Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Winner and the Quilt Top

Hello Strangers! I didn't mean to leave it so long since my last post but have been working too much a lot plus I was a bit ill for a week and wasn't up to anything much bar being sick and sleeping. Sorry for the "too much information".

Anyway, I had a whole day in the studio yesterday and I pieced together the quilt top for Sprogzilla's quilt/throw thing. Sprogzilla helped me lay out all the pieces and we chose where they all went together. I know that there will be quilting purists out there that are sighing at my shoddy piecing but this was never going to be a block party. Pieces were chosen for colour and design just because we liked them. We tried to offset the pieces and sometimes it even worked.

We have zombies

And ponies and it has glow in the dark stars. 

What more could you ask for in a quilt? Maybe better photos in natural light. The colours are much deeper and more vibrant than in these pics.  I am now on the hunt for a nice solid grey to make a border round the edges and as a backing. I also need to get wadding but I think that this will have to be an online job. Any recommendations very eagerly received! There is not much round here, they don't even have the thin cotton stuff I am after in John Lewis or Fenwick's.  At the moment my top stands at 42 inches by 72 inches. I am hoping that the final size will be 48 inches by 78 inches. I have not picked a design for the quilting yet but I do fancy chevrons as this will look quite modern on the back.

So anyway for the news that you have all been waiting for, the winner of the Patrones magazine is (as drawn by Sprogzilla)....wait for it...... Mim! Thanks to everyone for leaving a comment and I will drop you a line to find out where to send it to. Apologies again for sending this late.

Finally, I am off to Birmingham for a flying visit on Tuesday so am going to take full advantage of being there and have a look at the Rag Market. I have taken photos of the backs of all the patterns I need fabric for so hopefully I will find some to make one of the 70's skirt patterns I have. I seems to have tons of 1.5m lengths of things but very little in bigger sizes. Shows you how old most of my stash is as I would be hard pressed to squeeze at top out of 1.5m these days.

I hope that all is good with you all and I'll report back on what I find in Birmingham.

Take care and have fun!


Monday, 10 August 2015

Vintage Shopping and Dyeing Bamboo Yarn with Fibre Reactive Dye

Hi Lovelies! If it has been a bit quiet on the blogging front it has certainly not been here at MOR. I have been working really, really all hours of the day and night a lot in the last couple of weeks, albeit a little half-heartedly as I am just not feeling the love at the moment.  To try to get me out of my grump I took some time off.  We had to drop the car in to get looked at in Whitley Bay just in time to go to the auction at Featonby's. I didn't buy anything but it was fun to go.

We did go into just about every charity shop, Sprogzilla was none too happy, but we came away with some lovely finds. We found some vintage crochet doillies and embroidered tray cloths (to add to my huge collection), some knitting needles, a very funky knitted suit pattern and a tattered and manky Singer sewing pamphlet that looks like it is from the 1930's/40's.

Beautiful Illustrations

After the car was done we drove down to Marsden and had tea and cake in the Marsden Grotto before going for a paddle in the sea. It was surprisingly warm for being overcast but the water was freezing.

Sprogzilla enjoying the beautiful scenery

Friday, I decided to do some dyeing to pass the time before tackling the jungle that is our garden. To me it really feels like Autumn is on the way so I am hankering after knitting some wooly scarfs. I love the look of all those fancy hand-painted yarns but they are pretty expensive and I am not that great a knitter so for now they would be wasted on me. Taking the cheapskates route out, in the stash there was some Sirdar Baby Bamboo DK that I bought ages ago for £1 a ball. Nice yarn but for me too bland 'n' boring colour. It was however 80% Bamboo/20% Wool so all-natural and perfect for using up some of the Procion MX dyes I have tucked away. Sprogzilla asked if she could help and ended up dyeing a new white t-shirt and some cut-off denim jeans that we had bought for the purpose a few months ago and had pre-bleached to get them a very pale colour.

I made up some saline solution in a big Lidl pickle jar  (classy but the perfect size, plus pickles!) with 250g salt and added about 50g of Soda Ash. I used this solution to dissolve the dye powder in an old wine glass so about 6-10g of dye in about 100mls. This is a lot of dye as we wanted saturated colours. I used Chinese Red, Cerise/Magenta, Yellow and for the wool added in a little black as these were the only colours left. I buy my dyes/reagents from Corkwood Knitting and Craft Supplies in the UK but they are pretty easy to come by all over.

To dye the wool I pierced a hole in an old plastic bottle and pushed through an end. I used a knife so that the end is held when the bottle goes back into place. I then wrapped the yarn round the bottle quite randomly so that the colour would be distributed with no pattern to it. I pre-rinsed the yarn in warm water with a little Synthrapol to get rid of any size or dirt and soaked it for 5 minutes in 5% Soda Ash to "prime". One ball of yarn was enough to cover a 1.5L plastic bottle. This is the perfect size as you get a nice thin layer of yarn. It is also easy to hold without getting all covered in dye and it can stand and drain by itself. Plus it can go straight into the recycling bin after you have used it. Cheap and classy!

After the soaking I stood the bottle up on the draining board to drain and then used a paint brush to add dye in splotches all over the yarn. It ended up in a sort of messy leopard print.  Sprogzilla folded her pre-washed and primed T-shirt lengthwise and secured it with old hairbands. She then used the same paintbrush to "paint" pieces of her shirt in a random way. The shorts she wanted a sort of gradient so just painted on what ever she fancied onto them making sure that both the front and the back were covered.

We left the t-shirt for 6 hours and the yarn for about 7 hours. I popped the t-shirt in a plastic bag and left it outside while I cleaned up. You could also leave it overnight if you like, we did with the shorts. They were then rinsed in cold water until it ran clear and then a warm wash with a couple of teaspoons of Synthrapol in a sink of hand-hot water. I drip-dry outside but you could give them a rinse and spin in the machine. Do wear gloves though as I did a bit of the final rinsing without and now I have magenta pink hands like a big, camp Jumblie. 

This is how the yarn turned out. I really love it.  The colours are very different from the t-shirt even though we used the same dye lots. Dyeing will always be affected by the composition of the fabric. If there is any man-made-fibres in your mix then it may be a bit paler. Cellulose fibres such as bamboo and cotton are best for the Procion Dyes but there are differences in how each fibre takes it up. Also any existing colour will affect the final outcome. For dyeing proper wool you should use special dyes for proteins but you can use the Procion ones just replacing the Soda Ash with white vinegar or some thing else acidic.

Top Tip - Don't be a trumpet like me and take the yarn off the bottles to rinse it or you will end up with yarn spaghetti like I did. Fun unravelling it all though, all 300m of it.

Oh, and just in case you thought I had forgotten I will post a separate post this week on the winner of the Patrones magazine as this one is long enough for tonight and I need to get to bed. Sorry for not posting it sooner. Life is really dragging me down a rabbit hole at the moment.

Until later!

Disclaimer: Just mentioning that this post is sponsored by me, me and only me, plus everything in the above is of course my own opinion. 

No pickles were dyed in the making of this post.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

How I Got My Corset Mojo Back for Sewcialists Lingerie Month

Hello! Sorry for being a bit quiet the last couple of weeks but I have been working like crazy and away again so there has been no time at all for proper sewing.  I also have a big work decision to make but more on that later.
Today I decided that enough was enough and that I had better make a start doing something with my recent lace purchases as the end of the month is nigh. I have to admit that I spent ages today just pinning the motifs until I was happy with their placement. It will probably take me as long to actually stitch them down as it did to sew the whole bloody corset. Handwork is definitely not my strong point. 

I use tiny, invisible stitches all through the motif to make sure that it is held down properly and not just round the edges. There will be some breading and Swarovski's on this too. I figure that there is no such thing as too many sparkles.

If you have been reading this blog for a while you might recognise the corset above. It was one that I made for Newcastle Fashion Week a couple of years ago but even though it ended up going down the Runway (inside out too - bloody dressers) I knew that it was not done until I had some lace (in the right colour) on it.  Apologies, it desperately needs a new corset hook at the top to keep it closed and my dress form is a bit "straight-up-and-down". It is much curvier on a real person. I was hoping to have it done for the end of July to fit in with the Sewcialist's lingerie sewing theme but it will probably take me a bit longer.

Still a few spaces on the back for me to add in a final couple of bits of lace. I love the colour contrasts of the lace against the fabric. The original silk was the pale lemon colour and I dyed it. The corset pattern is self-drafted based on one from my corset bible, "Corsets and Crinolines" by Norah Waugh.

Apart from that I had a couple of days off this week and took Sprogzilla up to her Granny's in Scotland for a bit of the holidays. As it was a nice day we visited The Kelpies in Falkirk en route. I love horses and was so excited to finally see these sculptures. However, what I was not prepared for was their sheer scale. They are bloody massive. Stunning and massive.

Round by the Kelpies is a really beautiful park situated on the Forth and Clyde Canal which is now a working canal again thanks to some recent renovations. The banks are gorgeous, covered in loads of wild flowers and even some jaggy* thistles.

*Jaggy adj. - Prickly or spiky. e.g. "Stay awa' fae the jaggy nettles or you'll hae a sair wan" . 
Can also be applied to the sensation on the tongue from fizzy drinks e.g "Jaggy Ginger" noun. Glaswegian for ginger beer. NB. "Ginger" can now be applied to all fizzy soft drinks.

We also visited the Falkirk Wheel which is amazing piece of engineering. It was opening in 2002 as part of the renovations of the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals and allows boats to be lowered from one onto the other, a process that used to take 11 different locks. It is an amazing piece of engineering. Here you can see the boats being lifted up and down at the same time. 

Anyway, I am contractually obliged not to talk about work but they dropped the bombshell on us that my department is moving to Birmingham. I was down there for a visit last week but only for a few hours so didn't get a chance to see much of the city. What I did see what not at all inspiring. Sorry people of Brum.

All the family want me back home in Scotland full -time. Is Birmingham to Glasgow commutable? I spend half my life travelling at the moment I suppose that another few hours wouldn't make any difference but am still not really convinced. Any info on Birmingham gratefully received, I really don't know which way is up any more.

Hope you are all having a great time!


Sunday, 12 July 2015

I Say a Little Prayer plus a Patrones Magazine Giveaway

Ola, la gente guapa! I have been away in Spain. Not on holiday though, with work, but it was great. I was genuinely spoiled by my very gracious hosts and am always delighted and humbled by the friendliness and generosity of the Spanish people.

The weather there was really, REALLY hot, in the mid 30's, and my poor blue-white Scottish skin turned into bright tomato red after just a wee while in the sun.

Ribes Y Casals, next door sells lots of knits, then the Humana charity shop. What a great street!

 On the way there from the airport I had a couple of hours in Barcelona before travelling again to have a wander and watch the city from the cafe on the top floor of El Corte Ingles department store (apologies for not adding the "acute" but I don't know how to on this laptop). You get a cracking view from up there.

First port of call off the airport bus was, surprise, surprise, Carrer Roger de Lluria to go visit Ribes Y Casals. I had been here the year before and was kicking myself that I didn't buy some of the coloured lace to finish my dip-dyed corset as it was very expensive. You can imagine how happy I was when I rocked up to find not only did they have a big sign "Rebaixes" (Sale) in the window but on the remnant table I found the fabric of my dreams in the two colours that I had been dithering over,  plus another few besides. So doing what any decent happy shopper would I bought the lot, *cough* eleven bits *cough, cough*.

I am completely over the moon. I can now finish something that has been laying around for 2 years (2 years!!!!) plus I have a whole heap of pretty to keep me amused until the next trip. Keep your eyes peeled for my lingerie sewing posts coming soon!

To say thank you to the Sewing Gods for my good fortune I would like to pass it on and have brought back a copy of this months Patrones magazine to give away.

For those of you that are not familiar, Patrones is a bit like Burda Style but with many styles by actual brands/designers and is almost impossible to get hold of in the UK.

It is quite fashion forward, even the plus-sized offerings in this one are worth sewing.  It also has some styles for the little people in your life.

The giveaway is open world-wide and will run until Friday 31st July.
 Please leave a comment below including an obvious way for me to contact you if you win.

So have you found any brilliant buys on your travels? Or scooped a brilliant but unexpected fabric haul or vintage gem? Comment and tell all! 

Good luck and as always happy sewing!

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