Monday 30 April 2012

Frumble Fabric Giveaway

Hoorah, hoorah!  It's stopped raining and the sun is out! What more could you want? Well how about a little fabric talk, followed by a fabulous giveaway, courtesy of Frumble Fabrics. Frumble is a relatively new online store (it was set up at the end of 2010) offering a cool, eclectic range of fabrics and some seriously covetable haberdashery lovelies. There's a great range of quilting fabrics, dressmaking favourites such as ginghams and polka dots and a nice selection of corduroys. Here's what's currently floating my boat....

A small section devoted to sewing themed fabrics, including these beauties:
Vintage dress patterns

Oh so elegant vintage ladies - I've already made some gorgeous make-up bags out of this fabric

Super-cool scooter/mod fabric - perfect for man presents

This lovely chevron print that I can really see as a sweet A-line skirt

And that's just the fabric!  In their haberdashery section they have some really useful, time-saving piped bias binding, a selection of handmade bias binding in the prettiest fabrics,
Gingham cherries? Yes please

and my personal, all time favourite: lace edged, polka dot bias binding!!
Words fail me...
I must admit, when I first discovered Frumble, I was intrigued.  It was as if they'd read my mind and decided to stock all the exact little sewing extras I've been dreaming of.  I contacted them, and co-owner Mat (who runs the business with partner Monica) kindly agreed to answer my nosey questions AND offer a very generous giveaway to boot.  Enjoy...

Where does the name Frumble come from?

"When we were trying to decide on a name we sat down for a morning and had a little brainstorm. We wanted a name for our business that wasn’t necessarily related to sewing or fabric but something that was only one word long, simple, easy to remember and quite fun to say. Several gallons of tea later, we came up with Frumble and straight away we felt this was a perfect name, it just felt right. After using the name for a couple of months we actually found that the ‘Fr’ in Frumble was a bit of a problem on the phone and no one quite knew what we were saying, so we ended up with a mini tag line we use on the phone. “Frumble, It’s like crumble only with an F” and we found we always gets a bit of a giggle from the person at the other end of the phone."

What did you both do in your previous lives?

"The Frumble family has a wide range of previous background experiences from product design, civil engineering, fine art, sewing to IT. This broad range of skills makes for an ‘interesting’ mix but we have found that it was more than enough to get us where we are today. We have designed and built the website ourselves, selected all our products and of course, learnt to lovingly package it up to get orders off to the post office in good time. A relatively small family-run team have done this without any external professionals and we hope this organic and nurtured approach is one thing that has helped us to succeed over the last 18 months."

What's your criteria for deciding which fabrics to stock?

"This is a lot simpler than you might expect. We tend to choose fabrics we like. I think the male and female perspectives sometimes make for an unusual selection of fabric. There are just so many fabrics to choose from out there, so narrowing it down is tricky. If we had an unlimited supply of money and an unlimited supply of space, we would have a lot of fabric. We've been keen to try and find fabric from designers that aren’t readily available. This is hard to do, but we think we've achieved it quite well - we've brought in a large selection of fabric from a new US company called Blend Fabrics, along with our ‘geek chic’ inspired fabrics from Timeless Treasures."

Your haberdashery section is awesome and you've really thought about the finishing touches that dressmakers need. How on earth do you choose what to stock?

"We hope that our haberdashery range is fairly unique. We try to offer some of the essentials, but also look for products that are hard to get hold of. We love our new lace edged polka dot bias binding, and have had excellent feedback on it. We also make our own bias binding, which can be fairly time consuming, but we think that it's good to be able to provide something that we've been able to produce ourselves.

Our biggest problem is that we have too many new products to share, we have no end of haberdashery queueing up to be listed online! This includes some beautiful, made in England, 100% cotton lace that we think is absolutely gorgeous."

Where do you see Frumble Fabrics going in the next year?

"We are just about to move into a new business unit, close to the city centre of Birmingham. This should give us a little more space and focus, which we hope will help us develop our brand. We try to offer excellent customer service, as well as little personal touches for our customers.
One thing we'd love to continue doing is getting to know our customers.  Over the last 18 months, we've been able to build up friendly relationships with our customers and really discover the kind of things they like. We love this kind of customer interaction and hope there's a lot more of it in the future. By opening up an actual space for Frumble, we hope we can meet a few customers in person too, which should be great."

Thank you Mat and Monica, I can't wait to see the new lace selection!

Frumble have very generously offered a £25 gift voucher to one lucky reader.  To enter the giveaway, take a look at the Frumble website and leave a comment on this post saying which fabric you'd choose if you won.  The giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 4th May.  The winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck everybody!

Saturday 28 April 2012

Let's get this party started…

…with my awesome PJ's!  In this post I said that if I made two pairs of PJ bottoms I'd be happy and if a matching top happened to turn up too, I'd be ecstatic.  Well I'm ecstatic!  So without further ado, here are my newest bedtime buddies.

Both pairs of bottoms were made using Simplicity 9871, officially the easiest pattern in the world.  They were ridiculously easy to make, but that's no excuse for not taking the time to make them beautifully, so I French seamed everything in sight.  

Very satisfying.  The only change I made to the pattern was to chop three inches off the length.  And for those of you who are interested and are a similar size to me, I made a size small (the pattern runs from XS to XL).  

For the top, I used the Colette Sorbetto pattern, with added sleeves.  I got the sleeve pattern from Sew Incidentally's blog - she's very kindly made it available as a downloadable PDF, what a superstar! The Sorbetto turns out to be the perfect pattern for a PJ top.  The centre pleat adds just enough interest to stop it looking too boring, and the fact that there are no waist darts gives you the roominess essential for slouching around. I love the colour of this shirting, it's the exact colour of my eyes (it's much more grey in real life) but yes, it is a bit boring, so I added some pale blue gingham bias binding around the edges to girlify it.  

I'm also aware that because of the colour and style, the top and bottom worn together look more than a little like hospital scrubs!  Ahem. I'm not worried though, I can always mix and match and wear my lovely floral bottoms with the top as a change. Like this...
Obligatory 'jumping on the bed with mad face' shot
I'm so pleased I've finally taken the plunge and made pyjamas. They're quick and easy to make and it's a great way to use up fabric that you're still undecided about. If they don't look perfect, who cares?  You'll be in bed blissfully asleep in your handmade lovelies.

Now, if you've read this post, you'll know that our fearless PJ leader Karen is off to San Francisco in May to take in the sights of that amazing city, and have a week of one-to-one sewing tutelage!  I'm SSOO envious!  There's a nice little coincidence coming up though - as part of her round-up post, Karen also wants to know what our current bedtime reading is, and wouldn't you know it, I'm reading the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin.  

If you haven't read this wonderful series of books, I'd highly recommend that you do.  They're set in San Francisco (there's the coincidence!) and follow a real mixed bag of friends from the 1970's to the 1990's.  They're charming, funny, romantic, sad, the characters are fab and they're very, very readable.  Every few years, when I'm between books ,or ill, or bored, or all three, I re-read them and I never tire of them.

Enjoy your time in San Francisco Karen, you'll have a ball. And thank you so much for organising the Pyjama Party - it's been fab.  x

Thursday 19 April 2012

The Polka Dot Lining Syndicate

A few weeks ago, Karen wrote this blog post highlighting the benefits of sharing large fabric orders with friends and therefore saving money. I commented, saying that I'd had my eye on some luscious polka dot lining fabric for a while, and wouldn't it be handy if a few more sewists were up for buying some too?!  Within minutes, yes minutes, a flurry of bloggers had responded wanting to join in and the Polka Dot Lining Syndicate was born!

Tilly, Shivani, Joanne, Marie and Karen all joined me. Hilariously, Karen joined in after convincing herself by her own blog post!  With six sewists on board, it was no effort at all to  collectively order the 10 metres of fabric required to bring the price down (we ordered 14 metres in the end).  I was a little worried about ordering such large amounts of fabric without knowing what the quality was like, especially as the others were all putting their faith in my judgement.  So samples were ordered.  I'd highly recommend the company I ordered from - The Lining Company.  After I fluttered my eyelashes at them, they very kindly sent me extra large samples of each colour so that I could send decent sized snippets out.  The decision was unanimous - Duck Egg Blue with Mink Spots.

Here's what 14 metres of fabric looks like wrapped up....

...and unwrapped, ooooh lovely.

So yesterday I fulfilled by childhood dream and pretended I owned my own shop. imaginatively called Jane's Fabric Shop. I had the best time dividing up the fabric and parcelling it up for everybody. Yes, I may be 42 years of age (well, 43 next week actually…) but you're never too old to play shop.

My plan is to use my lining for the inside of an Abbey Coat

Now here's where I have to hang my head in shame.  Marie mentioned in one of the many e-mails flying back and forth that she was thinking of using the lining for her Abbey Coat and sent a link to the pattern.  Aaarrrggghhh!! My perfect coat!! Look at the collar and cuff details?! There wasn't much I could do, except order the pattern immediately and blatantly copy her idea. Sorry Marie!  I shall be making mine without the flounce so it's more of a long jacket.  I'll also be paying a trip to the upstairs department of Classic Textiles on the Goldhawk Road, sample in hand, ready to match my beautiful lining to an equally beautiful wool.

I'd really recommend getting together with a few friends in order to save money on bulk orders.  And I'll definitely be organising a get together once we've all used our fabric.  I love the idea of a group of women all surreptitiously showing each other their coat or skirt linings!  A bit like Lefty from Sesame Street…

…."pssst, Ernie, wanna buy a number 8?"

Have a good day everybody. x

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Pyjama Party!!

Pity my poor husband - instead of a beautifully quaffed and made-up housewife greeting him at the door with a cocktail, most days he's greeted by my pyjamas.  I make no apologies, I adore wearing PJ's, there just so cosy and comfortable. I own an impressive array of bottom halves but sadly, most of them are way past their sell by date.  Which is why I signed up for Karen's Pyjama Party Sewalong in a nano second.  A simple idea but such a fabulous one don't you think?

I've made PJ bottoms for my boys before, but not for me, so I'm going to use this (allegedly) easy peasy Simplicity pattern. 

I'm hoping to make two pairs of pyjama bottoms but still can't make my mind up about making a pyjama top too.  I do like matching sets, but more often than not, I wear a vest or camisole. It's a tricky one.  

Anyway, here are my fabrics: a bluey/grey cotton shirting and a lovely vintage flower print cotton.   

The flowery fabric is actually a sarong, given to me by my friend Rose. She's never worn it and passed it on to me as she thought it was more my style. She's so right, thanks Rose love!  I was going to go down the 1930's siren route and make some PJ's out of silk cotton, but decided to sensibly try and stash bust instead.  Talking of 1930's sirens, I was very distracted by these amazing nightwear patterns from one of my treasured issues of Good Needlework Magazine.  They're from August 1932.

Just so elegant and glamorous.  Imagine my excitement when I saw in the contents page that they were also featuring a pattern named Jane....

...sadly quashed when it was revealed to be a child's dressing gown (doh).  I LOVE the Mimi PJ's on the same page though, much more my style.

Style-wise, I'm still drawn to my 1940's pattern for a pyjama top. 

The one on the left though, not the knotted midriff-baring one. Much as I love it, I'm probably about 25 years too old to pull it off.  At the end of the day, it comes down to basic laziness... can I really be bothered with the whole rigmarole of collar, buttons and buttonholes?  I may just make a Sorbetto top instead.  In short, if I end up with two pairs of pyjama bottoms from this sewalong, I'll be happy - if there's a matching top of some description in there too, I'll be ecstatic.  I'm really looking forward to this!  Happy Tuesday. x

Thursday 5 April 2012

Violet … and yellow

I made my first Colette Violet blouse last year and was reasonably pleased with it - it was a bit wide, but I only wore it tucked in so it didn't matter - or so I thought. Then I saw Lauren's fitted version, then Joanne's, then Winnie's and I suddenly had an urgent need to wear mine untucked too. Enter two pairs of giant darts: two at the front and two at the back. Thanks Lauren for that tip, I can now wear it untucked without looking six months pregnant.

With my next Violet, I worked out how much I'd taken in the first one by and transferred the measurements to the pattern, cutting out a size smaller for good measure.  The result?  Well, I'm about 90% pleased with it.  
There was still too much fullness in the back, but nothing a giant vertical pleat couldn't sort out (ahem).  There's not much more to say about it really except that it's a sweet looking blouse which will work with lots of my bottom halves.  And it looks fine untucked... 

I couldn't resist adding one with a loony face

.... and tucked in.

So, on to the fabric.  It's almost a year since I bought this Liberty cotton lawn, designed by author Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame).  

I love the colour combination and the yellow centres of the flowers gave me an opportunity to experiment with my new colour obsession.  I've been hankering after making something yellow for a while now, and I'm slowly building up an Pinterest board of yellow-inspired things. But I'm still pretty nervous about wearing it.  It's probably to do with my colouring and hair - I'm worried I'll look like a bowl of custard.  A pop of yellow in the fabric and buttons is my first baby step towards a full on yellow-fest and I quite like it.

I'm curious to know what you all think?  Please don't feel you have to be polite - if you really think yellow would be a no-no for me, declare it now!  I'm too long in the tooth to take offence, and I'd much rather know if it's a tragic mistake before I shell out on yellow fabric.  I can always play with yellow accessories if it's never to be.

In other news, I had the pleasure of taking both boys for a dental check-up today.  As with all these things, the reality was far less stressful than I was anticipating (although an autistic child with a particular aversion to drills isn't the best starting point).  They've both had their rewards for being good and brave, so I'm going to get mine on Saturday.  I'm off to Walthamstow market for a blogger meet up and fabric swap organised by Claire of Sew Incidentally.  I've never been to Walthamstow market before and I can't wait!  There's some serious fabric spending money burning a hole in my pocket…

Happy Easter. x 


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