Monday, 30 December 2013

Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2013

Oh look! What's that? Why, I do believe it's a bandwagon. Wait, while I jump on!

I was trying to hold off doing this, but my Bloglovin blog-roll is bursting at the seams with Top 5 Hits and Misses, and I've been persuaded to join in the fun! I feel a bit cheeky seeing as I've never read the blogger who kicked this off, Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow, but I'm sure she won't mind.

I probably won't do this properly. For obvious reasons (pregnancy) there is little point in doing the goals and inspirations for next year, as I will be unable to fulfil many sewing goals that I currently harbour (sewing trousers for example), and inspiration will mostly be based upon whatever is most comfortable, but I will do a separate post about my maternity sewing plans. But for the time being, here is my roundup of 2013.

The Hits
(Fortunately, I guess), it is really difficult to chose only 5 makes, so instead here are 5 things I am particularly proud of, in no particular order:

1. Grainline Scouts!
By far and away my favourite discovery of 2013. It might be a bit of a cop out, as this is a very easy pattern to make, but I did still need to do some fitting work to get it right. All 3 have been worn loads (well, the sequin one has been worn as often as a sequin top can realistically be worn), and there are definitely more variations in the pipeline. Love it!

2. Me Made May
I enjoyed MMM13 so much. Yes it was challenging, but it was fun, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. It became apparent through the month that I need to make more (some) trousers/jeans, for an entirely me made wardrobe to properly work, but as I don't sew to replace RTW, it hasn't concerned me too much that I haven't yet managed that.

3. Small Girl Dress
I was really happy with this make. Making something small was interesting, but fun, and nice to deal with only small bits of fabric! My sister and my niece love it, which is the most important thing. Lessons learnt from this? Don't just save your best sewing for others. You deserve it yourself! Something I have been trying to put into practise since.

4. Floral Charlotte Skirt
This was a great save of a real miss (see details below). The waist is (was) still a little big, but it didn't stop me wearing this to death this summer and early autumn. I love the fabric and I particularly love the fact that I was able to make something that I love from an unwearable mess! Hurrah for saves!

5. Graphic Green Peony
I had this dress in mind for a while and was glad I finally managed to make it. Technically it's a fail because the fit was terrible, but again, I managed to perform a decent save (IMO) on it, making it a really comfortable wearable dress. My only regret is that I didn't make it earlier in the summer to get more wear out of it. Never mind, I'm sure it'll fit in Summer 2015!

The Misses
Let's start with the most obvious (hint: see no. 4 above).

1. Mad Men Elisalotte
The fit on this was just wrong, wrong wrong! To be fair, my head wasn't in the right place when I made it, and I made the dress in a stretch fabric when it's meant to be non-stretch with negative ease, so this was entirely my fault. I never once wore it in it's original form, but at least I was able to turn it around and make it wearable as a skirt!

2. Fall for Cotton blouse
This wasn't a huge miss, but it was a rush job and as a result the finish is pretty poor. Also, since it was a rush job, I didn't bother with a muslin to my cost. It's too short and as a result it is not a length I feel comfortable wearing. I did wear it once or twice, but never felt fully happy with it. Shame because I like the style and I love the fabric.

3. Spring Mathilde
I enjoyed making this. I'm happy with the fit and the fabric, but I just don't really wear it and I think that's because it's not me. I don't know why. I love it on everyone else. Maybe I need to try it in a different fabric, with a short sleeve? I don't know. I'm disappointed that I don't like this more.

That's it! Not too many fails then, which is good news! As ever, there are still things that I think I can improve on, and even when I'm happy with a finished garment, I'm never, truly 100% happy but with perseverance and attention to detail (and forcing myself to unpick something rather than say "it'll do") I feel I am getting better.

So, in summary, I made 14 garments for myself this year, 1 garment for another person (my niece) and made 3 craft items, of which 2 were for others (bunting for Small Boy and nautical craft swap). OK, so nowhere near the 50 or 60 garments of some people, but I am really happy with my output. I was surprised it had been that many when I counted them up. Next year perhaps a bit more selfless sewing? Well, as I said above, my next post will cover my maternity sewing plans, so maybe!

I know I've said this before, but my next post will most definitely be once we are into 2014, so Happy New Year, whatever your plans! X

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Last Minute Christmas Crafting

Hi! A just-in-the-nick-of-time pre-Christmas post to share some last minute crafting that's been going on around here. I decided we needed some Christmas tree bunting, as generally our Christmas decorations are the tree and... well, that's it. With a Small Boy in the house, I am trying to branch out more, and bunting seemed just the ticket. This was a quick and relatively easy make across 2 evenings although it could easily have been one, if I hadn't decided to make 2 at once.

I free handed a Christmas tree shape on paper, traced it onto the back of a cereal packet, cut it out and then drew round it onto my fabric. The fabric was all from my stash - well, some of it was purpose bought about 2 or 3 years ago, but because I didn't make the bunting then, it became part of the stash. The rest was scraps and an old RTW blouse that shrank some time ago.

The only the I had to buy was the green thread! I was in town on Saturday to get my hair cut, so popped into John Lewis to get the that, and while there, the little star shaped buttons caught my eye. It was nearly £6 for the pack, but I think they really make the bunting!
I cut the fabric using pinking shears, placed them wrong sides together and sewed around them. The shape was a bit tricky to sew around, as my machine has a tendency to chew up fabric when I sew very close to the edge, and some of the lighter fabrics suffered more from this than the others. As a result the seam allowance is a bit wobbly and inconsistent to say the least! But I say just don't look too closely! I originally cut 9 trees for each string of bunting, as I like odd numbers, but I didn't have enough bias binding, so this was reduced to 8. Luckily I only had 8 different fabrics so was going to repeat one, so no fabric was made to feel left out!

The second strand was a present for my sister and her family. it's exactly the same as this one, but the trees are in a different order. They recently completed an extension to the back of their house, so it was a Christmas themed extension warming present! One which she will probably not want to put up because she won't want pin marks in her freshly plastered and painted walls!

I love ours. It honestly gives me real pleasure every time I see it! Daft, but true! That's Christmas for you!

The fireplace, "dressed" for Christmas. All artwork by Small Boy. The thing that looks like a tissue is actually the reindeer dust (see below). The random jar on the mantelpiece is a home made snow globe. 

So I think we are now all organised for Christmas. The Small Boy has done his shouting up the chimney (a family tradition from our side - you shout up the chimney, rather than write a letter, to ask Santa to bring you what you want), we've sprinkled "reindeer dust" (a nursery invension: oats mixed with glitter) on the fireplace and in the garden, where it will surely have blown away already, and the mince pie and brandy (lucky Santa Claus) and carrot have been left out! All that is left is for me to post this, finish making the truffles that are currently cooling in the fridge, wrap one more present and then chill!

Shouting up the chimney

Snacks for Santa and Rudolf 
This will probably be my last post for a couple of weeks, so I'll take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, when it comes! Have a good one! X

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Completed: Sequin Scout

Generally this is how Christmas pans out for me. October: “too early for Christmas”. November: “ too early for Christmas”. December: PANIC! I have nothing bought. No cards, no presents, no paper, no advent calendar, no ribbons, no tree, no party outfit… For some reason this year I was quite organised on the paper, cards, advent calendar and even some of the presents. Not so on the party outfit. Particularly given my Xmas nights out this year are early – 5th and 7th! And this year was made doubly hard in that I can’t just rely on some old thing to wear, because it will not fit me! I’m now in that hinterland of looking like I’ve eaten a few too many pies. That stage where people are scared to ask, for fear of offending! Not big enough to justify maternity wear, just big enough to have outgrown “normal” clothes. My original plan of a chiffon zinnia went out the window a long time ago.
I have been mildly obsessed with sequin tees (and skirts and even trousers) since last Christmas, when I saw one (I think, in Topshop), didn’t buy it, then couldn’t find it when I decided it might be nice after all. I did a bit of searching around, at the time, but then decided on some other party outfit. But since then I’ve been collecting sequin images on Pinterest. I wasn't going to, and couldn't afford to spend around £70 to £100 plus on one, so making one seemed the obvious solution!
I couldn’t get the fabric I really wanted in a local shop and I didn’t have time to shop around, or to order online (although I did come across this website, which might prove useful in future). What I really wanted was what Danielle just used for her sequin skirt. A fabric well-covered in matt sequins in either a copper colour, or navy. Particular inspiration was these:
The Cloth Shop only had black, which I didn’t want. John Lewis only had the fabric that I bought. It was labelled as gold, but it looks more silver. The sequins themselves are small and quite sparse – they don’t overlap at all. I thought this might work in my favour in terms of ease of sewing, and I was probably right, however in the cold light of day and now made up, it does look quite cheap. Which is annoying considering it cost me £23 for 1.3 metres!  

I didn’t have much to go on for working with this fabric. The lady in John Lewis told me that might break my machine and that I should hand sew it all. And obviously not to go near it with an iron. It wasn’t the normal JL lady that I know and trust, so I chose to ignore her advice and went with machine stitching, very slowly, with a longer stitch (3.5, the default is 2.5) and a very sharp needle. This worked a treat. I got a small amount of puckering on the side seams, but this pressed out OK. Yes, I pressed it! I used my iron’s lowest possible setting, and in lieu of a organza pressing cloth, used an old baby’s muslin. I also only pressed the wrong side, just in case. The sequins are sewn onto a poly chiffon, which gives the fabric a lovely drape, but the sequins themselves add body, making it relatively easy to handle and sew. What was particularly nice was that with right sides together, the sequins provided traction, meaning the 2 layers didn’t slip about at all. Particularly handy since pins refused to stay in place!
I went with the Grainline Studios’ Scout as I know it and like it and it has so few seams. I thought the fewer seams the better. I used a silvery-grey poly lining fabric scrap from my stash, in place of self-bias binding, and at the last minute decided to show the bias, rather than only using it as a facing. This works reasonably well, but if I’d thought about it in advance I would have bought something of better quality, and would have made the bias binding wider. Still, it gives a nice subtle contrast. I had wanted to raise the neckline on this version, but I forgot when cutting it out, so it remains loyal to the pattern. Although bizarrely it seems to sit lower and wider than my previous Scouts. I left the pattern as is - without removing any width - to accommodate the small bump. Again in hindsight, I should have added some length, but it works fine as is. And here it is:

I did read Heather Lou from Closet Case Files’ recent post on sewing with sequins. Her advice was to remove sleeve ease, because gathered sequins look like “disco barf”. Having no great desire to find out what “disco barf” looks like, I followed her advice, and the tutorial she used. This worked well. I am always scared of any pattern alterations as it involves maths and rulers and looks too complicated. But this took me 20 mins tops! Super easy. It was still a little big, but again, I followed her instructions to remove the remaining excess, which also worked fine.
The sleeve and bodice hem are sewn by hand, as was the bias binding. I didn't remove any sequins in the seam allowance, but the seams sit just fine, albeit they are a little bulky. A blessing again of the sparsity of the sequins. The insides were finished by overlocker. Wait? What? Oh, yes, I forgot to tell some of you that Santa has been early to my house, via Lidl, and I am now the proud possessor of a Singer 14SH754 overlocker! It’s good. I like it, but am still getting used to it. It took me an hour to change thread colour to make this blouse! But I will write another post on this at a later date.
Some more photos:

Excuse the background, which is dead herbs against our neighbour's extension wall. My usual garden backdrop wasn't an option because our fence blew down in the gales last week. I hope my poor climbing rose has survived!
The blouse wasn't finished on time for Thursday, but, after frantically handsewing the hem at 6pm on Saturday night, it was for my night out then: dinner at Harvey Nichols with my antenatal group. I wore it with maternity leggings (thick, ponte ones) and gold heels. My friend, Jo, something of a fashion expert and a very classy dresser, proclaimed that my top looked like it was "from French Connection and cost £100". That made me very happy! :) Clearly it does not actually look cheap!
In other news, it was my birthday on Monday. I turned 39! I have been reading with some interest, Roobedoo's "49 before 50" series of posts, as she has recently entered her 50th year. I vaguely toyed with the idea of something similar, before realising that pregnancy, recruiting my mat cover, giving birth, breast feeding, coping with no sleep, juggling a baby and a toddler and finally weaning, was probably enough to be getting on with for next year!  Although to them, I might add: becoming less scared of proficient on my overlocker, continuing to sew as often as possible, and attending my first blogger meet up (February, in Glasgow. Sooo excited!).
I received some lovely gifts including a gift voucher for one of my favourite independent Edinburgh shops, Curiouser & Curiouser from P, The Great British Sewing Bee book from my sister and Megan Nielsen's Ruched Maternity Tee pattern from my mum. The GBSB book has some lovely patterns, and I can see myself making a few of them further down the line. I don't see the point in going crazy for specific maternity patterns - the finished makes have too short a shelf life - but I thought this would be a good basic shape on which to base a few mods. It will also give me good practise on knits and the overlocker!
So that's me for now. Are any of you sewing Christmas party outfits? If so, what are you sewing? 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Refashion: Skater Dress

This can't really be called a refashion. The dress was merely toyed with!

I was given this dress by a girl at work. Somewhat bizarrely I thought. Apparently it didn't fit her and she thought it might fit me, which was lovely of her, but it still had the tags on, so presumably she could have returned it!? Anyway I am not one to turn down free clothes, especially pretty ones, and after offering payment and all sort of other compensation to her, I graciously accepted it FOC.

It's a simple skater style dress from, in polyester. Not my favourite fabric, but I repeat: free dress. It's labelled as a size 12, but seeing as it fits me fine, and I'm normally a 8 or a 10, I think it was labelled wrongly - proven by the fact that the tag called it a "Peter Pan Collar Skater Dress". I am no expert but I don't see any collar, peter pan or otherwise. You get what you pay for! 

As I said the dress pretty much fits well, but the sleeves which were 3/4 length, were ridiculously tight. So tight in fact that I could only just get my arm in there, and once it I couldn't raise it to do up the zip at the back. I managed to get P to zip me into it to check the rest of it was OK. It was. So I cut 9cm off the sleeves, took up a narrow hem and err... that was it. Told you it wasn't much of a refashion. But the result is a dress I can now wear. To be honest, the sleeves are still very tight, and I suspect they won't tolerate a lot of movement - so not one to wear while doing yoga, gardening or cleaning the house - but it should be able to cope with a day at the desk. I could have shortened the sleeves further, but liked the elbow length for winter, even though it will almost pretty much always be covered by a cardigan. I can always shorten or even remove the sleeves in future.

As my tummy is already expanding, this dress won't fit for long, but it will be a nice addition to my autumn/winter wardrobe for however long it does fit!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Completed: Another Scout!

Firstly, thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my last post! So sweet! :)

And now on to another make. This has been a long time coming. I started it over a month ago, and it should have been a very easy, quick and straightforward make. Yes, it was relatively easy and straightforward, but early stage pregnancy exhaustion, plus my forcing myself to do my "best sewing" meant it was anything but quick. Hey ho, that's how life is at the moment.

This blouse was ripped off from inspired by this blouse I have had Pinned for a while, by Chinti and Parker (it's no longer available) which I thought was really pretty and looked very much like Grainline Studio's Scout Woven Tee, with a couple of variations.

Source: Chinti and Parker
Actually, I have only just realised that I forgot about the pocket!!! Doesn't matter. The bit I was most interested in was the ruffle at the back. I am not a huge fan of ruffles and flounces on myself. I find they just get in the way of life, but I do like a bit of added interest, particularly on the back of a garment. And this is not too ruffley.

Back in the summer, I bought a beautiful silky cotton voile in this delicious berry colour from The Village Haberdashery. I managed to snaffle the last 2 and a bit metres, so it's no longer available. At the time I really swithered* between the berry and this pumpkin colour which is still available, but in the end I felt the berry would suit me better. How gorgeous is the pumpkin though? I may still need to purchase some of that! I wasn't too bothered about the pink or the white of the original inspriration garment. I don't really wear either of those colours, particularly not white. And it's just as well, seeing as this garment never made it to fruition until November!

The make, as I said, was really straightforward. I decided to omit the back seam on the original because I didn't need it, so it was just the ruffle. On the inspiration picture, it looks like the ruffle starts at the model's natural waist, so using my back neck to waist measurement, I measured the pattern piece, remembering to factor in seam allowance at the neck and to add seam allowance at the waist. I then cut the pattern piece straight across at this point. For me, this ended up coincidentally being right on the shorten/lengthen line!

I cut the top back bodice piece, and the rest of the pattern pieces, as normal. For the ruffle, I used the bottom back bodice piece as a guide for shape, but I widened it (horizontally across the width of my back). Initially I increased the width by 1.5 times, as I wasn't sure how much volume I wanted it to have. I gathered the piece and pinned it to the top back bodice piece, but there was too much volume for my liking, and compared to the Chinti and Parker version, so I reduced it until it looked about right for me. I didn't measure it, or take pictures of this stage, sorry, as I was at my sewing class and I just didn't think. I tried to keep the curved shape of the bottom of this pattern piece on the extended piece, and of course I added seam allowance at the top.

The side seams, underarm seams and the ruffle seam (attaching it to the back bodice piece) are all French seamed. Before I attached the sleeves, I tried it on and decided it was too volumey. The fabric is lovely and silky, but it's not overly drapey, so it stood away from me and looked really boxy. So in the end I took it in at the sides. This meant unpicking and re-doing those lovely French seams, which was annoying, but worth it. I took the sides in 3cm (about 1.25 inches) at the bottom, tapering this out to nothing at the bottom of the armhole. It hasn't taken loads off, but it hangs a bit more nicely now.

Was quite obviously taking these photos myself, hence lack of head!
In the end, looking at the finished garment, the ruffle is about 1.5 inches wider than the pattern piece. Adding 1.25 inches back onto that (that I removed for fit) means my ruffle was probably 2.75 inches (or about 7cm) wider than the pattern piece originally (once I had adjusted it to my preference). Hope that makes sense?

The sleeve seams were finished using my machine's overlock stitch. All fairly standard for me.

When I came to finish the neckline, I realised I had either failed to read, or failed to understand the instructions for my first Scout. For that one I enclosed the neckline in the bias binding, but this time I realised the bias binding was to be used as a facing. Both work, and actually I think I might prefer the exposed bias binding as a finish, given you end up with a topstitch around the neck anyway.

I am really happy with this blouse, it's exactly what I was hoping to make (minus the forgotten pocket). The voile is a little sheer but I can wear a pale bra underneath without it being seen. Plus for autumn/winter I have a couple of cardigans that go with it. I'm preferring a cropped cardi with it though, just so you can see the ruffle a bit more! It's great with black trousers for work, or with jeans and boots at the weekend, so it really is very versatile. Jenny  from Bobbins and Whimsy would be proud!

Because this is still a roomy style, I think it will do me for a good few months of pregnancy, with a bump band or cami underneath once it starts to become a bit too short. And it's worth bearing in mind that another version of the Scout, without the fit adjustment and with added length could be a good maternity option for later too.

* Spell check doesn't like "swithered", so I'm wondering if this is perhaps just a British, or possibly even Scottish, word. If so, to "swither" means to be indecisive. Then again, it might be a normal word that everyone uses. After all, spell check doesn't like the word "blog"...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

And then there were four

I know it’s been a bit quiet on the blog recently. Life sometimes just gets in the way of both blogging and sewing, which can be annoying, or can be good, depending on the reason.

Luckily around here, the reasons have mostly been good, but the biggest and most exciting reason of all  is… I am pregnant! Just 13 weeks at the moment, so I am due in May (and so, a week behind Megan Nielsen – imagine my frustration when she announced her pregnancy and I couldn’t comment accordingly! Wait! Off to do that now…). Obviously having a baby is (nearly) always exciting, but for us to get to this stage brings extreme excitement and huge relief. Since Small Boy, I’ve had some difficulty becoming and then staying pregnant, so it’s super exciting to have made it this far! To see the little blob bouncing around and waving its limbs around was so lovely, and until that moment, I don’t think either of us realised how anxious we had been.

But here we are! Small Boy is excited and is telling everyone who will listen, although he wants to know regularly “has the baby come out your tummy yet”? 6 months is a long time for a 3 year old. He spend the past fortnight asking if it was Halloween yet, so the upcoming months are going to crawl for him.

So, what of my sewing plans? Some plans are obviously parked for a while. My gingham Archer will need to wait until I am back to a normal size, as I don’t want to waste the fabric on something that then won’t fit in future – that fabric is too precious to me. Similarly I will need to leave my chiffon Zinnia. When I wrote that post I knew I was pregnant, however I thought it would still be viable to make and wear at Christmas. Small Boy was due in June, so I have been equating this pregnancy to his, but this time I am nearly exactly a month ahead, meaning at Christmas I will be 20 weeks! Plus I already have developed a small tummy, which I am sincerely hoping is due to child and not cake, so the likelihood of me fitting a skirt at Christmas is minimal. Having said that, have you seen Shivani’s gathered maternity skirt? Maybe a variation on that could work? Maybe?

I’m not sure what my sewing plans will be over the coming months. I would like to do some maternity sewing. Having been pregnant before I know what worked for me and what didn’t, what I felt comfortable wearing and what made me feel silly or huge. A lot of what worked last time, though, was knits and I haven’t really done a lot of sewing with knits so far, so that’s a bit scary for me. I could also take the opportunity to sew some other stuff: a shirt for P, something for Small Boy, a quilt, or to take up another hobby like knitting.

Frustratingly, this seems to be new pattern release season! So many pretty new things out there. I am going to have to live vicariously through you all for the time being!

Lots to think about. For the moment though I am too exhausted to do much in the evenings. I haven’t completed my Scout and my coat remains a UFO, but they are my immediate goals. Luckily both are loose and so should remain fairly roomy for a while. Once my energy returns, I am looking forward to picking them back up. I am keen to get them finished, but at this stage know there is little point pushing myself.

So, there you go. Some exciting news from me! 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

And the winner is...

So, I had a grand total of 10 entries to my giveaway, which closed last night. Hey, you enter my giveaways, the odds are seriously stacked in your favour!

If I'm honest, I'm a little bit disappointed that more people didn't enter, but then maybe most blog readers are more restrained than me and only enter the giveaways for the things they really, really want (as opposed to thinking: "hey, free stuff, count me in. What was it again?"!). But you aren't interested in how few people entered my giveaway. You are interested in who won it.

I went for the old fashioned route of actual names, pulled, by an independent adjudicator (husband), from an actual vintage glass bowl. When doing this, I was glad there were only 10, and not 100 to cut out and fold up...

And P selected...

Congratulations Bobbi! Pinging you an email now...

Thanks for everyone who did enter. This was my first ever giveaway and I was feeling insecure that no one would want the prizes and therefore no one would enter! It was fun though, so I feel another giveaway may be necessary some time in the future! :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

This weekend

... has not been about sewing, but then it never is!

I did do some "making", however!

Small Boy is incredibly excited about Hallowe'en! I blame nursery as they've had decorations up all week. Any Americans reading this will be thinking "yup, and what?", however, here in the UK, Hallowe'en has previously only really been about the actual day - with perhaps a party on the closest weekend. In Scotland in particular (and possibly all of the UK, but I can only speak for the area where I grew up), as a child, Hallowe'en, involved "guising" (essentially the same idea as trick or treating) and a turnip lantern, usually with a string handle - yup that's right, my dad would carve out a raw turnip - a million times harder than your softy, easy-scoop pumpkins!! I suppose that was because we didn't really have pumpkins in the shops in the 70's and 80's, whereas turnips have always been fairly plentiful here. Lucky us! Incidentally, parties (for kids at least) predominantly featured "ducking for apples" (fishing apples out of a basin of water, using only your teeth) and "treacle scones" (bread like scones, liberally coated with treacle, hung from a string, the aim being to take a bite; again with hands behind your back). The scones were usually immediately followed by trying to eat a smartie from the top of a mound of flour (again no hands), so the flour stuck to the treacle on your face! You were then sent home a treacly, floury mess, this usually being on top of smeared witch/fairy/cat face painting!

Anyway, here now, as with all things, Hallowe'en is now becoming more Americanised (I don't have a problem with that, but nor do I think we should give up our own customs in favour of another culture's...) with decorations, pumpkins, Indian corn etc

In order to get into the spirit, I decided to carve my boy a pumpkin. He chose the face (Google has some great ideas), and I got to work. It's meant to be Caspar the Friendly Ghost, but it looks a bit more surprised and upset!

We also bought a couple of small edible pumpkins, used above as props, but later this afternoon the medium sized one became pumpkin and orange-flavoured-chocolate bread! Delicious! The recipe is from the Green & Black recipe book (so the choc is meant to be Mayan Gold).

Yesterday was about new things. I finally spent my vouchers that I won at work recently, and treated us to an iPad! It's only an iPad2, the most basic you can get, but still, really cool and it's had so much use already! In fact I am writing this post on it, just to see if I can. So far so good, although I can't touch type on it, and I will need to finish it off on the laptop so I can upload my photos. Most of the time I read blogs, and surf Pinterest on my phone, but the iPad is so much easier for this - and far quicker than my old iPhone3. My only gripe is the Bloglovin app. On some blogs I can't comment. I have the issue on my phone but presumed it was my old phone (don't have IOS 7 on there) but actually apparently this is a fault with the app itself! Seems like a fairly major oversight if you ask me, and one that is particularly frustrating, so I may look to switch readers at some point, if I find another that works better.

The other new thing is that I have new hair!

Photo quality on iPad not great either, apparently.
I have been considering a fringe for a while now, and finally built up the courage to go for it! It's looking good so far because I still haven't washed it, but I like it. Tomorrow may be a different story when I try to blow dry it myself! I think I would have preferred it to be slightly heavier, but I am probably as well to get used to it for a while then decide for my next haircut.

And finally my sewing table! Sewing has been quiet recently, due to other time and energy sapping activities, but I am currently working on another Scout, which is being sewn in order to procrastinate on the coat I have promised myself I will finish this year! My coat was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog. You can see the details here. Last year I managed as far as cutting the lining, then I became overwhelmed at the thought of cutting the main fabric; the thought of ruining it too daunting. But this year I need to do it! Just as soon as I'm finished this Scout!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Giving Something Back: A Giveaway! **Giveaway now closed**

This post is overdue in a number of ways.

For a wee while I have been thinking that it's about time I gave something back to the online sewing community. It has been very generous to me in the short time I've been blogging. Here's a quick reminder of what I've won:

McCalls 7385 courtesy of Cation Designs
This beautiful embroidered boat brooch, made by Jo of Adventures and Tea Parties, given away by House of Pinheiro
Some beautiful blue striped chambray courtesy of The Polished Button
2.5m of amazing wax cotton AND Simplicity 1609 from the gorgeous Amazing Taracat
Not to mention 3 Liebster awards

And then there has been the amazing generosity of the swap partners I've been lucky to have been paired with (here and here), and finally, I can't not mention the unspeakable kindness of Danielle of One Small Stitch and the infamous large check gingham!

It becomes apparent that I really ought to be saying thank you using more than just words.

Way back in August (I know, I know), my friend Jo and I visited the Coming Into Fashion exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. This was a stunning exhibition featuring over 150 photographs and magazines from the Conde Nast archives, dating back 10 decades.

Source - This is the only photo I can remember and can find online!
Photography is one of my favourite art media, and this exhibition didn't disappoint. There were photos galore, spread over 2 floors of the building, literally covering from the 1900's to present day. The only criticism I have is that the information provided for each photo was minimal, featuring only the publication, date and photographer. I would have loved to have known more about the "story" or the concept behind each one. There was one photo of an Italian actor and a female model and when we were looking at it, admiring the model's hair, one of the guys working there (what do you call those people who work for museums and kind of mill about the rooms, usually wearing tartan trousers?) told us the background story of the actor, which involved him moving to the US, having an affair with Frank Sinatra's other half (Ava Gardner, I think) and then being "sent" back to Italy by Frank's mob. And so ended his career! I would have loved to have known that kind of detail about more of the photos.

Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Well, the City Art Centre has a lovely little shop. And when browsing said shop, I came across these, which I thought would be perfect for a little giveaway on a sewing blog and a nice way to say thank you and to give something back!

4 really cute pin badges on a sewing theme, made by Kate Broughton, and 4 beautiful ceramic buttons made by Stockwell Ceramics.

So, if you would like to be in with a chance of winning these, please leave me a comment below, leaving a contact email address. Closing date is next Tuesday 29th October and the giveaway is open to international readers. I will pull a name out of a hat and will post the winner some time next week. Good luck!

***Sorry, Giveaway now closed!***

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Completed: Small Girl Dress - Selfless Sewing!

I actually finished this before my Fall for Cotton blouse, but didn't get round to posting it at the time. This one was a little longer in the making. Other than my sew-fest the other Friday, I've been really only sewing at my class for a couple of hours a week recently. But this was enough to have managed to complete this dress for my niece's birthday at the end of September.

I made Butterick B4176, and yes, again I made it in Liberty Tana Lawn. This is becoming a bit of an obsession.

I made view B, which is the pink dress above with the cap sleeves.

 Isn't it cute?! As the tana lawn is fairly lightweight and we are headed into autumn, I underlined it with black cotton voile. Black wasn't my preferred choice, but it was all they had and actually it looks OK now that it's made up. The double layer of fabric made the pleats a bit bulky but with a bit of pressing and some steam they flattened themselves down and behaved nicely.

As you can see, I used little turquoise buttons - those at the front are decorative and there is one with a fabric loop, made from bias binding, for fastening at the back neck. The pattern suggested a thread loop but I felt that would be too fiddly when trying to get a wriggly 2 year old dressed in the morning.

The dress was really straightforward in it's construction. Nothing difficult at all. I French seamed the insides, and overlock stitched the sleeves. I hand stitched the hem and also the turned back seams at the back opening.  The neckline is faced with bias binding and the sleeves finished with a turned up seam encasing elastic. This part proved problematic, as the pattern instructions called for me to measure the arm to gauge the length of elastic required. Straightforward yes, but not if you are making this dress as a surprise! Small Boy was called into action as a stand in. Although he is over a year older, I figured their arms wouldn't be too different, and I was right!

The buttons were flat, but I decided to give the one at the back a thread shank, just to help with looping that fabric loop over. I hadn't done this before, but found a kirby grip (bobby pin?) a great help!

 As this wasn't for me, I took extra care - why do we do that? Are we not good enough for our "best" sewing? - and as a result am really pleased with the dress. Unfortunately I kind of usurped Gran's present! My niece arrived at my parents (same day as I wore my Fall for Cotton blouse) wearing her present from Gran - a lovely Boden dress - which lasted until we arrived, our present was opened and Auntie Helen's dress was duly tried on. And stayed on for the rest of the day! So, obviously it was a success!

So, making small clothes versus making adult clothes? Less fabric is nice. It was cheaper (I only used about 70cm of each fabric), and I was able to cut it out on the table, instead of the floor, which was wonderful. It was quicker to make due the smaller seams. But on the downside, it was more fiddly. I found setting the sleeves in much harder because there was less room to manoeuvre. The pattern had me set in the sleeves last, but if I were to make this again, I would leave the back seam to last. I think this would make setting the sleeves that bit easier.

As a parting shot, here is the little lady herself, modelling it.

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