Wednesday, 12 November 2014

In the land of grey (leaves) and pink (birds)

Two dresses here, one (the grey one) I actually made in November last year, but have only worn once because of an accident with the pinking shears.  It's a combination of two New Look patterns - 6824 skirt & 6723 bodice and why I decided on that particular combination I really can't remember now.

Grey leaves dress
As I was trimming the back seam I managed to snip the dress - arrrgghhhh!  I decided to fix it with some fusible interfacing - since I hadn't actually cut any of the fabric out of the dress I thought this would be a good way to glue it back together.  Actually, I thought it was a brilliant idea and felt quite smug that I'd thought of it.  And it worked.  No-one would know there had been an accident except me.

Unfortunately... once it had been washed in the machine the interfacing came partially unstuck and took some fabric with it and there was a definite hole in the dress so I put it to one side knowing that it would need a more substantial repair.  And it has stayed put aside for months.  I was really quite pissed off about it because I love this fabric, I bought it ages ago in Ikea and of course they don't sell it now.  I only bought one metre which is why the centre of the bodice is plain grey - there wasn't enough to make the whole dress out of it.  I have got a few offcuts left over and I think I'll have to make a feature patch to sew on top of the offending hole - I haven't thought of any other way of making an invisible repair.  If it had been a gatherered skirt I'd have unpicked it at the waist and just cut the back pieces narrower, but it isn't.  I've ignored it all summer but since it's now definitely grey dress weather I think I need to get creative - maybe I'll cut out one of the leaves and applique it on - the hole is at the top of the back vent so I'm hoping this will look OK.

The second dress is from some fabric that I bought at Ditto in Brighton in the summer.  I nearly bought it in a blue, but then spotted the pink and decided that I preferred that.  This dress is an Elisalex bodice with an Emery skirt although without the pockets because I didn't have enough fabric.  I love it, it's so summery - which means it's now been put away for the winter, but will make me smile when I unpack it next spring.

Pink birds dress

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Scandinavian birds dress

I've had this fabric for a few years now (it has 2008 on the selvedge) and just couldn't decide what to make with it - since it's 60" wide and I bought three metres of it there were lots of possibilities!  In the end it came down to - you really like it, just make it into a dress woman, look through your pattern stash for a pattern which needs 3 metres of 60" wide fabric.  And the one I settled on was McCalls 5764, from 1961.

McCalls 5764
I did make a few modifications though.  I took the centre seams out of the bodice pieces so as not to break up the print, moved the zip to the side and cut the front neckline straight, without the V cut-out.  I also cut the skirt pieces on the fold, and cut them 5.75" shorter.  I used white lawn for the facings so as not to have print showing through from the wrong side and top-stitched the neckline.  I'm really pleased with how this dress has turned out and I really like the pattern, I'll definitely make more with this one.  Not sure I'd describe it as an "instant" dress though!

Ikea green birds dress

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

My sewing space

I've been meaning to write this post for ages and the instagram challenge organised by bimbleandpimble has spurred me on.  So, on Sunday I spent some time organising my space (well quite a lot of time actually) and taking some photos of it in its pristine tidy state, before I started spreading patterns, fabric, scissors and all the other bits and bobs about and it looked like it usually does - a bit of a higgledy piggledy mess!

This is my sewing table in its usual configuration.  Myrtle the dressform is in the corner and there is a daylight lamp clamped on the edge of the table for evening sewing.  Also lurking in the other corner is my steam generator iron - great for ironing - especially since it switches itself off if not used for 10 minutes, not so great when it comes to descaling it, which frankly is a faff.


Machines - four - well five actually, but four sewing machines.  A Singer which my mother gave me years ago when she bought herself a Bernina.  I usually keep this threaded up with white cotton.
Singer 99k
This was the machine I used in my childhood and I'm very fond of it.  Next the Bernina, which my mother gave me last year when I took up sewing again and asked her advice on machines. 

Bernina 801 Sport - why?  What is sporty about a sewing machine?
The third machine is a Janome which I bought when I took the Singer and Bernina in to be serviced and couldn't be without a machine.  I bought this particular model because it was the one I used at the By Hand London sewalong last year and I'd found it easy to use (except for the presser foot lever not being at the centre back - why? but that is a minor niggle).  It's also easily the most lightweight of my sewing machines.
Janome Sewist 525S

And finally, a Cooper which I bought purely because I love the colour, which is richer than it looks in this photo, and also I suppose because I fancied having a manual machine.
Cooper - don't know the model name, but look at the lovely colour
My fifth machine is an overlocker which I was given recently by a lovely lady in my local knitting group who is moving and hadn't even taken it out of the box.

Husqvarna Huskylock S15
Really Useful Boxes - these live up to their name and I use them for storing patterns,

One of two boxes full of patterns, with a rail of ironing-as-art on the right ;-)
sorted by colour
 and a box each for my mending & alterations, and leftovers.

stuff to be dealt with in these two

Also in the photo above are my kneepads, an essential bit of kit for cutting out on the floor.  It's great not having carpet - easy to either sweep or hoover up all the stray threads, but it is hard on my knees, so these are invaluable.  On top of the boxes is my sleeveboard and also a totally invisible French curve (but I know it's there).

Other storage - this drawer unit is sold by Ryman's as stationery storage, but as you can see that's not what I use it for.  It's really handy to be able to see exactly what's in it!  Top drawer is bias binding, a tape measure, glasses, tracing wheel, pens, needles and various other odds and ends,

 middle drawer is Janome bobbins, presser feet, marker pencils, tailors' chalk and unpickers,

 bottom drawer is for my scissors and pinking shears.

This container I bought a few weeks ago just because I loved the look of it, without any clear idea of what I'd use it for.  Fortunately I already had a yellow bucket which fits nicely inside it, otherwise I'd have had to make a lining for it.  At the moment I'm using it to store thread which I use for tacking (can't bring myself to call it basting - that's what you do to meat).

Here we have my fabric stash cupboard

Fabric organised by metreage - longest lengths on the bottom shelf

and on top

The yellow box is full of cards of buttons, the beige plastic box contains Bernina presser feet, bobbins and other bits and bobs, the miniature Singer machine has Singer bobbins in the wooden storage bit underneath it, and my pressing ham - I wouldn't be without this.  The green stripey tin has all my zips in (and the picture on the lid is my avatar picture), the brown wooden box is full of tapes and ribbons and was my grandmother's, and the floral tin contains all the other odds and ends like hooks and eyes, poppers, safety pins etc.

And finally my thread rack, in all its rainbow-coloured glory.

And I think that's everything!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Ditto roses

Here are two dresses which I've made using the same fabric in two different colourways.  I love this print and have got it in another two colours as well, although I haven't made them up yet.  I bought these two from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton - a lovely shop in the North Laine area with lots of gems and well worth a visit.  As is Brighton of course - I love it.

The first one is an Elisalex which came together very quickly since I've made quite a few of these now.  Not much to say about it other than I love it! 

Lime green roses Elisalex
The second one is from a vintage Simplicity pattern, although I've cut the skirt 8" shorter.

I love the cover art on this, the finished dress not so much sadly.  I feel a bit meh about it although I can't quite put my finger on why - I'll give this some thought!  It's been nearly finished for ages and has been sitting waiting for me to hem it for weeks.  I've finally got around to it though, and so now it's finished.

Turquoise roses dress
 I think I'll put it away for the winter now and maybe the passage of time will endear it to me more.  I hope so!  And now I have another dress to hem...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Away with the Pink Fairies and Moody Blues

Having just blogged about baby knits which I've made quite recently I thought it was high time I blogged about two cardigans for me which I made earlier in the year.  The first (the blue one) I made during February and March and the second (the pink one) I started immediately afterwards and finished on June 1st.

I'd decided that I needed a blue cardigan and couldn't find a pattern that ticked all the boxes in my head, so made this one up.  I knew the finished length that I wanted, knitted a tension square with the wool I wanted to use (Drops Baby Merino), and then went in search of a lace pattern to use.  I have two of the Barbara Walker treasuries - they are great books although it's a shame the patterns aren't charted.  Anyway, I decided I liked the look of the Palm Leaf Lace which is in the second book, did some sums and away I went with the knitting.

I used the pattern on the left

This cardigan featured in one of my me-made-May outfits here and has been really useful. 

The second cardigan also featured during me-made-May as a wip which I was intending to finish during May - was only a day late!  This came about because I decided I wanted a pink cardigan and found the perfect yarn on Fyberspates' stand at Unravel in February this year.  Having now got a formula for knitting cardigans for me out of 4 ply wool, I did the same with this one as with the blue one - I went off in search of a lace insert and  I found the one I wanted to use when I was leafing through my vintage knitting patterns. 

Shell pink cardigan and flamingolex dress

The knitting was pretty straightforward and I really like the finished article and have worn it a fair bit since it goes with quite a few of my me-made dresses (and rtw ones as well actually).

Just writing this post has given me itchy fingers to start knitting another cardigan for me so I'm off now to get out my swift and winder and find a pattern. :-)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Baby knits

The sewing has slowed down a bit at the moment, particularly since the weather turned autumnal.  But I have been doing some knitting.  This first cardigan I actually made in the summer and it was too big when my grandson was born, but fits him now.  I used a vintage pattern - one of several my mother gave me when I was a new mum, but omitted the flowers which meant I had to put the shaping at the side seams since it was part of the flower design (and I knitted this cardigan with the flowers for my daughter so there was a bit of deja vu knitting this).

Do you have to take my photo right now?
The next item is a jumper, which I also knitted for my daughter, but in pink and purple stripes, and is from a Debbie Bliss baby knits book which I bought when she was a baby.  The pattern has stripes of equal width but I decided to do a Breton inspired version instead.  Looks like there is still some growing room in this one!

And the third one is from a pattern booklet that was free with a magazine, and is supposed to be 0-6 months size.  When I knitted the sleeves I thought they looked a bit short so added a bit of length to them, and here it is on my grandson aged precisely 9 weeks.  I don't think he'll be wearing this for long! 

These last two were knitted with Drops Baby Merino yarn which is lovely and soft and nice to knit with - although not so nice if you need to unpick and then reknit - it's quite splitty.  This is a minor niggle though and won't stop me from using it again.

I've got another stripey jumper on the go now which is ideal TV knitting and should be finished soon.  And then it will be time to knit something for me.  Cardigan or dress though?  Or both?...  And I have some sewing to finish too.  And I recently bought more fabric.  Just aren't enough hours in the day - anyone have a timeturner I could borrow?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

SewBrum meet up

Last Saturday I went to Birmingham for a sewing meet-up organised by Charlotte of English girl at home.  This was the first time I'd participated in one of these events and I really enjoyed it.

Fabric shopping in Birmingham city centre had been arranged for the morning, however having been there recently I decided to give this a miss and went instead to The Cotton Patch which was only a couple of miles down the road from the afternoon part of the meet-up at Guthrie and Ghani and was somewhere I'd never visited before.  It's a shop aimed at quilters rather than dressmakers, but that didn't stop me!  I bought three dress lengths of  fabric which the sales assistant cut using a rotary cutter and self healing mat rather than scissors.  Oh my goodness.  So quick!!  I was won over and bought a cutter and mat to take home with me - this will save me quite a bit of time when I have my marathon cutting out sessions I think.  I also bought a flexible ruler and a measuring gauge whilst I was in gadget-buying mode. 

Rotary cutter, self-healing mat, flexible ruler and a measuring gauge
The three fabrics I picked out were a lovely sunflower print, a helenium print and a leafy batik print.  The first two can wait until next year to be sewn up because they're a bit too summery for me to think of sewing with them now, but the third one - on the right in the picture below - I intend to make up quite soon.  I love this combination of colours and I'm looking forward to turning this into a dress.

Sunflowers, heleniums and leafy looking print
I had a very enjoyable time browsing around The Cotton Patch, there was a tempting selection of fabrics in there, the staff were friendly and I imagine if I were a quilter it would probably be able to supply everything I need.  But I'm not, nor ever likely to be.

Then it was time to go to Moseley for the meet-up.  Guthrie & Ghani is a lovely shop and I had time to have a browse around before everyone started to arrive from their city centre shopping. There were lots of people - some of whom I'd met before, some who I recognised from their blogs but most were new faces and I spent a very enjoyable time sitting drinking tea and chatting to several of them - I even discovered that I share a birthday with one of them!  It was lovely to be in a room full of people who were so enthusiastic about sewing.

There was tea (which was very welcome) and cakes and a raffle with some great prizes, and after that a pattern and fabric swap.  I took three pieces of fabric and one pattern with me and came home with one piece of fabric and three patterns (must remember to add them to my pattern page - now done).  I was so engrossed in the chatting - and a little bit of shopping - that I completely failed to take any photos of the day at all.  However, Charlotte has already blogged about the day and others who were less forgetful with their cameras than I was have too.

This is the fabric which I got in the swap - there's about three quarters of a metre which is enough for me to make a straight skirt.  It's a stretchy cotton and I really like the colours and vintagey look of the print.
These are the patterns - I'll almost certainly lengthen the skirt pattern on the left, the dress pattern in the middle I've hummed and ha'd about buying before so I think it was meant to come home with me, and the artwork on the vintage pattern on the right caught my eye.

Finally this is the fabric I bought - a Japanese double gauze which was a bit spendy but I'd seen it online and coveted it and it was even more beautiful in reality.  This photo doesn't do it justice - the background colour is a beautiful deep teal.  I love it.

All too soon it was time to go - I could happily have stayed longer and chatted to more people the time seemed to go so fast.  Roll on the next meet-up!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kaffe Fassett exhibition

Kaffe Fassett exhibition entrance

I visited this exhibition in Bath the weekend before last and OMG... the colour. everywhere. on. everything!! 

The tree outside the exhibition hall had been yarnbombed

 There was a riot of colour right in front of me as I walked into the exhibition


 Even the floors had been decorated

 There were quilts - this one looked as though it was emanating  light, but it was entirely down to the fabric choices, there wasn't a light shining on it - I checked!

 And vegetable crockery


and cushions (not a very good photo - flash wasn't permitted and this came out rather dark so I've had to edit it - not very well it seems!)

There were beads, bottles and buttons

One way to use the button stash ;-)

Inside the main part of the museum was a lovely box of knitted and crocheted flowers

Carved statues in the folk art exhibition

and a prophecy which caught my eye...

I loved it - and now want to completely redecorate the entire house although realistically that probably isn't going to happen anytime soon.

The exhibition was held in the American Museum and is on until the beginning of November.