25 Oct 2013

My question to you - What do you listen to when sewing?

Whilst sewing my Victoria Blazer on Saturday night I began to wonder how other people sew?  I have my sewing space in the living room so often sew whilst having the TV on in the background.  Usually catching up on Downton Abbey or The Great British Bake Off.  My favorite was to have it tuned into 6music.  I especially like Cerys on a Sunday Morning.  But this Saturday night was different in that I was listening to podcasts.

Whilst making the Victoria Blazer I was referring to the photos on the By Hand website. They are very good.  So I had the podcast running in the background. I haven't really been one for podcasts but these were featured on a blog that I just started following on Bloglovin.  They were all about the recent BFI London Film Festival and featured interviews with independent film makers. What is it with me and the independents?  I do not have much knowledge about this subject but found it fascinating.  The podcasts are not very long but contained so much information in the form of friendly interviews.  I was not able to attend any of this years festival but feel that I would love to in the future.

So my question to you this month (as this will be a new monthly feature) what do you listen to when sewing? Do you listen to music whilst sewing and if so what is on your playlist? Do you have the window open and listen to the birds?  Or is it films, tv series or podcasts, radio stations? I look forward to your comments

The site I was listening to is called Directors Notes and can be found here if you wanted to have a listen too.  I know it will take me a while to get through their back catalogue.

20 Oct 2013

Victoria Blazer. By Hand London.

Well I've made it and if you had asked me at the beginning of the year "could I make a jacket?"  I would have replied "not a chance".  The pattern is brilliant and there are some very wonderful and beautiful versions out there, but I'm afraid to stay this isn't one of them.  I have to say that I am not in love with mine and it has nothing to do with the pattern - which is fabulous and so very well supported on the web site that even I could make this.  I'm not in love because of my styling.  Others have done the shell in a gorgeous to die for pattern - but mine is solid navy.  Very functional but far from exciting.  Others have contrasting collar and main shell - mine is very tame. I had considered - and may still do this - having the collar, cuffs and lapels made out of the very same, lovely navy polka dot that I have lined it with.

I've not made many things so far that have been this plain.

So I am proud of the shape, the size, the finish on the cuffs, collar, lapels.  I didn't enjoy easing those sleeves but they really are quite good.  I traced this pattern something I have never done before.  I love the way when I turned the whole thing inside out at the end - I 'm sure there's smoke and mirrors involved- but it actually looked well, properly finished.   I'm so glad I made it as I can see my dream of making my own cosy winter coat coming ever closer.  I also love the pockets and as the instructions mention - I will be unpicking side seams to add pockets from now on on every dress - genius.

So it may just need a really nice brooch or button, or maybe the contrasting cuffs and /or lapels and collar.  Maybe you have some ideas cos it really does need some help.  Please let me know any suggestions in the comments below.

17 Oct 2013

Entangled for dressmaking

This is my first fabric pattern review  in my new monthly feature.  Actually when I first thought of this as an idea it was the first fabric that sprung to mind.  When I started sewing it was mainly due to the beautiful range of crafting and quilting fabrics out there, but when I started dressmaking I realised that many of the exquisite patterns did not give the drape needed for some patterns. So whats a girl to do?

I  found that a lot of my sewing time was being taken up with sourcing fabric. Sometimes I would like the pattern but the fabric was wrong.  Other times I would find the right fabric but not the right pattern, or worse right fabric, right pattern , wrong colours.  So introducing my first fabric choice Entangled by Hang Tight Studio.  Heather Dutton - the designer behind this beautiful design is based in Maine, USA and her design is available from many places including Modern Yardage and Spoonflower.  

The design can be printed in a variety of scales (small, medium and large), which is perfect for a range of projects, and also on a range of fabrics, both woven and knits.  In a recent offer Spoonflower were sending a free swatch of their new performance knit fabric.  I choose to have Entangled in Bloem Grey as my free swatch but this design is available in so many (32) different colour ways.   

There have also been several versions of this made into dresses and I recommend you take a look.  Many of you will have seen the simply perfect navy and white entangled Colette hawthorn dress by Emma and also a very pretty block dress for a little girl by Steph at girl. Inspired.  If you know of any other versions please let me know as it would be great to add them to this page.

How would I use this pattern.  Well I love this geometric, directional print, a clever take on polka dot spots and pin stripes .  I would love to make another April Rhodes Staple Dress, but if feeling up for more of a challenge, I could really see this a Sewaholic Minoru Coat In fact in contrasting colours for the outer and lining would be really fun.

Sewaholic Minoru - very much on my wish list White Lining and Navy Shell
Well I hope you have enjoyed this first fabric pattern review and maybe have started planning your own project.  If you have let me know which colour and pattern you would use?  Also any comments and thoughts on this as a regular feature would be great.

13 Oct 2013

agggghh fabric fear strikes again and the need to embrace the new

Does anyone else suffer from fabric fear.  I shall explain...

As you all know I've not been doing this sewing lark for long.  Along the way I have made a couple of tops, one good skirt and several really nice dresses - still in love with my April Rhodes.  But this week I was to start on a new project.  Not a skirt, dress or top this was something, well, else.  This was a blazer.  (OK no prizes for guessing).  Late to the party although I like to think fashionably late, I have decided to start on the By Hand Victoria Blazer.
navy cotton sateen and navy polka dot

The instructions and packaging are wonderful and there is a lovely sewalong on their website to guide you through, yet I've hit a wall.  I physically cannot cut out my fabric.  So I have cut out the pattern - I even traced it (new skill alert).  But I know that I will need to build up the courage to cut it out. So whilst I move my head out of fabric fear mode, please bear with me and next Sunday I will show you my blazer the progress I have made on my blazer.

So do you suffer from fabric fear?  and if you do, what causes it?

10 Oct 2013

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Fabric Designers

One of the things that drew me to start making my own clothes was my love of fabric. Like many, I fell for the vast range of pretty cottons and their cute patterns and bright colours.  I'm sure their are also many dressmakers who have made stunning outfits in quilting cotton only to find that although it looks beautiful , well sometimes its a bit stiff and uncomfortable.

For the last year I have been trying to find beautiful fabrics that would also make comfortable clothes.  There are a great many to be found online and , if you are lucky enough, in your local fabric store.  But it is still the quilters who have the largest choice and selection.    This is not to say it is impossible though.  I am hoping to start reviewing some of the best on my blog.

My intentions are to showcase my favorite designs sourced from independent fabric designers. (spot the theme)  This is very much an organic process.  I am in no way affiliated with any of the designs I will place on this feature in my blog. I simply want to show fellow dressmakers designs I think would be really nice made into clothes.  If you choose to go on and buy fabric from them and make stunning, elegant and awesome makes, I believe its a win-win situation.

I hope that the designers do not mind me posting on my blog, I will always of course credit them   The last thing I would want to do is offend.

So the first design will be unveiled next Thursday and then once a month after that. I hope you like it and look forward to your comments.

Also the photos of the staple dress are now available on this page sorry it took so long and thank you for bearing with me

6 Oct 2013

April Rhodes Staple Dress

April Rhodes Staple Dress
Very excited about this dress.  It was super super quick to make.  It only has 5 pieces (front, back, pocket, arm binding and neck binding) which is especially good for those who dislike the cutting out part of sewing.  Even though its super easy to make, thanks to some extremely informative instructions with photos it still has some interesting techniques that were new to me and allowed to practice some new skills.

So chic
The first was french seams which, for some odd reason, I thought would be really difficult - I think i'm always wary of new techniques.  I had not realised that there were french seams in this dress so when it said to "Place Dress Front and Dress Back WRONG sides together at shoulders"  I panicked.  I think read, reread and read it again for about 45 minutes before deciding to go ahead.   Well once I got over it and just followed the instructions I found I had some very beautiful and hard wearing seams that would allow my finished dress to last much longer.  Why did I ever doubt the instructions at all?

Elastic fantastic
The second technique was the shirring.  I had remembered seeing this on the Great British Sewing Bee when they made a girls dress and had thought at the time "ooh that looks difficult."  Well lets just say not only is it brilliantly straightforward, but with my new found faith in April's instructions, a complete joy to make.  After the first row of shirring I was addicted and in the end completed four rows only stopping because I didn't want to make the completed dress too tight.

Spot the pocket
The neck, arms, hem and pockets are all expertly described with step by step photographs and I would say that if you are yet to make a dress this is a wonderful introduction dress.  It is also a very practical every day staple dress which could easily be worn for so many occasions.  Can you tell that I like this dress?  I made the dress with 2m of cotton poplin bought on a whim whilst at Rolls and Rems.

Anyway I do plan on making this again but as you remember from Thursdays post I am really far behind on the Challenge. So another Staple Dress will have to wait.

3 Oct 2013

Challenge update

Hello, yes its Thursday and I'm back, so managing to stick to my new blogging schedule.  In my last post I said that I would be taking advice from Tilly and so here I go.  Well she advises that you blog regularly and  have regular features so here goes with the first one.

It seemed sensible to have a monthly update on the progress of my challenge however what is  more embarrassing is that its taken me till month 10 of a 12 month challenge to introduce a monthly update. So the challenge was to make 12 items from independent designers over the course of a year.  I thought that as a complete beginner I would struggle to make more than one a month so set an achievable target.

There is a more detail on the 12 finished projects page but so far this year I have made

1. Sewaholic Alma blouse
2. Colette Ginger skirt
3. Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde blouse
4. Made by Rae Buttercup bag  (currently only the first two are featured will sort this out soon)

 ...so I am one third of the way through and from recent fabric foraging trip to London I have most of the resources I need to complete this challenge

I am hoping that there will be two more projects completed this weekend

I will say that I haven't only been working on this challenge and found that I fell in love with too many new Colette dress patterns this summer.  This is not a bad thing, both Laurel and Hawthorn were really fun to make and I will be writing about them soon as well  but the truth is I haven't been as productive as I had hoped.  I should be making my 10th project.  Still a long way to go and its nice to have you with me for support.

So here's to a very productive weekend.  What are sewing plans this weekend?  Have you set yourself any sewing challenges this year and how are you getting on with them?