Sunday, 8 January 2017

Completed: Brocade Christmas Skirt

Hello! This is the last make of 2016, finally making it onto the blog.

I wasn't planning on making anything for our Christmas night out, but Jen put brocade in my head, I found the below picture in a magazine (when ostensibly looking for inspiration for her) and I was sold! Plus I always like the challenge of being able to "make it cheaper than that!".
You'll notice that the finished skirt isn't the same as the inspiration picture. I actually started out trying to hack the Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt, but it wasn't as simple as I expected and it really just wasn't working out. I'm not sure why, but the while the front looked great, the back just looked terrible. I tried a few things, but after 2 muslins, I was kind of losing interest. Luckily, I then came across a beautiful skirt posted on IG by Elisalex. A quick chat with her told me all I needed to know to get one of my own!!!

There is no pattern for this. I just took my waist measurement, added an inch for ease (I wanted to be able to eat in this skirt), and then multiplied that by 3. That turned out to be pretty much exactly twice the width of my fabric, which kept things simple and avoided seams in odd places. I then box pleated the skirt to fit my waist measurement (plus the inch). I created 4 pleats: front, back, and each side. I added a waistband, plus an invisible zip and Bob's your Uncle!! I used the selvedge, because the fabric was a nightmare for fraying - I even found gold thread in my lunch at work one day! The rest of the raw edges are overlocked and the hem is hand sewn, something I haven't done in ages.

The fabric is a poly brocade from ebay, and it was interesting to work with. The best way to describe it is bouncy. It has zero drape, but it does press pretty well. I used a pressing cloth the whole way through. In fact I made the pressing cloth especially, from a rectangle of silk organza, overlocked on all sides. Simple and so, so effective.

Due to the lack of drape, when I first pleated the skirt and tried it on, it was HUGE. Paul actually asked if I was going to the party as someone from the 17th Century. It took a lot of trial and error pressing to get it looking as I wanted, but in the end, I pressed the full length of the underside of the pleats (i.e. the bits inside the pleat), and just the top of the outside of the pleats. This gave a nice A line shape to the skirt which works really well.

At first I was unsure, but I now love this skirt. It's different to anything else I own, but that's good. I felt great wearing it, and I got loads of compliments on our night out. By now, my colleagues know me well enough to ask "so, did you make your outfit?", but they are still impressed when I reply "yes". It's interesting, because I think that the wow thing about this skirt is the fabric, not the sewing. Not that there is anything wrong with the sewing, but its just a simple pleated skirt at the end of the day. There then followed a long and alcohol induced conversation with one of my team, who is also studying graphic design, about creativity, it's meaning, inspiration and influence.

I decided early on that I was not going to make a top to go with this, time constraints what they are these days. Instead I bought this velvet off the shoulder top from Finery. It looks fab with the skirt, but dancing in long sleeve velvet top gets pretty sweaty pretty quickly, so not sure I'd wear the two together to a similar "do" in future. Both were perfect though for dinner with friends and also for Christmas day. We get dressed up for Christmas dinner at my parent's house. I was glad of the extra waistband ease then, for sure!

Yay for sewing and yay for being able to save around £250 on a skirt!

Friday, 6 January 2017


Happy New Year!

My blog feed is full of 2016 reflections and 2017 resolutions, goals and #makenine plans. I'm really loving reading these, but I just haven't felt like writing one myself (although I do appear to be doing just that, right now). I dunno. I've been feeling a bit ambivalent towards sewing lately. Life in December was mega busy. Work is OK, but very busy and quite stressful and December itself just brings lots with it. Honestly, nearly every evening, P was asking me what that evening's jobs were, and there were always several. That didn't stop me from finishing my brother's cushions, or from making a party skirt (yet to be blogged), but if I'm honest, they felt more like a chore than fun.

These past couple of weeks (Christmas aside) I've just felt exhausted, irritable and lacking in any energy, creative or otherwise. No patterns or blog posts are inspiring me, I have had no interest in fabric sales - just as well, as I am well and truly skint. It goes without saying that no sewing has been done.

I should say, before this all gets too depressing, that I am fine, and that we did have a very lovely Christmas and New Year. I spent time with friends who live at the other ends of the country, I had quite a few nights out, I introduced the boys to Mary Poppins, the kids performed Christmas songs for us, we built lego, scooted on new scooters, listened to endless Roald Dahl audiobooks and decorated a dazzle ship and joined in family ceilidh at the National Museum of Scotland's "Sprogmanay".

So, there will be no resolutions for me, not right now anyway. My plans, such as they are, are to sew things that make me happy and that I will wear, and to reduce my fabric stash (either by sewing it, or getting rid of it). I'm not setting objectives or goals, but I will continue to track my spending, because that was insightful and worthwhile. I would like to work through some of my queue, because some of those ideas still stand, and I'd like to do more block printing and stencilling where possible.

That's me. What about you?


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Completed: Hand printed cushions

Technically I should win Worst Sister of the Year award with these, but I think I managed to redeem myself. My brother and his girlfriend got engaged in May this year, and moved house in September, and I only just gave them this, their engagement/new house present on Christmas Day. That's the bad sister bit. The good sister bit, was that I made the effort to hand print, and sew them their present, which they did at least get in the same calendar year.
I don't think my brother reads my blog, but he does follow me on IG, and has a tendency to ask me to make him a version of whatever I've made from time to time. One of these days I'll call his bluff and make him dinosaur PJs, but in the meantime I made him cushions inspired by a sweatshirt and a dress. If you read my original sweatshirt post, you'll see that the inspiration for that was a cushion, so it's all got a bit meta.

 The stencil is the same as that used on my sweatshirt - not the exact one, I don't keep them, so I  had to cut a new one - and the cross is that which I used to block print my Scout dress. They are both printed with black ink onto white soft furnishing fabric from Remnant Kings. It has a slight texture, which keeps it interesting, and it was really cheap at something like £7/m. I wanted some colour, and so used a turquoise cotton velvet from Edinburgh Fabrics (which was something ludicrous like £20/m) to back and pipe them. This is only the second time I've sewn piping and my first sewing velvet. It was OK, but I wouldn't rush to do it again. There are quite a few mistakes on these, the most noticeable being that I sewed the piping onto the back of the cushion, meaning the zip is now on the front. I put the zips to the bottom, and my brother will never notice, but that's one to remember. I also made the zip opening too small, so I did actually think I wasn't going to get the cushion pads in there for about 5 mins. That was fun. (It wasn't). 

Regardless though, I really like these. They look nice and contemporary, but also look unique and handmade (in a good way. I hope). I love the turquoise colour, and the velvet is gorgeously, strokeably tactile. I am seriously considering making velvet cushions for our house. Possibly not piped though. 

I don't yet have photos of the cushions in their new home. My brother and his girlfriend live in London, but were heading straight off to Turkey yesterday (she is Turkish) for New Year. So these photos are all taken in our house. 
And yes, I've already started wondering what I'll be sewing to wear to a wedding in Istanbul in July! ;)

Monday, 14 November 2016

2016 Sewing Budget: August, September & October!

With all the hecticness (hecticity?) of the past few months, I forgot about this monthly round up.
You'll be unsurprised to know that I haven't stuck to my own bargain, and some fabric has sneaked in. I could say that Instagram made me do it, but let's take some ownership here. :)

For a good few years now, I've had a particular version of the Archer shirt in my head. I doubt I thought it up myself, but I can't remember where I saw it. This heron print fabric isn't it, but it's as close as I suspect I will ever get, so when I saw it on the IndieSew IG feed, I treated myself. As a general rule, I don't buy anything online from the US. Postage and customs charges are prohibitive, but this time I went for it, and the custom's gods were smiling because no charges! It's pretty summery though so I'm not sure how soon I'll be sewing this up.

The pompom trim and thread was to finish off my pyjamas. Yes, I am that far behind!

The crepe was a bit of an impulse purchase. I had a 20% discount code from the Splendid Stitch that expired at the beginning of Sept, so I thought I'd better use it! My plans are for another pair of Emerson Pants. I'm not 100% it will work, but I've already cut them out so I am committed.

Finally, I have been lusting after the Hampshire trousers for a while, and have fabric earmarked in my stash, so I took advantage of an offer she had on. I have made a muslin of these already, but they are much looser and bigger than I anticipated, so they will need some work. I have parked them briefly to concentrate on something else, but I will go back to them. The pattern has a lot of promise and I desperately need some trousers for work.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016


I promise that I will post some sewing soon. Really I will, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos of our recent holiday to Santander. If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen most of these already, and this will be a pretty photo heavy post.

This was the first time we'd taken the boys abroad. The first time they'd been on a plane. So we thought we'd start fairly simple. My brother is actually getting married next year to his Turkish girlfriend, in Istanbul, so this was the test run so to speak. Closer to home, a much shorter flight, a language that I have at least a vague chance of being able to pronounce and relatively familiar currency.

We flew Ryanair from Edinburgh direct to Santander and stayed in our first Airbnb, which was lovely. I realise I haven't taken many photos of it, so the link is here.  It was really central, spacious and had a nice mix of period details and modernity.

Santander itself is a nice city. It's on the North coast of Spain in Cantabria, not far from St Sebastian and Bilbao. It's a financial rather than touristy city, but it's pretty nonetheless and the beaches are gorgeous. It also has amazing play parks.

The food was nice, but I don't feel that we probably had the best on offer. Trying to find places that catered for us all was tricky. I don't consider my kids to be overly fussy, but Baby Boy pretty much lived on bread, chorizo and ice cream for 4 days. The stuff I thought they would like - tortillas, croquettes, even the spanish ham and cheese - were pretty much rejected. They far preferred the cheap hamburguesas that our guidebook said to avoid.

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