Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A look back on my sewing year

After going through a few of my posts for this year it became clear that my sewing output for myself has not been as good as previous years. There have been quite a few alterations for others that have not been logged here and also the usual bits and bobs for home that sometimes seem to mundane to write about.  on the whole though I feel I need to get back into the spirit of making more of what I wear day to day.

Today saw a bit of a clear out of some of my wardrobe but I even drag my heals doing that as I always look at things and think maybe I could make something else with that.  This is not productive to moving forward and getting organised for the new year.
Still I managed to fill a bag and take it down to the charity shop after looking at items I really hadn't worn for maybe two years,  they were never going to be worn again and if I had intended to use the fabric I would probably have done it by now.
This will be a work in progress as I am sure there is more that doesn't need to stay but I am pretty good at wearing a selection of my clothes and swapping them around so maybe just a move to the back for now.
My favourite item that I made this year was my black denim jacket...
When things come out so well it is so satisfying that you enjoy wearing the clothes more, it probably cost more to make than what I could have paid at a cheap clothing store, but I wouldn't have got to choose the buttons or the lining, the quality of fabric wouldn't have been so good. Of course the main thing being if I had bought the item I would not have had the pleasure of making it.

My least favourite item of the year was the cowl neck dress...
This still has not been worn! That neck caused me nothing but hassle and once it was finished I looked at it and though but I don't like that neck style any way.  I did it as I have never done one before, but duh! Maybe I haven't done one as I don't like it!  Also the fabric has a little too much spandex in it, so I don't like the feel.  The colours are great though.

So here is the plan,  it nearly went in the charity bag earlier but then I thought I like the pattern and I wear lots of long sleeve T shirts under things at this time of year. So I am going to cut a new top from the bottom of the skirt with a neck I like, unpick the sleeves and redo them. Hopefully then it will become a much worn item and not a disaster I will share when it gets worn.
I will be spending part of the evening cutting out my next blouse from Basic Black, I have just realised the fabric is yet more chiffon, but a little heavier, don't know what I was thinking buying all lightweight fabric it is December after all.  I will hopefully have it made up tomorrow to get a good start to the new year.
I hope everyone enjoys New Years Eve and let the year ahead be a good one.

Monday, 29 December 2014

First Blouse from Basic Black

The first thing I have to mention is that the fabric that I ordered thinking it was black because it was in the black section is in fact navy blue!  I had intended on using some black lace that I already had on this project but when I put it beside it, it became very clear that it was in fact navy blue. The second thing to note is that I chose a chiffon and if you are new to sewing maybe don't use this as it is not forgiving to unpicking and so on.  It also will not have any stability at the neck unless you improvise like I did below.
First I cut out the pieces after tracing them on grease proof paper.

You have to allow 1cm seam allowance when you cut out on your fabric as it is not allowed on the pattern.

As I did not have the correct colour lace now and the fabric being so flimsy I had to come with something new for the front of my blouse.  I cut out two rectangles in the fabric and two in black lining fabric and pleated them.  After much ironing it was certain these were not going to hold for long on their own so I stitched horizontally across them with a decorative stitch to keep them in place.  I then attached  these to my front yoke pieces.
You get the idea here. It certainly would have been too flimsy without this reinforcement.

I cut out all my pieces slightly more than 1cm, I have to say I am always cautious but when it was all assembled I did need to take some out of the sides as it was roomy but the sleeves were perfect so I would cut the same again. You can always take out but you can't add once you have cut!
As I was not doing the lace detail at the bottom of the sleeve I just faced it in the same way with the folded chiffon just like at the neck and added a few little pleats, I just made sure the length I cut would slide over my hands then I pleated the bottom of the sleeve to it, turned it over folded it and hand stitched it down.
I did a lot of hand stitching on this as the neck was all hand stitched but I find this peaceful.
 I will make this in white for the summer I think, next time with the lace.

As you can see the style is very loose, and I did take a bit more off the sides after trying on but it supposed to be like that. A bit of a cool iron and it will be good.
Daylight pictures are much better. It was dark at 3, sorry for the blurry image!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Basic Black Book Review and Thoughts on Saving in 2015

As promised I have taken a few photos of the book Basic Black which I bought for my birthday last month.  I have looked at buying one of these Japanese sewing books a couple of times but never took the plunge as the comments are always so varied.  Some people say the sizing is too small, others say it is just right, well I don't know as yet as I haven't used it I had other bits to finish up and lots going on for the Christmas season.

I will be starting on one of the patterns after lunch but I will say this I will not be relying too heavily on the sizing being spot on, I will bring down a top that I know fits me across with no stretch and lay it against the cut pattern pieces to be sure that it will fit before I cut it out on good fabric.  Anybody using a new pattern for the first time I would say do this, they are not all the same and fabric is not cheap any more so you don't want to be disappointed.

Here are some pictures from inside the book...
I love this dress with the detail stitching and will be making this at some point.
Nice coat just not sure if I'd wear it much.

I like both of these and I'm sure they would get lots of use.

Again I like the dress but I would maybe alter length and fit (one on the left)

I will make both of these as I think they would go with anything.

These two are not really to my taste but it just shows the book has lots of styles for different tastes.

There are also a few more coats and jackets.

I like the book it is visually good to look at and gives you lots of ideas of clothes to make even if you didn't use the patterns ( which is usually my way) the instructions look clear...

These are the instructions from the first blouse I'm going to make.

In this fabric...
I already have a change in mind, I'm not going to do the sheering half way up the sleeves as I know it will irritate my arms so I am going to gather in the fullness of the sleeve at the wrist.  We don't always have to follow things exactly do we?

I also think a downside to the book is going to be the amount of time that it will take to trace off the patterns. There is grease proof paper et the ready to do this as wasn't paying for the expensive dressmakers paper, but looking at the mass of lines on the large pattern sheet it will be a puzzle.  I may just get the general idea then wing it?? No I will have to do it properly or I won't be able to tell you if the fit was accurate or not.
Here is what the pattern sheet looks like...
So yes don't be fooled by the fact that it says you get 26 patterns, you get a large sheet and you have to trace off your own 26 patterns. I wouldn't go buying the fancy paper and tracing wheels and stuff or you will end having spent more than if you had just bought your patterns separately. I will let you know if this all turns out to be more trouble than it's worth.

Now as it's getting to the end of the year I like to think ahead and what I will do different, I am not going to make resolutions as I just break them at some point and then feel bad!  I will have goals which are much more friendly as you don't feel like you have blown it just because you have a bad week. last year I said I wouldn't drink for the whole of the year! Well I lasted five months then we went to Italy and to not have a glass of wine there just felt wrong, Ha! I kept my others to a certain degree, although things didn't always happen daily (exercise) I did feel I made lots of progress in many areas and that is the main thing I think.

Saving wise I feel we had an expensive year with travel, car maintenance and just just generally not being as mindful. However it has never been my intention to save to be a very wealthy corpse! I like to save where I can so that we can enjoy our lives in the areas we like.  I see no point in vowing to stop eating out as we enjoy this (occasionally) find the best offer I say.  Socialising may cost money sometimes but I like other people so what the hell.  I read other peoples money saving blogs with interest, and I am completely respectful of how other people choose to live their lives, but I would rather not go to bed as soon as I get home just to keep warm or turn down every social invitation for the rest of my days just to save a few pounds.  It is important to control your finances but never doing anything as it might cost money is just a step too far I think.
To anyone out there who has debt and problems of that nature my heart goes out to you and of course you must get this under control, however if you have been out and had a drink with a friend (not ten!) this Christmas and that has put a smile on your face don't feel guilty. Just try and have a better year but don't let anybody or anything you read make you feel bad for enjoying life a little.
I'm going to try to put together a list of goals for 2015 some will involve saving but a lot will involve doing.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fix It!

So pleased today as I have managed to get my overlocker working (serger, if you are from the U.S)
I have not used it for some time as I tried to repair the tension and replace a blade about two years ago and it was not working, I got very annoyed with it and put it away.
However after a conversation with someone yesterday explaining how to sew the seams on jersey without the overlocker I decided to get mine out and have another bash at it.
I has a look online first for tips and stuff but could not find anything helpful. One tutorial on how to service your overlocker made me laugh it said to turn off your machine, clean it, oil it, replace needles and blades if required.  That was it! Obvious but not helpful!
What I did was play around with the tension for a bit and adjust the position of the bottom blade which I think was the problem all along.  Maybe the reason that I got it working today was that I didn't feel any urgency to fix it as I have made do so long without it, it is now just a bonus that if I want to I can finish knits and Jersey fabrics on there. It just goes to show you though that if I had called someone out to fix it he/she would probably have just tried things out the way I did but then presented me with a nice big bill.
If anyone is interested there are overlockers brand new for sale as little as £179.00, mine was £250.00 when I bought it sixteen years ago. Alternatively you could try and get a used one but you may have to replace blades.
Now that I am off work I will take a few photos from my new book that has arrived Basic Black to share, you have to trace off the patterns from a big sheet.

 I looked at buying dressmakers tracing paper but it is so expensive so forget that!  I got some grease proof paper form the super market earlier for £1.50 and I will be using that and taping it together.  Hopefully some new items to share form it over the  next couple of weeks.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Machine Dye versus Hand Dye

I have had a go at dyeing  clothes before not always with great success but I have come to the conclusion that the machine dyes are better, more expensive but better.  I tried earlier in the year to completely change the colour of a T shirt using a hand dye but the results were uneven and it was demoted to an under shirt!
Probably the reason for the irregularity was the fact that you are supposed to keep swishing it around in the dyeing vessel and I obviously didn't do it often enough.    The machine dye has the washing machine to keep everything moving so better success.
The packet one I bought does not need you to add salt but some of them do so please check. This varies between the Dylon ones also as one packet said add salt but the packet I picked up said 'improved' and you did not need it.  The image above also varies slightly from my packet (I forgot to take photos)

It was £5.99 and has brought up the colour of the jacket by quite a few shades, a lot cheaper than buying a new jacket and as it was a favourite what would have been the point.   I will definitely try some other colours now when I have something that needs a boost but I would stick to the machine option.
A couple of things to mention, there was a lot of dye collected in the rubber of the machine after I had finished. I had to give it a really good wipe out despite the fact that I had run a cycle to wash the jacket after the first dyeing wash.  I then put in a full load of dark clothes to wash just to make sure I had got rid of any more residual dye.
There is also a limit to what you can dye with one packet and that will vary in your colour result also.  Here I just did one jacket but it was quite heavy, a few t shirts, some underwear and a light dress could probably have been done with the same packet but again if you are changing the colour completely shades will vary. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Party Dress and Christmas Spirit

Last night was our Christmas outing from work, a bit early but it was the only time when everyone could get. It was good because we just went to an Italian restaurant where you could take your own wine, great because a bottle of wine from the Aldi is just £3.99 so we only had a food bill.
I made a dress for the occasion using some of the fabric that arrived a couple of days ago, it is chiffon with an overlay of chiffon strips stitched onto it and was only £3.50 for the metre I bought.
Underneath it I had to make a basic straight jersey dress with thin straps and I used fabric I already had for that,  the dress would have been see through without that!

Due to the nature of the fabric the hem would not seem to go right  each time I cut the hem straight it seemed to be wavy when I looked at it. When I thought it was straight I hemmed it but it still looked weird so I added a lace border with lace I had left over  from altering a dress for a friend. The extra weight seemed to do the trick and the hem looks better now.

I also added a basic belt that I made from a piece of ribbon from a Thornton's chocolate box. I  always save bits of ribbon and this came in useful, wouldn't normally put brown with black but it seemed to look right.  it was only just long enough so I added three hook and eyes to fasten it with a bit of satin behind them .

So in all it only cost £3.50 for the fabric as I already had everything else, it's a bit different and I liked it once I was dressed with shoes and tights but my husband doesn't like it.

I put the tree up last weekend and I am feeling more relaxed as Christmas draws closer and I know I will be getting a break. Most people seem in a good mood also but it gets a bit annoying hearing people say they will be glad when it's all over because of the stress.  This is sad that it has become a time which people associate with stress.

 I know there are some people who are alone or sick at Christmas, some have lost loved ones. These are valid reasons to not be feeling like celebrating, however not being able to afford all the latest toys shouldn't be cause for stress.

If you have particular financial hardship that causes you difficulty in day to day living then this is a different matter. I pray that your circumstances change soon and that you get all the support you need. 
Certainly there are a lot of people who simply go over the top with everything from food to gifts regardless of the expense and then worry about it later, there needs to be more education on money management in schools. ( or should I say some!)

  If you are finding Christmas stressful then maybe you are spending too much, inviting too many people for lunch or just just generally over committing yourself to too many things.  
  I enjoy the Christmas decorations, music, going to Mass, films on T.V, having a bit of time off work and being with my family none of that cost money as I get the same decorations out every year.  We may have a couple extra for dinner on Christmas day and the children get gifts but they are paid for in cash. I would never put anything for Christmas on a credit card, if we couldn't afford it we wouldn't buy it. (we certainly don't compete with anyone.) 

So to anyone who finds it stressful around Christmas please have a think if there is anything you can do to remove that stress and have a nice rest. If there is anyone in your family or someone you know who is having difficulties maybe you could invite them round.

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...