Sunday, 24 September 2017

Giveaway - Crafts for Christmas, plus 2 for 1 offer

Hi! I hesitate to use the "C" word while it's still September, but apparently the most organised of us are already planning for it. I mean, of course, Christmas. If you are an organised person, you may like to know that Crafts for Christmas and Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts is running from 26th-29th October at the SEC Glasgow and I have one pair of tickets to give away!
The show promises to bring together 150 exhibitors showcasing artisan, handcrafted gifts, supplies and festive inspiration for crafters. Visitors to Crafts for Christmas will get free entry to Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts providing a festive day packed with live music, food and drink, inspirational features, workshops and demonstrations. This is the ideal spot to get Christmas wrapped up early.
Crafts for Christmas is the perfect place to pick up beautiful, finished craft and gifts for friends, family and the home.  It will bring together independent suppliers offering hundreds of exclusive handmade gifts and treats from jewellery to candles, handcrafted toys to handmade decorations, art, candles, ceramics, not forgetting delicious treats and gifts including farmhouse cheeses, specialist wines, handmade cakes and luxury chocolates.
Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts is a mecca for hobbyists from quilting queens to decoupage demons. Visitors can stock up on everything needed to create a craft-filled Christmas.
There will also be 16 inspirational hands-on Workshops, Demonstrations and Make and Take sessions giving visitors the chance to create something unique.
Experts from craft associations, guilds and societies will be demonstrating the latest techniques including Japanese sewing, decoupage marbling, leather-craft and stained glass techniques, while visitors will have the chance to make their own fridge magnet, key ring, greeting cards, fun & stylish jewellery, Christmas decorations, flower arrangements and even knit and scarf without needles! 

To enter the giveaway
Leave a comment below by Sunday 1st October. Shortly after I will pull a name out of a hat. The winner will receive both tickets. It's always more fun taking a friend to this type of thing. 

2 for 1 ticket offer
If you are not lucky enough to win, you can take advantage of a 2 for 1 offer I have instead. To claim 2 tickets for the price of 1 (£9) visit or call 01425 277988 and use the  code GL21 when placing your order.  Advance tickets cost £9. Children under 16 go free when accompanied by an adult. 

Other important stuff
Location - SEC, Glasgow
Dates - 26th-29th October 201177, 10am-5pm (4.30pm Sunday 29th)
Tickets - Adults: £9 advance/£11 at the show; Seniors: £9 advance/£10 at the show. Accompanied under 16s go free. All advanced tickets need to be ordered by 5pm Mon 23rd October.
Contact - For tickets or more information call 01425 277 988 or visit
Facebook - Search "Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts" show
Twitter - @thecraftshows #stitchsewhobby

Good luck! I'm just going to leave this last image here because, really,, I want to know what craft this is?!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Completed: Denim Pleated (Faux) Wrap Skirt

I bought this fabric at the Edinburgh Knitting and Stitching show a while back to make Ginger jeans. I recently bought the pattern, cut it out and even made a pre-emptive flat pattern adjustment for my humungous calves,when I realised the fabric just wasn't right. It didn't have enough stretch, and I just wasn't convinced at all. Heather Lou does say on her sewalong that you can use lower stretch fabric but might need to size up, but I didn't want to waste the fabric and I have enough pairs of not-great fitting jeans already!

Luckily, I had a plan B. I just had to figure out how to execute it...

So, last year, I think, I found this image on Pinterest and it was love at first sight!
Isn't this just fab?
I think I pulled it off!

Obviously a fair bit of hacking was going to need to be done, but I figured that most of it would be relatively straightforward. First though, I had to find a base pattern. I considered a few options: Seamwork Osaka, which I actually own or Sew DIY Nita wrap skirt, but I don't generally like wrap skirts and I wasn't overly taken with either of those options. Eventually I found a pattern on ebay for £2 (incl postage), which is actually from Prima magazine of all places. 
I thought view 2 had potential (second from left), but I think I actually ended up making the one to the far left. It's actually a fixed wrap skirt, i.e. a pencil skirt with a wrap over the top, which I actually liked. Edinburgh is a windy place! :)

First step was to muslin. I cut the second smallest size based on my measurements but ended taking it in considerably, particularly around the hips because I don't really have any. That done, I moved on to the hacking. I did one step at a time, checking each worked before I moved onto the next. And can I say, I loved the process? It was good fun trying to work out how to make things work, particularly on the pockets and the waistband. I'm not going to do a step by step on this, but if anyone is interested in any particular aspect, please let me know. I will caveat that by saying that I have no idea if I did things the "right" way. I just went with what seemed instinctive and practical at the time. So, what did I do?

Firstly, I added the pleats to the wrap overlay. I used this tutorial, which is for trousers but it's exactly the same principal. I find it hard to visualise the change from 2D to 3D, so I used a spare bit of fabric and manipulated it to what I wanted visually, and from that I worked out how large to make the pleats and where to place them. I made 3 pleats which slightly overlap each other. The plan was to have the first pleat slightly overlapping the pocket opening, but that never really happened. The pleats were each approx 2cm wide. I love how the pleats look at the top, but as always with pleats, I have a bit too much volume at the bottom. You can see it in the photo below. I suspect here it's because the fabric has zero drape.

That done, I turned my attention to the pockets. I used the Kelly Skirt pattern for the pockets as I really like the shape. What was tricky was that the wrap overlay also has a pocket, but since there are 2 layers of fabric on that side, I couldn't work out how best to make it work without adding lots of bulk. In the end, I did away with the pocket lining and instead sewed the pocket facing directly onto the underlayer of the skirt. I probably overthought this, TBH, but it works OK and I kind of like the idea of having the wrap overlay cut away to expose the layer underneath, albeit that they are made of the same fabric, so you can't really tell...

Finally, we have the waistband. The original pattern doesn't have a waistband, but I love the detail on the inspiration post where the wrap appears to wrap over the top of the waistband at the front. Can you see it?
I really wanted to replicate that, and I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how best to execute it. In the end, I figured I'd do a faced waistband, would extend the wrap overlay at the top and then would sandwich the overlay in between the waistband and the facing. It seems simple, but I couldn't figure out in my head how to actually sew that. Oh, and I had to draft a waistband first. I remember reading somewhere (no idea where, sorry) that someone had flipped a facing up to make a curved waistband, so I gave that a try. It took a bit of finangling, but I was able to make it work well enough. I wasn't sure how to go about drafting a curved waistband from scratch, so this seemed like a reasonable compromise.

There was a bit of a struggle top stitching the waistband, given the overlay, so I just stitched as far as I could from either side. This has left a bit of a gap, which I still need to handstitch, which you can see below.

Other amendments were to reduce the hem allowance from 2.5cm to a far narrower 1cm, which mirrors the inspiration photo and feels right on denim, and to add the side split, which I wasn't going to bother with, but I kind of need due to the pencil skirt and you know, mobility.

The skirt fastens with an invisible zip at the back. I hadn't done one for a while, but this went in perfectly.

I'm really pleased with the final skirt. It's not quite perfect. I wasn't too sure why, but Paul nailed it when he said it was like new jeans. I think the denim just needs broken in a bit. Hopefully a couple of washes will rough it up a bit, but I might take a bit of sandpaper to the hems and pocket edges too. I don't really like my denim too clean, if you know what I mean?

Baby Boy's verdict? "I like it better" "Better than what?" I asked. "Than a cow" he responded. On that note, I'll leave you with a few more photos.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Completed: Sointu Kimono Tee

This was one of those fabrics that you fall in love with, think about all day every day, then cave in and buy. Only once it arrives you realise you have absolutely no idea what to make with it. It's a viscose, but not a challis, more of a medium weight, which would make it suitable for a dress, but it's still a little transparent and I'm not a light coloured dress person. So into the stash it went.
I had a few ideas - there is a whole "window pane check" period in my Sewing Inspiration Pinterest board, and came across this Madewell top, which I really love, but then I discovered the Named Sointu tee and a plan was born. This was all some time ago, and it wasn't until more recently that I realised the pattern was designed for stable knits, not drapey wovens!

However, kimonos are made in drapey wovens, and the pattern has lots of ease, and if you Google Image (that's a verb, right?) the pattern, you will see that loads of people have made it in wovens, so all good. 

I whipped this top up in a couple of nights. It would have taken less time if I hadn't had to pattern match and cut flat. After the first night, when I had sewn the front and back together and added the belt loops, I HATED it! Even taking into account that it was meant to be belted, it just looked awful. Massive, too baggy, shapeless and dull. Even though I'd had this pattern and fabric matched in my head for a while, I'd had a last minute wobble about whether the pairing would work, and at this stage I started to think I should have listened to my gut. However, after a night off, I went back to it. I ignored the given construction order and made the belt first, thinking that I'd try it with that before investing any more time in finishing it off. I tried it on with the belt and it just worked! It still wasn't perfect though - cutting off the belt loops helped with that. I found them to be clunky and too low and they just looked wrong. I figured that I could go back and make thread chain loops if I needed them (like I did for my Sway dress), but having worn the top once I don't find I need them. 

I think other than the fabric and the belt loops, I made the rest as per the instructions. Oh no, there were a couple of other things. I took a slightly longer hem, so I could do a double turn - the instructions have you overlock the raw edge and turn once. Fine for a knit, but not great on a woven, IMO. So, my version is about 1cm shorter than drafted. And I cut the sleeve bands on the bias, because it was going to be impossible to pattern match them. The sleeve band has no shoulder seam, so it was never going to match up at both front and back. I like it with the bias detail, and kind of wish I'd made the belt on the bias too now. I think it's a nice contrast. 

But otherwise, as per instructions. ;)

I think this is a fabulous pattern, and it's deceptively simple. I wore it to meet a friend for dinner and Festival shows last night, and she commented that it must have been quite challenging to make - and she sews (albeit not clothes). But it's such a simple shape under that very long belt (designed to be worn wrapped around twice). The rounded v neck is a little tricky to get neat, as it's finished with bias binding, but perseverance gets there. I would suggest stay stitching the neckline though, if you do use a woven in this pattern. The instructions don't suggest it, but it's worth doing.

But the sign of a good pattern is how many more versions you immediately start planning, isn't it? I think this would be absolutely perfect in silk and lengthened to dress version. I'd also like to try it in a knit. I think it could be a great basic in a solid colour, but could be amazing in a really bold print - imagine a large scale floral on a dark background, or a watercolour type print? It's a bit of distinctive shape to be a true basic, and there is a lot of volume going on, so you need to think about what to balance that out with (it's far better with skinny jeans, than the straight leg ones I am wearing in these photos, for instance) but I think there is definitely room for another version or 3 in my stash!

Also: I had my hair cut! Not sure I love it, but time will tell. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Completed: Broderie Anglais Kalle Shirt

Usually for me, I start with the pattern. I find a pattern and then I am pretty quick to visualise the fabric that I want. Doesn't mean I always find it of course. This time, however it was the fabric that drew me in. I spotted this geometric broderie anglais on Fabric Godmother's IG feed (seems to be out of stock, sorry!), and instantly knew it needed to be a blouse. A boxy, short sleeved blouse. I perused patterns, and initially fancied the Deer & Doe Melilot blouse, but it was a bit too fitted for my liking. I had initially dismissed the Closet Case Files Kalle as being too cropped, but someone else lengthened it and the penny dropped! I am not always the smartest cookie!

This was my first Closet Case Files pattern and I really enjoyed making it. Having said that, it wasn't a breeze. I found the instructions to be inconsistent. In general they were good. The instructions for both the collar and the yoke were excellent, but there were others, such as the hidden placket and the sleeve cuffs that I found lacking and somewhat confusing. There is a sewalong, which I used for the cuffs and which was very clear, so all good in the end. I bought the Ginger jeans pattern at the same time, so we'll see how we get on with them. Feedback is that the instructions for them are excellent.
I really like the pattern, which I think is well drafted and goes together very well. As I said, I found the instructions for both collar and yoke to be really comprehensive and clear. The collar uses the universally exhalted "Andrea's method" and the yoke is burritoed, which is possibly one of my favourite sewing methods. Since they are the scary bits of shirt making, that really helped. 
As mentioned, as drafted I thought the cropped version of the shirt was a little too short for comfort, so I added 5cm to the length. If you do this, remember to also lengthen the button band/placket. This gives me a nice length that sits at high hip - short enough to look deliberately cropped, but I am in no danger of flashing my tummy. I chose the "proper" collar as I'm not a fan of band collars, and the hidden placket. I had planned to also use the hem facing, which I really like, but it didn't seem right for this fabric. Due to the exaggerated curves of the hem, I faced it with bias binding - not the given pattern piece for the shirt dress, instead I just made bias binding as usual. I then encountered a couple of problems - the SA was less than the drafted 5/8" which didn't work at the side seams, and the bias binding was just too bulky, affecting the way the shirt hang. In the end I fixed it, by not double folding the bias when I turned it under. I'm really not explaining myself well but there is a raw edge on the inside, as I chose not to turn it under. With regards to the side seams, I just fudged it. The finish works well. In theory the binding shouldn't fray as it's cut on the bias. We will see.
Bias facing

Hidden placket

Oh yes, and I actually chose the inverted pleat, but ended up sewing my front pieces on back to front and only realised after I'd burritoed the yoke thus after the point of no return. Due to the button band positioning, it made sense to keep the front right way out and make the back the wrong side. There really isn't much difference from the point of view of the fabric, but it's annoying because I had thought about the placement of the embroidery and holes when cutting and had deliberately offset the underside of the yoke so the holes would not align, so now the embroidery is not centred on the yoke. No one normal will notice, but still. 

Other changes? As I couldn't use iron on interfacing (the glue would have shown through the "holes" in the fabric), I interfaced with white poly/cotton from my stash, which I basted on. I also used this for the bias binding. And the shirt only has 4 buttons. With multiple layers, and also the embroidery adding bulk, I just could not get the collar stand under my button hole foot. I know it's trendy but i doubt I'd do up the top button anyway, so have gone without. The white buttons were in my button jar and are recycled from something else. And I accidentally did horizontal buttonholes, which I didn't realise were wrong until I tried to button it up! 
Modelling support. Also: this is my new kitchen. Still not finished.

I made a good portion of this at a mini Blogger meet up organised by Franca. It was only the pair of us, plus Jen and Kerry, but Roisin was in Edinburgh for the weekend and popped in to say hello. It was lovely to meet her. She even got to witness my parallel parking skillz!
So, yes, delighted with this. I really, really love it. I'm not normally someone who wears white, and I did consider dying the fabric, but I think the white looks really fresh, as long as I have no spillages. So far so good on that front. By keeping the broderie unlined I have the option to wear different coloured camis underneath, which changes it up a biit, or possibly to wear just a bra if I'm feeling brave (and warm) enough? Ha ha!


Monday, 17 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 4

The last part! You can find parts 1, 2 and 3 by clicking on the numbers.

I am not a maxi dress person. I think they look lovely, but I never really got them. I had no need for one. But, then I came across this Burdastyle pattern, in Melissa's May Burda review here, and I found myself coming up with all sorts of reasons why I needed a maxi dress for my holiday: if we wanted to visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul I'd need my legs covered (my head glossed over the fact that I'd also need my head and arms covered too); what if people dressed up for dinner in the all-inclusive resort - wouldn't a maxi beautifully bridge that divide between casual and dressy? Plus, if I hated it, I could always cut it to midi or shorter.

I managed to shoe-horn it in, but only after all the other items were finished and only on the proviso that I finished it BEFORE the week before we went. I started and finished it on the Monday. We left on Friday morning.

So, although the pattern is in the magazine it's also online. Not sure I would have bought it on the strength of the line drawings, but for once Burda's styling made my heart leap! My experience in making this dress reminded me why I avoid Burdastyle. I'm not going to go on a rant, because we've all made Burda patterns and all know their flaws. At least I didn't have to trace it.

The fabric is bamboo jersey, from Edinburgh Fabrics, which I thought would nice and light and breathable. Actually the dress uses so much fabric it weighs a ton, and was only suited to the cooler evenings. The pattern as drafted actually has an outer dress with an inner layer much like a tank. I'm not clear why, other than to support the outer layer maybe, but I skipped it anyway. I also skipped the neck and armhole bands, because it was quicker and easier to just turn once and stitch. The fabric requirements given by the pattern are woefully inadequate. I mean seriously inadequate. I bought the recommended length of 2.2m, and - bearing in mind I didn't cut the bands or the inner tank thingy - I had to seam the front piece because there was absolutely no way I was going to get those pattern pieces on the fabric otherwise. I don't actually mind the seam at all, so no biggie, but still!

The dress itself is a straightforward tank shape from the front, with a slightly cocoon shaped skirt but the back has all the drama with a sort of cape-like drapey bit hanging off the shoulders (excellent description, Helen). The instructions were clear as mud, so the construction was a bit of a head-fuck, but I got there in the end.
You can see how the back neck sags under the weight of the fabric here

Not sure if it was a drafting error, or if I stretched out the armholes when sewing, but the armscyes were ridiculously large. It's possibly a bit of both. I think I ended up removing about 20cm from each (yes, really!), tapering it down the side seams. Because the side seams actually sit to the front, this has resulted in an angled shape to the armhole, which I rather like.
You can sort of see the angled armscye here

I think I added length, just in case, which I cut off again, but I left the bottom unhemmed - partly laziness, partly time, partly because I doubted I'd keep this as a maxi, so what was the point? So far it's still a maxi dress!

The result? Yeah, I kind of love it. I wore it twice on holiday. Not sure how much wear it'll get outside Turkey or a similar hot location, but you never know. I love the kind of Grecian vibe it has. It's nice unbelted but Paul vetoed that, so I wore it belted. It works well, but it is the kind of dress you fiddle with quite a lot. But I like the swishy nature and I really love the shape of the skirt. I think I will have to find another excuse to wear it at home!
Grecian Goddess pose, obvs.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 3

You can find parts 1 and 2 here.
While I was procrastinating on my dress, I made a pair of shorts. We have only been abroad once since we had the kids, and I hadn't done a beach style holiday in about 20 years so I was majorly stressing about what to pack. I only owned one pair of short which I have had for over 10 years so I thought a second pair wouldn't go amiss. There are a few shorts patterns I fancied trying but with the limitations of time, I decided to stick with something I knew would work - the Emerson by True Bias. Since I had made the cropped pants last year I knew they would work perfectly. 

I used a Robert Kaufman railroad denim that I've had in the stash for a number of years, so it was good to finally find a use for it. Its a lightweight denim, so not too thick or heavy for hot weather. 
The shorts came together with no issues whatsoever. It's a great pattern and a quick sew. At this point my overlocker was still working so the insides are overlocked in red, and I bound the inside waistband with Liberty bias binding. Because I can.
My only regrets with these shorts are that I used cheap elastic which isn't very stretchy, which makes them a bit difficult to get over my hips (especially on top of a wet swimsuit!) and which also makes the waistband a bit tighter than my others. In general they are slightly less comfortable than my cropped pants. I think I need to fiddle with the crotch curve a bit if I make another pair - I suspect the chambray of the cropped pants relaxes more than the denim and so is a bit more forgiving. They aren't in the pattern, but I also could have done with patch pockets on the back on these. However, they are still a great little workhorse of a pair of shorts. I wore them numerous times on holiday. They are comfy (just not as comfy as the others), and they go with pretty much everything. The length as drafted is perfect for me - not too long, not too short. I can imagine they will last me the next 10 years!

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