Sunday, 29 July 2018

Sew in the City

I visited sew in the city in Sheffield recently for their Thursday night craft social.

On a Thursday evening from 6:15pm til 9:45pm sew in the city opens their studios to all sorts of crafters. If you want to knit and natter, crochet and chat or sew and socialise this is a perfect place to visit.

I went along with my Sheffield sewing friends Elena and Katie. We each paid £8 for use of a sewing machine (it is just £5 if not using a machine). Kerry the owner was very welcoming and showed us around when we arrived. The shop/studio is set out over 3 floors. On the ground floor is the main shop front with fabrics galore. On the first floor there are 3 main rooms; a cutting room, a lounge and sewing studio. I didn't venture up to the 2nd floor but believe that to be a knitting studio where workshops etc are held.

The sewing studio was spacious and set up with 7 sewing machines. I did have a worry when I sat down to the machine that I might not be able to use it but the brother FS40 was easy to use and I needn't have worried.

I didn't need to use the cutting room as I had pre cut all my pieces but there were 2 (possibly) A0 cutting mats on a huge desk so alot better than most of us home sewists will have access to!

I particularly loved the lounge area Kerry has set up. Here there were tea and biscuits and comfy sofas and sewing magazines to read. Perfect!

Whilst there I worked on my cotton and chalk Zoe dress. I had taken along my sewing box with scissors, pins etc but another time I wouldn't bother as all these are available in the workshop

There is even a loyalty card. Attend 5 times and yet your 6th visit for free!

Sew in the city is based at 119 West Bar in Sheffield City centre.

July's sewings on

Ive been struggling to the find the time to blog of late but there's still been plenty going on in my sewing life throughout July so thought I may try a new monthly post where I round up what I've been up to...

Back in early June I shared a sneak peak over on Instagram of my fabric choices for the #ogdenidaswap. I can never resist using rifle paper co designed fabrics in swaps and this time was no exception choosing both cotton and canvas pieces in the turquoise Freja print from the Amalfi collection. I also stumbled across an offcut of turquoise leather on ebay that I hoped I could incorporate. 

Right at the beginning of the month I spent a lovely morning with Katie. It was great to have the opportunity to meet up with a local sewing friend to chat and sew. To be fair I think I talked more than I sewed which explains why my Ida clutch didn't progress far that morning! 

I received exciting happy post mid July when my Exo scissors from William whiteley arrived. I had ordered two personalised chrome pairs during a kickstarter campaign at the end of 2017 with an expected delivery of May 2018. The folks over at whiteley's had had a few issues with the production process so I was so happy to be a recipient of one of the first batches released. These scissors/shears are in a totally different league to what I had been using.

I had backed the kickstarter campaign whilst there was a buy one get one free option so I'm now the proud owner of two shiny personalised super sharp pairs of scissors. 

Then it was back to the Ida clutch bag making as the deadline was fast approaching. I'm not going to lie I really struggled with the leather, at parts where there were darts my poor machine really struggled to sew through the multiple layers but I persevered and managed to make a bag I was happy with.

My Ida went on its way to my recipient Jen along with a few other treats. Thanks heavens for next day delivery as I really was cutting it fine! 

And then it was time to open my #ogdenidaswap parcel. I had shown restraint which I didn't know I posessed in not opening it before reveal day. I think I was helped in part that I felt unable to enjoy my gift when I had yet to send mine on its way. 

My Ida was made by the lovely Vicky of sewstainability. I met Vicky at the little lawn party afternoon tea that I went to in York a while back. Obviously I follow her on Instagram and hadn't failed to see her snippet of what she had planned for the swap. As I was ripping into my package (I'd lost all restraint by this point!) I recognised the gold linen and tassel and knew exactly who my Ida was from and couldn't have been more pleased.

As is often the case with these swaps Vicky had gifted me a few things; candy, a magnet, the best of bookmarks and a set of fabric samples.

I love the bookmark. I think the vintage pattern illustrations are like little works of art. I hadn't seen that bookmarks have been made from them, this one is a simplicity vintage one and is just fab.

Also this month I attended a craft social evening in Sheffield and sew down Dewsbury. Both of which I hope to blog about separately.

So that was July! There's lots to look forward to in August, most notably the sewing weekender hosted by the fold line and Charlotte of English girl at home. Until next time, happy sewing. 

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A little lawn party: Yorkshire edition

It had been quite some time since I'd met up with my sewing friends Elena, Samantha and Jan but we finally got a date in the diary and arranged to meet in York. 

Our meetup coincided with the last week of  Atia and Mel's Instagram challenge; A little lawn party. Their challenge came about as they were looking forward to the arrival of spring and the change in our me mades that it signals. Goodbye dark and dismal winter and hello sunshine and good times. 

We all agreed that our meetup would be a great opportunity to take part in this challenge and reveal our spring themed outfits to each other. Elena had the great idea of seeing if any other local sewists would like to join us and an Instagram post later we were 14 strong! 

It was decided that afternoon tea would be the perfect compliment to our little lawn party and Elena booked us a table at the Garden Room in the Principal Hotel.

The Garden Room was the perfect setting for our meetup. We were seated at a huge table with armchairs and sofas, good job we were comfy as we chatted for hours!! The afternoon tea was very tasty and highly recommended. 

I even purchased a new sewing pin to add to my growing collection! One of the attendees, Laura, is the owner of cotton reel studio and has a new line of pin badges. I had to have one, of course.

But this is a sewing blog so what about the outfits?! 

Here's Samantha in her 1940's wrap dress, me in B6318 and Elena's alder shirt dress. We managed a little wander around the museum gardens to enjoy the sunshine before we ate copious amounts of cake and drank gallons of tea!

Other gorgeous outfits included: TATB Bettine, Cleo & Francois, BHL Orsola, Colette's Penny...and many more. 

Here's a list of attendees. Do go check out their Instagram/blogs to see their fantastic makes. 

You can find out more about my outfit on my previous blog post here


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Butterick Retro tie-waist dress B6318

I'd had Butterick B6318 in my stash unused for a while now, I received it free with Love Sewing magazine in August last year (issue 43). Love Sewing described it as a retro day dress with stylish waist ties. I certainly thought this was a style I'd like to wear and envisaged making it for a day at the races or maybe a wedding.

I really liked the styling of the packet illustrations. Version A is shown in a vertical stripe with waist ties cut on the horizontal. Version B in a floral print with contrast ties. Although the pattern states there are two versions in reality they are the same dress with either self or contrast ties. I think you could also omit the ties to give a more streamlined shape. 

I finally found a fabric that was a good combo of everything I loved about the pattern illustrations. This stretch cotton poplin from sewmesunshine is a mix of navy and white candy stripes with a floral print of pink/blush roses and the odd splash of dark green foliage. 

I haven't sewn many of the big 4 patterns
(McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue and Butterick) and this would be my first attempt at a Butterick pattern. 

The first thing of note on this pattern envelope is the lack of finished garment measurements. I always like to compare the body size vs garment size to get a feel for the amount of ease that has been factored into a pattern. Well, those measurements are on this pattern but hiding! You have to open out the pattern pieces and at each bust, waist and hip point you will find the finished measurements.

Then onto the instructions. Im so glad that I've tackled other garments before attempting this 'easy' Butterick pattern. In no way are the instructions wrong it's just they are so sparse. Not to mention the A3 sheet you have to first tackle in order to read them!

I made a couple of mistakes where I blindly followed the instructions and only later realised that simple things like grading or finishing seams weren't mentioned. I was really kicking myself for missing such important steps. I think I'm so used to being spoon fed step by step construction by the independents it didn't occur to me to stop and think. Luckily I was able to retrospectively fix my mistakes.

The only changes I made to the dress were in relation to the waist ties. I'd been given a few recommendations to cut an extra set of waist ties in order to give a better finish. The pattern would have you cutting just one set and hemming the edges but this results in the wrong side being visible when they're tied. I also added a couple of inches in length to the waist ties as I'd seen a few reviews where the original length gives a measly bow when tied.

When I'd finished the dress and played around with the ties I think I prefer it with a simple knot rather than a bow.

This dress called for a zip insertion which I'm still not totally adept at! This time around it was a lapped zip. Given that my attempts at invisible zips are less than invisible this style of zipper is perfect for me. Again the instructions fell short but a quick Google of lapped zip insertion and I was on my way. I think I may look out for patterns with this style of closure in future or even choose to insert one where the pattern asks for an invisble zipper as the finish is much nicer than any previous zips I've inserted.

This dress is going to be my entry to a little lawn party and I'll be stepping out in it in a few days when I'll be meeting up with some old and new sewing friends in York. I look forward to telling you all about it.


Thursday, 3 May 2018

Peter Pan Carolyn's (part 1)

I've just got back from a hen do in Liverpool this weekend. I'm pleased to report that my suitcase was filled with plenty of me mades.

I knew that I needed a new pair of pyjamas for the occasion and thought it was the perfect excuse to sew up a pair.

I'd come across this amazing Peter Pan cotton at textile express and immediately thought it would make super cute nightwear. The print features Wendy, John and Michael flying over Neverland with Peter Pan.

I'd seen a couple of pyjama patterns I liked the look of, namely: Nina Lee's Piccadilly pyjamas and Closet case patterns Carolyn pajamas.

At almost £10 a metre I was conscious this was going to be an expensive make. This fabric is also quilting width at 112cm, so I knew I was going to need plenty of fabric.

I ended up buying the Carolyn pattern as it was the only one of the 2 in stock when I visited my local bricks and mortar fabric store. This might have been the wrong choice as the Carolyn's recommend a staggering 5 metres of fabric for the long sleeves, full length trouser version! I'd only purchased 4 metres but hoped that a bit of pattern piece tetris would work.

I was lucky enough to spend a whole weekend sewing with friends a couple of weeks ago, these Peter Pan Carolyn's were the project I took with me. Once I traced my pattern pieces it was onto the aforementioned game of tetris. As it turns out Closet Case patterns are true to their word with their yardage requirements. I really struggled to get all my pieces cut out of the 4 metres. I must have spent the best part of one day wrestling with my pieces and the fabric!

In the end it was the sleeves and the pocket bags I was struggling with. The only thing for it was to shorten my sleeves to (hopefully) 3/4 length and raid my friends stash for a suitable fabric for the pocket bags. I came across a grey kona quilting cotton and had to hope the contrast would work out OK.

Once I was all cut out the trouser construction was relatively straightforward. There is a faux fly to construct but the instructions were really clear and easy to follow. I used a different width of elastic than the instructions stated and adjusted the waistband width accordingly. 

So there I was with my pj bottoms complete, yet to start on the top and the hen do a day or two away. I knew I didn't have time to tackle the top but really wanted a matching set to take away with me. In the end I decided to repurpose a ready to wear tshirt with a splash of my Peter Pan fabric. 

I was really pleased the difference a patch pocket made to my rtw top.

So I have a matchy matchy pair for the time being but don't worry I'll soon make a start on the carolyn top. 


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Kalle x Odessa Traditionale

The Kalle shirtdress from closet case patterns was the choice for March's sew my style. One of the great things about Instagram sewing challenges/projects is that they are often my introduction to patterns I haven't previously come across. 

This was my first time using a pattern from Heather Lou of Closet Case Patterns, I'd been looking at buying Ginger jeans or the Kelly anorak but the Kalle shirtdress had somehow skipped my attention.

When I spotted this art gallery fabrics quilting cotton called Odessa traditionale at sewmesunshine I immediately thought of the Kalle shirtdress. Although the Tallinn collection by Jessica Swift is inspired by her travels through Eastern Europe it immediately made me think of dessert flowers. Maybe it was those cowboy boots on the packet illustration that had kept popping up on my Instagram feed throughout March but I just couldn't get this fabric x pattern pairing off my mind.

My first thoughts about this pattern were how versatile it is. There are 3 lengths; cropped, shirt, shirtdress. 2 collars; standard and band. 3 plackets; popover, concealed and button. Not to mention the option of an inverted or box pleat on the back. All these options are mix and match so with this one pattern I'll be able to make a wardrobe full of tops/shirtdresses.

The pattern instructions were really easy to follow and there is also a sewalong on the closet case website. I've also been introduced to my first ever fabric burrito!!

So, basically the fabric burrito is a method for sewing together the shoulder seams in a super neat finish with all seams enclosed. Check out the sewalong as it's covered really well there.

The options I went for in this Kalle were  the inverted pleat, standard collar, popover placket and shirtdress length. 

Another first for this make was the use of poppers. I bought a mix pack of prym colour snaps containing red, orange and pink snaps. I was fully expecting to use the red snaps on this project but it turned out the orange were a perfect match! I was a bit disappointed with the lack of instruction for the snaps. I'd also purchased the prym vario pliers and there was no help there either. Luckily YouTube came to the rescue and once I'd got them inserted I was really happy with them.

First outing for my Kalle was to an overlocker workshop at Fabricate Robertown. It was the perfect excuse to wear my onr shop x finest imaginary name necklace too! I wasn't too sure about the size of the collar at first but once paired with a necklace I felt more comfortable.

This was such an enjoyable make. I'm so pleased that the sew my style project brought this pattern to my attention.


Monday, 16 April 2018

MHW The Action Pack

At the end of 2017 I supported a kickstarter campaign for a new sewing pattern company. My handmade wardrobe is the latest venture of Sarah and Freya of crafty sew and so. I attended their launch party in January where I got to see samples of their first 4 releases; The action pack, all the cute skirts, the everyday amazing shift dress & top and the cosy jersey dress & tunic.

I promptly purchased The action pack which contains patterns for leggings and a crossover back swing top, of which I wanted to make the leggings.

I wasn't really sure what I was looking for in a Jersey suitable for leggings. A decent stretch, recovery and opacity are required but are all characteristics that are difficult to judge when buying online. In the end I decided to look for jerseys that said suitable for leggings in their product description!

This 'kaleidoscope jersey' caught my attention as I loved the geometric pattern and it reminded me of sportswear leggings I've seen on the high street. Better yet it was described as being suitable for leggings.

The MHW paper patterns are printed on good quality paper stock. Being firmly in team trace I find this makes things so much easier for me! Tracing and cutting out was helped further by the fact the leggings are made up of just 3 pattern pieces; leg panel, front waistband and back waistband.

The action pack is suitable to be sewn entirely on a regular sewing machine. As I've recently got an overlocker I was keen to see the difference it would have on my next jersey make.

I used my overlocker for the majority of this make only switching to my regular machine for the addition of the waistband and hemming the legs. I'm hoping that the use of an overlocker will help banish splitting seams, especially in the crotch area!

I couldn't believe how quickly I was wearing a pair of leggings. 

Now to decide if these are going to be active wear or lounge wear...they're comfy enough for either I think. 


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Noodlehead poolside tote

A while back Harriet from sewmesunshine wanted feedback on new things to stock in her online habedashery. I suggested some canvas weight fabrics as I'd like to give bag making a go.

I've liked the look of Anna Graham's Noodlehead pattern range for a while. Her bag patterns come with the added bonus that you can sell your finished wares.

When I saw that sewmesunshine had started stocking a cotton canvas called 'relaxing on the beach' I had to purchase a metre! It's a cotton canvas with a small sunbathers and parasols pattern on a natural background.

So I had my canvas for a bag, which pattern to choose? It was immediately obvious that this fabric would make the perfect bag for holidays. Looking through the noodlehead patterns available the poolside tote seemed the perfect match. Described as a roomy tote that can hold 4 beach towels I hit add to cart right away!

 I chose the PDF format but paper copies are available from some UK stockists. I don't normally like PDF patterns that are A4 only but at 13 pages of which only 6 are your pattern pieces it wasn't a cut and stick nightmare!

The thing that drew me to the noodlehead range was all the bags seem to have been designed so that you can really show off different prints. The poolside tote is no exception. I decided to use 3 different fabrics on my tote; 'relaxing on the beach', a cotton linen in 'pool' colourway and a quilting cotton 'Norrland ice mid blue'

The bag was a quick and easy make, the most difficult bit was deciding which fabric to put where. After much deliberation I used the solid linen for the interior lining and handles, the quilting cotton for the pocket linings and facing and that fabulous relaxing on the beach canvas centre stage as the exterior. I also chose to interface my exterior fabric in a fusible fleece as I wanted it to add a little extra body to the bag. I didn't interface any of the other pieces.

Ive already taken my poolside tote on a family trip to the local pool and can confirm it stood up to the test of multiple towels, clothes and swim toys. Hopefully it's next use will be in an exotic beach location...probably not!

I think this could be a great tote for carrying your craft stash or an alternative to a nappy bag. Im already looking at fabric combinations to make another. 
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