Sunday, 19 December 2010

Hunting and gathering top

It's been a really long time since I made anything for myself, I have done a fair bit of sewing recently, mostly bits and pieces for the kids. So when the Innocent voile arrived, it spurred me into action.

I chose 'dress c' from Les Couleurs Francaises, the idea being that I could make a top version of it and layer it with a longer sleeve top in the winter, or maybe thermals. You may remember Kelly made a gorgeous version of this dress in the sew along a few months back.

When I have made my top, I'm going to knock up a matching 
version for the first born, and together we'll go and trap some 
tiny woodland animals in a cute cage just like this. 

The sizes in this book range from 7 - 13 and from previous experience making the tie top, I know I am a size 9 (UK sizing, I am a 12 on top). I could have gone straight to the voile, but trying to be all grown up and sensible (and not wanting to ruin a perfectly good length of fabric) I decided to make a toile first.

You may find these previous posts helpful about sewing from Japanese craft books.

Tracing the pattern from the pattern sheet, I added a number of new steps learning from previous mistakes. I taped the paper I was tracing on to the pattern sheet using small bits of masking tape. If it moves around mid-trace, it's a nightmare to get it all lined up again, and this really helped.

When having a rummage through my supplies I found a number of other patterns I had traced off but hadn't really labeled them properly, so this time I wrote the book, dress, what the piece was and it's size on each shape that I traced off.

I am nearly at the end of my supply of paper that I use for tracing patterns, I'd love some suggestions from you on where to get new supplies. The paper I used was left over from my pattern cutting course and came on a huge roll I think from Morplan. I'm not sure I am ready for 275m of paper yet, given I only seem to make a garment every 6 months, it seems a little over the top. It would be great for the kids to draw on though.

It can be quite confusing tracing the pieces off or even finding them in the first place, so it's best to do this when you can concentrate (read: not on the kitchen table 10 minutes before the kids are due to have lunch and are swarming around you like hungry sharks). Draw around the shape on the original pattern sheet with your finger and make sure you have traced all the markings. It's really easy to miss them or presume they are for another piece. This pattern has a fair few. I made the top about 10cm shorter than the dress giving me scope to cut it even shorter when it was made up.

I made the toile out of an old sheet which is quite crisp and stiff, I think voile will be perfect for this top as it has such good drape and is lovely and light, the tie doesn't want to be too rigid or it might look like a pendulum.

The instructions for Japanese patterns are mostly pictorial, but using my trusty translations (which come with all Japanese craft books at M is for make), I picked out some key terms to help me out. Facing for example is 見返し.

Each step is numbered on the diagrams so that you do them in the right order. It can be a little confusing because, looking at the picture, number 3 is missing. But there is a picture of the finished garment on the first page where each step is labeled. Number 3 is there, but as it's simply sewing the shoulders together, it doesn't need a picture.

I've said this before, but one thing I really like about sewing from these books is that you do have to stop and think at each step rather than blindly follow instructions. You have to think about how the pieces fit together, how they are finished, what order you are do things in. I think I learn more sewing from Japanese books than ordinary patterns.

It's the first one of these patterns that I have done that has included sleeves and darts. It has cute gathered cap sleeves which were pretty easy to fit. I did have to get my course notes out when sewing the darts to figure out which way to press them. In the end I went for downwards, I think this was right, but I'm not totally convinced, let me know if I'm wrong.

I was paying so much attention to this that I made a rather basic mistake.

Is this picture;

(a) a fashion forward garment with darts on the outside as an expression about the female form, or
(b) a blunder by an idiot who didn't check which side they were sewing on?

You guessed it, (b) I sewed by darts on the outside, I am now very glad that I made the toile up first. What an idiot.

The rest of it went more smoothly, the collar took a bit of figuring out, and when I come to sew the final garment, I will need to take my time and make sure my pieces are cut out accurately and the seams all ironed well. I really pleased how it turned out, I've never sewn a collar before.

So trying it on for size - and it fits really well, apart from being far too long and the ties need shortening too.

Here is the shortened version, now I have to adjust the length of the pattern piece and hardest of all, choose a voile.

Other developments; my trusty sewing machine has developed what I am trying not to think of as a death rattle. So I have bought tools to give it a bit of a clean and oil up hoping that this will soothe it. I might even have to find the manual somewhere, let's hope this project doesn't stall while I try to figure out how to reassemble it.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Paper skills

I learnt the most amazing new skill this week that I have to share with you because it is FUN and COOL. And it doesn't get much better than that.

We are trapped in today because of the fastest ever mini blizzard and sudden thaw. It may be spring by this afternoon at this rate (or at least I can hope). But in the meantime, there is festive-themed craft to be done. And you are totally going to want to make one of these.

Here are my quick instructions, it may take a couple of goes, but once you've figured out out, they are really quick to make.

1. Cut a sheet of paper into a square and fold across the diagonal to make a triangle.

2. Fold it in half again to make a smaller triangle

3. Cut 2 (or 3 if you are feeling fancy) lines across the triangle, going from the open end to the fold stopping about 1 to 2cm from the fold. The cut should be parallel to the hypotenuse.

It should look like this when you open it up. It may take a couple of goes to get this right. You need to make 9 of these, and it is possible to cut 3 or 4 in one go if you stack them together.

4. Cut a load of short pieces (18) of cello-tape ready. Peel in the first two sections and stick them together in the middle, it should be possible to fit your finger into the gap.

5. Turn it over and do the same with the next 2 sections on the other side

6. Turn it over and do the same again with the last 2 sections (if you made 2 cuts in step 3).

7. Make 8 more of these.

8. In groups of 3, attach them together in the middle and where they meet on the side. Try and match them up so that they are symmetrical and so meet in the same place. I stapled them together, but tape works too.

9. When you have the 3 groups of 3, join these together in the same way, at the centre and sides, again making them symmetrical.

10. And you are done, a thing of beauty. Paper snowflakes will never be the same again.

11. This step is optional, but send me a pic if you make one.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Starbright pot holder/mug rug tutorial from verykerryberry

A big thank you to Kate for inviting me to write a guest post on her blog.  Many of the fabrics I used for this project came from her lovely M is for Make shop. 

This post is also part of a December Christmas making special at Handmade by Mia and on my own blog Verykerryberry and involves contributions from other bloggers along the way so think of it as a collaborative effort!

It is a quick and easy tutorial for a Starbright pot holder/mug rug- it could be either - and a quick gift for Christmas.  For the puzzled amongst you, a mug rug is just an oversized coaster, big enough for a cup of your favouite hot drink with room for a snack on the side.

If you haven't made a wonky star before, it is much easier than you would think.  I went for Christmas colours rather than Christmas themed fabrics so it can be used all year round whilst giving a bit of festive cheer now.  You can easily make several of these out of the generous fabric quantities below.

To make your Star Pot holder/mug rug you will need:

1/4 yard fabric for background
1/4 yard contrasting fabric for triangles- or scraps
Contrasting scrap for centre square
1/4 Fabric for backing
1/4 yard of insulbrite thermal padding (Optional)
1/4 yard cotton batting (or less if using insulbrite as well)
1/4 yard fabric for binding or  44" ready made bias tape
Ribbon or tape for a hanging loop, about 4" will be ample
(Finished holder/rug will be approx. 8" square)

Cut background fabric into 8 squares, each 3 1/2" square
Cut centre fabric into 1 square, 3 1/2" square

Cut triangle fabrics into 4 squares, 4 1/2 inches" and then stack the squares and cut along the diagonal to make 8 right angled triangles.

To make the star follow Victoria's wonderful tutorial  or reference Gwen Marston's Liberated Quilting 2.

Place your completed star over your backing fabric as a guide and cut out a back piece slightly bigger that the top.  Repeat for the batting.  I used a layer of insulbrite and a layer of cotton batting. You could use 2 or 3 layers of cotton batting instead of a layer of insulbrite.  Make your quilt sandwich- backing fabric right side down, cotton batting, insulbrite shiny side up, star square right side up.

As this is quite small I didn't spray baste, tack or pin but if you want to go ahead.
I used a Hera tool to make a crease corner to corner and then quilted from that point.  I used a stitch length of 3 and the walking foot as a line guide.

I went for quite a dense textured pattern but do whatever you fancy.

Trim the edges making everything nice and square.  Before I add binding I always zig zag around the edges of any quilted project, mini size or full size.

Now is the time to add a hanging loop. Stitch in the 1/4" seam allowance and secure with straight  stitch and zig zag. Make sure the loop is pointing inwards out of the way of where the binding will go.

You could add a label or decorative tape as well- festive message maybe?

I use a single binding on small projects like this to.  Cut your binding strips 1 1/4 " wide.  Straight grain is fine, there are no curved edges so it doesn't need to be bias cut.   Trim the start of the binding at a 45 degree angle- it will make life easier later.

Make sure your hanging loop is pinned down and tucked out of the way.  A good finish to your binding  will lift the whole project,  so before you attach it, trim off all stray threads, cut the tips off the corners of the quilted square- just the tiniest amount, it will reduce the bulk on the binding corners.

I found a very helpful single binding tutorial here by Rachel at Contented.  She has gone a bit wider with the binding at 1 1/2".  I like mine tighter so I opted for 1 1/4".   Take your time, use your iron on the corners, keep your seam to 1/4" and look at my tutorial for mitred corners if you find these tricky.  Rachel is adding this to her binding tutorial as well.

You can stitch your hanging loop on to the finished binding or leave it as it is. 

A useful little  present or something to hang up and keep for yourself!

Fabrics: Green dots (binding) and aqua dots- Kei Honeycomb
Centre Square- Ellie in Amber- Michael Miller- all available from M is for Make.
Red gingham print- Farmers Market Sandi Henderson, Red/white dots- local fabric store and Kitchen print  Elsie's Pantry Windham Fabrics - from my stash

Who doesn't appreciate a little handmade, homemade love?

If you would rather have a quicker gift you can buy this one in my etsy shop! I can't guarantee overseas delivery by Christmas but I'll do my best.

Keep checking Mia's blog for more December makes x And Kate's blog for fabric loveliness x

Friday, 3 December 2010

The second rule of snow club...

Day 2 of snow and I suspect the last day. This my second post in the informative series regarding snow (find part 1 here) with more insightful advice about how to survive it.

Faced with a long day stuck in the house with 2 delightful children, it's time to crack open the craft supplies.

I had hoped that making the felted Christmas baubles that I showed you before from Vicky's blog would be a wholesome craft project for me and the kids to enjoy. But really, it's a grown up one that I thoroughly recommend. The kids absolutely loved the wool tops, I think here they were mocking their dad who grew a moustache (not quite as magnificent as these) for Movember.

I do have quite a lot of these lovely wool tops leftover - any suggestions on what to do with them?

So, needing something a little more kid friendly, I recently stocked up at Wilkinsons who have a brilliant supply of branded and own brand cheapo crafting supplies.

This is the second rule of snow club.

2. Do not run out of craft supplies

Other things I try never to run out of in our house are (in no particular order);

1. Red wine
2. Biscuits
3. Earl Grey tea
4. Wi-Fi
5. Washing powder
6. Red pesto
7. *new entry!* craft supplies

I will come back to this list, it doesn't feel complete yet.

I can tell you now that the third rule of snow club is;

3. Snow club should last no longer than 2 days

The novelty will have run out by roughly 5pm day 2. I can see into the future.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The first rule of snow club...

So finally, about a week after everyone else in the UK, we get snow in Brighton and loads of it. It started yesterday when I found myself out of town and had to gingerly drive home in the slush thus firmly adding another fear to my already well populated list;

Kate's list of fears

1. scary films
2. buttons used as embellishment
3. public speaking
4. clowns
5. blood
6. *new entry!* driving in the snow

(These are in no specific order of fear)

So this is the first rule of snow club: do not find yourself a long way from home when it starts snowing.

cat footprints

Back home safely, we have had loads more overnight and it's me, the kids and the central heating which is just how it should be on a snow day. By lunchtime, only the cat has briefly ventured outdoors, the kids are still in their PJ's and I am contemplating making a snow man.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Fairground cushion

I quite often find myself choosing fabric for the shop because I want to make something with it, and this fairground fabric is a prime example. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for a giant cushion, I loved the retro feel of the design and the colour of the purple which isn't too sugary.

So last weekend, I finally got round to making the cushion which was fairly straight-forward. Due to the size of the cushion (it's 76cm x 76cm) I had to buy some continuous zip as normal ones don't come long enough and the longer ones are really expensive. I used about 2m of continuous zip before for the cushion for my daybed, and struggled for ages trying to get the slider onto the zip. I managed it in the end after much cursing. Again, with this cushion, I wasted a good 10 minutes trying to do it before consulting the oracle that is; You Tube.

So if you have ever tried to do this, then have a look at this video first which shows you how to put a slider on a zip in seconds. Love.the.internet.

The cushion is of course for my daughter, although it does make this chair way more comfy, I will leave it there as long as I can get away with it.

Don't let this scene of domestic bliss fool you, her little brother was screaming in the corner while I tried to take this photo (having been told off for standing on her hair) her teeth are probably gritted if you look closely, I know mine were.