Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Trouser try out

I nearly have my trouser pattern the way I want it. But these cotton trousers will work for the summer. They call it 'Wearable Toile'. The fabric doesn't have alot of give, but I had enough of it to do the trial before I cut into the nice dark blue linen I got at the Knitting and Stitching show.

Pictures are fuzzy because I tried the photo in the mirror trick.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Just a quick whiz round on the overlocker for these. New serviettes for the table. I realised the ones I have had nearly 25 years are more than a bit frayed on the edges! So, as well as doing Christmas ones, I may as well do some sets for the rest of the year when I find fabrics I like. This fabric looks a bit more elegant and will go with the dining room and tablecloths I have.
Folded fancy to make a pocket
I made these double sided. I will have to look out for a bigger piece so I can make a couple sets for when we have guests. I like cloth serviettes because you can use them more than once (if you leave them at your place on the table) and you can just bung them in the washing machine. So, no landfill and no cost to speak of.
There were lots of things going on at the TVOffcuts sewing meeting yesterday...some busy enjoying chat and Juliet's baking! But it was good to get back together again.

Here are a few of the projects out when I went round with the camera.

Ovengloves in progress - Gill C

Knitting - Lyn

Knitting gloves - Sheila

Redwork hanging - Mavis

Foundation piecing - Elaine

I got started sewing a blouse I had cut out. Not sure if I will get it finished for the fabric stash contest, but at least it will be started.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

slaving away at the machine

I have actually been doing things this week...sorry I didn't post.

I also struggled with coming to the realisation my machine needs yet more doing to it! Yikes. I am so glad they are doing this on the warranty. This time it is taking its time deciding if and when to do reverse... and if doing reverse whether it can ever be bothered to go back to doing straight. So, it is back at the doctors. So glad for the back up machine that used to belong to my friend!

But I have sewn a trial pair of trousers which just needs a waistband. no photos yet.

I passed on about 30lbs of scraps for a school that is making a dragon! I save scrips and scraps for playgroups and the like, but I produce more than they use! So, I had been saving a while. When one of my students mentioned the school could use them, and that she would actually collect them! I dug around in various boxes to get small bits to add to what I had.

and I cut and completed another shrug and circle skirt which will be for my sis in Alaska. I worked out how to cut the circles top and tailing the layout, so I was able to get a longer length. Only just enough!

I also decided to pipe the shrug...not such a good idea, as it doesn't hang so naturally, but with the frog closure, it will be fine. The skirt and shrug definitely look better on a human, but you can get an idea.

Here is another tale...I piped the cuff...and then found you couldn't get your hand in . Oh yeah, that's why its made out of stretch. The piping stops the stretch.
Piping with purple velvet (that somehow is reading as blue)
So, I cut off the whole cuff and added one made from the purple velvet. Because I was so efficient with getting rid of scraps I had no more of the black velvet left...it went into the bag for the school!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Books and Looks

Yesterday was the Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles meeting. A good day where we found out a bit more about each other. some amazing work being done! Good connections happening as we discovered who might be an expert in what we want to know about to accomplish something in our own work.

Kate Findlay showed some work in which she is experimenting with fibre optics. So, cool! I have had some ideas about lights in garments for sometime, but haven't had the time or even perhaps proper reason to focus on working how to start. This may call for a collaboration! Anyway, she has loaned me a book that she found helpful - Fashioning Technology - and passed on the title of another.

On the Been There, Done That table, I spotted a few interesting books. This time I actually had time between running things to have a look. Apart from Kate's book, the others in the photo are now mine! Ideas and Ideas!

And when I came home shattered, I found my thoughtful husband had fixed M'Lady's leg! So, now it won't be such an ordeal to photograph garments. No propping or taping or lying on the floor to get a photo that doesn't include the strange contrivances that are keeping her up.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Christmas outfit in January?

This week has been a bit of a meeting week. But I have been able to get on with some sewing.

This fabric was passed on to me - almost as a challenge. What would you do with it? Normally I would pass this by altogether. In the first place, it is a bit (well more than a bit) of a shout "Look at me!" and secondly, I have managed to avoid doing much sewing of stretch fabrics.
But, if you think Christmas...maybe.

So, anyway, here is a fabric story.

...at the beginning of December I usually go to a Ladies Christmas Lunch. Believe me, this is about the only place where this fabric would go down well. I thought it would be fun to do a circle skirt. However, if you recall, I did the refashion contest in November and was finishing off in the wee hours the morning of 1 Dec. So, I didn't have enough brain left to make it for that weekend. especially enough brain to get my head around a circle skirt! Easy to sew and hard to do the maths and workout the layout.

Now that I am trying to use up some fabric, I figured I would get ahead of the game and make up this Christmas skirt now. During the time I was trying to get my head round the layout, I chopped the fabric at what I thought was the right place to make it. Well, it wasn't quite.

Eventually, I gave up trying to work it out and just did it by instinct. This usually is the best plan for me. If I over think it, it doesn't get done. The circle skirt came together well, but because of the chop thing, it was only going to be just the right length.

I was totally chuffed though that I worked out how to set the overlocker to the right settings for sewing this stretch velvet. Know I know why so many ladies love knits! (I still prefer wovens and more traditional methods of sewing.)

The other piece of the fabric was going to be plenty for a shrug I saw on the internet. I never did a shrug before and wasn't even sure one would look good on me, so here was this fabric - let's go for it! That turned out great! Although, in reality, if I sew it again, I will rework the pattern a bit to make it go round the bosum a bit more, but it works.

and that left about 1 yard. SO, I dug out the circle pattern I used for ruffles on Midnight Dance By Moonlight. I worked out that the bottom of the skirt was about 180 inches and somehow the maths seemed to tell me I needed 12 circles where the centre circumference was 12 inches. I can't remember how I worked that out. I managed to cut 14 circles - 2 for just in case. I split each circle to the centre, opened them up and stitched them together to make a ruffle, overlocked the outside edge and then overlocked the ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. Voila!

Not too shabby and used 4 yards of a questionable fabric! :-) and suitable for a Christmas ladies do.


Please excuse M'Lady's prop. She has a broken leg.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Worn to be Wild

Yesterday I went up to Henley to see the Exhibition called Worn to be Wild. A friend told me about it near the end of November, but I have been so busy I didn't get up there. and it finishes today.

It was SO cool. Kate Plumtree has made costumes from different historical periods, using techniques and silouhette of the period, but with a twist. She assigned different animals or birds to each costume. So that you have a late Victorian with overtones of a fox, or Modern period hedgehog, and so on. It is fascinating. There were swatch samples you could handle to see how the fabric felt. Also there were photo albums with photos of the different costumes at different stages of construction.

You weren't meant to take photos, but I bought most of the postcards. The Tudor Badger postcard was sold out. Here are a few of them. Spot the fox getting into the rubbish bins? and the Kingfisher?

When I came home I looked up her website. She has worked as a Costume Maker for opera and West End shows. The photos on the far right of the page on this link are of the exhibit at Henley. I found out the exhibition will also be on in other places around the UK. If you get a chance to go to it when it is near you, make a point of doing so!

This is definitely the sort of thing I would love to do. But somehow you would need a sponsor to afford the materials and you would really need to do as she has done and arrange places for them to be seen.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Carrier Bags

A few more things for the Stash contest. I had saved this fabric from the box of quilting cottons my friend gave. I like the quirkiness of it. But what to do with it besides save it? So, I thought it would make fun carrier bags for food shopping. There was enough to make 3 bags.

They have gussets and inside pockets made from the bits of fabric you remove to make the handles.

The pattern for the bag was one I made by copying a plastic carrier bag! It really holds alot and sure is more sturdy than a plastic one.

For Christmas 2007, I made quite a few of these from different fabrics for my friends. I may make some more later on, as they are quite easy to do.

Friday, 13 January 2012

brocade cushion cover

Part of this concept of using stash is also making space in my studio. I made a cushion cover the other day which got rid of a big puffy cushion. Another cushion has been lurking in here. It had pictures of the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. It was a bit of a funny from my sis in law a few years ago because it had a cow on it. (I used to collect cows.)

anyway, like the other one, I never got round to doing it because I meant to use it to show how you could just make up a simple cover. But as the course never happened, I never made it. SO, I was sure I had a bit more green brocade left from a Tudor lady costume. I had used some for a cushion in prep for the course. So, it would also go with well for another cushion to go in the lounge.

I used the simple envelope back cushion construction, only I turned the envelope part to the front. I put hooks and eyes to keep it closed.

and then sewed some random buttons from my stash on the outside of where the hooks are. The buttons are for show.
and so another 1/2 yard of fabric used, but also a puffy cushion for my lounge!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Summer PJs

Still using up the stash. Somehow I aquired what seems like a large amount of striped lightweight cotton. Almost a seersucker. As I have a few ideas percolating about things with stripes, this was not a bad thing. However, the stripes/plaids box was becoming out of control. and did I really need over 10 metres?

anyway, it seemed like it would make summer weight pyjamas for my husband. When I unrolled it, I found it was pretty narrow, so I have used up 5 metres for the pjs. I haven't measured what was left yet.

I used his favourite pair and traced them off to make a pattern last Friday.

Yesterday I made the trousers and today I did the top. Not too bad a result! I hope he likes them.

I say summer pyjamas, but I am hoping he likes them well enough to wear in winter. He likes the flannel, but really he overheats. He still wears short sleeve shirts in the winter! Not me, I have layers and layers! If he likes these well enough, I have a good pattern now to make more. The favourite ones are starting to fray on cuffs and things.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Origami bags ...or not as the case may be.

So, since the one friend who is likely to get one of these and that I know reads the blog, is bound to see the ones other people get anyway...I may as well post them.
at any rate, I need to have them somewhere to link to for putting them up for the review.

They look nothing like the original plan. The original tutorial no longer exists. This link will take you to one that is similar. There was also something like it on one of the Quilting Arts DVDs. I did try the bits of the sewing which would make it more bag like, but it seemed too bulky and pouchy. and what would you do with a little cute pouch? put things in it and then fish around trying to get into it and find the stuff down in the corners? (oops, too many opinions clearly.) I also didn't sew the 2 squares together and turn through...which I tried. That made it even more bulky on the edges. I just overlocked the edges as you can see.

and opening it, you see the flaps you turn through to the inside are meant to work like pockets.
I hope they do.

What I think these bags will be good for is to put something like a sketchbook, a book or something like that in them. The little ones could hold those little tissue packs, with a blister pack of paracetamol and lip balm or something stuck in the 'pockets'
So, I am calling them bookbags.

Or maybe you have a better idea?

lessons learned? (besides 24 ways to resew a buttonhole?) yes it used up stash, yes I have 24 presents, but ...yes, I have used up my tolerance for sewing things which aren't garments or textile art. At least for now.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

back to the real world

Yesterday was back to teaching after nearly a month off. So, it wasn't so bad, but it sure takes alot out of me. (I have fibromyalgia). Today it was the legs. Sometimes it is the upper back and neck which can set off a migraine. It is a bit scary sometimes because if I am standing alot - like when I was cutting all the bags last week, the sides of my thighs go numb and then the rest of the legs start going and I have to sit down to get the feeling back. But anyway...

Today was meant to be my take it easy day. So, lets do the buttonholes for the bags. Well, I spoke too soon about the buttonholes. E-V-E-R-Y single one of the buttonholes on the 24 bags I made were resewn in some way or another. sometimes the thread broke, sometimes the stitches skipped, and whatever else you could imagine. I put in a few different needles, used a variety of threads, changed tension and all sorts. It took me all day.
this is what it was doing...sometimes not so bad, and I hand sewed over the gaps.

but when this happened, it was really weird, I could start the sequence all over again on top of it and the right side would stitch out just right!

So, I finally took these photos and since it was near closing time, I will wait and phone SewMaster tomorrow and then email the photos to them to see what they think.

on a brighter note: DH has a new allotment. It was really overgrown, so he has spent several weeks in spare moments working on it. He has it nearly all dug over now, so I was invited to go see it on Sunday afternoon.

okay, it is a bit of earth, but it was quite up to knee height when he got it. His bit stops at the fruitcage.
then we went off for a walk with the dog, which is also one reason my legs hurt so much today.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

strange things in the neighbourhood

This week it has been very windy. I mean VERY.

So, I saw a bit of unusual colour through the textured glass in the window near the front door.
A red ballon! Still going strong.

Before I got the camera it was actually caught in the rose bushes. Eventually it blew to the other side of the path and stayed in a different bush for a while. and then went on to other adventures somewhere else.

Not Molly commented on the greenery I posted the other day, comparing it to what it is like where she lives in the Rockies in America. Well, when I took the dog for a walk I was very amazed to see this!

Yes, a full blown Hydrangea blossom amongst the faded and dead ones from last year!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Buttons - tick

Buttons have been done on the blouse. I forgot how nicely my machine does buttonholes. So, I will be less likely to delay doing them now!
front view

The front neck gapes a bit too much. I didn't pick it up on the dress I made with the big buttons because I thought the buttons were too heavy and pulling it forward.
Basically it is because it is too wide in the upper chest area. I did work that out when checking the dress fit again before the New Year. But it was a princess line cut and easy to adapt the pattern. For this one, I have taken the shoulder dart in more on my block. for the yoke, that means folding out the excess, and the dart is rotated to the yoke seam. I didn't have enough fabric left to recut the yoke. However, the blouse will still be allright to wear in the summer.

a back view

I love the fabric! It feels very drapey and cool. I didn't sew the waist darts like I normally do, it has made for a very comfortable fit. I am going to try the reworked yoke version in different fabric. I am going to try a bit more of a v at the front opening in order to do a continuous neck and buttonstand application with the overlocker. I just need some quick blouses at this point. Some time in the future I can do some with all the time consuming proper techniques.

Friday, 6 January 2012

not buttons

Today I was going to do buttons on the blouse I made yesterday. But I managed to avoid it. Oh well.

Instead, I cut out 3 reusable carrier bags.

and have traced and measured and manipulated my husband's favourite pj's to make a pattern.

Tracing the sleevehead.

So, on another day, that might have been the thing I avoided! anyway, in looking at the fabric I have, I realised I have a good length of a lightweight stripe that would do for summer pj's. If I make him a pair of summer pj's, that will use up fabric!

Buttons tomorrow?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Book

My Mother-in-Law gave me some money for Christmas. Just enough to get this new book I had heard about. It is done by the same people who did The Tudor Tailor.

First glances show it is going to be very exciting! It has all the research and visual images. and then it has the layouts and making up! The period is Early Tudor. One I quite like. Maybe I can make up something one of these days! or at least make up something modern inspired by and using ideas from what I get in the book.

Yesterday I got the bags to the nearly finished stage...just need to put on the fastenings. I also adapted my bodice block to make a yoked top. I have a few RTW (ready to wear) tops I like, and this one is based on the idea of one of them....with the advantage of fitting everywhere and not just making do. I have some airforce blue crepe fabric I have cut it from. So it is next on the sewing list.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Origami bags

okay a bit of production sewing going on.

These have been edged and the beginning stitches to form the folding for the bags. There are gubbins there for about 21 bags! Good way to reduce the stash. I have reorganised the boxes these fabrics live in so I should be able to look at what is there and get it out to use in the future.

You may realise by now that I revert to chop, chop, sew, sew when things don't seem to be done in a logical manner. I made up the first one according to the directions, but when you fold everything round, the inside pockets were all floppy. So, I have redeveloped the directions so they don't.

Also, I decided I don't want to close them with a drawstring! They look quite smart without. So, I am developing a different closure.

These were made with fat quarters (yards - which should mean 18 in square) - some of which were very badly cut - so skew-wiff that I had to cut 15 in squares. Also, some were fat quarter metres, which made 20in squares. The majority were about 17 or 18 in square.

I do think the drawstring closure might work with a much larger size. These smaller ones just look like a little pouch when gathered up...not very inspirational for working out what to put in them. But if I change it, I can think of quite a few different ideas for what to put inside.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sewing again

Not sure if I mentioned, but I thought I would do a few more of the sew along contests on Pattern Review this year. The current one is about reducing your stash.

I have a lot of fabrics that have been given to me over the years, some I picked up from leavings of members of our Offcuts group. I have decided to use as much of that up as I can, so I can have a bit more room. There are other shelves which are a bit too full. This way I can even have space to rearrange things. But also, I can feel a bit more free to get some fabric to make things I have chosen from start to finish.

So, at the moment, I am busy trimming fat quarters, pairing them up, and beginning to make some little bags I can use for gifts over the year. They will go in the present drawer. I have a couple friends who need to go in hospital soon, for once I will have a nice gift for them! I better not show you too many close ups, in case some of the readers here end up to be recipients at some point!

However, I also made another cushion cover to go in the lounge.

I have had the cushion for ages, since I made the other cushion cover samples for the course that never happened. I had reserved this one for talking about ways to make openings for the cushion to go in. As I was checking out fabric for the bags, I realised the toile de jouy fabric would go with the black and green which I had used on a few other cushions.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year

I am always amazed at the New Years fireworks centred round the Millenium Wheel or London Eye.

I don't know if it was new this year, but there were alot of shots with Big Ben.

and then I realised they were shooting fireworks out of the openings above the clock! Wow. How much fire protection did that need?

Here are a few more photos of the London fireworks...with me in my comfy lounge.

Even the crowd with their lit mobile phones add to the image.
But, who would dare go stand in that sort of crowd anyway? It is beyond my comprehension.