Thursday, 28 May 2015

...organising my sewing kit

Since I started sewing I have found that it involves an awful lot of kit, here are some of the ways I have found to try and keep things organised

  • When I cut out a pattern I pop a sticker on the front to show what garment or view I have used and also the size, this means I can see all this at a glance rather than having to pull out pattern pieces to work things out.

  • I have started to "bulk"  buy my zips from e bay, it often works out at less than 50p per zip if you buy 10. I keep them in a see through zip lock bags and put a note on to show the length and most importantly the type of zip that is in there.  We all know about me and zip fear without adding any other complications!

  • When I was attending my sewing class I also used a zip lock bag to keep my thread, my bobbin and the zip together in my bag. So when I started my next project I did the same thing so that I knew I had everything I needed before I started the project.

  • Using a sharpie I have marked 0.5cm increments on my sewing machine to try and  make it easier to keep sewing in a straight line at the correct seam allowance.

Please share if you have any tips that make your sewing life a little easier? or if you have tried any of these tips already, do they make a difference?

Monday, 18 May 2015

......Planning a sewing wardrobe

If like me you love a good nose around sewing blogs you will probably be aware of the Me Made May #mmmay15 started by so zo,,,what do you know  you make a pledge and wear clothes and accessories made by yourself through out the month of May.  I have enormous respect for those who are participating and I was very tempted to join in this challenge but as I only have the dress I completed the other week and a skirt I made last summer there was not enough me made to go around. However, this got me thinking that I should start planning now so that next year I can be a full participant.

Having indulged in fabric in the last couple of weeks and having grabbed some cut price patterns in the recent Simplicity promotion I am awash with sewing plans at the moment and have at least 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 things in my head that I am considering making, however, this new train of thought is making me take a more considered approach.

My current plan before considering MMM

  • summer dress - New Look 2373
  • sleeveless top -possibly 2 - pattern(s) to be decided 
  • retro blouse - Simplicity 1692
  • tea dress - red with white pin dots - New Look 6183 or 6093
  • 40's style fuller than A line but not circle skirt - pattern to be found

Reviewing my clothing needs I work 5 days but we have dress down Friday so I only need enough "work" clothes for 4 days and enough "casual" clothes for Friday at work and for the weekend.   As far as work clothes go I am fortunate that we don't have a very formal dress code, I already have the dress I made in my sewing class so I think another dress and a skirts or maybe 2 would cover that as I can wear the skirts with tops I already have, although my current sewing plans already involve at least two tops.

I think the casual clothing could be more of a challenge, I tend to live in either jeans or ski pants so it will be tops and tunics all the way. I have an unfinish tunic top that I just need to give a bit of time to so two more tops should give me a bear minimum to cover the week.  I also have a nearly finished cardigan that could help matters, maybe I need to explore all my unfinished projects to see what other treasure there might be.

Of my original plan I think the tea dress and the two tops would fit into my "considered" plans, the summer dress I want to make for my holidays in about 4 weeks time so I really need to crack on with that, hopefully I will get sometime this weekend, so all in all I think I am on the right tracks .

What do you think would that be enough to get me through 31 days?  If you are taking part in Me Made May please feel free to leave a link to your blog I would love to take a peek and get some inspiration

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

... buying my first vintage pattern


I love the idea of making up a vintage pattern and I have been keeping an eye open for something simple and affordable and this seemed to tick both boxes.  I am happy to say this little beauty dropped through the letterbox this morning, courtesy of a late night rummage on e-bay.

 As with all vintage patterns it does not have the sizing flexibility of a modern multi sized patterns but I am hoping that won't be a problem! I brought this size to accommodate my matronly bussom, however, I don't know if the pattern will cope with my overfed waist line, I learnt in my sewing class that you can reduce your seam allowance eg instead of sewing 1.5cm you sew 1cm and you gain 2cm over both seams so that will give me a little extra to play with,   As this is something of an experiment I have an old sheet that I will use to make a mock up before going for it.

Of course now I need some fabulous vintage fabric to make it up in, so it could be sometime before I get to share a finished dress with you.

In with all the pattern pieces and the very brief instructions was this flyer for sewing kits, they appear to be ready cut out garments that you just have to sew up.  Part of me quite likes the idea as it adds an element of convenience to the sewing process but when I make something I love that I get to choose the pattern and the fabric as well as being able to add my own personal touches.

I would love to hear of your vintage sewing pattern experiences or if you have made up a sewing kit

Saturday, 9 May 2015

....starting to conquer my sewing fears

It was my final dressmaking class this week, with my dress already completed (dressmaking class no5.) I continued work on my latest project the summer top I blogged about Simplicity 2373, even with 3 hours of relatively uninterrupted sewing I still have plenty to do before it is finished and  I will pop up a separate post once it is complete, hopefully that won't be too long!

I wanted to reflect here on what I had learned from my class

  • I like the structure that going to my class gives to my week, it encourages me to plan in other activities such as going to the gym for a swim.  Its almost like if I exclude Tuesday from my week for sewing it makes sense to go swimming on Monday and Wednesday, I just need to maintain this now the class has finished.
  • I enjoyed going through the process of learning something new, the sense of achievement when I put the zip in was tremendous and it gave me a bit of self belief, at this stage my sewing confidence is still very fragile
  • I loved being in the company of a group of like minded people, one of my best moments on the course is when we all started work on our own projects, sharing our pattern and fabric choices with other people, its a bit like blogging but everyone is in the same room :)  I show my project ideas to the family but they do the equivalent of smiling nicely, patting me on the head and backing out of the room!
  • It was great having a knowledgeable person to call on when I got stuck, Our tutor Lisa was terrific, when I lost my instructions for my own project she was able to just look at the pattern pieces and work out was needed to be done.  
  • Having three hour set aside each week devoted just to sewing without any distractions has been an absolute pleasure.  While I am often afforded free time at home I am just as likely to be distracted with other "bits and bobs" that need doing or that great time eater the internet.  Maybe it is even the process of being out of the house and in a different environment that help with my focus.
  • When I start a new pattern, before I have even cut it out, I sit down and read through the pattern to understand how it going to come together and see what is required.  I usually read the first few tasks and think yes that is simple and straight forward but as I get towards the end it starts getting a bit more scary, I realise that this is because I am imagining that I will be doing all this in one go but if you do things in small bite size chunks it makes things more manageable.  Also some of the finishing bits that happen towards the end of a project are more technical and do need more skill and attention but that is part of the learning experience and the unpicker is there should it be needed.
  • Who would have thought zips are not as scary as I thought they were?  I am still by no means fully competent and have yet to unravel the secrets of a concealed or invisible zip but I am not quaking in my boots at the prospect of putting in a zip on my current project, in my book that is progress. 
  • I have various UFOs (UnFinished Objects) around my house which are a testimony to my enthusiastic start to a project and a combination of sewing fear, oops I made a bodge job and I will do that later, ends to them, but now I can say that I have completed a sewing  project and I have worn it to work
  • Finally one of the best things that came out of the course is that I discovered that I am a bit more competent than I thought I was, which has helped my self confidence and that is the best gift you can give to you.

There is talk of us signing up for the intermediate class in a few weeks time which I like the idea of not least because it sounds like I am no longer a beginner. 

I would love to hear about your learning experiences. What have you done that boosted your sewing confidence? Are you thinking about starting a new sewing class?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

... Simplicity 2373

With my dress project completed I had time to spare in my sewing class to start something new.  I have decided on Simplicity 2373.  It offers a choice of sundress, a camisole top, short sleeved jacket and wide legged trousers.  I am interested in making the sundress for my holidays but wanted to be sure that I could get a good fit and that the straps would cover my bra so I decided to make the camisole top to test the pattern as the only difference is the length of the body.

I had brought this cotton fabric from myfabricplace last year with the intention of using for wearable test pieces, it cost about £2 or £3 per metre so I am not too concerned if it doesn't end up as something I wear.  There is a lot of trim on this pattern which I felt was a bit too fussy for me so my plan is to use some vintage ric-rac (approx 1960's)  that I had in my vintage haberdashery collection.

I am going to run a line at the top and the bottom of the top band and two or three rows towards the bottom where the lace is shown on the illustrations.  I love this colour combo and you can see how well this is going to look when it is complete.

As class time is limited and I am fairly confident at cutting out I chose to do this at home beforehand which is just as well as finishing the dress took longer than I had thought.  However, I did have enough time to make a start, but all my good preparations were in vain when I took everything out of my bag and found that the page containing the first instructions was missing!  Disaster was averted by our wonderful tutor Lisa who is very experienced and just looked at the pattern pieces and said start attaching the bodice top pieces together.

When I got home from class the first thing I did was check in the dining room where I had done my cutting out but I just couldn't see the instructions anywhere.  I finally found them hooked over the horizontal bar of the chair leg, no wonder I hadn't spotted them.

It seems that I am bang on trend with my ric-rac trimming as I spotted these lovelies on the Cath Kidston website.

What do you think of the ric-rac trend?  Are you planning to use it on anything you are making?  Have you ever lost your pattern instructions?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

...a fabric bargin

Ooops I got a little bit carried away this morning, I have been on the look out for some fabric to make a sundress for my holidays using the pattern  New Look 2373

I was browsing around, they offer a wide range of very reasonably priced fabric especially when they are offering a 20% discount for today (2nd May) only!  in addition to this if you sign up for their newsletter you are given a one use code for a further 15% discount.  Now you can see why I got a bit carried away!

This was my final choice, it is a cerise pink and looks lovely and fresh, it is 100% cotton making it ideal for this  pattern.

And here are some of the other fabrics I have ordered.

I adore this 50's inspired fabric and ordered 3 meters to ensure I would have enough to make a dress with a nice full skirt.  We are off to the  Goodwood Revival in September and it is my intention to wear at least one homemade outfit over the weekend.

I thought this seersucker would work really well as the camisole top using the New Look 2373 pattern above.  I haven't worked with seersucker before but this fabric is under £3.00 per meter with the discounts applied so I don't feel like I will have wasted loads of money if things don't go well.

So if you have some spare pocket money and are feeling in the mood to treat your sewing self pop over to their website and have a look, the discounts are also applies to interfacing etc so it is a good opportunity to stock up on some of the basics.

*** DISCLAIMER***  This is not a sponsored post and these are just my opinions.

Can you recommend any patterns for my 50's inspired fabric choice?  Have you already made some thing in this fabulous fabric?  Do you have any top tips on working with seersucker?