Friday, 21 April 2017

Freehand embroidery workshop

Today I've been learning some new sewing skills to add to my repetoire! Myself and my sister-in-law attended a workshop held at the Leeds John Lewis store. The workshop was run by Jenni Smith and cost £40.

The course was held in the haberdashery department under a pom pom garland with oversized cotton reels for stools (I want one for my sewing room!!)

I totally forgot to take a pic of the haberdashery department but here's one I pinched from

All the necessary equipment and supplies were included and i imagine as long as you have at least a basic knowledge of sewing machines you would be fine to attend this course.

Preparing your fabrics seemed key to creating professional looking machine embroidery. There was interfacing to apply to the calico (to be used as the background) followed by bondaweb applied to each of the patterned cotton's we used. Jenni supplied some beautiful prints from the rain or shine collection by Dashwood Studio

Next up it was time to lower the feed dogs on the machines and swap out the regular presser feet for a darning foot.

The first thing we all tried to embroider was our names. Jenni suggested that it is the best place to start as it is something we are so familiar with. It was also at this point that we were told to go over our lines, i was really shocked at how much better lettering turned out when i followed this advice.

Top: one layer of thread
Bottom: two layers of thread

I made a little Tweety bird, an April showers pic and a sunshine.

I'm really looking forward to using what I've learnt today at home. Think I'll be searching Pinterest for inspiration straight away.

The people at John Lewis also very kindly gave all the participants a voucher for complimentary hot drink and cake, which we made use of straight after we finished!

It was a great day out and I'll be keeping an eye on Jenni's website to see what other sessions she'll be doing in the future.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Seamwork Kenedy

I've just treated myself a subscription to seamwork. For those of you not familiar with Seamwork it is a digital magazine released monthly from the guys (or girls) at Colette patterns. Every month they release 2 new patterns which they showcase in the magazine. And the best part...For just $6 per month you get credit to download 2 patterns each month.

Upon subscribing I received 1 pattern free, Kenedy. Kenedy is a simple trapeze dress with a large V back. I was looking for something to sew to wear to an upcoming wedding reception and thought this could fit the bill.

All Seamwork patterns come as download only. I have printed a few patterns at home before but just small projects like bags. I have to admit I was a bit daunted at the prospect of cutting and sticking 38 pages together! I needn't have worried, once I got started it didn't take all that long. I also chose to print the flutter sleeves pattern as I preferred this style to the cap sleeve of the original Kenedy.

All sizes (0 - 26) were printed on the same nested pattern for Kenedy, which made for quite a busy pattern to trace. I'd seen someone on Instagram recommend highlighting your size prior to tracing, such a great idea.

Then it was time to pick a fabric!! I already have lots and really wanted to shop my stash. I'd recently gone a bit OTT at the Fabworks online flash sale. Although it was all Jersey that I bought and this pattern calls for a woven there was one fabric that I felt might just work. Moonlight Bouquet is a double Jersey with a crepe finish featuring a black background with a large floral print of Camelia and Lily.

I was lucky enough to get this fabric for just £4 a metre and when I bought it I thought the print would be perfect for a special occasion dress.

I tend to buy 3 metres of fabric if I don't know what its intended purpose is going to be!! Seamwork recommend 2 3/8 yards for the Kenedy in size 16 but that's for non directional prints. I also added 5 inches to the length as Im not a mini skirt kind of girl!! Luckily 3 metres was plenty even with the added length. 

The only other supplies needed for this pattern were 2 yards of 1/2 inch bias tape.

Then it was on to the sewing! Seamwork patterns are designed to be made in just 2 hours. I'm obviously not that good but it was a very simple sew, an enjoyable sew too as I wasn't pulling my hair out questioning how to do things. 

Inserting the sleeves was probably the trickiest part to do. The pattern instructs you to sew 3 lines of easing stitches to gather the sleeve so that it fits in the armhole, i did this but didn't see much benefit as my sleeve matched up perfectly without the need to gather!

The pattern calls for bias binding to be used as a finishing around the neckline. I hadn't used bias binding in this way before so was slightly apprehensive. The fabric was so close to becoming  a dress and i was envisioning ruining it!

But the great thing with Seamwork (and Colette patterns) is they have a wealth of resources to help us along the way. Throughout the instructions there are mentions of webpages, articles and downloads on the trickier aspects of dressmaking. I read through the their guide to bias binding and was really pleased with my first attempt. I even inserted a "handmade by Natalie" label under the binding!

So, here's the finished dress

& The back view, it's nice that it has the low back but I was still able to wear a bra and it not show.

Overall I'm really pleased with how this turned out. Especially as I took a risk with the fabric choice. 

Now I just need to decide what other seamwork patterns to get. Perhaps a shirtdress for sew together for summer. Any recommendations? Let me know.
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