Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Reflection on a year of sewing.. I am still not very good at it.

As I prepare for my "100th post, about a year since starting a blog, at the end of 2011 and around 50 followers" post round up, I have to say that this year has definitely been a year of errors. Pretty much the first thing I did with my new sewing machine was put the needle in and wedge my finger somehow under the feeddogs with the needle embedded in it, with the only resource pushing it in much further so I could get the right angle to get it out. Ow. Since then I have proved I have a talent for cutting the wrong bit off things, cutting out small pattern pieces from the middle of bigger ones (when I had no spare fabric to fix it of course) and my personal and ongoing favourite, sewing the front of something to the back that I've accidentally got caught underneath. I misread instructions, don't measure the grain-lines, melt my non fusible interfacing trying to make it stick to things, forget to plug the iron in and think its broken, insist on doing everything in half the time it ought to take and forget if I have included seam allowances. But still, I thought I was halfway competent, until last night.. I am making my flatmates a skirt each for Christmas, and I had rattled through most of an orange pencil skirt for Lindsey and needed her to try it on to see if it fit. I therefore threw in the zip, with remarkable ease and pretty straight for a first try. I was quite pleased. Until she tried to try it on. I had sewed the zip in UPSIDE DOWN. with the pull at the bottom and the unopenable bit at the waist. Brilliant. Sometimes the mind just boggles.

Luckily the thing needed taking out a bit anyway as I hadn't added enough ease for her to sit down properly, so I would have had to re-do it anyway. No harm done. Except to my ego and view of myself as a person with 2 braincells to rub together!

Despite all these flaws and idiocies and mistakes, I still love sewing, and working out how to make things fit together and fit people. One of the things Hannah took away from our recent sewing lesson was that most mistakes are fixable, and teach you something, and I really like that about sewing (though I am not sure what I have learned form the zip incident, except not to be a numpty!).

Even with all my mistakes, I am still very unafraid to sew and try new things. Maybe it is because of them-I can clearly mess up something up if I have done it 30 times just as easily as something new! Some times new stuff is tricky and you aren't sure about the end result, like FBAs (I still can't get the flat pattern versions to work properly) and others it is glorious and brilliant, like my bias strip maker! Last night after my depressing zip low point, I had a fun high from trying my first self covered buttons! A bit fiddly getting the material to hook on but then they just clicked in and looked like proper buttons - awesome!

How about you guys-do you find that the mistakes make you question your sanity? or spur you on to learn more?

Monday, 5 December 2011


Christmas is coming! The geese are getting fat etc. We should be putting up our decorations soon, and to increase the amount we have (for some reason everytime you get decorations back out again there seems to be less of them..) I decided , based on too much time spent on Pinterest (for all those who have not yet experienced Pinterst, only click on the linbk of you are prepared to lose a lot of time to it, sooo addictive) to make some bunting! We have a long hall in the flat, and the bunting should liven it up nicely. I have made 1 string so far, and I am going to make another.

Now there are loads of tutorials on-line, but a fair number of them involved more work than I was planning on. I guess if you are making the bunting for a child's bedroom, or outside, or more long term, or you are far more detail oriented than I am, you might want to hem the flags, but it didn't seem necessary for our Christmas decks.  I therefore came up with a basic hybrid version. I cut the flags out of jolly purple and white material (that's the colour our other stuff is) that I got out of the remnant bin at Edinburgh Fabrics. I have to say that bunting is super fabric efficient, I got about half a yard of each and I could probably make enough bunting to cover most of Edinburgh! I then sewed it on to some bias binding. This part was extremely satisfying, I just put the top of the flag under the top fold of the bias, and sewed it in. It therefore looks super neat on the front and back, for no effort whatsoever!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Oooh, what a good idea

Now, when it comes to inspiration in the blog world, I am not hugely adventurous. I tend to think the same things are nice all the time, and not really consider how I could adapt other people's ideas into stuff for myself if they aren't my usual thing.

Case in point, I am always seeing people's ideas for refashioning the endless T-shirts they own which they feel are a bit blah, embellishing, chopping about, and turning into dresses. My reaction to these has always been- "spare T-shirts-what spare T-shirts?" I can never find T-shirts I like, which are long enough for not continually riding up to my waist showing off the muffin top and tummy, or so long they are dresses. More importantly, when I do, they always end up shrinking over time to be too short. So I never have spare T-shirts.

But then I saw a post on the Refashion Co-op by Amy (her first post-so welcome!) where she mentioned that when her daughter grew so her tops were too short she sewed them onto skirts and made dresses..... a light bulb clicked! Now I am sure I have seen many people sew skirts onto t-shirts before but it was always phrased in the "spare T-shirts" category, which I never felt applied to me- but "too short T-shirts" -YES! I hate fitting  my upper half, and doing fiddly sleeves and necks and stuff, and I have several tops which have all this pre done! (obviously I wont bother with the classic 'too short and now oddly wide' ones).

So that is now my plan, especially for a top I wore the other day which drove me mad riding up. So.. ideas..

Amy sewed on a quick gathered skirt for hers, which is not going to work for me that simple. But it's very cute, with its colour matching from the yellow on the skirt and top.

There is the classic, 'just sew on a skirt and make it look like seperates where the top doesn't ride up' approach so it looks more like this.

Anthropologie has this multi knit version-perhaps I could attach tops to other knit items...

I shall have to see what I can quickly whip up! (I will add it to my list....)

Monday, 28 November 2011


No pictures yet, but I can inform you that the Glee dress is finished! Only a year in the making, and 8 blog mentions later..

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Joan Process Dress, and how to draft darts on a dressform

One of the main reasons I was inspired to start sewing was my inability to get the clothes I wanted that fit me. the sort of dresses I had in mind were very fitted and brightly coloured and vintage in character. Lets face it, like pretty much every one else on the planet, I wanted to be Joan Holloway. She just wears such a stunning selection of fabulous form fitting clothes in gorgeous jewel tones.

Of course, being me, despite sewing, I have still not made anything remotely like this. Until now! When out with Hannah I picked up some lovely bright blue jersey (called Process Blue in the Pantone system apparently)  to have a stab at a Joan dress. 

The pattern I am using is one that I found in a bulk ebay order a while ago-in my size! Woman W400, a slim fitted dress for knits. I was particularly drawn to it as the lady has it in such a bright green. 

After my slightly disastrous prewashing, I cut out the pieces. I have bought a lot so that I can recut the front bodice if it all goes wrong. I cut out the skirt, back and sleeves as the pattern, but added 3 inches of length to the back bodice, as getting the waist in the right place is always worth checking.

Now I hate FBAs. They always seems to end up more trouble than they are worth, you faff and faff and it fits just as badly when you are done (this may just be me!). Luckily it can be all much more straightforward if you cut out the middle process and just fit on your body or a dress form. To do this, I extended parts of the pattern for the front before I cut it out. I added a little bit on at the waist (as I don't wear a corset) and then 1.5 inches at sides level with the bust (the amount the width was too small plus a bit) and added an additional3 inches to the length (in addition to the 3 inches for the overall length change as I did on the back). (If you zoom in on the image here you will be able to see what I did (the orange notes were reminders for me of how much I added)

I then sewed the shoulder seams to the back and put it on my dress form. Shapely no?

To be clear at this point, I have put the bodice on the correct way round, as I am making a pattern piece off this. If I am just going to sew it up, if I am doing a refashion for example, or its all going to be very fiddly, I put it on inside out, and then once you have pinned everything you can just sew it up.

I pinned the side seams at the bottom and top, leaving the bit that might be a side dart loose. I then assessed the back and arm hole bits to see if the rest fits. The back on mine is a little bunchy, and the arm hole is folding oddly, so will need to be included in the dart to take the excess out.

I then just pinched out the extra material to make the side dart. I am just trying to remove the excess from the extra length of the material at the side where it doesn't have to go over any boob. I am being careful here because it is a stretch material. As you can see I have pulled out some of the excess in the arm pit area and hence adjusted the bit at the top of the side seam I pinned at the start. (if you make big adjustments to this area remember so you can make corresponding changes to the sleeve). Pin along the seam, but use a pin to note where you want the point of the dart to end.

Do the same on the other side, it doesn't have to be exactly the same, but it should look the same on the body. If you are doing a muslin you can just do half and then repeat on the pattern. If you are not, you need to match the bust points and the direction of the dart so it doesn't look wonky. 
The area below the bust is still all baggy as you no longer need at the width of  material at this point. 

Pin the middle of the bodice so that it doesn't slip around. 

Then just pinch out the dart as you need. 

Once you have done both sides, you need to mark on where the waistband should be. Some people  mark the waist on the dress form but I find it more useful to have the markings on the outside of the clothes I am making.  I have a big piece of elastic that I just use like a belt so I can see how it will sit on the body. 
Once you have all this, mark on your lines with chalk, or baste along the seams if easier. 

Then take it off and unpin it, and lay your fabric over the paper pattern piece. Poke through with a pin along all the seams and then when you remove the fabric, you will have pin marks in the paper you can join together to mark your darts on the pattern. 

Now I just have to sew up the darts and then move on to the rest of the dress!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I may have created a monster!

Well I taught Hannah how to make a skirt-and it went really well! I think she may be a natural, by the end she was sewing with far more control of the pedal speed than I manage! (I just tend to bash it down and go full speed-frequently in the wrong direction!)

I made a substantial (accidental!) effort to show her that mistakes happen and can be easily fixed-there were several mistakes-all of them mine! I caught some material in under the bit I was sewing round the zip, and had to seam rip it, and we cut out the pieces of the waistband the wrong way up on the fabric (should have turned the pattern pieces over) but luckily on this pattern that doesn't matter at all. My major error however, was just me being a complete idiot (seems to be a theme with this skirt!) as I carefully bought some nice fusible interfacing, but when I tried to iron it on it wasn't sticky..doh! I had got the non fusible kind. It was fine as it gave Hannah a chance to practice sewing on none visible seams so all was well. Only it wasn't-as when we came to iron the first proper seam, I realised that I had not plugged the iron in properly. So it was fusible... and I had just sewed it into a piece I had to iron, with the fusible side up. sigh. It was fine however, and once the whole thing was assembled it will have all stuck itself together nicely!

Barring my errors however it went extremely well. My first proper project was a bit of a trial, and somewhat demoralising. I was keen that this wouldn't be for Hannah. She was extremely excited and seems to have the bug well and truly! We had a nice rummage through all my patterns and fabric getting overexcited! By far the triumph of the skirt was the pattern matching. I didn't even try to match the pattern as we cut it, I am not very good at that sort of thing anyway and it would have made the cutting out stage last forever and been unduly scary. But without any effort at all the front waistband matches almost exactly, and the sides and back make pretty chevrons! We had made the decision to just cut the front on the fold rather than as two pieces so we didn't have to match that, but I was slightly gobsmacked at how well it turnd out!

can you see the waistband seam-I can't!

Monday, 21 November 2011

hmmm - need to think before i wash..

This weekend me and my future sister in law went fabric shopping. Hannah wants to make her own clothes so I am going to teach her! (I am quite excited!). We decided that her first project should be a Ginger skirt, as it is fairly simple but looks good when done. We will be using a normal zipper rather than invisible, not because I think she can't handle it, but because I don't seem to be able to get my invisible zipper foot to work recently. I think in any case a normal zipper will be more helpful in explaining itself (I always find invisible ones a bit counter-intuitive somehow..).

So we went to find fabrics, checking out the Aladdin's cave that is Edinburgh Fabrics, and going gushy over the bright designer patterns in John Lewis (followed by snooping round the new Anthropologie shop!). I think it is very safe to say that we will not be good influences in terms of restraining each other's fabric buying! Hannah got some lovely purple and yellow spotty cotton, and I splurged on some pink Martha Negley flowery cotton and bright blue double knit. I then carefully told Hannah to wash her fabric before we sewed with it, like the wise sewing sage that I am. Or not as it turns out, as I then popped my own fabrics in to wash together and never thought that bright blue fabric might not be entirely colour fast yet... So now I have slightly purple flowers on a pale blue background...I will give it another wash later and hopefully some of it will come back out, though I don't really mind-it is still very pretty! But not clever.

before the bluing..

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Private Benjamin top

I found this top in a charity shop, and liked the colours, but the shape was terrible. One for the reasons I don't have a lot of rtw non stretchy tops, is the general approach to make them massive and completely shapeless.

It is a stylised camouflage print with a nicer set of colours. But it makes me look like a sack of potatoes.

I look extremely glum in this before picture.. As you can see top is super unflattering.

So I put some long darts in at the front and back, and took in the side seams, added a (really badly sewn in!) zip and made it fit me. Much better!

Friday, 11 November 2011

hmmm.. macaron

A while ago, I picked up a copy of Macaron by Colette Patterns on a whim (oh me and my pattern addiction).

It then sat unused on my desk for several months. It is a lovely pattern, but it is a very cute pattern, and I don't really do cute, partially as when you put cute on my fairly tall curvy figure it can just look a bit "we gave all the bridesmaids the same dress and we picked it to suit the 10 year old". There a lot of gorgeous Macarons out there, but none of them really grabbed me.. until this week's Sew Weekly challenge-Pin ups, when Macaron veteran Adey moved away from her previous jolly colourful ones, and made a grown up sexy version. Excellent. 

Now I can't really pull off animal prints, but the less cute version has inspired me to consider some different colour options. The Macaron is a dress that screams out for colour blocking, but how to to that without it looking too girly or (as mentioned by snugbug) too much like those strapless dresses with white tshirts sewn in that we all wore in the 90s..

A bit of rooting around on the old image search and pinterest threw some interesting options.

Luxe it up a bit with some glamorous yet still officy gold satin and navy

dorothy perkins us
Some lovely bright blue, keeping the black for the yoke
Cut a new panel out form the front and mix up the colours even more

shabby apple
Team a nice conservative grey with something wilder 
I was torn, between smart useful stuff I might actually wear, and zany bright colours... and then I spotted this..
eva longoria in victoria beckham

it is decided. at some point, I am going to make a Macaron with a bright red body and a dark red yoke. I may have to get on with some other projects first though!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Costume making fun!

Well its that time of year again, the time when I take on more than I can chew in the way of ambitious costume making and then succeed by the skin of my teeth mainly through blind luck. Having said that, I was far more prepared this year and started well in advance, but it still took slightly longer than I anticipated! I am very pleased with the outcomes however, even though the finish is pretty sloppy all round (hey-they're only costumes right?).

So first off, the main event, Lindsey's Corpse Bride costume. Always a popular costume choice, it is made more tricky as you need a battered looking strapless wedding dress. Lindsey was toying with adapting something she already had but I thought it would a fun challenge (which it was) to try and make a strapless dress. Luckily, I already had the perfect pattern. Gertie, lovely talented seamstress and super blogger, has done a really detailed on line sewing master-class on a strapless 50s style dress for Craftsy, which I had already bought. It uses a lot of cool techniques and finishing that I have never tried, and I intend at some point to make one for myself. This seemed an excellent opportunity, both to make a kick-ass costume, but also to try out the pattern.

As it was only a costume, and Lindsey obviously wasn't going to be up for spending masses of money on special features like boning, a lot of the luxury finishing details were not going to be included, particularly as the Corpse Bride's dress is ragged and old, and therefore I didn't have to do any hemming (yay!). Rather than wasting fabric on a muslin, as I was using very cheap sheeting, I took the plunge and made most of the bodice straight off the pattern, (the class uses a modified Burdastyle pattern), extending it at the bottom by eye to make the bodice longer. I have to say I was very pleased with this as it came out absolutely perfect and fit Lindsey like a glove.

I then had to make the bra cups; as the pattern is drafted for a b cup, and Lindsey is far bustier, I had to redraft the pieces, luckily Gertie covers this very clearly in the class, so I had no problem, you just allow a massive seam allowance on the pieces and then shape the pieces on the body, and draw your pattern on drafting style. I then made up the proper cups and sewed them on (the only tip I would say at this point if you are adjusting for larger boobs is that while the bodice pieces fit perfectly, the under bust seam where the cups connect had to be altered). As an exciting new technique, I made inner bust cups out of thin cotton wadding - this is definitely one of those great techniques which is totally satisfying, you just cut out the same size pieces and sew them together along the seams with a zigzag and it all curves around and makes a cup automatically, -so easy!. As the sheeting was pretty see through, I underlined the cup pieces (and had the wadding) and made a lining for the rest using some scraps of thicker cotton sheeting. I confess I did not sew all this is properly, Gertie has a load of lovely hand stitching details for finishing the inside, but as this was a costume I sewed it in paper bag style along the top of the back, and then along the zip, and left the rest alone! I was going to finish the neckline properly, but as we were going to end up pinning it to here bra anyway for support, and she was concerned about getting blue body paint all over the bra, we decided to just fold the top seam over the bra and pin on the inside.

I made the skirt very simply, out of 2.5m of material, taking in big tucks at three points, the largest at the back, and then wrapping it over at the front and sewing the whole lot onto an elastic waistband.

Lindsey and I were very pleased with the dress, it came together really easily, especially for something with an FBA, and the final effect was really impressive. The dress was very flattering and Lindsey said it was really comfortable, particularly for a strapless dress. She was excited by having something fit her so perfectly! Gertie's video instructions were so useful, and I will definitely be trying this (with straps) for myself at some point. Lindsey made her headdress (which included handmaking flowers -beautiful!) and her makeup was awesome!

For a smaller effort on my part, for Charlie's Sookie costume I only had to make the apron/money belt, and it went together super easy. You cant really tell from the picture, which I photoshopped to make it more True Bloody, but its a standard sort of pocketed apron. I used a dark green twill and just folded a hemmed rectangle in half with pockets sewn to divide up the folded bit, and then made some straps. I did all the seams quite well and it looks quite professional and sturdy, should she ever need to do any waitressing it should hold up well! She looked very cute in her blonde wig!

For my costume, as Valeria from Carry On Screaming, I had to make a very fitted, vampy red gown. I chose a stretch velvet fabric, so that I could get the figure hugging curves more easily. As I didn't have a pattern even remotely suitable, and I would have had to alter anything extensively anyway, I decided to cut out the middle man and draft it myself on my dress form Agnetha. The skirt was pretty easy, I just cut out two pieces and sewed them together, leaving a slit at the front and sewing in a third triangular piece in the back for a flare and train.

For the bodice, I draped pieces of fabric over the form and just folded and cut it until it was the look I wanted. I sewed quickly along the seams with a contrasting thread and then took it off and sewed it up. As you may have gathered from my previous post, it then looked like a sack. My theory that I had done the shoulder seams wrong proved correct and once I had taken them up a bit and pulled the side seams, it fit very well. I has a slight hiccup with the sleeves, as I cut them off an existing top, but they turned out WAY to small so I had to do them agian, which were still absolutely skin tight, but wearable! I am ashamed to say that I did not attach them well, they turned out rather pleaty and poofed at the shoulders, which as this dress is practically off the shoulder wasn't ideal, but by that point I didn't really care so they stayed! I also didbnt bother hemming the neckline, as it might have been a bit low otherwise, and I wasn't sure that without proper facings it would look any better.

The dress proved somewhat difficult to get on, as it is extremely fitted, but it looked fabulous on and was really comfy and fun to wear! I put huge amounts of product in my hair (it may take a while to get it all out, it's still pretty sticky today!) and sprayed it black and wore an awful lot of make-up, it was really fun to be that vampy!

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Sometimes when cruising through the blog world, you see an item that makes you think "I could make something similar to that maybe with a different fabric, maybe different sleeves", and then sometimes you see something and think "I WANT THAT! I WANT EXACTLY THAT!".

Tilly's new maple leaf skirt is the second option, I WANT IT! I will have to go out and find all the bits very very soon.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

How little it takes to dent enthusiasm..

I hit a slight wall last night. With my costume. I have the classic problem of knowing that something is a remarkably close fit for you, then trying it on and it looking horrendously misshapen. Now I drafted this on my dress form, which is my shape. and then tacked along the seam lines, and then sewed it up. So I know it is close. but it really doesn't look that way. I have clearly just got one or two seams a bit wonky, and it's throwing the whole thing off. But which seams? gah. I shall have to have another look at it later. Given that it all looks very low and the darts seem about waist height, I am assuming the shoulder seams may be heavily involved. Also  the bodice isn't attached to the skirt, so that might make quite a lot of difference. And I haven't put the sleeves on yet. And I definitely need to take it in a bit at the sides. I am hoping that these tweaks will make it perfect. But currently I have to admit it doesn't look very promising.. well we shall see.

On the plus side, I made Charlotte an apron. And that went very well (it wasn't very complicated but still, given yesterdays hit rate it could still have gone very wrong!)

Here is my new ham. It also doubles well as a massive pincushion I have discovered.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Well, whilst it may seem as if my promises of sewing are not coming true, they are! I have sewn some stuff! I am currently working on the costume part of my brief (as it has a deadline-I do love a deadline) and it’s actually going fairly well so far. Me and Lindsey hopped along to the Edinburgh fabrics (along with half of Edinburgh, was slightly busier than normal!) and picked up some goodies. Now I am not going to tell you much of the results so far as about half the people who read this blog will probably be at the party we are going to, and it would be a shame to spoil the surprise. However, I can say that I amused the flatmates a fair bit last night doing some draping on my dress form in the kitchen watching Die Hard, if only as bits kept falling off/out of the dress form (I really need to fix her stand a bit, she keeps falling over).

I have to say that especially when working on things for myself, I am a bit of a lover of draping. Patterns tend to fit so badly that I end up changing every single line anyway. Of course you often need somewhere to start, and they have fun details that I wouldn’t think of, but I do find them somewhat infuriating! My general approach to things currently is to mash 3 or so different patterns together, on the dress form. I’m not entirely sure this is the best way! My costume however is perfect for draping as it doesn’t need to be perfect, and is made out of stretchy material, so I can just pull it around until it looks nice. Lindsey’s is going to be more tricky, as it is more fitted and has some new techniques to try out. It has however inspired me (due to lots of curved seams) to stop oohing over Sunni's gorgeous tailor's hams, which are too expensive for me sadly due to overseas postage, and just make one myself. Yay! I now own a tailor's ham, and I can see it being very useful in pretty much every project I do. Well worth the time and effort stuffing it (by far the hardest bit-they are very simple to make).

In other news, I am slightly sad that my recent enjoyment of the classic period drama the House of Elliot has finished its repeat on ITV3. I do love a sewing drama (its about 2 sisters that set up a dressmaking business), even though I kept thanking my lucky stars I didn’t grow up in that time as those clothes would have looked awful on me!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pattern swap plans

I a mentioned in my previous post, I am taking part in an international pattern swap with the Sew Weekly's community site. I sent off some bits to a lovely blogger, and another lovely blogger sent me some things!

My sendee, Tracy, sent me a fun jacket and skirt pattern Maudella 5603 that reminded her of Bonnie and Clyde (and I can see why!), a copy of Threads magazine (which I have never read before-its fun!), and a beautiful Liberty needle book. Thanks Tracy!

So now I have to work out what to do with the pattern. The temptation with vintage patterns is to remake the cover image, as they always look really cool and fun, plus they are always drawn to flatter the drawn people. In this sense they are the complete opposite of modern patterns, where they seem to try and make things look as hideous and sack like as possible on the illustrations. Despite how much the idea of a blue striped Bonnie and Clyde jacket appeals, in reality it would probably not be fantastically useful. sigh. I should totally go shoot up some places and be a robber, then I would be able to make much more interesting choices! So, probably a better idea to go with something more like view 2, the shorter green one.

So, the variations I must make.
Obviously whatever I do it is going to need an FBA. Luckily it's princess seamed so that should be reasonably straight-forward.
As the jacket is double breasted, it could look a little bulky on me, but the double breasted bit is only on the lower half, so as long as I adjust the FBA/neckline so that it crosses in the correct place, the buttons should be below the bust, and hence fine (plus they might do up-a bit of a novelty on jackets for me!)
I am going to make version 2, which is shorter and has a belt. I'm not sure about the belt yet, I will consider when I get that far.
I have never made a proper jacket/coat before.. scary! so it involves a lot of things I theoretically know how to do but have never really tried properly, like full lining, bound buttonholes and welt pockets (the pockets are only on version 1, but I fancy popping some in anyway for practice).
I am unsure whether to make it a coat or a jacket.. not sure which would be more useful. The coat probably, but I haven't worked much with thick fabrics, and there is rather a lot of new in this project already..Plus there is the danger that it is going to be a disaster, so pricey wool might be an error..hmm, I may have a think on that one for a bit. I may compromise with a slightly coaty jacket!

My return to sewing after a (not so) short break!

Well I have been seriously missing from the blog world for some time. I have been busily working away revising for some exams, which I had earlier this week. So now I am free! FREE! Free to do all the stuff I have been avoiding doing for the last month or so, including, of course, Sewing!

And just in time frankly, as I have a number of time pressured projects coming up, and a ridiculous number of seriously overdue items, mainly owed to other people -Ooops!

So here is a quick recap of the things I am meant to be doing (not in any particular order) ..

SSS11 photos - I actually took half of these, but didn’t get round to finishing it, or putting them up. Not that I imagine anyone really cares, but it would be useful to remind myself of all the options-it seems a really long time ago!

Un-blogged projects – I have a few of these that should be put up at some point! I have done (very) slightly more sewing than it appears!

Un-finished projects – ah the UFOs, many of the usual subjects, but some are getting really ridiculous and are so close! The main victim is the Glee dress, it is getting for a year that this has been 90% done and my flatmate waiting for it and I am putting my foot down (possibly!) Also I half made a colourful dress that has been on Agnetha for weeks now and I should move it on a bit (though I may have to reconsider how to wear it now it’s no longer summer!).

Halloween! – I have a number of costumes to make various bits of for myself and the flatmates, some of which will be more time and drama intensive than others!). I am going to start earlier (than 5 hours before I needed 2 dresses) than last year so it will be less stressful!

Present for Lindsey  - I promised my flatmate I would make her something as a birthday present, and I haven’t had time yet.  She says she has something in mind so we will have to work out exactly what she wants and get it made.

Pattern swap – I signed up to be part of an international pattern swap on the Sew Weekly communitysite. We all sent each other patterns and other bits and pieces, and then we are going to make something from the patterns. More on that in a bit.

Other projects - (because that doesn’t sound like enough does it!) I really need some more wintery clothes in my hand made wardrobe, as the temperature has plummeted. I am considering a dark purple Ginger skirt, using some fabric my mum gave me last year, and a long purple cardigan (sewing not knitting) that I bought some double knit for last year but was too scared of knits to use. I am sad to say that the pattern swap has reignited my pattern buying addiction, and I picked up a few extras from Ebay, that could make some nice things. I am particularly keen on a soft knit version of this: 

Friday, 30 September 2011

SSS11 Day 30

Well, it's not actually the last day due to all my pictures yet to be taken, but it is the end of the month.

What I wore
Top - Ness
Skirt - Wildflower skirt
Necklace - Debenhams

I love my blue Ness top so much I bought another one in the sale in pink-which I love too! I was feeling bold today (also need to do some washing) so I decided to clash my colours a little. Not that turquoise and pink really clash, but they are quite bright together. I feel very jolly in this outfit, and will definitely wear it again. And I remembered to put a necklace on again!

I am not getting much better at posing, its very hard to do without feeling you look like an idiot, or somehow deformed... Perhaps after my bumper 2 weeks of outfits post I will be feeling more confident!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

SSS11 Day 29

What I wore
Top - blue Grecian, Dorothy Perkins
Skirt - Totally Tropical
Cardigan - Green - H&M (on window cill)
Sunglasses - New Look

After all the terrible weather all summer in Edinburgh, it has decided these last few days to be glorious summer somewhat late in the year! After yesterday running around in Glasgow in my meeting outfit in the heat wearing heels and tights, I decided to go for something more suitable to the weather.

I hardly ever wear this top during the day, it's more of a evening top, but actually it's really nice and causal too, and it goes wonderfully with the skirt. The whole outfit is all stretchy and comfortable, yet looks quite put together. I shall have to do this more often - I think I usually find this top too much because I tend to wear it with a pencil skirt, at which point it all ends up a bit va va voom for the fairly casual office, but with casual skirt it has a totally different feel.

I am enjoying the sun, my office is very empty as most people are at a conference, and I can look straight out of the open balcony door at a lovely tree in the sunshine.

SSS11 Day 10, and 12/17

Well I have had a slight hitch with my Self Stitched September, namely that I lost my camera. I had gone home for a week and couldn't find it anywhere after the first day. Which foiled the daily photos somewhat. But do not fear-I have still been wearing my own stuff most days, so the challenge has a been a success on that front. I have only missed a few days, either through not getting dressed at home, (and my pjamas not being self made) and as I had to go to a proper meeting yesterday and realised that I just don't have any self made formal work wear.. Having said that, the top I wore had been taken in very slightly, and I had mended the skirt, so it almost counted! 

But then I found the camera-it must have fallen out of my bag in the car and was under the seat - yay! So the daily photos are back on. 

I will do a recap at the weekend about the intermediate days (I wrote them down in a moment of organisation), but here at the days that have already been photographed.

Day 10 
What I am wearing
Top  -  basic black vest from H&M
Skirt - basic skirt refashion 
Cardigan - turquoise  - Zara


I wore this to travel in. The picture was taken in a service station that was taking a really long time to bring me my food, hence the depressed attitude! Though the outfit doesn't exactly set the world on fire it is very comfortable and cool. and the skirt is definitely one of the most worn items in  my self made closet. 

Day 11
pyjamas only - nothing like the first day back home and Sky movies for relaxation

Day 12 (and also 17)

What I am wearing
Top - Navy vest - H&H
Skirt - Ginger Rosie
Sunglasses - New Look

When I got back to Sheffield after the chilly days of Edinburgh, it was suddenly summer again (Sheffield gets much better weather..). I say again, there hasn't really been a summer at all, so it was a bit of a novelty!  I wore this outfit twice, and both times it was admired by all (except my little bro who just looked at me and asked why I was wearing my skirt so high!). 

The next day, which I hadn't photographed outfit wise before I left my camera in the car, we went to see an old mill that has been converted into a museum and cafe where we had tasty salads. It was beautiful. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

SSS11 Day 9

Well, as you probably gathered from my earlier post, today I am wearing my shifting skies skirt.

What I am wearing
Top  -  lace embellished vest top form H&M
Skirt - shifting skies skirt
Underskirt- turquoise self made
Cardigan - Primark
Necklace - Marks and Spencers

I like it, I feel very comfortable and quite cosy, which is nice as the weather is not being very nice today and I am tired.

I missed the "work" shot suggested by the SSS11 flickr page on Wednesday, so here I am at work today. You can tell it has been raining as my hair looks rubbish and my workmate's cycling clothes are on the radiator behind me!

The "shifting skies" skirt

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas.  A city so beautiful it breaks the heart
again and again.”
Alexander McCall Smith, 2006

This skirt has been in the works a long time. It has become a bit of a Sew Weekly theme hotpotch over the moths. It was originally inspired by the Local Colour theme back in March. The idea was to make something that said something about where you lived. Debi, my fellow Edinburgher was off that week so I thought I should show Edinburgh somehow. Well that was then, it then got tinkered with during the UFO weeks, and then I added some machine embroidery as part of the Embellish This week, and now it is finished, it actually fits in nicely with the current week of To dye for!

So, back to the beginning we go. I think in many ways I completely failed to do Edinburgh any justice, so most of this is going to be about Edinburgh rather than the skirt! Until recently there was a building in the city centre that had big quotes about Edinburgh printed in the windows. The quote above by Mr McCall Smith has always been one of my favourites, as I feel it really sums up Edinburgh's weather, which is a really important part of the city's atmosphere. Due to the proximity to the sea, and the crazy hilly nature of the city (for those that don't know, Edinburgh is built on and around the remains of a volcano) the weather is VERY changeable and can be dramatic and beautiful and then just plain miserable all within half an hour!

Here are some lovely pictures from Flickr to demonstrate:

Craig Walton 
Sunny and beautiful

Stunning and changeable

katya zharova
Uh oh, its going to start chucking it down!

So I wanted to make a skirt, which was grey, definitely the standard colour of Edinburgh, what with all the old stone buildings and cobbles and crazy clouds. I decided to use the cotton sheet I had dyed initially as part of my weeping angel Halloween costume, that had gone the wrong colour (it was meant to be a dull grey but came out a blue/grey with a slightly massive scale uneven tie die effect, mainly due to me know making the effort to dye it properly as it was only for a costume).

Edinburgh is also somewhat notorious for its unpredictable winds, I have never been anywhere more inclined to blow your skirt over your head on a day with no wind at all seconds before! This is mainly a result of the crazy weather and the fact that the city, due to the hills, is built on several levels, so you can be walking along a normal road with normal height buildings and then realise the whole thing was a bridge bounded by high rises, half of which you cant see, which has another road running across underneath. This does tend to lead to unexpected drafts. I considered making a tight skirt so this couldn't happen, but then I thought, what the heck, I will embrace it, so I made a circle skirt instead. I have also made a flouncy underskirt to wear under this to accentuate this effect, but I need to make it a few inches shorter.

looking down off George IV Bridge onto the Cowgate,  Erke
the Upper Bow and Victoria Street   - Mach 3.25

So, the skirt. I followed Casey's tutorial for circle skirts (she is now also doing a circle skirt sew along), which was very straightforward. I didn't bother with a pattern for the middle, I folded it into 4 and kept cutting strips off the middle until it was the correct  size (I had learned from a sad exercise with the underskirt that not erring on the side of caution with this leaves you with a really big useless piece of material with a really big hole in the middle of it..). I managed to get this just about right, easing the skirt into the waistband was pretty successful, I only have one really wrinkle..shame its right at the front.. sigh, never mind!). 

I then considered doing some machine embroidery. As I don't have a clever machine, by this I mean using a stitch on my normal machine to do things it wasn't designed for. I tried out all the stitches on different lengths to see what they looked like (quite interesting in itself!)

I decided to go for the weird almost hexagonal stitch second form the bottom on the right. It is possibly meant for smocking.  I then sewed some lines up form the bottom of the skirt to random heights to give the skirt a bit more interest. 

So all in all, a pretty simple skirt, considering how long it took me to make it! At least I can now say that I definitely hung ti long enough to stretch out! It is very comfortable however, and swirls beautifully.

Pink Pencil skirt refashion

Well, as promised yesterday, this was a super basic refashion. I picked up the skirt at a charity shop. I was attracted by the colour, I am developed a bit of a fetish for brightly coloured pencil skirts! It was also the correct size, or so I thought.. When I tried it on, not only was it (as I had realised) a grannyish midi length, it was also a little bit tight across the top, and kept sliding up and wrinkling.

When I had looked more closely at it, I realised that it had the same problem that I have with most pencil skirts, but slightly more so. As most fabrics have a little give in them, they stretch over your hips a bit, which if you like a snug fitted pencil skirt is ideal. However, if they are lined, the lining does not have this give, and the lining is also usually slightly smaller than the outer skirt. Every skirt I own with a lining now has a rip down the side of the lining. Which makes the lining useless as the non lined bit catches. therefore, as I am not one of those young ladies who is horrified/bemused at the need for slips (we did a poll at work, it was weird how many girls didn't own one, I am not sure how they manage..) I just rip out the linings and wear a slip underneath instead. Clearly a potential problem with the pink skirt was that the lining was too small, so I took it out, which was really easy as it was just stitched onto the inner flap of the waistband.

bye bye lining

I then cut off the bottom (really easy again as it is a straight skirt) and rehemmed. 

And it now fits extremely well, and I just wore a slip under it.