Saturday, 14 October 2017

North London Adventures

2 Mile Walk
A lovely evening walk through picturesque Islington residential streets towards Kings Cross. My friend Charlotte and I ate at a small social enterprise cafe called New Roots Cafe at 344 Caledonian Road which serves vegan and vegetarian food. It is ran by volunteers and all profits support the charity Highway House and the women’s shelter in Islington.
Here are some photos of the lovely architecture we enjoyed along the route.

English Paper Piecing

Waaaaay back in May I attended a London Craft Club session in Chiswick for some mindful hand-patchwork ran by Chris Webb.
I was joined by my friend Alex (My Creative Experiments blog) and Kris. We spent a few relaxing hours creating an abstract English Paper Pieced patchwork piece. Although lots of fabric scraps are provided I took along a collection of monochrome cottons. 

I'm pretty pleased with the finished patchwork. It is going to form the centre piece for some free-style machine patchwork for a cushion cover. The plan is to give it to a good friend for her Christmas present. I am hoping to finish it over the half term break at the end of October.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Couture Techniques Workshop at FTM

Last month I attended a wonderful workshop at the Fashion and Textiles Museum ran by Zandra Rhodes' head couturier Jalanta. She planned a comprehensive set of tasks based around sewing silk satin and silk chiffon. These are notoriously tricky fabrics to sew with as well as being very expensive. Double trouble! There was no need to have worried as Jalanta gave us some really practical advice and we were all sewing with little samples of silk satin and silk chiffon with great confidence by the end of the day.

French Seam
I already knew how to do a French Seam but a really handy tip Jalanta gave us when sewing with ANY delicate fabric was to start the seam on a scrap piece of similar weighted fabric and keep sewing onto the seam from there. It avoids the delicate fabric from disappearing down the throat plate of the machine.

Pin Hem
I have read about Pin Hems but never knew how to accurately sew one until this workshop. Fold a 1.5cm hem, iron in position then sew as close as is humanly possible to the folded edge depending on the type of foot your sewing machine has. Now trim the raw edge, again as close as is possible to the sewn hem. Fold over and sew a second set of stitching, ideally in exactly the same place as before. Fiddly but oh so satisfying.

Pin Hem Around a Corner
This looked so hard I thought I wouldn't manage it. Luckily patience and resilience is key here AND nimble fingers. To sew around a scarf / handkerchief the key (which I NEVER realised until now) is to start sewing the edge in the middle NOT at the corner so you can fold over the corner as you get closer to sewing it and keep going. Once you have sewn one full seam all around you trim back the excess fabric like before. Next, fold over and sew a second hem making sure you hit the original sewing lines. This is particularly tricky when sewing with the chiffon as it is transparent and you can easily see any mistakes.

Silk Chiffon Bias Binding
Yes, I know what you are thinking; as if sewing bias-binding with regular fabric wasn't enough! We made our own bias binding with silk chiffon and attached like regular bias binding. The only difference with the final finish was how it was pinned at the front of the neckline / hem so that when you blind-stitch from the back you technically should be stitching in the ditch (I hope that makes sense?). The sewing line is 'supposed' to nestle EXACTLY in the seam of the chiffon bias and base fabric. In practice this was VERY hard.

There were a few more techniques but I didn't really get sufficient photos to share with you. Overall it was a great workshop that made me feel like I could make something from the 2 metres of Liberty silk I have had in my stash for too long.

I will leave you with these fun photographs of Bermondsey Street Fair that was in full swing on the 13th September!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sew Over It Pheobe Dress

Despite having a huge pile of pre-cut ready-to-go projects to sew I launched straight into a new dress this weekend. The new Sew Over It Pheobe Dress PDF pattern was printed out and taped together on Saturday and sewn together in 3 hours this morning. It is a satisfyingly quick make as many jersey patterns are.

Of course, there always seems to be a glitch. Just as I was putting the finishing stitches in the neckline I made the unfortunate decision to sew a small line of satin-stitch to secure the bottom of the neck opening for the button fastening.
The stretchy material got sucked into the throat plate of my sewing machine, so much so that I had to unscrew it and spend about 20 minutes snipping zig-zag stitches and pulling thread with a tweezer. I eventually freed the dress but it had a huge lump of built up satin stitch and the beginnings of a hole.

The only way of salvaging this unfortunate mishap was to abolish the keyhole neck opening altogether and sew it shut. Luckily, because the dress is made from stretchy jersey it hasn't affected my ability to get into it. I think I will alter the button opening for all future Pheobe's as it makes it a much faster sew.

I used the remains of my Liberty Linden sweatshirt with lovely loopback fleece 'Speckled Clouds A' and a gorgeous navy blue bamboo stretch knit from Ray Stitch I've had in my stash for a couple of months. As you can see from the dress I didn't quite have enough Liberty fleece left so had to add a band of bamboo knit for a 'design feature' which I think works quite well. Other alterations I did straight onto the pattern was to grade up a size from bust to waist and hips. In addition I only used a 1cm seam along my hip area as the Liberty fleece doesn't have as much stretch as the bamboo knit. I used a zig-zag stitch on setting 2 with a stitch length of 2. I zig-zagged the Liberty fleece seams on the inside but left the bamboo as it doesn't fray.

Overall, I am really happy with Pheobe. It is quite a different silhouette to most of my me-made dresses and a great stash buster with less than a metre needed for each section.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Reversible By Hand London Victoria Blazer

I only just got around to wearing my recently finished By Hand London Victoria blazer yesterday. This jacket has been 95% finished since April 2017 and I completed the last section of hand-stitching at the end of August. I cut the second blazer out immediately after making my first iteration of the jacket making sure I didn't make the same cutting mistakes as my last one.

In the spirit of Sew Your Stash September this was made with fabric wholly from le stash. The navy suiting fabric I've had for about ten years whilst the red silk Chinese brocade I have owned for probably over 20 years. There was just enough of both fabrics to make up the Victoria blazer.

I modified the lower lapel shape which was fairly easy to do. I made a paper pattern using the original piece  as a guide and angled the lapel including a seam allowance.

As for the construction, I bagged out the jacket by leaving the bottom of the lining / outer open so it could be turned the right way round and carefully hand-stitched together. It was only when sewing the final finish of the jacket it occurred to me it could be reversible, especially since the silk brocade is quite substantial and holds its shape quite well which makes for a decent outer fabric for a jacket.

I'm not sure I will wear the blazer with the brocade on the outside as much as the navy version. I like the hint of red flashing when wearing it the navy way around. What do you think?      

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Now Gallery Wow!

If you can get to North Greenwich before the 24th September I would highly recommend the fabulous Camille Walala exhibition Wahala X Play at the Now Gallery. It's full of Memphis design and Op Art in the form of brightly coloured walls and mirrors arranged in a maze.

It is lots of fun. Before you rush off to see it, the gallery recommend pre-booking free tickets via Eventbrite. You also need to take your shoes off, so break out that brightly coloured nail varnish or socks so you can colour clash with the art!

As I left the gallery a beautiful double rainbow emerged from after a rain storm. It was so cool!