Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Wish List

Hey Peeps!

I say this every time I put one of these lists together; apparently I'm hard to buy presents for! I don't see it myself......fabric, anything sewing related, shiny or made of chocolate and I'm a happy bunny. Mind you I could narrow those areas down a little bit so here goes.....

Books....
The Complete Photo Guide To Perfect Fitting / Winter Blooms
Fashionary Notebook / Couture Sewing Techniques
......there are lots and lots of sewing/knitting books that I've got my eye on but I think these four are top of my list. I'm trying to get better at fitting and could certainly use all the help I can get, especially as I'm making a wedding dress next year! I would love to learn to knit and the patterns in this book look gorgeous, I'm fully aware that I couldn't start off with one of these but it would be good to have something to aim for and drool over whilst I'm learning. The Fashionary notebook is awesome for planning and you all know how much I love making lists, well with this I could make lists with pretty pictures too! Finally I think Couture Sewing would be a fascinating read and again it would certainly help with wedding dress making.

Patterns.....
Vogue V9015 / Deer & Doe Chataigne Shorts
Papercut Bellatrix Blazer
.....there aren't actually that many patterns that I've got my eye on at the moment which surprises me (must have ALL the patterns!). First up is this Vogue number, I've been on a bit of a PJ making marathon this past week and whilst PJ's are lovely I do like nightgowns as well. Also I was thinking I could use them as slips under some of the dresses I've been making recently, I tend to only line the bodices of my dresses so there has been some tights stickage occurring. Next I've had my eye on this Deer and Doe shorts pattern for ages but always shied away due to the difficulty of fitting trousers but I've decided to "Man up wetpants!" and at least give them a try. Lastly is the Papaercut Bellatrix Blazer which is gorgeous and I think would fit perfectly into my wardrobe.

Thread....... 
Popular 50
Popular 20 / Metallics / Naturals / Pastels
......my foray into machine embroidery was so much fun even with the very crappy thread I used (note to self do not buy cheap thread from eBay!) I'm still working on getting the software to work on my Mac (It's designed to only run with Windows programmes and only Windows 7 not the 8.1 I've got installed....bugger) but I once that's working there are so many things I want to try and for that I need good thread!! These are definitely pipe dreams (don't expect anyone to spend that on a Christmas pressie) but just look how pretty....le sigh.

Tools..........
Clapper / Pinking Shears
Stitch Markers / Circular Needles 
........I'd really really like a clapper set for seams (happy clapper seams), also some pinking shears (how do I not have pinking shears?), some stitch markers and finally a set of circular knitting needles. Nuff said.

Finally......fabric........
Denim Dots (3 metres) / Red Cotton Sateen (3 metres) / Polka Dot Wool (4 yards)
Tula Medium Cotton (4 metres) / Tula Medium Cotton (4 metres)
.....it wouldn't be a wish list without some fabric. Clearly I'm having a thing for polka dots at the moment in the forms of stretch denim, cotton sateen and 100% wool......mmmmmm polka dotty goodness. I'm also trying to make some wardrobe basics (well as basic as a fit and flare dress can be) and I love both of these colours, still feeling very autumnal it seems.

So there we go friend and family peeps I'm not at all difficult to buy for......honest!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday I'm In Love

Hey Peeps!

How is everyone? Ive had a lovely week making lots and lots of Christmas presents, I was determined to have everything organised this year and not have a mad last minute rush which I think I might actually manage.

Whilst making all these things I've also managed to spend some time browsing fabrics too (shocking, I know).......
A New Leaf / Autumn Scenic Trees
Shades of the Season /  Autumn Forest
.....clearly all the cold weather and changing leaves have affected my choices. I love the colours you see at this time of year and these fabrics are all gorgeous I'd happily wear dresses in any one of these (which is a good job as I may have some of the Autumn Scenic Trees loveliness on it's way to me right now......).

I've also been looking for some more "normal" fabrics to make trousers, skirts and dresses out of because I can't have an entire wardrobe filled with quirky prints.....can I? This I find much much harder to do because all the bonkers loveliness calls out to me and I get distracted. I did mange to find this however......
Rebecca Taylor Polka Dot Wool
........it's a gorgeous lightweight wool fabric from Mood. Not the most normal of fabrics I grant you but ages and ages ago I had a lovely pair of polka dot wool trousers from French Connection which I mostly loved except that they weren't high waisted. I have such a long body that I used to flash a bit of belly every now and then when I was wearing them. I ended up giving them to Tatty (bestest friend) so they would get used and I could love them from afar. This Rebecca Taylor fabric is $18 (£11.50ish) a yard which isn't at all bad so I'm thinking it might just go on my Christmas wish list. Then I'll have the joys of trouser making to contend with......hmmm it would look really good as a skirt too right?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Sewvember Part One

Hey Peeps!

I stumbled across Bimble & Pimble's Instagram Sewvember challenge completely by accident......
......I thought it was a brilliant idea so I've been taking part. I was planning on a round up post at the end of November but I realised that would end being very long so I'm going to split it in to two. Here goes....
Day 1: Sewing Space.....
.....I'm lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing room which is awesome. The only thing I don't do in there is tracing and cutting patterns, I use the island in the kitchen for that.

Day 2: Technique.....
......I love using bias binding for Hong Kong seam finishing, so pretty.

Day 3: Stash.....
......my stash is getting rather large and has never knowingly been under fluffed by Chiana.

Day 4: WIP (Work In Progress).....
......the Deer & Doe Belladone dress in this gorgeous Toadstool Terrariums fabric from Spoonflower (I've finished it just got to photograph it for the blog now).

Day 5: Tools....
......I have quite a few tools that I use regularly and it was weird/interesting sewing at my Mum's without them, quilters and dressmakers have really different needs when sewing it seems.

Day 6: You.....
......Me!

Day 7: Insides.....
.......the insides of my Birthday Lawn dress, the bias binding was a pain to do (on SEVEN skirt panels) but so worth it as looks so pretty inside and out (I think).

Day 8: Signature Style.....
......this was easy, I love fitted bodices and full circle skirts with the occasional wiggle dress thrown in for good measure.

Day 9: Next Project....
.....I was planning on making the Sewaholic Minoru next but I'm still waiting on the zips and lining to turn up, it's next on the list though.

Day 10: Inspiration....
....Pinterest (of course) I also love that I can organise my inspiration there too making finding the things I love so much easier.

Day 11: Early Make....
.......the first thing I ever made was a balck velvet bakers boy cap with some beading on the peak but that's long gone now. I got properly back into sewing in 2011(ish), I'd taken a whole weekend off and ended up churning out four of this Butterick pattern which I still wear now.

Day 12: Favourite Finish.....
......french seams and bias binding baby!

Day 13: View.....
........not the most inspiring view but it does have added pretty kitty.

Day 14: UFO (Unfinished Object)....
.......an Anna dress in black Gaberdine with turquoise blue bias binding finish. All this dress needs is the hem to be finished but I just can't bring myself to do it as I really really don't like the facings, they feel really uncomfortable.

Day 15: Sewing Library....
.....I'm not sure three books constitutes a library but it's what I've got. I do have a few books on my Christmas wish list though.

I've loved seeing everyone else's pictures, it's really interesting getting a glimpse in to other peoples sewing lives. Thank you so much to Amanda for coming up with this idea!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

I Promise I Make Other Things....

Hey Peeps!

How is everyone? It's still bloody cold here and very very rainy which means that I'm still in the kitchen hugging the Aga (I love the Aga) but that's ok because the kitchen island is the perfect height for the tracing and cutting out of patterns. I've gotten quite a few done this week, mostly ones that will be used for Christmas pressies but also the Sewaholic Minoru jacket and the vintage Butterick 7461 dressing gown I've been planning for ages.

They aren't what I'm going to be showing you today though.....
......it's another Anna (I promise I really do make other things!). I made this Anna dress with the birthday fabric Big Bird and Little Bother got me this year (back in April) it's a gorgeous tropical print lawn from Truro Fabrics and I love it. It was a little see through so I underlined the whole dress in plain white cotton lawn which has made for some really pretty insides, I was cursing my love of this pattern when I was finishing off all the seams with bias binding but I'm so glad I did. I also took my other "proper" Anna dress out to Saudi with me and Papa kindly took some piccies......
.......as you can probably tell I love this pattern and I'm sure there will be more in my future for now though I'm planning warm snuggly coats and flannel lined dressing gowns.....did I mention I hate being cold?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Daisy Dress

Hey Peeps!

Bad news: I'm back on the Isle of Wight and it's bloody freezing! Good news: the Aga has been turned back on so I'm currently camped out in the kitchen hugging it....I hate being cold.

Today I've got a dress to share which isn't an Anna hybrid......shock horror....I've made ten of them now and I love them all but I do make other things too! It's still a By Hand London pattern though, the Flora this time....
....I've nicknamed this the Daisy Dress because both Mum and I think the embroidery motif I picked kinda looks like a cows face....
........well sort of. This is the first time I've really used the embroidery module that came with my sewing machine and it wasn't without it's problems. I found the thread on eBay and it was very cheap and my machine hated it. So many broken threads and having to reduce the speed to it's slowest meant this took three times as long to stitch out as it should have but I'm so glad I persevered as I love it. I have also learnt my lesson and invested in some lovely threads for the next attempt.

The dress itself wasn't without it's problems either. I originally traced out the bodice pattern according to my waist measurement and then did the standard alterations I always need; a three inch FBA and lengthening the bodice by an inch. The first FBA resulted in a bodice that Jessica Rabbit could have worn with ease so I tried making up the standard bodice which squished things down uncomfortably. In the end I decided to spilt the difference and added an inch and half FBA which fitted much better but ended up with weird side darts so I messed about with those until I was happy. When I traced out the skirt pieces I used the largest size as a length guide otherwise the skirt may well have been indecent! I finished the skirt hem with some satin bias binding as I knew you would be able to see whatever finished was used so I wanted it to be pretty.

Overall I'm very happy with how this dress finally turned out, the very first iteration of this dress had a plain bodice which I really liked until I showed Papa over FaceTime and he immediately christened it "The Poorhouse Dress", Papa is not a fan of chambray it seems! I on the other hand love it (so soft and so easy to work with) so that is where the embroidery inspiration came from. I'm still playing around with all the things my machine can do but I'm quite sure there will be more embroidered panels in my future as well as more Floras.

Friday, 31 October 2014

This Month I Have Mostly Been…..#13

Hey Peeps!

It's been a while…..what a month October has been! I've passed my driving test, cut out quilt pieces, fitted muslins, sewn dresses, sunbathed, played with the Ginger Terror and done some seriously quality shopping…..
Lucky dress worked / Chiana is not amused / How hot?
Swarovski Beads, Wedding Dress Trim & Bridesmaid Fabric / Stop! Abaya Time / Roses at the Ritz
Blissed out Ginger Terror / The most beautiful lace in the world / Mini desserts are the way forward
I'm currently over in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia visiting the Parental Units which has been so much fun. The first week out here we also had Little Bother and Big Bird so it's been a real family affair. I'd always been very hesitant about coming to Saudi…..Dubai, yes…..Abu Dhabi, yes….Bahrain, yes…..but Riyadh?? My idea of a holiday does not include having to wear (essentially) a shapeless black sheet over clothing in 30+ heat but Mama talked me into it and I'm so glad she did. I've had such a wonderful time that I've extended my stay an extra couple of days to have another "weekend"!

I'll talk in detail about this whole trip at a later date (how excited are you for that !?!?) but for now I wanted to share my latest finished dress. It's another By Hand London Anna/Kittenish Behaviour hybrid (I promise I make other patterns too) and I love it….
Todays photographer is the oh so talented Papa! Merci Papa
…..I've had this Alexander Henry "Bewitched" fabric in my stash for a couple of years now, I love all his pin up designs (and own quite a few….) and I brought this one out with me as fabric and managed to take enough of a break from sunbathing to finish sewing it yesterday. I wore it out today to brunch at the Al Faisaliah Hotel (under my abaya of course) which felt ever so naughty….they aren't big fans of Halloween out here! I'd only bought myself three metres of this so I couldn't get too precious about pattern placement but I made sure that Cat Lady on the pumpkin got centre stage on the bodice and there was at least one full (and upright) pin up on each of the skirt panels. Papa made a comment about the length of these dresses but as I wear them predominately in the colder months with tights and boots I like the length (and I do make my summer dresses much longer). Clearly tights aren't an (sane) option in 35 degree heat so I was a little grateful for the shapeless black sheet today! So do you have any "tried and true" patterns that you reach for when you want the instant gratification of sewing something you know you'll love?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Over The Rainbow - My Very First Quilt

Hey Peeps!

It's been rather quiet here on the the blog because I've been sewing like a crazy thing. I have a few finished dresses that need photographing but the main reason for being MIA is quilting. I've mentioned before that my Mum is a quilter, she mainly does art quilting which is amazing but I did manage to talk her in to making me a more traditional quilt for my Christmas present last year. When I was looking for the fabrics I started looking at different designs and totally got sucked down the rabbit hole....soooooo many pretty things! I came across Kaye Wood on YouTube, she was demonstrating a Double Wedding Ring quilt technique that only used one template and I was sold! It's the Phillips Fiber Art "Rings That Bind" and it's awesome.

It's was my friend Miss S's 30th birthday this past weekend so I started asking for her favourite colours (pinks and blues) and whether she liked graphic or floral prints (both), with that as a starting point I picked out these....
.....the book gives you the yardage you need for each size of quilt which is great, I ordered a little more of each just in case I messed anything up! I decided to make a pieced arc double wedding ring so first up is cutting a whole bunch of strips....
........and sorting them into sets. Next up making "fabric" and making sure you do it with a quarter inch seam allowance. I didn't have a quarter inch foot and by this time my Bernina bobbin hook had decided to throw a tantrum and stop getting along with the needle.....joy. Luckily my little Singer has feet with quarter inch toes so I just used that as guide.....
......once sewn together and pressed you then have to cut your arcs all one hundred and twenty of them, I also cut out the backing, batting, scallops and front squares at the same time. As ever Chiana had to in inspect and fluff every stage of the process...I think she approves. Next up making circles....
.....twenty five circles to be precise. I separated out individual jobs and did one a day so I didn't get overloaded and it made the whole process very enjoyable. I decided on a lap size quilt which would end measuring 64 inches square, I picked that size to make it manageable although if you follow the tutorial (which I did to a point) you can quilt each individual block before you sew them together. I will totally do that for my next version (there will be another version.....for me!) but there was no way I could do the quilting on my Singer and I had time constraints so I powered through.....I did have party rings to help with that! The next stage was adding the scallops.....
.....apparently it's not a double wedding ring without a scalloped edge, who am I to argue. As you can see I've used two different shades of blue for the backgrounds this ending up being a happy accident, initially I didn't order enough fabric and when I went to get some more the shop had run out so I picked up a darker shade and decide to go for a checker board effect. Once the scallops were all on I sewed all the blocks into rows and then added the rows to each other, I had a quilt! Well sort of, it still needed batting and actual quilting....
.....I picked this giant gingham as the final fabric which I think was a mistake as it makes the blue rings fade in to the background more than I would like but I can't think what other fabric I could have picked. Once I had sewn all the arcs in to place I had reached that part I was worrying about....the quilting. I've never done free motion quilting before so of course I did some trail runs....
.....I really liked the pebbles but there was no way I had time to do that all over the quilt. Just following the squares looked cute but not quite right. At this point I had Mum on FaceTime trying to come up with something that was going to be right. The Rings That Bing book comes with quilting motifs and appliqué which are gorgeous but I knew I wouldn't be able to manage those as I had the whole quilt to manoeuvre through my machine.....
.....(note to self follow the instructions and quilt as you go!). One of the early stages was pressing each circle so there were guidelines to place the pieced circles on and we had an brainwave; follow the lines.....
....I then added the squares/diamonds. Very very simple but I really like it. Now I had a finished quilt....well except for the hand sewing....joy! The finishing touch had to be a personalised message for the birthday girl....
.......I hadn't intended to make it quite so big but it fitted on the back of a block perfectly so I'm happy. So once the hand sewing was finished, each scallop had two pesky "ears" that needed to be stitched down (I ended up doing most of that on the train up to London....nothing like leaving it to the last minute hey?) I really did have a finished quilt....
.....isn't it beautiful? Attempting a Double Wedding Ring as my first quilt ever probably wasn't my smartest move and it is most definitely not perfect but I'm so happy with it. Papa saw it and immediately said it reminded him of Dorothy so the Over The Rainbow quilt was named. Miss S loved it (I believe) and I'm so pleased that I got it finished for her birthday, there were a few doubts at one point.

If you've made it to the end of this picture/word heavy post well done, have a party ring, you've earned it!