Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 Round-Up

I have enjoyed sewing and crafting loads this year. It has been a welcome break to work and now the house renovations have eased up somewhat I have had the opportunity to get creative.

My top instagram images show a decent range of me-made-makes:

A summary of my makes are (not all blogged):
  • McCall's M6696 shirtdress in Liberty corduroy
  • Sew Over It 1960's coat in cashmere and wool mix herringbone
  • Simplicity 1364 top in Liberty Tana Lawn - stash
  • Colette Laurel top in cotton - stash
  • Colette Sorbetto top in cotton - stash
  • Liesl & Co Everday skirt in John Lewis viscose - stash
  • Dolores Pocket skirt in re-fashioned cotton fabric - vintage
  • Marilla Walker's Isley skirt in Robert Kaufman linen - stash
  • Dixie DIY Bonnell dress in cotton - stash
  • Charity shop re-fashions (dress to top & maxi skirt to midi skirt)
  • Self-drafted skirt with pockets - stash
  • Sew Over It Ultimate shirt in Liberty Tana Lawn - stash
  • Two applique Creeper Face cushions - stash
  • Re-fashion men's cotton shirt to Liesl & Co skirt
  • Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress in gingham - stash
  • Tilly and the Buttons Fifi camisole and shorts in cotton - gifted cotton from Hong Kong
  • Ten Marimekko cushions - stash
  • Patchwork Baby Quilt
  • Sew Over It Francine jacket - stash
  • Two applique Christmas stockings
  • Grainline Scout tee in GirlCharlee UK knit - SewBrum winnings
  • Named Alpi Chinos shorts (still not finished)
  • Burda Style 7123 trousers (still need hemming and crotch fitting issues resolved)
The pie chart indicates the volume of makes by type. My need to decorate my home after the house renovation with lots and lots of cushions has slightly skewed the results a tad! 
Well, I'm pretty happy with the volume of makes. It averaged out to over two makes per month.
Not bad at all.
I have learnt lots of new skills including sewing; a fully lined coat and jacket, a t-shirt in knit fabric, a camisole and my first patchwork baby quilt.

My loose sewing plans for 2016 are:
  • To sew a pair of trousers that fit - I don't mind what pattern at this moment
  • To learn how to do bound button-holes - and then make a jacket using the technique
  • Make more items using knit fabric - a Grainline Linden sweatshirt / Colette Mabel & Moneta / Tilly and the Buttons Agnes & Coco / Named Geneva Raglan tee & Sloane sweatshirt
  • Make a summer dressing gown with The Buchanan pattern by Gather (using only stash fabric)
  • To use more of my stash patterns (a lot mentioned above)
  • Use more stash fabric than I purchase!
That's about it for now I think - that is plenty to be getting on with!

How about you? Have you got any plans for 2016?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Grainline Scout tee in Knit!

Yeah! This is my first ever successful knit garment and I am now beginning to wonder why I was so worried about sewing with jersey fabric. I can only put my nervousness down to some not-so-fun experiences 'trying' to make garments with knit fabric in the 1990's.

Back to my new top. The success is down to the lovely Girl Charlee UK fabric which I won in the raffle at Sewbrum in October and secondly down to the great TNT pattern that is the Scout tee from Grainline. If you are familiar with Jen's Grainline patterns this simple tee shirt is originally designed for woven fabrics but I cut it out in the knit and sewed it with a generous seam allowance.

So how did I overcome my aversion to knit? Every month I attend the Freestyle session at Ray Stitch and the lovely tutor Moyna gave me a few easy pointers about how to sew knit with confidence:
  1. Use a ballpoint needle
  2. Use a small zig-zag (setting 2)
  3. Use a 2.5 stitch length
After experimenting with scraps of fabric I realised I had to just dive in. In terms of construction as this was my sixth Scout tee I knew what I was doing. As I was sewing with a knit I chose to sew the sleeves flat.

I free-styled the length of the sleeves and also added a cuff to finish the hems. I also widened the self-bias neck binding so it created a deeper cuff. I top-stitched using a zig-zag (I'm not 100% happy with). Overall I love it!

Have you ever overcome a sewing nemesis?

I have not hemmed it because I haven't decided on the length yet

The neckline with a deeper cuff and top-stitched with a small zig-zag stitch
The sleeve cuffs - I managed to aline with the sleeve seam perfectly - what a fluke!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Sew Over It Francine Jacket

In October I booked a place on the Sew Over it Francine Jacket course with some fellow sewing friends, Caroline F, Kate and Valentina who I have met on previous SOI courses. I have been quite busy with work and other fun stuff and only just got around to blogging the journey of the Francine.
She is quite a complex lady with lots of interesting details to keep a more advanced sewer on their toes. You complete the jacket over three evening sessions with quite a chunk of homework in-between (in particular after week one). I was very happy to be taught by the lovely Julie Johnston again - this is one super talented teacher!

What new things did I learn? Quite a few things........

  • My first major plaid matching - wow, it takes a looooong time!
  • Full lining of a jacket using a technique that requires only hand-stitching a small section around the base of the inside
  • Interesting sleeve head & shoulder pad insertion
  • Great rolled collar technique
  • Self-covered buttons
The journey in pictures; from the fabric selection to the final jacket. Enjoy!

Glad you are still here!
This has been my most complex make to date.
I found it fun, challenging and stressful in equal measure. I am really pleased with my final jacket but definitely need a few quick sews after this intensive project.
The fabric came entirely from my stash which I am pretty darn happy about. The outer is a Cashmere and wool mix fabric that I picked up on a whim last summer from Shakut in Kensington for £24. I had just enough for this jacket. The lining was left over from my SOI Tulip skirts (as can be seen in this post).

After hours of cutting single layers of jacket pieces I was really fed up with plaid matching and was inspired to cut the collar from a beautiful 1/4 metre piece of 100% charcoal cashmere that my Dad gave me about 20 years ago (it was from his work where they used to weave beautiful scarves for companies like Burberry). The piece was just big enough for this collar and I am really pleased with the finish. Due to the nap of the cashmere I had to change the pattern piece and cut it in two sections so I could keep the nap even on each side of the collar.

All in all a very satisfying project.
What have you been up to in the lead up to Christmas?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sew Brum 2015

On the 31st October I took an early train to Birmingham to meet up with a lovely bunch of sewing ladies for the second Sew Brum organised by the awesome Charlotte at English Girl at Home.

I had also arranged to meet my good friend Hayley (also a sewing enthusiast) and we went for a lovely brunch at Yorks Bakery next to New Street station. We pottered around Birmingham including the very shiny new shopping centre and John Lewis store.

I skipped the allotted fabric shopping section of the Sew Brum gathering as I honestly do not need any more fabric until I sew some more things for myself (and others). I was happy to meet up at Guthrie and Ghani at 2pm where Lauren (owner of G&G and GBSB contestant) had put on a lovely spread of cakes and other goodies.

Here is an example of one of the lovely Liberty bags that had some little free things such as discount codes a few sweets and haberdashery items. Very thoughtful and fun!

Lots of sewing chatter and fabric fondling went on and it was great to meet new Instagram and blogger friends such as the lovely crew below:

Left to right: Craftysooze, Elle (Laura loves Pugs), Gabby (Gabby Young Official) and Buuny Pumpkin Boutique
So there was a teaching demonstration about pattern drafting that I missed because I was just chatting to loads of people. After that there was an awesome raffle - the proceeds of which went to Karen's Made-Up initiative from the blog Did You Make That?
I am not usually a raffle winner, but on this occasion I ended up with one of the top prizes of 10 metres of Girl Charlee UK knit fabric! Amazing. Here is a picture of the massive win:

As you can see, this win was huuuuge and considering I am a total novice with knit fabrics decided to share the love:
  • Sarah C got the stripy pink, orange and grey knit who has since made it into a lovely top
  • Deborah (of GBSB fame) got a black and white moustache print
  • Gabby got a lovely floral / aztec knit and has already made a top for her sis with it!
  • Rhiannon got the aqua and white aztec print
  • Ben went for the plain aqua knit
  • I don't recall who got the red patterned print (somebody nice!)

After the excitement of the raffle came the event lots of people had come prepared for - a massive pattern and fabric swap. I brought 15 un-used paper patterns to throw in the mix but others had brought loads of fabric, scrap-bags, vintage patterns and knit stuff for a swap-to-end-all-swaps! I kept to the sidelines as my intentions for the day was to return home with NO fabric but after winning all the Girl Charlee knit knew that if I even peaked too long at the FREE fabric or patterns I would see something I would like. I managed to get these shots of the carnage:

The calm before the storm. Raffle prize announcements!
Every sewer for herself!
Overall a lovely day was had by all. I got to meet a gaggle of sewing enthusiasts. Had a great catch-up with my friend Hayley and met some lovely new mates too.

A big shout out to Charlotte at English Girl at Home for the organisation of the event and Lauren for hosting at Guthrie and Ghani.
Roll on Sew Brum 2016!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Liberty in Fashion at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

I enjoyed a wonderful evening with friends (Alex and Kris) admiring the vast collection of Liberty at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. Displayed in chronological order and in themes such as smocking, tea-dresses or shift dresses.

For the classic Liberty print fan there is lots here to enjoy. What I found more interesting were some of the collaborations with other designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Bernard Nevill. My favourite prints are in the collage above and here is a great collection of the rest of the exhibition.

Liberty print silk Kimono - circa 1920's
1920's and 1930's delicate floral printed dresses
'Art Nouveau Revival' 1960's dresses in bright bold prints
Beautiful printed silk 1960's shirt dress
Silk gowns printed using original 1890's Liberty wood blocks re-printed in modern 1960's colours 
1960's dresses
My favourite detailing on all the things I saw in the show - such a pretty button placket on the right of the 1970's dress
Velvet and cotton printed 1970's dress
Pretty asymmetrical waist detailing on this 1970's dress
Delicate ruffles on the bodice of this 1970's dress designed in collaboration with Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell
I loved the pin-tucked bodice of this cute little dress from the 1990's
Vivienne Westwood dress in this fresh floral Liberty print
 It is a real gem of a show.  It is open until the end of February 2016 and I would recommend spending a hour enjoying the history of Liberty in Fashion.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Marimekko Unikko Cushions

After two years of major house renovations cushion making has been on the back-burner in terms of priorities. Enough time for me to collect a decent amount of fabric stash in the form of my all-time favourite print the Unikko from Marimekko.

A bit of good fortune and good timing meant that all the variations of Marimekko fabrics were purchased on sale (this hardly ever happens with Marimekko fabric). The big red / green print was a limited 50th anniversary edition from the Marimekko store at St. Christopher's Place in Marylebone purchased at 50% off during their closing down sale : (

The large yellow and blue print came from Skandium in Marylebone at 30% discount and finally all other versions were from the John Lewis sale earlier in the year at 50% discount!
Overall some pretty epic savings over the course of a year..... 

Onto cushion-making. After a little bit of internet research and studying cushions I already own I came up with the following process:

First I measured the fabric I bought and split it into equal sections to accommodate as big a cushion as possible including the usual 1.5cm seam allowance.

Wrong sides together, sew one seam allowance on a basting stitch (which will be for the zip). Iron the seam allowance open and measure where the zip will be. Sew using your regular stitch length either side of the zip including securing stitches at the start and end point.

Pin and baste the zip into the required position.

Turn the  cushion wrong sides together and secure the zip into position using the basting stitches as a guide. After looking at some shop-bought cushions rather than sew 'around' the zip I sewed straight across the width of the cushion on both sides of the zip.

You effectively now have a continuous loop of fabric. The bonus here is depending on where you want the placement of the zip on the back of your cushion you can change the placement of the print depending how the pattern looks. With this bold design, just a few centimetres made a big difference to the aesthetics of the front of the cushion.

After securing the zip in position, use scissors or an un-picker to remove the basting stitches so you can open the zip. Open the zip a little, turn the cushion cover right sides together again and then sew up the side seams.

After completing the final seams use the small zip opening to turn the cushion the correct way around and steam iron to fix the seams in position.

Here are the final cushions below without the cushion pads. I used an online company for the cushion pads called Cushion Warehouse. They sell an excellent range of cushions pads of all sizes and filling types at very reasonable prices.
I would highly recommend the products but the delivery time was long (10 days) and the customer service not so brilliant.  I used the 27" pads with luxury cluster fibre for £10 each. Cushion Warehouse advised to use the next size up for a cushion pad (ie. if your cushion cover measures 26" then go for the 27" cushion pad) for a better look and fill. 

I was so happy to finally use my precious Marimekko fabric and totally chuffed to bits with the end result.

Have you made anything for your home that you are particularly proud of?