Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Handmade Fair

This past weekend saw craft enthusiasts flocking to Hampton Court for one of my favourite craft fairs - the Handmade Fair. Now in its third year, the fair is set up in a series of marquees on Hampton Court Green, which I think is far more convivial than a massive exhibition hall. There's a definite creative buzz about the place and the tents and quirky food stalls give the whole thing a bit of a festival vibe (further highlighted by the fact that it didn't stop raining the entire day!) 

I visited on the Friday, but was only able to stay until early afternoon as my children beckoned. I really wish I'd been able to stay longer though, as two afternoon delights I missed were talks by Cath Kidston and GBSB hottie Patrick Grant. Doh! I always say I'll book in for a workshop or class and always end up getting distracted by the shopping tents instead. This year was no exception and I spent hours browsing the eclectic mix of wonderful craft stalls. I've been on a bit of a fabric bender recently so I was pretty stern with myself about no fabric purchases. That didn't stop me treating myself to a couple of other special things…

I spent ages at Gizelle Renee's stand which sold a wonderful selection of handmade leather gloves. I've always wanted a pair of posh gloves and this red leather and cashmere pair had my name on them.

I have teeny tiny hands, so it was good to get them properly measured (I'm a size 6.5 if anybody's interested) and finally own a pair that fit me like a glove (boom boom!) Here's Gizelle shortly after completing the sale…

My other treat to myself was a new teapot. It wasn't exactly high on my wanted list, but when I saw this Art Deco-style ceramic and chrome pot just sitting quietly on one of the vintage stalls, I knew it was coming home with me. 

I actually have a small collection of coffee pots and milk jugs in this style, but no tea pot. See how perfectly it fits in on my shelf at home, it was obviously meant to be!

Other stands that caught my eye were Ladybird Likes - brimming with vintage sewing lady and pin up girl brooches.

Hannah Bass contemporary tapestries. These amazing map cushions almost made me want to take up cross stitch.

Beautiful, printed stationery from Cambridge Imprint

I also got to catch up with sewing friends old and new. 

Clockwise from bottom left: Tilly, Elisalex, Gabby and Mark
Next year I'll make a point of booking childcare well in advance so I can complement my shopping and eating with a sewing class or two. I'll also make a note of where I left my car, to avoid wandering round a field like an idiot for half an hour looking for it!  x


Saturday, 17 September 2016

One Week, One Pattern 2016

The past week has seen me wearing different variations of New Look 6217 each day as part of OWOP (One Week, One Pattern) 2016. The challenge was run this year by Hannah at Cinderellis Sews and I had a lot of fun mixing and matching garments made from my current favourite pattern.

I cheated slightly as I've made both tops and skirts from the pattern, so it wasn't actually much of a stretch. But considering the pattern also includes trousers and a kimono jacket I think I was actually quite restrained! What I like about the top and skirt patterns is the fit: they have a fair amount of wearing ease but still skim the body to show off your curves. I already had three versions of the top and two of the skirt, but just managed to squeeze out another last minute top to give myself a bit more choice. Here's what I wore:

Day 1 - Red Swiss Dot NL6217 top and Gap jeans. I was visiting the Undressed exhibition at the V & A museum with Scruffy Badger

Day 2 - Denim NL6217 skirt and 1960's Shoulder Tie top (without shoulder ties!) I was at the allotment pretending to help, so this combo was actually really comfortable, although a white top probably wasn't the wisest choice for picking raspberries...

Day 3 - Liberty print NL6217 top and denim Arielle skirt. I hadn't tried this combo before now and was surprised how much I liked it.

Day 4 - Denim NL6217 skirt and Gingham Granville shirt. The Ginghamalong went live today so I wore my new gingham shirt with my New Look denim skirt. It's a bit of a polka dot/gingham clash but I think they look good together! This photo was taken outside my local boozer, complete with splendid old tiles.

Day 5 - Ivory Crepe NL6217 top and Liberty Carline Delphine skirt. This is a new, unblogged version of the top made from a 80cm remnant of prestige crepe from the Fabric Godmother sale. The drape is perfect for this pattern and I loved wearing it on its first outing. Being off white, it's also useful for pairing with garments that are difficult to match things to (like this skirt!) 

Day 6 - Black crepe NL6217 top and Bamboo skirt. Suitably smart attire for visiting the Buckingham Palace state rooms with my mother-in-law!

Day 7 - Black Crepe NL6217 top and Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers. Here I am meeting the lovely Mark from Girl Charlee UK at the Handmade Fair in Hampton Court (more on my visit in the next blog post).

A few reflections on the challenge:
  • I'm sooooo pleased I chose this pattern, everything I've made from it feels like such a natural part of my everyday wardrobe. 
  • The top is a simple shape and easy to make, but I think fabric choice and colour are key to wearing them often. The fact that I had three solid, neutral colours tops meant they could be paired with anything. Plus the lovely quality of the fabrics made them feel just a bit more special than a T shirt or cotton top in the same colours.
  • I love the slim silhouette of the skirt and the quirky little side split - I'll definitely be making more of them.
  • I'm still not very adventurous with accessories!

Thank you to Hannah for hosting the challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody else has been wearing for the past week! Have a great weekend. x


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Gingham Granville Shirt

Behold a new gingham shirt - my last minute entry into the Did You Make That? Ginghamalong. It's simple, classic and very wearable and I don't need a crystal ball to predict that this will be a much loved item in my wardrobe for its entire life. I made just the one gigantic error during construction (see below for the full blood and guts horror story), which I'm hoping will fade from my memory over time... Other than that, everything went to plan!

The gingham I used was 100% yarn dyed cotton which I snapped up for the bargain price of £6.50 a metre from this eBay seller. The seller advises a cool hand wash, which I promptly ignored (the only fabric that's ever hand washed in this house is silk) and it washed beautifully in the washing machine at 30 degrees. It presses well and is lovely to work with - a really nice quality cotton.

Because of school holidays I knew I wouldn't have long to make this shirt, so I used a pattern that's already been adjusted to fit me well - the Sewaholic Granville shirt (previous versions here and here). The thought of trying to pattern match the gingham didn't exactly fill me with joy, but I did want the checks on both sides of the bodice and the button bands to line up horizontally, so that's where I concentrated my efforts. It worked! I used a combination of Tasia's tutorial and just simply lining up all the underarm seams as shown here. The gingham on the collar seems to line up with the bodice gingham too, but I can't really take any credit for that one, pure fluke!

To further save time (and also because my buttonhole foot is still playing up), I used snaps on the front button band instead of buttons. If you have a pair of Prym pliers, snaps are super quick to apply, but I still find positioning them a little nerve wracking. They're almost impossible to remove without damaging the fabric, so if you get the position wrong you've well and truly pissed on your chips. The relief when they were all in (and the right way round!) was pretty huge. I do like the look of snaps on this shirt, they give it a cool, ready-to-wear feel.

Anyway, about that gigantic error… As per last time, I used this tutorial from Four Square Walls to attach the collar and under collar as I prefer the construction order Andrea uses to the pattern instructions. All was going swimmingly until I realised there was a massive amount of ease in the collar. Now I know there should be some ease in that area to allow the collar to be turned back easily, but this was ridiculous. I eventually resorted to easing the collar in with gathering stitches like a sleeve, but I wasn't happy and was gutted that my planned classy shirt was going to make me look like Harry Hill. Luckily, I had a sewing epiphany... in my sleep! I literally woke bolt upright one night after sub consciously working out what the problem was. Yes, your friendly neighbourhood sewing moron had only gone and attached the collar to the shirt upside down. Ahem. God I felt stupid, but at least I actually worked out what was wrong before wearing it out in public! I promptly cut out another set of collars/ under collars and attached them the right way round. It took about an hour to sew the collar and this time everything matched up perfectly, making me realise just how well drafted Sewaholic patterns actually are.

After all the eleventh hour drama, I couldn't be more pleased with my new gingham shirt. Yes, I know it's a sleeveless shirt and we're heading into autumn, but I can guarantee it will get plenty of outings underneath cardigans and jackets. In fact I think I'd like to wear it forever.

Thanks to Karen for hosting such a fun sew along. Let's face it, she was never going to have do much arm twisting to get me to join in, but I'm glad I did nevertheless. My gingham Granville is officially my new favourite thing! x


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Get Into: Sewing

Good morning! Guess what's published today-hay?

My book, that's what!!!!!!! Yes, September 8th sees the publication of Get Into: Sewing by Jane Marland!!!! Get Into: Sewing is the first in a series of creative craft titles by Wayland Books designed to get kids interested in popular hobbies. The eleven projects in my book use simple hand sewing techniques and are fun, colourful and easy-to-follow. 

The book is aimed at 8-11 year olds and the projects are suitable for a range of abilities. Here's the complete Contents list.

I've included some absolute beginner projects such as Lavender Bags and simple Felt Flowers….

There are a few projects that are a bit more involved, such as brightly coloured Bunting…

 … and a smart Pencil Roll…

The shirt cushion project is a very simplified version of one of the tutorials on my blog, especially adapted for hand sewing. Once the front and back are cut out all that's required is some neat backstitching!

And my favourite project in the book is probably the Juggling Ball - fun to make and such a cool present!

I'm slightly biased, but I think it's a great introduction to sewing for children! And if you know of any little people who might enjoy it (or even big people!) it's available from Amazon as of today at £12.99! I've been told it's also being published in Australia around the same time and am awaiting details of availability in the US and Canada. I'll add an update to this post as soon as I know.

Have a great day! x

EVERYBODY in my family will be getting a copy for Christmas!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bamboo Skirt

This skirt started life in a very different manner to what you see before you. I've had the fabric (a  drapey bamboo print viscose from Fabric Godmothernow sold out) squirrelled away for ages. If it looks familiar it's because I used the same fabric in red for my Sew Over It Pussybow Blouse. It worked perfectly for that project so I thought I'd use it to try out a shirtdress from Butterick (B6333). 

It turned out to be a very poor fabric choice for that particular pattern - the viscose was too drapey. Despite measuring all the pattern pieces carefully, the resulting dress was far too big and hung on me like a rag. Even after pinning it for a closer fit it felt like I was wearing some kind of glamorous dinner ladies overall! The dress was stuffed in a bag and forgotten about for most of the summer until I re-discovered it last week. I immediately knew I couldn't bear to waste such lovely fabric, so decided to see if I could hack it into something else instead.

The version of the shirtdress I originally intended to make was view C which has a narrow skirt with darts to the back, pleats to the front and inseam pockets. I really wanted to keep those skirt features so decided to turn the dress into a slim, drapey skirt instead. After removing the bodice and pinning the centre front together, I realised that I could actually get the skirt on and off without any openings. Aha! All I did then was to sew the front plackets closed and attach a wide elastic waistband to the top (I used my own Easy Elastic Waist Skirt tutorial for this). One finished skirt!

The only problem with the skirt is that you can't see any of the pleating details (or even the placket for that matter) amongst the bamboo print. I know it's there though! Because the print is so busy I can only really wear it with a plain top. Unless I'm feeling particularly brave of course, in which case I could pair it with my Pussy Bow Blouse and swan around in double bamboo! Needless to say I haven't tried this yet...

I think this skirt will be a great transitional garment for autumn: light and drapey for warm days yet smart enough to wear with tights and autumnal knitwear once the weather turns cooler. It's a shame the original pattern didn't work for me but sometimes it's easier to accept that and move on. I'm just pleased I managed to salvage such a chic little skirt out of the wreckage. Happy Sunday! x

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Thoughts on Gingham

Hoorah for gingham! It's so fresh, so crisp, so perfectly ordered, it's definitely one of my favourite fabric patterns. I've always loved it, so when Karen announced she was running a Ginghamalong at Did You Make That? I was onto it like a shot.

The big question is, what kind of gingham masterpiece shall I attempt to make? I have a gingham board on Pinterest which is chock-a-block with inspiration. I've also sewn a lot with it over the years, making tops and blouses (here, here and here), dresses (here, here and here) and skirts (here and here). But the gingham item I've worn most by a million miles is my 1950's sleeveless blouse, now sadly deceased. 

I loved that top and it had a good life - I literally wore it until it fell to bits! There's just something about navy gingham that seems to work for me. 

With my gingham twin Scruffy Badger
I've been making a concerted effort recently to only sew things I know I'll actually wear, so a classic navy gingham shirt seems to be the way forward. It's not the most exciting choice in the world but it's certainly chic.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
I love the fit on the Sewaholic Granville Shirt, so that's the pattern I'll be using. I'll probably keep the sleeves short or even go sleeveless as I find long sleeved shirts are a massive pain under fitted cardigans. I've ordered my fabric (½' yarn dyed cotton) and can't wait to get started!

That's what I'm up to gingham-wise, how about you? Are you taking part in the Ginghamalong? And, more importantly, what are you making?!! x

Monday, 15 August 2016

Vintage Shoulder Tie Tutorial

My Vintage Pledge Shoulder Tie Top has been such a success I thought I'd whip up another one in a summery fabric for my holiday.

The pattern is a Woman's Own mail order pattern from 1961 and this latest version is made from some lightweight polka dot lawn I received from Cindy a few years ago. I've used quite a lot of it for various linings, but with some imaginative cutting out there was just enough left for this top (I cut the front pattern piece on the fold, which eliminates the front split). The neck and armholes are finished with all-in-one facings, which I had terrible trouble getting to grips with when I used them on my Betty dress. I've since discovered a step-by-step guide to sewing them on the Sew Over It blog which finally made something click in my brain - I'd definitely recommend it for this technique. Everything is finished by machine which gives the facings a clean, professional feel.

The thing I like about this top is that the shoulder ties are removable so it can be worn two ways. It performs valiantly as a plain, no nonsense tank top….

But add the shoulder ties and there's suddenly a suggestion of gathers to the shoulders and a touch of vintage interest, yay!

They're easy to make too. So easy in fact that I've put together a tutorial if you'd like to make your own. Read on if you're interested, otherwise, see you next time! x

Vintage Style Shoulder Ties
The ties can be added to any sleeveless tank or singlet - I simply knot mine once around the shoulder seams and they seem to stay in place all day. If you prefer a smaller tie or have particularly slippery fabric then tying a double knot will make them even more secure.

It's also your choice whether or not you interface your ties. I didn't use interfacing on either of the two versions I've made and I like the resulting drapey effect. Adding interfacing will probably result in a more structured tie.

Please note that the measurements for the ties are taken directly from my vintage pattern piece and are in inches as that's how they were drafted.  The seam allowance for this project is ½".

You will need 
Half a yard/metre of fabric with selvedges folded into the centre so you have two folded edges.
Paper, pencil and ruler

1. Mark a rectangle on your paper 16.5" long x 2 ⅝" wide and cut out.

2. At one end of the rectangle you'll need to mark out three measurements as shown below:

1 ¼" along the top edge
1 ⅝" in along the bottom edge
1 ½" up from bottom left hand corner

3. Join the measurements together and cut along the lines to make a point.

4. Repeat at the other end (you can simply fold your paper in half widthways and draw round the point).

5. Mark a fold line along the top edge.

You should now have a pattern piece that looks like this, with the lower diagonal lines slightly longer than the upper ones.

6. Place your pattern on the fold(s) of your fabric and cut two separate pieces. This is what each piece should look like opened out.

7. Fold the fabric lengthwise with right sides together and place two pins about 2 - 3 inches apart in the middle of the unfolded edge. The pins will mark your turning gap. Pin the rest of the edges together if you need to.

8. Starting at one corner along the folded edge, sew right round the edge using a ½" seam allowance. Stop when you get to the pin marker. Repeat on the other side.

I sewed this sample with black thread so you can see the line of stitches.

9. Trim the seam allowances and snip off the corners on the pointed edge to reduce bulk, then turn your tie the right way round.

10. Poke into your corners with a point turner or similar to ensure you have a nice pointed end.
Give the tie a good press, making sure the seam allowance of the turning gap is pressed under too.

11. Machine stitch across the turning gap close to the edge (or catch stitch by hand if you prefer).  Repeat for the other tie. Ta-da - two lovely shoulder ties!

Don't worry if your pointed edges aren't perfectly symmetrical - as you can see from the examples above, mine certainly aren't! Once they're tied onto the shoulders it's not noticeable at all. Wear with pride! x

As always, if there's anything that doesn't make sense, please let me know in the comments. Have a good week! x


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