A Fresh Start...

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

I have spent the last couple of days, flicking through everyone's Top 5 Hits and Misses, and have enjoyed reading everyone's personal thoughts on their sewing journey. It's nice to get an insight into people's feelings towards what they feel they did and didn't achieve this year.

However, I felt that I couldn't contribute a post of my own, because I hadn't made enough garments to even warrant a top 5.

So what really struck a chord with me today was Rochelle's 'anti-roundup'. It struck the chord in me that isn't always positive, and the part of me that compares my work to the work of others. 

What I forget often, is to look at my achievements this year through reality-tinted glasses.

I have really only been sewing for just over a year. I started the year not being able to read a pattern. I didn't know what a notch was. I didn't know what a grainline was. I didn't know how to think in 8th's of an inch.Yes, I didn't make hundreds of garments. I didn't even make tens. I think in total I made a grand total of 15 garments. Adding in 6 gifts brings it up to 21 items. 

It's nothing to write home about when held up against some bloggers, but it's actually more than I thought when I started this post. 

The stupid thing is, I do know that it took me time to get going, and to gain confidence in my ability. One of my biggest fears in life has always been failing, and what would be worse than to fail at your life-long dream? 
I didn't want to make mistakes, I didn't want to buy fabric and end up ruining it. So I read a lot of books to try and understand what I was doing before I did it. It helped, but I wish I wasn't too scared to just try. It really was your support that pushed me forward.

Looking back at the past year, I can see the learning curve that I have been on. I am amazed at how much I have learned in that time, and how much I now understand about sewing, and fitting and the construction of garments. I'm also amazed at how much more there is to learn, and I'm excited for it. 

I am happy to say that I wear what I have made. That is the most important thing. I think if I looked back at a small collection of garments that I didn't wear, or were unwearable, I would be more than a little upset.

That being said, I do feel that I'm still finding my feet in terms of my style. Looking back, this year was about learning about the construction of different garments and expanding my skill set. Like Rochelle, next year I would like to distill down my sewing to patterns that truly reflect my style and the way that I want to dress on a daily basis. And of course, not having a new pattern for every garment would increase productivity!
Not that I want to be churning out garments, but it would be nice not to spend my free time constantly tracing when I could be sewing something that I will love to wear, and will make me feel like me. 

So here's to 2014.
Here's to more positivity.
Here's to sewing for who you are, and who you want to be.
Here's to learning.
Here's to trying.

E x

Scrap Storage...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Does anyone else feel like they are drowning in fabric? I know a lot of you will feel my pain! I seem to be constantly sewing, and the stash only seems to be getting bigger, and gaining momentum. Getting the fabric for my Minerva makes probably isn't helping matters, lol!

I'm sitting here trying to reorganise some of my sewing stuff... ( and of course trying to assimilate Christmas presents into my already full flat!). There's a decent amount to fit in, but I'm so happy I put a budget on Christmas this year! Although my sale shopping didn't do my any favours. Whoops.

In the spirit of stuffing things in spaces, I'm trying to change how I store my fabric scaps. Up until now they have been stuffed into a bag (although recently I have been sorting through all the scraps to see which bits are big enough to be useful before I store them). I have thought about giving them away, but as I'm thinking of starting some quilt blocks, I'm hesitant to. 

This evening I started putting them into empty washing tablet boxes. I kind of love how much I can stuff in, the fact I can see through to see which scraps are where, and if you keep all the right scraps together, it looks really cool! Kind of like soil levels! And you can really stuff them, as the clips are quite strong - seen as they are supposed to be child resistant and all that. although i popped a it of tape on the edges of one as it was straining!

I wish I got through washing tablets faster now! I had been using them for notions too, zips and threads and all those sorts of things before this. And I split the next box by accident, grrr. 

Well I'll leave you with my soil level scraps :) let me know if you guys have any other ideas!

Hand-Made Christmas Pressies!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Hello my dear friends,

I want to firstly thank everyone for the positive comments and support I've been given this year! They have meant so much to me, so I just wanted to say thank you!!

I just wanted to share with you my crazed Christmas present sewing before the big day is over! All items were for my Mam and little sister. They were all made during the lead up the the job interview, and then also when I had got back to Ireland. Thankfully, the original sewing machine my Mam bought me when I was 17 is still there, so I used that. To be honest, although it's a similar beginner machine, I think it's slightly better than the one I'm currently sewing on.

I made them both a pair of Sewaholic Tofino pajama bottoms, both a handbag and my little sis a Kelly skirt. Unfortunately I forgot to take a proper picture of the skirt, but it was yellow cotton drill, and had golden buttons. You all know what a Kelly skirt looks like by now!

Both of the pajamas went down a treat, my Mam was incredulous that I had made them. I hadn't made her anything before this! My sister has hardly taken hers off. They also loved their handbags. The skirt went down well initially, but I think when my sister realised that it hit just above the knee she was less enthused. She's more of a 'barely covering her bum' kind of skirt. I did consider this when I made it, but thought perhaps she needed something a bit more respectable in her wardrobe. If it would've fit me, I probably would've taken it back!

Well, here is some pictorial evidence! Bear with me, as I didn't have the best means of taking photos at the time! The Tofinos first; I can't wait to make my own pair! They looked. So. Comfy, I was very jealous. They were both french seamed throughout - no piping though. I was a bit short for time, and wanted to french seam instead of overlock, so decided to leave it out

Now the handbags. My sister's was made from Cath Kidston canvas fabric that I bought at the bargain price of £6/m about a year ago. Their prices are insane usually - £18-22/m. I don't think so. I made it from a pattern I bought on Etsy from Sweet Pea Totes, the "Hobo Bag". I expected it to be a little bigger, but she adores it. It has an adjustable strap, a magnet clasp and a small pocket inside. I lined it with the canvas, as I had cut out the pieces before I thought about it.

My Mam's was made from Red polka dot canvas I bought in Dunelm Mill, and a thick padded interlining fabric to give it some support. I lined it with the fabric from my Prague Christmas dress, which I thought was a nice touch as I wore it for her birthday. The pattern was hacked from the Hobo bag pattern, but I couldn't even tell you what I did, as I hacked the pattern, and then changed it all as I went along. It was a bit of a modge podge, but it turned out well. 

I had cut out the bag when I started thinking about how to close it. I should've really thought of that first. I could've still put a zip in but didn't consider it until the whole thing was nearly sewn up. I hand picked it in instead, and warned her to go easy on it! She loves it though. She's a red fiend, always drawn to red, and she started using it as soon as she got it which is always a good sign.

The bags were a nice change to make, but dear god they were a nightmare on thread tension. To be honest, I'm not completely happy with all of it, but I was struggling to get anything decent out of the machine. I used regular thread in ine and extra strong on the other, but both were almost as bad as each other. Mam's was especially bad due to the extra thick interlining I think, but I got through it. I will definitely try making it on my Singer next time, as I know it's pretty powerful, and wouldn't blink at a thick lump of fabric. 

So that's your lot! I will definitely be starting in August next year!

But it's all done now. So I can relax and wrap the last few bits.

I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas! I hope you get to spend it with those you love xx

Woven goodness...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Hey Guys,

So in case you didn't guess... My stress time is well and truly over! Although I didn't finish all the Christmas presents yet... I need my family to not want to spend time with me! I did finish 2 yesterday so I'm 3/5. One good session and I'll be done. Remind me to take pictures before I wrap them! 

So today my Mam brought me to our local Woolen Mill. It's literally around the corner from my house, my Mam actually worked there when I was little, and wove all the different fabric they produce on their looms. Its a really nice factory, and employs local people. It kills me to think that I don't have anything she wove, but after it was woven it was sent to finishers to be processed so here was no real way that could have happened even if she still worked there. My cousin still works there today (I saw him today while I was there, but stupidly forgot to ask for a tour - next time)

I hadn't been down there in forever, and I'm pretty sure I hadn't been in the visitors shop since I was small and the Americans were home (you know how much they like Irish things!). So my Mam decided we should take a small trip down today. They stock so many different things, it's a real shame it's in such an isolated place, but I assume they are stocked in other gift shops around the country, etc. Most of the fabric is sent out to designers be made in to garments. They even had finished garments in the shop.

 Loving the blue jacket. That's basically how I would like to refashion the men's one

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it went FAR beyond my expectations. A million miles beyond. I spent ages wandering around, and to be honest, I didn't think I would actually be able to find anything I could afford, but they had some bits on sale and clearance so I got massively lucky!!

The shop was beautiful. And I didn't know they stocked fabric on the bolt!

I was slightly over whelmed, I didn't even know where to start! The tweeds were AHmazing but at €22.50/m, I couldn't decide if I could really afford to splash out that much on one piece of fabric. But it was really really hard to walk away.

What I DID find, was blankets on sale, beautiful blankets. I got two blankets for €40. One my Mam paid for for my Christmas present. They are unbelievable. And massive!

I can't wait to snuggle up on the sofa with one of these! And I can't believe they were so cheap. I almost feel bad. The only bolt fabric that was cheap was some linen, which I think they're phasing out making. You can spot the bolts on the right of this picture. At €5/m I couldn't go wrong.

I got a couple of metres of two of the bolts. A purpley-blue and a reddish-purple colour. They both have different weaves though.

I ALSO spotted a remnant pile, and who doesn't love a remnant pile. So I managed to get. A couple of bits of the woven tweed after all! 

I got a houndstooth, with a green and black houndstooth, though it just looks regular black from afar. There's about half a metre there, more really but there's a chunk taken out on one side. I'll have to see whether I can squeeze a skirt out of the thinner or wider side.

I also picked up this Blackwatch tartan. I've been getting into it since I found out the my partners Mum loves it. Not sure if I'm going to give it to her or keep it myself. I have already got her some for Christmas, but it has a smaller pattern. I prefer the bigger one myself and I'm not sure I could make anything decent for her with this piece. I see a long midi skirt for myself though...

So there we go! More fabric I don't need, eh? 

sorry/NOT SORRY!

You just can't win...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Hey Guys,

Some of you might remember that I bought a vintage Singer 201k a little while back (and I swear I intend to use it soon!).

 Well, I could remember growing up that my Mam had a Singer too, with a wheel like the vintage ones. I could picture the box, but not the machine. I knew it wasn't modern but I didn't think it was proper vintage either (from my child memory). And then once she had bought me my first one 9 years ago - 9 years! God, imagine how good I could've been by now! - well, she started to use that one because it had more features and you didn't risk doing yourself an injury every time you needed to get it out. The vintage Singer machines weigh about 20kg, which is why we haven't eaten at our dining table since I bought it.

I was rummaging around yesterday for an old textbook I had, and what showed its face again but the sewing machines box. Of course I had to have a look, and this is what I found...

It WAS a vintage one. I'm such a dope. And when I typed its serial code into the website, it turns out it's actually bloody older than mine!! Hers is 1930, mine is 1937. I lose!

I tried to find the model, and found a useful website that takes you through step by step questions about the placement of dials, and the placement of the bobbin and other features and I think hers is a 15-30. But I can't be sure. It's hard to know whether it was originally motorised or if it was added later. It's definitely not the original base and case, because they look pretty new and pine-y. Mine looks old and so does the case so hers must have been swapped out. Or maybe it was in a treadle originally?

Who knows I guess? Dad said it came with its manuals, but they aren't in the base anymore, and I know they bought it in the local secondhand store. But when I say secondhand, it was proper vintage secondhand. I remember wandering around all the old furniture when I was a child. They had tons of furniture, and a collection of porcelain dolls that I loved. I collected them too when I was young, and had a decent collection, but now I find them a bit creepy! I need to find out from my Mam if it closed down yet... I know they reduced the shop size, but there were still there for a long time. They used to have the most amazing Dolls house in the window at Christmas too.

Christmas makes me nostalgic :)

Plackets Forever!! My Christmas Hawthorn - And my Second Minerva Crafts project

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Hi Guys,

I'm very excited to show you my second Minerva Crafts make - my Christmas dress :)

I chose the linen-look cotton again (I'm nothing if not predictable) for my second make as I couldn't resist the deep wine colour for Christmas (I'm the antithesis of Kathryn! Although I do love the Aubergine too). And I do fully intend wearing this dress on Christmas day!

When it came down to pattern selection I was slightly torn.  I wanted something that would look nice on Christmas day, and I wanted it to have sleeves (as its getting chilly!). I almost switched to Rachel's Brazilia dress as I had already done two muslins but couldn't face drafting the sleeves! I just had this look in my head of a long sleeved dress, and the Hawthorn fit the bill. That being said, I changed my mind about 4 times. I started to dislike the pattern after I had stared at it for too long! I thought perhaps it wasn't edgy enough, maybe it was too done already?? I went around and around in a circle but came straight back again, I decided really it was what I wanted.

I sewed my bodice muslin up with sewable tracing paper. It showed that the bodice was gaping slightly at the back neck so I took in the darts a bit more and that was sorted. I only did a 1cm seam allowance at the waist but I could have gotten away with the full 1.5cm in the end. I was erring on the fear of it pulling at the bust - I hate that. I would prefer it be a bit roomier. Although now that it is, I feel I definitely need a beige belt to tie it all together. There was some gaping at the front of the shoulder, but I was wary of adjusting it until I had the sleeves on as they could make all the difference. In the end I thinks it's ok!

Other adjustments I made were to do a smaller seam allowance on the lower edge of the collar which makes it wider and I didn't turn up the hem by the full seam allowance. I added a navy polysatin lining to the skirt so I could wear it with tights. I also cut the back skirt out on the fold instead of in two pieces.

I had always intended to skip the sleeve placket but in the end I bit the bullet as i couldn't decide how to fudge it and to be honest it was much easier than I thought! I love the look of it and its my favourite part of the dress.

Things I wasn't Happy with:

The fact I don't have a pressing cloth! - number 1 on the purchase list. I was at risk of putting a shine on this fabric but I think I got away with it. It was much more obvious than the cream fabric. .

The sleeves came out far too big and I feel its drowning my arm. In the online sewalong its mentioned that you may need to adjust the pleat to fit the cuff on - I had to double it!! and I went back to check I had traced the right sleeve size and I had. I don't know if I managed to trace the cuff size too small by accident - but it's still bigger than my liking! Next time I will be checking the fit of the sleeve more thoroughly before I go ahead. It's wearable but I'm not 100% happy. 

Most of the dress is overlocked but a few bits I had to zig-zag as I hadn't done the overlocking at the right point in the construction and then I was too far in to make it look nice. Also, the overlocking is white. Bit ridiculous, but I haven't managed to learn to rethread it yet.

The buttonholes - but that's my machines fault. It was in a hungry hippo sort of mood. Also I would be more careful with my button placement on the cuff's next time as they need to be quite close to the edge to get the placket lying flat. When my markings rub off I sometimes end up winging it a bit. Whoops.

Apparently the dress does need the hook and eye at the front waist.

My Mistakes:

I set the sleeve the wrong way around the first time - dope.

The right cuff has a buttonhole on the wrong side (the button side) as I wasn't paying enough attention - I would've just ripped out the stitches but I had already opened it. I only realised when I was trying to button it. It's hidden but annoying.

In cutting the back skirt out on the fold, I forgot to remove the centre-back seam allowance initially.  Therefore the skirt was too big. I trimmed the excess with the overlocker which fixed the size but it affected the notches and they didn't match up with the bodice anymore. I could still match up the side seams though.

I also forgot to add the notches on the bodice armscye and had to go back and add them when the dress was almost finished which is always awkward.

What I was Happy with:

I sealed the lining into the front facing with the buttonhole and button stitching, it looks very professional. 

I love the plackets! YAY FOR PLACKETS

Button placement - especially for the fact they were done in Prague airport arrivals lounge! I must have looked like a loon. And they were also completely winged as the markings were well gone.

All in all I do really like the dress. It's first outing, shown in the pictures, was to see the Prague National Theatre Ballet perform "Sleeping Beauty" at the Prague State Opera House which was pretty special, and therefore the dress will have special memories for me. My first ballet :) Also in the pictures was a birthday dinner for my Mam at the Hard Rock Café.

I hope you like it, and if you want to make your own you can get the kit here. It has 3m of the fabric - there wasn't too much left over! It has has interfacing, matching thread and 15 buttons. I would err on the side of an extra spool of thread, I ran out, but happened to have bought almost the same colour for a different project so I was saved running out the door in a craze! You can also see the post up on Minerva here.

I have just put out my Christmas table cloth and constructed my Nativity Crib. Feeling Christmassy!

See you guys soon, and have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Emmie xx

This is Bowling - there are rules!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hey guys,

Just wanted to get this post out there as I keep seeing the beautiful faces of the spoolettes popping up in my feed. I'm sure you have realised by now that I went bowling last weekend with some amazing sewists (who have become my favourite people in the entire world btw).

The first rule of Bowling is that you must do it wearing an amazing handmade shirt. And boy did everyone rise to the challenge. I myself had grandiose plans of a huge hand embroidered piece on the back and a hand embroidered name on the front. I did in fact manage the name on the front but the back fell off the wagon pretty fast. Maybe if I had started it when we first began to speak of it (but Alison was the only one who started work early, as seen by the embroidery below!)

I actually was pretty sure I wouldn't get my shirt done in time. I was pretty close to not even trying! I had put myself under a tight time schedule in the lead up to Christmas and then other things decided to come up at the same time. Needless to say, I've been a bit of a wreck recently, but everything should be right as rain come Christmas. 

However I decided to suck it up and whip up something. I used a vintage pattern from my stash that I got at the Chelsea vintage frock, if I remember correctly.

 And what ensued was a night of  random slashing and sewing of fabric, the addition and removal of a random inch here and there, ignoring pattern instructions and all that sort if thing (Malfy here I come). I'm ecstatic to say that something completely awesome emerged from the flames, and it is quite possibly my favourite thing I ever made.

I was worried about the pattern being too small, so I erred on the side of caution when cutting and putting it together. I reduced the back neck pleat by an inch and increased the placket by 1.5 inches. I sewed up the front shoulder dart but not the darts at the bottom front and back. I'm glad bowling shirts have suck a boxy front, they are so forgiving! I sewed the top back neck pleat down an extra inch or so, and I had kept the bottom pleat at the full 3 inches.

All of these alterations meant I had to adjust the collar, so I just traced It off and added in all the missing inches where I thought it made sense. Thankfully it worked! I had to cut out my placket facings a second time because I forgot about the extra I had added!

 I was pretty happy with the progress I had made in a couple of hours. 

I had intended to use the cuff from this pattern, but when I looked at the pattern piece held up to the shirt it kind of looked ridiculous. So what did I do? 

I looked at the pink fabric I had remaining, eyeballed it, and ripped a strip off. I used the cuff method from By Hand London's Victoria, and sewed the cuff onto the edge of the kimono sleeve, opened up the side seam, and sewed it all in flush. And it worked perfectly.

As I had already embroidered my name onto a piece of the poplin, I just cut around it and stitched it onto the front. I had intended appliquéing it properly, but there wasn't time for that sort of nonsense.

 The back was my biggest trial! I didn't want to let go of the lettering on the back, so after many iterations and trying different things, I had to settle for cutting out letters and stitching them down the centre. There was intended appliqué there too but this was down to the wire sewing at its best. Fraying edges and all. Some might say its a look? 

I was even running around all morning looking for buttons, and in the end, the ones I got in the first shop, as a back up, were prefect. More than perfect really, they are my favourite bit of the whole shirt!

And of course the pink buttonholes!

There's also some pink topstitching on the pocket, and the pocket is not functional because I decided I wanted to topstitch the top edge after I had stitched it on the shirt. Sorry (Not Sorry).

After all of that palaver, I ran for the train, and stripped on the street to get my shirt on before I met my girlies. I must have looked like a nutter :)

Anywho, what ensued was a wonderful evening of bowling, burgers and karaoke. Spoolette Karaoke is second to none ;)

I'll leave you with my pictures of the evening, hope it entices more Spoolettes into the fold!

Love Sally's face in this one!


Emmie xx
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs