Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Coasters gift - tutorial

I'm finally coming to an end of my course, and wanted to say thanks to my last supervisor. He loves photography, even displaying and having his work available for sale. So I decided to use up a little more of my camera fabric, to make up some coasters, perfect for a man who also loves his tea... And they're so easy, perfect for a brief tutorial!

(Disclaimer: I got the idea a while back for these from another blog, but I can't remember where, sorry whoever I have plagarised!!)

As always, remember to pre-wash your fabric - especially where tea is concerned you can guarantee they'll need a wash at some point!
To make each coaster cut two squares of fabric and one of wadding 5inch x 5inch.
Place the wadding at the bottom, then the bottom fabric, right side up, then the top fabric, right side down.
Sew using a 5/8ths allowance, along three sides, and a third of the way across the left and right of the last side.
Turn them so the upper fabric faces the right side out.

Use a pin to bring each of the corners to a point, then, sew the last bit of the final side - *wagging finger* remember to use hand stitching (What? Me? Ummmm.... Well I used a sewing machine because I'm lazy!)

Finally, do some top-stitching as you see fit!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Wild Sargasso Laurel

Another day, another Laurel, by Collette Patterns... After seeing the huge number of beautiful versions on Flikr I got started, and haven't stopped, with two previous versions, here, and here!

This time I wanted to use up another fabric from my stash, I had a metre of this fantastic jungle print fabric from Liberty. Since the moment I saw it, I've thought about Wild Sargasso Sea, the book by Jean Rhys, which tracks the life of the 'mad woman in the attic', Mrs Rochester. The jungle is described as, dark, oppressive, and haunting, and I think this purple and lime green / yellow fabric has some of that feeling about it too.

Choosing trimmings was tricky, but with a bit of guidance from Renee and Emma via Twitter, I chose some purple bias, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

As always, zero pattern matching happening! This time I had the excuse of having no extra fabric, but there always seemes to be an excuse.... I really should learn how to do it!!


 One of my favourite things about this fabric is that it has really rich, autumnal colours, yet it's actually a really fine cotton. Now the shops are all full of clothes for winter, I think it works for that awkward period between seasons. However I have decided - no more Laurels for a while, and not until I have a idea takes it a little away from the basic design!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Jersey dress: Simplicity 1651

Summer: The season of weddings, and parties. A time for celebrating with friends and loved ones, and looking good while doing it! At the start of the summer I found the most beautiful dress at Warehouse and decided to do a copy, for some of the events of the coming year.

The original dress was duck egg blue, medium weight crepe with an interesting cut out at the back. I loved the classic simplicity, and the shape of the skirt, so elegant.
Despite my intention to copy this, my version is pretty different in the end! Made using a light weight crepe, and lined, both fabrics bought from Abakhan's in Mostyn. The pattern, Simplicity 1651, has a a sweetheart neckline, which I just love. The only thing similar to the original is that there's a cut out at the back and a fairly similar skirt! Nonetheless, I'm really happy with it, and learnt lots about lining a dress. It was a real challenge, especially when putting the zip in!

I used two types of bias binding to finish hems on the skirt, each bias matching the tone but not precisely the colour of the lining or crepe - I wanted to have a small contrast for some detail. I think you might be able to see that in this photo. What you can't see is the stiffness of the bias, and how it added to the flutes of the skirt. 

What do you think? A good dress for wedding season? These photos were taken at a lovely couple's wedding in Jersey, it was so beautiful there, and a really special day. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this pattern again in the future!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Pretty clothes for a pretty girl

These days whenever there's something to celebrate I can feel my stitching fingers twitching! A very good friend of mine (and one of my bridesmaids-to-be) recently gave birth to her second child, a beautiful little girl... A great excuse to get sewing!

I've got two baby patterns in my arsenal - Simplicity 1889, which I used in my Stonersaurus and the Monkey shorts, and Simplicity 1921, a new one to me.

So, with the help of some fabric stolen from my Mum, and from my stash, a mix and match project was planned, using the top from 1889, and the pants and hat from 1921. I used the softest cotton and bias binding I had, picking up some perfectly matching gingham ribbon for the hat (Thank you John Lewis!)

And the final verdict... Well the clothes are still a little large for the little one, but unfortunately the hat is TINY - I don't understand where it went wrong!

I think the hat is destined for a premature baby charity - going to start a little campaign via my Twitter account today to rally us craftivists! In the meantime, I'll get stitching a larger hat, once my machine is back from a service...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Colette Laurel Number 2

And here's the second Laurel - this time around with the slippiest of materials I've tried so far (I'm not sure what the type is). It's a slight lemony shade, with a grey fish print, picked up from Abakhan's in Mostyn, for a fantastic £2 a metre. Together with the binding I think the top cost me £3 - bargain!

I swapped needles for the first time (having always stuck to what came with my machine), using a ballpoint 70 needle, but still it was a tricky one - anyone got any tips for making the back less.... like this?

Some major learning is needed with rolled hems too, my first attempt was so far from ideal - luckily it looks like there are a million methods on the internet, so fingers crossed for the next time around!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Colette Laurel Number 1

So here it is, my first Laurel and my first make using Spoonflower fabric! The fabric was bought months ago but I couldn't find the right pattern, finally, along came Laurel, and it was a perfect match!

Spoonflower is a site with millions of fabric designs, where you can choose a pattern designed by someone else, or upload your own, and then get it printed onto material of your choice (or even wallpaper!). This was my first of many purchases from them I think - Dustbunnies, by meduzy, printed onto a cotton voile. The fabric got a little damaged by my not having stored it properly after washing - whoops! But I think it's added to the style, looking a bit more rustic ;)

Laurel is the newest pattern by Colette, and thousands of versions have already been made after a competition - you can find more inspiration here.

While mine's a simple version, I'm still delighted with it... The only question I have is... How old is too old for bunnies on your clothes?????

And while we're at it, some classic tips for storing fabric, from a new book of mine, 'Make do and mend' (Foreword by Jill Norman)

(Laurel number 2 has been made and will be uploaded soon!)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Upcycled sleepwear

After weeks and weeks without sewing, my fingers were twitching for some stitching. An old duvet cover needed to go after becoming shabby, but it had also become lovely and soft with years of wear - time for my first bit of upcycling fabric!

New Look 6984 got rolled out again to make some sleepwear, just as with the sweetie nightie. It's a very dull cotton this time, so more interesting ribbon was needed.

 I chose a nice grosgrain ribbon, which I hoped might make the nightie look less dull, more rustic...

  A bit of detailing at the waist, and at the back to add marginal bits of interest!

While this is certainly not my favourite project, I did learn a few things... Grosgrain ribbon needs the addition of heat to seal the ends, cutting diagonally isn't enough. In addition, I've realised this pattern isn't for me. Both nighties gape at the back, despite me using the smallest size in the packet - absolutely fine for a nightie, but  I won't be making this as a dress. Think it'll be one to pass on to a fellow stitcher soon :)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Grayson Perry and the frog people

I've neglected this blog horribly over the last five months, as well as my poor lovely sewing machine. I've been experiencing a severe case of sewists block while attempting to plough my way through Liz, another of Burda Style's blouses with almost incomprehensible instructions! (Some major studying might have contributed too, but hey...)

Thanks to some help from the forums, a fair bit of swearing and a long long time, Liz and I are finally done. Excitingly I absolutely love it, even the collar works better than my ill-fated attempt at JJ (perhaps I've actually learnt something?)

Anyway, I spotted this fabric designed by the potter Grayson Perry at Shaukat back last summer, and kept hold of it trying to figure out a plan. Since then I've had a bit of a read of cult-horror writer H.B. Lovecraft's books, and for some reason I can't explain, to me, those faces are those of his infamous frog people from the Shadow Over Innsmouth - I think it's something to do with the headpieces, rather than the faces themselves!

In the end I chose Liz because it looked like a comfy shape, a slight vintage feel to it, and the possibility of using the shape for either work or weekend.

Unfortunately after carrying the buttons with me in my wallet for half a year I lost one, so when I got round to finishing there was the opportunity to look again... As if all the fabric wasn't enough I decided it needed one last finishing touch - a contrast button.

I do feel a bit busty in the finished product, but overall think it looks pretty unusual, and think it'll be really wearable.

What do you guys think? Love or find it unutterably loathsome?