Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Sew Over It Coco Jacket Completed!

Yahoo! After an epic session of hand-stitching last night I finally finished my Sew Over It Coco Jacket that I started at the Clapham branch class in November 2016.

This is the third jacket / coat I have made at Sew Over It classes (1960's coat, Francine Jacket and now the Coco). Due to a little previous experience with coat-making I had a better understanding of why facings and fusible fabrics are used to strengthen the jacket and I was able to adapt the pattern using a hem-band like I used for my Francine jacket rather than the suggested class method.

The class was taught by the lovely Kate Underwood who was extremely helpful with a chilled out and calm vibe throughout the workshop sessions.

I bought the wool-mix fabric from Sew Over It for £14 a metre and as it was VERY wide I only really needed 1.25 metres (although of course I bought two metres just in case so I now have enough left to make a winter pencil skirt). I only needed one metre of black lining.

Just to let you know the colour of this jacket is a beautiful Yves Klein cobalt blue which just doesn't come out in the photographs very well. Have that lush blue in your mind whilst perusing these shots...

Don't worry the sleeves are the same length - just not sure my arms are!!

Hand-stitched lining around the sleeve-syche

Hand-stitched lining all along the hem-band
I am happy to have finished this jacket and I have clarified some basic tailoring and dress-making knowledge and learnt a few new processes along the way too.

If I was to make this jacket again I would choose a lighter fabric as the bulk of the wool doesn't allow for a very sharp finish at the edges and corners of the jacket opening. On the plus side it is very warm and cosy!

Overall, I enjoyed learning some new processes and meeting some new sewing buddies (hello Steph!). I will leave you with a random selection of construction shots looking at the internal workings of the jacket.

New to me technique - the Coco instructions require you to the stitch the bodice lining to the arm-syche

Pretty happy with the shoulder and sleeve seam lined up perfectly!

Before inserting the sleeve lining I very carefully and slowly trimmed away excess seam allowances

Sleeve lining pinned in position ready for hand-stitching
What are you working on at the moment?
Is there anything in your work-in-progress pile that you really want to finish?

Saturday, 28 January 2017

National Gallery Late Event

I am signed up to the London Craft Club newsletter which highlights fun crafty things to do every month. Last night I attended a quilting workshop at the National Gallery to celebrate the Australian Impressionists exhibition ran by the lovely Sonia who set up the London Craft Club. The workshop was held in gallery 43 surrounded by stunning famous paintings.

The session was a speedy 60 minute lesson in English Paper Piecing which I haven't done since my textile degree in the 1990's.

The workshop ended too fast but I did manage to cut out the four main sections of the design. I continued sewing the pieces together this morning.

The technique of English Paper Piecing uses (as the name suggests) a paper pattern as a template for the fabric. Traditionally you would baste the paper template to the fabric but a quick cheat is to use glue to hold the seam allowance onto the paper.
You use a simple whip stitch to attach the individual pieces together, taking very small sections of the fabric so the stitches are close together.

I got really into sewing the pieces together this morning and added a couple of extra sections to the patchwork. I used blues and greens to create a seascape / landscape effect.

The patchwork with all pieces hand-sewn together
The next step is to remove the paper templates

The patchwork with paper templates removed 

Patchwork with seams pressed
What am I going to do with my lovely little English Pieced Paper Patchwork you might ask?

As you know from my previous post I am taking part in the Secret Valentine Exchange. On Monday I was sent the name and address of my Valentine buddy; she is called Kate, lives in Cornwall and loves natural shapes and sea colours. After finding out this information I felt that my previous quilting piece would not be quite right for Kate so decided to create a new piece of work using her preferred colour scheme.

I am now busy incorporating this patchwork piece into a more substantial gift. I will post about it after Valentine's Day.

In the meantime I have really enjoyed the process of English Pieced Paper Patchwork and hope to do some more in the future. Perhaps a cool geometric cushion cover? It is such a great way to stash bust those lovely scraps of precious fabric that are too small to make things out of!

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Selvedge Workshop with Janet Bolton

After attending an extremely enjoyable printing workshop at Selvedge in Archway in December I have kept my eye out for other interesting crafty things to do there. I spotted this Saturday workshop with textile artist Janet Bolton and knew I had to go.
Janet Bolton Applique
Way back in 1993 I met Janet at the Harrogate Knit and Stitch Show where I was exhibiting some textile work through Cleveland College of Art and Design. She is as lovely now as she was then with a joyous approach to life (and sewing) which is basically to listen to yourself and do what feels right for you!

The workshop began with a quick biography of Janet's career and her philosophy and approach to making and then quickly onto the fun part of creating.

Using a neutral main fabric as a background we made a 'canvas' by arranging borders of fabric around the central fabric. This was hand-stitched in place.

We used white paper to create a view-finder to help visual the balance of the colours / fabric and widths of the borders
Janet's scraps of fabric that she kindly brought for us to rummage through!
Lunch break!
Some of the lovely ladies on the course deep in sewing concentration
The next step was to create the main 'picture' inside the canvas. I didn't want to create anything representational as some of the other ladies on the course were doing so decided upon an abstract route. I used neutral, black, grey and patterned geometric prints to dictate and inspire my composition.

I arranged several versions of what I wanted and used a combination of needle-turned applique (where the edges are carefully turned in and stitched into place) and appliquéing with raw frayed edges showing.
A cheerful Janet at the end of the workshop!

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. I didn't learn any new sewing techniques but spent six hours happily hand-stitching with a great bunch of ladies and loved every minute! A big thanks goes to my new friend Kathy who came all the way from the States to attend this workshop. She brought some lovely fabrics that most of us in the workshop used a bit of!

I have not included the final finished piece as I have signed up to Ute and Sanae's Secret Valentine Exchange for the second year and this might be my secret Valentine's gift. I have yet to decide!

What do you think?
Would you like to receive this hand-stitched textile as a gift?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Pickled Vegetables

A while ago I attended a Fermentation workshop at Nama, a raw food restaurant in Notting Hill. It was great fun and the pickled vegetables was the easiest and by far my favourite recipe of the evening. The recipe below is inspired by Nama's head chef (who created Nama's recipe based on her mum's home-made pickles).

This recipe is very flexible so you can alter things to your own tastes.
The most suitable vegetables to use need to have a crunchy texture and be fresh.

Ingredients (amounts can vary depending on what you have in the fridge):

Large cucumber
Three carrots
20 radishes
5 sticks of celery
Cyder vinegar (enough to fully submerge the veg. I used a whole bottle)
Salt (a couple of generous pinches to taste)
Coconut sugar (you can use regular sugar instead)


  • Very finely slice all hard vegetables like carrots and celery. I used a food processor but you can just as easily cut the vegetables by hand
  • Finely slice the cucumber (if it is too finely sliced it tends to loose its shape when pickled)
  • Put all vegetables in one bowl and mix together

  • Completely submerge the vegetables in cyder vinegar. I used the whole bottle in the photo below

  •  Add two or three generous pinches of salt. Adjust amount to your preference. It is the combination of vinegar and salt that pickles the vegetables

  • Add a few teaspoons of coconut sugar to taste. You are aiming for a balance between salty, sweet and sour.

  •  Your pickled vegetables can be eaten immediately for a refreshing side accompaniment to a meal. I have got a generous amount in my lunches this week alongside quinoa, fresh tomatoes and chicken
  • To store the pickled vegetables place a sealable container and keep in the fridge. It would make a lovely gift if you put the pickled veg in pretty glass jars with a hand-made label!
  • My last batch lasted about two weeks in the fridge
  • Any remaining pickling liquid can be added to marinades or used for a salad dressing
  • I hope you enjoy this simple and tasty recipe!
This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Brick Lane & Fashion Street Paste-Ups

I recently saw these amazing fashion inspired paste-ups in Shoreditch on Brick Lane, Fashion Street and Seven Stars Yard. I suspect these are either hand-screen printed or enlarged copyshop versions of fashion illustrations that have been pasted onto the graffitied walls of Shoreditch.

I tried a variety of google searches to find out the name of the street artist who creates these fabulously cool figures but alas no luck! Whoever created them certainly has an eye for 1960's style and glamour!