Thursday, 9 November 2017

Grayson Perry quilt

I am so pleased I can finally share this quilt - pleased because it's been received and liked by its new owners, and also just pleased because I finally finished it! This one was a long time in the making.  This is my second time using the Bow & Arrows quilt pattern by Suzie Quilts but my first time ever making a larger quilt as up until this I had only made baby quilts.  All the stages - cutting, piecing, quilting and binding, took longer due to the size but the main reason it took longer was overcoming the nerves about quilting a full size quilt. I just kept putting it off, partly nerves about ruining it but also just a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size of quilting it on my domestic machine in my little sewing space under the stairs.  Once I got started the quilting though I actually really enjoyed it.

This quilt was a wedding gift for a very good friend of mine.  She introduced me to the art of Grayson Perry years ago as she is a big fan and we have been to see two exhibitions of his work together as well as going to hear him talk at the British Museum, so I knew I wanted to use this fabric.  The fabric is a design by Grayson Perry for Liberty and was a gift to me from a friend who had acquired lots of fabric from somewhere but didn't use it and was doing a clear out.  The grey and pink were fabric I already had in my stash which luckily just tied in.  The beautiful backing & binding fabric is Robert Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen in pickle and I bought 2 metres for this project (I still have some left, hopefully enough for a summer top!)

Essex yard dyed linen quilt backing

I just followed the pattern exactly, using the no-waste method for flying geese.  I couldn't decide what colour to bind it with as initially I thought I'd use the pink but then decided this could make it look a bit boxed in or small.  Then I realised I had enough of the lime green/chartreuse linen so I just pulled the backing round to the front and sewed it with a blind stitch. I used this tutorial as a guideline but I didn't want to just machine sew the binding as I don't like how this looks, and also I like finishing off a quilt with hand-sewing.  Usually this involves machine sewing down the binding on the front then pinning the binding in place on the reverse then using a blind stitch. In this case I just pulled the backing round to the front then did the pinning and blind-stitch on the front of the quilt.  To me this final stage of hand-sewing feels like a nice way to say goodbye to a quilt!

all packed up & ready to post

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Vogue 1247 - another pink skirt

When I wore this the other day I realised this is the fourth bright pink skirt I've made.  These photos were taken the day after I finished it so it went straight from the sewing machine to being worn - a definite success! Since then I've worn it 2 or 3 times so I know it's going to be a new wardrobe staple. I am so pleased with how it's turned out and I'm kind of hoping it will work in winter too though I have a feeling the fabric will just stick to tights so I'll just need to wait and see. It goes with lots of different tops but I think this pairing - with my (still unblogged) Marilla Walker Maya Top - is one of my favourites.

Details - Pattern: Vogue 1247
Size: pattern was cut out as a size 10 so (thanks to some helpful advice on instagram) I added 3/8" on all side seams in the hopes of increasing it to a size 12.  It worked really well except I must have made a mistake on the waistband measurements and had to add a bit extra on but you can't really notice it.

Fabric & notions: 1 metre of pink cotton (twill?) which I got from a blog de-stash years ago, but unfortunately I can't find the blog I got it from now.  It has a lovely waffle texture to it and feels really good quality.
Were the instructions clear?:  I still found the instructions for attaching the waistband a bit confusing but the extra instructions a friend gave me last time really helped - you can find them at the bottom of my post about my first version of this skirt.  When I made this skirt four years ago I was a bit put off by the instructions and didn't bother doing the bias bound seams.  This time though I found the instructions easier and decided to go for it as it looks so good on the inside this way!
Any changes I'd make next time: Somehow I managed to cut my waistband piece too short even though I added on the 3/8" like I did with the other seams.  If I make it again it would be nice if I could get this right! Asides from that though no changes.  I had already added some length to this, maybe an inch or inch & a half, as it is pretty short as drafted.  However I don't think you'd want to add too much more than that as it might mess the proportions up a bit.
Total cost: None. The fabric was a gift, the binding was in my stash from years ago & I bought the pattern about 5 years ago and have previously used it so I'm not counting it as a cost.

I'm lending this pattern to someone now but when I get it back I'll definitely have a go at the top that's included with it as that was actually the reason I bought the pattern in the first place if I remember rightly.  Next up in my sewing queue is a Named patterns Inari tee - I've had it cut out since last September so it's high time I get it sewed up! What is everyone else working on? Anyone else planning on taking part in the Pattern Review Sewing Bee? I took part last year and it was great fun! I managed to get through to the second round before getting knocked out and am really hoping I can take part again this year.


Monday, 12 June 2017

Me Made May reflections and future sewing plans

It's almost the middle of June so it's time for my traditionally late Me Made May reflections .  I'd like to say a big thanks to Zoe for organising Me Made May again, it's such a brilliant concept and a wonderful community to be a part of. It was great seeing everyone's makes, and I enjoyed taking part even though I hardly took any photos.

My aims were to wear something I've made every day, catalogue my garment fabric and make a summer dress.  So how did I do? Well I wore something me-made every day except one, catalogued most of my garment fabric but didn't manage to make a summer dress.

Wearing something I've made every day wasn't really a challenge as I pretty much do that anyway, except I realised I've a bit of a gap in dresses, in that I haven't sewn any in a long time!  So I'd like to remedy that with a few work appropriate dresses that will also be suitable for winter, as well as hopefully making a summer dress.  Of course every year I say I'm going to make trousers and this year is no exception. Well except even I was fed up with my procrastinating and just went out and bought two pairs from H&M which I now wear loads so the pressure is off!

Marilla Walker Maya top with H&M bright orange trousers
There are lots of repeats in what I wore during May, both in me-mades and shop-bought clothes and I have to say I'm pleased with that - it shows that I make things I like to wear. However I do still have quite a lot of things I don't wear much/at all so maybe I need to think about a bit of a clear out of them.  my most worn me-mades were my 3 Deer & Doe plantain tops/dress and my 3 Megan Nielsen Brumby skirts which I could quite honestly wear all summer!  I also wore my Marilla Walker Maya top 3 times so I think it's time to make a second version of this as I can see the navy is getting a bit faded sadly.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer with H&M dress (for a job interview)

Sherbet Grainline Scout tee with H&M trousers and Hobbs cardigan

Pink Megan Nielsen Brumby with H&M t-shirt & Hobbs cardigan

Pink Megan Neilsen Brumby with H&M top.

Cataloguing my fabric. How have I done? So far I've catalogued almost all my garment sewing fabric, woven & knits, but not my quilting fabrics. For garment sewing then I have 54 pieces of fabric, totalling 80metres, yes that's right 80metres of fabric! It seems a bit obscene to me really so it's definitely helped me resist buying any more fabric. A quick look at Cora when I have an idea for something to sew and I can tell myself that I have quite enough fabric to choose from without buying more.

Now - on with the summer dress! I have a wedding in August and I'm hoping to get one made in time for that.  I've also just cut out another Vogue 1247 skirt in bright pink, have the fabric and a pattern for some wide-legged trousers, and plans for a few more plantains to replace some very worn looking t-shirts.  Did you take part in Me Made May this year, how did you get on?  What are your sewing plans for the next few months?

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Me-Made-May 2017 plans

How did it get to be May so quickly?!  In the sewing blogger/instagram world May means the return of Me Made May - a challenge established by Zoe of Sozowhatdoyouknow 'designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to wear and love them more.'
I tend to wear things I've made pretty much every day now so I wasn't sure about taking part this year as I always find it hard to get photos each day. However the photos aren't the main point (though they are a great source of inspiration!) so I decided I could still benefit from taking part if I set myself a new challenge.

Beginnings of my fabric record on Cora

So this is my challenge
I, Kathryn of on instagram) sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavor to wear at least one me-made garment every day. I also endeavor to catalogue all the garment fabric I have in an attempt to sew with fabric I already own rather than buying more. I will also make myself a new summer dress without buying any new fabric to do so.
The first challenge I decided on is a bit of a busman's holiday really as I'm an archivist by trade but sadly my sewing materials, books, digital files etc are not nearly as organized as I am in work!  I remembered reading Helen's review of the Cora app for fabric management ages ago so I decided to check it out using the free version first.  Asides a glitch on the price section - due to me having my phone set to the wrong region - I really enjoyed using it.  Hélène, the developer of the app, was brilliant at helping me sort out why I couldn't get the £ sign in the price section and responded so quickly to my query that I decided to go ahead and purchase the full version.  You can add in as much or little information as you like including:
  • Photo
  • Category (knit, woven, other)
  • Weight (light, medium, heavy)
  • Content
  • Design
  • Colours
  • Length of fabric
  • Width of fabric
  • Cost
  • Source
  • and a notes section.
You can see below how many fabrics I've put in already and I love that you can organise them by price, length, fabric type, colour etc. I like the tool that allows you to export a PDF of all your fabrics which includes the photos and all the information you have inputted. There is also a great section called 'Fabric summary' which tells you how much fabric you have overall. Shockingly even just these 14 pieces of fabric is 26 metres worth.  I really hope having this tool will help me sew from my stash as it seems so wasteful to buy more fabric when I have so much already.

Does anyone else use Cora? Or have other ways of managing their fabric?

In relation to the second challenge to make a summer dress I've also recently discovered the joy of Instagram Collections and have started a sewing inspiration collection which, coupled with my newly catalogued fabric stash, should help me decide what to make. You can see part of my Sewing Inspiration collection below.  Has anyone else been using the collections in this way? Any tips?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Sewing small things

I've made a few small things recently but I'd say these 2 Batman capes have been the most appreciated! Somehow we managed to lose a Batman cape Harris had been given so I knew I had to replace it.  While I was at it I wanted to make one for one of his best pals. I bought the black and yellow satiny fabrics from the Man Outside Sainsbury's and the black and yellow felt from Hobby Craft.  I drew out the pattern onto newspaper roughly following the guidelines from this tutorial.  Inittially I was just going to use the black but then decided it would be nicer to line them.  I'm so glad I did as they fly up brilliantly in the wind now as we found out on the first scooter test the night after I made them! I wasn't sure how the scallops would work so only tried it on one, I wish I'd done it on both now as they look really good.  Disaster struck as I was ironing though and I managed to burn through the black on the non-scalloped one, just a little bit up on the neck piece. However it determined that the scalloped one was the one being gifted and the one with the wee hole was kept. Harris hasn't even noticed the hole yet but I'll darn it before he does.  I had sticky-backed velcro in my stash which i think must have been my mum's as I don't remember buying it.  I'd love to make some more capes with different themes, though I do find sewing with slippery fabric like this very frustrating!

Months ago, in the autumn I think, I cut out another See Kate Sew raglan tee and a short sleeved tee from Ottobre but never sewed them up.  I finally got round to this in January and they've both had lots of wear already - thankfully, as they're not going to be long enough for much longer. That'll teach me for procrastinating so long on sewing them up - I can't do that when sewing for a growing boy!

The gorgeous flamingo print is a Charley Harper fabric I got from Billow Fabrics and it's a lovely quality thick jersey which for once was really easy to top-stitch.  It's such a great happy fabric and I think I may have enough for a short sleeved tshirt for him for the summer out of it, fingers crossed. I think the pink ribbing was from Kitschy Coo.  As I saw this was the See Kate Sew raglan tee again - I've certainly got my money worth from this pattern, I've used it so much and love it!

perfect underarm seam matching - this makes me ridiculously happy!
The other tee-shirt is an old t-shirt of my husbands that he couldn't bear to part with even though it had holes in it. So, I used it for a mini tee.  I managed to keep the hem so I only had to top stitch the sleeves - a nice and quick make.  I did take the time with both these makes to overlock all the seams as they'll see a lot of washing so need to be hard wearing.  Harris loves this tshirt and it also makes him happy it was his dad's before him, which of course makes us happy too!

Soon it'll be time to start on his shorts and summer tshirt sewing, and a few more sun hats too - I'm looking forward to it. Roll on spring eh?!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

All that glitters... Toaster Sweater 1

I am not usually one for buying sewing patterns as soon as they're released, well not anymore! In fact it's been a long time since I've bought a sewing pattern full stop.  But when Sew House Seven released the Toaster Sweater #1 & #2 patterns I just couldn't resist!  I really fancied the style of #1 and to be honest didn't notice at first I could have just bought that one so I bought both.  I wasn't sure what fabric to buy for it, that is until I walked past the Man Outside Sainsbury's and spotted this gorgeous gold ribbed knit fabric. I didn't buy it the first time I saw it but kept thinking about it so went back a week later and bought a metre.

1 metre - plenty for a sweater, or so I thought.  My only experiences of making jumpers are my two raglan sweaters which are both very close fitting and fitted easily into 1 metre.  I didn't think to check the pattern before buying the fabric or before cutting into the fabric - big mistake!  I cut out the front and back piece then realised I was running out of fabric and would struggle to get 2 arms, the roll neck, cuffs and waistband.  In the end I got one full sleeve, then had to piece two bits together for the other sleeve. Hopefully it's not too noticeable.  I reduced the cuff width by 1" and had to piece both cuffs though managed to hide the joins on the inside of the cuffs as they are folded over.  Amazingly just squeezed the neck piece and hem band in without losing any width.

doing some patchwork to fit my pattern pieces out 1 metre.

1 cuff, 5 scraps of fabric.
This sewed up really quickly. I used the 5/8" seam allowances given in the instructions and ..shhh... don't tell anyone, I didn't finish the seams at all! The fabric doesn't fray and it's really thick so I just left it.  I have worn this sooo much, I absolutely love it!! I've already got plans for a second one, though once again I only bought a metre of fabric argh!!

Details - Pattern: Toaster Sweater #1 by Sew House Seven
Size: Sewed a size S. The only alterations I made were reductions as specified above, due to fabric restrictions.
Fabric & notions: Gold ribbed knit, £5 for 1 metre from the Man Outside Sainsbury's (Walthamstow, London). Cream thread from stash.
Were the instructions clear?:  Yes very clear, definitely a good pattern for a beginner.
Any changes I'd make next time: No, except I might interface the neck piece on the next one I have planned as my fabric isn't as stiff as this gold rib was so it might flop down too much otherwise.
Total cost: £5!

All that was left - tiny scraps.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Bear Paw

This is my latest quilt, which I realise looks quite similar to my last quilt. I'm so into this blue, yellow, white & black colour combination at the moment! This turned out exactly as I imagined it would and I'm so pleased with the finished quilt.  I used the last of my Little Critters animal panels, the owl and the bear.  When I decided not to use all 4 panels in my Little Critters quilt  I knew I wanted to keep the bear for this specific baby quilt and decided the owl would pair best with the bear and the fox with the rabbit.

This quilt was named the Bear Paw quilt after the block pattern I've used, the Bear Paw (funnily enough!).  There are lots of tutorials online for making this block pattern and the one I used was brilliant as it had instructions and size guides for making 3 different sized blocks.  I went with the biggest sized block, 14", as this was what corresponded most closely to the size of the animal panels.  It was a bit too small so I had to add 2.5" (including s/a) to each side of the blocks to make them the same size as the animal blocks.  The block is made up of half-square triangles, squares and rectangles and came together a lot more quickly than the checkerboard ninepatch pattern on my Little Critters Quilt (I found out the name of that other panel from a commenter on my Pattern Review write up of making the quilt - I love Pattern Review!). This quilt ended up being 29.5" x 33.25" in size.

I had enough scraps of the blue left and the white & black dash fabrics but I had to do a quick purchase of the triangle fabric (from the same Thicket Range for Moda as the animal panels) to bulk it out a bit, and buy another metre of yellow from a local fabric shop which I used on the front and back.  The gorgeous blueberry print fabric I used on the back of the quilt is fabric I've had for ages (I think I bought half a metre) and it looks perfect with the yellow.  This was the first time I made a quilt label and it's definitely something I want to start doing with all my quilts.  After doing some research online I bought Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Drawing Pens in blue & black as I'd read they didn't run or come out in the wash.  I did a few testers first and found that on some fabrics the writing bled a bit but on others it didn't so I picked a fabric it worked well on then washed it to check it didn't run in the wash - it didn't.  I've blocked it out in the photo above as I put the baby's name and date of birth on it but you can see part of it in the photo below.  I attached it to the back of the quilt with a zigzag stitch.

The quilting is straight lines 1" apart, except the animals which I quilted around the lines but not inside.  The binding was made and sewn on using the Purl Soho tutorials which I always look at to refresh my memory -
Making Double Fold Binding
Sewing on Double Fold Binding

Once again I'm so pleased with how this quilt turned out.  I know I've still so much to learn, in particular I want to experiment more with machine quilting and try out some more adventurous designs rather than just straight lines.  I also know I need to read up a bit more on how to finish off the quilt lines on the back of the quilt as I've been knotting them off and it looks a bit untidy. One technique I read said to make the stitches really small at either end then you don't need to knot but I've not been confident enough that it would hold together without knots. Has anyone any advice they can offer me on this? Any resources I should check out?

You can see the wee knots here.
While making this quilt I was also playing around with some of the scraps from these last two quilts and have an almost finished improvised quilt front. I just need a few more wee bits to finish it off! Well at least I think I only need to fill that one space for it to look completed? What do you think?  Improvising is so much fun, I really want to do some more of it!

Friday, 24 February 2017

2017 sewing planning

Clockwise from top left: Toaster sweater #1, modified Colette Meringue skirt, Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings, Jalie drop pocket cardigan, vintage Stlye 4067 dress from early 1980s, Megan Nielsen Brumby, By Hand London Anna dress, Burda trousers, By Hand London Elisalex dress

Have you heard of the Make Nine challenge? It was started by Rochelle last year and I loved seeing everyone's collection of 9 patterns they planned to make that year. So, this year I thought I'd play along, well as much as you can do when your instagram account is private (if you want to follow me on instagram I'm 'kathryn_mhairi').  I've made a good start on my Make Nine, the first item you can see in the top left is my Toaster sweater #1 from Sew House Seven. 

I do love to make plans so am trying to keep some broad monthly sewing plans in place in addition to my Make Nine, well sometimes including the nine and sometimes additional makes.  I am also always working on a quilt now, a baby quilt at the moment and up next a wedding quilt and continued work on a quilt for Harris.

My January sewing plans were to make a Toaster sweater #1 out of my lovely gold ribbed jersey fabric & a blue cashmere skirt with my modified Colette Meringue skirt pattern (previously made as my Wildwood Flower skirt). The Toaster sweater #1 was finished in January and has been worn at least 2 or 3 times a week since.  I will review it soon hopefully!  The cashmere skirt still isn't made, but I'm planning to work on it next week.

sneak peek of my Toaster #1 sweater
Sewing plans for February, in addition to the cashmere skirt, are another Toaster sweater from Atelier Brunette dusky pink sparkle fabric and another Deer & Doe plantain from a mustard/gold knit I got in a swap.  However February is almost over so these might end up moved into March!

In March I would like to sew some new leggings for yoga as I sorely need at least 1 new pair, preferably 2.  I have the Virgina Leggings pattern by Megan Nielsen cut out and ready to go.  I tried this before but didn't use jersey with enough stretch so this time will buy some from Funki Fabrics.  I'd also like to sew another plantain tee. My plan is to try and adapt the pattern to make a roll neck but I'd also like to try a scoop back version so will wait and see what the weather is like in March to decide which way to go!

What about you, what are your sewing plans? Do you like these sewing challenges and prompts such as MadeNine and MeMadeMay?

Monday, 30 January 2017

2016 - my year in sewing

A bit late I know but I wanted to get this post in before the end of January. More than ever now sewing is a form of therapy, relaxation and escape - I plan to get more actively involved in politics and protest this year but I also crave and highly value my sewing time as time to get away from it all and create!
So this is a quick summary of what I made last year, with some photos, and I'm sure some omissions.  I was really surprised by how many garments I made in 2016, in addition to quilts and other presents.  There are some blogs I follow where people sew 12 garments in a month or two but for me 12 in a year is quite a lot, especially now that quilting is taking up more and more of my spare time.  Given that I wear and love them all I'm very happy with how much I made in 2016.
clockwise from top left: Purple Brumby, Pink wool A-line skirt from Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book, Blue & beige Brumby skirt, Pink Brumby skirt

Clothes for me:
Pink wool skirt
Pink raglan sweater
Geometric raglan sweater
Green plantain dress
Pink Brumby skirt
Inari tee dress
Bright pink Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Pale pink Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Purple Brumby skirt
Pale blue & beige striped Brumby skirt
Marilla Walker Maya top - unblogged but you can see it here. I really should blog this as I love it!

Clockwise from top left: Bright pink Burda shorts, pale pink Burda shorts, Pink raglan sweater, Geometric raglan sweater
So for me 4x skirts, 2x shorts, 2x sweater, 2x dress, 1x top, 1x cardigan -  12 garments made using 8 patterns

From left to right: Inari dress; Jalie drop pocket cardigan, worn with Marilla Walker Maya top & purple Brumby; Green plantain tee dress
Clothes for others:
African wax fabric shorts from Fashion with Fabric Great British Sewing Bee book for Oliver (never blogged - my first time doing a zip fly front, which worked well. Unfortunately they were too big)
Purl Soho baby pants (gift)
2 x pattern no.10 from Ottobre magazine 1/2013 - navy/white striped & pink with blue/white stripes (pink one didn't work, neckline too big - need to alter)
2x skinny flashback tee
Geometric raglan sweater
Book bags 3 unblogged & 4 blogged (well they will be by the time I post this)
3 x Totoro soft toys
Quilts: 5 baby quilts of varying sizes

Two of my Totoro's.

So the key question, how successful have my makes been?! Well none of the items I've made for me have been duds and I wear them all. The majority of what I made is more Spring/summer wear but the pink wool skirt gets a LOT of wear at the moment. I lined it so it's nice and warm for this cold weather. Likewise both my raglan sweaters have been getting a lot of wear in the colder weather.  I wore my Inari dress on New years eve with tights but generally prefer it in warmer weather without tights as it's quite thin so not the warmest dress.  The shorts for my husband were a dud, as was one of the t-shirts I made for my son.  Both of these are fixable though, if I ever get round to it!

Looking at all these makes I can't wait to get into some warmer weather again and start wearing my Brumby skirts, and make some more!  I really enjoyed reading everyone's round-ups from last year, hopefully this isn't too late to be of enjoyment to others.