say hello tonight.

I've been loving reading all the responses to Gillian's Top 5 reflections series but I haven't really made enough to participate properly as I've only made 7 items in total this year.   However I've actually got a lot of wear out of most of them so far and I feel I've learnt a lot so I'm happy with the progress I've made.  The most recent dress (still unblogged) has only had one outing so far - the wedding I made it for - but I'm sure I'll wear it a lot in the future.  The 'toile' I made has become a favourite - worn with a belt and a bright cardigan it's perfect for work. 

One bit of the Top 5 Reflections I can complete is the Top 5 Lessons Learned:
  1. I have a lot, a lot, to learn about sewing!
  2. I'm a slow sewer and often can't find the energy to sew after work - I'm going to try and use the 15 minute idea discussed by Tilly for those evenings when I'm home but feeling too tired to sew as it makes it much less daunting.
  3. Making toile's from fabric I'm not going to wear is pretty demotivating.  I just discovered this as it's taken over a month to make up a toile from my skirt block using the same fabric as my dress toile. Somehow a grey skirt as well as a grey dress wasn't too appealing. Time to be brave and just cut into nicer fabric first time round.
  4. Sewing friends are amazing! I'm very lucky to have a 'real life' sewing friend and couldn't have learned so much this year without her help.  Like so many other sewers who blog I've been amazed by the support and help I've received from the online sewing community. I hope one day to be able to reciprocate!
  5. I love wearing things that I've sewn!
My final make of 2012? A baby blanket made using Handmade Jane's tutorial and stealing the idea of the initial from Kestrel Finds and Makes.  I used a scrap of yellow striped fabric for the initial and then chain stitched round the edge of it with embroidery thread.

I couldn't share this before as I didn't want to spoil the surprise for the receiver, well the mum of the receiver as this was a present for our new two-week old nephew Adam (I don't think he reads my blog - yet!).  It was so much fun to make and I enjoyed relearning the embroidery chain stitch as I hadn't done it for years.  The fleece fabric was a gift from a friend and the other fabric is a lovely soft linen/cotton blend I got from M is for Make (they still have it and it's in the sale now)