Thursday, 31 March 2016

Charity Shop Bargains

It has been a lovely Easter break being at home and as we didn't get away this holiday we went for lunch yesterday at a lovely cafĂ© called Made by Jonty and if you are ever in Sheffield I recommend it. We have been about three times now I think and each time I have had something different and it has all been gorgeous.  They always cater for vegetarian and GF and all the cakes are GF (yes, all of them!) Here is the link for anyone close enough to want to try it Made by Jonty. The presentation of the food is also excellent you would think you were in a posh restaurant (not that I go in those).

While we were out we had a little look in the charity shops and mostly I browse but every once in a while I spot something and today I saw just what I wanted,  a set of four coasters as my puppy keeps grabbing them off the table and running off with them, by the time I get them back they are chewed at the edges.  He is getting a bit better and occasionally 'drop' is understood but for now new ones were needed.   I didn't want to pay a lot for them as they still get snatched but I also didn't want to buy boring ones.  These are just great as they are 'William Morris' designs and they were brand new but only £1.50.
I love them and they have inspired me to learn a bit more about the designer.  I read a bit a few years ago when one of my sons was doing art based on his work at school, but having also read about his translating, business, print work and social activism I thought it would be good to learn a bit more so I have ordered a book about him from the library.  I will update a bit more on that when it arrives in the meantime I have been looking at gorgeous  images of his work online.

Also pictured above is the book I also got which was on my to do list, it is brand new I don't think it has been read as there is not one crease and only £1. I like to get my books from the library mostly but I do buy occasional gems to keep or if the price is right like this one.

  Speaking of the library I have been there today and I got a few good titles to keep me busy for the next few weeks.  Two of them I have had before but one is a craft book that I loved and I am keen to look through again to choose something else to make and that is the Mollie Makes feathered friends one. The other is about following your dreams and last time I only skimmed it, was busy and tried to renew but it had a hold on so I took it back.  The good thing about the library though is that you can always take them out again so I did.
After I got back from the library I gave my chest of drawers another coat of primer, now that is something I'm working on at the moment doing up some old furniture I bought from the charity shop a few weeks ago, I will share when it is complete. 

Then we went on a long walk with the dogs which also involved the vets for booster injections for two of them and ongoing meds for one of them, a very expensive walk that was!  Tomorrow the car is in for its MOT. So just as well we didn't go on holiday I think.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

March Patchwork, Maple Leaf Cushion

This last month I have looked at so many images on pinterest trying to decide what to have a go at for this months patchwork.  As I have mentioned for me this is all about trying out different designs in  addition to my clothes making.  I don't intend on having a house full of quilts although I do intend to make one later in the year when I have decided on a favourite design. 

So after much searching I saw some fabulous images of the Maple Leaf design, all of which were in quilts but I thought I would have a go at a few for my cushion cover collection. (You can never have too many for when some are in the wash!)

Here is my cushion, followed by what I did.

Now I didn't see any precise instructions although there are probably some out there, I just zoomed in on an image and then had a play around with a bit of paper folded into 25 small squares. Funny that is the same way I worked out the placings for the windmill pattern, is that the magic number for a block? I really need to get a book from the library on this but in the meantime it is fun to just figure it out for myself.
I am sure there is an easier way but I sat and drew it on some paper, one to refer to and one to cut up.
Now mine weren't very big as I was not making a quilt so this also added the problem of how small I was going to be working with lots of tiny overlapping seams. What I decided to do here was cut the pieces as the size they would be and then applique them on with a small zig-zag  stitch.
Here a few test runs and I would say be careful what you use for the backing as this shirting had a lot of movement so just stretched out of a square shape.  You can see in the wobbly sides,  I did want all of this cushion to be recycled materials however so I pressed on with the stretchy recycled shirt.

So this as another design that I love and such a super way to use up the tiniest bits of fabric. In fact I will be saving even the smallest offcuts from now on with this in mind so friends may be getting gifts with maple leaves on them.

 The base of the cushion is recycled denim (one of my favourites) old shirts, fabric bits from various projects and the ribbon came around a throw I was gifted.  All in all a lovely new from old project, I do need to quickly run up and stuff with oddments a smaller cushion pad for it, as the one in the image was a bit full and that doesn't make for a soft cushion. 

These would also make really nice gifts I think, the outlay would be just the cushion pad if you re-use fabric for the cover, they are really time consuming though so I would suggest gifting to those who appreciate how labour intensive handmade is.  Has anyone else made anything different with this design?

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Little Bird Skirt

Easter lunch over and I just had to finish the skirt I started yesterday, it would have been finished yesterday but I got interested in a film that my husband was watching and I thought the bit of hand stitching I was in the middle of was best left until daylight.
 The fabric is Michael Miller 'seedling' cotton, I had to rethink what I was doing as the fabric was not as wide as I thought and the skirt became a straight one.   I also started off with a small pleat centre front and back but on trying on it this didn't look right so out they came and darts were added.
Sometimes making it up as I go works and sometimes it involves unpicking which is what happened here as it was only when I had the waistband on did I try it and decide the pleats looked silly on a straight skirt.

Only trouble with those darts is that they have chopped the birds heads off!  Not to be phased by that I will simply wear a top that covers it up.  Of course you are going to get that happening somewhere as the birds are staggered and the only way around it would be if your clothing had no shaping whatsoever.

I made this skirt just above the knee but it started off longer, summer it will be good and winter I will wear opaque tights.  When I ordered this it was supposed to  be black but it is definitely dark grey.

In life it actually looks lighter than these pictures and there is a real difference between the lining and the fabric.  I have seen a few images of tops with a ribbon or sash tied and gathered through the neckline front and back, a bit like a child's pillow slip dress.  I think a top made like that in black but possibly with orange ties would look good with this for the summer.

Right I'm off to read my book 'The Girl Who Fell from the Sky'  enjoy the Easter break.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Long Sleeve Tie Front Blouse

This blouse has to be the quickest make this week which is funny as I have been putting off using this fabric as I was uncertain what style to do with it.  I knew I didn't want buttons and as I had bought enough fabric I also had it in my head that this garment would have long sleeves but beyond that I was a bit stumped.  Then I had the idea that is so typical of me that maybe I would do a dress again as there was enough of the fabric. No!! I had to stop myself, it was supposed to be a blouse I need some tops to go with jeans.   So I stared at it for a while then I thought just keep it simple with a tie at the waist to give it some interest.

I used the sizing from the red top I made and just allowed a bit extra all around so that this would still pull on over my head.  The fabric is lovely and drapes well but I'm not sure what combination of fibres I'm wishing I made a note of it when I bought it now.

Now as the dummy does not have arms I got my son to take a few pictures of this one on me.  Also the in the mirror pictures don't turn out as good and I do not have a tripod to attempt timed self images. So my son kindly dragged himself away from his console to take these.
Mmm... I'm never sure what I'm supposed to with my arms in these pictures. (Ha!)

Or my hands!

Anyway odd poses aside as you can see just a few pieces to cut, front, back, sleeves, long piece just over an inch to fold and use as a neck facing/binding, and another long piece about 2 inch wide to fold and make the bottom tie.

I stitched the tie right sides facing the whole way around the bottom starting from centre back to ensure even amounts were left at the front.  I then folded it then stitched it on the inside be careful not to pull it out of shape.  I had also cut a small semi circle at the bottom centre front where the tie would meet.

I am sorry there is no actual pattern to share as I rarely use them but I would like to have a go at putting some of my own together at some point if I ever get courage enough to put up the initial outlay!

Really I have to say how much I am enjoying all this spring sewing, you go to work and get bogged down with other stuff and then you suddenly get time to do more of what you love and you think 'oh yes, that's me!'

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Red Ruffle Sleeve Top

This top was completed yesterday evening and after thinking it was going to be a very quick make it ended up taking much longer than I anticipated.  I have mentioned that I need T-shirts to go with jeans but as a lot of the fabric I am drawn to tends to be printed cottons I often end up making more skirts and dresses.

There is a dress hanging in my wardrobe in this fabric, I made it a few years ago and it gets lots of wear during the summer.  I had a piece large enough for a T-shirt so here is what I came up with.
I didn't want it just plain so I thought I would try something different at the neck and sleeves.  I'm not sure if it possibly needs two buttons at the top to even it out a bit.  The neck was what took up all of my time, I faced it with a grey and red pattern at first so it was showing and I was going to continue that around the whole neck.  It didn't look right so that came off, then I tried it in the jersey but it didn't hold the shape so that came off too.  It was all the careful unpicking that was time consuming.  In the end I went back to the grey cotton facing on the inside of the key hole bit.

I have a couple of T-shirts that have this ruffle effect on the sleeve so I tried that, I didn't use elastic as you should because it is a clear specific type that is needed.  It was only the look that I was after and not the additional stretch, so I hand gathered it then top stitched it in place.  There may be a  small cuff added at a later date if I find it feels too frilly when worn for a day.

Here is a picture without the button and ribbon and I wasn't sure if it did look ok as it was or if it is more finished with that detail.
The v is more obvious here as it is prior to facing it, I lost some of the sharpness with the stretch in the fabric.
It didn't take much fabric as you can see here, front, back, sleeves and a bit of facing.  There may not be enough jersey in my sewing stash for more in just one colour. So I may have to do two colour versions or have a look at some of my old stuff that I don't wear to see if any items can be upcycled
into wearable tops. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Miniaturist

This morning When I woke up after I had fed the dogs and let them out I had to pick up The Miniaturist, I carried on reading until it was finished and I have to say it is the best book I have read this year.  I keep going off and doing odd jobs then coming back and picking it up again! It's as though I can't quite believe it's finished, I got my copy from the library but this may have to be one I buy and keep.  I could see myself reading it again and I don't say that about many, there are so many books to read.

It is the author Jessie Burton's first novel and I am always amazed how some books can draw you in so completely and also by the authors themselves who manage to create such detailed worlds for us to fall into.  The historical detail is wonderful and I have enjoyed encountering all the Dutch terms scattered throughout the story. There is also a Dutch Glossary at the back of the book to bring further clarity.

What struck me first of all when I started the book was the image of Petronella Oortman's cabinet house which is held at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. 

I found the idea that the story had been based around this object and it's owner while the story being a work of fiction made the book all the more interesting.  I have visited Amsterdam just once when my children were young and we were only there for the day. Having read this book I would like to return and see the miniatures and cabinet collection in the museum, and also take in more of the place that has been brought so wonderfully to life in this novel.

Set in the 17th century eighteen year old Petronella arrives from her sheltered life in the country to begin life with her new husband, an older wealthy merchant.  Life in the grand house proves to be very different from what she had imagined and to distract and entertain she is presented with the gift of a cabinet house by her husband.  In furnishing this house the family secrets begin to unfold...

I know that anything I write cannot do this book justice it is definitely one to put on your reading list for this year.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Another Quick Skirt with Amy Butler's Gypsy Caravan Fabric

Another garment complete and ready for the summer, I'm not sure I will be able to keep this momentum going but I'm going to try.
Today I used an existing skirt that I got from a charity shop a couple of summers ago, I love the style  so I just copied it.  I used the Amy Butler fabric from the pieces I got on sale after Christmas (Yes from that gift voucher that just goes on giving!) 

Here is the completed skirt

It was pretty straight forward, just a wide rectangle slightly shaped towards the waist and pleated in certain areas.  I laid my existing skirt on top of my fabric and pinned where the pleats needed to go and how wide they needed to be, they are quite big pleats.

The pleats on the back are in a slightly different position to the ones on the front, on the front there is a central pleat and one either side.

I also measured a waistband and cut and ironed the belt loops.

When I had my pleats in place I measured how wide the waist would be once the seams were sewn to check it would fit and it appeared a little big so I just made the pleats a fraction bigger.  As I mentioned yesterday I intend on having proper waistbands for the time being so once again we have belt loops and a button and zip at the side seam.

Here is the back view, pleats each side.

The zip I used I had to hand and is a sort of dark wine colour it doesn't matter as you can't see it. I always save zips off anything wherever possible unless stuff is going to the charity shop.
Right now I need to get thinking what I can make tomorrow, it is lovely being off work for Easter.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Sew What Skirts Revisited

Yesterday I completed one task on my to do list for this Easter break and that was to make a skirt with some of my existing fabric.  Now that it is finished I once again have that feeling as to why I didn't complete it sooner! I used one of my existing skirts that I made using the measuring guide in Sew What Skirts and I have to say I didn't try it on once until it was complete. All the while thinking I was going to have to tweak it and take in here or there but no it fits perfect. I  did double check my waist measurement and I made the skirt a bit longer than my existing one but I am so happy with it.

One of the changes  I  made was I added a proper waistband to this one. The other two skirts I made using these instructions I just faced the top waist and one of them sits on the hips.  I am a bit tired with all the low slung clothes and feel more dressed when clothing sits properly at the waist so my new run of skirts will all be having a proper waistband from now on.

As with all the skirts I make myself I added a lining, it takes hardly any extra time at all they are easy to fit once you have done one and they mean you can use lighter fabrics and still feel well covered. they also stop your tights grabbing and I like to wear my clothes across the seasons.

I also added belt loops as I think skirts look more finished with them and it is annoying when your belt is too big and the side of it is sticking out.  I make my lining the same as my skirt, leave an opening where the zip will go and the slip it inside the stitched skirt wrong side together and tack around the top before adding waistband or facing.  I then hand stitch down  the sides of my zip tucking the raw edge under as I go.
Something else I did this time is that I carried the belt loops through onto the inside.  I found this gives a neater finish, I still top stitched across the top but it just looked better overall I thought.

I already had the button in my odd button jar and I chose it because it went so well with the little dots on the fabric.  Unfortunately the concealed zip I bought last week did not go with the fabric at all!  I just guessed and didn't take a sample piece. Now I know it would have been concealed but it was way out, lemon coloured! I don't know what I was thinking, but I had this regular beige zip that goes just fine.

The lining however which I also guessed at goes perfect, it is the exact colour of the greyish/ lavender spot in the fabric.
I read somewhere that you shouldn't use craft fabrics because your clothes will look too quirky.  Well I disagree, the whole reason I began sewing years ago was because I wanted clothes that were different.  Yes it does save you money  and you get better quality fabric and fit but I think the things you make should also be a bit personal.

Below is a picture of one of the other skirts I made when I first got Sew What Skirts, on this one I just shaped the side down to make it straight, it comes up to my waist but just has a facing not an actual waistband.
Here are a couple of images of the book below if you want to try it out. I would definitely recommend it.
This is the style of the skirt I just made.

It is easy to follow and I just mark with pins onto the fabric but you could use paper and make yourself a pattern if you wish.

I hope that was useful and I would just like to mention that I am not affiliated with anyone and my views are my own. This is just a book that I own and I thought some of you might find it useful.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Pinstripe Dress Finished

 I have finished this dress today, last night we had a birthday to celebrate so no sewing then as we went out as a family for a meal.  It was very difficult trying to finish it or do anything when all I  seem to spend  my time doing is chasing a puppy around the house and  taking things off him.
He does have his own toys but other peoples things are of course far more exciting to him.
Here is the finished dress, stripes never photograph well though.

There is a vent in the back which I probably didn't need as the fabric is a bit stretchy, but I don't like that feeling in a long straight skirt where you cannot take a big stride so I added one anyway.

I'm not really sure how often I will wear this as it looks a bit formal but I was determined to use this fabric that has been hanging around all year.   My friend called round just before tea as she needs a dress altering for a night out, she said she likes the style of it. 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Brown Pinstripe Dress Started

This week lots of little jobs need finishing, that was the reason behind buying a couple of zips at the weekend and of course I want to use up any fabric in my sewing box big enough to get a garment out of before I cut into the new piece I bought on Saturday.

After tea today I cut out the pieces for a straight dress with cap sleeves, it is going to be about knee length and the fabric has a good amount of stretch to it (but no bounce) so no need for a zip.
I already have a straight dress that fits me well but it is a bit more structured and has panels in it, I just cut out a back and a front for my dress, sleeves and a strip for facing.

I was toying with the idea of adding a thin pink ribbon detail all the way around the hem but I'm not sure, I have had the ribbon against it and it goes well but there is that line between unique and twee.  I may wear a pale pink belt with it so that may be enough, there is also the problem that once you start adding accent colours to something you limit what you can wear with it so maybe it's best without.
So it came together quite quickly, I've just added pins on the front and  back where some darts will go. The sleeves need hemming, back vent sorting, neckline facing and general tidying up. It should be finished tomorrow and I would like to get some daylight pictures then.

Earlier today I finished The kite Runner  and it was very good, I'm having that odd feeling now when you finish a book and feel a bit like you miss it.

   Just got The Miniaturist out to start it and feel like it's not quite my friend yet if you know what I mean.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

A Walk in the Sun and Fabric Bargains

Toady is such a lovely day that when I took the dogs out I decided to take a few pictures. It makes such a difference to my mood when the sun is shining that I have to get outside and enjoy some of it, we really do not get enough of it in England to let it go to waste!
There were lots of people in the park already at 10.00, dog walkers and people with children on bikes, I think everyone must have been waiting for this little bit of sunshine because I often don't see anyone when I'm walking in there and I find that odd.  The daffodils make me smile so I had to take a few photos of those.

Things are beginning to come alive and it reminds me that we have a new start every day, whatever happened yesterday we can be thankful for the day ahead and what we make of it. There were lots of beautiful daffodils in the park but I was struck by these here at the base of this old tree.

The sun coming through the trees was lovely but my camera didn't capture it fully, it will be nice to get out for more daylight walks. I just need to get my dogs walking nicely together, at the moment it is a constant battle for who can be out in front!

This little guy always wants to be in front.

Yesterday I had a trip into Barnsley and got some fabric for £2.99, it is supposed to be a slight second but the run in the fabric didn't come up while the assistant was cutting my piece.  I want to make a top, I really need to make more tops but I always look at the fabric and think mmm... I could get a dress out of that.  Then I wear jeans and think why haven't I got many tops?  So I need to stick to the plan this time.
I also bought a couple of concealed zips, some lining, a couple of metres of elastic in addition to the above fabric. It came to £8.08, so cheap in that shop!

I have a few other projects I need to get on with before I start on this though, that is why I bought the lining and zips. There is some fabric that has been in my sewing space since last year, I don't know why some of it gets left so long and other fabrics are used straight away it's a mystery.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Frugal Spring Dress

Yesterday when I got in form work I set about making a basic dress, the reason for this is that I have been asked to help a friend make a dress and she has never made any clothing before.
I know how confusing patterns can be for people who have not used them before, the fact that you have to get your correct size, transfer markings and understand the terminology can put some people off before they even begin.

In light of these facts I wanted to make it easier for her to achieve something relatively quickly, not have to deal with closings, darts or confusing store bought patterns. She is maybe a size bigger than me, a bit more curvy and slightly shorter.  I decided to do a basic  shift dress with short sleeves and no darts.  I set about making the pattern as I went along to be sure every step is easy.  It is a little big on me which was my intention, and  I wore it belted last night.  I decided to line mine but it doesn't have to be.  I took it along to work today and she tried on mine, it fits my friend better than me and we found that I just need to tweak the pattern a tiny amount on the hips.

I am very pleased with it but my husband said it a bit big you usually do things more fitted. I had just explained the reasons why I had done this dress in this style!
Now that I have made the pattern and I can use this to help my friend I may add a few darts to mine and taper the sides a bit.

The fabric I used is cotton that I bought with the  voucher from John Lewis, just after Christmas so no additional expense there.  The pattern as stated I made as I went along, and hopefully my friend will be happy with what she makes so that is another person sewing.  She was also going to pay to go on a course I hope she finds that she is inspired to try more things herself before she pays out for any expensive courses. 
The price of many patterns now is about £5.99 so I do believe it is worth trying to make your own. There are books on this but they are also complicated and unless you are making patterns professionally I don't think a lot of what they contain is not required.  This is just my opinion of course but if in simplifying things it means that more people sew then that has got to be better.

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...