Thursday, 3 November 2016

Brumby #2

This post has been sitting written in my drafts folder for over a month. I kept waiting to get better photos of this skirt but I waited so long it's now winter and, as I won't wear this again till the spring, I'm just going to post with the photos I have. I hope you can still see what a gorgeous skirt it is even though I've got no decent close-up images.
Also, this must be a recent record - two makes in a row that aren't pink! It is a repeat pattern though, what you could also called a Tried and True pattern for me, the Megan Nielsen Brumby. I just can't help myself, I love this pattern so much!  This version has fast become a wardrobe staple too and, because I've lined it, I'm sure it will continue to get worn through the autumn/winter as well (EDIT - I've decided I don't really like to wear full skirts like this with tights so chances are I won't wear my Brumby's again till spring).  It is so satisfying to add pieces to my wardrobe that get worn so much so quickly and I am ever so pleased with both my new Brumby's (see my other one here)!

Once I'd sewn up the skirt pieces and got ready to gather it I realised it was much more sheer than I had initially thought so decided I better line it.  Luckily I had enough of the same fabric to line it with as I didn't have anything else suitable.  After some consultation on Instagram I decided to go with advice to gather skirt and lining together to reduce bulk, and ensure the gathers were in the same place.  This all went so smoothly, except that for some reason I never overlocked the seams on the lining (this fabric frays so much!) so of course after a few wears they were coming apart. I had to do some repair work with a tiny zigzag stitch and an overlock stitch and hopefully that's it saved now.  It is so nice to make a pattern up more than once - it is a good way of building sewing confidence and trying out little changes. With this version I decided to have a go at the exposed zip. I used the tutorial on Megan Nielsen's website but had a bit of trouble with the length and ended up with a wee hole at the bottom of the zip, which I darned over. Asides from that I also find that the exposed zip doesn't stay closed at the top so at present have a hidden safety pin at the back which I really should replace with a hook and eye. I'm not sure why it doesn't stay shut, it could be because my zip doesn't quite go to the top, or that the zip is too heavy for the fabric, or that I used a second hand zip that might be a bit faulty? Who knows, who cares?! No one else will notice but me and the safety pin works fine for now.

Details -
Size: S. This time I cut a size S all over, used the recommended 1.5cm seam allowances, except when joining front & back waistband, where I used 1cm. One thing I'd say about the size, it is a very fitted waistband. It sits quite high up so you really are measuring your actual waist as opposed to where a lot of modern trousers and skirts would sit. I always found this quite confusing when I started sewing as it means your waist measurement is usually less than what you would think going by the size of jeans you might normally buy. I think this is why I went with the size M when I made my first version and although I like where it sits I think the intended higher waist position of my second and third versions are much more flattering.
Fabric & notions: This purple fabric has been sitting in my stash so long that I have no idea where it came from or when I got it.  There was about 2 metres and it's quite silky to the touch - maybe a rayon or a cotton/rayon blend? I have no idea really. I wasn't too mad about this shade of purple up close to my face so I vetoed my early plans to make a dress from this and decided a skirt would get more wear anyway.  The pocket fabric is the same as I used for the pockets on my first pair of Burda pleated shorts, possibly a Rayon, a remnant also bought years ago from Ray Stitch.  I used a lovely golden yellow metal zip I picked up in a charity shop for 25p (I bought a bunch of them!) and I bought purple thread.

Close-up of pocket - you can see the nice pocket lining fabric here too.

Were the instructions clear
: Yes. When making my first Brumby I thought the waistband instructions should have been clearer re which end is top and bottom.  However looking at it now I can see it's fairly obvious as it's a contoured waistband so it's narrower at the top than the bottom.
Any changes I'd make next time: I've already made this a third time and the only change I made was to do a centred zip rather than exposed.
Total cost: approx. £15/20 (I have no idea how much the fabric cost but I don't usually spend more than £10 a metre).

Sorry for the headless bathroom shot, but it does show the lovely big pockets and the flattering waistband.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 2 -Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

Well those lovely pink shorts got me through to Round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. I was so pleased to get through as there were so many brilliant entries! I was holding off publishing this post as I wanted to get some better photos but each time I've worn this skirt since I've forgotten to take photos so I'm hitting Publish anyway!
Round 2 was another step outside my comfort zone.  This was the challenge -
You will have one week (starting 9/14/2016) to cut, sew and photograph a garment made using fabric cut on the bias (45 degree angle).
I had never sewn anything on the bias before, though I've certainly made plenty bias binding but that doesn't really count. My immediate thought was to make the top from the Rachel Comey Vogue 1247 pattern as I'd been wanting to make it for years and thought it was all cut on the bias. However when I looked at it I realised only one of the panels was cut on the bias. I could have altered it to cut them all on the bias but I wasn't feeling too confident about using a new-to-me pattern along with new-to-me sewing skills so I settled on something I'd made before.  If you've read my last post you'll know what I used - yes, it's another Brumby!

My first fabric choice was a beautiful striped cotton from Faberwood but, after cutting out the first piece and trying to match the stripes to cut the second front panel I decided it wasn't going to work. the stripes were too irregular and it would just have looked like I didn't know how to stripe match. Luckily I also had 2 metres of this gorgeous voile and 2 metres of blue lining that matched perfectly. I don't remember how much the voile cost except that I bought it at Ray Stitch on a day when they had a percentage off all fabrics. But I'd guess it cost me about £20 for the 2 metres. The lining fabric is from Truro Fabrics and cost £19.20 for 2 metres. I bought this years ago with something else in mind but never used it, luckily! It is a really nice lining fabric, much easier to sew with than the last pricey lining I bought, a Bremsilk cupro, and I'll definitely be going back to the Truro website to order more next time I need some lining.
This Threads Magazine article was highlighted by a number of helpful participants in the Pattern Review discussion board and it was very useful too. Again I have to say, if you don't already use the Pattern Review website it really is a brilliant resource for tips and advice, everyone is friendly and very helpful.  You can see all the wonderful entries for Round 2 of the Sewing Bee here, though I'm not sure how long they will stay up for.
I didn't make it through to Round 3 - which isn't surprising given the high standard of the other entries - but I had such good fun taking part!  And I came out with a beautiful skirt that has already had lots of wear.

Here is my review from the competition -

Sewing Bee Round 2 - A Bias Garment Pattern or style, and how it fits the criteria: A gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets and a contoured waistband. This was made for myself. I cut the two main front pieces and the two back pieces on the bias. I chose to add a lining as the main fabric was very sheer. The pocket facing, lining and waistband are cut on the straight grain. The lining pieces were also cut as two front pieces & two back pieces.

Fabric used - material and yardage: Voile fabric by Anna Maria Horner, called 'innocent crush'. 2 metres. The lining fabric is a tri-acetate/polyamide blend and I had 2 metres.

What other components did you use in your garment (closures, pockets, trim, etc): Two big front pockets which I topstitched. Centred zip. The pattern suggests an exposed zip, which I used on my last version. However I have read that the best zip technique to use on bias for a first try is a centred zip so that's what I went with!

Describe how the bias grain was used in your entry, and why:
This pattern has two separate main front & back pieces, with additional pocket facing pieces on the front. I decided to cut the main front & back pieces on the bias because I thought the striped fabric would look brilliant if used to make a chevron. I also thought the added drape from the bias cut might counter the volume of the gathers though it doesn't seem to have made much difference to this, probably because I added a lining. For added contrast I cut the pocket facing & waistband on the straight grain so the stripes go in different directions, vertically on the waistband & horizontally on the pockets. The pocket lining was cut on the straight grain from the lining fabric, as was the waistband facing. I have lined this skirt as the voile is quite sheer. I cut the lining on the bias as well.
Before cutting on the bias I marked up my pattern pieces with the bias grain (following this brilliant tutorial by Liz at Zildred Loh). I have showed my marked pattern pieces in the photo which also shows the fabric being cut on the bias.

Matching stripes on the bias

I made sure to make sure that my front and back pieces made chevrons at the side as down the middle. Likewise with the lining I made sure that the Grainline made a chevron in the middle and at the sides.

Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:
I've made this skirt twice before so spent some time perfecting the fit on those two. First time round I cut a size S initially then thought the waist was too tight so recut the waistband in a M. It fits but is a bit loose. Second time I cut a size S for waistband and skirt pieces and it fits pretty perfectly though to be on this safe side here I used a 1cm seam allowance on the waistband pieces to give a bit of extra room. I added 1/2" to the side seams and 1" to the hems of the main pattern pieces as I've read that this is advised to allow for the fabric stretching and I also wanted this to be slightly longer than my last version.

Have you included at least 3 pictures, including minimum one on a live model and one photo showing the bias grain? Yes.

Describe what you like most about your entry: Where to start?! I love that taking part in the sewing bee pushed me to try sewing on the bias for the first time. I'm so pleased with the effect of the chevrons and how well I've matched them up - this was pretty painstaking with lots of pinning and hand basting of each seam. I love how luxurious the fabrics feel and how they swish and move around, it feels like a very special skirt!

Describe your biggest challenge in sewing this bias garment: I've never sewn bias cut fabric before, or altered the grain on a pattern so every step was a challenge and a great opportunity to learn something new.
I think the biggest challenge though was matching up all the stripes to make the chevrons. Once I'd cut out my first front piece I then laid this on the fabric to match up the chevrons to cut my second front piece (photo included). Then I did the same matching with both the back pieces, matching them to each other and to the corresponding front piece. In addition I forgot to add the extra seam allowances on my second front piece and had to recut it. Luckily I had enough fabric.

Stripe matching chevrons

That challenge was closely followed by the challenge of sewing an even hem. I decided to machine stitch the hem and did a small hem, basting at a 1/4", folding, then again at 1/8" & folding then trimming the excess, then folding it under and stitching with an ordinary stitch length. (I used this tutorial for the hem)
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?

As the pockets were cut on the straight grain, to give contrasting stripe direction, I stay-stitched the pockets before sewing the curve of the straight grain to the curve of the bias. You can see the shape of the pockets in the photos - they're big!!

I hand basted & pinned the seams, sewed every seam and the zip from bottom to top, and used a small zig zag stitch on the seams. There are conflicting views about stretching bias seams when sewing, I didn't stretch mine as wanted my stripes to match perfectly.
Pinked all my seams as I thought overlocking using the stitch on my sewing machine would distort them. I hand stitched the waistband facing down on the inside.
I am so pleased with this skirt and with myself for sewing my first item cut on the bias! I feel I've learned so much through this project: patience, when cutting bias pieces & matching stripes as chevrons; how to alter pattern pieces to show the bias; how to sew bias cut fabric, with this fabric a very small zig zag stitch & no stretching of the seam; a new hemming technique; and this skirt looks as neat inside as out. Thanks pattern review for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Pattern Review Sewing Bee round 1 - Burda shorts

Remember those shorts I made not so long ago? Well I loved them so much that I instantly wanted to make a second pair before the summer ended.  I had only just convinced myself that it was really time to do more winter-appropriate sewing instead when I noticed that the Pattern Review Sewing Bee contest was about to start. And, guess what the first challenge was?! Yes, a pair of shorts or capris. Well fate had intervened, time to sew up Burda Style pleated shorts 02-2013 #129 again. One last summer sew before autumn/winter sewing begins.
Although I've been a member of Pattern Review for over a year I really heard about the competition last year through seeing Hila's gorgeous entries on her blog Saturday Night Stitch. I've started using the Pattern Review website a lot more since I started quilting, it's such a good source of advice and everyone is so friendly. I'm sure most of you have already heard of it and used it but if not I'd highly recommend it for sewing and quilting, it's free to sign up though they do have a paid option too. I've included my review from the contest below as it gives all the relevant information but I've added in a few extra photos.
UPDATE: I got through to Round 2 - yay!! I'm very pleased I got through as the competition was tough! At the moment you can see all the contest entries together but I think this is only up for 6 months after which you can view everything in the general review gallery.

2016 Sewing Bee Round 1 - Shorts or Capris
Pattern or style used and how it fits the criteria: Pleated shorts with hip yoke pockets and side invisible zip.
Fabric Used-Material Content and Yardage:
Just under 1metre of a brocade style cotton fabric gifted to me by a friend. She bought it at a fabric sale of left over sample fabric at her work - a high street fashion store.
Describe your closure: Invisible zip in the left hand side seam.
Describe the other components you used (e.g. buttons, zippers, trim, pockets, contrast, etc): A 9" invisible zip in the side seam. Two yoke pockets, pleats on the front and back darts. I love both sides of the fabric so I used the reverse for the pocket yoke piece and the waistband. I was very short on fabric so I had to piece my pocket facings together from scraps.

Contrast pockets & waistband, and a pretty good invisible zip
Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping: I have made this pattern up before so I knew the shorts fitted as given but I used a facing not a waistband the first time.  So this time I measured my waist and instead of cutting the waistband to one of the lengths given in the instructions I cut it exactly to fit my waist, with added 1.5cm seam allowance (if only I'd remembered to add seam allowance to the width as well). I still basted the side seams first to check fit before sewing them as this fabric has no stretch whereas last time I made these I used a stretch cotton.
waistband interior, with added fabric to make waistband the right length
Indicate here that you included the photos required - Remember one photo MUST be on a live model (although head may be omitted/obscured) and blog links are NOT allowed:
1.            Front [Required]: yes, on model
2.            Photo shown on the model [Required]:yes
3.            Closure detail [Required]: yes, invisible zip
4.            [Back]: yes
5.            [Optional]: pocket detail close-up
Describe what you like most about your entry: I just love this fabric so much and I am really pleased with the look of the contrast waistband and pocket section as I think it really makes the shorts stand out (as if wearing neon shorts wasn't enough!) I am also very pleased I took the time to hand stitch both the waistband and the hems with s blind stitch.
Describe your biggest challenge in sewing these shorts: I've never fitted shorts or trousers before so I was worried about getting them to fit properly. I found the waistband really hard, mostly because I forgot to add the seam allowance so I had to sew on extra fabric to the reverse of the waistband to make it wide enough (I had less than a metre of this fabric so couldn't just recut a new waistband. Also, sewing to such a strict deadline is a huge challenge as I'm usually quite a slow sewer with woven fabrics and, with a toddler and part-time work, don't get much time to sew.
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?: I had heard how sparse Burda instructions could be and experienced it for myself with this pattern. For a beginner sewer like me you will probably need other resources as well - I found a tutorial someone wrote online on adding the pockets to these shorts, and used my Colette sewing handbook for a refresher on sewing in an invisible zip.  I found the process on this pair more difficult than my first attempt at this pattern, which was with a stretch cotton. It really emphasised to me the differences fabric choice can make to fit and appearance of the finished item. I am so pleased with these and am hoping it will stay warm enough to get some wear out of them before autumn arrives properly!
So, on to Round 2 of the Sewing Bee now - the challenge is to sew an item cut on the bias. I'm going with a skirt, another summer fabric so maybe this will be my last summer sewing?!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

One Week One Pattern 2016

Have you heard of One Week One Pattern? It's a sewing challenge started in 2012, then in 2014 and now, September 2016. This time round it is hosted by Hannah from  Cinderellis Sews. The challenge is to wear a Tried and True pattern - one you've made lots of times, wear all the time etc - every day for a week. Well, I feel I'm cheating a bit, or at least not following the rules really, as I'm using the Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt, which I've only made once. But bear with me please, I do wear the one version I have a LOT! Like at least once or twice a week. So to my view it's already a Tried & True pattern. I've also got my second version halfway sewn, and fabric for my third washed. The fitting took me quite a while to sort out but I think, hope, on this second version it's going to be spot on.  So hopefully this will give me the push to get sewing!

This is my much-loved Brumby. I Blogged about it before but to recap, I won the pattern on a giveaway by Amelia on her blog Veronica Darling and I bought this gorgeous pink twill fabric from Ray Stitch.
I wear it so much, I love the weight of the fabric, the big pockets, and of course the colour (I wear & sew a lot of pink!)

So I'm pretty excited about following along & seeing everyone else's makes. I'm sure they will be a lot more innovative than mine but I'm hoping this gives me a push to finish up the versions I have planned as I'm sure they'll do me into autumn too. Anyone else playing along?!

Monday, 22 August 2016

I made shorts!

I made some shorts!! I am taking this as my first step on my plan to make a pair of trousers - something I said I'd do this year, last year and probably the year before as well. Now I feel a bit more confident it might happen! Despite their imperfections (which I'll get to in a minute) I am so happy with these shorts. They are pink, of course. The cotton is a cotton sateen (I think) with a good bit of stretch and a lovely soft texture so they are very comfy. And they look good enough to wear out in public, not just in the garden. Their first outing was to the Appearing Room Fountains at the Southbank, where they survived getting soaked, and also dried pretty quickly. A win in my book! Apologies for the poor quality photos, I'll try and get a better one next time I wear them out.

The pattern is Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129. When I mentioned to one of my friends last summer that I wanted to try making some trousers she suggested I start with a shorts pattern and said she had one I could use. So I tried on her toile which fitted me fine and she then very kindly traced me out the pattern and photocopied the instructions from her magazine copy. These are a bit different to the pattern as they have a facing rather than a waistband. This is because my friend made them with a facing and traced me her facing pattern pieces too so I just went with this. Next time I'll try them with a waistband.

I used the guidelines for attaching the facing to the Meringue Skirt in the Colette Sewing Handbook and I also understitched to try and keep the facing flat. It still sticks up though,  I think I should have used a thinner fabric for the facing. I'm reasonable happy with the zip. I tried to put the zip slightly higher up as the instructions say you need to attach a hook & eye above the zip, which I don't like the look of. In my attempt to do this I've ended up making the sides uneven. However I don't really care to be honest, I mean obviously I'll try better next time but I will be wearing these with a t-shirt covering the waist so nobody will ever see it but me. Thinking about it now I think that, with the facing rather than the waistband, the zip would have been fine where it was.  On the plus side the crotch seam (which of course no one will see!) is matched up pretty perfectly. Recently I've really been starting to feel some improvements in my sewing and making these feels like an important step. Trousers no longer seem quite so scary!

You can see the uneven waist here.
Details -
Pattern: Burdastyle Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Size: Not sure as my friend traced out the size she had used.
Fabric & notions: Bright (very bright!) pink cotton (possibly a cotton sateen, definitely with some stretch) was a gift from the same friend who traced me her pattern (aren't I lucky?!).  Pink thread from stash (bought for Brumby skirt). The lovely pink fabric in the pockets is possibly a Rayon, it was a remnant I bought years ago and it's nice to finally use some of it.
Were the instructions clear: Hmmn kind of. I've made so many toddler Sunny Day shorts now that I was confident enough putting them together. Except for the pockets. I've never sewn pockets like this before, I think they're called yoke pockets? Oh and of course I tried to attach the pockets to the back, numerous times! Because the darts are on the back pieces I kept mistaking them for the front (which has pleats) so of course I couldn't get the pockets to fit. Once I realised my mistake though it wasn't too bad. Though I think if I hadn't had my friends toile version to refer to I might have struggled more.
Any changes I'd make next time: Next time I'll try and make them with the waistband.
Total cost: No cost at all!

Perfect seam matching!

Pretty pockets.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Bow and arrows quilt

This is the Bow & Arrows quilt pattern from Suzy Quilts and I can't believe this is the best photo I got of the finished quilt as I absolutely love it! I'll need to ask the recipient if I can take some better photos next time I'm back in Scotland. Even from these photos you can see how well it turned out. I had so much fun sewing it up, especially hand-sewing the binding on in the sun in my dad's garden!

Soaking up the sun, ready for hand stitching the binding.
This is the baby quilt size and I totally copied the colour way Suzy gives in the PDF pattern.  I was so pleased when I remembered I had these blue & yellow fabrics in my stash as they look so good together. The backing fabric is brilliant too, Retro Rockets by Michael Miller. It took me a while to find this online and I ordered 2 metres of it from Cloth Ears.  I'm considering buying more as I just love it and it's perfect for baby quilts! The white fabric is a lovely quality sheet from a charity shop which cost the princely sum of £2!

Backing fabric - Retro rocket by Michael Miller
Imperfect lines
One thing I've realised with quilt making - I am so not a perfectionist!! In fact I like imperfections.  When I started machine quilting this I was worried about getting the lines perfectly straight. Then I decided to treat it just as I would if I was drawing - that is just go for it. My lines are not all straight or uniform but I really like how this looks.  My mum used to do really wonderful pen line drawings and I always loved how strong and decisive her lines were even though, or perhaps because, they weren't all uniform.
I followed the pattern exactly (as you can see!) which worked out well mostly. The only issue I had was the lengths given for the border pieces. It instructs you to cut 4 of the same length which obviously isn't' necessary as you have 2 shorter sides, and weirdly the length you are to cut is too long for the short sides and too short for the longer sides! So I ended up having to cut and join a few times. I think next time I'll work out what lengths I need for sides and top & bottom and cut accordingly.  I used the stated 1/4" seam allowance throughout. Incidentally if, like me, you're new to quilting check out this great post on advice on quilting.

I wasn't very keen on the basic method for making Flying Geese as it creates quite a bit of waste. Well it won't be waste as I intend to try and use them in a scrappy quilt. However I think if I made this again I would try and use the no-waste method, which she explains in the pattern too.
Flying geese - you can see all the wasted fabric on the left.
I also had a few issues this time with machine quilting. I don't have a special foot so I was just using the straight stitch foot with a 2 1/2 - 3 stitch length.  I found that I got quite a bit of gathering of the fabric. This might have been because the fabrics I used were thicker than my last quilt, or maybe because I was quilting more lines but I realised I really need to give my free motion embroidering foot a go for this.  And maybe ask for a walking foot for my Christmas! I've also realised you get special needles for machine quilting, and special threads, so I'll try these out too. Always so many things to learn! If anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them as I'm such a beginner to quilt making! Also if anyone has any particular quilt designers or artists they like please let me know as I'm having such a great time finding out more about improvised quilting, the history of quilt making, and all the different artists out there working in quilts.

Machine quilting

Friday, 5 August 2016

Inari Tee dress

Inari tee dress, Named Patterns

In between sewing for others - clothes and quilts - I've also been sewing for myself too! First up is my new favourite make (well asides from my Brumby which I wear ALL the time!).  Do you recognise this pattern yet? Of course, it's yet another version of the Inari tee dress from Named Patterns! When this pattern first came out I wasn't so sure I needed another dartless shift dress pattern but the more versions of it I saw the more I fancied giving it a try myself.

Well, thanks to a gift from a friend, I now had the chance! This fabric had been sitting in my stash for about 4/5 years, I'm assuming it's a rayon but I didn't make a note at the time.  It has been imagined as many things, firstly another McCalls 2401, then the Sewing bee shift dress from Fashion with Fabric, but when I got the Inari I knew it would be the perfect match. I don't profess to be an expert by any means but I think the dress version of this pattern really works best in a drapey fabric like this.

This is the best representation of the vibrant colours of the fabric.

This was made up in small bits of sewing (like most of my sewing) over the course of a few weeks. I took my time as I wanted to do all the understitching, finish all the seams etc as I was hoping it would be a success. Which it is! I wore this the weekend I made it and am planning to wear it again tomorrow. I'm so happy with how it turned out and I love the shape of it, love it! In fact I've got plans for another dress, and a cropped tee version!

Details -
Pattern: Inari tee dress, Named Patterns
Size: 10
Fabric & notions: 2 metres of patterned rayon from John Lewis, probably about £10 a metre as I remember thinking it was pricey at the time. Though thinking about it of course it's not really pricey at all given I still have enough left over for a top so I get a dress & top for £20! Thread & interfacing from stash.
Were the instructions clear: Yes. I really liked that it was only a 1cm seam allowance, makes it nice & easy to overlock the edges using the overlock stitch & foot on my Bernina without having to trim first.  I wanted my cuffs to sit nicely and look neat so I understitched them, this isn't in the instructions. I also understitched the neck facing like the instructions say but in addition I used some hidden stitches to keep the facing in place as I get so annoyed by facings that don't stay down. I also added a hand-sewn (not very neatly) bar tack at the top of the side splits.  I didn't get a photo of the side splits but I'll try to get one & add it in as its another feature that makes this pattern so good!
Any changes I'd make next time: Nope, not a thing. Though I would also like to try the cropped top version, maybe not quite as cropped as the pattern pieces!
Total cost: £20

Has anyone else been won over to this pattern after seeing other versions? Or has that happened with other patterns? I've definitely been influenced to buy patterns, and fabric, when I've seen them 'in the wild' so to speak!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Sewing roundup, come on, it's time to play

Having completely missed posting for the last Kids Clothes Week (though I did manage to get my projects uploaded on to the members site) I thought I'd do a quick round-up post of my children's sewing recently, before the next Kids Clothes Week comes round in early August. He wears me-mades quite a lot now and I love seeing him in things I've made. I just hope he keeps enjoying wearing them!

Owl Totem Raglan from Ottobre magazine, Spring 1/2014

You've already seen the Raglan sweater, which I plan to make more of for the Autumn. I've also made 2 versions of the Made by Rae Flashback Skinny tee so I'll do a wee write up on that pattern. Of course there's been another pair of Sunny Day shorts - I think there will be at least one pair of these every summer - and I'll do a quick review of this pattern too.

Short-sleeved Flashback Skinny Tee

Details -
Pattern: Flashback Skinny Tee
Size: 2T
Fabric & notions: Short-sleeved version was a mens M-sized t-shirt from charity shop, long sleeved version was scraps from previous makes - the blue, which I've used for Harris already here and here and the bird fabric which was originally used in this Maria Denmark tee, with scraps used here as well. Considering I only bought a metre of that bird fabric I've got a lot made from it! Red ribbing bought from Kitschy Coo, £5 for 1/3 of a metre
Were the instructions clear: Yes, very clear. So clear in fact that I'm considering buying the Geranium dress pattern as a pattern to use for little girl presents.
Any changes I'd make next time: I'm going to add some length to it, or maybe even move up to using the size 3T

Total cost: £5

Sunny Day shorts in Charley Harper Maritime birds fabric
Details -
Pattern: Sunny Day shorts by Oliver + S
Size: 2 years
Fabric & notions: 1/2 metre Charley Harper Maritime fabric from M is for Make £9.20, elastic and thread from stash
Were the instructions clear: yes, I've made this plenty of times before and didn't make any changes. I LOVE this pattern!
Any changes I'd make next time: I definitely need to go up to the size 3T

Total cost: £9.20



 Now it's time to start thinking about what I'm going to sew during the next Kids Clothes Week from August 8-14. If you haven't come across Kids Clothes Week before it's a week long challenge to sew for an hour a day for your kids or friends/families children. There is a theme each time but I don't usually use the theme, I just enjoy putting aside that time each day to sew for Harris, and other children in my life. It's a great wee community to be a part of, check out more about it here

Friday, 8 July 2016

And you'll be with To-to-ro, Totoro! To-to-ro, Totoro!

If I had to pick a favourite animation film My Neighbour Totoro would win hands down, every time. I just love it and I'm happy to say I've now passed that love on to my son and my husband. It's a film that we all sit down and watch together and I hope it goes on being a family favourite - the current hit of the moment is Madagascar which is pretty good fun to watch too! 

Harris's love for Totoro was what inspired me to look up tutorials to make him a Totoro as I've been keen to have a go at soft toy making for a while now.  I could not believe my luck when I found this tutorial from Cheek and Stitch (update Sept 2018 - I’ve removed the link as unfortunately the blog has disappeared and the link looks dodgy now) - it was exactly what I was looking for! I printed out the pattern, got my felt from Hobby Craft and.. left it sitting for months as I'm prone to do.

Then I decided that I just had to make one for one of my friend's son's first birthday (as a fellow Totoro/Ghibli fan I knew she would appreciate it). Of course I couldn't make one for someone else and not for Harris so I decided just to go for it and make two at once.

The tutorial includes a free pattern which I printed out and backed onto card. The instructions are very clear and it all came together smoothly except for one thing. I found the 1/4" seam allowance made the ears, arms and tail just too fiddly to turn them right way out after stitching. I reduced the seam allowance to 1/8" and found this much easier.  The eyes, nose, mouth and belly are all done with hand-stitching and I really enjoyed doing this. I find it so relaxing to sew by hand.  I bought my stuffing from Hobby Craft too and was glad I'd bought 2 bags as it took lots of stuffing to make them nice and plump.

I am so happy with how these turned out, I got so much enjoyment out of making them and am sure that the love I put into making them has helped them turn out so happy looking! It's also been very gratifying to see that they are both well loved already, as you can see below!

Little hand in the corner coming to get his Totoro back!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Think Pink! Brumby Skirt

I'm back with more pink, and not just more pink but more pink skirts. This takes me up to a total of 3 pink skirts, with plans for another 2 already! This is definitely my new favourite skirt and I have a feeling it will quickly become one of my most worn items of clothing.  In fact I'm wearing it today and I feel so comfortable and confident in it. Isn't it amazing what clothes can do for you?!

The fabric is just such a gorgeous bright shade of pink, which sadly these photos don't truly reflect. I'd say the best representation of the colour is in the photograph above. I bought the fabric from Ray Stitch 3 or 4 years ago and I think it was described as a pink twill, although it doesn't seem as heavy as the pink Liberty twill of my Wildwood Flower skirt.  It's possible this is the fabric here, it certainly looks like a similar colour.
The pattern is the Brumby skirt by Megan Nielsen, gifted to me by Veronica Darling as part of a giveaway she did to celebrate her birthday and her 1000th blog post. I couldn't believe it when I won as it was the most amazing prize! Amelia (the talented lady behind Veronica Darling) sent me a box of goodies - fabric, trims and other goodies, as well as a Megan Nielsen pattern of my choice for me, and to be sent to her.  I chose the Brumby skirt as it had been on my wish list for a while.  You should also go check out the lush green velvet version Amelia made - I think I might need a velvet version for the winter! The pockets, ah the pockets! That was the first thing that attracted me to this pattern and they don't disappoint, they're roomy and such a good shape.  Then there were so many nice versions popping up, some of the ones that inspired me to try this pattern were Morepleasethankyou's in denim, Very Kerry Berry's in denim, Noble & Daughter's metallic voile version and Jasika Nicole's ladybird version.

Worn here with my favourite Grainline tiny pocket tank

This make took me ages overall as when I sewed it up first time round I attached the waistband upside down. This wouldn't have mattered if it was a straight waistband but the shape is very curved so it really hugs your waist, except mine didn't, mine went out. I wore it once as I loved the skirt so but it just looked ridiculous with the waist flaring out.  So I had to unpick it all, trying not to unpick all my neat hand-stitching and my pretty good lapped zip. Then it sat in my sewing pile, for months, and months, until, 2 days before my holiday, I decided it had to come with me. I'd originally cut the size S waist but as it sits quite high I found this too tight so I retraced the waistband pieces in the size M then reattached it, upside down again! Argh, at this point I only had one night left to sew before our holiday. I unpicked and re-sewed, the right way round this time. Amazingly, with a bit of fudging I managed to just hand-sew the rest of the zip back up and although it's not nearly so neat at the back now I don't care as, as I said before, I love it so! I ended up doing the last of the hand-sewing round the zip while on my holiday, sitting on the balcony. I think I need to find more hand-sewing projects for holidays as I really enjoyed it.

So, it's finally finished and I love it. Another Brumby skirt is now top of my summer sewing list, after the Inari tee dress and the bright pink shorts I've got cut out.

Details -
Pattern: a gift from Veronica Darling, as part of a wonderful parcel she sent me to celebrate her birthday (aren't sewing bloggers the best?!!)
Size: I used size M for the waistband and size S for the skirt pieces. I sewed up Version 1.
Alterations: Added length (sorry I can't remember how much as this was cut out before I started keeping a notebook for all my makes). Used a lapped zip rather than an exposed.  Sewed the waistband in a different size to the skirt pieces.
Fabric & notions: Pink twill from Ray Stitch, approx. £12 a metre, used 2 metres. Pink thread & pink overlocking thread, approx. £4. Interfacing from stash.
Were the instructions clear: Yes, I found it easy to follow the steps. The waistband issue was lack of concentration on my part as it's really quite obvious which side should be top and which the bottom.
Any changes I'd make next time: I'm going to try sewing a slightly bigger seam allowance on the waistband as it is a bit looser than it's meant to be, but the next size down was too tight, even with a smaller seam allowance. I'd like to try an exposed zip as I've never done one before.

Total cost: Approx £28

a close-up of the pocket

Pretty neat top-stitching

Not so neat lapped zipper.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Me Made May 2016 late reflections

I had promised myself I'd post about Me Made May more promptly this year but, well you can see that didn't happen! It seems kind of wrong today to be writing about clothes and sewing today as I'm still reeling with disbelief, sadness, and some anger, that the outcome of the referendum in Britain today was to leave the EU.  I had managed to convince myself that the scaremongering, scapegoating and out & out racism of the leave campaign would be enough to persuade enough people to vote to Remain but it wasn't to be. I don't know what else to say about it except that it has made me even more determined that we need to do something about it, answer back with positivity and action rather than hopelessness.

So, back to the sewing. As usual I really enjoyed taking part in Me Made May (thanks Zoe!!) and I loved seeing everyone else's photos on Instagram.  However I felt I missed out on some of the social aspect of it this year as my Instagram is private (not a moan obviously as it is my decision to keep it private).  In previous years I got so much out of the Flickr group, chatting to folk, sometimes taking part in the Friday themes, and seeing everyone's makes through this.  The Flickr app was driving me crazy this year though, I found it really clunky and difficult to use when trying to upload photos and I couldn't find an app that let me comment and interact in the same way as on the desktop version. Not having a working laptop/computer this year meant I just had to give Flickr a miss which was a real shame.  Enough of the moaning (maybe the sadness of today's result is seeping in to my perspective here!) and on to the good stuff.  As I said I get so much inspiration from seeing what everyone else is making/wearing and it was really nice to chat to sewing folk every day on Instagram (I do this anyway but not as much as during May). 

(L & R) Sew U Home Stretch raglan sweatshirts

(L) Marilla Walker Maya top (R) Deer & Doe Plantain red tee & refashioned b/w jersey skirt

I didn't manage to take a photo every day but think I managed a photo of every item of clothing I wore, just not all the combinations. I've just included a few of my favourites here, sorry there are no links as I want to post this today but most of these items are blogged. It might seem quite narcissistic all this photo taking but I found it really helped me think about what I wear and what I should sew.  One of my conclusions from last year was that I should really try and make some trousers, and guess what, that is still one of my conclusions this year. Maybe this year I'll actually get round to it?!

(L) Self-drafted jersey skirt (R) Megan Nielsen Banksia top & Colette Meringue skirt

(L) Green plantain dress (R) Pink Sorbetto

Other conclusions? I get more wear out of solid colour clothing, I don't wear nearly as many fitted dresses as I used to (they're not quite as practical for playing with a toddler!), I wear a lot of jersey, and... I have enough fabric to be getting on with, I really don't need any more right now.

The weather in May in London was so changeable so my most worn garments include summer and colder weather clothes. My purple self-drafted jersey pencil skirt, red plantain tee (previously a plantain dress you can see here) and navy Maya top (never blogged, will do some day as I love this pattern!) got worn a lot, along with two of my newest makes, my raglan sweatshirts. Harris also wore quite a lot of clothes I've made and I love that when I ask him what he wants to wear he often picks out things I've made, particularly his car jumper!

(L) See Kate Sew Raglan tee (R) Made by Rae Flashback skinny tee

(L & R) Ottobre magazine raglan sweatshirt

I've got lots of sewing plans for the summer, and some new makes to share but I'll stop for now or I'll never get this posted! I've loved reading everyone's MMMay roundups so I hope you enjoy this one!