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!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Pattern Hacking with Pride

Hi everyone, I hope that you are having a great time and enjoying the weather. I have been so, so busy at work trying to get everything tied up before we all go away for the holidays. All our deadlines are in August,  great timing Me, way to go, so another couple of weeks of frantic work but not too much sewing. Such is the lot of an itinerant scientist!
  However, I am preparing for having some time off and hopefully getting some sewing done.Weekend before last I bought some more fabric. A 1.5 piece of lovely grey cotton batik with a flower design. Isn't it pretty and summery? What was I thinking? Summery? Me? Ha!

This is such a nice light fabric and will be nice and cool plus the colour will work for Autumn.

I also bought another 1.5m piece of fabric which I have plans for..... summery plans (it will be ready for next year at this rate).

This is nothing if not colourful

I was thinking that this might be nice as a sarong skirt. I bought a vintage 1980's pattern from eBay, here it is.  I think that I will make the knee-length one.

Simplicity 8304 sarong style skirt

 It looks pretty easy but I will give you a sneaky peak of a sort-of-sarong hack that I am doing. I can't spill too many beans but I am hacking McCalls 3830 pencil skirt pattern, a favourite pattern of 2012 on Pattern Review. This pattern has great reviews and only has two main pattern pieces (plus the waistband of course but I am not using that for my secret project). 
Traced off the front part.

Pegged it a bit at the bottom by measuring in 1.5cm from the edge and drawing a line with my big-curvy-ruler-thing-that-isn't-a-hip-curve-but-the-other one.

Precision pattern making with a big fat magic marker!

The excess is trimmed off and just gives the pattern a bit more of a va-va-voom vibe rather than office look. I traced the pattern out on pattern paper, doubled it over and just cut round to make one big piece for the front which I am using this principle on (nicked from Winifred Aldritch's Metric Pattern Making) to add some sarong style drape. Basically, just slash, spread and add some more paper underneath.

Winifred really holds you hand through this. Thank you dear.

 Can't show you much else at the moment though. Mwah, haha!

So apart from that I spent bits of last weekend working the F6 Studios stall at Northern Pride and having a bloody good time while I was there. What a great event. We had a soggy Saturday and a sunny Sunday. The weather was glorious. There was cake, rainbows, more rainbows and a Lady Gaga impersonator (she was brilliant) as well as loads of other stuff going on.  I am knackered from all the too-ing and fro-ing and it is only Monday. Last weekend was 6am starts EVERY DAY!!! Shouldn't be allowed.

So I hope that you have got more sewing done than me and that you are all enjoying the fabulous weather.

Have a great week!
K xx

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Rip it Up and Start Again.........

Seems like ages since I have posted anything but I have been snowed under with work (as per...). Think that you have got something done then three things come along to take its place!  Added to that I forgot to bring a USB cable so and had to snaffle mine from work today to download pics from my camera. Still I am off on holiday in about three weeks and it can't come soon enough. Two weeks of being home and NOT living out of a suitcase sounds utterly fantastic to me.

This actually looks like a collar!

I did get a little sewing done this weekend though. I did a bit of my shirt and all was going swimmingly. I top-stitched the front bands without sewing wobbly lines, my sleeves went in without so much as a single pucker but the collar. Quelle horreur!

Not even pressed yet and the tacking stitches still in but looking good,

 I totally screwed up somewhere and one end was a little longer than the front of the shirt. No pictures of the pig's ear I made of it or I will cry. I must have stretched it when I was sewing it but it still fitted perfectly over the other which was covered in fusible interfacing. I don't know what I did but after half a dozen attempts I had to stop and do something else. The other end was perfect as well. Not sure whether to unpick it all or just a bit, or even cut a new collar. Not sure if I have enough fabric for that one though. Stopped in a hissy fit before I put the cuffs on as it was liable to meet a gruesome end with my fabric shears otherwise. Anyway I think that it covers my ginormous bosom fits ok.

Really need to add front darts.

I should really have trimmed all the threads of before Sprogzilla took this

Talking of fabric I have bought lots. The red linen that I got a couple of weeks ago, green star-spangled cotton for Sprogzilla's shirt, the orange polka dot for my sheet shirt facings and some bits of Solstiss lace for some corsetry work I am doing,

Small, but perfectly formed.

Solstiss are a family lace-making company based in Caudry in the north of France. There is a long tradition of lace making in Caudry which started with the introduction of a smuggled  English loom in 1808 (from Nottingham, natch) and was aided by French modifications by a M. Jacquard (who knew?) to allow the loom to use pattern cards (a Jacquard loom) to produce Leaver's Lace. They are the only remaining lace making town in France and even have a lace museum there. I would love to go to that, especially since they have a current exhibition of dresses from the film, "The Great Gatsby". Never seen it but I loved the book and the costumes look incredible.

Look at the beauty! Source

Solstiss supply lace to lots of the big couture houses and even made the lace designed by Sophie Hallette for the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress. With such a pedigree it would normally be well out of my beer-bottle budget but I managed to find some small pieces for sale which were not too expensive. They are small but perfectly sufficient for what I need. It is pretty hard to get good lace these days.

I also bought a couple of vintage patterns from eBay as I do when I am bored. I am going to use the sarong skirt to make something a bit cheesy and Tiki-inspired when the right fabric comes along.

This is a bit of inspiration for a pattern hack I will be doing shortly.

Simplicity 8706. Do you think that this would work with a border print?

The dress, well I have a border print linen but I don't know if the pattern will work with a flare?
Anyway, I had better skedaddle as I have work to do tonight. BOO!!
Leaving you with a song.

Hope that you are all having a sunny summer week.
K xx

Monday, 23 June 2014

Carry Me Caravan, Take me Away........

Sorry for the gap in posting. I have been away with work, then had a horrendous deadline and then was in Edinburgh again this weekend seeing my Mum so no sewing done but I have been buying fabric, a couple of new patterns and a copy of Patrones magazine! If you haven't read Patrones before then it is a Spanish magazine with sewing patterns in like BurdaStyle where you have to trace them off the sheets. It is very fashion forward and usually has a lot of designs by fancy labels. I have never seen one in the UK which is a pity, but I did buy one from eBay ages ago.
patrones 338

This is full of lovely outfits. I think that the sizing runs pretty small though.

I think that I have been buying stuff as a bit of displacement activity 'cos things have been a bit busy. I mean look at these. Not really me at all. Add to the collection I suppose and they were cheap. My favourite kind of pattern.

Bloody Hell! What was I thinking buying these two? I am fat and rectangular enough without wearing these. Better book me in for a sack-fitting!

 I was lucky enough to go to Spain the other week and it was glorious (and bloody hot). I am scared into catatonia by the thought of flying, I hate the sound of the engine and freak out at every clunk and change in tone. Solution: my earbuds in and some tunes blasting. That coupled with Morrisey's autobiography and I was happy as I could be when facing certain death a clam!
I didn't take a camera with me but  here are a couple of pics of  the view from where I was.

It was the Garrotxa region of Catalonia and I have to say it was very special. The scenery was fabulous, the food was delicious and the people wonderful (no drink for me with 8am meetings though). I would definitely like to go back again. There looked like some great places to explore. On the way back to the airport we had a spare hour (literally) and stopped for an ice cream in Besalu. What a lovely place filled with medieval flagged streets, roman ruins and a huge stone bridge across the river. There was a guy on it playing early music on a steel drum. Sounds a bit bizarre, and I suppose it was, but it was a bit magical too.

I also learnt about a "Mikveh" which is a ritual bathing place used in Judaism. There was fantastic ruins of a medieval synagogue, school and a mikveh at the side of the bridge. Unfortunately to see round you had to book and we literally had no time left. 
So a short post with borrowed photos and no sewing.

Probably the worst sewing blog in the world.....

Anyway, I hope that you are all great. I will get behind a machine again soon, promise. :)

K xx