Sunday, 6 August 2017

The sewcialists tribute month

This month the sewcialists blog is holding tribute month. In their words it's an opportunity to  "Get inspired by a favourite blogger, and make something they would approve of! Or straight up copy them – that works too!" 

Who are my legends in sewing? The sewists that I aspire to emulate, those whose sewing skills I one day hope to match and use of patterns and prints always surprise me. I had a look through my Instagram feed and a couple of sewists stood out.

So whose creations am I always keen to see and more often than not give a like, comment and inevitably "copy"!!

Elle Harris of sewpositivity of course! I first came across Elle when I was new to Instagram and she co-hosted the moneta party.  I'd never come across an online sewing event before but soon found it was the perfect opportunity for me to get involved with the sewing community and gave me a reason to attempt sewing with fabrics I was new to.

Despite Elle being Instagram famous(!!) she always has time for her fellow sewists giving advice and sharing her fabric finds.
One such fabric find that she shared was a duvet set from George at Asda (yes, you read that right, a duvet cover!). The print was fantastic, all blue/turquoise waves with bathers bobbing along. Think synchronised swimmers from the aquamusicals of the 1940s and 50s!

Well it was safe to say that I called in Asda on my way home from work that day, buying a king size duvet set for £6.

Elle's original Instagram post that had me running to the home furnishings department of my local Asda!

George at Asda swimmers duvet cover set (now sold out) 

I had the fabric but which pattern to use. As the bathers had me thinking of 40's and 50's swimsuits it had to be vintage inspired. I'd purchased a dress pattern from sewladidavintage a while back but had yet to cut into my chosen fabric for it. The pattern, the blitz dress is 1940s in design and I felt I'd found the perfect match of fabric and pattern.

I got straight to work on cutting out my fabric and sewing up until I came to the zipper. I'd yet to sew an invisible zip and had only sewn a lapped and centered zip (somewhat unsuccessfully) previously. I went from loving my fabric and pattern to wanting to hide it away in a pile of unfinished objects. Luckily I'd messaged Elle to say thanks for sharing her make and how I was struggling to get to grips with zip insertion. She was quick to give me some advice and tips and if it wasn't for Elle's encouragement I can safely say that's where this make would still be.

As it turns out,  it seems an invisible zip is the easiest zip to fit.

I'm so pleased with my first invisible zip and won't be shying away from patterns that require them in the future.

I was going to name this dress my synchronised swimming dress but think 'synchronised sewing' may well be a better moniker. So often we synchronise our sewing plans as we see what other sewists are working on across social media. I just hope Elle and any other sewists I've copied in the past or future know that in this case imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.

I'd have loved to have taken some pictures at a lido or swimming pool but had to make do with the local lake, although I wouldn't fancy bathing here!


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sew Together for Summer

I first came across Seamwork magazines Adelaide when I was looking for a shirtdress pattern for sew together for summer. This was was an Instagram photo challenge with the easiest and most inclusive set of rules I'd come across: Sew up a shirtdress and post a pic between the 15th of March and the 21st of June. Sarah, Monika and Suzy were the hosts and the winners were to be drawn randomly so from the novice to the professional alike, we were all in with a chance of a prize! 

Seamwork describe Adelaide as a tank dress, but with its centre front snap closure it fit the bill as a sew together for summer shirtdress. I particulary liked the idea of using snaps as I had yet to get to grips with button holes!!

I'm not always very imaginative when it comes to picking pattern and fabric combinations and all too often get swayed by the styling of the original garment publicity shots. This was no exception as all I could think to make Adelaide in was an Ikat design fabric. Imagine how pleased I was when I came across this single border print tie-dye style fabric!

If Adelaide and Ikat hadn't been swimming around my head this is not something I'd of normally been drawn to.  It was great timing then that a lady was using this fabric at the sewing class I attend. I instantly wanted it and at only £3.50 a metre from the textile centre this 100% cotton was a bargain buy!
So I used Aprils Seamwork credit and downloaded Adelaide. This time around I didn't print the pattern off A4 but used an online copyshop. Id come across netprinter after seeing lots of recommendations on Instagram and for just £10 (including p&p) I was able to get 3 patterns printed on A0 paper, so no cutting and sticking needed!

I was pleasantly surprised how easy Adelaide came together. The trickiest part was deciding how I wanted to orientate the pattern of the fabric on the dress. I eventually decided to have the solid blue border running the length of the front right and left (where it fastens) and the back featuring just the ikat pattern. I also "attempted" to pattern match for the first time (with varying success!).

Then it was time to attach the fastenings. Despite picking this pattern for its use of snaps I soon decided it was high time to tackle buttonholes. I had also come across an online treasure trove of buttons at textile garden and figured what better reward for conquering my buttonhole fear than to treat myself to some pretty buttons! 

Turns out buttonholes aren't all that bad when you have an automatic buttonhole on your sewing machine. Good thing when you've got 13 to sew and here is where I made a mistake...Id only bought 12!! Luckily the final button hole was far enough down to do away with. Next time I'll double check before purchasing, maybe!

Here is the finished dress and what do you know the next day the sun was shining and it almost felt like summer.

I really love this dress, so much in fact that I was already planning another. I'd been eyeing up  some liberty cotton poplin in Fabworks.

This liberty Carline print was priced at £13 a metre so I had ruled out buying it as ideally I wanted to make a dress but as dresses in my size tend to require 2+ metres I didn't feel I just justify the purchase. After I'd made my first Adelaide it occurred to me that this pattern is really economical with fabric. I laid out the pattern pieces and as long as my chosen fabric was 150cm wide I could get the body of the dress and belt loops out of 1 metre. Result! I wouldn't be able to squeeze the tie belt of 1 metre but a contrast belt could work I figured.

Again I wanted to post this make as a sew together for summer entry so I had to get cracking to make it in time for the 21st of June deadline. As I was pushed for time I didn't have much choice regarding the colour of bias binding to use as the colour range at my local haberdashery is limited. I deliberated and eventually went for a dark green that was a match for some of the foliage in the print. I also bought  a wider length of this same coloured bias binding to make the belt from. 

Despite my best efforts this wasn't finished by the contest deadline but I posted anyway as I was really pleased with my effort. 

I still needed to hem using bias binding and sew up the belt. Which I did the next day. 

Although I wasn't 100% sure about the contrast bias binding and belt when the dress was finished I felt it broke up the pink floral pattern nicely.

And my new pink Lotta's were a perfect match!

Another Adelaide and another one that I love and can see me wearing a lot.

This is the first time I've gone straight back to a pattern to make another. Which are your go to patterns?


Monday, 3 July 2017

2017: The sewing story so far...

How is it July already! It's been a little over 6 months since I sewed my first item of clothing so thought I'd post a round up of what I've made so far this year in the hope that it will point me in the direction I want my me made wardrobe to go.

First up in January was the tilly and the buttons Cleo. This dungaree dress really appealed to me as I'd seen them in clothes stores but couldn't find one long enough. A me made version would solve that problem as I could make it the perfect length to suit me!

I chose to make the mid length version with centre front split in purple needle cord. Upon wearing this a few times I seem to have torn the front split despite bar tacking as advised in the instructions. I obviously must take long strides everywhere!!

My monetas were next up in mid February for the moneta party. These were the first time I sewed with stretch and I'm so glad I jumped straight in because there are so many great patterns for knit fabrics

I didn't manage any makes in March but did stock up on fabrics in the fab works easter sale. 3 months into my city and guilds course I made my first full size piece; a simple elasticated waist skirt. For the skirt I used a border print and I'd love to make another but have struggled to find a print that I really like at a decent price.

In April I had a wedding evening reception to attend and loved the prospect of making my own outfit, this coincided with my first month's subscription to seamwork magazine. Upon subscription I had a free pattern in my library, Kenedy. This trapeze dress with added flutter sleeves and statement tie back seemed a perfect party dress.

Mays make was another seamwork pattern, this time adelaide, a shirt dress with belted tie. I'd seen the the adelaide on seamworks site made up in an ikat design print and when another lady from sewing class brought in a similar fabric I had to know where she'd bought it as I immediately thought adelaide! This was my first attempt at button holes and the automated button hole on my Janome DKS100 made life so simple!

At the end of May I finally got around to making a pair of trousers I'd seen in love sewing magazine months earlier!! I'd printed the PDF Pattern when I'd first bought the mag but had been putting off a trouser make.

And then it was June, my most productive month so far. Yet more seamwork patterns were made in June; an Ida and another Adelaide. Seamwork patterns are probably my go to place for patterns due to affordability and being easy to make!

In June I also finished my tilly and the buttons Arielle that I had been making as part of my sewing course. Unfortunately I made a school boy error and had made it too small for myself, confusing finished garment measurements for body measurements!!

Just as June came to a close I managed a top and skirt in one day. The skirt was another tilly and the buttons pattern, this time Miette a wrap around skirt. The top was a cami that I'd been fancying making for a while, the true bias ogden. I couldn't believe how quick these makes came together.

So, what next? My makes so far have been dominated by dresses. I think I should try to work on separates more. I also have been shying away from zip fastenings, which is really something I must rectify. As well as learning zippers I'd love to do a course/workshop on fitting.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sew up North

What a day! On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending sew up north, a sewing meetup centred around Leeds City Centre. Since attending Sew down Dewsbury I'd been itching to see all my fellow sewists again so jumped at the chance to sign up for this!

Sew up north is masterminded by Rebecca and Sally and what a fab day they had organised for us. 120 sewists descended on Costa Coffee to receive goodie bags and admire each other's handmade outfits.

Inside the goodie bags were various discount codes, a simplicity pattern, sweets and a fab badge!! As well as bagging all the attendees some much appreciated discount codes Sally and and Rebecca had received lots of items from various sponsors to be used as prizes in a charity raffle. Sew up North's chosen charity is Yorkshire Air ambulance, who I was surprised to hear are entirely self funded and require £12000 per day to keep running. It really is a great cause and one I was happy to part with my money for!

After we had fuelled up in Costa it was time to hit the shops. I had heard that John Lewis had a clearance sale on so was eager to get to their haberdashery department before all the best deals had gone!!

As soon as I found the clearance shelves I was eyeing up the  Atelier Brunette fabric that was 50% off! This French design house fabrics usually retail for around £20 per metre (so not something I would normally consider) but at £9 a metre I couldn't resist, so snapped up 2 metres of this twist mustard cotton cambric.

I remembered to take a pic of the pom pom garland this time I visited!

After John Lewis it was time to check out B & M fabrics' bricks and mortar shop at the rear of the market.

As part of our discount codes we were lucky enough to receive 20% off purchases of £15 or more on the day. The shop was packed when I arrived with not a lot of room to have a thorough look around. However, a lot of the best prints were already out on the cutting table and it was there I spotted this Rose and Hubble print.

At £5 a metre I decided to get 3 metres worth in order to be eligible for discount!

That was the end of my purchasing (apart from the obligatory raffle tickets but more on that later) but there was still plenty of perusing to be done.

The stalls in the inside of the market were our next port of call. I visited Jacks fabrics and Fletchers fabrics but unfortunately it wasn't until much later that I realised there was at least one other fabric stall that I missed in the market. It was an African Wax print stall that I missed, which I definitely want to head to on my next trip into Leeds.

The final shop we visited was Samuel Taylors. I can remember shopping here years ago when I did a lot of cross stitching but never realised that they had a lower ground floor full of fabric delights! Again, no purchases but they did stock some 100% wool felt that I will bear in mind for a future project that I am planning.

Also in Samuel Taylor's I spotted a bolt of the liberty fabric I'd made my outfit in. I thought I'd got a good deal at £13 a metre but here it was at £8.50, just shows it pays (or saves!) to shop around.

Fabric shopping is hungry/thirsty work and 3 hours had flown by so it was time to head to the Belgrave music and food hall to regroup.

Prior to the meetup Sally and Rebecca had suggested that if we had any unloved patterns and/or fabric in our stash that we should bring them along and attempt to swap them. By the time we arrived in the Belgraves function room there was a large table filled with fabric and patterns, one mans trash truly is another mans gold as there were some great pieces.

I did a cheeky pre swap swap with Elena as we both liked the look of each others fabrics! She went for my blue shibori panel fabric (that I had previously made a seamwork Adelaide with) whilst I got my hands on her zebra print fabric.

I also picked up some shirting fabric in the swap, a whopping 3 1/4 metres at that.

I had also thrown into the swap pile lengths of island blooms scuba and sky blue needlecord, a kimono pattern Id received free with a magazine that was too small for me and a pattern for some bean bag teddies. Hopefully they all found good homes!

The day was drawing to a close with just the raffle prizes to be drawn. Sally and Rebecca informed us that over £700 had been collected for the Yorkshire air ambulance, amazing! There were some amazing prizes; gift vouchers, magazine subscriptions, pattern bundles etc. It was beginning to look like lady luck wasn't shining on me until the very last prize was announced. I only went and won a fabric bundle from Minerva Crafts containing over £100 worth of fabric!!!

Here's a peak of some of the gorgeous fabrics it contained.

I will try and do a blog post detailing what there was in the bundle as there are some beauties!!

Last but not least just want to say thankyou to these lovely ladies who made the day so enjoyable. Really hope we can arrange another fabric shopping trip pronto.

Samantha, Elena, me and Janice

Did you attend sew up north? It really was a great day out. Any suggestions on what to use my fabrics for would be much appreciated.

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