Friday 30 September 2011

Sewing under pressure

I could also pull this face at 7 years old
It's a skill passed down through generations

At the beginning of the summer I made a dress for an article that I wrote for Cloth magazine. The idea behind it was that I would keep a diary of how I cram sewing into everyday life as I often find myself wondering how on earth people find time to create balldresses/hand knitted shoes/felted dog coats seemingly overnight.

eating breakfast and sewing, don't try this at home kids

I won't re-write it all here, if you want to read it you can buy Cloth or a magnifying glass and read it here. I think buying Cloth is a better use of your money. To give you a taster, it did include tantrums, magic tricks and nearly flashing the father of one of my daughter's friends. All in a day's work for me.

she is soooo busted

After I finished writing it, my and my girl had a lot of fun re-creating moments from my diary (see grumpy time-out photo and chucking stuff out of the bath above). It makes more sense if you read the diary.

But I did want to show you the dress I made and write a little about the book I got the pattern from as I was really pleased with how it turned out.
I used Couture Dress and Smock book, a book that I have to admit I have overlooked a little. I'm not sure why as it is full of things that I want to make. I chose the dress on the right (below) because it was a nice simple fitted shift shape.
Because it had a high neck which doesn't suit me, I used the neckline from the dress on the right which worked out nicely.

I made a rough version of the dress out of a duvet cover as the sizes in this book were a little different to previous Japanese books I have used. It turned out well, I think the only tweak I made was to take a bit out of the neckline as there was a slight gape and I dropped the arm holes a little.

I had all sorts of ideas fabric wise and was holding off for some Echino fabric I was expecting. (It's just as well I didn't wait too long as it still hasn't arrived.) In the end I chose some bright lightweight cotton from my stash, liking the way I could play with the stripes on the waist.

The dress has a big long zip up the back which I think was the one problem I had as otherwise it went together very well. My zipper foot seriously misbehaved and it doesn't look as neat as I would like. Once day, I might take it out and try again (who am I kidding?).

With both kids at school now and some spare time in the day, I want to get back into making some more clothes, and then actually wear them. A few things have caught my eye in this book.

this top makes me think of Florence

I like the neckline and details on this dress...

And I might start here with this top, it's hard to see in the photo but it has pretty pin tucks on the neck and sleeves. I would have to make it quite a lot longer as I have a very long back and it already looks short in the picture, but I think that would be pretty easy.

I finally got round to buying a big roll of paper from Morplan to trace out the patterns and a super sharp tracing wheel after talking to pattern cutting pro Kerrie.

All I need now is the perfect fabric, but I want to make a rough version first to check fit and maybe tweak a few details. It's exciting to be back sewing again!

Saturday 24 September 2011

Catching up...

With the kids firmly back at school now I am finally getting some free time to catch up on some much needed projects around the house. Our table has been in need of a spruce up for a while, and the Loulouthi laminated cotton was perfect for this project.

I used spray glue to stick it to a foam heatproof backing as in the past I have used dabs of fabric glue that have shown through leaving a stain. It was a better way of fixing it, or rather it would have been if I hadn't run out half way through and got my hands covered in glue trying to spread out the last few drops from the can. This left me with sticky hands that even spiderman would have been jealous of.

I'm so pleased with the result, the print is bright and spectacular, it looks amazing. I may have to make the kids eat on the floor from now on incase they get it dirty or something equally awful.

I hope you are having a great weekend whatever you are doing.


Wednesday 21 September 2011

Dressing for Autumn

School is back, the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees and there is a definite chill in the air; Autumn is here.

Are you sewing for Autumn? Here are a few things I spotted that may give you some inspiration.

J Crew have some gorgeous outfits put together, ideal for those such as myself who are incapable of doing this. I'm still feeling a bit frosty towards J Crew, I think I made myself clear on the subject here. But if they really do come to the UK properly, I may be prepared to change my views on them.

I love this coat from Anthropologie. The details are so pretty, it has a lovely pleat on the back too.

I can only dream of being a Boden teen in Autumn, it looks fun and wholesome. It was quite some since I was a teen, I can't pretend it was recent especially since Red recently revealed me. Rather like unmasking a super hero but considerably less dramatic or interesting.

I think I like the idea of capes more than the reality, and to be honest, this model in the Toast catalogue is not really selling the idea to me. But it would be fun to pretend to be Sherlock Holmes, pipe optional.

It can be quite a dreary time of year, so I think the perfect excuse to get a bag like this. Look how big it is - I could fit so much stuff in it. I would never find my lip balm in here, let alone my keys.

I love layering and Whitestuff is all about this, and look at these boots...

OK, they are not that exciting, but I begin to lose sensation in my feet as they freeze over for the winter, and I think these beauties could save them.

I was thinking of taking the kids to look for conkers at the weekend, and look - Whistles have created the perfect woodland outfits for me to wear.  Outfit 2 includes a hat to protect me from
falling conkers and a bag in which to stash them, I couldn't be happier.
 all navy outfits, Whistles, you know me well

 I also love the idea of maxi skirts, perhaps not for a rainy day, but aren't they lovely?

And a chunky knit, perfect for any knitters out there.

And if you are thinking of making something for yourself, then here are a few fabrics that would be great for Autumn.

And for patterns, coming very soon, the new Colette patterns....

Are you making something for Autumn? I'd love to hear about it...

Saturday 10 September 2011

Brighton shops

The cake display in Choccywoccydoodah

A few highlights from our trip to Brighton this morning. There is a road in Brighton that seems to be attracting lots of chocolate shops. But the mother of all chocolate shops is Choccywoccydoodah. If you visit Brighton, you must see it. The shop is pretty small, but has the most amazing creations like the cakes in their window.

This shop looked really pretty. Not sure about the concept though; you create a string of lights by choosing the colour balls. It did look lovely though, and I have always been one to judge a book by it's cover.

The sweet shop Fizziwigg's always has the most amazing displays. Note the clawing hands of my children in the next photo.

sweet zombies
And of course the pier.

Hope you are having a happy weekend,


Sunday 4 September 2011

Scream curtain

Many years ago (eeek - Wikipedia tells me it was actually 15 years ago) I went to the cinema with my boyfriend (now husband) to see a film. I remember clearly sitting down and asking him what film we had come to see. (I find it fascinating that back then, going to the cinema was such a regular occurrence, I didn't even bother to find out the name of the film first.)

More fool me, as the reply was 'Scream'. 'What is it about?' I asked with a knot of fear forming in my stomach. I didn't have to wait long and the opening 10 minutes scared the hell out of me. I hate scary films, and this is a spoof scary film. It instilled in me a life long fear of being in a house at night with lights on and not being able to see what is going on outside when it is dark as the windows turn into a mirror.

Really, the only scary thing that is likely to be in my garden, is a fox, or my kids. But with the evenings getting darker, there is something about those windows that has prompted me to make this curtain. I decided to use a Loulouthi fat 16th bundle initially thinking I would use the 9" x 6" pieces and sew them together as they were but gradually I cut them smaller and smaller turning a quick job into a much more time consuming one.

my cat: tough on patchwork,
tough on the causes of patchwork

It took me a while to cut out all the pieces, even with my rotary cutter I managed to cut out quite a large proportion of the pieces about a cm narrower than the others, not sure how. And it took me a while to decide what order to put them in, laying them out on the floor and having the cat plough through the middle of them numerous times, scattering the squares so that I had to take a photo to remember where they all went.

Sewing it all together was much quicker, and so satisfying. I love the back of quilts almost as much as the front, maybe that's a little strange, but the construction is so geometric and neat when it is all ironed.

Having it closed in the daytime does block out an awful lot of light, but I love the almost stained glass effect it creates.

In the interests of honestly, here is a photo of what my kitchen usually looks like, and the junk I had to shove to the sides to take this unusually tidy photo.

It does the job well, and I no longer get spooked while I do the washing up in the evenings. My husband helpfully pointed out that if a 8 foot bogey man was lurking in our garden, he would still be able to see in. Thanks love.

I am planning a blog post to feature your creations from the fat 16th bundles, so do send me a photo of anything you have made.

Thursday 1 September 2011

New Colette patterns coming soon to M is for make

I have just ordered the new Autumn patterns by Colette patterns and wanted to share them with you as they are so gorgeous.

First is the Jasmine blouse which is meant for great Autumn layering, is body flattering, but easy and quick to sew. It is cut on the bias, so you don’t need any closures. It has a cute little kerchief collar made in a contrasting fabric. I'm particularly exited about this pattern, as with a large bust, a lot of these patterns don't suit me, but this one is perfect!

Also there is the first trousers patterns. The Clover is both chic and dead simple, so that you can concentrate on getting them just the way you want them. The Colette Patterns blog will be posting plenty of fitting tips, and likely doing a sewalong at some point too!

With just a few pattern pieces, you can make a pair of elegant cigarette pants that will carry you through Autumn. Version 1 (the tweed ones above) are ankle length, with subtle pockets inset into the waistband seam. Version 2 are mid-calf and will be great for warmer weather.

Lastly is Peony, a boat-neck dress with short or 3/4 sleeves and a fully removable cummerbund-style belt.

The belt can be made in a contrast fabric (version 1) or in your main fabric (version 2). This dress lends itself to countless variations, and especially to embellishments.

So what do you think? what is your favourite? I will be adding them to the shop in the coming weeks, with a link so that you can get an email when they are in stock. So keep checking back.

This also seems like the perfect time to mention the upcoming Colette Sewing Handbook. From Amazon...

A great plan, a great pattern, a great fit, a great fabric and a great finish are the 5 fundamentals to completing a perfect sewing project. Here Sarai Mitnick reveals her 5 fundamentals in her trademark clear instruction to provide a rounded and beautiful sewing guide. Totally comprehensive, this title covers: sewing techniques; planning and fitting; working with patterns, fabrics and linings; and, finishing techniques. It includes 5 beautiful projects (1 blouse, 3 dresses and 1 skirt) with tissue paper patterns so readers can learn to sew AND creative a gorgeous project.

It will make a perfect Christmas present (sorry for mentioning the C word) for any aspiring seamstress as it is out in November.