Birmingham Fabric Haul

Monday, 24 June 2013

Hi all,

Just wanted to show you all the beautiful preciousssssesss that I got in Birmingham last weekend between the shops and the swap!

First of all, we had Barry's Fabrics. It was like walking into a heavenly planet! There were so many rolls of fabric, I spent the first 15 mins just walking up and down the aisles. Up and down. Up and down.
(trying not to trip up any of the other 30 sewists along the way!)

Eventually I found a cream cotton with roses that caught my eye, but it was £10/m and I didn't love it enough to justify the cash.

But then I stumbled across this beautiful heavy cotton stretch sateen (I think!) in a lovely cream and mauve floral swirl. I decided to get 3 metres. At £4.95/m it was definitely worth it!

Then I decided to pick up these beautiful checks. They looked so vintage, I couldn't help but picture the garments that they could create!

Then, as I was getting everything cut, I mentioned I had been looking for some Broiderie Anglaise (after some inspiration on the train from Elisalex), and I was taken a beautiful array! I had been looking for a simple white eyelet one, but I came across these beautiful embroidered ones. And in a Lemon and Pale Mint. They will be wonderful sundresses.

I love love love them! And thankfully you wonderful people let me cut back into the queue to finish off! My dodgy shoulders could hardly take any more carrying bolts of fabric! 

I was pleasantly surprised when 10% was taken off the bill, the girls had negotiated a super deal.
And that was my race winnings gone in one fell swoop... 3/m of the sateen and 2/m of the other four came to £49.00 after discount. And all wide rolls. Amazing.

At Cafe Soya, we had a wonderful lunch, and an even better swap.. Tables piled high with fabric and patterns.

Claire was the chairperson of the swap!

I brought a few bits of fabric that I had no use for, and a couple of patterns. One girls trash is another's treasure! I only took a couple of pieces of fabric to begin with, but after a while it became clear that some other cute bits weren't moving so I took a couple more. I have more than enough patterns!

This is what I picked up. I sometimes can't believe that people could let them go!

 I really love the green patterned piece in the back, very vintage. I know the green polka dot was from Amy. Thanks Amy! She had a cute little label on with the length noted. Something to remember to do next time! 
The blue fabric is nice and heavy and I think I'm going to make a diyCouture cape from it. I also really like the ivory lace. The pink is lovely but when I was putting it away I noticed it has dark tracing markings all over the back. Hopefully they come out in the wash??

I was actually just about to sign off the blog post here - but I've just remembered that I've forgotten the best bits!!

In the rag market, I basically came across this stall as soon as I walked in. He had the most amazing heavy cottons, and I had an internal mental war over spending! I had to walk away, but I couldn't stay away.
 Let's just say that they are on my credit card.
 At £10/m, it was the most I've ever spent per/m on fabric, but there's no way I could leave them behind.

Maps! In olden language, and in a beautiful muted tone. I got the last of the roll. Ooooohhh yeah.

And these beautiful China patterns. They are the most beautiful shades. I was trying to choose between for so long but I just had to get them both. There was a grey version too. I did try to haggle him down a little as I was buying 6 metres of fabric, but he wouldn't budge. In a nice way though!
I stupidly had gotten him to measure the map piece out for me, as he had thought there was only 1.5m left on the roll, but there was just over 2m. Silly me. 
But I really don't care. They are exactly what I have been looking for.

I am gutted I didn't get to Fancy Silks. But to be honest I couldn't even carry any more. 
You should've seen me running through the tube and train station to try and make an earlier connecting train in London. I must have looked like a mad woman.

Just so you know, I made the train! 
And of course, came upon a friend of Mr.G's, all sweaty, breathless and unable to speak or breathe. 

Squeeeee pretty fabric.

Love you Long time x

Sewing Space, Singer and Stash

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Hi all,

Sorry I've not posted over the last couple weeks, been working my way through the Frankenstein Dress (chickened out at the zip, but don't worry, it's in now!) and was at the Birmingham meetup last weekend, which has totally converted me to Birmingham fabric shopping. With a railcard, its only £14 return from Kent on a Saturday if you plan it far enough ahead. Which is cheaper than a travelcard to London for me. And, even with missing out on shopping in Fancy Silks, it beats Goldhawk Rd for me on this occassion! I'll have to take a few pics of my fabric haul tonight and pop them up for you to appraise!

Since I hadn't finished my dress, (although it is in the background of this post, whoops, pretend it's not there, shhhh) and because I had a belated spring cleaning, I decided to take some photo's to show you my sewing space.

My sewing space is basically the far end of my sitting room! Thankfully, due to the fact that my flat is the ground floor of a Victorian semi, so the ceilings are huge, and the rooms are large. I don't know how I would manage otherwise! I spread out a lot when I'm sewing and take over most of the room when I get into it.

So the space consists of my sewing table, my dining table, my mannequin and my ironing board. The sewing table has my Janome, and all of my accessories/implements/notions in random tins and boxes. I would kill for some shelving above the table but I'm renting so no holes in the wall for me. I keep my stash in boxes underneath the table so I can always see it and it can be close to me. My precious.

Some of my favourite things on my sewing table are the lamp that my Mr.G's mum got me. Its super strong and bright for when I'm hand sewing or unpicking. Usually unpicking. 

I also love the striped tin with all my scissors, its the perfect size and never falls over!

One thing missing from the picture is my corkboard, which I use when I want to trace things or cut things out on my lap. Which I do quite a lot when I'm lazy and they're small enough.

The clear boxes are a new addition during the spring clean and house zips in one, buttons in another and random notions in the last. I like that they are all segregated now. My patterns used to live on the sewing table too, but they were stressing me out because I couldn't rind a decent storage box, so they now live in the drawer beside the ironing board for the time being. The drawer next to that has some small fabric scraps and items I'm refashioning/altering. Let me rephrase that actually, item I'm (supposed to be) refashioning/altering.

My dining table is usually covered in scattered pattern pieces and random offcuts but today it houses my new pride and joy, my 1938 Singer 201k.

This was recommended to me by a quilter I befriended at work. For those who don't know about the different Singer models (and not that I do - but I know about this one!) - The 201k has been noted as the finest domestic sewing machine that the company ever made and many enthusiasts say that there is no machine that will stitch better, even today. I haven't had much use yet as I had issues with a ghost-ridden pedal, but my friend prefers to sew on it than her £2000 Bernina. 

Back when they were made they could cost up to 6 months wages! I have seen a receipt from 1940 which showed one would set you back about £13. They ceased production in 1961 as they became to expensive to make. The older ones weighed a tonne too, which I can definitely attest to! about 20kg I think, I can hardly move it. The pedal is fixed now and I've bought new needles so will use it for my next make I think! It runs so smooth, and from what I can remember, can sew through something like 6mm of leather like butter. Not that I'm a leather fiend myself but everyone gets bulky seams every now and then!

Lastly theres my stash. I have it in 3 boxes technically, but one is hidden in the back. That one has my wool & knitting needles and my embroidery hoops and embroidery threads. The two at the front are all my fabrics (although there may be a pair of curtains thats in that plastic bag). The top box is my most precious!

It is a bit ridiculously big for the amount of things I've made and the rate at which I sew. 
( I like to tell myself that you all have more than me to make myself feel better about buying!)

As I said, the top box is my most precious. What I like about buying new bits is that what used to be the most precious gets pushed so far down the line that I feel like I can use it without fear.

I'll give you a sneak peek into the box of treasures

I don't pre-plan purchases, or match patterns with fabric before I buy one or the other. I just fall in love. And I fall in love a lot. 
Thankfully, I feel like I've gathered so much beautiful stuff that I have a benchmark now. If something doesn't live up in price/quality/love quotient to what I already have, then its not worth it! And yes, most will be dresses. Mostly because I have no tops to wear with skirts. Which would make you think - make some tops so you can make skirts! But I also had a look through my wardrobe the other day and found out I have over 50 skirts already. Don't know how that happened.
Whoops. (not sorry).
Bit it does not take away from the fact mean I should make plan block colour tops.

So now I proposition each and every one of you. Show me your sewing space and, most importantly, show me your stash!

The Frankenstein-Dress (prologue)

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Just wanted to post a sneaky prologue of my new dress that I'm creating through another mash up of pattern pieces.

Am trying out my first Full Bust Adjustment! Here's a sneak peak at the adjustment on the right, and then a little trial of changing the darts on the left, as the massive horizontal dart with the vertical dart made for a square-ish boob!

An gonna work on it at the weekend.. If all goes amazingly well I might get to wear it to dinner at Goodwood House next weekend - or maybe to the Goodwood races :)


Time for Tilly's Mathilde Blouse!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to share my latest make with you all! It's another tester. 
I'm kind of calling them tester's because: 
(a) I have never done some of the skills required
(b) I'm using pretty cheap material to practice with
(c) I want to check the fit before I use nice fabric

But it is completely wearable!!
I do actually have nice fabric about to be dispatched for the real one.

I swear I'll make a non-tester one of these days! I'm trying to figure out what pattern to do next as I type and there is definite non tester fabric hanging on the clothes airer!

Sooo on with the make!

I was sewing Tilly's Mathilde Blouse, which I had been admiring from afar for ages! I thought it would be a good make for me because its a very clean shape and I would learn a lot from it, having never done a blouse, pin-tucks, buttons, buttonholes or sleeves!!

According to the sizing chart, I was a size five. I noted that the size 4 finished garment measurements would also cover my curves so I had a perusal of the maker's gallery and decided that I liked the slightly more fitted blouses, so I decided to bite the bullet and go on the smaller side. 

It took me a while to assemble the pdf pattern (I didn't realise how many pages there would be!). But once it was already to go, I did like how it was nice and stiff and not easily damaged like tissue patterns. 

Cutting out went fine, but I did get confused on the facings, etc, where it said 2+2 (which I now know means 2 fabric and 2 interfacing). I did however panic and cut out 4 fabric pieces initially (imagining some fancy facing with an enclosed seam - like a collar). 

Moving on from there, I had some initial problems doing the pin-tucks. Firstly I didn't look to see how they are formed and I did some completely incorrect pressing which had to be undone. Plus (ignoring Tilly's wise advice) I thought that I could get away with notches on the top and bottom of the tuck and forego the chalk marks.
This moves on to me abandoning the notches and remarking the entire blouse. Picture this happening quite a lot throughout this make. I like to skip ahead and then have to take 4 steps back. I also pinned each pintuck and pressed them before stitching

I'm also not sure as to whether you are supposed to see only the topstitching for the first pin-tuck or see all of them? I can see the first and then bits and pieces of the third - but blame that on my rushed chalkmarks.
I also decided to throw caution to the wind and use a contrast thread for the topstitching to bring out the coral in the fabric. The fabric I got for very cheap in Walthamstow, the buttons came in a green button mixed bag. I think the thread was from the London Meetup.

Everything went smoothly for a while after that, I even did some french seams (another new skill).

I had to do some research, and quite a bit of practice, before I figured out the buttonholes. Even when I decided I was ready, the first one went funny on me and I had to rip it out, which is surprisingly difficult.

Once I had finished the buttonholes I realised they were supposed to be on the other side of the back opening. Whoops. Clearly didn't read the sentence to the end. I did sort of also wing how big they should be and where the button should be placed. There was no real measuring involved, but I'm happy with how they turned out! I think I just need to stitch up the buttonholes a little bit, as one keeps trying to escape, as you can see in the photos. I also have realised I can get it on and off without opening them so i can stitch them as tight as I like.

Now I'm not the best gatherer, I just don't really have the knack. I have problems keeping it tight at either end, although I guess it should fade out into being straight at some point, or I could start the gathers earlier and finish later on the fabric. I think its okay but it could always be better. I also couldn't see when I was supposed to sew up the side seams, but when I was following the online instructions they were sewn up in the pictures when the sleeves went in so I did it just before that!

I'm pretty please with the blouse! I do think that the fabric was a little stiff to make it, a drapier one would definitely be nicer, as the sleeves stay quite puffy when my arms are relaxed!
I'm thinking I might even try it with a short sleeve (like Lauren's in the maker's gallery).
I think that with a plain fabric it will be such an easy item to mix in with my wardrobe. I have so many skirts that I never wear because I literally have only 2 tops that I like. 

Now to settle the age old battle. I like it tucked in, my boyfriend doesn't. 

Who wins??

It's not bad, I just like a bit of waist definition. 

I'll leave you with what is becoming my regular photoshoot outtakes:

I wasn't looking at anything, which is what makes the two faces funnier!

Till next time!

Emmie x

Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs