Thursday, 18 December 2014

Sparkly Pencil Skirt (or another New Look 6128)

Hello lovely people,

I've been at a meeting in Carlisle today for the new job. I get that for other people the travelling for work thing becomes tiresome very quickly, but I'm riding the wave of 'a day out of the office?' Woooo! We got the train (love trains) and I got a chance to chat to more of my new colleagues, and I had m&s falafel and hummus followed by too many sausage rolls. So a winner all day really.

I've been a bit tired recently due to the new job, I think it's just tiring using your brain a bit more, trying to get your head round a lot of new concepts, even chatting to new people. It all adds up, so sewing has been more of a difficulty this week, just because I'm so tired when I get back that I want to veg out. But I have managed a couple of gifts, two of which need to be posted,,,, now! So I'll be wrapping and finishing things this evening (once I drag myself off the sofa).

Otherwise, I'm very much feeling the festive cheer. I'm looking forward to catching up on my blog roll (I'm so behind due to aforementioned work tired), plus I follow so many now that keeping on top of it can be hard when I've got a good book. But I refuse to remove anyone dammit!

So anyway, here's another New Look 6128. This is my fifth version of this skirt, so there isn't a lot to say except only that three of these now exist 'cause I keep making them out of wool, which I then shrink in the wash. So I'm glad this is 100% washable (apart from the sequins).

This is one of my favourite outfits, I love the shape of the jumper mixed with the straight skirt. I wear this to work, and at the weekend, and any other day I can get away with basically. It feels smart, and comfy, and I love that this material has been recycled. 

I could possibly have ironed this.... ah well! I bought this fabric back in the bygone days of my working at Abakhan in Manchester. It's lovely stuff with white sequins on the fabric. I originally made it in a dress, but in standard style for back then I made it up as I went along pinning on my dummy (that isn't even the same size as me, pinning and adding straps as I went along in hope of making a well fitting dress. 

It did fit ok... but I had so little knowledge of sewing then that it was a bit of a mess. I loved the fabric though so I took it apart, and made a new skirt from the leftovers.

The pattern matching... almost works! And if you squint it works perfectly

So that's it! Hope you're feeling festive now, and have everything ready and are laughing at poor fools like me who thought we could have it all!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Fantastically Generous Bloggers Shirt

I had a week off from le blog last week, sacrilege I know! But as you may know from my previous post, I started a new job and as we are on the countdown to Christmas there is just so much to do! I've been bringing a few things together, including some ideas for my secret santas. I decided to take part in two this year. One by A Krafty Kat, the one that I took part in last year, and have grand plans for my pressie. Also I have taken part in a newer crafty secret santa by Stitched Up from the Start I've got a great person and can't wait to get it all wrapped up and sent away.

How has your week been? Mine has been good, the new job wiped me out for the first week, lots of meeting new people (even though I've only moved down the hallway) and wrapping my head round a whole world of new acronyms. But I'm feeling good about the move, and can't wait to go to my (two!) Christmas parties.

When I got this new job, I started to think about getting some more work appropriate clothing. I would say that work clothes are one of the things that I love most about making my own clothes, I think I might have mentioned that in my Washi post. I want something that shows my personality, can be dressed up or down, and is layerable (because I sit on an air vent... not as exciting as it sounds). The photos in this are terrible, you can probably tell that yourself but I thought I'd mention it, sometimes it's either terrible pics or freezing pics while your neighbours watch you whilst clearing a garden. I went with bad pics.

Enter my Pauline Alice Cami Shirt

I got the buttons, and lovely... especially bad photographed bias binding from my secret santa last year, I snuck in under the line for making this before the next Christmas! This lovely packet came with instructions, I was to make a shirt. I hope I did you proud Santa!

Unfortunately I didn't find a place for the light blue ribbon, but it awaits in the stash for the perfect project. 

The detailing comes from another lovely bloggers de-stashing from the 2013 Birmingham blogger meet-up, unfortunately I didn't make this years... I was hungover (to my eternal shame). But hopefully it will be on again next year and I can tag along because it was a brilliant day. I got the following material from Amy of Almond Rock, in the great de-stash/ swap, and added it to cuffs and collar.

The shirt is a little tight in the back (see slightly unflattering picture below), I did widen the sleeves as per the adjustments I thought of from the Zig Zag Cami, including a wide shoulder adjustment, which did work as the shoulder seam now sits comfortably on the edge of my shoulder. However, I don't think I widened the arms enough and that is what is causing the tightness. On to the next version!

I bought the skirt in this post from a charity shop in Edinburgh when we lived up there, it had weird little tacked on badges of squirrels and owls, which I removed. It's a great skirt for walking up a hill, or going to the office, and is super warm for chilly knees. The lining was recently falling apart so I attached a new lining to the inside of the skirt, using the edge of the old lining to stitch to.

I love a colourful lining, this was another purchase from the blogger meet-up... there have been a few things languishing in the cupboard for a while ey? Feels good to be using up the stash.

Overall I'm very happy with this shirt, this pattern is on its way to perfect, and once it's right I have so many plans for pattern hacking. I'm very excited!... but should get back to making Christmas pressies. Selfish sewer? Who... me? Hope you have a great weekend.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Jazzy Washi Dress

Hello everyone,

How's your week going? This week is my last in my current job, I've got a new job beginning on Monday! I'm a little nervous as it's a step up, and I don't know a lot about it just yet. But I'm excited to be moving onwards and upwards in my career. My outside of sewing life isn't something I talk about very often, but I'd like that to change, my fave blogs always show a little bit of themselves in their posts and I want to try and do that too.

So now I'm going to talk to you about the Washi dress. My favourite dress pattern to date, this is the dress that I get the most compliments about, and I'm already on my second version.

With shirring in the back this is ridiculously comfortable as well. Look at the fabric! I bought this at the minerva meet-up on a rainy summers day in Darwen, and went through a few plans before I landed on the washi dress. I found this pattern reading The Creative Perfectionist, who made it sound so comfortable, work wearable, and excellent weekend wear that I had to give it a go. I've found that the tunic a-line shape it creates is very flattering for me (or so I'm told) and I plan on making many more of these.

The curved cut-out needs a little work, as the points don't lie flat. However, there are hints and tips in the dress pattern for how to combat these issues. As I hadn't made the pattern before I just made it to the pattern specifications and hoped, but I'll be trying out some of these techniques in my next version. 

You can see there is a little extra fabric in the back, I'm not sure what the solution is to this as it needs that extra fabric for movement. Any thoughts? 

I'm very proud of the shirring on this, I've only ever tried shirring a couple of time before this and though not disastrous they were not exactly triumphs. I followed some of the tutorials online, and the information that came with the pattern, and I'd definitely recommend doing this. However in essence here are the three things I learned:

1. Slightly stretch the shirring elastic as you wind it on to the bobbin
2. Practise practise practise with the material you are going to use, whilst adjusting the tension until it is right
3. Pause halfway through each line and make sure your elastic isn't caught anywhere, and that the tension is correct. 

I hemmed the edge with some bias binding that I also picked up from the meet-up, I have started to pick this up whenever I see any nice bias binding as it is my favourite way to hem a dress.

So what's your latest fad? Have you got a go to Tried n True (TNT) pattern? Also, did you see my shiny shoes? (this is my new favourite phrase) they are part of my, buy awesome shoes plan. The plan has been very effective so far... well if you think, 'it takes a certain kind of person to pull off hipster shoes' as a success, which I definitely do. 

I'm off to watch another five mins of Stargate the movie before bed... Captain O'Neills hair! I'll leave you with what appears to be my favourite new pose, the who... me? shoulder pose.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Purple Raincoat

I did it! Woop! As you can tell I was pretty excited to finish this coat, it is made from a laminated fabric, so it was pretty difficult to manouvre through the machine, but it was totally worth it.

You may remember from my previous post that I made a pattern from an old coat, taking this apart and tracing around the pieces. You can see that here.

A couple of adjustments I made to this pattern were to omit the collar, and replace with a hood. The original coat had a hood attached by buttons underneath the collar. But I never took the hood off, and the collar got in the way of the hood so off it came.

This meant I had to draft the hood as I wanted one that was a little deeper, I hate when the wind picks your hood off your head in the midst of a downpour.

I used a heat activated waterproofing tape to seal the seams, it was a little difficult to get the temperature correct. Some of the tape melted, and some of it didn't attach, but I got there in the end. All I can hope is that it's still ok in there!

The pockets were attached on to the outside, I used the lining piece from New Look 6128. I lined the pocket pieces and then top-stitched them on. I rolled the lining into the centre, so you would see very little of it on the outside.

The seams have been stitched using flat felled seams, this stitches the bulk down on the inside. The triangular pieces at the back and front yoke caused a bit of a headache, but I found that if I snipped off the edge at the point of the triangle, stitched down to the point, and did the same for the other side (rather than leaving the needle in and pivoting) it all went ok.

Oooh shiny green lining. The lining was a little bit complex, I haven't lined a jacket successfully before so I didn't really know what I was doing, but I muddled through. I began by attaching the hood lining to the top of the back facing. I then stitched through the hood to the facing, to secure it in place.

I stitched the sleeve lining pieces to the end of the sleeves right sides together. I then attached the lining to the facings, inside out and stitched the sleeves to the main lining. This meant I had the raw edges of the sleeves showing where I attached it to the main body. I could have had stitched but  was feeling under a bit lazy at the time so I hand stitched bias binding to cover this seam. I then hand stitched the bottom edge of the coat together.

A mistake I made was to put the button holes on the man side of the coat, but you know you win some, you lose some. Feels very odd trying to the close them up on the wrong side though.... as my face shows here.

This definitely counts as a completed challenge, I'm so proud of the coat. It is a spring coat really, I wore it for a week but it was pretty chilly, and a little sweaty in there on a hot bus. Can't wait for the spring! Look here's a dance... do you reckon it will make the spring come early?

Friday, 31 October 2014

City of Ember, Lampshades, and what's going on up there?!

Today's post is going to be a little different, I have been nominated by A Study In Stitching for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.

I have also been nominated by my sis Style&Influence for the blog hop that has also done the rounds, so I've done a bit of a massive post for you guys today. So apologies for the masses of words from me! I decided to break it up a bit with pretty pictures.

What is your favourite book/film and why?
My favourite book is Jane Eyre, it's one of those books that I know I can read again and again without getting bored. I dont often go back to a book, but I love the gothic nature of this book and Jane's refreshing world view for a woman of her (fictional) time. 
Here is the mess that I ended up with from the  Handmade Fair macrame lampshade workshop. I loved the technique, but I fancied doing it in a different material

My favourite film at the moment is city of Ember, I love the set/ clothes design of this film so much, I could watch it over and over. You can see throughout this post a lampshade that I've made inspired by the main female characters wool shop/ home. I love this place, though I am tempted to spend hours on end sitting in there winding all the wool back together. I still need to fireproof this, and find a stand for it.

What has been your best holiday and why?
My honeymoon last year, we went on the train from Berlin to Munich, Prague, Zurich, Lake Como and Milan. It was only the second proper holiday me and my husband had been on, and I loved exploring with him, knitting on trains and drinking copious amounts of wine. 
Badly pixelated pic of the wool shop 
 What advice would you give to your thirteen-year-old self?
Ugh, fourteen was a terrible age for me, I wasn't me. But I wouldn't want to change any of the things that happened, they made me who I am. So I'd probably just tell her to enjoy being thirteen, and not to worry about the future. I probably wouldn't listen to me anyway.
My giant knitting, that I stole the wool from to make the lampshade. Will definitely finish this rug one day...
Money and life commitments aside, what would your dream job be?
I think my issue is that there is not one perfect job out there for me. I want to be involved in lots of things. I’d love to do more teaching of sewing, and am trying to make my way in the world of project management. I guess my dream job would be to have the time to do all of the different jobs that I'd love to do

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
If I had to change my name I'd feel massively drawn to calling myself something terrible like Starbuck, or Xena or Marceline. Actually yeah, Marceline all the way.
Measure 12 lengths of wool, you can see it includes lots of balls of wool tied at one end to hold all the bits of wool together 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Ive always thought that Canada would be a good place to live, but if our living in Edinburgh has taught me anything there is nowhere better to live than where your friends and family are close by. Thats not to say id never move away again, just that where we are right now suits who we are. One day ill get my cottage in the country. Mr.T will hate it ha ha
Loop these on to the frame of your lampshade
What's the best thing that's happened to you so far in 2014?
2014 has been a brilliant year! I've just got a new job to start in December, and it's been my first year of marriage. Anniversary on Sunday. 

What advice would you give to someone about to take up sewing?
Go for it! picking up sewing again was the best thing I ever did, I've found so many different things I want to do from it that I struggle to hold myself back. Practically, I'd say read a lot of blogs, as ive gained masses of knowledge from other people's experiences. Also take your time and dont put too much pressure on yourself. We all get wonky seams, they are what makes our clothes unique.

Split the looped wool into three and begin to plait, looping over the side bars every now and again

What is your favourite and least favourite thing about sewing?
My favourite thing is probably the quiet concentration, having something creative to do and locking myself away from the world, just doing something for me, and getting a style that is all my own out of it. 
My least favourite thing would probably be loopy sewing stitches.. you know, that moment when you've been sewing all night and all you need to do is this one seam and then you can wear your shiny new item tomorrow... and then it chews up said fabric/ thread for no other reason that you're tired

What percentage of your wardrobe, approximately, is handmade?
It used to be about 50%, but it's creeping up to the 75%, all my favourite clothes are pretty much handmade, and I don't often buy new clothes anymore. I haven't sworn off buying or anything just yet but i'm getting there.

What am I working on?
Autumn is my favourite time of year, so consequently my brain goes into making overdrive. I've got two coats on the go, and am dipping in and out of these with other projects. I'm also working on my drawing/ design skills.

Why do I create?
Because I have to! It's in the blood I guess, there's never been a time when I haven't had one thing or another on the go, but I'm getting more and more drawn into creating on many levels!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Epic Coat Challenge

Hello all, unfortunately the photos in this blog post are a little rubbish, due to the temporary loss of my camera charger over a couple of days. I couldn't find anything to take a picture with in the house (in this day and age!) so used an ipad. I am baffled more than ever now by those tourists carrying them round to take pics with.... cameras are smaller, less cumbersome and the pictures are better. Come on guys, join me in the nineties! I've previously really enjoyed looking at people's RTW (ready to wear) clothes from the inside, and as I was planning on taking this much loved coat apart anyway....

Ta dah! The insides of my coat. As you can see the front two panels are interfaced, and there are shoulder pads made of two layers of felt (one smaller than the other), the raw edges aren't finished on the inside, but all of this was enclosed in the lining. On the arm scye, there is some paper interfacing as a seam binding.

This was not the only nod to tailoring in this coat:

Catch- stitching on the inside, this looks like it's somehow done by machine, perhaps in the same way as an invisible hem?

Once I took these pics, I proceeded to take apart one full side of the coat, taking it back to its individual pieces. I traced these off on to tracing paper to create a full pattern for the coat, adding in 'fold here', 'cut two' etc. where applicable. Now I have a coat pattern I know will fit, no muslin necessary! I have made a good start on my brand new coat, as those who follow my instagram will know. I mean, its not a winter coat so when it's done it will go in the cupboard ready for spring, but in season sewing is so last season! 

I also have big plans for what's left of the original coat. I have already dyed the pieces, getting rid of most of the wear, though the lighter places stayed lighter... they're just a darker less grubby colour which is way better. Watch this space and have a great weekend. 

Also,  reached my 100th comment this week! Thanks to everyone who has shared a thought on my page, it means so much and I get very excited any time someone posts a comment, so please feel free always to get something off your chest, ask a question, or even posit a theory on the extinction of the dinosaurs. It is always welcome.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Surly Raccoon Anna Dress

Well, I have come to the end of the summer dress posts! (I think) The weather has definitely taken a turn, the orange leaves are falling, and I needed a coat on my way to work the other day! I bought ths fabric on a trip down to london months ago. Mr T was with me at the time and he said that the raccoons on it looked surly, I think I agree, they don't look that happy to have been squished on to my dress and surrounded by lollipops they aren't allowed to eat.

It was a bit bright for these pics, but I'm no photoshop wizard so unfortunately you will just have to assume there is dress in those big white patches ha ha. Can you see the waist? Look at that pattern matching, pretty happy with that! Look at my hair! No wait, don't look at my hair. Why do I look like I don't know what a brush is?!

The back... I put a lot of effort into the matching at the bodice part of the top, and then got bored I guess 'cause I didn't do the bottom. This is why you should take a break when you start to get bored. 

It has pockets yay! I spent the whole of last Sunday going through the wardrobe and putting away my summer clothes. There were definitely things that havent been worn this year. Mostly the summer floral dress type things. I suppose when you have clothes that have angry raccoons on them it's hard to choose to wear vintage roses. I do struggle to get rid of things, I've just put it all in a suitcase under the bed. I took out all my winter gear as well, I love all my woolly jumpers, and wool skirts, mostly things that are wool. Though I have some definite gaps, yay more sewing!

More cat pictures! You're not bored of cat pics yet are you?

NOTE: I have had quite a few requests regarding what patterns I used for this dress, It was made using the bodice from the Anna, and the skirt from New Look 6723. To see how I merged these patterns together, you can read all about it on this blog post. I hope this helps! Deborah

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Comfy Coco

I think I have to admit that in the case of this dress, I probably made a bad choice.

I loved what everyone was saying about the Coco, that it was crazy comfortable and felt pulled together, so I'll admit to being convinced into it by all the gorgeous versions that were appearing.

However, I never wear jersey because it always feels too clingy, so I was undecided about making it. I do have a jumper though which is a similar shape that I love, so I thought that maybe with a bit of drafting I might love it. Plus I hadn't worked with stretch before so thought that it would go well with my new challenge myself plan! I had some denim look stretch that I used as a muslin, and recreated the jumper. To do this I first traced the coco in the packet measurements, then laid the jumper over the top, tracing the areas where it differed from the pattern. The main difference was the accentuated A line of the bottom of the top.

I really liked this top, and decided for my proper make I would try and adapt it to a dress. Having never owned a jersey dress, and knowing I liked the top, what could go wrong right? Something that I learned though once this was made. I don't just not wear jersey because it clings, I also don't feel 'done up' enough. I've gotten so used to wearing cotton/ woven fabrics that this feels way too casual.

Cat - bombed

So I thought id show you how I do wear this... with my pyjamas (leggings now it's colder) usually a hairband cos I haven't bothered washing my hair. This is officially now my day pyjamas. It serves its purpose well, and I did learn a lot about jersey sewing in the making. So a definite 50-50 make. 

I have since made a jumper from the top pattern, and love it! Just, the dress is not for me... until I need another pyjama dress anyway. Ya live and ya learn

Friday, 26 September 2014

Exploring Embroidery

Something that I don't talk about very much on here are my other crafting adventures, probably because they are so slow! I always have one or two things on the go, from knitting, to crochet and embroidery, but not often do I have anything finished to show.

Recently I bought an embroidery sorting box... I doubt that's its real name.  I've had all of my embroidery threads in a little box all mixed up for quite a while, and they were starting to get knotted.

Ooh look at those lovely colours, I spent hours winding these on, it makes me very happy to see them all lined up in their rainbow. I used to spend hours sorting my felt tip pens like this, woe betide anyone who messed them up! Anyone out there have any idea how to use the pink windy thing in there? I think it's for winding on the threads, but it basically just fell off a lot or felt really loose.

When I went on holiday to Donegal, a couple of months ago now, I had an idea I would do some sort of craft, something small, and I love doing embroidery, so I took along all my bits and pieces. I came up with the below, it's still in construction, as with all embroideries these things take time.

Drawing this embroidery has really opened up something in me, I've been drawing on and off all summer, and have a few more ideas for embroideries in the pipeline. I'm also trying to develop my techniques so have started to collect new stitches, and ideas for new images on my pinterest board, take a look if you have an interest... Ha don't think I ever made the connection between interest and pinterest before.

I was hoping to knit a cardigan on that holiday, I've only ever attempted to knit something the size of a cardigan once, and I got bored halfway up a sleeve.... so wish me luck! I say 'was' and 'hoping', as the wool didn't arrive in time for the holiday, and it keeps being sent to the post office depot, and as I haven't been in home on the weekend for months I still haven't got the wool! I have finally now sent it to Mr.T's work so hopefully I'll finally get this summer cardie made... in time for winter ha ha. Sounds about right, have a great weekend!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Spotty Anna

The last time I made an Anna dress, I had to make a lot of adjustments to the fit to get it right. This time round I learnt my lesson, I used the finished garment measurements instead. To do this I used my Upper bust, bust and waist measurements.

There is usually only about 1-1/2 inch difference between my upper bust and bust, so I've never done a full bust adjustment, choosing to make any adjustments once the dress is made. Maybe if I find a dress that I find has a lot of issues I might do this in future.

However, I have found that it is useful for me to grade from the smaller size at my upper bust for the shoulders/ neckline to the full bust measurement. I did this on the Anna as below:

This means that I get a closer fit above the full bust line. This dress therefore now fits so much better than my previous version (before all the adjustments). It's so comfortable to wear, and I added my favourite skirt on as well New Look 6723 , this is basically just a trapeze shape which I add pleats to once the bodice is made. In order to do this I stitch the skirt sides together, and pin to the bodice (with pleats sewn in) at the side seams.

I then find the centre of the bodice and mark, and the centre of the skirt and mark. Pinning these two centre points together and then up to the point of the pleat like so:

I then create a pleat from this point by folding over the excess fabric to the inside. I then do exactly the same at the back, but instead of folding the fabric under itself, I create a box pleat by bringing the excess fabric from either side of the pleat into the middle.

Using this method, I can ensure that the pleats on the skirt and bodice match up perfectly. Using this skirt instead of the drafted Anna skirt means I can have a big lunch and not worry about the consequences ha ha. Once I got the bodice right on this dress, I managed to make it up in 2 1/2 hours! I've now made two for friends and two for myself, I'm becoming a bit of an Anna obsessive.

I got the inspiration for this dress from a Cath Kidston one I saw that was navy polka dot with ric rac on the bottom, I really liked the style, though it's probably more twee than I would normally go for. I bought the fabric from ebay though and it has already started to fade quite a bit, so I may need to replace it soon. I've found it so easy to wear to work, I think another couple in some 'sensible' fabrics may be on the cards.

It looks like the back is quite gappy in these pictures, and there is a little bit of ease here, but the dress is so comfortable I wouldn't want to make this any smaller. My other version is in a slightly thicker material, so may have needed to be brought in. But I'll tell ya all about that when I post it!

Do you like the shoes? Definitely not sensible, I decided this year was the year of the shoe. They are the perfect way to feel dressed up, and Ive only fallen in them a couple of times! (I always fall over... even in flat shoes, no real reason just that the ground likes me) I think I want to get some more fancy shoes. I figure I dont buy ready to wear very often these days, so I can splurge occasionally.


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