Tuesday, 22 December 2015

...And another top

Hi all.  It's been a little while.  What with work and uni stuff and all the upcoming Christmas pressures it's been a bit hectic in my world.  And while I haven't been finding much time to sew, I have been knitting up a storm which sadly I can't show off yet as the finished items are mainly Christmas gifts.  Anyway today I do have a finished item to show you, it's another top!  Having realised earlier in the year that I really needed to make some tops as there was a real gap in my wardrobe, I think I've become fixated on making tops now.  This one is another Angelica top from the little black dress book, I love my first one despite some of the fit issues and wanted another one. 

I got the fabric from the man outside Sainbury's in Walthamstow.  It's a lovely soft viscose and I love the geometric, animal print and at £2 a metre I couldn't really resist.  One slight shame is that there are some flaws in it which I didn't notice until I'd sewn up the top, they're not super noticeable but it does detract slightly from the awesomeness of the top in my head.  I've got most of the fit issues sorted.  I took loads off the side seams and waist but I don't think I've taken quite enough off at the hips as the excess fabric there feels a bit disproportionate-next time!

I wore it a few weeks ago on a trip to the Bath Christmas market when it was significantly colder than it is right now (what's going on with the weather?) and I refused to take my coat off for most of the day so we only got a couple of indoor photos of the top.  I really recommend the Bath Christmas market though, its prettier and full of a lot less trash than lots of these markets are.  I managed to get quite a few lovely gifts for people while I was there.  I realise that with less than a week to go this information is really only helpful for people local to Bath but for the rest of you, I recommend it for next year.  I bought some of these chocolate tools (how cool are they) and these ceramics (I wanted to buy all the ceramics but my sister talked me out of it-my bank balance thanks her!)

Anyway that's me signing off for Christmas folks.  Hope you all have lovely festive periods, whatever you're up to.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Jumper refashion

I love this refashioned skirt that I made from a jumper last year and find it really practical to wear for work as I can cycle in it and its a decent length. However, as the weather got colder I was struggling to pair it with any of my cardigans or jumpers. I really needed a cropped jumper to pair with it. I started looking at different patterns, the coppelia cardigan and Bonnie sweater were both contenders. The problem was that I also had no appropriate fabric in my stash. I suppose to be stash busting and I've fallen off the wagon a bit lately so I was reluctant to do this. Then I remembered this jumper that I had in my stash. I had 'rescued' it from my boyfriends charity shop pile at one point. Potentially the same rescue mission that I had acquired the jumper for the skirt.
I loved the pattern and the colour was a perfect match for the trim on the skirt. However it was too big and too long for what I wanted so it was time to get altering. I started by putting it inside out on Rosie. I cut off the bottom ribbing and pinned the sides to get the shape I wanted. Then I (carefully) put it on and pinned the arms to slim them down as well. Then I ran all the pinned seams through my overlocker. Sorry I should have taken some photos of this process but I was on a roll. 

The next step was to try the jumper on with the skirt and adjust the length and then reattach the ribbing.  And ta-da one new cropped jumper.
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to get my boyfriend crouching down to take some photos of me from a better angle and while I did mange it for this photo, it was so cold outside that we took a very limited number of snaps and headed back into the warm.

Most of the photos had me looking like this:
Shivering and with my eyes shut!

Sadly the eyes shut look is one I sport a lot, honestly we sometimes have to take about 50 photos just to get a couple of decent ones with my eyes open!  Just as well I never had aspirations to be a model!

What about you? Do you end up with lots of ridiculous reject photos?  Have a lovely weekend all.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Totally Sew Over It

So today I have a sew over it double act to show you. I loved my first pair of ultimate trousers (although they were too big and met a sad failed refashioning fate) and have wanted another pair. Also last pay day I treated myself to their ultimate shift dress pattern and figured they would make a good combo. 

The are made from black twill which I bought from Minerva crafts at the same time as the fabric for my previous pair. I had planned to make a skirt with it so I only had a metre which created some interesting sewing challenges. 

With only a metre I knew these were going to be cropped (maybe not the most practical as temperatures drop in the UK but never mind). These had been cut and I'd started sewing when I spotted a colleague wearing a pair of trousers with zips at the ankles and I knew I wanted to add them to my ultimate trousers. I followed this post from Megan Nielsen on inserting exposed zippers and I'm really proud of them. I'd never used them before and while they're far from perfect I can now see how the process works and improved from one to the next. So now bring on all the exposed zippers! I cut a size 12 with the other adjustments I had done in the class. The only thing I don't like about these trousers is that the fabric stretches out with each wear which is annoying. However, I'm going to make another pair in wool for winter. 

I cut out the ultimate shift top in cutting spree I had a couple of weeks ago. It's a liberty print fabric that I had left over from a sew over it tea dress that I made a one of their classes about 4 years ago. It seemed like fate for it to become another sew over it pattern. I needed to make quite a lot of alterations to the top which as I didn't make a muslin were a bit convoluted in the fashion fabric. I cut a size 12 (grading to 14 at hips) however, there were lots of fitting issues and I wanted it to be less loose at the waist. The upper arms needed more room plus I needed more room across the back, I will need to do a broad back adjustment in future but this time I dealt with it by sewing the top with 1 cm seam allowances. 

We took these photos in our super beautiful local park.  I always read about how other bloggers boyfriends/children/husbands/pets take such wonderful pictures without a single word of complaint.  My boyfriend rations me to the number of photos he will take of me in the cold.  When I told him I was going to out this lack of generosity to the blogosphere, he told me that I should as he should really be featuring more prominently on the blog, so to make him happy, here's a photo of him, not wearing handmade clothes.  

Isn't he cute?  (I need to keep him sweet because when looking at these photos, I realised that my next mission should be to get him down on the ground to take photos of me.  He is tall and his photo taking angle is not working for me.) 

As Sew Over it have such lovely sewing cafes I thought it was appropriate to include a photo of me curled up with a cup of tea.
Happy weekend all.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fall essentials sewalong, how did I do?

Hello all.  I've actually spent quite a bit of time thinking about this post as once I started reviewing where I got to with creating my fall essentials, I got to thinking about the reasons for my successes, failures and excuses.  It's been a really interesting process and I think will be very helpful for forward planning.  So while this is a round up post, there are also some planning thoughts. So for those who don't know; the fall essentials sew along is the brainchild of Sarah and was running this year from the 12th September to the 14th November.

While I had a comprehensive list of makes I was realistic about not being able to get everything done and some things being longer term goals. Anyway what did I manage?  And where do I go from here?

Fashionable foundations
Pleather circle skirt: Done and I wear this a lot! The added bonus with this is that I never fail to get a complement on it when I wear it.

Culottes: not even in the priority pile yet. I have however almost finished a pair of black trousers which will be very useful. 

Chic chemises
I made my first Dolores top and a second one promptly followed and a third will shortly happen. This top is a win in my book!

I didn't make any of the other tops that I'd considered but have a couple of others as WIPs. Watch this space. I decided against an Agatha cardigan but I cast on an Aiken jumper when I was on holiday, although progress on this has slightly stalled as I've made a start on some knitted Christmas gifts. I'm ok with this, I know that I knit really slowly and that it's not realistic to expect my knitwear to be hand knitted at this point, it's something I do as a personal challenge and for the enjoyment of the process.

I am always desperate to make good tops as I feel it's a real gap in my wardrobe but this situation is slowly starting to improve.

Fabulous frocks
I managed my Renfrew/lady skater mash up dress and it may be love. I want one in a less synthetic fabric now.

I did not manage my vintage Style 3361 pattern, I still really want to make it but it's going to require a fair amount of fitting work and I'm feeling lazy. 

I started my Lou Lou dress as I thought it would make a lovely dress to take on holiday but I came a cropper somewhere in the process which was super demoralising. I was also really annoyed as it would have been perfect to float around in the Spanish sunshine in. 

Baby it's cold outside
I have a real tale of woe to tell about my chunky scarf. I made it and it was a thing of beauty and lovely and snuggly and warm and the first day I wore it I left it on a train. I honestly could have cried! I have some left over wool and I think I going to try making another one of these as I was really so in love with it.  Although I have to get over the psychological hurdles of having wasted such a lot of money on version number one and the time it's going to take me to recreate!

The weather has been really mild here in London so far this autumn so the mittens never became a priority for me to make but as temperatures have decreased this week, they have swiftly moved to the top of my list.

My vintage coat is still very early on in its development stage. I've made some paper pattern alterations and tissue fitted it to my mannequin but I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to make a muslin which I never do and so am procrastinating doing that. I want to do this properly so this may be one of those projects that drags on for a long time.  This is no bad thing as I should learn to pay more attention to details and this process should be a good learning curve.

My general thoughts on moving on to winter sewing are; take time over the coat. I have some wonderful Donegal tweed for the coat that I don't want to ruin by rushing things, even if it means that I won't get much wear out of it until next winter.  Keep sewing everyday items which I want to wear and help me develop skills.  I wear these most and get real pleasure from wearing them and as they get constant use it makes me be thoughtful about fit and hat I can do to improve these items.  This being said I went on a night out last night wearing a RTW dress and it made me swear to myself that I am going to make some posh frocks for myself that work for me in the same way as my everyday clothes.  Watch this space for a sparkly Christmas dress!

Did you take part in the fall essentials sewalong? How did you get on?  What's on your winter sewing list?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Perfect autumn day

The perfect autumn day deserves the perfect autumn dress!  By perfect autumn day, what do I mean? Well not today for a start, I am so not a fan of this horrible rainy misty weather that we are getting.  However, just look at these pictures which I took on Sunday:

However, I'm not sure I'm equally correct in my statement about the dress, a scuba dress may not be perfect autumn wear, however I'm pleased with it.  I have a pretty new dress and it ticks off another item from my Fall essentials list.

This is my lady skater/Renfrew mash up dress in a gorgeous Scuba that I just could not resist from the Man Outside Sainsbury's in Walthamstow.  The mash-up really was so easy to do I just laid the lady skater bodice piece over the Renfrew bodice piece and graded between them for the waist.  The top bit is all Renfrew but the lady skater is more fitted at the waist and the bodice is a lot shorter.  After that I sewed up as normal.  I sewed it all on the sewing machine rather than using my overlocker as the scuba felt so thick that I didn't want to risk causing any problems to the poor overlocker.  My sewing machine has taken a lot of abuse over the years and I've learnt to handle it and judge what it can and can't do, I don't yet have the same relationship with my overlocker.

I made the cowl version of the Renfrew which I love, its like a scarf and dress all in one.  However, it means that this dress eats fabric, it would be a great stash buster (you know if I'd had something suitable in my stash and hadn't bought the fabric) as it used up almost 3m.  I would really like one of these now in a lovely wool jersey, something warm and snuggly (and breathable!)  

Right I'm off to stare at pictures of beaches and pretend that we are not hurtling towards months of rain and snow!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Teacup pincushion tutorial

I'm really sorry to anyone who thinks that this is far too early to be speaking about Christmas but a) I'm a Christmas nut and b) handmade Christmas presents require time to make.  If any of you were thinking about making some Christmas (or any of other kind of) gifts for sewists in your life, I thought I'd post this tutorial.

This is a really quick make and has such cute results. 

You will need: 
Teacup and saucer
Glue gun and sticks or superglue
Scrap of fabric approx 18cmx18cm
Toy stuffing/leftover wadding

I found this teacup and saucer in a local charity shop and it's going to be perfect for someone special in my life.

First thing to do is thoroughly wash and dry the cup and saucer. Then sand the bottom edge of the cup and the inset circle on the saucer, this will help the glue stick.

Apply glue to the bottom rim of the cup and stick to the saucer. 

Now create a ball of stuffing big enough to sit in the cup and not fall to the bottom

Take the scrap of fabric, (some of you may recognise this as a leftover scrap from my birthday Belladone) iron it if it looks as creased as this one, and place stuffing in the middle and fold the edges round the ball.

Roughly stitch edges together on under side of ball. You don't need to be super neat about this, this bit of the ball will be invisible and glued inside the cup. It's just to hold it altogether while you do the assembly.

Put glue in a ring all round the inside of the cup, about 1cm down from the top edge. 
Put the ball into the cup and push it onto the glue. 

And you're done! All you need to do is add pins! I love that there is also space for other bits and pieces in the saucer. 

This is ear marked for someone special in my life. Right, I'm off to play Christmas elf, I've got lots more presents to make, only 8 weeks to go folks!  And on that note, have a happy Halloween.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lace Belcarra Blouse

Today I have one of those sods law tales to tell you.  I made the top that I'm wearing months ago, wore it a couple of times and it promptly disappeared.  I was so upset as I really liked it.  I searched for it for ages and eventually I decided it must have been lost when my boyfriend moved house and resigned myself to making another.  Literally about 20 minutes after finishing sewing the new top, I discovered the original one hiding in the back of a drawer!  Oh well, it has been gifted to a friend and I am going to move on with my new top!
I hadn't realised quite how rumpled I look in these photos, they were taken at the end of my holiday and my linen skirt really could have done with an iron!

On my uni days I am surrounded by 23 well dressed women whose clothes I am always staring at and trying to work out whether they would work on me and how I could recreate them.  Thanks girls for the inspiration (sorry boys, I'm not spending much time on your clothes).  Anyway there have been a lot of lace tops featuring in the girls' wardrobes recently which I guess is reflective of the summer trends and I really wanted one.  And so my next Belcarra blouse was born.
I knew I wanted to have the front piece as a lace panel and originally I was considering creating lace sleeves too but having never sewn with lace before, I thought I would keep my life simple and just stick with the front panel so that I didn't need to worry about working out how to hem the lace.
The main fabric is a cotton jersey that I bought from Simply Fabrics in Brixton and the lace was an offcut that I bought on the same trip. Although the Belcarra pattern is not meant for stretch fabrics I thought I would give it a go and it seems to have worked.  I simply tacked the lace panel to the jersey front piece and then just sewed following the instructions.  The only part I changed was that I eliminated the sleeve bands as I wasn't crazy about them on my first version and also I wanted slightly shorter sleeves.

Now does anyone have any other suggestions for top patterns?  I'm always on the look out for good tops, I don't know why but I really find this the hardest pattern to find to suit my body type.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Making progress with my fall essentials

Hi all, I hope you're all having lovely weekends. I'm on holiday in Spain so things are pretty good in my world. 

On my fall essentials planning list I planned to make a Dolores batwing top by the lovely Zoe.  Never having made the top before I was so delighted when my first one was such a hit that I immediately made a second version. So today I have 2 tops to show you, be warned this post is full of lots of gushing!

The first one is a long sleeved Dolores tunic in the fabric I had planned.
I really love the shape of this top and it's flattering over all ones lumps and bumps. Although it's harder when wearing jeans as their hardware creates extra sticky-out bits.
I love this fabric, I slightly feel like a giant peacock when I wear it! 

The second is a mustard gold short sleeve tunic. I'm describing it as gold because for the last couple of years, since mustard became trendy I have been objecting to it and declaring how gross I found mustard.  However when I saw this viscose jersey in my local fabric shop I snapped it up immediately, so I'm declaring it gold so that I don't have to budge on my decidedly anti-mustard position. 
I've spotted a couple of posts recently, like this one by Megan Neilsen about how important it is to press knit fabrics, just like you would wovens. I'm really guilty of not pressing my knits but I really found that I needed to with this viscose jersey. 

This is a great patten and so easy to sew. It's the perfect instant gratification project, I'm sure I was able to get it from pdf to finished top in less than a couple of hours. 

I've been spending a lot of time in uni recently and these tops have been such a godsend to throw on with a pair of jeans or a skirt.  I wish I hadn't put off buying the pattern for so long now.  I was afraid that it wasn't going to be flattering for someone of my shape, however, I really love the shape of it on me so I'm sure more versions will turn up in my wardrobe at some point.

Right I'm off to catch the last of the Spanish sunshine before I have to head home.  I hope you all have lovely weekends and if you haven't voted yet in the sew independent challenges please, please go and do so here and here

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Bow backed Nettie

Hi all, I hope you've had a lovely weekend.  We've had, what I suspect, is the last of the summer sunshine which has made everything very cheery and I've been able to relax and enjoy catching up with some friends.  At the risk of becoming a Closet case files fan girl, I've got another Closet case files pattern to show you today; a Nettie dress.  I love my previous Nettie dress and bought this fabric to make another, months ago.  I found it on the Birmingham rag market, on a trip with my boyfriends family.  They were very long suffering as we did a tour of the market and Barry's. I got the stripey jersey for my boat necked lady skater on that trip too.

This time I wanted to make a Nettie hack that I had spotted on Tilly and the buttons a while ago, the bow back was really calling to me.  I used the tutorial that Tilly had posted but obviously used the dress version of the Nettie pattern.
The bow is not lopsided but it's surprisingly difficult to photograph a back!

The guy who sold me the fabric claimed it was a cotton jersey but I'm not sure I believe him as it doesn't feel like any cotton jersey I've ever seen.  Although I haven't been bothered to do a burn test to find out, I think I'm dressed in 100% poly ponte!  This fabric has very little stretch which means my new Nettie is definitely not a dress to wear on a body-conscious day.

I got my boyfriend to take some pictures of me in this on a lovely walk around Morden Hall Park.  It was such a perfect autumnal day and we got some lovely pictures.

Also some daft photos where we established that I am  not suited to being a model, you should have heard me whinging about the sun in my eyes and uncomfortable lumpy bits of the tree poking into me.  Clearly I am not prepared to suffer for my art.  

I wanted to enter this dress for the 'dressed to the nines' category over on sew independent so we also took some photos once I was ready for an evening out.
Belt from New Look and sparkly shoes from Dorothy Perkins.

If any of you reading are following the Sew Independent 2015 contest could I make a polite request for your vote!  Have a lovely week all and happy sewing.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sallie jumpsuit

When Heather first released the Sallie jumpsuit I went crazy for it and bought it almost immediately.  However the summer was really busy and I didn't do as much sewing as I would have liked so I only got round to making it now.

I used a cotton jersey that I bought a few years back at Marche St. Pierre when I was in Paris.  I think that it's such a great fabric for this jumpsuit but I should have paid a bit more attention to pattern placement (as usual) as some of the circle bursts are highlighting areas that are not necessarily my best features.

The pattern is really well drafted and the instructions really clear, however, I need a giant post-it note to myself to me that I should not make garments that I haven't tried before on my overlocker.  I made a couple of really silly mistakes when sewing this up and unpicking overlocked seams is the worst!  In fact it's so awful that this poor jumpsuit got put in the naughty corner for a couple of weeks while I huffed and played favourites with other, non-overlocked projects.

This is my entry for the everyday casual contest over on Sew independent.  A jumpsuit is the perfect way of looking put together on a day when really what you want to wear is pyjamas.  However, I did take my Sallie out for a non-everyday outing with my family
 to Kew gardens.

Thanks to my sister for all the pictures of me!  I took all the pictures of ridiculous plants which amused me greatly! 
How great are these?

They had these great Palm/tropical plant houses at Kew which contained many pretty and/or fun plants!

Like this:

Or this:

Happy Monday folks, I hope the rest of your weeks go ok and that you all have secret pyjamas to wear!