Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumn/Winter Inspiration

It's all happening up in Edinburgh, and in my favourite season too. The big move is well on its way and I'm unemployed once more. Mixed emotions, but I'm looking forward to the future. 

So! I've got a little time on my hands (in between the packing etc). And thought I could do with some improvement on my photo manipulation skills. So here are a few of the pictures I've been taking around Edinburgh. Above is Autumn, and below are some festive colours! I used this collage instruction guide from A Beautiful  Mess. It was really easy to use, and didn't make me swear loudly like most computer based things. 

I've some more projects on the way soon, in the meantime, hope you like the pics. You can see bottom right all the green tomatoes I harvested this year, not sunny enough for red tomatoes this year unfortunately but I'm sure they'll come in handy for a certain festive event in the near future. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fix up, look sharp

I have been spending my time before I begin the arduous packing process as an opportunity to do all those sewing jobs which aren't very exciting, but are very important. Like fixing old projects, and sewing clothes that are falling apart back together, so in the next couple of days expect some more pictures of me posing (slightly awkwardly) in lots of skirts!

The first is a skirt that I had made over a year ago (if not longer) it was based on a very similar theory to the Picnic Blanket Skirt, with the original having buttons down the front, and pleats instead of gathers. I stupidly didn't take a picture before I started so unfortunately you'll have to use your imagination.

This material (which I think has some silk in) is super soft, with a floral design which is much greener at the bottom. When I bought it, I was itching to make something with it so I forged ahead without interfacing the waistband or plackets. The skirt looked great for a wee while but eventually the waistband started to crumple and the buttonholes started to stretch (mostly because I did the buttonholes vertically rather than horizontally).

Therefore I decided to do it right this time, and change the skirt to a simple dirndle skirt, to show off the swishy-ness of this material. I used my new favourite (a lapped zipper) up the side, added some more pleats to adjust for the added material not needed for the plackets and added interfacing to the waistband. You can see in the picture the lapped zipper, which worked well apart from for some reason the waistband didn't match once it was sewn in. I have adjusted for this with the button, and think I need a little more work on my lapped zipper.

Have you got any hints and tips to make a lapped zipper easily without this problem? Let me know!

Also, do you put off these renovating jobs? All those finickety jobs that need doing but aren't very exciting? Post them below, and join me in fixing up your wardrobe.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Edinburgh Sewing Corner

This is a final opportunity to take pics of my sewing area before we move, and as I love to see other peoples' sewing rooms, I thought I'd share mine too. I tidied ALOT before taking these pictures, as the whole place was covered in tiny bits of threads, bigger bits of material and various cups etc. I'll take a picture of my new sewing area (when I have one) whilst work is in process so you don't get the misleading impression that I am in any way tidy when I sew. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, our flat gets very little light and I took these last night.

I use the dining room table for my sewing machine, which is in the corner of our living room on a little stage. Like most people I don't have the room for a dedicated sewing space at the moment, so most of this stuff has to be packed away if we ever have dinner at the table (which is almost never).

 I use the corner of the space for all my various boxes.  The box on the right is for keeping sewing projects in progress, along with patterns (which I have very few of these days) and interfacing. You can see on the top a skirt that I got in a charity shop a while ago and want to make smaller so it fits on my waist rather than on my hips (watch this space).
The vintage suitcase at the back contains all the materials I used to make my wedding fabric flowers, I'll have to do a post on these at some point, but I'm thinking of changing some of the colours so I'll let you know when I have made up my mind (I'm very bad for changing my mind all the time).

Here is my brilliant sewing box which holds all my tools; scissors, pins, rotary cutter, small fixings etc. It's the perfect size and I've had it for... 6 or 7 years? I got it from Dunelm mill.

I keep all my threads and buttons in a set of jars on top of the sideboard:
I love these old jars, and in fact like (seemingly most) sewers love jars of any kind. If Mr T would let me I would cover every surface with them. As it is I have to make do with these three (and two in the kitchen). The red stand up jar filled with buttons had a rather boring beige lid which I painted with red poster paint. It came out really well to say it was poster paint.

I also have these posters up on the wall from a series of nights we organised in Manchester back when we lived there. Alongside the 'Unquote' posters, a night organised by Mr T's sisters band, The Monkeys In Love. I love these posters as they all go so well together in their black and white, and they really show off the artistic talents of Mr T's family.

I keep all of my materials in the bedroom, on top of the wardrobe (excuse the mess). It does make getting at my material a complete nightmare as I have to get them down from a very high height. But in our tiny flat there really isnt anywhere else for it to go. I went for plastic containers after hearing such great things about being able to see what's in the box. And it works, so far, but with the fabrics seperated into the two biggest boxes, I do forget what I've got in there. Luckily I love looking through them all and just looking at my fabric, do you feel the same, or is this a bit of a chore you'd rather do without?

You can see that the top left box is what's left of my wool collection after giving away half of it at the Swap Shop. This is still a pretty big box though so I need to get knitting! I have a couple ideas of projects, so I'll post about those in the near future. The top left box is for unfinished projects (of which I have a shameful number), I just can't seem to muster up the energy to finish some of them. You can see a fabric dolls feet sticking out at the bottom, I feel particularly guilty about stuffing her in a box, but what could I do?

So I hope you've enjoyed looking through my cupboards (or lack of them), I've enjoyed sewing in this flat but it would be nice to have a space of my own. Fingers crossed for a sewing room! Any ideas for how I should store things in the future? Have you done any brilliant organisations lately? Or if you're looking for organisation inspiration, I'd recommend Sew Many Ways, which has an
                                                           amazing array of craft organisation ideas.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Swap shopping and packing post

The date of the big move is inching ever closer, and so I'm afraid my blog posts will start to slow down a little while I try and get packed and sorted out.

This is also due to having to pack away my sewing machine, and paraphernalia including a massive amount of fabric and wool that I don't actually want or need. So the Granny's Swap Shop came along just in time. I went through all of my craft materials and packed a (shamefully) massive suitcase of stuff which I took along to work with me (donating some wool to work mates along the way), and then took over the Central Hall for some swapping fun!

You can see here the suitcase once it was empty, and the single ball of wool I took home with me, very proud of myself for not swapping my masses of stuff for more masses of stuff.

Everyone was super generous with all of their donations, with everyones gems from the back of the cupboard coming out of the woodwork, including vintage patterns, half finished socks, loads of wool and even some knitting needles!

I had a brilliant night and I feel like I've made my first step on the road to packing. I hope you can see from the pictures below, that I think the rest of the Granny Greens Gang had a great night too, thanks Andrea for organising this brilliant event!

Have you ever done a swap shop? Any hints and tips for finding a brilliant bargain? Or would you like to do one but just don't know where to start? Leave a message below and I'll get back to you.

Thanks, Deborah

Monday, 8 October 2012

New Look 6723.... success!

I have completed my wallpaper dress!

I learnt lots of things whilst making this dress, one of which being it doesn't matter how careful you are at measuring, you can still end up with a dress that's about 2 inches too big for you. I will take a note of this and (probably) end up making this in a size smaller next time. I think I've seen bloggers mention this problem before, have you encountered anything like this?

I'm still really happy with it though, I like the casual element that the slightly bigger size gives. But I'll try and make a smaller one next time, to see if I like that aswell.

In the picture to the left you can see me taking advantage of the pockets that I added to the pattern (all dresses/skirts should have pockets).

In these pictures you can see the shared garden in our Edinburgh flat... and the light disappearing from it even though it's only 1pm in the afternoon. I'm going to really miss this outdoor space, but I'm not going to miss that it loses light so early in the day! Hopefully I'll have a garden all of my own in our new house


Overall I'd say this pattern is easy enough to make, the instructions are clear, and there are no confusing extra steps to trip you up. However, it annoyed me that it didn't come out the size that it said it would, so it loses points on that score!

If you'd like one that might be a little more accurate, this pattern looks quite similar to the Peony from Colette patterns. There is a project on at the moment called a Sewalong, which you can join in to make your very own Peony, bloggers will take you through the process step by step and everyone can add in hints and tips for making this dress the perfect fit. I had already started my dress, so have missed out on the chance, but if you want to give it a go, click on the logo at the bottom of the page to have a look. Happy Sewing!


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Finishing my crocheted Granny (Greens) Blanket

I have been making a crocheted granny blanket for about two years now, making up a square every now and again when I don't have a project to take to Granny Greens (a local craft group I'm involved in). I've never especially counted them and worked out how many I need etc, (or if I have I don't remember any of the numbers). 

So now that I'm moving down South (and away from the lovely Greeners), I have started to crochet my blanket together. I'm not sure I'll have enough squares, but I need to feel like I'm progressing on this project or I'm likely never to pick it up again.

I chose navy to crochet the squares together, as I find black or white too harsh, and the blanket has so many bright colours that I thought the navy might offset this.

I asked GG's very talented Jen to show me how, and I have decribed below as well as I can the process. Feel free to add any hints or tips below if you're a crochet blanket supremo.

I'm assuming here that you have already made some granny squares and understand the basics of crochet. However, if you would like a tutorial on a granny square (I'm assuming Ill have to make hundreds more for this blanket), then please let me know by posting a comment below.

Finding the corner stitch: this is fairly simple, you need to find the right-hand (if you're right handed) corner hole of your square, and identify the stitch which is directly above this hole.

As you can see in these pictures, I have made this hole stick out a bit so you can see it more easily.
Start by creating a slip knot, then hold your two crochet squares together lining up the edges of each square (apparently there is a wrong and right side of a crochet square, but I don't know how to work this out and so have left this out).
You then put your crochet hook through the corner stitches of both squares (one after the other), and loop your wool over the end of these stitches (pic 2).
Now pull your crochet hook through both stitches, catching your new (navy) loop through as you go (pic 3).
Once you pull this through you should have two navy stitches on your crochet hook (pic 4).
Now loop the navy wool over your hook above these two stitches (pic 5) and pull through the two stitches on your hook as you did in pic 3.
You should now have one navy stitch on your hook (pic 6).

In this picture (to the left) I hope you can see where the next stitch is for you to go into. This can be tricky, especially when you use cheap wool like me. But don't worry! If you get the wrong stitch, or miss the odd one no one will ever know.

Good luck with crocheting your squares together, I'd love to see the finished effect.

Because I've been doing this on and off for so long, the size of my squares (and the quality) has varied wildly, and so I've had to be a bit off the cuff when choosing which stitch to stitch into (sometimes missing the odd one to make larger squares match smaller squares).

This probably will have an adverse effect on the neatness of the blanket, but if you like neatness chances are your crochet squares will all be the same size, and you won't have this problem.

The idea for my blanket however is to show my process of development, from the worst square to the best so I don't mind it being a little messy.

Do you have a treasured granny blanket at home? Or a project that shows your development as a stitcher? I'd love to see them!

P.S. Let me know if you'd like that granny square tutorial.


Monday, 1 October 2012

New Look 6723... and my stupidest mistake so far

So! My first attempt at making a dress for about three years, and I'm making it from a pattern, and due to the success of my pencil skirt I am once again following the instructions.

The first thing I had to do was make an adjustment to the dress pattern. From my measurements I was a size 18 hip and waist, and a 16 top.

I'd like to mention here something that I'm sure people know but I want to put my two pence in. You have to measure yourself and use these measurements to choose your dress size. I'm usually a size 12 in dresses, and have fallen into the trap before of just going for it and making this size... only to find it is then three sizes too small. This is much more depressing than measuring your body, and matching this to the (clearly mental) sizings on the pattern packet. Do not be depressed! You have not put on 6 stone since you got up this morning, the pattern people just live in a strange bubble of sizing. So... rant over.

Back to the point, to match up the pattern pieces I just drew a line after the waist point, following the curve of the pattern piece as much as possible, starting from the size 16 line and ending on the size 18.

First to the mistake... I cut out my skirt pieces (the biggest bits of all) upside down! This was kind of irretrievable, I cut out new pieces in the end and had to buy more (stupidly expensive for my first go at this dress) material. I then cut out as many pieces from what I had left as possible, being a bit haphazard with the pattern, but at least not upside down. The next day when I cut out the skirt, I went back and started thinking again and doing things properly. I started by lying out everything I had on the floor to see where I was up to, how it was going to look etc. I recut my skirt pieces, matching up the pattern to the top piece (which the pic above does not do... I was going to attempt to use the back as the front... the pattern was far too higgledy piggledy). And then cut out my lining pieces. Everything was going to be ok!

Because of the trauma so far on this dress, I decided not to take any chances on the sleeve (which I've never done before... the sleeve, not take chances) so I made a muslin. Which basically means that I cut a sleeve out of cheap fabric, tacked it on to see what it would look like, and how sleeves work without ruining my fabric. This worked really well, as you can see from my pleased face in the picture.

I worked out from this where I wanted the sleeve to finish, as in seeing the sleeve on I thought the 3/4 sleeve might be a bit much with all that pattern. I marked this spot on the muslin and cut out my sleeve pattern pieces accordingly.

This is where I am up to so far! I'm so proud, and cant wait for my next challenge... a lapped zipper! wish me luck!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Not a pillow... not a cushion... but definitely embroidered

This is quite a picture heavy post, which I suppose is better than a word heavy post, so I'll try and keep the words to a minimum. You can see previous incarnations of this project here and here, and in this one I'm going to show you how I finished off the project once the embroidery was complete (another project finished, hoorah!).

To finish the embroidery I learnt a new stitch, fly stitch which I used to finish the lilac lavender/ reeds (?). I used these instructions, and it seemed very similar to detached chain.

The rest  of the embroidery was finished using a combination of detached chain, lazy daisy, french knots and backstitch. If you'd like a more in depth list of how to do this pattern, (and perhaps a scan of the pattern itself) please let me know and I will do a more developed post.

To finish the cushion, I started by trimming off all the edges with my new toy rotary cutter. I then pressed in the sides, giving 3/4" of border around the outside, pressing the bottom edge first, and matching the top layer to this.

To press in the corner, fold in the corner of the edge down to your pressed crease on the inside. Press the original crease again, with the triangle on the inside. Like this:

I then sewed in the pom pom edging I posted about here, between the two layers using my zipper foot:
Once I had a basic layer for decoration, I got out all the bits and pieces of trim from my stash that went well with the pompom trim/ embroidery. I laid these onto the cushion to give me a starting point.
I then attached all trims which would be treated as one. Such as:

 In order to make the plait as above, I stitched the three ribbons together with the machine, leaving the needle in. I then plaited from this point, stitching the other end together when complete.
 I then stitched the layers on in stages, one ribbon at a time, beginning with the layers on the bottom, and finishing with those on top (as you'd imagine). This was quite complicated, as I tried very hard to only stitch through one layer of fabric. This meant that I had to resort to hand stitching for some elements.

This is the finished project, what do you think? Should have taken the pics in daylight really, apparentl 7.30am doesn't constitute daylight anymore.




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