Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Simplicity 2638 Maxi Dress

Simplicity 2638
I thought I would share one of my very first makes. This is the Simplicity 2638 maxi dress which is part of the "It's so easy" range. I bought it last year just before I went on holiday to Turkey. I really like the close fitting empire line shape and the sort of racer style back.

Simplicity 2638 Misses' Dress Line Drawing
Images © Simplicity

I really like the pattern itself but I really hate the fabric. Basically it was a bed sheet that I bought at a local thrift shop. It is covered in little blue flowers which grade between light and dark blue. I decided I wanted the darker colour at the top which it turn meant that they are all upside down. I just cant really get past the bed sheet thing and I think it has missed the cool boho look and it ended up more like a granny nightie. 

Fabric colour variation
Looking back at some of my makes from last year has also given me a chance to see where I have improved in my sewing. Here are three of the top things I think I do differently now;

Press - Back when I made this I was in my old flat which had an iron shared between 6 people. The lack of pressing definitely shows now that I look at it again.
Clip - I think I also had a bit of a fear of cutting into the seam allowance to get a nice sharp point in the centre. I feel I would be more confident if I was to do it again.
 Unpick - I would also make an effort to actually line up the seams. back then if I had sewn something together I was very unwilling to take it apart. Now I will quite happily take it to bits if it means that I will be more satisfied with the finish.

Racer style back
The zip is a bit dodgy too but I think that just comes with practice. Having said that as a first attempt at a concealed zip it was actually not too bad.

Dodgy zip
Anyhoo, I still have hope for this pattern and although the the next maxi dress I make will probably be the BHL Anna, I think I will still try it again for this years holiday. However, this time I will be keeping an eye out for some more modern and funky  looking fabric so my wardrobe doesn't remind me of old ladies.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Jewellery of the 1940s

As part of the Festival of Museums event last weekend I took part in a "Make Do and Mend" themed Jewellery of the 1940s evening.

Festival of Museums Weekend
The idea behind the evening was to give people a taste of the 1940 spirit of refashioning. We learnt a little about the days when things were scarce and people took everyday objects such as metal washers, machine parts and old glassware and turned them into beautiful pieces of jewellery. Then we were given a chance to create our own interpretation of a 1940's brooch. 

Work in Progress
We were each given a choice of curtain rings, different colours of fine gauge electrical wire and a good rumage through a tin full of random buttons. Our teacher for the evening used a hoola hoop and a couple of skipping ropes to teach us how to weave the wire around the ring. After carefully selecting our button of choice and coordinating wire we got to create our own brooches. 

The Finished Creation
I am not normally a brooch person but I am really liking this one. I have it pinned on to the lapel of my coat and I think it looks fab.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

70s Wrap Skirt - Simplicity 6789

I started writing this post ages ago...I first mentioned this skirt in my FESA plans post and I did actually start it around that time however I couldn't really decide if I liked it so it ended up sitting in my wardrobe un-hemmed for ages. However whilst I was getting ready for a party at my friends flat a couple of weeks ago I decided that I was going to whack on a bit of bias binding round the hem and wear it out.
Finished Skirt
 My original plan was to  make it up in a mystery green fabric which I picked up at Borders Scrap Store. At the time however I was trying to streamline my storage and the fabric taking up the most space ended up being to one for the chop. So the plan was changed and I ended up using a creamy coloured curtain that I picked up ages ago in the shame shop I bought my little sewing box, blogged here. I think it looks like it has little bows all over it. Being decor weight it is quite heavy but it does have a nice movement to it. As per the original plan I still think it would be suitable as an autumn/winter skirt.
Little bows 
As for the pattern, I picked this up from another charity shop just round the corner from my office. I think it cost about 20p. When I first saw it I was immediately reminded of Tilly's (TATB) Miette wrap skirt
Simplicity 6789
I like this version as it does not have the long ties that Tilly's has so it uses less fabric. I also think the buttons make a nice feature and keep it good and secure. The only problem with the buttons is that unlike Tilly's there is no flexibility in the sizing. At least with the long ties you can adjust a cm or so tighter or looser depending on how tight you pull it.

Button closure
The waistband has a lovely curved shape which drops at the hips. I think it is a bit lost in the fabric pattern and could really be exaggerated more with a different fabric choice and perhaps some piping.

Waistband detail
My original plan for this skirt also involved pockets, I think they would have made this a more practical skirt. Unfortunately, anybody who knows me can attest to the fact that I am not the tidiest person in the word and sadly some time between taking it out of the envelope and pinning it to the fabric my pocket pattern piece went missing. Personally I think it was a distant cousin of the sock monster (who also resides in my flat) who has snuck in to my room and stolen it!!

Unfolded skirt
 The skirt has quite a lot of fabric in it however I still feel I run the risk of being exposed in the bottom region if I was caught in a gust of wind or such like. I have never worn a wrap skirt before so that could be the reason for my insecurity. Still, I think if I was to make it again I would add a bit more to the back skirt panels just to be on the safe side.  

Handmade label
All in all, I think this skirt looks better on the envelope than it does on me. If I was to ever try it again (I don't imagine I will but you never know) I will definitely use a different fabric perhaps a denim or corduroy. To be honest though I think if I was to make another wrap skirt I would probably just buy Tilly's Miette pattern. I have a lot more confidence in its drafting and think it would not only look better on me but also provide a little more coverage at the back. Plus I have seen so many lovely versions online I would quite like to create my own. 

***Update - I found the pocket pattern when I packed up my old flat, it was under the TV table oops.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Love at First Stitch - Online Launch Party

It's arrived!!!
It's the official launch of Tilly's (Tilly and the Buttons) book Love at First Stitch. I had mine on pre-order with Amazon and after much anticipation it arrived on release day.

Sadly I am trying to prepare for a presentation at work next week so I am having to try very hard not to start reading. I am trying to tell myself that it is a reward for doing my presentation. So, come the middle of next week I will be able to get really stuck into it. Having said that I have had a little peek at it and what I have seen is fab. I am particularly excited about the Mimi blouse and the Megan dress but I could also do with some nice summer PJ bottoms so I am also loving Margot. I don't know where I will start!

Idea for Megan Dress
Since I couldn't joint the book launch next week at Guthrie and Ghani I thought the next best thing would be to join everyone else online at the #LoveAtFirstStitch online party. Therefore, I made my Brigitte Scarf and a matching Picnic Blanket Skirt to wear for the occasion.

Brigitte Scarf
The Brigitte Scarf is a great first project for beginners. The fabric you use depends on the final result you will get. I decided to use the same lightweight giant gingham print cotton which I also used to make a matching Picnic Blanket Skirt following Tilly's instructions.

Tilly's Picnic Blanket Skirt
This has been on my project to do list for a very long time. The start of my sewing experience unintentionally happened to coincide with the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee. Obviously one of the first things I did when the series started was to check out Tilly's blog, where I found Tilly's tutorial to draft your own skirt. It was a really quick make and I think it will make a great addition to my summer wardrobe.

Button Sample Card

I think this was a pretty cool find. Edinburgh Fabrics has a box of these in the front of the shop. I believe they are old sample cards for when new ranges of buttons are brought out. This lot cost me £3 which I think is not to bad for 12 buttons. I was originally planning to recreate Tilly's skirt exactly with the wooden buttons but all the wooden one I found were really expensive. These give a similar look but with a little flash of colour. Obviously the fact that none of the buttons are the same makes this unsuitable for a lot of things but I think the subtle flash of different colours works quite well with this skirt.

Picnic Blanket Skirt
A great big congratulations to Tilly on all her patterns and her fab book, I can't wait to start sewing them :-)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Birthday present - Quiltofax

This make has been such a roller-coaster. I loved it, I loathed it but in the end it was a really great make. As I mentioned in my 'a little bit of everything' post, it was my mums birthday a few weeks ago and this year I decided to make her something with my new found sewing skills. It ended up being a somewhat belated present as I have been so busy at the weekends lately that I just didn't have an opportunity to make it before the big day. 

At the beginning of the year my mum completed a quilting course at The Stitchery in Glasgow. To say that she is now completely hooked is an huge understatement. After finishing her quilt at the class she was quick to put her new found skills to the test and is now whipping up sample blocks to test out different quilting techniques. She is also currently in the final stages of sewing a fantastic lap quilt for my living room. With this new found passion comes the inevitable fabric stashing and collecting of interesting shaped rulers, fabric markers, needles, rotary cutters and a whole lot more. So in an attempt to help with the organisation of all of these new tools, I set about looking for a pattern for a bag or such like.

In the beginning...
Luckily back in February my mum and I went to the Spring Quilt Festival at the Royal Highland Showground just outside Edinburgh. As a non quilter I still found the event really interesting, inspiring and I gained a huge respect for all those quilters who had entered the Scottish Quilt Championships. Their quilts were all on display at the show and even will my limited knowledge of quilting I could still see the amount of time and hard work that had gone in to every one of them.
Anyhoo, whilst we were having a look around the stands I came across Quilting Antics who were selling patterns for the Quiltofax by Denise Maguire. With all is pockets and even a little needle case this was the exact pattern I was looking for.

Work in progress - showing needle case open
Although this came together fairly easily I would say that this is not a pattern for the easily baffled. It took me an entire afternoon to cut everything out and label it all. Looking at all the pieces they made no sense to me at all. Normally you can tell the pattern pieces apart front, back, yolk, skirt etc. However, this was just a bunch of rectangles. having said that I managed to put it all together with a little logical thinking and reading the instructions very carefully it actually came together pretty well.

For some reason I didn't take any photos of the finished Quiltofax with the needle case open so I thought I would put this one in so you can see it. I like the way that is is off set from the center a little so when it is open it lays flat and still looks really neat and tidy.

Work in Progress - crafty use for hair clips
I ended up having to resort to hair pins to hold everything together whilst I attached the binding. The edge at the bottom of this photo had a total of 12 layers of fabric plus the wadding. With all this bulk my standard pins just weren't cutting the mustard as they were distorting all the layers (you can kinda see it in the next photo up). The hair pins worked great though and nothing moved out of place whilst I was stitching everything together. Also, this was the most I had ever sewn with my machine so, I was really pleased when it had no problem with it at all.

Work In Progress - Southern Right Whale (ish)
The first instruction in the pattern is to decide what design you are going to have on the front. I knew instantly what I wanted. I know it is not the first thing you think of when making sewing storage but I wanted a whale on the front of the Quiltofax. My mum has always loved whales and a couple of years ago we all went on a family holiday to Hermanus in South Africa where we did some whale watching. Therefore, I did my best to recreate the Southern Right Whale (the ones we saw on holiday) in felt and thread. 

Ta Da! Finished
So, here is my little whale in pride of place on the front of the Quiltofax. I used some flat sequins for eyes and some carefully placed french knots to look like barnacles.  I think he looks great swimming through the fishy fabric. Also, this was my first time using blanket stitch, I think it turned out quite well.

Quiltofax - Half open
This is the quiltofax half open. This reveals the small and large scissor pockets on the right with the strap to secure them. On the left there is several pouches for holding pens, fabric markers, rullers etc. as well as a large zipped pocket. The pattern also included instructions for a small pin cushion and a take measure strap. I decided not to add these as I didn't think my mum would really need them.
Quiltofax - Outside
The quilofax is finished off with a binding around the outside. As I have never done any quilting before this was the first time I had ever used binding and so I had to check a couple of YouTube videos just to check I was doing the mitred corners correctly. After the first one the rest were really simple. 
Also there is a nice long strip of Velcro on the back to allow for expansion as you put more things inside.
Quiltofax - Inside
This is the inside of the finished Quiltofax. You can see how many pockets there are in this photo, not forgetting the zipped pocket and the other two big middle and side ones. This photo also shows  the needle case after I trimmed the felt back a little and attached the press stud. The needle case is not very big but is good for those needles that you need to keep on hand. I can see a larger needle case being made from the left over fabric some time in the future.  

My mum and I in Hermanus on a whale tail bench!
To finish off, here is a quick pic that was taken of my mum and I when we were whale watching on a family holiday in South Africa.
Happy Birthday Mum, Love you loads xx