Monday, 31 March 2014

Spring Tidy, Embroidery Thread

Neat and tidy
Whilst making my Home Sweet Home cross stitch I became increasingly frustrated with the disorganisation of  my thread. Every time I went to use a new colour it would take ages to round them all up and even longer to read the number on every single skein. 

Half way there
So... when I was at the sewing for pleasure show the other weekend I purchases this organiser box for a bargain £2.50 and bunch of card bobbins for £1 for 50. At a guess I think the box will hold about 180 full skeins wrapped on to the card bobbins. It also has a longer compartment which could be used for needles, thimble, scissors etc. 

Pink Thread
Turquoise Thread
After a couple of evenings and some mild RSI in my wrist I had all my threads tidied up. My man even took pity on me one evening and we both sat in front of the telly watching the first series of Breaking Bad whilst untangling thread. The vast majority of my threads are Anchor so we just wrote the colour number on the top of the bobbin. For any other brand ie. DMC, I just wrote the brand name too.

The finished box
Here is the finished result. I still have plenty of card bobbins left over so if I happen to acquire any more embroidery floss I can just rewind it immediately from now on. No more tangled mess for me :-) Right, what can I stitch now...

Friday, 28 March 2014

Ski Hat

Glenshee Ski Centre
This is actually a make from last year but for some reason I never wrote about it. I haven't skied much this season but a couple of weeks ago I finally managed to get up to Glenshee Ski Centre for a solid day of skiing fun. This obviously reminded me of my hat as so I thought better late than never... so, here is my hat.

Black side of reversible hat
This was one of the first practical things that I actually made which I wore and which also fitted well. Thinking about it it was also the first time that I had used stretchy fabric. At the time I didn't really give that fact much thought but I guess it was quite a big jump from the cotton and old curtains I had been sewing with prior to that.

The pattern is Crafty Gemini's fleece hat with ear flaps. Vanessa (Crafty Gemini) is mainly a youtuber but she also has a blog where she links to all of her videos and shares other cooking, sewing and gardening tips. The hat was a really quick make and the fleece was surprisingly easy to work with. As with knit fabric, fleece does not fray when cut so there was no need to finish the raw edges. Also the fully lined and totally reversible so it is super cosy and warm (great for skiing). I finnished my hat with a couple of pleated tassels on the ear flaps to give it a real ski hat look. 

That about all I have to say really. Simple, quick and warm. Watch Vanessa's video for more details. 

Purple spot side of hat (and the Eiger)

Did I mention that I originally made it for a skiing holiday to Switzerland :-)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sewing for Pleasure Show

Que to get into the Sewing for Pleasure hall first thing in the morning
I am bound to mention this a lot over the next few posts. Last weekend I went down to Birmingham for the Sewing for Pleasure and Fashion, Embroidery & Stitching shows at the NEC. It was really good although I have to say I didn't really think that it was anything particularly different. I have been to a few of shows like these before but these were held in the biggest venue I had been to and were dedicated to sewing. I had hoped that this might have meant that there would have been some more unusual things as well as some great bargains and show offers.  

Yes there was lots of fabric but, almost all of it was cotton and there just wasn't an overwhelming amount of variety. There were some stands selling great fabrics though, there was one in particular which had a fantastic range of Liberty fabrics for about £12 a meter as well as loads of out there prints (I'm thinking day of the dead, cowboy, and spiders) in a Sew Dolly Clacket style. Apart from the fabric and the odd indie pattern seller most of what else that was on offer was the sort of thing that could be picked up at my local haberdashery store. However, I  did manage to pick up a few nice pieces for a couple of skits and dresses which I already had plans to make including, Sewaholic Cambie and Colette Ginger. Actually on the subject of future makes I have added an Upcoming 2014 page at the top of my blog to highlight some of the plans I have for this year.

Branching away from dressmaking for a sec I also picked up some great fun fabric to make roman blinds for my kitchen and bathroom. I haven't had much of a chance to put my stamp on my flat yet as I didn't decorate when I first moved in and I am picking up pieces of furniture pretty slowly. However, I think the addition of these new blinds will really help warm the place up a bit and make the flat a bit more personal. 

Sew Me Something The Viola Reversible Skirt Pattern
Sew Me Something  - Photo taken from Folksy shop page

This is something that I am really excited about! One of my non fabric purchases (actually a gift from my mum) was the Viola Skirt Pattern. The ladies from Sew Me Something were on their stand launching there new dress patterns along with the Viola Reversible Skirt. Yes, reversible! I'm not going to say too much about it just now as there should be a post for it in the near future. I bought fabric for it at the show and it is at the top of my project list so hopefully I will have it posted up soon.

Stuart Hillard and Me
Also, Stuart from GBSB was giving talks throughout the weekend on how to customise your wardrobe and I rather shamelessly asked Stuart for a cheeky photo after he had finished his talk. (I realise I now have a photo with Lauren and Stuart but, I swear I am not stalking the GBSB Series one 1 contestants!) 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Cross Stitch,The Big Reveal

Back in October I posted about my secret cross stitch project. I had hoped to have it finished at the beginning of December but unbelievably it got put on the back burner and I only got a chance to finish it last night! Obviously this is for my new flat, woo hoo. When I started I hoped it would be finished for moving in day and it would be one of the first things on the wall. Sadly that wasn't to be and it has only just made it on to the wall.

The pattern is from the Etsy seller andwabisabi  and the pattern is their Our Sweet Home, Best Selling Cross Stitch Pattern. The pattern cost £3.38 which I think is a bargain. My mum taught me to cross stitch when I was young but it has been quite a long time since I have wanted to do any hand stitching. I find a lot of the cross stitch patterns either really simple and childish looking or really complicated and old fashioned. So when I found this pattern I was delighted.

As I didn't own any embroidery thread so I decided to buy a bulk pack on Ebay so I could have a play with lots of different colours and not break the bank. I ended up buying a pack of 50 Anchor cotton embroidery floss for a total of £9 including postage. I think embroidery thread usually costs about 80p a skein so that works out at about £40 worth of thread. I was fortunate that there was enough variation in the pack that I received so I was able to pick similar colours to the original DCM colours suggested in the patterns.  

I thought I would show you this too. I bought this thread organiser at the Hobbycraft and Creatives Stitches show which was on in Birmingham at the same time as the Cake International show. I cant remember exactly how much it was but I believe it was less than £2.00. I found this little tool invaluable when I was creating my cross stitch. It kept all my threads in order and the cutting blade on the top meant that I didn't have to carry a pair of scissors with me when traveling about wit my cross stitch (I love how portable cross stitch is). The other hand thing about this gadget is that it has a magnet and needle holder in the top. Although I didn't use this feature for transporting my work I did find the magnet very helpful when I dropped my needle and couldn't see it.

This is a quick photo of the back. I decided to line the back with some curtain lining that I picked up at the East Fortune car boot sale. I think it just looks a bit neater than having all of the raw ends exposed. To secure it to the hoop I just used my hot glue gun. I am a little be worried about it getting sun bleached and dusty as it is not protected by any glass or such like. I guess I will just have to see how it goes. 

As you can see I have been pinning a lot of different ideas for artwork suitable for displaying in embroidery hoops. I am hoping to eventually create a whole bunch of different crafty pieces to display in a collection on my living room wall. They will all be framed in round or oval embroidery hoops or picture frames. They will include cross stitch, embroidery, felt, wool, cotton, applique, patchwork and whatever else I can get in a hoop. At the moment my board is predominantly full of animal images and although I would like quite an organic, nature inspired wall I would also like the occasional funny piece too (I'm thinking Dr who). Keep tuned to see my progress.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Liberty of London

Just a couple of photos from my recent trip to Liberty whilst I was in London a couple of weeks ago.

Before stepping foot in the shop I had already come to terms with the fact that I just could not afford to buy any of their fabric. I'm glad I had prepared myself as they did not sell anything for less than £22 a meter.As lovely as it is, I just can't justify that price for anything I am making just now. Plus, my local Mandors has some lovely Liberty Tana Lawn for only £14.99 so it seemed a bit daft to spend any more on it.  Having said that I couldn't go all that way and not pick up something. 

So, in the end I decided to treat myself to a little jar a liberty fabric covered buttons. I thought this was a nice way of bringing back a little bit of lots of fabrics. There is also a nice variety of colours in the jar which I can use as a nice accent or can tie together a colour palette. 

I also picked up the Betsy print needle case. This is a neat wee case which came with a couple of pins, needles, and safety pins. It also came with a pair of thread scissors which are held nice and secure in the back of the case. I will say that I don't think the scissors are the best quality but maybe the just need sharpened (I might replace them in the future). I do like the fact that the point is covered up and they can not fall out.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dressmaking Class - Rooibos Part 3

This is just a quick progress update. My dressmaking class was on holiday last week so I used the time to do some work on my own at home. So far I have managed to finish off the bodice and I have started the piping on the pockets.

I decided to make my own piping as the selection of ready made in the shops around my area is pretty poor. Anyway, it is really easy to make so I don't see the point in buying it ready made. I bought the pinky purple cotton for the piping at one of the shops on Goldhawk Road during my rip to London (more on that later). I bought the piping cord in Mandors in Edinburgh. I can't remember what diameter it is but I have a feeling that it is just a tad too thick for this neckline. I would have liked the points of the collar to be slightly sharper and I think a thinner piping might have helped.

I love this all in one facing method. I read the instructions when I first got the pattern and it just sounded like gobbledygook. However, when I finally got to the point of sewing and I had everything in from of me in real life I was actually pretty logical. Also, it was very satisfying to pull everything out of the little gap and see a perfectly piped and faced armhole. 

So basically, that is how far I have managed to get with my Rooibos. I am finding that the 2 hour class is not enough time to really make much headway so I am trying to work on it more at home. Hopefully the next time I post about my dress it will be finished and I will be able to start something else in the class. Fingers crossed :-)  

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Sock Monkey Adventures

Two socks and a crafternoon with the girls and Sock Monkey was born. This cheeky little guy was a Christmas gift from my brother. He came in a brilliant kit which contained everything I needed to bring him to life.

The only thing about Sock Monkey is, he likes to go on adventures...

Just the other day he booked himself on a train down to London, where he...

... went to see the sights like, Tower Bridge...

and The Shard.

He saw some theater at Shakespeare Globe,

had a pretty wild night in Soho...

The next day he hopped on a bus...

... and went to the Science Museum. Where he met an astronaut... 

... and learnt about the history of flight.

He also went to see Nelsons Column,
... Buckingham Palace,

... the British Museum...

... where he met Easter Island Man,

...Big Ben,

... The Houses of Parliament, 

...  and finally, The London Eye.

After all that adventure he called home...

... before jumping back on the Subway...

... where I found him and we both headed back to Scotland.

 Until next time...

Monday, 10 March 2014

Charlotte Wiggle Skirt

First of all, I just have to say, I LUURRRVVEE this skirt!!!!!!!!!

As I mentioned previously I picked up the pattern in the Anthropologie sale along with the Anna dress pattern. I hadn't planned to make it just now but after an invite to a flat party and a tidy up of some of the fabric I bought when I first jumped on the sewing band wagon I realised it just had to be done. After a lot of measuring I traced out my chosen size after work on Friday by Saturday lunch I had my new skirt party ready.

Although the pattern envelope says that fabric with slight stretch are most suitable for this skirt I decided to completely ignore that and throw all caution to the wind. Instead, I decided to use this totally random fabric that I picked up in the St Coloumbus Hospice charity shop on Leith Walk in Edinburgh at the beginning of last year. The selvages read Vantona furnishing so it is clearly of an interior/curtain weight. This made choosing which size a bit tricky and because it is designed for slightly stretchy fabric there were no finished measurements to use as a guide. Never the less I powered on. 

When I bought the fabric I knew I wanted to use it for a skirt that would show off the print really well. However, at that time the only pattern I had was the Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt and I didn't think the buttons down the front would be a very good idea. The other problem was that I only had 1.2m x 1.3m so there wasn't much to play with. After looking at the layout pattern for Charlotte I realised that with out the peplum you really don't need half as much as the 2.5m of fabric recommended. Instead I just did some creating folding by putting the selvages together in the centre so I had two folds rather than one. Fortunately, this worked however if I had chunkier thighs it might have been a bit of a push to get the pattern pieces to fit.

After finally managing to get my skirt panels squeezed out of my fabric the acctually construction was a breeze. to be honest I didn't look at the instruction much but I did use the sewalong posts in the By Hand London website to make sure I was heading in the correct direction particularly with the waist band. I also used their post for putting a slit in the back to help make the skirt a little more user (aka me) friendly. I wanted the skirt to have the wiggle factor but I also wanted to wear it without the need to waddle like a penguin. The slit was definitely essential in this! 

I measured the pattern I lot when I was deciding which size to go for however, I was still a bit surprised when it fit so well on the first attempt. I never have much faith in myself choosing the correct size to I tend to make everything with the expectation that it wont fit. That way I have either already come to terms with the fact that it is a disaster or I am very pleasantly surprised. Pretty sad I know I hope I will be more confident in my abilities as time goes on. Anyway, I made two little changes after trying it on. First, I took the side seams out by about 3/8 inch at my most curvy point, I think my curves hit just a little lower than the pattern but no big deal. I also lengthen the two central darts at the front by about 1.5 inch each. The engineer in me was saying that this would just reverse the work on the side seams but I knew it had to be done. I was right and it looked great afterwards. I have marked up my pattern pieces so I can replicate them next time. Although, if I use a stretch fabric I might not need to make the same alterations, so I might trace the pattern again if using a stretch.

Check out that invisible zip. I think this is the best one I have done so far. I have put a couple in before using a different technique but after reading Lauren's (Lladybird) post on how to install a concealed zip I though I would try her method for this project. It worked a treat and went in perfect first time. On a side note, I really need to get an invisible zip foot for my new machine as I was forced to use my old machine after realising that my foot doesn't fit the new one. Why do they never give you that foot?? Anyway, it did create a funny moment when I had to explain to my man why I needed two sewing machines to make a skirt!

The waistband also went on really easy and I like the neat finish that you get with the waistband covering the top of the zipper. I added two press studs to hold the tab in place. I decided to finish all of the seams in my skirt with the faux overlock stitch on my new machine. It gave it a lovely professional looking finish but it is a really slow stitch. Even with my foot on the floor it still required an annoying amount of patience

I am definitely making more of these. In fact I was in Mandors with my half finished skirt to pick up a zip when I found some lovely black/grey denim in the scraps bin. The ticket said that the piece is 80cm x 170cm so I'm hoping that if I make it above the knee length and keep everything else the same as before I should have just enough material for a lovely casual but saucy skirt. I would also love to try one of the peplum versions some time soon too.

PS: The flat party was great and someone even asked where did I buy my skirt from? Yippee, made my night :-)