Tag Archives: fabric

Flamingo geranium top

The majority of things I’ve made this year (and my productivity isn’t high at the moment) have been woolly socks for my lovely husband.  However I’ve also been sewing for Miss Button, but getting her to pose for pictures has been a whole other ballgame.  8 is the new 14! Small girls are so stroppy!

However, en route to a friend’s party at the weekend, she was in a good enough mood for a quick 5 minutes of photos, despite the overcast and gloomy weather.

flamingo_geranium_1

She’s mad for flamingos at the moment so I couldn’t resist this cute and colourful retro Hawaiian flamingo print.  This is yet another geranium top (my fourth time with this fabulous pattern, I think).

flamingo_geranium_2

Oh she looks so very, very tired.  Summer holidays can’t come quickly enough!

flamingo_geranium_3

I’ll be honest that I made no attempt at pattern matching.  And because of this I managed to squeeze this top out of a metre of fabric.  I had to skimp a bit on the gathering of the skirt.  We’ve reached a tipping point where I need to start buying a bit extra fabric for her. She’s growing so quickly these days.

flamingo_geranium_4

Ah….that’s my girl!

As always the Geranium was a quick and simple make that gives great results.  The simple lines really show off the fabric at it’s best.  This is a sweet pattern for little girls and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Project Summary

Pattern:              Geranium from Made By Rae

Pattern Cost:      $10

Fabric:                 Hawaiian-style flamingo print cotton

Fabric Source:   Fabrix, Lancaster

Fabric Cost:        £5.95/mtr


Summertime

….and the living is busy!

So much going on here.  The kids are on holiday from school now for 7 weeks. Already we have a playdate with friends and sleepovers at grandparents planned. A week at playscheme will be a good break for all of us, as will spending the last week with friends in Bedford.  It’s hard to believe but when they go back in September Button will be in juniors.

Needless to say everyone is tired.  Boy threw the mother of all tantrums this morning and after 3 hours (I kid ye not) of yelling and stamping and tears and throwing toys around the place he’s finally asleep.  Button is enjoying the respite as much as I. Things will settle soon after a few days of chillin’.

Husband and I are shattered as, despite not completing the reno on this house, we’re thinking the best option might actually be to move!

I know….it was totally outta the blue for us too.  But our current home is teeny tiny with a garden the size of a postage stamp.  After a recent visit to our friends in Bedford and their half acre garden, Button would stand at our bedroom window wistfully wishing that we could knock the fence down between us and our neighbours.  Add in that we have need of a home office  and a dedicated sewing room and only one small room that could eventually be argued over and we decided it’s time.  Trying to sew, eat and run a business from the kitchen table is getting old! We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at everything on the market that remotely fitted the bill.  We think we may have found the ideal candidate. There’s another interested buyer so we may lose out…time will tell.  I’ll let you know as things develop.

So, as you’d expect, there’s not much creativity happening here.

A little knitting…..

PRODUCT_longfellow_medium2_medium

This is Brooklyn Tweed’s Longfellow by Michele Wang which I’m knitting in Drops Alpaca in Navy (colour 5575) for Hubby.

dr_alpaca_5575_0_1_medium

There’s also a quilt to be layered ready for hand quilting:

quilt_top_1_edited-1

And a new bag kit that I received as a birthday gift from my in-laws:

petitesatchel

Mine will be red leather.

That should keep me occupied over the holidays.  I’m hoping to get a little time at the machine too.  I’ve two lots of fabric for shirts for Boy and the yellow blouse is going to be remade for Button.

Simplicity_1660_5

I’m planning a version of her Liberty blouse, this time with a pleated front as per her request.

I think it will suit her more than me!

I also have a couple of makes that need photographing.  Perhaps we’ll have a day of nice weather soon and we can get out and about with the camera.

Priority for the next 7 weeks, though, is picnics and playing in the park.  Reading and drawing.  Visits to the zoo and museums.  Playdates and pyjama days.  Pretty much taking the days as they come.  Hopefully without too many meltdowns!  Either theirs or mine!

So posting will sporadic…I’m sure you’ll understand.  In the meantime I’m off to do some colouring with a small girl.  I’ll see you soon.

 


BurdaStyle 130 – blue silk prom gown

Despite  the unusual 30+ degree heat here last week I managed to get the silk prom dress sewn in plenty of time and delivered on Saturday morning to a very happy neighbour.  She popped round last night on the way to her prom to let me snap a couple of quick photos.

Katie_Prom_1She looked stunning, and I received a lovely message from her this morning telling me how happy she was with the dress and that it was much admired by her friends.  Phew!

As I mentioned in my last post the pattern is BurdaStyle 12/2011 #130 and I made it in silk crepe backed satin in Royal Blue from Beckford Silk.  I sewed the dress with the matte crepe side of the silk as the right side of the fabric.  We both agreed it gave the dress a more elegant look.

As usual the instructions from the Burda pattern were ‘interesting’ and so I made some of the construction up as I went along!

As the silk is very lightweight I wanted to put as little weight as possible in the seams so I finished them with a ‘stitch and pink’ edging.  French seams would have been beautiful but ran the risk of being simply too bulky and heavy.  As this is an occasion dress that won’t get a great deal of wear, I’m not concerned about the seam finish not holding up to wear and tear.

Katie_Prom_2_edited-2

The above photo shows the inside of the armhole which is gently held in place with herringbone stitch which catches just a couple of threads of the main fabric to hold it in place and is virtually invisible when you look at the finished dress.

The neckline facing and hem were hand-stitched in place, this time with teeny tiny slip stitches.  I wanted them to look almost invisible from the outside…I think I succeeded.

Katie_Prom_3

When Katie collected the dress on Saturday morning it looked less than stellar on the hanger.

Katie_Prom_4

But…we’d had three fittings and I was confident that all would be well once the dress had been to the dry cleaners for a professional press.

I was right!

Katie_Prom_6

Being ultra critical there’s still a little wrinkling on the seams, but only us in the know will notice that and, let’s be honest, all eyes were on Katie, not the seams!

And, of course, the demure front of the dress hides a daring secret at the back…

Katie_Prom_5-1

I lengthened the neck tie, which threads through a casing at the neckline of the front bodice, to nearly 3 metres long to get this dramatic effect.

Katie_Prom_8If you’d asked me a week ago I’d have had choice words to say about this gown, but today, seeing the result and that beautiful, happy smile, I can safely say it was worth every single stitch.


A flying visit

Hello m’dears.  I’ve been absent for what seems like ages and thankfully this time it’s been down to having fun rather than coughing like a badger!

Last week was my birthday and Hubby took the week off work and we had a lovely time. Monday evening we celebrated with the family and the rest of the week we pootled and had outings and rounded the week off with a lovely Italian dinner and rather too much champagne.

This week I’ve got my nose to the grindstone.  My neighbour has her prom a week from today and I’m making her a gown.  I thought I had a lot of time….but, in typical fashion, I’d got the dates wrong and need this finished by the weekend!

I’m making her this BurdaStyle gown sans the rosette.

BurdaStyle Rosette Gown

Her fabric is this beautiful silk crepe backed satin in royal blue from Beckford Silk:

Royal-Blue-satin

This is the first time I’ve purchased from this company and I’ve been really pleased with the levels of customer service and the quality of this fabric.

The colour is saturated and whilst the fabric is, of course, a bear to cut, it’s a joy to stitch and feeds through the machine with no shenanigans.  For which, in my current time constrained manner, I’m eternally grateful.

I’m sewing the medium weight silk for this dress and my preference would have been the heavier, but 16 year olds have definite ideas so who am I to argue?

Thankfully I’m on schedule (yep…I have a schedule for this one…no room for slippage on time) and I’ve just inserted a beautiful invisible zip…hence the time for a quick coffee break and a quick pop in here to say hello.

I’m off now to start on those pleats.  Wish me luck…I’ll see you on the other side!


Why a fabric stash doesn’t work for me

Over the last year I’ve been gradually whittling down my fabric stash.  Some of my lovely readers have bought patterns and fabric from me…thank you.  Some of it has been donated to the local charity shop.

Destash-2-1

Needless to say my stash is considerably smaller than this time last year.

As we’ve been packing up the sewing loft ahead of its conversion to a bedroom, I’ve also taken the time to sort the remaining fabrics into “summer fabrics I’ll sew now”  and “winter fabrics that can go to the storage locker”.  The majority of the winter fabrics are also fabrics that I want to wait to sew until I’ve got the new sewing room set up and all my tools and books out of storage and available to me for more complex garments.

This change of sewing venue has definitely had something to do with this new found love of a stashless state. My new sewing room will be about a third of the size of my old one. Necessity is the mother of invention, or, in this case, the mother of all stash clear outs!

Another impetus for permanently reducing my stash is the work I did with Wardrobe Architect and the realisation that a lot of the fabrics I had were unsuitable because of the changing needs of my wardrobe.  I had been buying fabrics with my head still firmly in the corporate wear camp, whereas what I actually wear on a day to day basis is jeans and a top. I need more of these in my wardrobe and all my planned upcoming sews for myself will be items I’ll actually wear.

But the main reason I’m determined not to build a large stash again is the two blouses I showcased in my last post.

The blue is a fairly recent purchase, definitely this year.

The yellow was a gift from my lovely husband in 2012.

In 2012 I was a dark brunette.  Now I’m very light blonde working my way back to my natural colour of badger grey.  Had I made this blouse in 2012 the strong colour-way would have looked stunning against my dark hair.  Now, its still a very pretty top, and I’ve had several unsolicited compliments from folk who aren’t family members and therefore obligated to be nice, but the blue is by far the better colour on me.

I’ve very little summer fabric left in the stash…one piece of which is another bold yellow piece that I bought whilst still dark haired.  The jury is out on that piece at the moment. I’m not sure if it will stay or go.

But the fabric I’ve bought since the change of hair colour is all differing shades of blue, because blue is definitely the colour for me.  And not only does it look better but I feel really confident in blue.  Which can only be a good thing, no?

IMG_0002_edited-1

I love how even after all these years of sewing I’m still learning something new with every item I create.

And whilst a well stocked stash might be just the thing for some sewers, for me I’d much rather keep it to just the next couple of projects.  Not only will this reduce erroneous purchases that I then need to sell on, but it will also, hopefully, help me build a coherent wardrobe of garments I’ll actually wear that work together to create cute, versatile outfits.

I rather like that sound of that!


Simplicity 1660 – two new tops for me!

Simplicity _1660_1

Finally, finally, I’ve done some sewing for me.  The sewjo has been on the missing list for far too long where I’m concerned, but last week it returned with a vengeance.

I’d been toying with buying the Sutton Blouse pattern from True Bias

SUTTONBLOUSE_HERO_IMAGE

when I remembered I had this pattern already in my stash.
simplicity-1660- envelope

Saving pennies wasn’t the only consideration; the sizing of the Simplicity pattern meant that I could get straight to sewing with minimal fuss.  Aside from the time taken to tape the Sutton PDF together, I’d also have needed to do some grading as I fall outside their size range at the moment.

It was a complete no brainer!

I’ve made them both up using the hemline of version B and the sleeves of version A without the cuffs.

Simplicity_1660_2

The first version is made up in a poly georgette from Abakhan that I bought ages ago from their oddments bin. I swear I didn’t pay more than £5 for this. In fact £2.50 is lurking in my head.  I really must get better at recording this stuff. It was a beast to sew with…a very slippery customer…but is lovely to wear and the perfect fabric for this top.

Simplicity_1660_3

S1660 is a really easy sew and, for once, I did things right and checked my measurements against the finished measurements and cut my size accordingly.  The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to add 2″ to the length.  The neckline is a bit closer on me than the diagram, so I shaved 1/2″ off the neckline on the second version.  I think I need to shave at least another 1/2″ off future iterations as you’ll see.

Simplicity_1660_4

The back has this cute overlapping v-neck and slight gathering into the yoke.   The sleeves are cut as one with the body.

This is such a quick sew.  Even with the fiddly fabric this was sewn in an afternoon.

Which was why I quickly cut out a second version from a fabric I’ve had in my stash for For. Ever! Christmas 2012 to be precise!

Simplicity_1660_5This is Art Gallery Voile in Praline Honey and it’s buttery soft and delightfully lightweight.

Simplicity_1660_6

It’s a wonderful fabric to sew with, but be warned it creases almost as much as linen!

These pictures show how fabric choice influences how a pattern turns out.  The poly georgette is one of the recommended fabrics on the pattern envelope.  The voile is possibly just a wee bit structured for this blouse, but I still think it’s quite successful.

Simplicity_1660_7It’s not as fluid over the bust, but it’s more noticeable on the photos than in real life. I’d also remove the shirt tail hem at the back if I made this up in cotton again.

Simplicity_1660_8

Summer tops are scarce in my wardrobe at the moment so both of these tops are in very heavy rotation until my next project is done.  I’ve got Butterick 6024 cut out and ready to sew.

B6024But, rest assured, you’ll be seeing S1660 again in the not too distant future!


Continuous zip…the unsung hero of home sewn soft furnishing

For quite a while now I’ve been longing for some enormous cushions for our sofas. The kind you can all snuggle into on movie night.  Which can be thrown on the floor for small peeps to lie on.  Which make a comfy place for you to rest your head for a quiet nap.  Our 20″ cushions really weren’t cutting it, so when I saw the 26″ Inner cushion pad at Ikea, I snapped up 4 of them without hesitation.

IMG_0759

I’d also been struggling to find some fabric which would co-ordinate with the existing curtains, was tough enough to stand up to family life, but which wasn’t so expensive that I’d have hissy fits every time a child went within 500 yards of it.  Ikea came to the rescue with their Lenda fabric @ £4 a metre.

IMG_0773

So far so good.  At this point I’d only spent £28 on the cushion pads and 3 metres of fabric. I just needed thread and zips.  But 26 ” zips retail at about £2.70 more or less. That’s £10.80 for the 4 zips…about 40% of the cost of the pads and fabric.  I’m sorry…I’m not falling for that.

Enter the old soft-furnishers favourite secret….continuous zip.

IMG_0782

You buy it off the roll in metres.  It’s about a £1.00 a metre.

IMG_0783

The little packs of sliders are about £1.30. They are really easy to attach…this video shows it very clearly.

So thanks to our good friend the continuous zip, I kept the cost down to about £8.50 per cushion and now we can squish on the sofas to our hearts content.

IMG_0791

Result!  Now I really must do something about the covers on those smaller cushions. 😉


Little Geranium dress in Liberty Tana Lawn

When I bought the fabric for Button’s recent blouse I was hopeful that I’d have enough for a little gift for Alice (who-isn’t-a-cat, but that seems a bit redundant these days) who was expecting a little gift of her own.

Tilda in her dress

Oh, she’s so lovely.  My heart melts.  What better way to welcome her than with a teeny tiny dress?

Liberty_Geranium_1

Of course the pattern is Rae’s Little Geranium Dress which is available for free in size 0 – 3 months.  If you haven’t already fallen for this wonderful pattern (at which point I’m scratching my head and wondering if I should call a medic!) then this is a great way to test it out so you can realise the error of your ways!

Liberty_Geranium_2

This version is lined with white cotton lawn, to keep it soft against little skin.

Liberty_Geranium_3

Simple red buttons on the back.

A perfect gift for any little girl…especially one so adorable!


Sewing for your girls – review and giveaway

sewing fyg

Thanks to the lovely guys over at Tuttle Publishing I received a copy of their new title “Sewing for your girls” by Yoshiko Tsukiori, which is available in the UK from Amazon on  the 15th April 2015.

I decided to road test this book and the blouse I’ve been teasing you with is Basic Pattern #7 (catchy, no?) made up in Liberty Tana Lawn purchased from Washable Fabrics on Preston Market for a tenner.

sewing_for_your_girls_1

This book is delightful.  There are 8 patterns in total, 7 of which has a basic and an applied version, which, as you’ve probably guessed, has a little more going on.   You’ll see from the photo above, which is the blouse I made, that using pattern #7 you can make an adorable blouse or a lovely summer dress.

sewing_for_your_girls_2

sewing_for_your_girls_4

As well as the patterns the book also has a wealth of clearly photographed advice to give you the best chance of getting a great result.

sewing_for_your_girls_3

The patterns traced from printed pattern sheets that are stored in the back of the book.  A word to the wise….they don’t include seam allowances to do allow for that when tracing. Ask me how I know!!!

Given the chance I’d change a couple of things about this book, but they are only minor gripes.

So…to the blouse.  I really enjoyed sewing this one.  It’s beautifully drafted with facings to the front and armholes and bias binding to the back neckline.  The front ruffles and round collar add a sweet touch without being overly twee.  This is a good thing.  I’m not mad on ruffles but these hit the mark.

Button didn't want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

Button didn’t want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

I cut a size 120 for my 116cm tall 7 year old, based not only on height but chest measurements.

sewing_for_your_girls_6

I couldn’t be happier with the result.

sewing_for_your_girls_7

Button loves it too!

The details on this top are really quite lovely.

sewing_for_your_girls_8

sewing_for_your_girls_9Gorgeous, no?

Now, if you, like me, have a very pernickety small girl to sew for then I suspect that you’d like a copy of this book too.  Good job I’ve got a couple of copies to give away, then! 😉

Edited to remove Rafflecopter and say…leave me a comment below to be entered into the draw!


Grainline Linden….relearning a sewing lesson.

Wadder alert!

Whilst I love sharing things that have gone swimmingly…I think it’s also good to share the stuff that doesn’t quite work.  

I’ve learnt from this project…maybe someone else will too.

::  ::  ::  ::  ::

I’ve had my eye on the Linden pattern since Grainline initially launched the pattern.

Linden

I love traditional sweatshirts but they don’t love me…I’m the wrong shape for them. Despite this I had high hopes of Linden opening up lots of opportunities for sweatshirt love.

Sadly…I don’t think it’s going to be the case.  Be warned…this ain’t pretty!

Cue massively unflattering photos.

Cue massively unflattering photos. Not helped by the sweater being dragged back by my hands…but you get the picture!

I’m going to start out by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern. It’s my first Grainline pattern and it’s immaculately drafted and the instructions are really clear.

This is a clear case of hope triumphing over experience.

I know that raglan sleeves aren’t the best for me because I have sloping shoulders that don’t support the top of the sleeve.

I know I need to be cautious of scooped necklines…if they’re loose then they tend to slip and slide.

IMG_0604

I knew I needed to do a FBA and that would involve adding a bust dart.  In this case it’s still a tiny bit long and a tiny bit low.  Which would be hidden in a plain fabric but isn’t on this striped fabric.

IMG_0603

The fabric comes from the “what the hell was I thinking pile”!

And I know I just need a bit more shape in a garment.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a trainwreck of a garment, it’s all good! This has been a great and worthwhile process for me.

Over the last year I’ve gained quite a bit of weight….you can hardly have missed it. Mostly this has been driven by medication impacting on appetite, quite a bit of it steroid based because of my repeated bouts of bronchitis and accompanying chest infections.

(Cue too many cakes and too much pasta!)

These chest problems have also severely limited my ability to exercise, as has a very frozen shoulder for the last 6 months.

My changed shape size has undoubtedly knocked my sewing mojo.  I’m not overly inclined to sew for myself at this size as I’m determined that this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. Getting back to full health/fitness is a huge priority for me.  It seems such a waste of fabric…which is frankly crazy.  I still need stuff to wear…

My judgement as to what suits me is also off at the moment.  The photos above evidence that.

However….I do know that I’m glad I tried this pattern.  I bought it on sale and the fabric was very inexpensive too.  So it was an experiment that cost me a little money, a little time, but has taught me to really trust my instincts.

If I listen to myself I know what suits me.  It comes back to the work I did with Wardrobe Architect last year.  I need to revisit this because, even with this fuller shape, the principles still apply.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I spent some time this past week sorting fabric and patterns in my stash.  Some are to go into storage until I have my new sewing room up and running, hopefully by the end of the year.  These are mainly lovely vintage winter fabrics…I see some beautiful jackets in my Winter 2015 wardrobe.

Others are patterns that I’m planning to build my Summer 2015 wardrobe around.  I have a few fabrics that I’ve been hoarding for too long….and a pile of patterns that had me exclaiming over and over again “oh!  I’d forgotten I had that!”.

It’s time to build a plan, I think.  I’ll be back with that soon….and a much more successful make!