Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Stash Shrinker - 50 metre update

Back in January I decided to use the Stash Shrinker from SewJourners.

This has worked really well for me as I only need to input what I have sewn and what I have bought, no measuring of the existing stash which is large and has built up over many years.

I decided to have a go with it and downloaded the spreadsheet template to use.
Rather than just start purely in 2018, I decided I would be more honest with myself if I went back to late December where I stopped sewing gifts/charity items and started sewing for me and also bought a big batch of fabrics from a local roll end shop.

I have sewn 28 items and sewn up an amazing 52 metres of fabric which I am really happy about.
This was done btween 23rd December 2017 and 16th March 2018.

Not everything worked wonderfully, some things haven't been worn yet, others were too tight or shrank in the wash but most of the items worked out pretty well and I'm pleased with them.  
Here are 27 of the items (the 28th is not pictured, but was a test of a coat pattern which I've not yet made up in the final fabric).
As you can see I've really upped the brown section of my wardrobe which was lacking rather and is one of my two key neutrals (the other being navy).

My SWAP this year is going to contain brown and teal! With ivory probably being the 3rd colour.

I'm not quite ready to rethread the machines, as I want to make some more brown trousers and refine the fit just a little more.
I wonder what the next 50 metres is going to look like?

Friday, 16 March 2018

New Look 6735 pinstripe jacket

I made this jacket from the same stretch pinstripe suiting as the trousers, so now have a stretchy comfortable trouser suit.
This could be a good way to make trouser suits for work.
I used the cardigan pattern from my favoiurite pattern of all time, New Look 6735, shortened and without the belt.

I have interfaced the lower section of the front band, so could add buttonholes and buttons in future, I was undecided so left them off for now.

I'm looking forward to wearing this.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

New Look 6216 Pinstripe Trousers

I made these brown pinstripe trousers from New Look 6216, using some fabric from deep in the fabric resources.

I've used this pattern before in teal linen and they look completely different in a stretch suiting fabric.
I'm making a cardigan jacket from the same fabric to have a trouser suit that should look fairly smart, but actually be super comfortable!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

SWAP thoughts

Thinking aloud, on multiple topics.

I dyed some different pieces of  beige fabric to a taupe colour with Dylon Machine Dye. It's ok and could be my second SWAP neutral. I have enough coordinating pieces of taupe fabric for top trousers and cardigan.
I used a whole package of Dylon Pebble Beige, half a one of Dark Brown and half a one of Pewter Grey. This gives quite a brown taupe, if you want it more grey then use less Pebble and Brown and slightly more Pewter I reckon.

I'm still thinking about trouser fitting.
I watched multiple different trouser fitting courses on Craftsy when they had the free weekend.
Each had a different approach. It was a bit of an overload and I've got a bit blocked and need to process.

I want some more brown trousers that are a little smarter. I have 3 stretch woven fabrics in different shades of brown with varying amounts of stretch which I want to use. I need to have a bit of a think about how I would approach it though.

I'm also still thinking about colour palette for my SWAP.

The rules state
Choose two neutral colors
Add one accent color and two prints OR two accent colors and one print
Make at least three garments from each neutral color
Make at least one garment from each accent color
Make at least one garment from each print
Remaining two garments may be made from any one or combination of your neutrals, accent(s) and/or print(s)
Create multiple outfits of at least two garments that work for your personal style
Each garment must work with a minimum of two outfits
I asked a question
two accent colors and one print - does the print need to contain all 4 of the colours (neutral 1, neutral 2, accent 1 and accent 2)?
one accent color and two prints - do each of the two prints need to contain all 3 of the colours (neutral 1, neutral 2, accent)?
and was told ' Nope. The print just needs to work with at least two outfits.'

If I leave out the Tweed jacket and skirt I could go for
Option 1  - dark brown, dark teal, ivory and turquoise/light teal
Option 2 - dark brown, taupe, teal, ivory
Or add the Tweed back in since the garments are already sewn.
Option 3 - dark brown, teal, burgundy
Option 4 - dark brown , teal, burgundy , ivory.

I suppose there are further options where I have only 3 colours but two prints.

The tweed garments are these.
The skirt is made with the dark side of the fabric out, cut in bias panels and hemmed with the selvedge.
The cardigan jacket is made with the ligher side out but the dark side showing at the front collar which also uses the selvedge.
This is what the fabric looks like in better light.
And here are the tweed pieces in better light. They are quite wintry though.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Plain chocolate brown sweater knit cardigan

I had some dark brown sweater knit in the stash. It was going to be a challenge to hem it as it was fine and might not hold up well to the coverhem.
So that's when a cardigan style with bands at all the hems is ideal. New Look 6786 was my starting point
The changes I made were to widen the front band, lengthen the sleeves (to full length with the cuffs), make the cuffs shorter to fit at the wrist(rather than sleeve bands), used the shoulder/upper body from the New Look 6735 cardigan which I had altered and has a narrower shoulder, omitted the buttons/buttonholes and belt. I did keep that lower band as is and I think it works well. I also added inseam pockets from another pattern and they work well even in this soft knit because the longer length means they don't show below the hemline.
I'm really happy with how it came out and think this will see a lot of wear.
My 6PAC now contains a dozen items - 6 cardigans, 4 tops and 2 trousers.
This is in addition to the seven items I made earlier, totalling 19.

I am planning two pairs of brown trousers and then will think about a colour change. I might rework the tie dye brown cardigan before I do though as I don't love the whole shoulder/sleeve area on that cardigan (I changed it for the later versions) and it would be better to fix it now.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Print Sweater Knit Cardigan

This is a cardigan made from some print sweater knit I bought on holiday a few years ago.
Its a bit of a mash up between two patterns, but mostlythe cardigan from New Look 6735.
With the lower section (but not hem band) and cuffs from New Look 6786.
It came out like this.
I'm fairly happy with it except for the white blobs, which might get patched with scraps as they are visually rather distracting.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Pattern traced from RTW top

I've mentioned before a RTW top I traced and made into a tissue paper pattern.
I then have made a lot of simple knit tops from that pattern.
I really liked the relaxed fit of this purchased sweater. It has dropped shoulders, a curved hem and a scoop front neckline. Its made from a lightweight sweater knit, but sewn up like a T shirt not knitted as a sweater.
So I folded it in half, traced the outline, added a seam allowance, created a neckline and the pattern was born. Sometimes I reduce the scoop of the front neckline and I shorten the neckband depending on the stretch of the fabric and how much I scooped the neck.

I made the first version of this on 17th October, and have so far made a total of 15 tops with this pattern. Sometimes the neck is scooped less, and often I have extended the sleeves to full length (the original was only 3/4 length sleeves). Here are the 15 tops!

Did I mention its a super easy pattern.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Dylon Leather Dye in brown used to recolour old tan brogue shoes

Just sharing a shoe dye which worked quite well. Unfortunately the before and after pics are taken in completely different lighting conditions so they don't show properly how deep the brown is after, I might take another new photo tomorrow.
I used Dylon Leather Dye which I bought online. It took several hours over 2 days to do all the coats but the shoes are a much better colour for me now, so I'm pleased. I also changed the laces to ones which match better with the new colour

My tips: Wear thin plastic gloves as it will stain your fingers, cover the work surface and use an artists brush not the one they supply. Doesn't work on patent or gloss leather (special finishes) but worked great on my slightly tired medium tan shoes.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The tale of two overlockers (sergers)

My first overlocker was bought in the mid 1990s. It is a New Home MyLock 134D which is a Janome brand.  It sews well, it is a bit fiddly to thread so I try to always pull the threads through and sew several things in the same colour.
Unfortuantely it is extremely noisy (even on the noise absorbing pad) which isn't great if anyone else is in the house at the time. It was once compared to a pnuematic drill.
However I am used to it and still sew on it now.

About 8 or 9 years ago (I think) I went on a sewing course in Preston and we used some absolutely beautiful Bernina overlockers. They purred. I was wowed. I saved up my birthday gifts and bought one for myself. Perhaps not the same model as on the course I don't recall exactly.
Anyway I bought a Bernina Overlock Sewing machine 800DL.
It was quiet but I had a lot of trouble with the threading. I went back to using the old overlocker, yes it was noisy but it worked ALL THE TIME.
I relocated to a different part of the country and was not near the dealer I bought it from. Some time later I was back near the old neighbourhood on the way back from a vacation and took the machine back to the dealer explaining about the problems.

The man at the dealer was really helpful and showed me how to thread it (different to the Janome) and I wrote detailed notes which I found recently.

Sadly the 800DL is still sitting in the packing box from when I moved 3 1/2  years ago so I need to get brave and give it another go. In particular it would be nice to have it set up for a rolled hem and make a bunch of scarves with pretty fabrics

I share the threading instructions here for anyone else having trouble, and also for myself when I lose the scrap of paper. Such things are of course now on youtube so here's a link I've found.

Youtube Bernina 800DL Serger 4 Threading link.

This is one of a large number of videos on this machine
link here

How to Thread Bernina 800DL Overlocker
-          Presser foot raised (opens tension disks)
-          Use both hands with threading

With one hand either side, thread taut, into tension channel.
Pull up gently, if threaded correctly doesn’t come out

1    Wrap around, don’t need thread to come through, temp disengage blade, get thread 1 under foot.

2    Button to bring looper. Thread. Hold thread whilst gently lifting looper back into place. Make sure neither are twisted

3    Round back of guide, and thread

4    Same for 4

With blade still out the way, move thread round under foot.
With foot raised take hold of all 4 threads and draw several inches to check all running smoothly.
If there is any resistance, then something isn’t right.
With needle in top position put blade back. Put the foot down.
Before pressing foot pedal, hold threads in one hand, turn hand wheel towards you two or three times, this links the threads together before the power.

Then it sews fine!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Extras for the Overlocker (serger)

I recently bought some inexpensive items for the overlocker (serger) and was pleased that I did.
I thought I would share them with you. (Just pictures, not links, please buy from your preferred supplier!)
Double Cone thread holder. I now have three of these and use two on the Coverhem machine instead of the original spool holder which got very badly damaged after I dropped things on it. I use the other one with the overlocker where the cones are too large to all be on the machine. (Cost £5-6)

Cheap thread nets, only work with large cones of overlocker thread, good at keeping the tension and stopping the thread tangling everywhere (Cost £2-3). Solved a problem I had using a very fine slippery thread in cones.

Great for when the overlocker comes unthreaded and its difficult to rethread the lower loopers.
Simpler than the old tweezer approach. (£3-4). Wish I'd bought these years ago.

Brush for cleaning all the fluff out of the overlocker (not quite sure what the bottle brush end is for. (£1). Could use a little painbrush instead but I like having a dedicated tool. Much better than blowing the fluff which puts moisture inside the machine (bad) and makes you sneeze (also bad).

The last one I've had for about 7 years and think is fabulous, this is a serger pad with trim catcher. (£20). It is a mat with some padding underneath which stops the overlocker being quite so noisy, and a bag which catches the bits that get cut off by the blades. A very clever thing which keeps the floor a bit cleaner!
People do make their own with quilting fabric etc, but I'm quite happy with my purchased one.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Developing a You-niform

I was thinking how I could work out my own recipe for getting dressed. Some days I want something easy and having a bit of a formula would be good.
I have learned that I am medium high value contrast (the higher side of medium rather than the lower side of high), with overall dark(ish) from my hair, I have 2 colours (pink in my skin and lips, teal eyes), and one neutral (brown/silver hair.)
My brown hair is wavy and greying, and has silver and copper/bronze tones in the light. I need to have depth, colour and texture always in my outfit. Because of the hair, fabrics with subtle variation, marl, soft pinstripes, slubbed fabrics, ribs, crinkled texture etc are better than smooth.
Whilst I know I can wear all the colours in my Sophisticated swatch, the browns, teals/green and pinks/ burgundies are easier for me to wear. (The lighter blues, purples and greys which are so great for others with the Sophisticated palette are less in harmony with the colours in my personal colouring).

I decided this year to concentrate on 4 main signature colours to build out my wardrobe more (particularly with my sewing) and not get too distracted with some of the others at the moment. I chose my dark brown (Burnt Cinnamon) and my navy (Sargeant) to be my base neutrals which I'll have as 60% of each outfit, usually as an inner or outer column. I will then have either a teal (Mallard) and a pink/red (Hawthorn) as 30% of the outfit (usually either the top or layer) and then use the 10% in soft white (often pearls in jewellery) or metallics or another colour.
 My easy formula is trousers + top + layer + scarf/necklace. I also add shoes, earrings (smallish), bag (and coat/gloves/hat when required).
I realise that I am choosing medium value colours and dark neutrals which is only giving a medium value contrast, however as I am on the higher side of medium value contrast I reckon wearing colour plus having small doses of lighter/metallic/other colour with the dark neutral is giving me that sense of contrast adequately.

Note: I am following Imogen Lamport's 7 Steps to Style Programme and have had colour analysis and bought the swatches through that. This is a chargeable programme, however some of Imogen's advice is available for free on her blog

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Chocolate lace cardigan

I am absolutely on a roll with the brown items.

The latest one is a lace remnant that has been in the stash for a long time. It was a slightly odd shape and the selvedge was missing from one side. However the cotton lace weave is nicely stable and symmetrical, and the remaining selvedge was in good condition. So once again I used my adapted version of the cardigan jacket from Prima magazine November 2010.
I folded the fabric first of all to cut the neckband seam on the fold and the centre front on the selvedge, this meant I did not need to have a seam at the back, and as the lace is symmetrical the two fronts (which are all one piece) look the same. I cut the sleeves out next to the fronts and coverhemmed them. I refolded the remaining (strangely shaped) piece and cut out the back on the fold, with the pattern going the same direction as the front which I was super pleased about.

The lace doesn't fray, so for now I have left the main hem raw as coverhemming would show where the collar folds back. I also don't really want to loose much length due to fabric limitations.
I do have a piece of lace fabric left over which might be enough for a front on a mixed fabric tee in future.
We are now up to ten pieces in the February Chocolate collection.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Chocolate obsession continues - cardigan jacket from Ikea GURLI throw

I bought this throw from Ikea a while back, they still sell the throws though not in this brown multi colourway anymore. I saw they have dark blue and would quite like that for when I go back to sewing navy again.

My throw was very crumpled from the tight packaging, so I washed it and allowed it to air dry, then spread it out and cut out a jacket from that Prima pattern, using the finished edges for the hem, front edge and sleeve hems.
I've made this before from a Gurli throw in red and blue.
(The colour is more like the images of the throws at the top)

As a reminder to myself for next time, I cut a slightly narrowed front (reduced the width of the neckband slightly) and one sleeve on the fold using one hem for the hems, then refolded to cut the back on the fold and the other sleeve flat, using the opposite hem. I was left with a strangely shaped piece in the centre.

If you want to try sewing something froma Gurli throw be aware they have no stretch, are loosely woven and fray like mad. However they do come in fabulously beautiful colours and are wonderfully textured. Plus they are £6 each which is enough for a jacket like this!
You need to stitch and immediately overlock and try to handle as little as possible. I leave long overlocker thread tails and thread back into the seam with a big needle.
The 9 pieces finished so far in February (quite good going for 2 weeks!!)

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Chocolate brown obsession

I am still sewing chocolate brown. Apparently I have sewn 14 items using 26.5 metres of various brown based fabrics (according to my stash spreadsheet) and I have another 6 garments planned. Then I shall change the thread colour, probably to cream to sew some cream and brown print tees.

As you know I do like to sew several things with the same thread colour but that is even more extreme than normal for me (the most I could find before was 9 different tees all sewn with white thread, not counting bulk projects like cot sheets when my twin nieces were born, table cloths for an entire community centre and anything involving curtains).

I should have that colourway out of my system in a few weeks (I hope). After which I probably won't want to sew anything brown for a long long time. It is a bizarre obsession right now but I'm sure it will pass.

So chocolate brown is definitely one of my SWAP neutrals (as well as one of my key wardrobe neutrals generally), and I will have plenty to pick from both for that bit of SWAP and also just for getting dressed!

I carried on sewing chocloate brown and here's an open front cardigan (piece 15) in the tie dye semi sheer floral mystery fabric.

This has used another 2 metres, and is adapted from my old favourite pattern from Prima magazine November 2010
I've got my subscriptions worth just from that pattern!

Here's the most recent 8 pieces (I guess its not a 6PAC anymore)

And the previous 7 pieces
At some point I will photograph them all in the same light as they come out too warm in the indoor light with flash.

Next up, yet more brown, probably another cardigan from that pattern but this time from an Ikea Gurli throw (no longer sold by Ikea in this colourway, but previously purchased and stashed by me).

Spring 6PAC extended chocolate collection - chocolate semi sheer floral tee

The fabric for this top has been in the stash (aka resources) for a long time. A really long time, and as such I have no memory of where I bought it.
It has been out for audition many times, but the semi sheer nature of the darker stripes coupled with the tie dye effect made it a bit tricky. However I decided that given I'm sewing anything I can with brown thread this was an ideal candidate.
After the lace tee came out really thick when I lined it, I decided that I'll just wear a cami under this one and not line it.
I added a neckband cut from the brown tie dye fabric as the colour seemed similar enough, as the semi sheer fabric was not going to work as a neckband. It seems slightly heavy in comparison but works OK I think.
The sleeves and hem are just serged, though I did have to turn the differential feed on the serger down to 0.7 to get a reasonable finish, I couldn't leave the edges unfinished as the sheer section does ladder slightly. I can always coverhem or zigzag later if I feel that would give a better finish.