Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Green and white wave print knit top

This is a polyester slinky fabric remnant. The print is pretty full on. Will have to see how comfortable it is to wear in practice.
Due to the limits of the fabric I had to cut this version with elbow length sleeves and a slightly shorter hem.
The sleeves are slightly gathered at the top, and the fit is quite good.
This one would definitely be ok for work, whereas the two floral ones are a bit more weekend.
This uses the body from New Look 6414 View C and the sleeve from New Look 6735 cropped to elbow length.

Elizabeth suggested a white cardigan would complete the set, but sadly the fabric for smething like that is packed and the boxes are taped up, so that part is probably not going to happen!

Black floral knit top

This top uses the same body pieces as the red one (New Look 6414), but there was not enough fabric for 3/4 sleeves, so I went with short ones.
There was enough space for short flutter sleeves though, so I chose the sleeves from New Look 6940 View D, which are a lot of fun.

This is a nice fun sleeve when you want some upper arm cover but some coolness under the arms on a hot day!

Red floral knit top

This uses the body from New Look 6414 View C and the sleeve from New Look 6735.
The neck is quite wide on this.
I am planning to wear it with white wide leg trousers or jeans during the rest of the summer.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Dress thoughts

After some debate with myself I've decided to cut the skirt off the dress, and make it into a yoked skirt with a zip, pockets, cotton lining etc. And use the upper section of the dress as the yoke on a mixed media tee, with a spring green knit for the lower part of the tee and the sleeves.
The skirt could then be worn with a white top, or picking out any of the bright colours with a plain tee, and the green/print tee will hopefully work well with jeans. If not I can donate it.

All the scraps will be incorporated into little projects which showcase the print as best I can

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bright summer dress

Yesterday a group of us had a chance to go and see 'South Pacific' at Kilworth House Theatre.
We attended the matinee and then had a picnic together. It was a fabulous day.
Since it was a warm day lots of the ladies were wearing rather lovely bright summer dresses.

So today I cut into some bright printed cotton, lengthening my dartless blouse parttern into a dress. The idea was to create a wonderfully cool dress loose dress to wear on really hot days. I'm not entirely sure its worked as I planned though.
I only had 2m of fabric so its only just knee length, and I think I am going to add a little bit of cotton lace trim to lengthen it just a touch ([pinned onto the bottom). I think it also needs belting at the empire line as its very shapeless.
And I may need to restitch part of the upper back, as I've overdone the high round back alteration.

I can't decide if it does look fun, or if the print is a bit childish for a dress. I want to make it work though as I do love the happiness of the print.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Fabric covered coffee tin

I poured out some PVA glue to stick back a bit of laminate which was coming away from the Ikea table someone gave me when I moved into my rented place and was a bit short of furniture.
All the furniture just needs to make it to the new house and then some pieces may get retired/replaced.

Anyway I had quite a bit of glue left in the pot, so I watched a few U-tube videos on decoupaging things (with tissue, fabric etc). I didn't really like the messy look of most of them, so in the end cut a strip of floral fabric from one of the remaining Sanderson samples and used it to cover a large coffee container.
Although these look like they might be tins, they are actually very thick cardboard tube sections with a metal rim at the top and a metal bottom, and silvering on the inside of the cardboard, and I saved a few planning to do something with them like this.
Any ideas what I can actually use my floral container for? I am slightly stumped I must say. They have neatly fitting plastic lids, and no longer smeall of coffee at all.
I think I have 10 of these, so they could all get different floral covers, or I could branch out into other prints...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

New Look Patterns

These out of print New Look Patterns (and one Simplicity) were offered less expensively in a UK sewing magazine as they are end of line. The selection is limited but I picked things I thought I would use.

Wardrobe patterns are always a favourite, because you get more garments within the package, they've been planned to work together as outfits, and whilst you may buy them for one particular item, another may turn out to be very handy later.
I liked the one above (New Look 6947) for the jacket pattern, but it also includes, sleevesless top, dress and wide legged trousers.
New Look 6609 (above) has a a jacket blouse, slightly less wide legged trousers a nice gored skirt and even a little bag.
New Look 6011 has in interesting blouse, a straight panelled skirt and a different style of trousers.
The above patterns would give me lots of work appropriate options.
New Look 610 is a relaxed casual blouse good with jeans for a dress down Friday.
And Simplicity 1889 looked like a good way to use small scraps of fabric to make outfits for new babies amongst friends/family but perhaps also to increase my charity craft offerings.

I've not idea whether I will actually get to sew any of these any time soon (due to the move) but I am having a nice time planning what I might do.

Have you used any of these patterns? And if so what did you think?

Thanks Ruthie

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Pausing to pack

I'm buying a house, and the chain finally got formed up, and has 4 houses in it, so not exactly sure how long things are going to take. Estimates are about 2 months from now so I have started packing.
I've started with books as whilst I want to keep them, I probably can manage without them for a few months. I am weeding out ones I don't want as I go, but am trying to avoid the temptation to re-read everything.
I have loads of interesting books particularly in the colour/style/sewing arena, and it will be fun getting inspiration as I unpack them at the other end.

2 sewing machines and maybe some other things are going to a support project which currently only has 1 machine, so that will encourage me to allow some things to go.

There may not be a lot of sewing going on!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday market marvels

well fabric goodies anyway.

On the local Monday market a chap comes up from Loughbrough with some really nice fabric and today I got these lovely knits.

Having sewn all those cushions from the flag print, I couldn't resist the chance to make myself a matching Tshirt to wear with jeans, though the print goes diagonally across the fabric which is an interesting look
And little scraps can be used with plain red or blue for some funky mix-it tees.
I got 2m of the flag print.

Next up my absolute favourite, this luscious animal print viscose jersey... doesn't it just make you want to purrrrrrr
I bought 3m of the animal print, would it be too much in a knot front dress or would my boyfriend just be very happy to take me out?

And then finally I got sensible, and bought this plain black cotton knit with some stretch which I thought would be great for lounging pants, especially since I just donated my drawstring track pants as they hit me across the middle of my tummy in an unflattering and uncomfortable place.
I bought what was left on the roll which was about 2.5m, maybe more and might try some trousers (pants) and the vogue skirt I did in the SWAP.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Blue velvet tree cushion

We had a lovely trip away to see family and friends in various parts of the South West (Somerset, Devon and Cornwall). A particular treat was spending time with my Auntie and Uncle. My Auntie has a lovely sewing room and has made some absolutely amazing quilts. She also showed me lots of old family photos and talked a little about her mother (my late grandmother) a keen dressmaker, adding colour in her descriptions of the black and white photos. It was an absolute joy and delight.

Since I came back I have made another 4 more of the flag cushions, which I won't do a photo of as they look pretty much like the first four. A friend sold lots of my cushions and bags at her school fair and made some money for the school which was wonderful, so I have an excuse now to sew some more things and fill my craft show storage bags ready for their Christmas fair.

However the latest make might be hard to part with, this is a 20" square cushion with a Sanderson vintage linen front, and an equally vintage blue velvet back. I trimmed the linen panel to remove the holes where it was in the sample book, and also centre the pattern on the cushion. I then made an insert to fit, and filled it with foam crumbs. Foam crumbs are really messy, so in the end I left the whole of one side open in the inner, carefully inserted the plastic bag of crumbs into the inner, removed the bag, shook it down and pinned and stitched the opening closed. Trying to feed the crumbs in through a handsized hole would have taken ages and made a mess of the sewing room.

The contrast in textures between the high quality upholstery linen front and the wonderfully soft velvet back is quite delightful.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

And then there were more

And then there were more....
of those addictive Union Jack cushions,
these four have inserts as well, but I'm not quite ready for these to go just yet.

The fabric is printed with panels, so each cushion is one panel. It sort of limits what you can do with them and they work really well as cushions like this. However there are only so many cushions like this that I need. Hopefully they'll sell well.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Union Flag Cushion Cover

This latest one is just the cushion cover, as it is a gift for a former colleague heading back home after a year in the UK, with limited suitcase space.
He can add stuffing when he gets it home. Hope it reminds him of good times in the UK.
I've used a preprinted panel cut from yardage and a matching plain blue for the back. Its about 12" high and 18" wide.

Dress Alterations

I took a lovely RTW dress which had a very shallow boat neckline which was uncomfortable on me and altered it to be a modest V, still high enough to showcase my favourite bold necklaces, but now not uncomfortable across my throat.

steps for this alteration:-
Put the dress on and roughly mark the new desired neckline, then unpick the stay stitching on the lining, turn inside out and press the neckline seam flat.(I must say that even in good light unpicking the stay stitching was very difficult and took me ages).
Next measure the markings you made earlier and adjust if required, add tailors tacks.
Add strips of interfacing to stabilise the new neckline.
Stitch and trim. Apply Fray Stoppa to the notch.
Turn through press and topstitch (as it is a completed fully lined garment you can't understitch without taking the garment apart).
I then also added a godet to the back lining and centre back skirt to allow walking room.
And you have a much more wearable dress. It did take several hours though, so shows why I put off doing such things. At least I will actually wear it now, which is the main thing.

When trying on garments in the changing room, try sitting down in, especially in trousers because you may find your weight shifts a bit. Also pop out of your little cubicle and stride up and down a bit. Then pop back in and reach for something on a pretend high shelf. If the garment still works in these situations as well as when standing looking in the mirror, you are good!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Update: mending and alterations

Not a lot of interesting things to post I'm afraid, as I stopped making the cushions and bags and decided to catch up with 'the rail' in the sewing room.

'The rail' is an Ikea MULIG clothes rack in white which I have in the sewing room.
On here I hang any garment which needs my attention in someway, separated by cardboard spacers.
The categories are ironing, repairs, alterations and then one at the back which is for orphans, things I am wondering if I should keep and the 'other halves' to things earlier in the rack.
I decided to see what I could do to tackle the rail, and so started off by doing all the ironing over several sessions. This one keeps coming back of course, because I then happily wore a week of tailored shirts which needed ironing again. I did enjoy them with my work suits though so it is worth it, and having nixed the backlog is now managable.

I then did a couple of RTW repairs, one to sew up a little gap at the bottom of an invisible zip, and the other to repair an inseam pocket in a zip front tweed jacket. I also let out the legs slightly in some RTW trousers, and moved the buttons on a jacket. These are all now back in the wardrobe so a great win there but are too boring to take a photo. I still have a couple more repairs to do, but they need other colours of thread, so I decided to do a couple of alterations which needed black thread used for the other things.

I have a lovely purchased suit. It is classic black and has jacket, trousers, skirt and dress. In the changing room they were fabulous and I was a very happy bunny. In reality I can't actually walk in the lovely tapered skirt, and the dress front neckline chokes me.

So.... I decided to add a godet to the back of the skirt, this maintains the lovely tapered shape (which is exceedingly flattering I have to say) but allows a girl to actually walk about without mincing. I also added a godet section to the lining, so I wouldn't get any issues with it being see through.
Having experimented a bit I will share that a godet needs to have straight sides, but a curved hem. Which perhaps is obvious if I'd thought about it, but you live and learn.
I'm going to do the same to the dress next, plus alter the boat neck into a V so its more comfortable. This may take a while so don't hold your breath too much for the next post.

There is quite a lot of stuff on 'the rail' so it might be a while until I sew anything new from scratch. Sometimes though you just have to deal with those annoying sewing jobs, and I seem to be in that zone, so might as well make use of it.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

How to improve your finished garments

Things I have found which make my garments look better are many, and I am always working on them, some of them are:-

- sheer years of sewing, you get better the more you do it

- pressing, press often whilst sewing to get a better finish

- appropriate fabric for the pattern, snoop shop higher end RTW and feel the fabrics, see how they drape, then do the same for your own projects. Also checkout sewing techniques in RTW and see what you can do to replicate them at home to have a more professional finish.

- fitting, worked out a few alterations which make my clothes just fit better. Tbh I have found this a pianful and frustrating journey, but I am doing better these days, but it has taken me years. I do have multiple fitting challenges though so others may not have the same issues as me. If you don't want to go there, choose things to sew where the fit is less demanding.

- colouring and personal style. work a bit on what flatters your colouring, body shape and works for your lefstyle. That way the things you make will look better on you and get worn in the life you actually have.

- practice on scraps on non clothing projects. Its boring but its better to practice a buttonhole on a mocked up placket made from scraps, and sort out the tension issues, how to use the attachment etc rather than have to unpick buttonholes from a tricky fabric. I also use the scraps to test tension on sewing machine and overlocker after rethreading etc. You can throw them out once the project is complete. Or make fabric bags and try pockets, closures etc on them to get the finish looking good.

- read up and prepare. Build up a library of sewing books and favourite online links which show a technique. Use these instead of the outdated approaches often given in sewing pattern instructions.

- its OK to have wadders and give things away. Its only clothing and there is no shame in chucking a project out or giving the result away. It may fit someone else better.

What other things do you think help improve the look and finish of garments you sew yourself?