Monday, 4 January 2016

The Stowe Bag

I didn't get madly into sewing Christmas presents this year like I have in some previous years, mainly because the lead up to Christmas was so busy, but also because I'm never sure quite how well they go down with the recipients!!  So this year I only made one present - a knitting bag to house a sock knitting project.  I used Grainline's pattern - The Stowe Bag.  

I liked the look of this bag pattern when it came out in November.  It's a small or large bag specifically designed to house knitting projects with some nice internal pockets for all the requisite accessories.  However, I held off buying because it seemed a little pricey in comparison with the rest of the Grainline offering (for example, the PDF is the same price as the Cascade Duffle Coat PDF and the entire Portside Travel Set) and it is just a little bag at the end of the day, with only two real pattern pieces.   I wonder whether the price might have something to do with the fact that this pattern is offered in association with Fringe Supply Co, but there doesn't seem to have been much discussion on that, at least that I've seen so far.  Having now made it up once, I can envisage making a lot of these (production line style!) which will increase the value for money.  I think they'd make good project bags for friends who like other portable hobbies, such as colouring or cardmaking, as well as just a handy bag for all occasions.  

Anyway - when thinking up the 'knitting project' present I couldn't get this bag out of my head, so eventually I bit the bullet and bought it.  It's a very simple make and only took me a couple of short sessions to complete (despite losing one of my cut out pattern pieces and eventually having to cut a new one - thankfully this pattern is economical on fabric.  Still waiting for the original piece to turn up!).  As usual I left it right to the last moment and was therefore applying the binding on my last available evening before seeing the recipient, but no drama!

I used some floral fabric from IKEA to make it up.  This was a remnant I had grabbed on my way through the textile department.  The website says that the design is called Emmie Ros and it is 100% cotton.    It's reasonably thick so I thought it would work ok for this design, although I think in hindsight some sort of canvas would be better and give more structure.   I used some olive green bias binding from my stash that went well with the colour scheme of the fabric.   I think I got this in a job lot from ebay.  I french seamed the side seams to make it all nice and tidy, and I went with the option of sewing the corners to create a flat bottom to the bag.   All in all I was pleased at how professional the finished bag looked, and I had some nice comments expressing surprise that it was actually 'homemade'!  

So there it is - a very simple but effective present-friendly bag pattern.  One I'll definitely be making again.  

Monday, 29 June 2015

Sewing along

All has been a bit quiet on the blog of late, but I have been sewing sewing sewing!  I have also been planning more sewing, and will be taking part in the following sew-alongs during July.

The Outfit-along is hosted by knitwear designer Andi Satterlund (of and prolific sewist and blogger Lladybird.  I need to complete a cardigan and dress by the end of July to enter.  I'm making a Sewaholic Davie Dress [completed] and Andi Satterlund Hetty Cardigan [in progress].  The cardigan is giving me some grief at the moment, but I'm hoping to be finished by the deadline.  At least it will give me the motivation to press on!

The Sundress Sew-a-long is hosted by Heather over on the Handmade by Heather B blog.  I'm planning to make a Sewaholic Lonsdale in time for the holidays.  

I'll be back soon with some evidence of all the sewing!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

What next?

Well, MMM'15 is done, the kids are back at school following half term holidays and the dust has started to settle, so of course I'm spending time pondering where to go next with my sewing projects.   I have a whole list of possibilities but I'm having trouble making my mind up!  

This is really a 'getting my head sorted' kind of a post, but if you feel like chipping in with suggestions or ideas then please leave a comment.

Here's the shortlist:
  • More tops  -  This was my sewing dare during Me Made May, and the two top combos I made are in regular rotation.  The only problem with making more tops is that it has left me more dissatisfied with my RTW tops which are all getting a bit old and shabby and don't necessarily fit as I would like!  I could still do with making another Renfrew or two.  I have been holding off as I think I need to reprint the pattern since the size I made comes up a bit large on me.  I'd also like to make a couple more of the kimono-sleeve Ts, either with cotton lawn again, or perhaps with jersey.  They're pretty quick to make up now I have the pattern drawn out.  Of course, there's also the Mathilde Blouse - probably one of the first patterns I bought but have yet to make.  I cut the pattern out ages ago but never got any further.  I think it would look lovely in the red and white cotton lawn I used for my indian print top, and I think I just about have enough left.  
  • A dress!  -  Since starting sewing I haven't yet taken the plunge and made an actual dress.  I have a couple of patterns ready to go - the new Sewaholic Davie Dress, and Vogue V1395.  It does require a bit of work though and, let's face it, I'm pretty lazy!  I've printed the Davie dress PDF pattern, but I've been putting of sticking it together.  It's a lot of pages!!  However, I do have fabric ready for both a (hopefully) wearable toile, and for the final dress.   The Vogue V1395 needs tracing from the paper pattern, but I'll definitely have to make a toile for this one to check the length of the bodice and sort the armholes out (I hear they come up pretty gaping big!).    
  • Shorts  -  I have a pair of Grainline Maritime Shorts cut out from the last of my stretch denim (used for my Indigo Moss Skirt and Denim Moss Jean Skirt).  I just need a zip and they'll be ready to sew.  I'd like to get these sewn up before the holidays.  Unfortunately the weather here is not reflecting the fact that it is June and therefore summer (remember summer?) so I wouldn't be likely to get any wear out of these for a while at least!  I definitely lean more towards projects that I know I can throw on and wear the next day!  
  • Something for one of the kids  -  I still haven't sewn up the Brindille and Twig hoodie that I cut out a while ago.   I don't think this will take long to complete once I actually get going on it.  I've also bought the Made by Rae Geranium pattern in Emily's size to make some summery tunic style dresses to go with leggings, although I haven't got fabric sorted yet.  Still trying to find the motivation to do some unselfish sewing though!!  

So that's it - a quick summary of my plans and misgivings!!  What do you think I should sew next?  And what are you planning?  I'm going to sit down tonight and see if I can manage to prep at least one of these projects to get going on over the weekend.  

Ta ta for now! 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

MMM'15 - Week 4 and beyond

It's June!  Here is my final roundup and thoughts about Me Made May '15.

Day 22 -  Indian Print topwhite viscose jersey vest topDenim Moss Jean Skirt, shop bought slinky cardi.

Day 23 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), speckled knit skirt (to be blogged).  

Day 24 - Indian Print topwhite viscose jersey vest topAgatha cardispeckled knit skirt (to be blogged). 

Day 25 - Agatha cardishop bought stripey top (refashioned from Maternity top), Kelly/Moss mash up skirt.

Day 26 - Yellow Brick Road cardi, Denim Moss Jean skirt, shop bought sheer jersey top,  blue viscose jersey vest top.

Day 27 - Pashmina topblue viscose jersey vest topDenim Moss Jean skirt

Day 28 - Sweatshirt Renfrew, purple Renfrew (unblogged), refashioned jeans skirt (unblogged).

Day 29 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), speckled knit skirt (to be blogged), shop bought hoodie.  

Day 30 - Indian Print topwhite viscose jersey vest topDenim Moss Jean SkirtFebruary Lady Sweater.

Day 31 - Pashmina topblue viscose jersey vest topYellow Brick Road cardi, speckled knit skirt (to be blogged).

So, there you have it!  Wow, am I glad to be done with the daily selfies!!!  Here are my thoughts:

  • I fulfilled my pledge to wear at least two handmade garments a day throughout May, and some days I managed more items, or a whole outfit.   
  • There were a few days when I found the challenge tricky, when I would probably otherwise have just thrown on whatever I was wearing the day before, but overall I'd say that it was a helpful exercise.  
  • I had to really think about what I was going to wear each day, and how I was going to mix up outfits a bit.  Also, I don't have any 'slobby' handmade clothes, so I felt fairly well dressed all month. 
      • I quickly realised which areas I am short on (tops!) which in turn helped me to push ahead with sewing plans. 
      • I don't have any trousers!!  This goes for shop bought as well - I'm not happy wearing any of my old jeans or trousers now, so perhaps that's something to work on (although the thought of making trousers is pretty daunting!).  
      • Overall I think I confirmed to myself that I have been managing to make 'wearable' clothes, things that I will choose to pick up and wear daily over other shop bought things I own.   Now that Me Made May has finished I don't think my daily wardrobe will change very much, although it will be nice not to have to think quite so hard about what to wear in the mornings!  
      • Thanks Zoe for a great challenge! 

      Saturday, 23 May 2015

      The Four Tops

      If you read my last post you will know that I'm joining in with sewing dares and received a dare to 'make more tops for MMM'15' from Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow.  Well, I've made four!

      I abandoned the scout I've been playing around with as a bad job (not sure it'll ever be wearable) and I didn't even reach for my trusty Renfrew pattern.  Instead I went a bit freestyle and traced off a couple of RTW tops.   

      I've had this pashmina for a while that my mum gave me.  The colour, pattern and drape are all lovely and I thought it would make a great top if I used a simple Kimono sleeved pattern.  I looked at Portia's tips for refashioning pashminas, but I wanted something a bit less boxy and a bit more fitted.  In the end I traced this M&S RTW top:

      This top is actually made from a fine jersey, and although the shape is good the fabric is too sheer to wear on it's own and I tend to find the jersey sticks to whatever I wear underneath and stops the top from hanging properly.  I thought it might work better in a lightweight woven.

      I folded the top in two and traced it using a Sharpie and tracing paper, then added a half-inch seam allowance before cutting out.   

      Before embarking on sewing with the pashmina, I decided to try the pattern with another fabric as a test.  I used this cotton lawn that I've had in my stash for aaaages.  I've been holding onto it waiting to find the right thing to use it for, but I finally just got impatient to be able to wear it so I decided to throw caution to the wind and use it for my test garment.  It's lovely and soft, but still presses well, and the print reminds me of indian handblock designs.  

      As the fabric was so fine and liable to fray I french seamed the side and shoulder seams.  I double turned the hem and armholes but I had to make some bias binding for the neck.  I've used shop bought binding a fair bit, but this was my first time (successfully) making and using self bias, as in I've tried it before and gotten into a perfect mess!  Thankfully it wasn't as bad as I'd remembered from earlier attempts and the self bias works so much better than any stiffer shop bought binding would.

      Also, I *ahem* sewed my bias on back to front, so instead of turning in I had to turn it out so it is visible on the outside.  Thankfully I think I prefer it like this, so I could pretend I meant to do it!!

      I was pleased to find that the top is a good fit and is definitely wearable.  However, once I'd made it up and tried it on I realised very quickly that I'd need an under layer to protect my modesty and stop me from getting cold!  The fabric is pretty sheer!  I had some white viscose jersey in my stash so I grabbed an existing vest top and traced it off to make my own.  The RTW vest top was too short, but otherwise a good fit, so I simply lengthened my pattern by a few inches.   This was such an easy make.   I was really rushing to get it done as I wanted to wear my top the next day so the stitching of the binding/straps is a bit iffy, but even so I'm happy with the result and it only took me a couple of hours from start to finish.

      Here's a terrible selfie of me wearing these tops during Me Made May.  I'm sacrificing outdoor photos for the chance to get this post out before the holidays!  Next week is half term here in the UK so the kids are off school.  This means sewing and blogging are unlikely to happen! 

      So, I repeated exactly the same process to make my pashmina top, although this time it was quicker as I already had my patterns.  It would have been really quick, but the fabric was not as co-operative as the cotton lawn!

      It was shifty and stretchy and hard to cut properly.  I've no idea what it's made of, but I did manage to melt it a couple of times when I was making the binding!  Thankfully I didn't melt the top itself and eventually it all came together.  

      I french seamed again, and bias bound the neckline.  It's still pretty fragile so I'll have to be careful not to stretch it whilst wearing it, unless I want to pop a seam!

      This top is even more sheer, so I made up a second vest top out of blue viscose jersey - the same that I used for my viscose jersey renfrew.  

      All in all, four tops that I am very happy with.  I expect they will all get worn to death!  Thank you Gillian for the dare - it really gave me the boost I needed to get these tops made, and to attempt some pretty speedy sewing.  Sewing dares rock!

      MMM'15 - Week 3

      Day 15 - Yellow Brick Road cardi, Indigo moss skirt, shop bought polkadot t-shirt.

      Day 16 - February Lady Sweater, Indian Print top (sewing dare top), white viscose jersey vest top (sewing dare top), Denim Moss Jean Skirt.

      Day 17 - Refashioned edged cardi, shop bought white t-shirt, white viscose jersey vest top, Maria Moss skirt.

      Day 18 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), Denim Moss Jean skirt, shop bought hoodie.

      Day 19 - Sweatshirt Renfrew, blue viscose jersey vest top, refashioned jeans skirt (unblogged).  

      Day 20 - Viscose Jersey Renfrew, Indigo Moss skirt, shop bought jumper, crazy print infinity scarf (unblogged).

      Day 21 - Pashmina top (sewing dare top), blue viscose jersey vest top (sewing dare top), Yellow Brick Road card, Denim Moss Jean skirt

      Boy, the weather sucked this week!  What happened to spring?  By Wednesday I was back to wearing multiple layers and waterproof winter boots!  Other than that it's been a good week, and this roundup gives a sneak peek of the new tops I made for my Sewing Dares challenge - to be blogged shortly!  

      One more week to go...

      Tuesday, 19 May 2015

      Sewing dares

      So Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow has been handing out sewing dares this month, and I've thrown my hat into the ring.  Thankfully she went easy on me and my dare is 'to make more tops for Me Made May', something I had been talking about but now need to get down to actually doing!

      Thanks for the dare Gillian, and watch this space....

      Thursday, 14 May 2015

      MMM'15 - Week 2

      Day 8 - Sew Liberated Esme Top, February Lady Sweater, Denim Moss Jean Skirt.

      Day 9 - Yellow Brick Road cardi, shop bought stripey top (refashioned from Maternity top), Kelly/Moss mash up skirt.

      Day 10 - Agatha cardi, charity shopped stripey top, Kelly/Moss mash up skirt.

      Day 11 - Yellow Brick Road cardi, Crazy print Renfrew, Denim Moss Jean skirt.

      Day 12 - Agatha cardi, shop bought breton top, Kelly/Moss mash up skirt.

      Day 13 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), Sweatshirt Renfrew, Fatface PJ bottoms.

      Day 14 - Turquoise Sorbetto (unblogged), refashioned jeans skirt (unblogged I think!), shop bought slouchy jumper

      Wow, quite a lot of repeats this week, especially around the weekend when I was full of cold and lacking imagination!  No new makes yet to help fill the gaps - I'm still working on finding the time.  On Day 13 I spent most of the day in workout/running gear (I haven't yet tried making anything in that line), hence the slobby lounging clothes I changed into for the evening.

      Wednesday, 13 May 2015

      The Kelly Moss mash up skirt

      This skirt has been a long time in the making!  Back in 2013 the Kelly Skirt pattern by Megan Nielson was one of the first sewing patterns I bought.  I had seen a lot of versions of this skirt on the web and loved all of them.  The fabric is a lovely rich navy blue corduroy (the photos don't really do the colour justice) bought from Coventry Indoor Market.  This is what the skirt looked like when I first made it:

      The original Kelly Skirt

       Nice huh? However....

      I made the skirt without incident.  I liked the way it looked flat, and I even liked the way it looked on, sort of.  I just didn't feel comfortable wearing it.  Such a shame!  I think it might have been something to do with the amount of fabric it used, or the way the pleats fell, but I felt like I was wearing a bell!  It probably didn't help that the fabric I used was quite heavy, without much drape.

      I tried playing around with the proportions to remove some of the excess fabric.  I tried reducing the size of the pleats, taking in the side seams, taking wedges out of the waistband, but the shape of the skirt really didn't work if you took the extra fabric away, so eventually my poor Kelly skirt was left to languish on the UFO pile.  

      In the end the thought occurred to me that I could remake the skirt completely using the Moss skirt pattern, so out came the seam ripper.  I cut the back skirt panels pretty much as the Moss skirts pieces, although I kept the old hemline.   I also cut a yoke and sewed up according to the Moss instructions.  

      I didn't cut much off the front pieces as I didn't want to lose the pockets and I needed a bit of ease to prevent the buttons straining.  I couldn't keep the deep inverted box pleats at the front though because the poofiness just wasn't working for me.  Instead I folded out a couple of inches either side of the buttonband and sewed it down.  

      I kept a small pleat on each side, near the pocket to add interest and keep some of the spirit of the original design, but the front of the skirt is fairly flat which I think is more flattering on my body type.

      Here's what the skirt looks like flat now, compared to the original Kelly Skirt:

      Original Kelly Skirt                                               Kelly/Moss mash up skirt

      I didn't take as much care with the insides as I have with other skirts.  I wasn't prepared to invest the time since I wasn't sure whether the skirt would end up wearable, so the pockets are just pinked and I cheated flat felling the back seams - I trimmed the seams, zigzag stitched them together and then sewed them down flat with a parallel line of straight stitch.  It may fray a little but it's sufficient.   I tried doing the same to the side seams but it was distorting the hang of the skirt so I ripped it out and bound them instead as they would have frayed badly otherwise.  I hummed and hawed a bit about the hem as I wanted to increase the length from what it had been on the Kelly Skirt.   A double turned hem would not have worked due to all the folded out excess creating bulk, so I bound the bottom edge and turned up once.  

      I love the way the buttons and buttonband look.   I don't have any other button up skirts in my wardrobe and it's nice to have a change from the flyfront design.

      It's not perfect.  There's definitely something not quite right about the side seams from the point where the pockets end, and the finishing inside is less than perfect, but I think it's eminently more wearable now.  This is a silhouette that I am going with a lot at the moment (as evidenced by my MMM'15 pictures!) but I think that's ok.  It's tricky to branch out when you sew for yourself as you don't always know whether that 'new shape' is going to suit you until you've already invested a lot of hours into making it, and then it's pretty discouraging to find that it doesn't look how you hoped.  Quite different from shopping trips when you can try on a stack of clothes and still leave without buying a thing.  I'm getting better at understanding what styles work for me, and how to fit to my shape - just what sewing should be about!

      Thursday, 7 May 2015

      MMM '15 - Week 1

      My first year of joining Me Made May has started - hooray!  Here's my round up for week 1 - get ready for some terrible selfies! 

      Day 2 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), Sweatshirt Renfrew, Indigo Moss skirt.  

      Day 4 - Shop bought T-shirt, Yellow Brick Road cardigan, denim Moss jean skirt

      Day 5 - Purple Renfrew (unblogged), Indigo Moss skirt, shop bought hoodie.

      Day 6 - Turquoise Sorbetto (unblogged), Maria Moss skirt, shop bought slouchy jumper.   

      Day 7 - Agatha cardi, shop bought stripey T-shirt, Kelly-Moss mash up skirt (ready to be

      Well, I'm sticking to my min. 2 garments a day, but this is turning out to be a little trickier than I had expected.  I definitely need more tops!  I may have to do some emergency sewing to fill that gap.

      Happy Me Made May-ing everyone!