Monday, 20 January 2014

New Look 6071- a purple patch

 Ooh the sewing room is messy, isn't it!

It was "Paul Temple and the Lawrence Affair" today and a sudden urge to make a top. I chose this one to try out the pattern, New Look 6071, to see if I would risk the beautiful Liberty pattern jersey that I bought in November at Shaukat in London. It was £17 a metre! I know that's cheap for Liberty jersey, but it's a lot more than I usually pay for fabric! This fabric, on the other hand, was about £2 a metre from Abakhan in Preston. I bought 5 metres of it so I expect there'll be a few more practice garments with wavy purple checks.

I cut a straight size 12 although my measurements would probably have led me to the 14 but I like my tops to be close fitting. I made slightly narrower seam allowances at the low hip because it seemed to be getting stuck on my skirt and much wider seam allowances (I probably ran them in by about 2 inches) at the bottom of the sleeve so I now have nice tight sleeves (pet hate- flappy sleeves or anything falling over my hands). I did get slightly confused over the twisty bit but only because Paul Temple's wife Steve was being shot at and I wasn't concentrating on the instructions properly.

It is quite low cut and I would probably wear a camisole under it for work but it doesn't gape. I stretched the neckband facing much more than suggested to tighten up the edge and I'm pleased I did. Because this was just a practice, I didn't bother with twin needle hems- just zigzagged the edges after folding the hem in place.

The fabric has plenty of horizontal stretch but no vertical stretch AT ALL which made putting the sleeve in a little trickier than usual. I still did it flat and didn't gather the sleeve head but probably should have done but I really like the shape of it. I narrowed the shoulder by about half an inch- a standard adjustment for me.

Cheap and quick and wearable- what more can you ask?
This looks as though one sleeve is longer than the other- it isn't, I just constantly push my sleeves up!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Starfish cushion

Back in the sewing room with Miss Marple trying to sort out who threw the body from the train and some old bits of stuff. I knitted a starfish in cream cotton in about 2004 and always intended to incorporate it into something but was never sure what. Then I found an old beige linen skirt that I only wore a couple of times in the early 1980s. It was a size 10 (as I was myself at the time) and cheap but a lovely heavy linen that moved well when I walked. Unfortunately it didn't respond well to laundry and came out, after its first wash, about three sizes smaller. It is now helping a starfish make a cushion.

I struggled to get strips wide enough to form the back as the gores are quite narrow 16" up, and the seam allowances on the zip are very very narrow and will probably not last for long but I'm happy with it. I decided to handstitch the zip in with some thick cotton thread and it was actually probably easier, if not necessarily quicker, than doing it on the machine. I have been reading/looking at a lot of Alabama Chanin things recently and I think I like the move away from automatic machining that it seems to be engendering in me. I know there aren't a lot of zips in her work, but if there were, I like to think they would look a bit like this!

 A couple of hours of playing and a free cushion. Looks quite good in my sewing room too!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Quilt for Sam

Yes, yes, I know... nearly a year since I've been here.  It's strange how sometimes things just stop happening. They fall off the radar and after a while you don't even miss them but then you dip a tentative toe back into the water with a view to taking the plunge. This post, then, is my wet toe. 

I'm not going to go into my eventful year. Bits of it may come up in future posts, and it isn't as if it was SO eventful that I didn't have the odd half an hour to devote to blogging. I'll just tell you about my latest project and see if it spurs me into putting on my water wings. 

Last year, for grandson #1's birthday in May, I promised to make him a quilt to go on his new bed. We drew a picture of it as we were eating in the pub and decided what colours it would be and the basic design of it. I lost the piece of paper, inevitably, and when we finally got around to choosing fabrics together (at Abakhan in Preston) he chose quite different fabrics from the colours we had originally talked about. That was probably in September. I duly preshrank the fabrics and then they sat accusingly in the sewing room waiting to be dealt with. The most fun part of quilting, I find, is choosing the fabrics and thinking about how you will put them together. Everything after that; the drawing round shapes, the cutting out, the stitching the elements together, the quilting, the binding, is tedium. Granted it's sometimes pleasant tedium- if you're in that mindset where a bit of mindless activity frees you up to think about other things whilst still being a bit productive- but sometimes, the unremitting repetition of sewing one triangle to another, in this case 108 of them, puts you off starting in the first place. Hence, a quilt that was supposed to be a birthday present in May 2013 was finally completed in January 2014. 

Once I'd started it, it actually went quite quickly. I devoted most of a weekend to it and squirrelled away in the sewing room, listening to Lord Peter Wimsey on the BBC Iplayer and emerging only for occasional sustaining snacks and cups of tea. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and I just hope that my grandson is too! 


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Excuses, excuses

I have my excuses! I know it's Tuesday, and there have been several more Tuesdays since I last blogged but this last few weeks have been very stressful and evenings have either been filled with frantic work or zombie-like exhaustion. There has been family illness, a week long college inspection and an important appointment coming up. Then there'll be a new grandchild to welcome. So that's stressful but in a good way.

I have done some sewing (easy and quick relaxation sewing mostly) and I'll blog about it properly when everything calms down a bit. There's a new V1250- with sleeves, a baby quilt, a pink T-shirt and my very first Sorbetto. Bet you can't wait (haha). See you mid-March!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

It's Tuesday and I'm blogging!

I've only been at work for two days, and short days at that but I feel exhausted! However, I vowed I would blog, so I'm blogging.

I thought I would catch up on some unblogged things I'd made since I last visited these cybershores so first up is a tunic I made but don't like. I had a soft, pale blue duvet cover that hadn't been used much and didn't fit my usual duvet so, excited by the huge bits of fabric duvet covers are made from, I cut it up. One of my daughters bought me a lovely tunic from Fat Face a couple of years ago which I wear a lot and the idea was to go for something similar and if it didn't work well, hey, it was only a duvet cover.
This is what it looked like when I first finished it- before alterations

It didn't work. Well not completely or maybe just not for me. I used New Look 6962 and I've seen some great versions of it on Sewing Pattern Review but I don't think it's quite me.
I thought there was far too much width in the skirt and in the sleeves so I ran them both in quite a bit.
Better but no cigar
After reducing the width in the skirt and sleeves

 Then I did a bit of fancy stitching running stitch with some 4 ply knitting yarn around the neckline. I quite like that bit actually!

Not perfectly even, I know, but I like the effect anyway.

Don't look too closely.

I've worn it a few times- it's very comfortable- but I don't think I'll be wearing it out of the house unless I'm wearing a concealing cardigan over it. Maybe if I got rid of that little tie.... maybe if I took the elastic out and let it hang straight.... maybe if I wore a different bra.... ah, never mind, it's just a duvet cover.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Year, same old same old

I was so determined to be a regular blogger but my last post (and I'm hearing a bugle at this point) was last July. Oh dear. Maybe regular blogging needs to be added to my list of unrealistic and unachievable resolutions. I do make them- last year I was definitely going to make more of the Burda World of Fashion magazines and do more sewing with a plan and waste less time and finish things I started and so on and so on...............
This year I decided I would:

1. Not buy any clothes, except that I had to return a gift to Marks and Spencer and the credit note coincided with their January sale and I spent the credit note and £30 more. So I promise I will not buy any clothes FROM NOW ON. The only exceptions are underwear due to size change, holiday items like a sunhat for a trip to Africa (yes, really!) and clothes for any special occasions that I don't have time to plan for (weddings, funerals etc.)

2. Make one thing a month from the Burda magazines. This may not happen.

3. Not buy any fabric. I have over 200 metres of fabric in the house- in fact probably more like 250 metres and quite a lot of it I actually like. I could easily clothe myself for any eventuality for the next 20 years.

4. Not buy any patterns. This will be a tough one but I buy far more patterns than I actually use (only ever in the sale though). Maybe I'll allow myself 7 patterns in the summer sale (I buy in 7s as the postage on the Vogue site is so weird- eight patterns are much, much more expensive to post to the UK than seven apparently). Also the Simplicity and New Look patterns that are sold off for £1 each without their envelopes at my local fabric store. That's just pocket money treats isn't it?!

5. Blog every week, let's say on a Tuesday.

I was hoping to get a lot more sewing done than I did over Christmas. In fact I didn't make any clothes at all but I did have a fun time making a quilt for my new expected grandson. I haven't done any quilt making in ages and I enjoyed picking a pattern, choosing the fabrics and then setting up the assembly line and putting the quilt top together. I've hesitated at the quilting part though. It started quite well but I'm doing it by hand (first time) and it's BORING! It's only small so I should be able to finish it by March 1st (due date) but I think I'm going to have to set myself incentives to finish it ("just quilt around this square and you can have half an hour sorting through patterns/ a cup of tea...")

Before Christmas, I was busy sewing dolls' clothes. I really enjoyed that actually! A child of my acquaintance was getting two Les Cheries dolls for Christmas but the additional clothes to go with them are horrendously expensive- they cost as much as the dolls in fact- so I spent a week or so knitting and sewing some outfits out of scraps. They seemed to be well received but I was enjoying myself so much that I nearly had to buy one of the dolls for myself so I could carry on making dolls' clothes!

I've just spent valuable time (I'm supposed to be working) uploading photos of the dolls' clothes but when I try to add them, there's a very annoying Google screen asking me to sign in and then refusing to let me. Very frustrating. I'll try and add photos when I have the patience to work out what the hell is going on and why I shouldn't just move to Wordpress or something similar. All I want to do is add an image! Not rocket science is it?!

Well.... I managed to upload the pictures but what a faff... and why can't you put them where you want to???

Outfit 2

Outfit 3

Outfit 4

I have to go back to work tomorrow. I don't want to. Every fibre of my being is rebelling against it. I want to be at home, in my room of loveliness (the sewing room), not talking, not smiling and trying as much as possible not to think. I don't think I'm the only one who finds Christmas and the New Year crushingly depressing. The expectations are so high. Every action, conversation, minute is loaded with an emotional intensity that other moments in the year don't have. Everything somehow counts. Every bad experience you ever had at Christmas comes flooding back to stamp on you and every good one you had you mourn as well, as you're not having it any more.  I love seeing friends and family but mostly not for long and not all at once. My instinct at this time of year is to hibernate. To shut myself up in the house with plenty to keep me occupied of a domestic nature. I want to be making things to clad myself in to fortify myself against the cold (actually it's not very cold just now) and to fill the house with the smells of baking bread and hearty stews. I want to curl up with a novel or tackle the mending pile. I don't want to be asked a hundred times how my Christmas was and smile and say something funny in response. I don't want to join the stream of commuters, one to a car, in the morning grind. I don't want to think about the many years left that I have to do it for. I definitely don't want to think about that.

Just now, it's hard to be optimistic about 2013. There are many emotional tripwires already poised buy hey, I have resolutions! It may feel as dark as dark could be but at least I might make something out of a Burda magazine! Yeah right......

Monday, 9 July 2012

Vogue 8671 More Spots

As I intimated in the last post, there was enough of the big spot ponte to make something else, so I went right ahead and made this. I'd had the pattern for a while but it seemed a natural match for the fabric- I could cut some of it out of the smaller spot part and some of the other pieces from the larger spots. It's a Marcy Tilton one with her take on a standard T shirt. Just that little bit different.
I'm very happy with the result and can see me getting a lot of wear out of it- an easy, throw it on when you can't think of what to wear kind of top. I did make a few changes along the way though. 

  • I didn't stay stitch the neck, as directed. Because the neck edge is exposed, once the neckband had been stitched on with the twin needle, this would have meant THREE rows of stitching around the neck. And what would be the chances of lining the first row of stitching up with the second? Minimal in my case, I reckon. 
  • The pattern would have you line up the neck edges of the neck and the neckband- the neckband is just attached on the inside of the neck and sits there, supporting the edge. I decided to extend the neckband a bit beyond the edge- I think it adds a bit of extra interest and I couldn't see the point of doing it at all if you weren't going to see it. 
  • I knew that my thick fabric would not be able to cope with the way the front is supposed to be put together. You stitch the two fronts together, wrong sides together, then simply press the seam to one side. No Way! I had visions of this sticky out seam running down the front of my top, like some picket fence between spotty fields! Instead, I lapped the left front over the right and stitched them with a twin needle. 
  • The sleeves and hems were supposed to have the same band treatment as the neck, so again, I couldn't see the point and just stitched them with a twin needle and left them raw. They are raw in the pattern, but just double thickness. I can see that a thinner knit might need the support of another layer but mine definitely didn't.
  • I shortened the sleeve by 2 inches and also made it considerably narrower at the cuff. I hate flappy sleeves.
  • Unusually for a Vogue pattern, it doesn't require you to stitch the underarm seam twice for reinforcement, but I did anyway. 
I know this looks very like the dress. But it's a top. 

I enjoyed making this pattern and can see me doing it again- it seems an ideal way of using up little bits that aren't big enough to make a whole garment and this is actually one of my favourite kinds of making things. I love the creative process of making things out of leftovers- in cooking, in knitting and in sewing. My garden (yet to be finished) also utilises leftover materials and it's really satisfying to do. My leftovers habit does result in a lot of stripey jumpers though! This top only took a couple of hours of enjoyable, easy sewing and it also cost virtually nothing! A dress and a top for £7.50!

I think the Tilton sisters would approve of the changes- they seem to have a very free and easy approach to sewing: disregarding grain lines, adding bits of random fabrics and trims and having whole workshops encouraging creativity. I would love to be able to go to one of these weekends. If only they weren't so far away and expensive! Until the distant day when I can go, I'll just stay at home and play on my own. Ahh.