Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Prison Drawings and Funky Fabric

Hi All, sorry for not posting for a couple of weeks. It was Mum's 81st birthday last weekend so Sprogzilla and I were in Edinburgh. However, no trip out with Mum is complete without an assault on the shops so we hit Glasgow for a wander about.  I left a shattered Mum and Sprogzilla having a very welcome cup of coffee and snuck in a quick foray to Mandor's fabric shop, my spiritual home. I love this place so much. If you are interested the lovely blog, Kestrel Makes has a very comprehensive and recent review which you can see here,

The ladies are about 10 inches high. Subtle it is not.

I bought this fabric. It is awesome, in every sense of the word. It has had mixed reactions from the people I have showed it to but I love it and that is what counts. Someday it will be a pencil skirt, when or if I ever get some sewing time again.  Work is a bit mental at the moment but I asked if I can work from home a bit so my first day was Friday. Not a train in sight! Yipee! 

Another reason that I wanted to work from home was that we were hosting an exhibition down at the Studios on Friday night. Earlier this year we had a bit of a shake up down there which very sadly left us directorless. Three of us put in a proposal to take over, out of necessity, and have been running the place for the last 3-4 months.. One of the things we have done is to use one of the big empty studios for a "pop up" workshop and/or gallery space. This was our first event since taking over and it was a great success.

"The Prison Drawings" was an exhibition by graffiti artist, The Taffy (yes, he is Welsh) who
was arrested and sent to prison for 22 months for spray painting trains. I am sure that there are many conflicting views on the rights and wrongs of graffiti but to me this seems a little extreme when rapists and murderers walk away with little more or less in the UK every day. Anyway, enough of my views and back to the event.

The studios were transformed for the night with our big blackboard wall at the entrance, normally reserved for notices and stuff, completely transformed. It was beautiful, although I think that it ended up decorating the back of many unwitting people's jackets as the night went on.

There is actually a door in this wall!

I was amazed at just how tiny and detailed the drawings were. I had a lovely discussion with accessories designer, Melanie Kyles about how they would be fantastic embroidery designs. Apologies for the rather rubbish camera phone photos, I didn't have my glasses on, big mistake as I was squinting at people all night.

The windows of the space were decorated too. I think that this is a much better view than normal.

There was a very cool video installation of a scrapped bus being spray painted and a pretty fabulous ghetto house DJ playing a specially chosen soundtrack. I felt a bit old to be honest, with the place being mobbed by young hipster-types but the music was great.
There was even a little mock-up of a prison cell that you had to peep through a window to see.

Anyway, another completely non-sewing related post but at least it has fabric in it. We will be doing more stuff and I promise that one of the first exhibitions of the New Year will be sewing-related, honest.

Hope you are all having a great week!
K xx


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fractals, Crystals and Tiny Stitches

Hi Everyone, well there has been some sewing this week but it is slow progress for me. I actually had a chance to slope off yesterday for a couple of hours and do some more work on my neck corsets. I know that it seems like I have been sewing them forever, well it does at least to me, but I stitch everything together very carefully by hand before it gets machined and I am not very fast or confident with my handwork.

Hopefully these will sink into the fabric once it has had a press.

I have put in the boning on the red one and lined both the red and the orange making sure that all the seams of the outer shell and the lining line up. Then they were tacked together and I sewed on the bias binding, finishing it on the inside with lots of tiny prick stitches to try to make it as unobtrusive as possible. Hand sewing is definitely not my strongest suit.

The fraying will be covered by tiny flowers and is where I am going to attach some strings of vintage pearls.

I have added in some Swarovski crystals that I had lying around in four shades of cream and brown. I think that they pick up the colours of the motifs well although both the colours and the sparkle are proving elusive to capture in a photo. Here the dark ones look too brown but in reality they have an orangey glow when they are hit by the light. I still need to bind the top of each one and find some silk flowers in the right size and colour. I did have a cheap one from Primark kicking about so pinned it on to see how it might look. It is of course too big and not quite the right colour but it gives the general impression of how this will be worn. No wallflowers in this one. 

Gosh, she looks a bit grumpy from this angle but I would be too with a flower pinned to my neck.

So, apart from that this week has just been all about work. It is pretty mental at the moment as I have a product launch on Friday next week. Am really excited about it but it is going to be a bit bonkers for the next few days, as if it is not normally!

Anyway, I hope that you have been having a good time, creating loads, having fun and here's to getting life back to normal again. I will leave you with a picture of a cauliflower that looks like a fractal (and now looks like a curry), just because I can. 

Mandelbrot Cauli. What an awesome beastie! Maths and curry in one dish.

 Vegetable rights and peace!
K xx

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Heart of Glass

Hello! Well things have been stupidly busy here at MOR. We went for a big drive yesterday and ended up going to the beach as it was Sprogzilla's Dad's 50th birthday so he got to choose.  Of course I took this as a good opportunity to nag them into taking a pic of my newly knitted scarf. 

Thought that this lipstick was a bit bright but I like it. MAC's Ruby Woo.

The day did not start too well as we had a bit of a crazy rain storm when we had been out of the house about 10 mins.

Only Happy When It Rains?

 However, later on the weather was lovely, real t-shirt weather so the scarf was a bit inappropriate, and hence the sunglasses. Otherwise, all the other shots had me screwing my face up against the glare from the sun and the sea. We had a lovely walk along the sands at Seaham on a hunt for some of their famous sea glass.
Vintage Sea Glass

Seaham had a glassworks there from the 1800's to the 1920's and story goes that at works closing each day the "end of days" glass would just be turfed into the sea. It gets washed up and can be found in a whole kaleidoscope of colours, but mostly green and white. The most prized pieces are the multicoloured ones. We found a cobalt blue with deeper stripes and a black and clear glass combo. Most of the bits are very small but we are going to use them to make something  for the house which I will share when I have enough bits. We found 2 pockets full yesterday in about 2 hours and a good couple of mile walk.

Apart from that I have not done any sewing as with things from work being as they are I have had no time although I have bought some new wool. At least I can knit while I am commuting.

Sirdar Divine. It has Lurex sparkles in it!

It is from Sirdar and the colurs remind me of Monet's Garden. I bought the fabric underneath too as a remnant . It is a cotton batik and a couple of metres long x 112cm.

You can see the colours a bit better in the shot above. 

One of Monet's Waterlilies series.

Definitely a touch of "waterlilies" in this palette.
We ended the day with the obligatory fish and chips and an ice cream. Seems a bit wrong to go to the seaside and not indulge. We went to South Shields for these and they were very good. The light there was fantastic and we had another long stroll along the shore. 

Lovely Light

Boy are my knees feeling it today though. Joys of age!
Well I had better dash as I am off down the Studio for a meeting. No time to breath this week.
Have a great time!
K xx

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review/Tutorial: Prym Bias Binding Tool, Me-Made Corsetry Plus Some Sneaky Sewing Time

 Bear with me sewing people. This post is going to be quite long as it has some sewing with loads of pics plus a product review for a tool that I find to be one of the most useful that I own. Now to start off I was at the Studio yesterday and managed to sneak in a  little sewing time, in between moving furniture and mini-meetings.

Totally rocking shot  of Lois Wetherup by the awesome  Tom Farmer @ Glasgow Photographer, Knickers and fascinator by the super-taleneted Marie @ Amuse Bouche. Corset by me.

There is much going on at the moment, everything is in a state of flux, so loads to do.

Recognize this fabric? Yep, it is the leftovers from my Flea Market Fancy shirt. Nothing wasted in Kitty Towers.

More on that when it is all finalized. However despite all the too-ing and fro-ing I managed to complete the lining for the orange neck corset and make the outer and lining for a red one.

Lovely super thick silk, so many pieces.

The red one will match the corset above that I was commissioned to make for a Miss Scotland to be featured in a Christmas-themed shoot for The Sun newspaper a year or so ago. I am trying not to look at my wrinkly fabric. Nice fit though for only having the rough measurements.

I am going to use the two of these in the upcoming photo-shoot and am looking forward to getting them finished. I have to say that making a neck corset probably takes me as long as making a bigger one.

I always line in quilting cottons. They are so pretty and the cotton is nice to wear next to the skin.

My pattern has 12 pieces to cut out in the outer silk fabric, interfacing, corset coutil and then a lining. the shell is sewn up from the interfaced silk flat-lined to the coutil. The boning is sewn to the shell and the lining will be hand-stitched onto that to keep it in place. They don't lie flat as they are both shaped to be three-dimensional. Plus I will steam them into shape and leave them to cool down in the same way that you would do a coat collar.

Once that is done I will  tidy up the edges and cover them with bias binding, sandwiching all the layers together and unpicking the holding stitches. This is where one of my favorite wee gadgets comes in - my Prym bias binding tool.

NB.To be fair I also have ones from Clover and they are equally as useful but this is the one I will always reach for first as I like the little handle and the size.

One of my favourite tools, ever!

The tools are simplicity itself to use and they come with pretty good instructions but here is my method.

Here are my bias strips. I have ironed them flat. Look how the grain is on the diagonal. That is the bias and will allow it to curve round edges easily.

You will want to cut out strips ON THE BIAS that are twice the width as stated on the tool e.g for a 12mm tool cut 24mm, for an 18mm tool cut 36mm, etc. If I am using silk (as I am here) I cut out 40mm strips instead of 36mm just because they will shrink widthways when you pull them through the maker. You won't need to do this with a thicker fabric like cotton.

Plus you need to be quite accurate in your cutting or your will get wonky binding.

The back of the tool. Right side of fabric facing this way.

An easy way to get your first cutting line is to fold over one end of your fabric so that the selvedge is at 90 degrees to the selvedge on the other side to form a right-angled triangle. Give this an iron and, hey-ho, your cutting line. The pointy ends of your strips make it easy to push through the maker but if they don't you can pull it through gently with a pin.
To make your binding you will need to push your fabric through the tool with the right side facing downwards. The fabric will be folded round as it goes through to create the little flaps on the back of the bias as illustrated below.

Please ignore the stray thread. Never noticed that one when I was taking the pic.

It helps to secure the end of your strip to your ironing board with a pin so that you can pull against it gently when you are ironing. Use loads of steam (test your fabric first) and keep the point of the iron quite close to where the binding comes out. you should then end up with beautiful "single-fold" flat binding that you can either use as is or iron over double to create "double-fold" tape.

Easy peasy! Now you have no excuse for finding matching binding, plus the design options are endless. I really recommend buying one of these if you use binding at all. They come in lots of widths too and are only about £7 or £8 depending on size & brand.

Apologies for the wonky photo editing and hopefully will have a few more things to show next week.
Take care,  lovelies!

P.S. I won a sewing pattern  giveaway from the brilliant "Pendle Stitches" blog so will be making a much needed bag at some point. Huge thanks for the pattern. Am chuffed to bits. xx

Disclaimer: The views above are totally my own and this is definitely not a sponsored post.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

2000 Miles Is Very Far.......

Hello All! I am writing this on the train, my new (spiritual) home. (Updated: added pictures today).

The slightly squashed first mice pie of the year! My new portable dinner plan.

Can someone please explain to me why I thought it would be a good idea to commute to work? You will be able to get some sewing done at nights she said (in her head) and loads of knitting on the train (sardines anyone?). 

King Cole Double Knitting. 

Well that idea has come back to bite me but at least on the upside I am home to sleep like the dead the minute I am through the door have more time with Sprogzilla. In reality I am now out for about 15 hours a day and am clocking up a fair few (100s) miles every day so sewing will be relegated to the weekends if I am lucky. I am doing some knitting though.

I am using one strand King Cole DK and 1 strand  DK black wool

Lots of scarfs again. Triangular ones using a pattern from King Cole. It is super simple and as it is knitted up on 10mm needles (size 000 in old money) it is pretty fast. It also has the bonus that it will fit in my bag. I am also using some Noro Kureyon but have run out of wool to finish it so need to go back to the shop to get more. I bought it from Ramshambles in York which is a great wee shop with really good customer service and lovely wool.

Noro Kureyon. Lovely to knit with. The camera has lightened the colours a lot.

On the sewing front there is much happening. I am doing a photo shoot in a couple of weeks. I am making some neck corsets to go with corsets I have already made as it (in corset making terms) is a bit last minute. I have started making a nice orange silk one and a dark red one.

QE1 - This is my inspiration for the orange one.

I also hope to have the pastel pink/silver grey shot one finished as well. Trouble is as I have no neck and woudn't suit me I have no first hand exoerience of wearing one and I can't decide how comfortable steel boning will be in them. I have made one with 7mm spiral steel boning but it seemed a bit stiff. The orange one has the fabric covered sew-in type of ridglene boning in it. It was a breeze to sew in and you can even sew over it. I think that this might be my default from now on,

One layer of silk dupion and one of cotton herringbone coutil flatlined together, but only at the sides. I also normally interface the silk before sewing them together but my iron was playing up so didn't want to risk it.

Anyway I am using my self-drafted pattern. I has 12 pieces and is cuts to cover the collarbones and a bit of the shoulders as well and is a nice fluted shape at the bottom.

Corset front embellished with an old crochet doilly, mother of pearl buttons and Swarovski crystals. The fabric is the same as above just more like the actual colour in this shot.

It is made to match the orange corset that I made for Fashion Week 3 years ago but have never done a photoshoot with yet. I have many, many samples waiting to be photographed. :(

I really love these two colours together but I had a problem as although I bought three of the bits of crochet I couldn't find the other two.

I did have a vintage necklace that kind of goes with the general feel though which I had bought at the time with this look in mind.

I also found a few bits of French couture laces in various colours, with some in ivory , mink and cream. The quality is amazing but I only have very small pieces. These are attached all over with tiny invisible prick stitches. I also have tons of strands of vintage pearls as I usually try to pick up interesting second-hand vintage jewelry when I see it. Comes in handy. 
This lace is beautiful. wish I had more.
Anyway, progress has been slow but I am really looking forward to the end result. All Scottish team - fabulous models, a super photographer lined up and Mel from Le Hat Noir is doing the hats again. Some are tartan so really bang on trend for this winter. I am super excited but sewing for me is on hold until after the middle of October. Will keep posting when I have finished these. There will be flowers!

Hope your week(s) have been great. Happy creating.
K xx

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Crimplene, Vintage Cushion and a "Fairytale" Corset

Well hello! I have been away on holiday at my Mum's in Edinburgh. She had to go into hospital again and, to cut a long story short, a 2-day stay turned into 2 weeks. She got home late on Thursday night and I came home late Friday as it is back to work for me tomorrow. Boo! She is doing okay now though, thank [insert deity of choice].

Inside the old Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office in Edinburgh has the most amazing plaster work.

Had big plans to visit things in the Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe but only had a chance to meet up with the uber-talented Mel from Le Hat Noir who is a long-time collaborator and very lovely friend. She makes the most exciting hats like the ones below. You can see a lot more on her Facebook Page.

I made the dip-dyed corset and neck corset to match which is covered in 5 different colours of red-toned Swarovski crystals and "blood" drops. These were specially commissioned for a gallery show called "Darkly Crafted Fairytales" that we took part in a couple of years ago and were also show on the catwalk with another 11 outfits by us at the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow. The blurry ladies on the right are our mums.

Beautiful lady. Inspired by the Neil Gaiman short story "Snow, Glass, Apples".

Apart from that as I have been away from home sans machine I have not done a lot. I managed to do a bit of charity shopping for vintage tat, my favourite kind, and have picked up some gems (depending on your taste of course). Look at this amazing cushion cover. It has been appliqued with what looks like a bit of (inexpertly) embroidered tablecloth. Bit of a "Marmite" purchase I know, but personally I love it and it was a steal for £2 including the inner.

This is so awful that it is fabulous. I love it white nylon lace and all!

I also picked up some vintage pillowcases in floral cotton, a whole 30p each.

Lovely 70's cotton pillowcases. I bought 5 different kinds but this is the most funky. I will use them for putting delicates inside before I bung them in the washing machine.

Also, a dress length of this amazing crimplene fabric for £2. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what the print is supposed to be and, to be honest, I am not sure that the colours are even "me" but who could resist such a weird design.  The photo washes out the colours a bit.

Weird Sci-Fi Crimplene or Hot and Sweaty in Space!

Reminds me of the Thals planet in the first Dr Who Film. Don't know why. I really need to get out more.
Completely nicked from this source!
There was a shop that sold second-hand stuff and crafty things in aid of people with learning disabilities. I bought one of the amazing mobiles made by one of the women there that she does as therapy. They are all made out of up-cycled broken jewellery and driftwood and are so beautiful.

Crappy picture but this looks so lovely when it catches the light. That reminds me I need to wash the hall window. Please ignore the grime, there is a spider out there so it is no-go until it departs!

So anyway apart from that I have done no sewing, what with me not actually being at home. We did go to the beach yesterday and I took loads of photos with my new camera phone. 

Beach at St Mary's

I LOVE it and it saves me lugging around my SLR everywhere which for the dodgy of back like me is a real bonus. We went to both St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay and down onto the beach at Marsden where the sea caves are. 


The beach there is so clean, I don't think that I have ever seen one in the UK so pristine and it has pink seaweed and sea anemones which only live in clean water.

This looks like beaded lace. Lots of corset inspiration!

But anyway enough of the boring stuff. Normal sewing activity will be resumed soon.

Hope you have all had a great couple of weeks.
Later people!
K xx

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

McCalls 3830 Part 1 and a Binding Foot Review

Right so the last post was all about last weekend, this is what I have been doing on this. 

I had a couple of hours spare Saturday and Sunday so I decided that I should go sew something as I was in town anyway with time to kill. I went to the studio and traced out McCalls 3830 in a size 22. I could do with some new pencil skirts and this pattern seemed ideal with lots of good reviews.
I had traced out this pattern before but had made some modifications so I thought that I would start afresh.

McCalls 3830. A great basic pencil skirt pattern in 5 lengths.

I  traced it in length C and drew a line from the lengthen shorten line to a point 1.5cm in from each side seam to help peg the bottom of the skirt a bit. This would reduce the overall circumference of the bottom by 6cm for a bit more of a wiggle skirted vibe. 

Not the best quality corduroy but a nice colour.

I have had this fabric in my stash for years. I think that I bought it in Remnant King's in Glasgow, but it might have been Mandors. It is 150cm width and I think I had about 1.5m but I didn't measure it as I had originally bought it as a skirt length and knew I had enough. The fabric has a slight cross-wise stretch and is not very thick so will need to be lined. It had been pre-washed, etc.

Last year I bought a binding foot from eBay. It was less than £5 so was not too much to lose if I couldn't get it to work. I tried it for the first time yesterday and was truly impressed. 

You adjust the foot to the with of your binding with the little screw on the right.

This skirt pattern is vented so I my first though about finishing the seams was binding. I bought some double-fold tape in a black and white gingham, mainly because it was either that or baby pink, and thought I would have a go with my new(ish) foot.

Underneath showing how it threads through.

It is so easy to use. You just feed the binding through and the action of the feed dogs and foot does the rest, although if you haven't got your fabric lined up closely things can go a bit wrong. Hey, it was in my first 5 inches!

Easily rectified but still quite annoying.

I got the hang of it after about 10 minutes and although it is quite slow going it is fun.

Look at the pretty.

I have done all the inside seams (except for the centre back as I was not sure if it would add to much bulk round the zip area) and will do the hem but I ran out of tape. I had bought 4m thinking it would be enough but I will get another couple just to be on the safe side. It was 50p a metre so what the hell, I am going to live dangerously.

Another great use for this foot would be to turn bias strips into spaghetti straps. It makes such a clean looking strip and no need for those fiddly rouleaux turning hooks. Yay!

Great clean strips. Knackered old hands. It's all the chemicals at work you know.

Anyway to sum up. I think that this treatment looks great. I love a Hong Kong-style finish and this is just such a cute way to finish seams or hems. I know that I am going to use this foot to death.Would be a very useful gadget for making straps for tops or children's wear too. Five quid well spent in my books.

Coming soon "Part two, the big skirt reveal", if you pardon the pun............

Happy everything!
K xx