Monday, 30 December 2013

Slow Progress And Future Plans

I'm getting on with tracing NewLook 6150 at a steady pace but it's still going slow. Faster than I would at home but not as fast as I was expecting. That's mostly due to laziness though.

What's more important, to me anyway, is that I've finally got my housing situation sorted for the next few months. I was hoping to move back to my home town but trying to find a place and then only being able to give my months notice when I have somewhere to go is both annoying and expensive.

I'm going to pack my stuff up and stick it in storage instead. Move onto Mum and Dads futon, where I've been staying this week, if I haven't found a place by the middle of February and be able to look properly for a flat. I'm feeling a lot less stressed about it now and edging into excited. I've still got to declutter a lot more but I can live with that.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Holiday's Over

The fun of Christmas has kind of worn off, and I spent yesterday evening tracing my little white dress pattern. I didn't realise it was unprinted and not very well cut. God knows what it'll look like.

The longer seam lines down the body were wonky and the notches were all uneven depths like it had been used before by someone who wasn't used to using scissors but when I get it everything was folded up like it had just come from the factory. I don't know if it was like that originally or if someone used it and then folded it up and compressed it well enough to look new. If they did they didn't use pins, but maybe that explains the wonkiness?

Today I'm going to get to work on NewLook 6150 so I can use it on some of my bigger knit stash pieces. I'm actually excited about making the version illustrated in red. :-)

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Little White Dress

I've tried taking part in Pattern Review's sewing competitions before but I didn't sew fast enough for the stash busting one and didn't even manage to start the others, just getting as far as planning. This year I want to actually have something in the running, even if I don't win it'll be a huge achievement.

The first one, from January 16th to February 15th, is for a little white dress because they've already done a little black dress. I don't have a LBD but there's always time for that later.

I've already chosen my pattern. It's an old mail order pattern that came with a newspaper/magazine. At least I think it is, I can't find anything via google. If it was a newspaper then it's gone out of business since then. Oh well, it doesn't really matter in the end.
I'm going to do it in white cotton, obviously, but I'm going to have a bit of fun with the embellishments. I've talked about blackwork before, but since the challenge is a reworking of black as white I figured I'd reimagine blackwork as whitework. Whitework is where you do embroidery in the same colour as the fabric you're sewing on (usually, you guessed it, white). I'm planning to do silver blackwork on the bodice neck and then use white thread and beads at the bodice and sleeve hems.

It may not win but I think I'll feel pretty wearing it. :-D

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Hats Off To Christmas!

Hey there guys! I hope you're having a great Christmas and getting to do something you love, whether it's spending time with your family or indulging in a rare pleasure. I'm going to be spending the morning with the grandparents and then settling in at home with the parents and siblings for presents and dinner. I think it's the first time the five of us have been together since last Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we got drunk over board games and played with hats.

Dad wore Mums hat:

The brothers wore Dads hats:

And I wore my brothers hat (the one on your left):

Mum wore one of her many rainbow hats but no one took a picture. :-(

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Next Knitting Project?

I didn't have a picture of dad
in a jumper so you get one of
him dressed as Gimli at my
brothers wedding.
I'm not really very good at sewing for other people, but knitting is a bit different. I seem to find knitting a more enjoyable experience in and of itself, rather than doing it for the sense of achievement and the resulting garment.That's one of the reasons I think I'll be able to put the time and effort into making my dad a jumper.

The other is that I know he'll wear it. Dad pretty much lives in them in winter and kept one his mum made for 30 years! (It got eaten by moths.) I know it's a bit late in the season to be starting a knitting project but, lets be honest, what are the chances I get it finished before next winter?

I did initially want to cheat and get some 'sweater knit' fabric to sew up into a jumper but I couldn't find anything that looked right. Brandhyze Stanley at the Mood Fabrics blog made some lovely mittens out of just the type of fabric I was looking for but I couldn't find any I liked in the shop. There was only two and they looked a bit thinner and more feminine than I can imagine dad wearing. I'm thinking they have more in the shop but they don't put everything online.

I searched ravelry and there aren't any free patterns with the look I want to I'll have to trawl through the for sale ones and put my money where my mouth is. Luckily the wool I made my scarf out of would look okay (if a bit quirky) and knitting patterns don't cost that much.

I haven't told dad about this yet, apart from asking what he'd think, but I'm going to have to get his measurements before I start so it's not going to be a big surprise.

Sunday, 22 December 2013


Tomorrow I get to go home to my parents place and spend ten days sleeping in the dining room on a futon. I'm looking forward to playing board games, staying in a heated house and slogging books that I won't get around to reading there and back.

 But what about my sewing and this blog? Well, even though my mum has three sewing machines I don't know how many of them are working at the moment and I'm concentrating on knits anyway. I'll just have to wait till I get back home to my overlocker.

Also, I just wanted to point out that the stuff in the picture isn't all of my stretch odds and sods collection. It's about half of it, but the rest is just more velvet in a huge range of colours I don't wear at the moment.
I can, however, get on with copying off some of the patterns I haven't tried yet. I just have to find out if I'll have to bring my iron with me.

If I just fill this blog with pictures of the copied off patterns then it's going to get a bit boring, so I'll try to carry on with the (hopefully) interesting musing on various sort of related subjects.

I'm also going to take the opportunity to get measurements for my family so I can make muslins if I feel like it and bring them home the next time I'm going. (I might move back to the town before I get around to it but that's beside the point.)

Hope you guys have a fun Christmas!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Work Of Deborah Cook

I'm in love with little details in clothing and miniaturisation in general so the work of Deborah Cook just gets to me in all the right ways. She's a costume designer who works in stop gap animation and is responsible for the clothing worn in both Coraline and Paranorman.

All the garments are hand sewn so that they can work in tiny detail, even making a map for visible stitching so that when the film is expanded to the size of a movie theater screen it looks consistent. They might have 40 versions of a costume in use so it really does matter.

In 2010 Deborah Cook did an interview with the FIDM Museum Blog that's really worth a read. I found it really interesting to learn about their use of fabric and how the size of the puppets made an impact. Because the figures are so small it's not realistic to use the same fabric you would use on a lifesize person, but they wanted it to look the same, so they had to source a good replacement that looked close enough that would stand up to scrutiny. They even examined it with magnifying glasses!

The costumes in Coraline are gorgeous and if google is to be believed then the main characters yellow raincoat is the most popular garment in the movie, among cosplayers at least, but I'd have my own starry jumper if I could pull anything out of the computer screen. It's pretty and feminine but it looks so comfortable that you could wear it almost all day, every day and not get bored.

Maybe when I've cut down on my fabric stash a bit I'll go searching for the right sweater knit and the right silver fabric? It wouldn't be that hard to put together, even if the stars might be time consuming. What do you think?

Friday, 20 December 2013

White Lace (New Look 6230)

I put together another toile! I took the pictures with it on my sewing dummy because it's a bit see through but you get the idea. It looks a bit better on me, partly because I fill out the arms better, but one torso is very much like another in a loose knit top.

It's got raglan sleeves that would look great in a contrasting colour to the main body and there's a seam at the back that adds a bit of shaping (but not much).

Now that I've got a couple of T-shirt patterns muslined I went digging through my stupidly big fabric stash and pulled out any peace of stretch fabric too small to be made into a dress. I'm figuring I can make what I can into tops and what I can't I can finally get rid of.

Maybe I'll take one or two more patterns down to my parents house for Christmas? If I can't get any sewing done I can at least get ready.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Capsule Wardrobes And Dressing For The Seasons

It's frickin' cold in my house. I haven't been able to get the boiler to work since I moved in over a year and a half ago and the only thing that's kept my toes from falling off is my hot water bottle and a happy willingness to stay in bed all day.

I also realized I have very little cold weather clothing. I have no jumpers, no thick trousers and wearing a coat in the house gets awkward after a while.

Every year there are magazine articles and fluff pieces on the news telling us about unpacking our winter wardrobes and transitional pieces, whatever those are. I never really payed attention because the only change I made was switching from the winter school uniform to the summer one and back again. (They never seemed to change when the seasons did so sometimes you'd boil and sometimes you'd freeze, but that's not important now.)

One of Jillybejoyful's projects. Her blog is worth a visit. :-)
The realization that I need to get some winter clothing made got me thinking about capsule wardrobes (or mini wardrobes). Sets of clothing that I can pack away when I don't need them.

Capsule wardrobes were the brainchild of Susie Faux, a London boutique owner, and was supposed to be the basics in your wardrobe that you could wear year in and year out and mix with all the new 'fashionable' stuff that the magazines tell you that you need to buy now discard after a couple of months rather than look dated.

Hey, I'm a cynic.

Capsule wardrobes of that type were made for people a lot more consistent than I am, but they also get mixed up with what are generally called mini wardrobes. That's as little as four or five items that go together and you can mix and match so that you're never left with one beautiful top that doesn't go with anything else you own and you can always reach for two things in this group and not have to think too much.

Not having to think when I first wake up appeals to me, along with being able to have a range of vaguely ridiculous garments and knowing they won't sit and rot in the wardrobe.

I can't help but think that maybe I should be planning more mini wardrobes, and less one off projects.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Inherent Absence Of Light

My mind hurts.

I haven't sewn for days. I haven't done much of anything for days.

I think I'm having a depressive episode. It's been suggested to me that I may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because my depression  gets worse this time of year. I just know I feel terrible.

Sorry if this is oversharing. I'll get back to adding pictures of sewing soon.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Gingham Dress

I finally got my gingham dress finished! It's now too late to wear it outside the house but at least it's not weighing on my mind any more and it'll be hanging in my wardrobe ready for spring.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this dress. I started it as a stash busting project because I had five meters of gingham and I'm really not a girl who wears gingham. I don't know if it's just a really nice wearable muslin or something I'll actually go out in, though.

Everything seemed to go wrong with this dress, especially the buttons and the elastic. I originally bought black elastic but I was afraid it would show through the gingham and went back for some white stuff. I think I was worried over nothing but it's too late now. Turns out the white elastic and the white bias binding where exactly the same size, making it pretty much impossible to sew along the edges of the binding and leave enough room inside.

I ended up sewing along the crease of one side and then wedging the elastic in as far as it would go and going along the other edge with my zipper foot to try and make it even. I think I did pretty well but since my bobbin tension's been acting up it doesn't look very good. Thank god it's hidden by the gathering.

This dress has put me off buttons for at least a year. I first bought both buttons and poppers planning to only have fake buttons, and then I got it into my head that I should at least try and make real button holes. You know what they say about good intentions.

I would have to sort out my sewing machine tension but I also needed a buttonhole foot. I got online and bought the cheapest one on Amazon. Big mistake. It didn't work quite right and the top layer of metal was flaking off when I got it out of the packet so now not only do I not have the buttonhole foot, I have the trouble of sending it back. I looked into hand sewn buttonholes but soon realised I didn't care enough about this dress to do them, I just wanted it to be over.

Then I cried a little.

Turns out I ended up doing exactly what I had planned in the beginning.

Monday, 2 December 2013

I've Joined Kollabora!

I may be jumping on the bandwagon a bit here, but I just joined this website and I'm loving it! It's like Pinterest with all the good bits of PatternReview thrown in.

What I really love is discovering other creators and their blogs. I'm addicted to reading crafting blogs (if not biologically then definitely psychologically) and when I find a good one I literally go to the beginning and read it like a book. I've done that with about 40! :-P

I tried to upload a project in progress (my t-shirt) but discovered a bug! That just shows you how new it is! There was a place to add in a description but not marker showing you where so I couldn't see it. I told the tech people and they jumped right on it, which is always a good sign for a well run website, and it's probably fixed by now. I'll have to add the finished top when I get home today.

Hope to see you on there!

Friday, 29 November 2013

T-shirt Work In Progress

I've spent the last two days sewing time tracing another t-shirt pattern, Newlook 6230, and it's at times like this I wish I just cut out the damn tracing paper. I know I'll use this one till it wears out so it's worth it to trace it but it really gets boring after a while.

It's almost ready for me to start cutting the fabric but I'm about to head off to my parents for the weekend and I won't be bringing it with me. Fingers crossed I'll get my Biology work done, though. :-)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

My New Toy!

I've mentioned my overlocker once or twice but I haven't actually bragged told you about it yet. It was a complete fluke that I found it, and exactly when I was looking for one.

I had gone to the charity shop to drop off a few books (I'm trying to declutter) and passed by the new 'retro' shop. I hadn't gone in before because I don't buy clothes that much and I find the valuation of second hand clothing confusing. I just wanted a look really.

The other stuff in the shop was a bit boring and it was very dark but sitting on the counter was this wonder, complete with instruction manual:

The thread and ballpoint needles actually cost more than the machine

I don't know how old it is or how the shop came to have it but it was clear after a quick conversation they didn't know what to do with it, even though they'd checked to see if it was working. The guy in the shop admitted as much and called it an overedger. :-)

When I asked the price and he shrugged and pulled £20 out of thin air I practically jumped with joy and asked him to keep an eye on it while I walked to the bank.

Walking half a mile home with it in a big paper carrier bag I almost regretted my decision, but not quite! :-D

Saturday, 23 November 2013

My Most Useless Make Yet?

I made a pattern holder/wall hanging doodad!

I'm not quite sure why I did this. My mane trail of thought was that I could easily get stuck doing the same patterns over and over again because tracing them takes so long when I first want to make them. I figured if I made one new one every month then I'd have more and more ready traced patterns when I come to sew something nice and quick.

I made it completely with my overlocker because I couldn't be bothered to change the thread on my sewing machine but it turned out pretty good. There's one slot for each month of the year and at some point I'm going to get a wooden dowel (pole) and sew it into the top so I can hang it one the wall. Pretty good for a 1 evening make with no pattern.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Yay! T-shirts!

I got an overlocker (serger) a couple of days ago and I've been having fun with it, making my first stretch garments. I don't have any ball point needles so I'm going to wait to sew anything with good fabric, and I can't sew any seams on my sewing machine because I need to fix the bobbin tension before I can use the zigzag stitch, but both those things can be easily fixed.

Sorry you can see my bra! I didn't realise how see-trough the fabric was, but at least I found out here and not out in the real world. Also, did you notice my new haircut? I got my boyfriend to cut my hair and when he got it wonky (I shouldn't be surprised) I got the hairdresser to just go with it.

I made both the t-shirts in NewLook 6216, but the sizing got me really confused. According to the size graph I should have sewn a 14/16 but when I looked at garment measurements I got confused. It looked like I could wear an 8 with room to spare.

Turns out cutting the short sleeved one in an 8 was just fine, which is a bit annoying. But even more annoying was the long sleeved version, where the body was just fine but the sleeves where tight. I guess that's where the inflated sizing came from but it just looks horrible, and I think it would have whatever size I cut. I would edit the top to add size 16 sleeves to the size 8 top but it's such a wasteful pattern in terms of fabric I don't think I'll bother.

I will sew up the short sleeved top, probably again and again, and I'm going to try the trousers at least once, but I'll get a sleeved top from somewhere else.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


I've been away from my blog for a bit, partly because I started a degree on the 5th of October in Health Sciences and it's taking up loads of my time. I should have expected that, but it feels a lot harder than I was expecting.

My other excuse was the Whitby Goth Weekend. I had more fun than last time but I've decided to skip the one next April so I can save up more money and even make something myself that I can wear. I did buy some pretty things, though.

Firstly, a slightly silly jumper. It's a bit scratchy, but looks really nice to wear over a small top and be both decent, pretty and warm. It looks like it wouldn't be warm enough to go outside in the winter without a coat and that makes 'looking cool' a bit irrelevant, but when spring comes around I'll be happy.

Then, something I specifically went to get. I know it, again, looks a little bit ridiculous, but I have a knee length coat in the same kind of design and I LOVE it! The sort of post-apocalyptic arts and crafts look is something I'm really into at the moment. I can't wait to wear this over a white shirt. (I probably need more white shirts).

Finger-less mittens! Full of fur! Yay!

I got some crafty stuff as well. I got 400g of each of the grey wools that one of the local shops had, and two grey tartans from different places. The one that's all grey (the bottom one in the picture) is possibly a poly-cotton blend in a thinner, trouser weight fabric that I got as a bolt end at the Whitby fabric shop that I really want to make into trousers because I'm seriously running low on pairs that fit.

The other tartan is grey, white and black with little lines of red that I got as surplus at a custom clothing stall. It's looser and softer and would make a great coat, and it's definitely better quality than the other one.

Nest post I should be able to share a finished garment, I just need to hand hem it and add elastic at the waist.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

This Post Is Brought To You By The Colour Blue

I subscribe to a stupid amount of blogs. Most of them are sewing blogs, but there are one or two others in there and Bored Panda is one of them. It's full of funny, inspirational, and down right cute pictures but I've never really been inspired to do more than share something to facebook before I go back to whatever it was I should have been doing.

They had a post about award winning photographs a little while ago and they were beautiful but it was the colour combinations in one of them that stuck with me.

(Amazing autumn fall landscapes)

I think it's already kind of obvious that I'm a fan of blue, but blue and orange is something you don't see that often so I never really thought of it. I couldn't even find anything on spoonflower.

I did think about trying it in one of my projects, but I don't know if I could pull it off. I like fun clothing, but I really can't tell what's good when it comes to colour.

I quickly realised the answer was shiny things! (It often is.) Silver, gold and copper are like black, they go with everything without looking ridiculous (as long as you don't overdo it) and even I can put something together without looking silly.
Top right: (Dany Atrache 2012)
Bottom middle: (Dior)
Bottom right: (Copper and teal)

It's not really a big thing, but I kinda trace my terrible colour matching skills to my mum. It's not her fault, she's colour blind. The only way she could choose things that matched was to go for two things that were the same colour (usually purple) or rainbows. Even then it still went wrong sometimes. :-)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

New Desk? Kind Of...

I've finally got back to sewing! One of the problems I was having was a lack of sewing space, a designated space where I could leave stuff out and not have to stick it all in a cupboard every time I needed the space.

It's only a mirror on top of some bedside tables but I don't have to kneel on the floor to cut fabric so it feels like a lot less work to do things. Cutting out is probably the worst part of sewing and I think I'll get a lot more garments made.

I've actually managed to cut out the front pieces and one of the button stands. Only one more piece to cut out and then I start sewing.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

New Looks For Me!

I've been very good lately when it comes to buying fabric, especially since I live near a great sewing shop. That being said, I have been looking at the sewing patterns.

When I first bought a load of sewing patterns a while ago I went for what looked cool. The kind of thing I'd stick on my Pinterest inspiration board. I didn't really put too much thought into when I'd be sewing and wearing these complicated patterns.

Now that the New Look patterns at my local sewing shop have come on sale again I decided to stock up on simple patterns that I could try making again and again. It was pretty easy to narrow it down to these seven patterns but here's where it gets harder.

I like dresses even though I only own one, the 1940s one I made myself but that doesn't really look very good without a slip. I have loads of leggings to wear under them and a dress pattern that would work fine for a slip so now I just need to get making.

The top two dresses are simpler dresses with nothing cut on the bias, but they're different enough that I might consider getting both.

These two, though, I'm not too sure about. They're both okay, but I can't see myself getting both and I don't know which one to choose. The one on the left, New Look 6093, looks kinda cool but it's a bit more complicated and the inserts are cut on the bias. The other one looks kinda plain though.

I also want this top, even though it doesn't quite come under simple basics either. Wrap tops are one of those styles that seem to look good on almost any woman and I really like them.

And finally, the really basic stretch tops. The one with separate sleeves is a bit more my style, but it looks like it would look best in unpatterned fabric and that really isn't what I end up getting, especially in knit fabrics.

Okay, so I'm indecisive, but at £2.95 a pattern I can live with that.

Friday, 4 October 2013

A Long Overdo Goodbye

When I first started this blog I spent weeks cutting out a toile for a jacket from an old curtain I got from my
mum, and then put it aside after sewing one or two seams. All the parts are still in my spare room somewhere but they got lost in the mess.

Now I'm cleaning up my house so that it'll be easier to move back to my home town after Christmas, and I'm coming across the bits and bobs that I haven't payed attention to for months. I don't really know what I was thinking. Not only am I not really a toile person, I find it hard to sew things I AM going to be able to wear at the end. I don't want to spend ages sewing something that makes me bored. If I don't fit into it at the end I'll just have to find someone who does.

I have two other projects that need a decision as well, my bed-sheet dress and my gingham dress.

I only have two dresses in my wardrobe, neither of which I wear. It's not their fault, really. One's an airline hostess costume in quite horrible, stretchy fabric, and the other is my 40s dress that needs a summer event to shine and a petticoat (that I don't have) to hang right.

I'm afraid I'm chucking my bed-sheet dress. I know I was never going to wear it and the fabric was on it's last legs to begin with. It was dark from being used, like a carpet that's been walked on every day. It never would have coped with having butten holes put in it because of the weave, either. I'm kinda sad I didn't realize before I cut it up. Maybe I could have made some cushions by using the side that was on the inside, but it would have always looked weird. At least I learned something from this.

The gingham dress will get made, partly because my boyfriend helped me with it and that makes me think of him, and partly because there's a good chance it'll be wearable, at least in spring. If it's not then at least I can give it to the charity shop without feeling embarrassed..

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The First Idea For SS14

I'm kinda loving planning my spring/summer sewing now because it's starting to get cold here in England. I'm curling up with my hot water bottle and dreaming of days at the beach and pick-nicks in the park.

I've been looking at my pattern stash and I couldn't help but think of NewLook 6705. This top was a bit of a downer when I made it the first time but I'm definitely thinking that was because I made it in a stiffer, heavier fabric than it needed.

I've got loads of light, floaty fabric in my stash and some of it is perfect for summer, especially a piece I've already shown off on this blog.

The fabric bellow is a lovely silky fabric from the bolt end bins at Abakhan and it might be familiar from my ill conceived give-away that no one entered. I've got quite a lot of it so I'll make one and see if I want to make more. I might even use the white lace from the same post, but I'm still undecided.

If things go right I'll be making view A (the photo) in December.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sewing For Summer At This Time Of Year?

I wrote in an earlier post, I've decided to start following fashion schedules when planning my sewing. That means the start of the New York fashion should have been very important.

It wasn't.

There's good stuff, but also a whole lot of pastels and baige.
I watched as many shows as I could on Youtube but I felt more and more disappointing. The clothes were kind of boring, baggy and plain, and the colours were not my kind of thing. I don't know what I was thinking, but I expected more shape and architecture, more interesting colours.

I eventually came to the conclusion that it wasn't that surprising. Even though fashion shows are the place that designers show off their skills, they're also there to sell and advertise. If it looks like people are going to want pastels and pretty, floaty clothes then that's what they're going to turn to.

Also, I hate to say it, but the women they choose make the clothing less appealing to me. I know being down on other people for how their bodies look is iffy but when I'm admiring clothing I like to imagine wearing it, and seeing them on the most skinny woman they could find doesn't give me any idea what they would look like on my 34Ds.

And I like boobs.

Watching the fashion shows did have one up side, though, and that was seeing the Bea Szenfeld show. To be fair, it doesn't have any clothes in it, but it's still awesome. They're basically paper sculptures draped on models, and you really should watch the video to see how they move.

Monday, 5 August 2013

My absence

I've been away from my blog for a bit, and for that I'm sorry.

It's been hard for me to find the space to work in my horrible, messy house and even harder to find the mental and emotional energy. All my bills arrived at the same time and my relationship's hit a couple of bumps.

I did find something else to do that took a lot less space. I've been doing Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) that are 3.5 x 2.5 inch pieces of artwork that you can swap online.

I'm going to try and get back to sewing this week.