Saturday, 31 August 2013

Black spotty Scout Woven Tee

This is the first Grainline garment I have made (the Archer button-up shirt is next in line) and the construction was made really easy with simple instructions and a visual guide via Jen's blog at Grainline.

I have seen loads of cool versions of the Scout Woven Tee on various blog pages and my favourite versions have to be:

1. Dark grey spot version at Stitch and Witter
2. Black and white geometric print version at When all you need is..
3. Colourful geometric print version at Sown Brooklyn

Back to the Tee. I cut it out yesterday to save me the boring job of assembling the PDF paper pattern and cutting out the fabric so I could go full-belt on sewing duties today. It took me about two and a half hours to construct the Tee because I got a bit confused with the neckline and had to refer to some online tutorials to guide me through. I don't think I did it correctly but it looks OK in the end.
I added my own bias binding to the sleeves to match the neckline.

The size of the bias binding doesn't quite match at the neck
and sleeves so I should call it a 'wearable muslim', right?!
Alterations I made straight on the paper pattern were:

  1. I cut the smallest size at the shoulders, graded to the next size up for the bust area and the next size up again for the hips (as an experiment) It seemed to work. I have quite narrow shoulders and it fits beautifully around the neckline and shoulders.
  2. I also created the classic Hi-Lo hemline. Next time I will need to lengthen the body to sit a bit lower. At the moment it hangs just a bit too high for my liking.

The hemline isn't wonky a big gust of wind blew it as I was taking the shot.
Although I have seen many images of the Scout Tee I suppose I didn't realise how loose fitting it would be and the back of the Tee has a lot of loose fabric that doesn't hang as nicely as I would like. Maybe it will drape better after a wash... who knows?!

I have tried wearing it with a belt and it looks quite nice, but I think the whole point of this Tee is that its supposed to be a loose fitting easy to wear top. Next time I may try to bring it in at the side seams towards the bottom of the Tee (maybe I didn't need to grade to the larger size for the hips considering the fit is so wide anyway?).

Any suggestions about how to adjust the fit so its not soooo loose fitting at the back?

Friday, 30 August 2013

How do you store your PDf patterns?

Over the past few months I have built up a very small collection of sewing patterns, some of which I have used and some are on the long list of creative things to do.

Paper Patterns:
Simplcity 2154 - Red pencil skirt completed August 2013
New Look K6123 dress - To do list
Colette Ginger skirt - Cerise bias skirt completed August 2013
Colette Laurel dress- Fabric cut for the top and ready to sew
Sewaholic Crescent skirt - To do list
Traditional sewing patterns are easy to store and file because they have an envelope with an image on the front for easy identification, whereas PDF patterns can be easily mixed up or sections lost / mixed with other PDF patterns.
Today I organised my PDF patterns into these lovely double pocket plastic files (from Paperchase 3 for 2 right now!) that have a section for the instructions and for the assembled paper pattern.
A very satisfying, quick and low budget job; and look how pretty they look in their coloured files!

PDF Patterns:
Colette Laurel dress variations booklet
Colette Sorbetto top - Version one completed July 2013, version two August 2013 and fabric cut for version three....
Tilly's Mathilde blouse - Completed July 2013
Grainline Archer shirt - Paper pattern assembled, just need to select a fabric....
Grainline Scout Woven Tee - Fabric cut out and ready to sew.....

How do you store your PDF patterns once they have been assembled?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Summery Sorbetto

I dug out my old faithful Bernina today because I fancied whipping up something simple and speedy. I decided on the Colette Sorbetto (free pattern) and focused on improving the fit and length of the top from the previous version (black and white stripy Sorbetto).
First thing I had to do was adjust the pattern by adding 3cm just below the armhole and above the bust darts to not only lengthen the top but to lower the darts too. On a previous attempt I tried to lower the darts using an online tutorial but it really didn't work so I went with a simpler option.
I then also added 3cm in roughly the same place at the back so the notches would still line up (which they surprisingly did!). I also altered the hemline by curving and dropping it by about 6cm at the back so it is a comfier fit (and will tuck into skirts and trousers better too).

I chose a beautiful cotton voile (Wish by Valori Wells Designs) that I purchased at Guthrie and Ghani a month ago. The fabric has a complex paisley-like design with 16 colours in the repeat pattern!
Here is the finished Sorbetto with purple bias-biding on the neck and armholes. I chose not to apply bias-binding to the hemline because it is quite stiff (I'm hoping it will soften in the wash) and wanted the hem to be more pliable for tucking into skirts and trousers. For a neater finish on the inside I used French seams for the side and shoulder seams. Overall I am quite happy with my new summery top - I just hope we continue to have this lovely weather so I can enjoy wearing it now rather than having to wait until next year!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Patrick Caulfield at Tate Britain

I managed to sneak a whistle stop view of the Patrick Caulfield exhibition before it closes on the 1st September. I have always loved his work and it was great to see so many of his large paintings in one place together.




Monday, 19 August 2013

UFO busting - Simplicity 2154 Pencil skirt


Another UFO (un-finished object) that has lurked alien-like in the wardrobe since July is the Simplicity 2154 pencil skirt. I attended a two-part workshop at Saturday Sewing Sessions in Chelsea which was great fun. There was only one other attendee who was also called Caroline who made her pencil skirt in royal blue fabric.

Back to the skirt.... well the evening sessions happened to be on two of the hottest days of the summer and the workshop was held in a cute little textile studio space with windows that could only open a tiny bit so we literally were in a sweatshop!!

During the cutting out stage I drafted from a smaller size at the waist to the next size up on the hips to fit my measurements more accurately. Despite this I still needed to take quite a big chunk off each side seam (which included re-doing the zip three times!!!). Note to self - always baste stitch in the zip just in case......

At the end of the workshop I 'only needed to.....' hand stitch the waist-band, hand stitch the hem and finish off the side-seam where the zip was located.  Now after the re-sewing of the zip three times I had fallen a little bit out of love with this skirt and was beginning to think I would never finish it but I read Lladybird's blog about 'How do you find the time to sew so much?' which made me re-evaluate some of my spare bits of time. Hence the blitzing of the UFO's X-Files stylee!!

Almost finished pencil skirt
Delightful colours and styling on the Simplicity cover ; )
I applied bias-binding to the exposed seams around the zip area because the zig-zag stitch wasn't sufficiently keeping the fabric from fraying
The finished pencil skirt!

UFO busting - Colette Ginger skirt

The first UFO (un-finished object) I have busted today is the cerise Ginger Colette skirt that I almost finished as part of a two-part sewing workshop at Ray Stitch in Islington back in June!  I would have got it finished during the workshop time if I hadn't tried to be clever and pimp the pattern to include pockets and extend the length of the pattern by about 4 cms.
The (ex) pockets in the side seam of the Colette Ginger skirt

I also decided to line the skirt, which again added to the construction time.... Enough excuses back to the finishing of the skirt. Well, after trying the skirt on with the addition of the side-seam pockets I realised that it badly affected the fall of the skirt and gave me extra 'hips'!!
Sooooo, after all that additional work I decided to sew up the regular side seams and cut out the pockets. I ironed a rolled hem on the skirt and lining and quickly sewed them up and here is the finished article!
Finished Colette Ginger skirt with lining!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Liebster Award

Emma Jayne from Clipped Curves kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award which is for bloggers with less than 100 followers.

Thank you Emma Jayne! In the expected format I will answers the following questions:


1. If you had to describe your style by comparing it to a fictional character, who would that be and why?

In my head I think I am channelling a bit of Carrie from Sex and the City meets Dana Scully from the X-Files. Carrie for the fun, exuberant aspects of my wardrobe against the no-nonsense work ethic and practicalities of Scully's shirts and trouser approach to the 'office'.

2. Do you have any other hobbies / obsessions as well as those you blog about?

I am interested in keeping fit and I captain a team of 60+ indoor rowers on my other blog: Caroline's Rowing Blog. The team is called Empty the Tanks and I set up the team in 2009 to guide and encourage people keeping fit and participating in Indoor Rowing events around the world.  I have entered a number of competitions over the years and I have achieved the following results:

  • 6th place at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, USA in Feb 2011
  • Silver at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2013
  • Bronze at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2012
  • Gold at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2011
  • Silver at the British Indoor Rowing Championships, Nov 2009
As well as keeping fit by indoor rowing I enjoy cycling, drawing, painting, etching, printing, DIY and cooking.

3. What is your favourite thing you’ve made / posted about and why? Remember to show us!
I love my Clothkits Trellick Tower skirt because I love the print so much although it has been the least challenging garment to make from my blogged clothes so far!


 4. And the least favourite?
It has to be my crazy Top-Shop re-make dress that is out of this world orange and psychedelic!

5. If you could only make 3 more things and then you had to quit sewing forever, what would you make and why?
1) I would make the Grainline Archer shirt - because I haven't managed to successfully sew a collar or shirt placket yet. It looks like an uber-cool pattern.
2) The next thing I would sew would be the Laurel by Colette Patterns. It has so many variations though and I haven't yet decided which one to go for!
3) The last thing would be a sewing challenge of a fully lined jacket. I haven't yet found a pattern that I would like to try yet - any suggestions?

6. Where do you find inspiration?
I do love a good fashion magazine and will treat myself to at least one a month to get inspired, drool over lovely colours, finishes and ideas. I also check out other sewing blogs, fabric shops, vintage and charity shops. I also get inspired by the general public; there are loads of cool and stylish people pottering around London to 'borrow' ideas from!

7. How do you feel about the whole lining vs facing vs binding debate (I may be imagining that it’s a debate)?
So far in my limited clothes-making repertoire I have sewn things that are relatively straight forward but I do love a French Seam and bias-binding to finish a seam.


8. What is your least favourite part of sewing (and do you do it anyway or cut corners)?
I am not keen on cutting out the paper pattern or assembling the printed out PDF patterns so I like to do this all in one go. I purchased the Colette Laurel last week and have cut out all pattern pieces whilst chatting to my friend : )

9. How do you like your surroundings when you sew? i.e. Do you clean up as you go, listen to music, face the window, watch telly? Basically describe your sewing situation.
I haven't got a designated sewing area at home so I have to drag out my very heavy Bernina downstairs to the dining table. This slight inconvenience  means I am always determined to get all the sewing machine aspects of a project done at one time. I think this is why so many of my UFO's are all incomplete at the hand-sewing stage. 
I like to listen to the radio or some of my Spotify compilations;  I am totally feeling the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs right now and have major style-lust for Karen O!

Karen O, lead singer of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
10. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Andy Warhol, hang out at the Pop Factory in New York and have a chat about his eccentric style and approach to art. Following that I would also be intrigued to meet husband and wife design team Robin and Lucienne Day - I so love their work!
Lucienne Day textile design circa 1950's
11. Do you prefer to make things for yourself or others
Around Christmas time I make quite a few little stockings, decorations, corsages and bags for gifts for family and friends. I only make clothes for myself but enjoy sewing whatever / whoever it is for!
Christmas Stocking decorations made from felt, hand embroidered with beads and blanket stitch

Friday, 2 August 2013

Holiday fun in Brum

I took a couple of days out to spend some time with my friend Hayley who happens to live in Mosley, Birmingham which is only a stones throw from the cute little Haberdashery shop Guthrie and Ghani (set-up by Lauren from The Great British Sewing Bee fame).
It is a spacious shop full of lovely fabric, yarns and other sewing stuff. I purchased a few things including two new patterns and a small amount of fabric and bias binding for two new Colette Sorbetto incarnations.... now I just need to finish my red pencil skirt.... AND my cerise Ginger skirt first....

  • Do you find it hard finishing a project?
  • Do you get distracted by the lure of a new sewing pattern / fabric / new item before finishing other things?
Mmmmmm, lovely fabric.......

Guthrie and Ghani haberdashery in Mosley, Birmingham
Two new patterns for the next round of projects.
We visited Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and got really spooked out by these rather scary life-size wooden sculptures that had real human teeth.... 
The strange thing about the wooden figures was as you walked around the room their eyes followed you. Very, very weird!!
  • What do you think?

Man and his Sheep‘, Ana Maria Pacheco1943
On Tuesday we spent a leisurely afternoon at Sarehole Mill a short walk from Hayley's house. It has some gorgeous gardens and Mill pond to enjoy and we learned a decent sprinkling of local history and educational facts! 

Sarehole Mill