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

Monday, 4 August 2014

I Sit By the Harbour.............

Apologies for not posting for a while. This is the first day of my holidays and things have been a little manic with work as there are very few people there. Plus, this post will have absolutely no sewing in whatsoever! I have done some but I will have to put that into another post. So I would like to share with you what I did last Saturday, pretty much my only day off until now. 

Warning, this post is picture heavy!

The weather was amazing. I was in Newcastle and it was 30C. So I decided that it was high time for a road trip to the seaside. For those of you not familiar with the North East of England, although the area has a fairly grim industrial past the coastline and countryside are beautiful and pretty unspoilt with some really outstanding areas of natural beauty. We started the day by driving to South Shields. Apart from this being the site of the Tyne Dock and the ferry to various places in Europe, South Shields has a beautiful clean beach with miles of golden sand.

The beach at South Shields looking towards Tynemouth Priory.

 There is also a sort of modest theme park thing with the amusements and ice cream stalls. I just like the sand and sea part. They are trying to encourage the formation of proper dunes with lots of beach plants. 
We walked almost all the way to Marsden then back to the car.

The cliff tops at Marsden are subject to serious coastal erosion.

Marsden was a small village that served the limestone quarry and mine at Whitburn colliery, however story goes that the wives of the miners and workers preferred to live in South Shields so the men would commute to work on the local railway, giving rise to the "Marsden Rattler" , the local nickname for the passenger train that used to run between there and South Shields. 

Marsden Village and Lime Quarry Source

The village was eventually demolished in the late 1960's after the closure of the pit due to water ingress. A few of the original houses remain in what is now classed as Whitburn village. 

Not to mention all those pit shafts.

The remains of the quarry and line lime kilns are still there although they are too dangerous to wander around in. You can get a good view of them from the road though.

Pretty spooky even on a nice sunny day.

Marsden is also home of the famous, Marsden Rock. It used to be an arch-shape but this collapsed in the winter storms of 1996 leaving two columns. One of the columns was declared unsafe and was demolished leaving the formation that you see below. The rock is only reachable on foot at low tide.

This is now a sea bird colony.

It was still quite early when we had finished wandering around Marsden so being in the vicinity I thought it might be nice to visit St Paul's church in Jarrow which was home to the Venerable Bede, chronicler of early English Christianity.

Ruins of the original monastery are still in the grounds.

This place has been a monastic site since AD681. The current church there incorporates the original, dating from Anglo-Saxon times. It was so peaceful there. You could almost feel the ghosts of the monks, revenants of quiet contemplation hanging in the air.

Don't think that this was there in Bede's Time.

Except for the abrupt inclusion of the modern age!

Chips, food of the Gods.

We finished the day off with the obligatory fish and chips in Whitley Bay. I was knackered and am still feeling it in my legs and back. Old age I suppose but it was nice to get out in the sunshine. I felt like a pit pony on it's holidays.

Well that is enough rambling about coastlines and chips. I have got a bit to say about sewing but will put that into another post.

Have fun in the sun!