Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

Remember this?

And this?

Well, I’m sorry it’s taken so long, but here – at last – is the full apron:

I love this pattern!  And I love those spring colours!

Being a bit of a worrier (understatement!), I was concerned about getting any horrible stains on this apron since, you could reasonably argue, getting dirty is the purpose of an apron.  Sooo, I sprayed it with that stuff you get to protect suede shoes and it seems to be working well so far.

Things I learned:

  • Shoe protector spray works fine on cotton and may well be a good idea for protecting aprons and the like.
  • I like the look of bias binding, but not the application!  I never want to see the stuff again (or at least not for the next couple of months!).

I hope you like it – there was a lot of love for this pattern in the comments, so I hope I’ve done it justice!  And, if you love the Petal Apron pattern, I am very pleased to announce that I have plans to make up one or two for a GIVEAWAY!  Yep, giveaway goodness for you, my lovely readers!  Just give me a little while to make them and I will come back to you with more details – stay tuned for this and those other plans for the blog.


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Owl Cushion Cover – Finished!

Little Horace is finished!

He’s got button eyes to see in the dark and a ruffly feather confetti applique chest:

Yay for the scalloped stitching setting – I think it’s my favourite setting on my sewing machine!

And from the back:

Spotty fabric, detailed with velvet ribbon and ric-rac (who doesn’t love ric-rac!?) … and that button!

Well, not a button – a buckle decoration from an old pair of shoes.  When the shoes wore out, I couldn’t bare to part with the owls, so I cut them off and kept them for the perfect purpose … which has finally come!  I’ve attached it using ric-rac, which may have been a mistake as it’s a little wobbly, but it’s cute, so nevermind!

The main problem – I need to get a new cushion pad as this one has lost its shape and I can’t get it right (it is very cheap and quite old, so that’s to be expected).

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So, for today, here’s the rest of that haul!  Two more patterns and some more fabric.

So, that fabric – this was a purchase of love:

Again, I couldn’t get the colour quite right in the photo, but it’s a soft mauve-grey – this tiny picture shows the colours a bit better:

Those flowers – it’s like some sort of sea-urchin blossom tree!  So cute.

I have a metre of this fabric, but I can’t decide what to make with it – I could go for another blouse from that Maudella pattern I mentioned in Part 1 or I could go for something in Sew a Metre (AKA One Yard Wonders), which I bought the other day:

I just can’t decide!  I really want to show off this pretty fabric, but I’m not sure what the best way would be – any thoughts?

As for the patterns – here’s one:

Another Ebay bargain (£4!).  It is missing the trouser pattern pieces, but that length and width of leg does nothing for me, so no great loss!  I mostly got it for that hooded top – it’s too cute!  Perfect for a breezy spring day or a summer’s evening.  Lush!

And the final pattern, which I instantly fell in love with – there’s something just so pretty and simple about it:

Luckily, I only had to pay £6.70 to win the auction (wewt!) – another bargain pattern!  I love the two envelope pictures – that cerulean blue is just gorgeous and I love the idea of the contrasting fabric in the inverted pleats.  I think I’ll need to do a little re-sizing as it’s a teen pattern, but it should be quite close – plus I now have Dolly to help out.

And thus concludes that haul – I also got some other bits and pieces, like curved needles, stick-on Thimble Pads (which just seem to fall off my finger after a little while – is that just me??) and large cover buttons to make a cushion like this one from Marks & Spencer (with that velvet that I mentioned the other day):

(One of the main reasons I bought Sew a Metre is because it has a pattern for a smocked cushion in the round very much like this!  Huzzah!)

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Woot-woot-woot!  Free patterns!  All month!  I know!  The very kind Kathleen of Grosgrain is hosting a whole month of free patterns with tutorials from their creators – that’s a new pattern each day.  It’s like it’s your birthday every day!  Here are the patterns so far – I can’t wait for the rest.

As for me – I’ve just welcomed a new addition to the family …

Her name’s Dolly and I’m very proud of her (hahaha!).  She’s already been measured up and adjusted, though she needs a bra full of padding and a little re-shaping on the hips, but I’m very happy with her so far.  I’ve been watching what I eat (not a diet, just being more healthy – lots of fruit and veg!) and I should have time to go back to the gym soon, so over the next few months, I’m hoping I’ll be able to start narrowing that big gap in the hips (can you tell that’s where I put on all my weight?).

In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to getting some calico and having a go at draping (with hilarious consequences, I don’t doubt!).  If you’re in the UK and looking to get a dress form or a sewing machine, I really recommend Hobkirk: they were really helpful and nice on the phone, they had the best price I could find for this model (Dolly’s a Diana by Adjustoform and she was £104, including P&P) and I ordered her at 9pm on Wednesday, she was dispatched on Thursday and she arrived this morning by courier.  This is how online shopping should always be!  Well done and thank you, Hobkirk!

(And no, I don’t work for them or have any affiliation, I just happened to have found them and bought from them online – and I’m glad I did!)

And finally, it was craft class today – yay!  In the free fabric bins I found this fabric, which is very similar to a Marks & Spencer cushion I like:

It’s actually a little more green than it looks in the picture – more like the folded over part in the top left.  Here’s that cushion:

But I didn’t just spend the lesson rummaging in fabric bins (honest!): I started making a cushion cover – sorry, that is an owl cushion cover!

I got my inspiration from this little fella:

I need to do some more sewing and I think I’m going to try some confetti applique on his chest to get a ruffly-feather effect (hopefully!), then it all gets stitched together into an envelope-style cushion cover.

Oh, and his name’s Horace.  🙂

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Well, this might not quite qualify as a haul, as these things were bought a bit at a time over the past week or two, but I thought I’d share them with you all together.

I’ve had my beady little eye on Ebay lately, specifically on bargain vintage patterns.  I have a couple of simple rules for myself when buying vintage patterns:

  1. Only buy it if you love it.
  2. Only buy it if it’s cheaper than or the same price as a modern pattern.  (Unless it’s super, super special.)
  3. Only buy it if you’ll wear what you make with it!

And I only tend to look at 50s and 60s patterns, since I just love the styles of that era (I don’t watch Mad Men, but I would happily raid their early 60s wardrobes!).

I’ve mentioned my baking a few times recently and the other week I made a batch of cupcakes for my friend’s birthday (lightly spiced cakes with lime and coconut icing – NOM!), which invariably ends with me wearing as much flour and icing sugar as the recipe contains.  I’m also a fan of chilli and various tomato-based pasta sauces.  There’s no escaping it, these things require an apron!  Which brings me to my first pattern:

It’s Marian Martin 9091, which the seller said was from the 40s or 50s.  More importantly, it’s just so pretty.  As soon as I saw it, I had instant pattern lust.  But, according to my rules above, I wouldn’t day any more than £10, including postage.  It was lucky I got it for £9 including P&P, then!  Phew!

Remember my teaser from the other day?  Yep, that’s the full-length version made up already.  I’m feeling too ill to pose in it, so pictures soon, I promise!  It’s a simple pattern, so it came together really easily.  Look how simple the pattern pieces are:

The only down side of the pattern was all the bias binding.  I had a bit of a brain malfunction when cutting bias strips, so they were too narrow to use in my bias binding maker, so I had to hand-fold something stupid like 7 yards of the stuff (meh!).  Then came the attaching.  Those scallops!  They’re pretty, but a pain to stitch bias binding to, especially as I basically made up how to join the ends of the bias – I’m sure there’s an easier way, but for some reason I thought I’d make it up instead of looking it up!  Still, it looks OK:

Do you have any suggestions for a different way to finish the edges?  I was considering just hemming them instead, but then I’d have to ease the curves in and I’m not sure that would look very neat.  I’d really like to make these as gifts for people, but the bias is a massive pain in the arse and I’m really not sure what to try next time!  I’m also planning to make the half-apron version for sewing (maybe I’ll add some extra pockets, too).

Anyway, on to the next pattern:

Maudella 4378 – a super-simple blouse.  This was an uber-bargain – £1.84 including postage!  Wewt and huzzah, I say!  The thing I love about this pattern is that it looks really versatile – I can picture it made up in so many different ways – and I can picture it tucked into any of my high-waisted skirts.  Very wearable!  Here’s a bit more detail:

And I’ve already got some plans for this blouse using this super-cute cotton print (sorry, I’ve washed it, but haven’t ironed it yet!):

I couldn’t get very good light for a great photo, I’m afraid, but the background is off white and the spots are dark blue.  And I’m hoping that the red anchors will be set off nicely by these buttons:

I have to admit, I have a real soft spot for sailor style, so I can’t wait to make this one!  There were some gorgeous little anchor buttons in white, blue or red as well, but they were £1 each.  £1 each!!  They would have looked fabulous, but I really can’t justify paying £1 per button rather than 10p per button, however pretty the buttons (and especially on a pattern than appears to use 10 of them!).

The other pattern I got was for this fun dress, which again looks pretty simple:

I’m not usually into later 60s styles, but the A-line skirt with that inverted box pleat just called to me (perhaps becauses of how flattering A-line skirts are).  And considering I got it for £3.25, it was a good deal!  I’m also thinking that I could make this up as a skirt, too, and those long sleeves have me thinking about nice woolen winter dresses – all my dresses seem to be summery, so they would be a great addition to my wardrobe!  Actually, another possibility would be lowering the neckline slightly and making a sleeveless woolen version to wear over sleeved shirts.  In a dream world, something like these (very expensive!) wool pinstripes from MacCullock and Wallis would be great:

Hmm, so many ideas for this one!

There’s one more pattern and a couple more fabrics, but as this post is pretty long, I’ll be back with them in part 2!

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We Have Productivity, Captain!

See, all that work on Tilly’s Sewing Productivity Project wasn’t just procrastination!  I’ve spent a couple of days sewing over the long weekend (though now I have coldy-migraine-y badness going on, so bleh!).

Speaking of Tilly’s project, she has collated an excellent list of tips from the various participants: go look up some tips for sewing productivity.  I might make these into a pretty list to print out, laminate and put on my pinboard!

As for what I’ve been doing, I made a super-simple dirndl skirt (sorry, I’m feeling too ill to model it!  Also, it’s a bit crinkled, as I’ve been wearing it!):

The fabric was £1 from my craft class – the zip actually cost more than the fabric!  The photos really don’t do this fabric justice – it changes so much in different lighting and at different angles, from a turquoise-green to a golden orange and even a strange, almost sagey green.  Very odd.  There was no pattern – dirndl skirts are so simple and easy, you just use a couple of rectangles and some gathering.  I did use this tutorial to help me work out how to do the waistband:

As I was a bit tight on fabric (it was basically a scrap that was just big enough to get two rectangles for the skirt with a long strip coming off it that I used for the waistband), I used bias binding for the hem, which I also used a decorative topstitch on:

I used the same stitch on the waistband, which also features my first ever zip (shock, horror!):

Using Michelle’s tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew made the job easy, though I basted the zip in place instead of using glue.

And there was another pretty thing made over the weekend, but that’s for another time.  In the meantime, here’s a little teaser:

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So, last week (week commencing 11th April).  No sewing.  But I did have a big uni hand in on the Friday, and pretty much all my time at home was spent working on this, lesson planning, eating or sleeping.  I didn’t even do any cleaning or load the washing machine (and you could tell from the state the of apartment!).  The weekend was spent applying for jobs and writing something else uni-related.  In short, it was a stressfully busy week.

It’s now the Easter holidays, so no uni or work (teaching placement at a college) this week or next.  But, plenty of homework – meh.  So far this week I have had a day of well-earned relaxation (after weeks of stress with that uni project and covering teaching), watched The Other Boleyn Girl, bought the notions for a dirndl skirt made with fabric from The Textile Workshop (for £1!!!!), shortened the straps on my summer dress (it was gaping a bit at the front and I wanted to wear it in this lovely spring weather) and I began the Grand Clearing of the Store-Room of Doom.

I’ve been putting off sorting out the store-room for a loooong time because the enormity of the task made it so overwhelming (I could barely get the door open) and I thought it would take be a good couple of days.

It didn’t.

It actually took me most of Wednesday and I still had time to cook a yummy dinner (meatballs and roasted vegetables in a tomato sauce).  It’s very nearly finished – I just need some wall shelves putting up and for the guys to go through some stuff found in there.  And it looks amazing (but pictures another time – when it’s completed) – I can’t believe I’ve managed to cut down the junk and fit so much into such a small space.  I’m pretty proud of myself (and thankful to Ikea!).  It’s inspired me, in fact – I’m rearing to go and can’t wait to get a desk in there where I can leave my machine set up all the time, below a pinboard covered in fabric scraps and inspiration images.

I actually wanted to get started on the dirndl earlier in the week, but I was put off by getting the sewing machine out.  Yeah, lazy or what?  I also didn’t really want to leave the sofa, where I was spending time with the Gent.  Yeah, pathetic or what?!  Because he works nights/evenings and a large part of the weekends, our timetables aren’t exactly hamonious.  Some days I only see him when he gets home at 4am and when I get up for work a few hours later.  So sometimes the idea of getting up and going off to to the table to work at a noisy machine with my back to him isn’t exactly appealing when we could be watching a film together or putting the world to rights.

What I did do instead, was adjust those dress straps – it was hand-sewing, so I didn’t have to leave the Gent, or the sofa and I could carry on half-watching the film.  Result!

The Other Boleyn Girl was an OK film – I like Natalie Portman (though not Scarlett Johansson) and I’m generally predisposed to like historical dramas – though not great.  But the costumes, however accurate or otherwise were rather lush.  I’ve found myself warming to Tudor style lately (the earlier Henry VII stuff, not so much the Elizabethan ruffs) – I think it’s the square necklines of the gowns (such a lovely shape) and that triangular silhouette of women with those wide sleeves and skirts.  Oh dear, sewing attention deficit strikes again!  It was pretty late at night and I was planning to go to bed after the film, but it did get me thinking of stitching and costumes and even thinking about designing modern clothes with a Renaissance influence.

What I’ve Learnt (so far)

Scaredy Cat!

I psych myself out of projects.  I was overwhelmed at the thought of clearing out the store room and put off doing it.  I still haven’t made the Gent’s waistcoat: truth be told, I’m scared of cutting up the lovely, expensive wool I bought – and especially on a pattern I have made up myself.  I’ve got some silk taffeta and vintage brocade pre-washed and ready to go for any project I want, but I haven’t used them yet: perhaps I’m just too scared to cut into that pristine, lovely, expensive, difficult-to-get-hold-of fabric.  Ah-ha.  We might have hit upon something!

How to solve it, though?  Well, that’s the tough part and I don’t really know how I’ll solve it until I try, but I do know what I’m going to try.  I already prepare and plan copiously (I always make a toile, adjust the pattern and read the pattern directions over and over) to try to minimise mistakes, so I’ve already done all I can and everything else is just worrying.  And the biggest lesson I’ve learnt in life (but seem to have failed to apply to sewing) is that worrying doesn’t help anything.  Except for anxiety and no one wants that, right?  Right?  Right!  So, if you’ve got the fear, then do your prep and then get over it.

A Bird in the Hand …

I should always have a hand-sewing project on the go.  If I didn’t have those dress straps to sew, I probably wouldn’t have done any sewing that day with the dirndl skirt, even though I really wanted to.  Sometimes it’s a matter of practicality (getting a noisy sewing machine out when a group of you are watching a film is pretty anti-social) and other times it’s just my mood (I just want to relax and be productive, is that too much to ask?!).

Monkey See, Monkey Do (or make)

Seeing pretty gowns on The Other Boleyn Girl had my mind full of ideas.  Seeing pictures and films with lovely clothing inspires me.  Perhaps the problem is that a lot of the time, those pictures come via the internet and we all know that if it isn’t the Root of All Evil, the internet most definitely is the Root of All Distraction and Destroyer of Productive Intentions.  Damn you, internet!!!

Only joking, but it really can be a problem.  Even if I go online meaning to just look this up or do that one little thing, I will invariably find myself saying ‘oh, is it bedtime already?’ hours later.  Perhaps I can harness that inspirational power of pretty pictures and channel it away from the internet.  As a teenager, I used to have an inspirational notebook full of pictures from magazines (before the days of widespread internet use!  Yes, there was once such a time!  Yes, I am that old!).  Maybe I should start one up again and print out those inspirational pictures I find online and sketch my ideas and stick in fabric and trim samples.

And this is definitely a very good reason to add to my collection of films with lush costumes.  Huzzah!

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