Sunday 30 October 2011

The Great Bombshell Meet Up

Yesterday I had the best and most glamorous day I've had for a long time... myself and five other sewing bloggers met at the BFI bar in London to celebrate the completion of Karen from Did you Make That? and Suzy from SuzySewing's bombshell dresses.

Left to right: Suzy, Karen, Jane, Roisin, Amy and Alana

And oh, how beautiful they were…

Suzy's was made with a camouflage fabric which totally rocked, whilst Karen chose a blue and white rose print stretch fabric (swoon).  The amount of painstaking attention to detail and hand sewing that had gone into the creation of these perfectly fitting dresses was truly phenomenal.  Don't they both look gorgeous?

I've always loved meeting up with fellow sewists and this latest shindig didn't disappoint.  I've met Karen several times now and will never tire of it: meeting her is always a pleasure. Strangely, I felt like I already knew Suzy and Roisin from Dolly Clackett, as I've been following their blogs for a while and love what they both make. I think it's because you get such a sense of somebody's voice when you enter their blog world.  I also got to meet two new (to me) sewing bloggers: Amy from Diana and Me and Alana from The Lazy Stitcher, both a delight and both looking fab in their handmade creations.

Karen, busy taking pics, me, nervously holding onto my cocktail in case I'm separated from it!
We talked and drank cocktails and talked and ate chips and talked and talked and talked.  We exchanged sewing stories, sewing tips, pattern advice, discussed films and books, partners, families, our respective countries and pets (there was even a story of a certain goat being dug up....!).  Everybody had made such an effort and it was an absolute privilege to spend half a day with five such talented and beautiful women.  Thank you Karen, Roisin, Amy, Alana and Suzy for making my day - I had a wonderful time. xxxxx

Amy and Roisin clicking their ruby slipper-shod heels to get home

Saturday 29 October 2011

Colette Sewing Handbook Winner

Thank you to everybody who entered the giveaway for The Colette Sewing Handbook and thank you also for all your lovely and encouraging comments.

I'm delighted to say the lucky winner is........Lauren from LLADYBIRD!!!!!!!!! Yee-ha!

Please e-mail me your address Lauren and I'll get your copy of the book to you when I get my hands on it.

It's been half term this week, so no sewing for me (apart from a vampire cape).  I'll be back with more thrilling instalments next week.  Have a lovely weekend. x

Wednesday 19 October 2011

I promised you a giveaway...

Just over a year ago, I tentatively wrote my first blog post on my then fledgling blog, little knowing what an important part of my life it was soon to become.  Over the past year I've really enjoyed having a blog and posting my handmade efforts onto the blogosphere.  As well as increasing my sewing productivity about twenty-fold, having a blog has also completely changed my approach to clothes purchasing and consumerism in general.

But perhaps the best part of having a blog has been the on-line (and off-line) friendships I've made.  The on-line sewing community is just awesome: I've been inspired beyond belief by so many of you and the feedback and encouragement I've received in turn has been wonderful.  I've also had the pleasure of meeting a few of you in 'real life' and let me tell you, you do not disappoint!  I'm honoured to count a few of you amongst my true friends - you know who you are.

So as a thank you for your amazing support during my first blogging year, I'd like to announce a rather special giveaway - the lucky winner will receive a copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook.  

It's not published in the UK until the beginning of December but I can't think of a better Christmas present for a sewing blogger.

For those of you who've been inhabiting another planet for the past few months, The Colette Sewing Handbook is the first book from Sarai Mitnick of Colette patterns.  At the last count, I've made nine Colette pattern garments, and have many more I'd like to sew, so you could say I'm a fan.  I hope you are too, as the book contains five beautiful new patterns for modern classic pieces.

Licorice Dress
Pastille Dress

Truffle Dress

Taffy Blouse and Meringue Skirt

With their trademark easy-to-understand instructions and focus on a wonderful fit and finish, what's not to like?

To enter this giveaway all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (I think that's only fair, as some of you have been loyally following me right from the start) and to leave a comment on this post.  The giveaway is open worldwide and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 28th October. The winner will be chosen at random after this date and notified by e-mail.  The book will be posted to you as soon as it's published.  Good luck everybody and thanks once again for your support. x

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Jacket fitting delights

I'm steaming through my autumn to-sew list (which admittedly only had three items on it) and am now fully engulfed in the delights of jacket fitting...

As this is my first time making a jacket, I thought I'd better break my bad, dirty habit of winging it with patterns and make a practice muslin first.  I'm using a pattern from the Built By Wendy Coats and Jackets book.  Even though there are 23 different variants of coats and jackets to choose from, in typical annoying fashion the one I have in my head isn't there, so I'll be mixing the jacket and collar of two different patterns.  There might not be a pattern for my imaginary jacket in the book, but I did find a drawing:

Very plain and uncluttered, with princess seams and a classic collar.  Nice.

So, going by the size chart, I cut out a medium jacket and sewed it together.  One word of warning for anybody interested in trying out this book: the patterns run small.  I'm a UK size 12 top, sometimes even a 10 depending on the style, and I'm short (5' 2").  So any tall or busty sewists (or even tall AND busty sewists for that matter) beware of the chest width and length of these patterns.  Admittedly there are no seam allowances on the hem, but the shortness of this first effort does make me look like some hideous mother of the bride

WAY too short, and not in a cool, Sammy Davis Jnr kind of short…

No, more like this pair….

As well as being too short, it also didn't fit across the bust.  There will be a button extension added but it was still too tight.  And as for the back.....

Imagine stretching for something on a shelf in a shop?  Not a pretty sight.

Much as it killed me to do so, I decided a redraft was called for. and heart breakingly, a second muslin.  I made the following changes:

- Added five inches to the length.

- Measured the distance it gaped apart at the bust, divided it by four and added it to the side seams as advised in the book.

- The second attempt was much better but the shoulders seemed large, so I made a small vertical tuck right down the back and that seemed to do the trick.

These muslins are shockingly unflattering, but I've managed to see past the cream calico and imagine it in a lovely grey wool with a teal satin lining.  So far so good.  The next steps for me now are to cut out the final pattern pieces, draft the facings and put scissors to cloth (gulp).   I'm liking the look of it so far though.  x

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Finished Sailor Trousers

Hoorah, I'm happy to show you my second ever pair of me-made trousers and I must say, I'm pretty pleased with them.  I did have reservations about the frumpiness of Simplicity 2654, but having decided to copy Christi's masterstroke of replacing the strange front tabs with vintage buttons, I felt reasonably confident they would turn out OK.  

There were no horrors lurking in the pattern instructions, and they came together pretty easily.  Because of my inherent laziness, I've now got away with not making a muslin for the past five garments I've sewn.  Tut tut.  I just got away with it on this occasion, but my luck must be about to run out soon. I cut a 14 and the fit was a little tight.  I did notice that the tucks at the front were quite generous so simply reduced the width of them and they were instantly roomier.  However, this was done before my operation and I must have lost a few pounds since then, as they're now a big baggy. Doh!  Nothing a hook and eye won't put right - when I can bring myself to sew one on (shudder).  There's nothing more tedious than sewing on hooks and eyes, I hate them!

I cut them straight from my (ahem) blue/black twill and although the drape is really lovely and heavy making them hang beautifully, the fabric itself is disappointingly cheap and nasty.  There's a pretty high polyester content in it and it frays like nothing you've ever seen.  To make sure my seams didn't unravel the minute I wore them I had to zigzag them on the smallest stitch size, which took forever. Hence the immediate purchase of an overlocker.  So no more of that tedious zigzag nonsense thank you (once I've plucked up the courage to actually use it that is!)

So, what do I like about the trousers?  Well, I like the fact that there's a facing rather than a separate waistband. 

The other pair of high waisted trousers I've made do have a separate waistband  which tends to dig in uncomfortably whenever you eat anything.  I'm also hoping that this style will be a little more forgiving after a mammoth pie eating session... 

And finally, the buttons... If ever there was a case for the simplest addition completely lifting a garment to a new level then this is it. 

Ooh look, gingham pockets too!
They really do transform the look of the trousers so thank you so much Christi for the original inspiration.  I've a feeling they're going to be worn a lot.

Next up is my Autumn jacket, which sadly I will have to make a muslin for.  Happy Wednesday everybody. x

Saturday 1 October 2011

Liberty Rocks

Hello and thank you so much for all your good wishes.  I'm almost running at full pelt again, with a shiny new computer and a rather large scar on my neck.  I'm not quite feeling up to modelling my newest make (fab sailor trousers) but promise to show them off next week.  In the meantime I wanted to show you two sublime fabrics I bought recently on a trip to Liberty.

My friend Emma completely loves anything to do with birds, her entire house is bird themed (in a good way though, not in a weird Norman Bates way...)

so when I heard about the new Liberty Rocks collection I knew exactly which fabric had her name on it.  This latest collection has been designed by musicians and artists and is well worth a look - the prints are not only beautiful, but refreshingly different from the usual Liberty Tana Lawn (lovely though it is).  The print I bought for Emma was designed by Edwyn Collins formerly front man for Orange Juice and latterly successful solo artist.  In 2005, at the age of just 45, Edwyn suffered a severe stroke and was unable to move, speak, read or write.  As part of his long rehabilitation he re-learnt how to draw, and was soon drawing a bird a day, many of which are included on this amazing fabric design. 

I recently read the book Falling and Laughing written by his partner, Grace Maxwell, which outlines the whole story.  Through sheer iron will and determination he gradually begins to regain some of the abilities he lost overnight.  This was a man who used to devour Russian literature and who now had to be taught to read again with Peter and Jane books.  I couldn't put it down - it's a very inspiring read.

Anyway, back to the fabric, my birthday present to Emma was a metre of the Edwyn Collins Ornithology fabric and a promise to make her something from it.  It's very bird heavy (which is kind of the point, I know) but I'm sure will look fab as a sleeveless top or even a skirt - and before you start worrying, Emma is tiny so one metre will be plenty.

Whilst I was swooning over the collection, one fabric just leapt out at me so I had no choice but to give it a good home.

It's actually a bit more colourful in real life

It's designed by artist John Squire (who used to be in The Stone Roses don't you know). It's very plain and grey and charcoally but I really love the simple geometric design.  I think it will end up as another Violet blouse, it's crying out to be made into something vintage inspired and Peter Pan collared.  Yes, Liberty fabric is expensive, but sometimes a girl needs to treat herself.  I'm getting quite excited about it already... x


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