Saturday, 30 March 2013

Here's one I prepared earlier: Graphic kimono sleeve blouse

Before I started my blog, I just thought of my clothes as e.g. "plum coloured cardigan", "pink blouse", "navy and white blouse I made". Now, if I am writing about them, I feel that they need names. Names with Capitalisation."Chevron Charlotte", "Red Denim Kelly". And if I can fit some alliteration in there, so much the better! And so, may I introduce... (drum roll)... the "Graphic Kimono Sleeve Blouse"! (no alliteration, sorry folks).

I made this blouse last year at some point. Probably early summer. It is one of the first times where I deviated from simply following the instructions, and therefore one of the first things I took in a different direction.

The pattern is this:
New Look 6351
It's a basic shell top pattern with sleeve and neckline variations and a zip at the back neck. I used version A as my starting point - the sleeveless boat neck version -  and extended the shoulder line to create a "grown-on" or kimono sleeve.

In real life, both sleeves are the same length!
I omitted the zip and instead left the opening, err... open, and added a pearl type button at the top with a thread loop. As you can see, it kind of "bags" open at the back. I'm not sure if this is the weight of the button since the fabric is so lightweight, or something else entirely.

Poor, poor, pattern matching!
The blouse is made from habotai silk and is actually navy and silvery white, although the navy is so dark, I can get away with wearing this with black jeans.

I can't remember if I even tried pattern matching. If I did, that wasn't a very good job, was it? I also either cut it not quite on grain, or the print wasn't straight because you can see the print is not level at the hem.

This was very easy to put together. It's just front and back pieces and front and back neck facings, with a couple of bust darts. I did a lot of hand sewing on this, as I didn't want visible stitching so the hem, sleeve hems and the folded back bits at the back opening are all hand stitched using a slip stitch. The thread loop was a bit of a nightmare to do and it doesn't sit right and can twist, so sometimes I can't undo the button myself and need help to get the top off! Next time I would do a fabric loop.

This has become my "go to" blouse for a casual-ish night out. I can wear it as I have done here with low heel boots/ballet pumps or dress it up with more jewellery and heels. I have only ever worn it with jeans though. Not sure why, it would be nice with a pencil skirt!

And so to the round up:

What I liked:
Simple, useful shape, open to dozens of interpretations. Easy to put together.
Fit the top into less than a metre of fabric.

What I didn't like:
Nothing as far as I can remember.

Any alterations to fit?
Nope, but I think the darts might be slightly too low, and I suspect the top is meant to be slightly more fitted than this has ended up.

Did I change anything?
Yes, as detailed above. Changed sleeve and back opening.

Did I try anything new?
Thread loop for button. Altering pattern.

What would I do differently next time?
Fabric loop. 
Better pattern matching. 
Understitch facing - the instructions don't tell you to do this, and although the facing stays in place, I've since learnt it's better to understitch here.
Possibly play around with dart placement.

Will I make it again?
 I already have. Again, I used the basic pattern to draft a button back, 3/4 sleeve version with a lace collar, but that's a story for another day.
And I would like to make the sleeveless version for summer - may have to play around with fit for this one though.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

I won again!

I can't believe it. I have won again!! If only the luck had stayed through to last night's Euromillions...

As part of House of Pinheiro's International Craft Swap, Rachel is doing a few nautical inspired giveaways. The first of these was a chance to win one of 3 nautical inspired badges/brooches made by Jo at Adventures and Tea Parties:

I thought they were all lovely, but went for the boat, as I had to pick one! I then completely forgot all about it, till catching up with Rachels' blog the other day, spotted this little photo:

Yay! I won the boat brooch!

The brooch duly arrived on Thursday, and conveniently interrupted a Small Boy tantrum, his nosiness curiosity greater than his annoyance at not getting his own way.

It came in a lovely little ring box, tied up with some pretty two-tone string. Don't little touches like this make all the difference?

I wore it all day yesterday, suitably matched with a nautical striped top. Unfortunately I didn't get a pic, as last night I was helping prepare for today's nursery Easter Fair, and then was baking for said Fair until 10.30 last night! Damn, should have taken some photos of my lovely Little Lemon Drizzles and my Raisin and Oat Cookies, to show you!

Anyway, here is the brooch in the flesh, modelled on me today. Less relevant to the outfit, but you can see my  new"I don't care it keeps snowing, I'm wearing my Spring wardrobe anyway" sweater, bought at a recent Boden party!

Cute isn't it?

If you like this, you can buy Jo's lovely accessories here, and you can follow her here and here.

H x

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

There may be trouble ahead...

Today is the first day of Spring, apparently (well, according to this morning's Today programme).  And yet yesterday, I literally couldn't get to work because of the snow! What is going on with this crazy weather? The snow has now gone, but my garden is now flooded. Luckily the snow drops and crocuses are bravely soldiering on.

So, who's seen the new Colette pattern, then? The Laurel...

Isn't this a lovely little dress? Very typically Colette in that it's vintage inspired, classic and ripe for interpretation.

I have been promising myself that I am not going to be buying any more patterns until I've used a few more in my stash, and made the 2nd or 3rd versions of the patterns I want to make (more Violets, more Kellys, another Charlotte, a "proper" Elisalex, another Sorbetto), and that blasted coat that my mum keeps asking me about every time I see her. But isn't this cute?

Lately I've been feeling a bit under the weather - work is really busy, as I come the end of my secondment, and I come home shattered most evenings. As such, I've done very little sewing for a good few weeks now. As a result of that I've started to feel quite stressed about the various challenges I've commited to. Now obviously the world will not end if I don't actually sewalong with the Elisalex sewalong, and that it really doesn't matter if I don't finish my Mad Men dress on time, but I do need to finish my Nautical Craft Swap item as that's for another person and she's depending on me - yes, literally her life will be over if I don't post her a nautical inspired craft item on 5th April!!! :). OK, so I need to get some perspective on this. I also, as P pointed out last night, need to stop over-committing myself. So, after these, no more challenges, no more sewalongs, I promised myself.

And then Sarai launched this today...


I really shouldn't stress myself out more. I really shouldn't spend more money. I really don't have the time. I really am not that creative (compared to others in the blogosphere out there), so I don't have a hope in hell of winning anything. But...

There is 15% off the pattern until Friday, AND a free downloadable Laurel Extras book. It really does look like a simple and therefore quick garment to sew up. I LOVE the shape and it totally fits in with my current 60's style obsession. I could potentially stash bust. There are lots of prizes. I have 2 weeks holiday (by myself, with no current plans, other than to meet a friend, Jo) at the end of April/begining of May... it could be done.

So, who's in?! :)


Friday, 15 March 2013


Apparently Google Reader is closing. I don't use this personally, I prefer Bloglovin, but if you do follow my blog on Reader, you might want to follow me on Bloglovin too - if you do, just click on that funny looking lady with the bare breast on the right hand side!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Decision made!

Thank you everyone who very kindly helped me out with my indecision over fabric choice. You will all be pleased to know that I let you make the decision for me took your comments on board, and ordered the Fabric Godmother floral stretch cotton! I ordered it on Tuesday morning and it arrived today (super speedy!), and I am so glad I did it! Look how lovely it is!

The print is quite busy, but the colours are fairly muted, so it's not too much to look at. The fabric only has a slight stretch, but enough that it'll add a bit of comfort and ease of wear, when I'm wearing it to the Post Office (as suggested by Shar!). It has a bit of body but wouldn't work for a proper Elisalex - but should work for my Charlotte bottom half. (Just thinking how bizarre that last sentence would sound to a non-sewer!).

Here is another pic of it draped over my bed!

So, I am v happy with my choice and v grateful to all of you for your input! :) Now I need to get cracking on the dress, I only have just over a month to get it done!

Here is another little craft/DIY project that I completed at the weekend!

A magnetic pen holder for the fridge! I can't take any credit for the ingenuity, as this was something I Pinned a while back, and so full credit goes to A Pretty Cool Life. This was literally an empty pimenton/paprika tin, 3 magnets from ebay and a tube of superglue. That's it!

And now we never have an excuse for not being able to find a pen again! Pen lids, however, are another thing altogether...

H x

Saturday, 9 March 2013

HELP! And my swap partner revealed.

I received my International Craft Swap partner's details yesterday. I have been paired up with Louise from Elsie May and Bertha.I wasn't familiar with Louise's work or blog before, as (determined from a quick squiz at her blog) she mainly crafts rather than dressmakes, however it's always nice to meet someone new, and to gain access to more inspiration, insight and skills! Louise describes herself as a maker and says she would do it full time if she could, which is ever-so-slightly daunting, as I describe myself as doing zero crafting, so I'm hoping she'll be very tolerant of my very simple effort! Just need to pick up a couple of notions and then I'm hopefully ready to get going on that.

Rather sweetly, Rachel (from House of Pinheiro) opted to match me with Louise to provide me with support, which I really appreciate! It also makes me think she must have spent a LOT of time ensuring she'd made the right pairings! I'm impressed.

On another note, I need some help! I am really struggling with my Mad Men Challenge/Elisalex sewalong dress. Not the dress itself which should be fine (although I still only have half a muslin made, so perhaps I'm being overly optimistic there), but I'm really struggling to make a fabric choice. As a reminder, here is the inspiration dress, which is from season 5 (set in 1967, according to Wikipedia - I don't watch the show, sorry. Is that sacrilege?)

I don't want, or need, to be too literal on this, but if I go for a really different fabric, then it's just a random shift dress, as it has no real period distinguishing features. The fabric of Joan's dress is a kind of floral/paisley print on a purpley-grey background (looks more grey in the bottom pic). 

Here are my issues:
  1. I've never been a huge fan of paisley print and while I probably could find something similar I'm not sure I'd actually want to wear it once made.
  2. The colours here are fairly wintery and we'll be well into spring once the challenge is finished (mid April)
  3. I actually have no idea where or when I'm going to wear this dress. All the fabrics I've liked so far give more of a formal vibe (for me, anyway) and I have no upcoming formal events. I hate the idea of spending time and money making something I won't wear any time soon. 
  4. I fancy a stretch woven fabric to make it more comfortable (and therefore more "day"), but as I'm using the Elisalex bodice and it's lined, the stretch won't work unless I also line it in a stretch fabric. Won't that make it too bulky?
  5. If I don't go for a stretch, do I go for a cotton voile? or would a heavier-weight quilting fabric work for this (I suspect not...)?
  6. Don't want to spend a lot on this. If I could get fabric for less than £20 I'd be happy. And I will need at least 2m, if not a little bit more.
  7. Because of princess seams I don't want the hassle of having to pattern match.
  8. Probably something else, but now I can't remember!
Here are a few serious contenders so far:

Liberty cotton lawn from Stone Fabrics. Gorgeous, but 40's inspired, not 60's! Would be maybe a bit less formal? Not stretch.
Lightweight cotton from Stone Fabrics. Like this, but maybe a bit more formal? Not stretch.
Cotton poplin from Stone Fabrics. Really nothing like the inspiration dress. Not stretch, but quite fun and maybe a little bit 60's?
Stretch cotton from Fabric Godmother. Really like this, ticks all boxes, but £16 a metre!
Stretch cotton sateen from Stone Fabrics. Colours are right, print is wrong, but I got tired of looking at florals.
Cotton voile from Raystitch. Not stretch, but suddenly I'm feeling it for this one, AND it's reduced to £9.95. Would a a whole dress of this be too much? And I'd need to pattern match.
Cotton poplin from Stone Fabrics. Wrong colours, but right kind of era. Loving the summery-ness of this. But what is cotton poplin? Will that work for a dress? Not stretch. Does it look a bit too much like a tablecloth?
I have tons more on my Pinterest board if you're not bored already!

So, what do you think? Do I completely deviate from the inspiration dress in favour of something more "me"? Do I forgo stretch (and comfort) for a pretty print?

If I knew how to do it and had enough regular readers, I'd do a wee poll here, but I don't and I don't, so if you have a strong opinion, can you please let me know in the comments? I'd really appreciate some input on this, as I am really, really struggling! Thanks in advance!

H x

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Back to basics... kind of

In my last post, I mentioned we'd been away for a couple of days. I know this is yet another non-sewing post, but thought you might like to know what else I get up to?

I'd read on Conversation Pieces, one of the few non-sewing related blogs I follow, about a break she'd been on, in an architect designed bothy, on a farm, near Dumfries. We had this past week already booked off work, with the intention of doing some DIY, and after having a look on the website, made a snap decision to book it for 2 nights! I am a sucker for a beautifully designed building, but I was almost as sold on the no wifi, no mobile, no TV aspect as much as the beautiful bothy and the gorgeous scenery. Actually I had a mobile signal and P had 3G too, but we unconsciously agreed to still forgo our phones for a day or 2.

The Bothy
The interior
What a couple of days we had! The Bothy is "off-grid". Those are solar panels on the roof and that, along with bottled gas for the cooker and hot water, is the only form of power. There were no sockets, apart from a couple of 12v car chargers (for phones and the like), no heating apart from the log burning stove. It was really quite back to basics, albeit with Habitat soft furnishings, Le Creuset kitchen equipment, Neal's Yard scent diffusers and goose-down duvets!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Chilly in the shade, but the sun shone and shone - the best Scottish weather you can have! Small boy spend most of the time running around outside and playing on the decking.

That is when he wasn't riding on the quad bike with the farmer and visiting hours-old newly born lambs!

 We mostly spent our time relaxing. That decking was perfect for drinking coffee, eating cake and watching the scenery, after a walk up and over the hill.
Small boy attempting to "cuddle" the sheep
Daddy and wee boy
The family out for a walk
And of course, the snowdrops were out in force!

Can I keep those legs, please?
In the evenings, we had lasagne brought from home and red wine, and after Small Boy was in bed we sat round the fire with our books/kindles!

All in all (apart from the intermittent hot water availability) it was pretty damn perfect!


Monday, 4 March 2013

A quilt show, a holiday and a trip to hospital.

Well, it's been a wee while since my last post, and gosh it's been an eventful week in the Grosgrain Green household!

The week began with the Edinburgh Quilting Show, moved onto a couple of days mini-holiday, followed by a couple more days DIYing/pottering and culminated with an overnight stay in Sick Kids with Small Boy!

First things first, Small Boy is OK. He developed a cough midweek, which became a little bit wheezy, which by Friday evening was a LOT wheezy. He had a similar episode last November, which was diagnosed as a viral infection, and we had an inhaler leftover from then, but that didn't make much difference, so off to Sick Kids it was. As soon as they put him on the nebuliser he was fine, but they wanted to keep a close eye on his oxygen levels, and to give him the puffer/inhaler every couple of hours through the night. Eventually about 1am we were admitted and I was given a little camp bed to sleep on next to him. P was sent home - only one parent allowed to stay! It was actually fine, but Small Boy only slept for about 4 hours and I had even less! By early afternoon on Saturday they were happy, and he was discharged. He's been fine since, although still has his puffer until tomorrow, and he's full of stories about his adventure to "hostipal". His new favourite game is playing Dr Small Boy!

So, between little time, a holiday with no wifi or internet access and a bit of parental stress, I've had little time to READ blog posts, never mind write one. I finally checked Bloglovin yesterday and had 153 unread posts! Isn't that insane!?

So to the updates I was intending to write. I have done no sewing since I last posted (for obvious reasons), but I did visit Edinburgh Quilting Show! This is a twice yearly event, held in the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston. It was my first visit, and I went with my mum and her friend, J. My mum, who doesn't really quilt but has made the odd thing, and J, who does quilt, have been before several times, and I'd always fancied it but never been able to go. Although I have never quilted and don't really do much in the way of crafting either, I like to look at quilts. I love the work and thought that goes into them, even if I don't particularly like the aesthetic, and struggle a bit with what, exactly, you would do with them once you'd made them. Most, are clearly not designed to go on a bed! And anyway, I knew there would be fabric and haberdashery for sale... I wasn't wrong!

I had really wanted to write a whole post about the show but unfortunately most of the stands forbid you from taking photos. I did manage a sneaky, terrible few on my iPhone of which only this one is worth showing (and even then, it's not really, but I feel like I need a photo!).
Actually took this by accident, but you can see how the fat quarters were stacked high!
The show was heaving with OAPs. In fact, when queuing to get in, the girl in front of me turned round and said "oh good! Someone my age". She looked most disappointed when I explained I was meeting 2 sixty-somethings inside!

It was good though. I really enjoyed the day. Yes, there were loads of hideous "granny" things but there were equally lots and lots of beautiful things - quilts, fabrics, you name it! Being the one of the three of us, who was really just going for a look and not intending to buy, I was the one who bought the most! So? What did I buy? Come closer, and take a look!

So, from left to right:
1. A GORGEOUS vintage-style boy-and-girl-playing-with-sailing-boats print. 1 fat quarter. Here's a lovely close up!

I did briefly consider this for House of Pinheiro's Craft Swap, but there was only 1 piece left and it was just too gorgeous for me to give away! I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. Eventually.
2. Retro coffee pot print on red background. 1 fat quarter. Again, have no idea what I'll do with this, but love it!
3. Citrus print. 1 fat quarter. I plan to make a toy oven glove for my nephew with this. I made one for Small Boy's Christmas this year, and as it worked out well, I thought I'd do another. Unfortunately my nephew's will be way cooler than Small Boys!
4. Bane bag kit, like this. I haven't opened the pack yet, and it didn't photograph too well, but it's essentially a kit to make 2 little bags from Japanese cotton. Here is a photo of the fabrics I got:

I plan to use one bag as a sunglasses case and the other to save my iPod from getting scratched in my bag.

I also bought this:

The colour is a little brighter in real life, and I LOVE this. I bought 2.5 metres (it was £6 a metre, so a bargain!), with the idea that I'd used this for my Mad Men Challenge dress. However since then I've changed my mind. It's probably more 50's than 60's, and I'm actually thinking it might better suit a different silhouette. Maybe a Peony? Or an Elisalex with a half-circle skirt? Definitely something a bit more summery. It is also nothing like the actual Joan dress I'm using as inspiration, so the search goes on for what I will use for that dress (although Fabric Godmother has some lovely floral stretch cottons, just in!)

I also bought a couple of other fat quarters, specifically with HOP's Craft Swap in mind. I won't divulge what these are to keep my planned project a secret, but have something in mind. Unfortunately they don't absolutely stick to the colour rules of the project (red/white/blue), so not sure if Rachel will let me bend the rules slightly... I'll wait to find out more about the person I'm eventually paired up with, and will then find out. Failing that, I guess I'll have even more fabric to add to my stash!
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