Monday, 29 April 2013

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee: Sequin Mini Skirt

I am inspired to sew with sequins after oggling Lauren's beautiful final piece of the season.

Yum yum. So anyway, I wonder if sequins on a mini skirt are cute or cross the line into trashy territory... I can't decide, so here are some pictures to sway me, yay or neigh.

Love love the dress down styling in all of these, may be pairing mine, when it is sewn, with simple tees and a  sweatshirt perhaps. I think the rule seems to be to dress down with a simple loose top and stick to neutral, muted tones. Sequins, I am sold.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My First Jelly Roll Quilt: Work in Progress

As I mentioned in a previous post I found an awesome video on line which taught me how to make a cool jelly roll quilt top. I was intrigued and rushed to the shops as soon as I could to buy my first jelly roll and try out this amazing new method. If you have not watched the video it is well worth a look, and it really was as quick and easy as the lovely lady of the Missouri Star Quilt Company made it look. I won't explain exactly how it works here as the video can be seen here and she explains it much better than I could. Basically you sew your strips together randomly to create a reaaalllyyy long piece of jelly roll, then cut in half and sew the two halves together, cut in half again, then sew them together, then cut in half again and then sew them together etc etc (you get the drift!) until you end up with a lovely quilt top like this:

Watch her video for a better explanation! I love how the fabrics ended up, creating cool patterns I did not expect to see. Now it just needs a good press and to be backed and quilted, excited! Check back soon to see the finished piece 

Pattern wish list: April/May 2013

Three patterns are currently on the list. The first is New look 6028 because I have always loved the little Chanel style tweed jackets and really want to have a go at making my own. I have seen lots of girls sporting these recently in our warm-ish spring weather and I think it would be perfect for trans-seasonal type styling.

And some inspo...

Second on the wish list is New Look 6073 after watching too much SATC and falling in love with Carrie's nurse cape. I'm thinking of making this in a lightweight wool in a pale colour so again it can be worn trans-seasonal, in the spring now but also later in the year in autumn and winter. I will probably make view D as I want it to be short and swingy.

Image property of HBO

Lastly, and kinda randomly perhaps, I want to make a plaid shirt. Simple, loose and sweet, Butterick B5218 looks like it may just fit the bill, and they are on half price sale right now, even better! I want a plaid that is light weight for spring summer and if I wear it a lot I will consider making a fleecy one for autumn winter when the time comes as well.

The Great British Sewing Bee Episode 4, The Finale! Review and favourite garments

Before I review this episode, I should say if you do not know who the winner is yet, then do not read on unless you want it spoiled for you! All good things come to an end, and here we are at the end of series one of the Great British Sewing Bee. I really hope that they do a series two as I have found it really inspiring, and it has also got lots of people at work who have never before spoken about sewing chatting about needles and thread! Always a good thing.

Anyway, the first challenge! To sew a men's shirt, eeekk that's a tricky one. Poor Lauren seemed to agree on that one as she got pretty stressed in this challenge, although her finished product was lovely, in a beautiful flowery print that was boy-appropriate, and only really let down by the buttons, but that is not down to a lack of skill but clearly just a crazy rush to finish in time.  I really liked that this stressful challenge was intersected with clips of the contestants with their families as it alleviated  the pressure and it was nice to hear a little more about where the contestants come from and hear from their families about their sewing habits. Made me wonder what my friends and relations would say about my obsession with sewing! Anyway, my favourite shirt was Ann's because it was divinely finished and I also like men in linen shirts as they remind me of my lovely dad.
Property of the BBC

The second challenge was a great idea as I had felt that hand sewing was somewhat neglected in the series as a whole, and all three contestants produced a pretty little embellished purse. Although they were all so pretty I must say I don't think I would wear any of them. I think my favourite was Ann's as it was so elegant and simple. Also, exquisitely finished.

Property of the BBC

And then, the final challenge! DUN DUN DUN. Evening gowns, what a fabulous way to finish. I actually felt slightly tearful when their models came out as they were their daughters/sister and I thought it was such a lovely idea, as sewing really is a skill that should be intergenerational and passed down over years and years. They all seemed to really enjoy this challenge and I would personally feel more confident sewing a fabulous evening gown than I would a man's shirt, just because it is something I feel comfortable with thanks to experience. Not many women make men's shirts on the regs, but most home sewers are confident with a dress pattern or two.

Sandra's dress had a divine fit in a challenging fabric and draped beautifully, and would be flattering on most women. Ann's dress was the most wearable and I adore lace at all times, and so so admire the amount of tacking she commits herself to, as I naughtily often bypass this step. Choosing a favourite was basically impossible as they were all stunning and looked incredible on their models. Overall though Lauren's gown was my favourite, she thought carefully about her fabric choices and I would adore the chance to wear something that glamorous. The fit was perfect and a bodice made of 19 pieces takes some serious commitment. 

Property of the BBC

And the winner was... Ann! A truly inspirational sewer whose commitment and attention to detail has lead to some of the most beautifully finished projects of the whole series. Truly well deserved. I am seriously inspired, and hope I too will be sewing for as many years as Ann has been. So what did you make of the finale? I had to wait until today to watch it which has been near impossible thanks to our lack of TV and internet, but boy was it worth the wait:)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Sewing room make over and tour: How I organised my fabric stash

This was a long, long overdue make over! The before photos are truly shameful and took major courage to post on here, so please don't judge me! I have righted my sewing wrongs and the after photos make me proud to see. I am pleased to add that it has remained mostly as neat and tidy as it looks here, which is probably a sign of a good room makeover, when it is sustainable! I should add that this room is certainly not purely for my sewing pleasures, but also home to bf's weights and computer, as well as my clothes rail and book shelf. Overall, his tiny bedroom most appropriate for a very small person/hobbit is currently home to all our stuff that finds no place elsewhere in our lovely little flat. When we moved in it was the forgotten room with damp and cheap grey polyester curtains, but I have attempted to give it a little lease of live with (admittedly still cheap) cheerful floral curtains and pictures on the walls. I hope this post gives someone, somewhere some ideas for organising their stash, as I found reading blog posts of other people's ideas massively helpful when planning my own overhaul.
Without further ado, the shameful before photographs:

Messy sewing table...

Messy patterns basket...

Awful fabric pile...
 Bad, right? Cest la vie!

First job was to move and clear the sewing table and I think it looks pretty good empty! You will see where all the scissors, pins, trimmings and other bits and bobs ended up later...

Step one in my makeover was the purchase of a chest of draw. I found these tatty pine draws in the Princess Alice Hospice for a mer £30. Sadly this was the top end of my budget but I think I did well to get such roomy, albeit scratched, draws for such a bargain price.

Lets start at the top!
Top draw is a bit of a mixed bag, containing everything that is not fabric. As you can see on the right are tins and jars and these contain needles, pins, interfacing, buttons, zips, trimmings and alllll the other paraphernalia I have acquired since becoming a woman obsessed with dressmaking.

Here is a close up of my pretty tins, a mixture of Cath Kidston, Tiger, 99p stores and old washed out tea tins.

On the left, seen here, is where I am currently keeping my 'ongoing' projects, at the top you can see a handmade nautical dress in need of altering and some pretty American quilt squares all cut out and ready to be sewn.

The first organisational job was the biggest: fabrics. I decided to sort my stash by size not fabric type, due to the huge variety in what I had. My thinking was a draw for large pieces of fabric (1meter and up) and one for smaller pieces, but not scraps as I have had enough of those. I must admit I was pretty ruthless and many a tatty scrap of fabric found its way to the recycling, while I wondered what I thought I could ever do with a teeny, tatty scrap of poly cotton. The second draw contains large pieces of fabric (1metre up) organised neatly and folded again like the small pieces so I can find stuff easily. Love this draw, I see projects ready to be sewn!

The bottom draw is filled with my small pieces, and is probably the fullest to be fair, from faux fur to chiffon to cotton, I have plenty of choice for small projects, and discovered many pieces I had forgotten I had in the mountain of fabric scraps which once was. I have tried very hard to keep them folded too, for ease of searching and browsing.

The final draw up is great because it contains... Nothing! What a treat to behold! Always good to have room to expand ones stash. I may use this for pairing patterns on my to sew list with appropriate fabrics and trimmings.

Atop of my draws is my tidy(ish) patterns basket, which I love for whimsy and simply serves a purpose. Patterns, yay!

On another organisational note, I gathered together all my sewing books, magazines and scrap books into one easy to find leaning tower which now sits atop another chest of draws in the little room. I quite like the look of them this was round and it makes good use of space as the draws are a 'tall boy' and very narrow

And that's pretty much it! I hope you enjoyed this little sewing room make over, how do you keep your stash in line? 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sewing Style Icon: Carrie Bradshaw

Ok, so, I know she is not a real per say, however I have lusted after her wardrobe since I first watched Sex and the City many, many years ago when I was far too young to be watching. Mainly, from browsing on-line I have discovered that my passion for Carries wardrobe is mainly series one specific. I actually adore her clothes throughout but the 90's vibe to series one makes it just lovely to watch. Here is some sewing inspiration...

Ok so the first, tutus. A Carrie classic from the title credits of episode one, I would really like to try my hand at tutu making, although to make it rather more wearable I think I will go for more of a circle skirt in a pink chiffon. I bought some pink gingham chiffon from Walthamstow a while ago, perhaps it will need to be employed

Simplicity 2286 would be a good pattern for a short tutu, opening credits style.

Burda 7070 may be a better option for a longer, floaty version, ballerina style skirt, which I am keen on the idea of myself for summer. Butterick 5787 is also nice pattern for a super simple wrap around floaty ballerina tutu style skirt.

Second idea: a cape. Yes or no for summer? Is this wrong, because Carrie looks friggin adorable and I want one for posy flouncing around.

New look 6073 seems a simple option, would black be too wintery?

Next a series 6 tee shirt, loving the flower detail on the front. I am planning some stripe tee shirts for spring/summer, not sure how simple putting a massive flower on the front would be but I have have to find out.

For my tshirts I am using this truly hideously photographed pattern. The t shirt and cardigan both turn out really nicely though, I promise! 

This next pic is just for the lovelyness of the styling, but as it goes I will be trying to make some pretty vest tops for the warm weather, perhaps layering up with strings and strings of pearls!

Loving this top pattern having used it for some blouses.

Ok, I have not worn a belly top since 1998 and this will never be happenings, but awesome Carrie 90's inspo or what?!

A beautiful white lacy dress has been on my to sew list for so long, and I will get round to it this summer, I swears it. There is a Butterick pattern sale on so I may treat myself to a new pattern to motivate myself putting needle to fabric. And with a parasol, no?

Butterick 4443 looks pretty sweet to me, I like the A-line skirt and fitted bodice, especially with the scoop neck.

New Look 6208 looks pretty  lovely too, look at the pretty bow back!

This pattern could also be pretty awesome in polka dots , oolala in gay Paris!

Lastly, suddenly realising that asymmetric  one shouldered-ness is appealing to me in a whole new way. Roll on 90's fever, I have been hit hard. And with a corsage? Oh oui!

A simple one shouldered pattern New Look 6912, but jeez look at that styling! Imagine in a simple, pretty plain, without the faux leather and tacky prints. Some lovely versions of this pattern can be seen on-line.