Thursday, 13 December 2012

I am on Holiday!

 Just in case you have been wondering why I haven't made any posts this month, it is because I am spending all of December meeting and greeting family I haven't seen in four years! It is a very busy month for us, so no sewing at all to share. But I am getting to wear some of the things I made in preparation for the trip at least, and I've been able to visit two fabric shops so far, so sewing is still on my mind.  I am sure I will be able to share some inspiration once I return in January.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A gift for my Dad

It's an ipad cover! 

I went to my local tartan shop and went through their alphabetised scrap boxes, to find myself a collection of blue and green tartans. I got about 20 5"x7" squares of 100% tartan wool for £2!! Included in my hoard are our family tartans too!
I cut them up into 24 3" squares.

Using my 1/4" foot I chain stitched them into pairs.
aah... I love chain stitching!

Using a hot steam iron I pressed them firmly.

Then I chain-stitched the pairs into rows of four.

Then I sewed the rows together to make a front and a back.
And to make the fold-over flap I sewed together three strips.
I cut a piece of cotton lining that was the full length
 of the front and back plus an additional 1" ease and 6" flap.
The batting was cut 1/2" smaller to help the seams to be less bulky.
I used an Australian printed cotton, because my family are a mixture of Scottish and Australian.


Dimensions: I got the measurements for the ipad from the makers website, added 1" for ease, 1/2" for seams and 6" for the fold-over flap. I cut the lining and batting in one long piece, and made up the 6" flap in patchwork strips, whilst the body was made up with patchworked squares.
1.With right sides together, sew the short edge of lining to short edge of patchwork squares. Press open. This makes the neat edge on the front. 
2.With right sides together sew the 3 sides of the patchwork squares pieces together, leaving the opening.
3. Lining: with right sides together, sew up the sides the same width as the patchworked pocket. Then tuck this into the patchwork pouch to make sure it fits.
4.Attach your tartan strip fold-over flap, with right sides together, to the back of the patchwork pocket.
5. Untuck the lining from the patchwork pocket and with right sides together, sew onto the fold-over flap, but leave the narrow end un-sewn. Use this un-sewn end to turn the pocket inside out and then handstitch it closed.
6.Affix whatever closures you would prefer: velcro, buttons, etc.

I handstitched a label to the inside that says "Handmade with Love" and made buttonholes to close the flap. 

I don't have an ipad myself, and don't know anyone who does, so I won't know if it fits until I give it to him. And if it doesn't fit? Well, I think I will keep it for myself and use it as a transferable hold-all to keep my purse, phone, keys in, and just grab it when I swap handbags to workbags!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

McCall's 6503 goes Maxi

I am going away very soon to a very hot destination, which explains why I am making summery dresses in the middle of Autumnal frosts!
I recently made the McCall's 6503 in blue and it is such a good fit and easy to wear. I was planning to make a second one in a lovely, painterly pink fabric when I had a flash of inspiration!
How hard it is to find a maxi dress that is modest and has sleeves - so - I decided to add 16" to the hem and turn this dress into a swishy, breezy summery dress for our holiday away!

McCall's 6503 as a Maxi dress!

To make it as easy and quick as possible, I decided to leave out the collar with all the interfacing and hand stitching work, and used the pattern front with the collar. This would have still required facing, and really I didn't think a collar would suit my summery breezy dress idea, so I just folded this piece back and used the straight edge for a wrap-style neckline.

So as to do away with the need for interfacing, I also decided to use bias binding around the neckline, and sewed it onto the wrong side of the fabric, so that when it folded around to the front of the fabric I could see the topstitching and be able to line it up better.

As I already had the paper pieces cut out, I only had to cut out the collared front pattern piece and all the fabric, which took about an hour. Then the actual sewing of the dress took me about 4 hours from start to finish! Except now - because the neckline has the wrap-style, I think I could easily get this on over my head, so am thinking of taking the zipper out now!
side view

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Piecing the sky of Skye

Here is a wee peek into the progress I am making on my Skye Wallhanging.
You may remember from a previous holiday post that I bought some lovely fabrics whilst holidaying in the Autumnal Isle of Skye in Scotland.
I sketched out a design, then after a couple of sketches I re-drew it onto plastic backed Freezer paper, to use as my pattern pieces.

 Then I cut out the Freezer paper pattern pieces and ironed them onto my fabric - plastic side down. This temporarily sticks to the fabric.  I cut the fabric about 1/4 inch bigger than the paper pattern piece.
 Then I used my teeny tiny applique pins to pin the pieces onto the background fabric and then applied the pieces to the backing fabric using the needle-turned applique technique.
So this is what the sky of my Skye looks like! I think I will keep all the re-usable Freezer paper pattern pieces as I might make another one (I think the sky background fabric is a bit too dark compared to the mauve and grey colours but I don't want to start again just yet - I really can't wait to see how this evolves).
This is turning out to be a really relaxing and creative little project and it's nice to be so free and flexible with the designing element. Usually sewing clothes one has to stick to the instructions and my piecing is usually geometric and angular so this is certainly a happy diversion.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Scarves for Mr and Mrs

I started both these scarves around the same time, but lovingly put my Mr as first priority and finished his scarf this week. I really like the way the wool changes hue both gradually and suddenly. I would recommend this type of knitting - doing two items at once, but have one that is simple and one that requires a bit more concentration. That way you can work on whichever project suits your environment and/or state of mind.
Plus a scarf is a very portable project that knits up satisfyingly quickly.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Skye High Inspiration

We've just been on a holiday to the Scottish Isle of Skye.  It was fabulous!  It's Autumn here so the colours were rich and dramatic.

Then of course I stumbled across a fabric shop!! Even in these far flung isles I managed to spend money on material! I chose colours that represent all the lovely scenery we had been living amongst and now plan to make a patchwork quilted wall-hanging from them. Now for the drawing board!

 Have you ever made anything inspired by a favourite place or holiday?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Gertie's Sew-Along

Well, after much deliberation, I have decided that this coat is not for me.  

I've made a bit of a croquis to really be sure, but I just can't see how it is going to suit my figure.  I think I am just too big for the style, especially with the large, dramatic collar and the two waist buttons.

So if you are in the UK, I've put it up for sale on ebay if you're interested.
SOLD to Sarah in Norfolk. Thanks!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Gertie's new book

I've received this book in the mail and am so impressed with how big it is and with how many  patterns you get - ten!
Look how thick it is!
And look how bulging with goodies the pattern envelope is!

Her style of writing is really easy to read, and feels like you're chatting with a friend. The kind of friend who has taught herself new skills and is more than happy to help you out with tips and techniques that she's already struggled through herself.
The patterns would be quite a challenge for beginner sewers but I think that shouldn't put them off trying them, as it's the challenges that help us improve our skills.
The other things I love about the book are the illustrations by Sun Young Park. They're just beautiful.
Here is a peek at some of my favourites - there are many more within the book.

 Would love to know what you think of buying sewing books. Have you succumbed and bought any?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

McCall's 6503

I have finished it at last!  I've been doing a little bit at a time, mostly in the evenings, and am now hoping that the sun comes out so that I can justify wearing a summer dress - as you can see I've opted for the dark tights today, as it is grey and overcast again here in Scotland.

   From this...             to this!

Apart from a few alterations to the bust and the hem and a bit of "dressmakers knowhow" when it came to interpreting the sparse pattern instructions, I am pretty happy with McCall's 6503. I had earmarked this pattern to create 2 dresses but think I'll use the other floral for something else, and the next time I use this pattern it will be with a plain fabric so that the style lines are easier to see. It's a lovely pattern, and I think it will stand the test of time. Below is my full pattern review that I wrote for a Sewing Patterns website.

Pattern Sizing:
Multi sized pattern, I used the largest: 22
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I originally tried to do view c with the ruffle, but unfortunately I sewed the staystitch too close to the edge instead of at the 5/8 mark, which meant the ruffle didn't straighten out to be long enough for the collar. So I binned it and just went with view d instead.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
No, I don't think so. At one stage, they've even left out the "stitch" instruction! The envelope says it's an easy project so I would have expected clearer and even more detailed instructions, but this was not the case unfortunately. But as long as you've sewn a few dresses or blouses I think you will manage the sparse instructions.
Fabric Used:
Rayon in a floral print
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I did view d but used the view c gathered skirt instead of the 4 pleats one.  I also added 2" to the hem, as I am 5'7" and this would have been above the knee, which is too short for me. My final alteration was the bust. It was just too low and also too much fabric in the centre, so I unpicked the part where the button band goes into the midriff band and just pulled the button neckband down about 2" down behind the midriff band. This pulled the button neckband more taut against my body and meant it wasn't as revealing.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would sew this again, with the alterations I've made and would like to do it with a plain fabric so that the lovely style lines are more visible.
Do try this dress if you're after a relaxed dress that would travel well.

Thanks so much for visiting my little Blog.

Monday, 3 September 2012

My love affair with the Postman...

My front garden has a tall, leafy hedge which means approaching and passing-by traffic cannot be seen until they get to the window created by our driveway. It is this window onto the road that has my attention as I watch and wait for a red van to pull up, and a wave of Radio 2 to hit my ears as the postman opens his car door and walks towards our house. Our postbox is affixed to the wall near our back door and the metal hinge clanging down sends a thrill of anticipation through me.... a package or a letter or a card, just SOMETHING has been sent to me!! I wonder what it could be and practically skip to see what my Postie has delivered to me.
I again wonder at the loveliness of the postman, and all the mysterious packages he brings to happy people all over the world.  
Today he has brought me sewing patterns from America! I was reading Laura's blog about some lovely things she was admiring in the Butterick sale, so thought I would have a look too. And Laura was right, they had some very interesting patterns in their sale, and at such a reduced price I didn't mind spending all that money on postage from the USA. All up I got 7 patterns for $20 and it was $25 for postage, which for me is  a total of £28, for which I would usually only get 3 sewing patterns anyway! Definitely a bargain!
The two on the left are designed by Gertie - of whom I am a big fan, and if you haven't seen her sewing projects then please take a 20 minute coffee break and browse around her website. She is even thinking about beginning an online sew-along, which sounds like it would be encouraging to be a part of.

The 3rd one I have seen sewn by Laura MaeJulia Bobbin and Roisin and would really like to have a try at the cross over bodice, the same as Roisin's one.  

And the 4th pattern, well I am intrigued by the cut of this pattern, B5813 and hope it will suit me as much as it suits the model.
So, thank you Mr Postman, for bringing me such happy possibilities!
I'd be very interested to hear what your personal postal delivery is like and how it makes you feel...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Quilting just for Me!

I saw these beautiful fabrics and just HAD to use them for something.  

They are from a range called Rural Jardin by French General for Moda.  Despite not having even one room in the house that they would coordinate with I didn't care, I just HAD to use them.  So I spent many a happy hour browsing the internet for a pattern, and again found the Moda Bake Shop had a superb pattern that would fit the bill perfectly.  The pattern is called Chain of Faith, and it comes with really clear photographic instructions.  I didn't do my quilt as big as the one in the pattern, and I also started it 5 squares in from the edge, as I prefer the red squares to create these diamond shapes, instead of the cross shapes that they create in the pattern.

I really enjoyed cutting and then laying out the fabrics. As you can see on the right, I've started sewing them up into squares and then into the larger squares.
I decided to be a bit more uniform with my colours, and kept the browns, reds and blues together.
Luckily for me, this is the bed in our guest room, so I could leave them laid out there with a sheet over them for a few weeks whilst being busy with other things.
After finally finishing I sent it off to be quilted together on a huge quilting machine, (which was a lot more expensive than I would ever have imagined) and am extremely happy with the results!!

I backed it with a pretty country scene toile  fabric from the Rural Jardin range.
Are there any fabric collections that you just HAD to have?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Edinburgh Shopping Trip

I have been admiring Debi's timeless sewing and wondered where she shops for all her lovely fabrics.  As her city Edinburgh isn't too far away for me I asked if she would give me a few addresses. Instead she so kindly forwarded me a list of her top 3 fabric shops, complete with public transport directions and tips about what I might find in each shop!
Fabric Goodies Purchased!

Gold medal goes to...

Edinburgh Fabrics.  "An Aladdin's Cave jam-packed with goodies." Here is what I bought there: 
Floaty floral cotton, cotton lining, zip, all for McCall's Pattern 6503.  

Silver medal goes to...

Mandors of Edinburgh... a small shop with "very nice wools" and a remnants bin to rifle through!
Here is what I got there:

50cm remnant of Liberty Tana Lawn for £4, which I am hoping will stretch to make a simple vest top, and 1/2 metre of black satin and some elastic to make pyjama shorts.

Bronze medal goes to...

Cloth Shop / Remnant Kings.  Where the "entire top floor is dressmaking fabric."  Here is what I got there:

Floaty polyester to make a different version of McCall's 6503 and a blue cotton blend to make Butterick 5747 into a sailor style dress (inspired by Roisin and andrea).

Thanks so much to Debi of My Happy Sewing Place for helping me to have such a successful shopping trip!  As you can see I am now getting closer to completing my 2012 projects list!

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