Thursday, September 11, 2014

Not Stitching. (much)

It's been a hectic few weeks, and not showing much sign of slowing down any time soon. I've had very little time out in my shed doing what I love best, and yes I am starting to get rather jumpy!
I'd been promising to decorate the boys bedroom for longer than I care to admit, and when Sid asked me earlier in the summer if I was actually ever going to do it, I was suitably guilty enough to get my paint pots and brushes out.
One of the reasons I was putting it off was knowing how hard it was going to be to cover the very bright colours that were already on the walls. Eden helped me, and I'm so glad she did. The ceiling took 5 coats of paint and the walls took 3. Ernest even came and helped a little.
The whole room was finished on the tightest of budgets. We bought paint from a local discount warehouse, and used pots found in the cellar for accent colours. (I mixed two different shades together.) The curtains were made using fabric from stash (and have yet to be lined.), I scrubbed the shabby old carpet by hand, gave the orange pine bunk beds a couple of coats of egg shell, (also left over paint from the cellar), and then rubbed them down for a budget shabby chic effect, and re purposed an old sheet of chipboard by painting it with left over chalkboard paint and getting Woody to screw it to the wall.
I did buy some new bedding,but also got a lampshade from the charity shop for less than £2.
My favourite part of the room are the Fairy Tales For Hope prints above their book shelves.

You can see Angus is most impressed with the noticeboard!

I have managed to squeeze a little sewing into the spare few minutes here and there ; when your teenage daughter needs something to wear in a hurry for her friends 18th, but has no money, it's time to go stash diving and run something up in a hurry. What better pattern to use than Laurel by Colette? I'd heard great things about this pattern, but honestly never considered making it for myself, it's a style that would simply not suit my curves! I jumped at the chance though to stitch one up for India, and what a great pattern! Goes together fast and easy. India loves it!

I used a piece of green polka dot and stripe satin I'd bought last year in Abakhan, positioning the stripe at the waist. I finished the neckline and sleeves with bias cut from the same fabric.

I'm almost tempted to make myself one with sleeves, and perhaps more shaping at the waist. I particularly love this modifaction, avaiailable as a free download .

Maybe, I'll get time to try it out soon. I hope so.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Anemone skirt in denim

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When I piled my most recent fabric purchases on the counter at Abakhan, my friend Mary was surprised to see a piece of denim in there. I don't do denim. I own one pair of jeans and I hate them. On that particular shopping trip though I had promised myself I would buy more solids, but couldn't find anything I really liked so took a look at the denim. This piece of heavy weight dark denim was just the right size for an Anemone skirt, and so I bought it, and I love it!

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The denim was pre washed as soon as I got home, and came out of the machine with deep heavy creases, most of which pressed out, but some remain. I don't mind that, it adds just enough character.
I lined the skirt with the same green cotton I used last week to make my latest Maudella 5213 dress, added belt loops made from the frayed selvedge, and top stitched the hem with mustard coloured thread, which looking at closely today I wished I'd used my walking foot. Despite using a denim needle my machine has clearly had trouble going over the extra thickness at each seam and the stitches are not as even as I would like. No one will notice, but it will bug me.


This skirt will take me right through the coming autumn and winter, in fact today I wore it with tights and heeled brogues, although if the summer sun makes another appearance in the next few weeks I could wear it just as easily with sandals and bare legs.

Anemone by Deer and Doe is now easily my most favourite skirt pattern, it takes small amounts of fabric, stitches together easily and quickly and is super flattering and versatile. I do LOVE this pattern. The only criticism I'd make is that I am in the largest size, and although I am curvy, I am on the smaller side of curvy sizes. It seems a shame that anyone larger than me doesn't fit into the size range, especially since I think this design looks great on a curvy figure.

I had my usual faff and bother getting photos of this skirt. I took my self timed ones using the tripod, but weirdly my face is all blurry in those, and so Woody took some while we were out walking at Styal Mill gardens this morning. I thought this one might amuse you, it's my usual "just take the bloody photo" face!!

skirt 2

Friday, August 15, 2014

Half Price Sale!

I've been working on new patterns for my Etsy shop and so it's time to clear out some of the older stock. Most items are now marked down to half of their original price, and I've reduced the postage costs on every item!

So, if you need a little rainy day summer holiday activity you can do with your children, how about one of my Scrappy Bird Kits, now reduced to £2.25, and with easily enough fabric included for more than one bird, plus a template you can use over and over again to make as many birds as you like, or as an applique.

The Flossie's Pinafore Sewing Kits are reduced from £19.50 to £9.75. They each include enough fabric for one dress, thread and buttons, plus full pattern sheet and instructions. Sizes from 0 mths to 2 years. Pattern also available without the kit, reduced from £7.50 to only £5.00.

Take a look, there are scrap bags and larger pieces of my buddies fabric design printed by Spoonflower onto organic cotton interlock, all now reduced to half their original selling price.

Don't forget that I also have lots of free tutorials here on the blog too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

My favourite pattern

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I am thrilled to be featured as "Blog of the month" in the September issue of Sew, home and style magazine. I had to resist running out and buying every copy I could lay my hands on, although I have encouraged everyone I know to rush out and buy it!
Hello to anyone reading here for the first time after buying the magzine , you are very welcome, say hi in the comments below, I love to hear from readers.
I was asked in the article which is my favourite sewing pattern, without hesitation I said the vintage Maudella 5213.
I first made this dress for last year's fall for cotton challenge, and loved it so much I've made three more since, the latest being this bright printed version.


I spotted this cotton on a recent shopping trip to Abakhan in Manchester and knew it'd make a great summer version of this pattern, but I think with tights and a cardy it'll take me through to Autumn too.

I am still in love with the three quarter length sleeves, they are practical, but also show off my tattoo nicely.


The squared off princess seams are still a challenge, but after making four versions, I think I am finally getting to grips with them.
I slightly changed this dress compared to the first three, putting a centre back seam in, and adding an invisible zip at the back instead of on the left side. I haven't decided yet if I prefer it or not.

Taking photos of the complete dress has been far from easy, I have seven children here at the moment, it's the summer holidays and everywhere seems to be in chaos, with teenagers sleeping on airbeds in my lounge. ( It didn't sound like much sleeping was happening at 2am this morning mind you!)
India offered to take some photos, Ernest insisted he needed to be in them too, despite still being in his too small pyjamas. The resulting photos make me laugh, he's having a great time, while I look mostly annoyed!





Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sorbetto as a starting point

blouse and skirt 2

Some days I need to sew, I'm certain I've mentioned that here more than once before. I sew for lots of reasons, because I prefer the fit of clothes I make to that of ready to wear, because I like having a wardrobe of clothes that are not like anyone elses, because I like the challenge and the process of making, and often because it is like a meditation, it calms my spirit, and eases my soul. Those are the days I'm so very glad I was taught well, and can make up simple garments without thinking. Those are the days I most need to feel the satisfaction of blades cutting through fabric, and that comforting hum of the sewing machine.

Yesterday was one of those days. This time of year is full of ghosts, bittersweet memories and too much sadness. I don't run away from the sad, it needs to be sat with sometimes, and I can do that better if I just sew.

 blouse and skirt

I'd been thinking of making the Colette Sorbetto for a while. I had a small piece of the gorgeous cotton lawn I used last summer for my Hawthorn dress and thought I could squeeze a simple blouse out of it, luckily there was enough to also add sleeves.

I cut out a size 12, did my usual full bust adjustment (FBA), and removed the centre pleat. (If I make another I think I will add the pleat back in and make a faux placket, or perhaps pin tucks instead of the pleat.

The lace collar was salvaged from a ready to wear blouse I've had for several years and was getting rather tatty. I used bias binding made from the blouse fabric to finish the neckline.

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Having finished the blouse I realised I had nothing much to wear with it, so fishing some lightweight wool suiting out of my fabric stash and using the By Hand London circle skirt app
I whipped up a simple circle skirt with a wide waistband, and left it to hang overnight in my shed.

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This morning I nipped out there in my slippers and nightie to hem the skirt so I could wear the whole outfit today.

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I'm really pleased with both items. How great is it that sewing helps heal my mood and I get something lovely to wear too? I know I can't be alone feeling this way, I'd love to hear from others out there who use sewing as their safe place.

Of course a circle skirt demands a certain amount of twirling too!

blouse and skirt 4

blouse and skirt 3

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anemone Skirt again!


I love this pattern, I've made three skirts from the same pattern so far, and plan more! This one I made a few weeks ago on a whim using a vintage tablecloth. I stupidly made the same mistake I made when cutting out my first Anemone (also made from a vintage tablecloth), and cut the two back side panels the wrong way round, so the pattern doesn't work as I wanted it to.


Although I do think this skirt is really pretty I haven't worn it until today because I'm not sure so much white suits me, and I struggled to find a top that worked with the skirt.Sadly I don't think this one will get worn much.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Myrtle by Colette Patterns

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I'm having a Colette week! I bought the PDF version of this new pattern from Colette earlier this week, and with a little help from Ernest spent the other afternoon piecing it together. I love being able to download patterns, but I hate the piecing together!

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I wasn't really convinced this style would suit me, but I fancied a change from my usual fitted bodice full skirt style dresses, telling myself it's good to venture out of my comfort zone. What really made my mind up for me was seeing that I could use a woven for this pattern.

I cut out a straight L (12-14), and figured I'd probably not need a FBA (full bust adjustment ) with such a loose and drapey bodice.

The bodice went together very easily. I used a contrasting satin bias to finish the back neck and back armholes.

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I really like the way the front bodice has a self lining that encloses the shoulder and side seams.
Adding the skirt was straight forward, and then I realised I had run out of elastic! A quick call to Woody and he promised to nip into Abakhan on his way home to buy me some. (Love that man!) Unfortunately Abakhan were having issues with their tills and Woody not wanting to miss his train had to leave without the elastic. After a rummage through my habby stocks I found a piece of soft waistband elastic that was just the right size.

I had been trying the dress on throughout and was pleasantly surprised by the way it looked, so imagine my dissapointment when I tried on the completed dress and saw in the mirror what could only be described as "a sack of spuds tied in the middle!"

The elastic casing had pulled the waist too high, and the skirt way too short, plus it was bulky and ugly. I double checked the instructions and the excellent video tutorial on the Colette blog in case I'd mis understood, but no, I had been correct.
I think ideally I should have added some length to the bodice to account for the way my boobs pull up the front bodice, although that wouldn't have dealt with the bulk of the elastic waist.

I even tried the dress on India, thinking at least she could wear it, but it looked equally horrible on her, and she is significantly taller and slimmer than me...everything looks good on her!

After a pout and a moan, I began the unpicking. I took out the elastic and the casing, and decided to add regular thin elastic to the seam allowance using a stretch stitch. I measured the elastic, pinned it equally around the waist seam allowance, and stretching as I went stitched it in place. This gave me back enough length in the bodice and the skirt, and I think I'm left with a wearable dress.

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I am still not totally convinced it's me, or even particulary flattering, but it does feel lovely to wear. I used a lightweight viscose that once again my friend Mary picked out for me. (It's good to have a friend who works in a fabric shop and knows what I like!)