Sunday, 21 June 2015

I Have of Late .......

"I have of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all my mirth."

If this post sounds a bit whingey then I apologise in advance. For one reason or another this week has been particularly trying with no respite from ****-wittery on any front. Work has been especially vexing and I normally look at the weekend to restore my equilibrium, through sewing a bit, to last me through the week.

For the last few months I have only had time to go to the Studio to sew on a Saturday and maybe a Sunday. However, for one reason and another, yesterday was a complete wash-out. I go to meditation class in the same building once a month which fell on yesterday so that took up most of the day then I had a grumpy, whining and snottery Sprogzilla to deal with.  Is teenager flu worse than man flu? I think so but just to test that hypothesise there has been both at home this week. The best I could manage  yesterday without strangling someone was to finish cutting out some rectangles for a patchwork quilt I am planning to make her grump-nesty. 

I started buying fabric for this almost 10 years ago, slow sewing may be for the win but I might be taking it a bit far.  Sprogzilla likes blues and greys and there is a little black, purple, green and pink added into the mix because I like how all these colours go together. Looking at them all it might be a bit goth.  It may need some skulls *haha*
The photo really does not do these fabrics justice. There is no solid blacks they are all dark blue, pink or purple marbled or one black/grey patterned black. 90% of these fabrics are batiks that I bought in Purely Patchwork in Linlithgow. That is a great wee quilting shop packed to the gunwales with fabric and notions. I think that they do classes as well. The rest came from Mandors in Glasgow except for this Fat Quarter that I bought from Frumble via eBay. This is the first time that I used them but I will again. They were great.

Sprogzilla has a bit of a thing for My Little Ponies and this was the best I could find. It is a Michael Miller Print called "Sweet Pony" and the colours are a pretty good match. Without this FQ I only need 45 squares out of almost 400 so will probably need another one to have enough. The end is nigh, woo hoo! People who quilt often must have the patience of a saint, and bloody deep pockets. That shizz is expensive.

No thought whatsoever was put into the buying of the fabrics. If I liked the colours then they were coming home with me. There is no design planned for this, apart from laying them all out on the floor and swapping them round until they look like they belong with each other.

In other news I got three new vintage patterns and a book on dyeing with plants. Still cracks me up that the 80's are "vintage". You have to keep me away from eBay when I am bored. Commuting is a great enabler.. The book is quite thin but is packed with really useful information and I will do a review on it next week. I have loads of suitable plants in the garden so will be giving this a go soon.

Hope that you are all having happy, healthy and strop-free weeks! I am off for strong liquor and a lie down.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Top of Two Cities - Another Sewing Dare!

One of the great things about my job is that I sometimes get to travel, and of course if I have a couple of hours spare between connections I will try to explore where I am. In my suitcase there will always be copious notes on where all the fabric and charity shops are in the vicinity, with how to get to them and opening times just on the off-chance that I can swing past on the way home. Obsessed, quite possibly. Fabric-shopping opportunist? Hell Yeah!

No make-up and stray tacking thread. No!

This top is one of my sewing dares. I bought the fabric in London on Goldhawk Road and the trim from Ribes y Casals in Barcelona. The trim cost about 3 times as much as the fabric and I wasn't going to use it on something for me but it is the perfect colour match.

The pattern came from The Great British Sewing Bee, Book 3 and is the "Sleeveless Tank" pattern. I made the pattern hack with the button back.  Based on the measurements in the book I did my usual 1-inch broad back adjustment and a 3-inch FBA. To try to deal with the Big Honking Dart problem the bust dart was split into two parallel but smaller darts. This added in 8-inches to the overall width but due to the patterned fabric I did not put in other darts. I have a couple of long strips of fabric left so will make a tie belt with the leftover fabric as it is pretty baggy and unflattering at the moment but loose and cool will be great for the Summer.

I matched the pattern in the back, the front is cut on a fold. There wasn't really enough fabric left to make this the length I prefer, hence the lace trim on the bottom which has worked a treat. The hem is slightly High-Low, but again I ran out of fabric to make it more pronounced as I only had the recommended 1.5m.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that I am lacking buttons on my button-back. My machine made a perfect buttonhole on scrap fabric, then proceeded to chew up my top. I cleaned & oiled the machine, put in a new needle, went to the shops and got some Petersham ribbon to strengthen the back (I had done this already to the button side and it was interfaced already) and put tissue paper underneath but all to no avail. To make matters worse I tried the scrap again and it worked perfectly. Same fabric, what the hell? Someone up there was having a laugh so rather than fling my machine through the window I decided just to pin it shut and try another day.

Also I probably should have made a muslin as I could do with taking out an inch from the width of the front. The neckline is very wide on me and the top is definitely a bit loose.

So, I am now in a machine-induced strop. I think I may need a new machine so if you know one that does a good automatic buttonhole then please let me know.

Hope you have all been enjoying your weeks!

K xx

Sunday, 7 June 2015

How I Finally Got to Goldhawk Road and a Sneaky Peak of an Almost Finished Sewing Dare

Have you ever been to Goldhawk Road? This fabled street, beloved of sewing bloggers, has always been on my must visit list. Like most fabric junkies I was really taken with a street full of cheap fabric shops. However, every time I have been down to London I have never had the time.

As luck would have it I was down in London Wednesday/Thursday last week. My meeting finished much earlier than I thought on Thursday so I was out of there like a greased whippet. Brandishing my Oyster card, I hopped on the Underground to Fabric Heaven.

Do you know I thought that I hadn't been there before but I had too many years ago to admit. It wasn't until I got across from the Shepherd's Bush Empire end that I realise I had. 
Pub-ja vu!

Apologies for the wrinkles. Washed but not ironed. 

I bought some fabric. Well three bits of fabric *ahem*. For me that was quite restrained but I had already bought a shitload of fabric  some this week online and was trying to be good. 

 I bought a flowery pale green cotton with orange and green flowers, a poly crepe in a sort of eye-watering ikat pattern and a cotton voile with another style of ikat-like print.

I used the voile to start on one of my sewing dares, the sleeveless tank from The Great British Sewing Bee Book 3. I bought it with it in mind. I was reading two blog posts this week about darts; one on dart positioning on Rhonda's Creative Life and one on how to overcome the "Honking Big Dart" where you are left with a massive flap of fabric after doing a full bust adjustment on the Curvy Sewing Collective- a problem I am often left with.

As I had to do a 3-inch FBA for this top I decided to split the dart in two. I was worried that it would be really obvious and disrupt the pattern but it turned out okay. I will really do this again and might even up to ante to three. I also did my usual 1-inch broad back adjustment.

I have almost finished this top. All I have to do is bind the armholes, do the buttonholes/buttons and finish the hems. I ran out of fabric to make this the length I prefer and was going to use some of the leftovers to add a band on the bottom. However, I was out on Saturday and there were lots of fringes and trims on the bottom of tops. I bought the green cotton lace when I first went to Barcelona for a meeting from Ribes Y Casals. I was going to trim a corset with it but the top was too curved make the trim lie flat. I thought that it is too nice for something for me but bugger it, it's the perfect match so it's going on. I will sew this on by hand. Just need to buy some buttons now.

So this must be a first for me, buying, pre-washing and sewing up a bit of fabric all in a couple of days. I am really enjoying my sewing dare and am finding myself quite motivated.

So do you have a favourite place for fabric shopping? Have you been to Goldhawk Road? Or can recommend somewhere else?

Hope you are all enjoying the great weather wherever you are!

 Later Lovelies!
K xx

Sunday, 31 May 2015

What the Water Gave Me - My Simplicity Blogger Challenge Reveal!

At the end of March I was really excited to learn that Simplicity were holding a challenge to find their "Star Sewist" and were kindly sending out a free pattern to anyone that wanted to enter. The closing date for entries was the 31st May (today, Woo Hoo!) so nothing like needing a deadline to get me motivated. I decided that I fancied having a go in the "Vintage" category as I have had my eye on Simplicity 1364 since before the competition started. However from experience I knew that I would have a fair few adjustments to make to get it to fit my massive bust. You can read all about them and my fabric choices in my first post on making this up.

This picture was my initial inspiration. I have been thinking about making a top like this for a long time. Love how such a simple trim can transform a plain black top and inject a bit of colour.

My two patterned fabrics have quite an abstract, tropical feel and I am sure that Frida would have approved. She was a keen gardener like me, and this is celebrated by a current exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden entitled  Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life.

So without further ado here is the big reveal - my "What the Water Gave Me" top - so called as I had lots of time to reflect (see what I did there?) on stuff tacking all the binding on.

It has binding round the sleeves and neckline and an exposed zipper in the back.

This is a very versatile top and can be styled a lot of ways. I love that it can work for a lot of vintage looks.  I like the design of it being a bit of a vintage lover and hope that you do too. It comes together very quickly and is a great blank canvas to make it your own.

Apologies for the bad phone photos but I don't really have anyone to help me take them. Sprogzilla was revising and her Dad is the worst photographer I have ever seen.

So to round up. That's my entry to the challenge. I have had a ton of fun making and styling this top. I mean, it is not every day that I get to dress up like one of my heroines and take a load of bad duck-faced selfies in my bathroom.


Thanks to Simplicity for very generously donating the pattern and best of luck to everyone with their entries!

Have a great week.

K xx

Monday, 25 May 2015

Simplicity Blogger Challenge - Part 1 and a Tailors Tack Top Tip

Hello! Well this week I have made a start on my entry for the Simplicity Blogger Challenge, the challenge being having it finished for the 31st!

I am making the 60's retro vintage pattern, Simplicity 1364, View A but with a couple of wee changes.

I have had to make some serious adjustments to this pattern. 

This is the front showing where my bust apex is (the pink squiggly dot) compared to the pattern.  The pencilled in triangle above it is the French dart that is supposed to start under my bust .All I can say is "oh dear". You can also see that I also drew in the smallest size neckline (the lower line) and this is the one that I cut out.

My adjustments were as follows:
  • 1-inch broad back adjustment from mid-shoulder and a corresponding dart to close it back off again.
  • Lower the French dart 2-inches and redraw it so that it was about 2 inches lower than my bust apex.
  • 2-inch FBA and added in an additional dart to give me some extra bust shaping.
  • Added a bit of extra length.
I bought some great fabric from Fenwick's in Newcastle, a thin black cotton and a couple of half-metre pieces of "Blueberry Skies" from Clothworks. Both are the same pattern but slightly different colourways. 

I am making the top in the solid black with bias binding trim made from both patterned fabrics. I think it's pretty obvious now that I have a bit of a thing for bias binding. I do think that it is a good choice for my inspiration but you will need to wait for the next post and the photos for that.

I have a lot of vintage dress zips from the 60's/70's and I had quite a few colours to choose from. I have chosen the purple as it is such a pretty colour. This top will have a sort-of exposed zipper.

I do have a top tip to share. I was really good and marked all the pattern marking and darts with tailors tacks but I have a terrible habit of making them too tight and end up nicking my fabric when they are cut apart. To stop me doing this I now make the loops round a pen, or something of the same sort of size, and this leaves me loads of room to snip between the two fabric pieces and makes lovely fluffy loops.

The trim will be round the sleeves, the neckline and possibly the bottom. I am not decided yet. You can get a surprising amount of binding from half a metre. Dug out my blind hem foot to stitch the edges of the binding down. It works very well giving a nice even stitch from the edge (after I got the hang of it but we won't talk about that). Really needs a press here but looks way better in real life.

Anyway, I am keeping the rest of this top under wraps until next week. Having a bit of a shoot with it on Saturday, nothing like the last minute, but I am so looking forward to sharing it and my inspiration.

Hope that you are all having a nice week and enjoying the weather where you are.

Till Sunday. (Dun, dun...Daaaaaa)!


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sewing Dares, Wardrobe Architect, New Patterns, a Lurgy and a Challenge

Well if you knew me in real life, or have probably guessed from here, I am not really one to shirk away when someone flings down the gauntlet. Oh no, I love a challenge. But what's better than a challenge?  That's right, a dare and a sewing one at that. Talking of challenges, I am doing one of those too but first, the dare!

Gillian, of  "Crafting a Rainbow" blog has repeated her #Sewingdares challenge from last year and to stave off my procrastination I have to undertake the following dare by around the end of May. That's only a couple of weeks. My dare is to:

 "Sew something inspired by your Wardrobe Architect project, or a second project from either the Gertie book or the GBSB book!".

So in the spirit of adventure I have been scouring eBay for vintage patterns so that I could get my Bianca on, Jagger that is, although I didn't find the suit pattern I was after so that might take a little more time. Plus I thought, I can kill three birds with one stone here - my Sewing Dare, another Vintage Pattern Pledge and something for my Wardrobe Architect project. Multi-tasking win or what?

In the WA series it asks the questions, "Who are your style icons?" and "What about them appeals to you?". I have way more choices than this and ran out of room to put everybody in but here are a few. These ladies appeal to me as apart from being beautiful and having their own sense of style they are mostly fearless women that walk(ed) their own path in life, though not always with a happy ending.

Looking at my WA Pinterest Board I can also see that I definitely have a few favourites clothes items too, with unknown till now some definite colour themes coming through.

Strangely enough. Those colours really do reflect about 80% of my current wardrobe and are the ones that I feel happiest in. The only colours that are missing are the sort of coral-orange ones that I like, and yes, for me leopard is a legitimate colour as is glitter.

Here are my new patterns, all from the 1970s, except for some badly needed jammie bottoms for me and a slightly dodgy but potentially nice jacket pattern. Can you believe that I only have two pairs of PJs left? Sprogzilla has nicked off with the rest. I am very badly in need.

Maybe I bought this for the pattern image colours? I do like the frock but maybe not the frills. Just to make life easier I am trying to only buy patterns in my size now. This is quite limiting when it comes to vintage patterns but at the rate I sew this will definitely be enough.

Not very stylish, no slinky lounging pyjamas these ones but they look comfy and practical.

I am going to use this one for a base pattern as I like the shape of the bottom of the pink jacket but the styles as a whole are maybe a wee bit too "Mother of the Bride" to stay are they are.

This one will be my Sewing Dare pattern. I am going to make a lovely long, swishy skirt, perfect for the sunny weather we might get.

I got this pattern sent to me from Simplicity as I am going to take part in their Blogger Challenge. Don't know if they had a delay getting the pattern out but I have only just got mine and it has to be sewn up for the end of May. There will be an awful lot of sewing going on next weekend. Not this one though as I am confined to the sofa with my blankie and a whole load of tissues nursing this bloody cold that is going round. I will be taking part in the "Vintage" entries section where we have to make something from this pattern but as there are no rules on what we can do then it is thinking cap on. I am making something inspired by one of my Style Icons who I have left off mentioning until you see the finished garment


Apologies for waffling. Not much joined up thinking going on here tonight. In fact I am off to lie in bed and read my sewing patterns again. Hope you are all having a great germ-free week.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

TGBSB3 - A Silk Tee in Cotton

So to back up my review of TGBSB - Fashion with Fabric I decided to make up one of the patterns included with the book. This was sort of a muslin so it is shown here unfinished at the bottom. This is also because I forgot to buy a longer zip than recommended (needed due to my changes) and so I am holding it closed on the zip side in these photos.

I have had this fabric in my stash since last year when I bought it from Fenwick's in Newcastle. It is a light cotton with batik-style flowers in a slightly raised pattern. They are a bit odd as the fabric looks almost stamped, there are indentations around each flower. Anyway, it is light and cool and will be ideal for the Summer it keeps promising to have. If I decide to finish this top that is, Jury's still out for me plus the fabric gets easily crumpled.

Anyway, I neatened all the insides with my overlocker. Don't judge me 'cos my thread doesn't match, lazy I know, but it isn't anywhere near the seams as these were done with my sewing machine and besides I like the colour contrast. I am still a bit phased by changing the threads in this machine and am just grateful it is working to be honest. I spotted that the stitch is not perfect but am not really sure how to fix it and it is still quite secure ad does the job of tidying up quite well.

As I mentioned in my last post, I chose the Silk Tee pattern as I have been looking for something simple that I could hack with various sleeve styles and neckline variations. Based on my measurements I traced a size 20. I did my usual broad back adjustment, adding in 1-inch which I closed off at the shoulder with a small, very slightly curvy dart which I angled towards the back neckline as my shoulders are quite round, lowered the bust dart 5.5cm and did a 2-inch FBA.

Looking at these photos I really need to make that FBA a bit bigger, or go for breast reduction surgery - my preferred option but unfortunately not a viable one at the moment. Honestly, I look like someone has stuffed two balloons up my top.

Just to liven things up a bit I decided to lengthen the sleeves, adding 10cm to the bottom edge as drafted. Plus, I added 3 inches to the bottom of the bodice hem as I was worried that it would run short as I have a long torso and always have to lengthen my patterns here. Sorry if it is a bit confusing mixing metric and imperial but I always use which ever measurement is easiest for me to remember.

In addition to lengthening the body/sleeves I also scooped out the neckline. Being blessed with more than my fair share of chins, jewel necks are not my friend. I completely ignored the facings and just used bias tape as this was going to be a warm weather top.  In case you are wondering, the bias is the same stuff as I used for my polka dot skirt. I bought loads of it and I had enough spare that needed using up.

So here is the full length (unhemmed) version.

In review this came together easily. From adjusting the pattern to needing to hem and add in the zip took me about 5 hours. A world record in speed sewing for me. Pity I forgot to buy a long enough zip though.

In other news we had a road trip to Alnwick Castle on Saturday. Alnwick is a lovely little market town in Northumberland in the North East of England. The small town centre is filled with cute boutiques and lots of cafes. Sadly, quite a few empty shops as well. Even the affluent rural areas are feeling the push these days.

We visited the castle which is situated in the town centre. It is still home to the Percy family and is quite OTT in an Italiante style inside. I quite surprised myself by feeling a bit off travelling through the state rooms inside. Why do some people live in (rather tasteless) opulence whilst others struggle to scrape enough to eat? After all we are only assigned our place in life by an accident of birth, and of course their ancestors having a bigger gang than yours. It must have been a hard existence being a tenant farmer in the wilds of Northumberland.

There are a lot of charity shops in Alnwick and I scored some vintage metal zips and a length of fabric. I love the bright colours of this (guessing here) cotton/rayon mix lawn. All the zips and fabric cost less than £10, considerably less than a castle ticket but much more useful to me and more fun.


On the way out of Alnwick we stopped at the amazing Barter Books. If Angela Carter designed bookshops then she would have come up with this one. Truly worth a visit if you love reading. Plus you can blame them for all that "Keep Calm and Carry On" nonsense as the original poster that started the craze was discovered here.

Anyway, I really enjoyed getting out of the house for the day and am delighted with my fabric.

So how did you spent your long weekend? Did you spend it sewing or doing other things? Have you bought any new patterns or fabric?

Take care and have a great week!


P.S. I have found an online photo editor, Pixlr. It is great. I can do those funky collages that I love.