Feelgood Hits of 2013

After a rate of almost a garment a week in 2012, this was a quieter and less impulsive year of sewing.  I made outfits for others and invested time in picking up tailoring techniques (canvasing up, making pockets and bound buttonholes).  

But as I still  don’t seem to have the right thing to wear half the time, I’m glad I’ve added the following mini-gems to the wardrobe.  Here’s the countdown with the most favourite at number 1 (click the pics for links):

5. Two Peas in a Pod

Pattern Magic that’s wearable?! How novel!  I didn’t think I’d get much out of a T-shirt that makes me look like I’ve swallowed someone.  But for a one-day job – half of it spent at the photocopier – this shrink pattern/enlarge pattern experiment paid off.

I’d file this under “Barmy, but works for me“!

 

4. Anna

May 2014 bring me a small castle in which to wear this medieval princess number.   Actually forget that.  I just need lots of long days of summer.

There’s a subtext to this Anna project as I was persuaded to make it by a very good friend who’s also really caught the sewing bug.  One of the highlights of the year have been our fabric-acquisition expeditions to Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow!

That’s right, readers: one more woman with a stash problem!

3. Cactus

Not as prickly as I’d feared!


2. Teal Isn’t Just For Ducks, You Know

I attempted to design an interesting pattern and though it needs tweaking, this muslin is so vibrant and mood enhancing that I want to wear it all the time.

Shame then that it’s too draughty!

And finally…

1. Zen Charmer
The Alexander Henry print steals the show here; the pattern is the simple Laurel.  But I’m quite proud of having matched the two to make a dress that plays with the idea of a Chongsam without being so enclosing around the neck as a traditional Chinese dress.  I’ve not had one bad day in this dress. It must be magic or something…

Anyway, thank you all for reading my blog this year.  It was great to steadily increase readership and I’m always encouraged along by your feedback and comments.   Stick around in 2014: we’re going places!

Mx

P.S.  Here’s another list of good things that happened (it’s actually just an excuse to sneak in a picture of Blogstalker!).

5. Best car song: Counting Stars, One Republic

4. Favourite album: Like Clockwork, QOTSA

3. Best Book: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (reread after 27 years)

2. Best cinema trip: Life of Pi

And …

1. The hot summer of 2013! I finally got to wear the summer dresses I made last year…

Sew Long, 2013

Where did the year go?!  Oh yeah…

2013: THE MISSES (click on picture to link to original post).

1. Amy Butler Lotus

I have proof that this dress looks great on others.  When I wear it, I feel like I’m trying to impersonate someone…

 

2. Sonny Boy’s Present
I made this cushion as a  present for a friend of my daughter’s.  He’s 9 and I figured at his age, he’s thoroughly sick of being bestowed with a mountain of plastic clutter every birthday.  Well, I misjudged.  His comment on receiving this personalised, handcrafted bit of uniquity?  I quote:

That’s not even a present!‘ 

:roll: :-)

3. Lipstick Bleed Skeletons
After watching the Great British Sewing Bee, I quickly and manically used some remnants to made my daughter this skirt.  At the first wash, the skellies’ mouths bled so badly, their faces are now pink!

 

4. Surely a hundred sewing bloggers cannot be wrong

I get the impression that every blogger has sewn the Vogue 1247 skirt thrice.  Much as I loved the soft pinstripe fabric and the finish of this skirt, it’s too exacting a fit around the waist. I made it a year ago yet by mid April, when it had finally thawed and carbo-loading was no longer a strategy for daily survival, it was too big and the waistband now stands up bulkily. 

 

5. Turtle Neck

I put on this wrinkled-collar Renfrew whenever I want a reminder of what my neck will increasingly look like as I age. I cannot believe I took the trouble to sew something this boring. Why didn’t I at least make it in black-boring so it would at least be sexy in a jewel-thief-cliché sort of way?!

My aim for 2014 is to sew stunning!

 

6. So Bad I Didn’t Even Blog It

Thanks to Jane for inventing a whole new category!  The biggest skeleton of this year secret cupboard was undoubtedly my failed pair of Colette Pattern’s Clover.  The toile was so revoltingly unsuited to me that I vowed to never wear, nay, not even try on trousers again!

Curtain Training

You’ve heard of lion-taming, right?  And you must have heard of dragon-slaying.  But have you heard of curtain training!  I’m not lying: the man in the John Lewis curtain department told me that’s what you have to do for weeks after hanging up your new curtains.  Every time you open them, fold into identical pleats then tie them gently together.  In time they should assume this shape automatically.

Curtain training!  Honestly… It’s a good job there was a pile of rugs in the John Lewis furnishings department so I didn’t have to roll on the floor laughing.

But apart from the ludicrous name, I confess that’s what I did every morning for at least a week after making these curtains for my daughter’s room. I lovingly 8O pressed the plump folds into a concertina-like position(tying them seemed a step too far.).  These picture show what they look like after  I abandoned the regime and went back to my usual routine of a rushing thug.  What can I say:  life takes over.

In making them, I followed all the good advice you gave me after I posted pictures of my bicycle curtains:

  • I cut off the selvedges.  Also I pulled at lengths of thread, both crosswise and vertically, to establish the true grain of fabric.  Last time I sewed patterned curtains, I relied on the graphics instead and it didn’t produce a good enough hang.
  • I forked out for a walking (even feed) foot.  This really saved me time when matching up the pattern horizontally.  I still had to use my seam ripper when I made vertical mismatches.  With a pattern like this, a millimetre off the seam line and I risked the curtain opening out to reveal mutant three-eyed kitties!
  • I used bump.  Actually, I used Synthetic Interlining.  Bump is a word I like the correct term for expensive cotton interlining.  But even so, these curtains feel very luxurious and are actually a pleasure to be near!  My best curtains so far and I don’t think these photos do them justice but it’s a small bay window that I can’t stand in front of because of a high sleeper bunk in the way!

Giveaway

A chance to get one leftover Fat Quarter (18″ by 22″) with one Regular Quarter (9″ by 44″) of the fabric: a lovely cream cotton called ‘Cocoland Musical’.  It’s a  Kokka Japan  bought from Frumble.  (Not sure what a FQ is?  All explained here.)  It won’t get you curtains but plenty for a peg bag,  a pencil case or a  door stop.  To go into the draw, leave me a silly comment below and one winner will be drawn on Friday 30th.  Make sure you can be contacted.  

So, tell me about your curtain taming!   Er, training!  

Lovely Blogs Abound!

Meggipeg has very kindly passed on to me two blog awards that she’s recently received.  The first of these is the Premio Primavera award which acknowledges those who comment on your blog.  This is a great award which recognises that comments keep things lively and build a community around a blog.  Without them, a post can feel like a message in a bottle tossed into the ocean!

I’d like to pass on this award to the bloggers whose encouraging comments have helped this blog get going.  They’re Pella of Pattern Pandemonium, Ruth of Sew Ruth and Jennifer of Dedicated Musings.  Thanks all!

I love receiving comments so please keep them coming, otherwise I’ll have to resort to  my most pathetic vice that is reading comment spam!

I discovered Megan’s blog when we laboured together over Pattern Magic.  I enjoy reading it for her warm tone and for a glimpse of her creative life on the other side of the world.  I’m dead chuffed that she nominated me for the One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blogger award.  Thanks Meggipeg!

These are the rules of the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award /The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.

3. Share 7 things about yourself.

4. Pass the award to 10 nominees.

5. Include this set of rules.

6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

 

So here goes:

The ‘One Lovely Blog/Very Versatile Blogger’ Nominees

1 Pattern Pandemonium: because Pella sews beautifully, she sews ambitiously and she drafts her own.  But I’m even more pleased to pass her this award because it’ll force her to reveal a bit about herself.  I’m not even sure where she lives.  US, UK, France?  All three?

2 Magical Effects of Thinking: an interesting, eclectic blog and a sewing assistant whose bottom I’d like to pinch!

3 Nicky Linzy: her beautiful illustrations always have a calming influence on me.

Also Japanese Sewing Books, Creatuu, La Petite Josette, Jane’s Sew and Tell, Calico Stretch, Lin3arossa and The Perfect Nose.

 

And for the 7 Facts

I warn you: this may be a case of too much information!

1. I’ve already ‘fessed up to the fact that I read comment spam so let me explain: they’re like the overeager Latin lover I’d have run from.  “Special piece you have realized here! The world wide web is awash of unsuitable writing and I was grabbed by your lucidity. Your determinations are precise and I will forthwith subscribe to your rss feed to remain up to date with your up future day postings. Yes! I accept it, your publishing style is grand and i need to improve on mine decidedly. Buy now Viagra.”

2. In 2012, the only book I loved reading from cover to cover was the The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles.

3. I live with a Motörhead fan who named our now-ancient black cat Lemmy.

4. I’m training for an 18-mile up-and-down cross country race.

4. I spent a part of my childhood in Sierra Leone and Algeria.

5. When I was 18, I sewed through my thumb on a treadle machine…

6….. and only a month later realized a 1cm piece of needle was still inside….

Hope you enjoyed that!

Pam Ayres Sews!

When home alone, I sew and at the same time I like to be drip-fed continuous Radio 4 content.  Woman’s Hour, consumer affairs, political comment or (often quite dodgy) afternoon drama: any of them serve as equally engrossing grown-up company to me.

One discussion you sometimes hear amongst the Radio 4 commentators is on the topic of whether female comedians can ever be as funny as male.  Well, I’d like to start a different debate: could a man ever write a funny poem about items of equipment in one’s sewing space so frequently ending up …well… borrowedPam Ayres can.  “Who’s Had Me Scissors?” broadcast yesterday on “Ayres on Air” was a real treat that had me bending double over my seam-ripping.  You can hear it at the start of this iPlayer episode (it expires in 5 days).  If you share your home with those who can’t comprehend the sanctity of your creative space, you’ll recognize the frustration!

The rest of the episode is very much worth a listen too, as Pam performs a wintery striptease for her fictional husband Gordon (the hilariously grumpy Geoffrey Whitehead) and pays a poignant tribute to her mum. Enjoy.

P.S.  Here’s the lining for the Gathered Hole dress.  Home straight!

Me-Made-May’12

I, Marianna of Sew 2 Pro, will endeavour to wear at least one made-by-me garment each day for the duration of May 2012.’

When I signed up for this group project, initiated by the sustainable sewing blogger So Zo What Do You Know, I little anticipated what big parts in my wardrobe would be played by a coat, boots and a brolly.  Hang on, didn’t I actually see one parent in the playground wearing gloves?! 

Never again will I smirk when I hear the folk say: “Never cast a clout till May is out.”

Elizabethans

The day the Queen came to town, I wore the dress I named after mum to Queen Elizabeth I.  This picture was taken at a fashion booth, one of many, that was on display during the visit.  My coat, brolly and bag were temporarily put on the floor, causing a small security concern. 

Along with Trash! this dress featured heavily in the first half of the month and I don’t want to see it again till October, although I discovered it teams up nicely with a Pipetto Originals belt that I wear with jeans sometimes.

Pleats

Saturdays saw me in my two pleated tops.  Here’s Number 1 worn whilst hassling the McCulloch & Wallis dummy (as is my custom).

And here’s Nicotine Surprise, worn with a nearly camouflaged doggy.

My fascination with pleats was indulged some more when the warm weather returned.  Here’s the Lime Burda 7378.

Schoolrun Skirt

Probably the Me-Made outfit I wear the most in the summer.  I made it some 3 years ago by adapting the Basic Skirt Block into an A-line.  The fabric is an old, discontinued print from Alexander Henry called Zen Charmer which seems equally popular with the kids and the mums. 

Every year I buy a simple top or two to wear with this skirt.  This year, in the spirit of Me-Made, I trimmed a H&M T-shirt with some black crochet-type lace that I didn’t know what to do with for years.  I’m not sure if this mini-project was executed entirely professionally (notice how the T-shirt stretches out where the lace has been sewn on), but seeing a bit of skin through the lace is a nice effect.

New Look 6459

Recently, I made a smart, new version of this pattern but here are a couple of the oldest dresses I’ve ever made.  In fact, I’m thinking of retiring them as the fabric is old and the zips not up to close scrutiny.  The problem is that I still love them so I wear them on hot days at home when I’m burning dinner and I’ll probably give them one last holiday in the scorching sun.  In other words, they’re beachwear!  And the halter necks helps with the tanning.

NL 6459 in faded Viva Frida fabric (by Alexander Henry again)

And in Tattoo by Alexander Henry.  This dress is now 5 years old.  How many RTW dresses would put up with so many summers of use?

Heartbreak

If it hadn’t been for Me-Made-May’12, I wouldn’t have had the camera out in the garden on that first warm Sunday of the month (13th), when we also happened to snap my daughter carrying her kitten Blackadder: the only picture of the two of them together.  Blackadder was killed days later and we miss him more than I can say.

Dear Blacky,

Thank you for being a part of our family and adding so much love and fun to our days.

I’d hoped we’d have years. What a fine lapcat you’d have become!

Enjoy your sleep.

M&C xx

Skirt Nouveau

If I lived in Paris, I’d probably get used to sights like this.  But in my neck of the woods, the creeping, enigmatic lines of the Art Nouveau style are rather rare, so when I glimpsed this Liberty-style fabric from Classic Textiles (44 Goldhawk Road, £7 a metre), I felt a real longing to get myself a piece! I had visions of making myself a Colette Jasmine blouse and, with a long and narrow skirt, coming across all Mrs Dalloway.  That plan went on the backburner the moment I saw this Girl’s Gingham Skirt in the May 12 issue of the Burda magazine.

I decided I had to make it for my daughter and I used my Art Nouveau print to give it a slightly more grown-up tone (gingham is lovely but too much like the school uniform!).

This was my first Burda magazine pattern.  The instructions were clear enough, though there wasn’t much handholding (in other words, beginners beware…).  I traced the pieces onto newspaper and added seam allowances by using a sewing gauge and a fashion curve.  I picked the largest waist size and added 4cm in length which fits my  132cm -tall 7 year-old.

I made each sash double-sided (from two pieces of fabric) though from what I understand, the instructions call for one piece with the long sides folded under.

I left out the lace on the underskirt as I didn’t want to detract from the print.  Although the underskirt is 2cm longer than the print skirt, it doesn’t quite show: I guess I went a little wrong in my measurements!

The pockets on this skirt are charming: they have flaps, piping and Cute Buttons.  Along with the underskirt, they elevate this skirt pattern to something more special than a simple gathered skirt made from rectangles of fabric.  Every little girl deserves one of these!!

One Week, One Pattern

Inspired by the blog Tilly and the Buttons, from Saturday 24th to Friday 30th March, we pledge to wear garments made from one pattern.  My chosen favourite is the BSB which is the Skirt Master Pattern in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Saturday 24th: Macculloch’s

It’s 10:30a.m and I’m at Macculloch buying the zip and thread for my Mad Men Challenge Dress.  Being very new to this posing-whilst-looking-presentable business, I got side-tracked by an argument with my photographer  (“Don’t make me look short!”  “But you are!” etc.), and so failed to check if my skirt was on straight.  This Basic Skirt Block is made of claret corduroy and cut on the bias with the ridges meeting in a V in the middle.  To line it, I had valuable help from Slapdash’s tutorial.  The top is Nicotine Surprise.

Sunday 25th, Slummy Mummy

A hybrid of the BSB and Vogue 1247.  I haven’t bought the V1247 pattern, but added pockets to the basic skirt after getting the idea from Vacuuming the LawnHere’s her photo of what the innermost layer looks like.  My internet research suggests that the V1247 is shockingly short and as a rule, it’s best to add a centimetre length for each year over the age of sixteen.  These pockets are deep enough to stash roadkill.

This is the first garment I made where the seams across the zip lined up at first go, so to celebrate the momentous occasion, I enhanced the feature with some yellow top-stitching.  This adds to the jean skirt effect, but the fabric is actually an old,  mock-denim IKEA curtain….

The whole thing is hardly in the Vogue spirit!

Monday 26th, Pattern-Cutting Class

Today, my Pattern-Cutting Course here comes to an end, sadly. 

This skirt is made from a snipet of super-silky faux fur which I bought without checking the length: 43cm!  Finished skirt length: 41cm!!  The jackboots detract from the Cougar Lady effect.

Tuesday 27th, Space Grapes

Today, the claret Basic is teamed with a charity shop top and my old Dune sandals – their first outing of ’12.  The kids have named these sandals Space Grapes.  Apparently, if you eat the grapes, you become very heavy.  That’s probably because they contain heavy metals.

Incidentally, we call this plant Snake Grapes.

Wednesday 28th, Home Education and Brownies

BSB/V1247 Hybrid worn whilst at home with my near-teen and his friend – both turfed out of school due to the teachers’ strike.  In the evening, I help out at a Brownies Egg Decorating session.  Here’s a young artist and her impression of me in Egg:

 

 

 

 

Thursday 29th, Still Sunny

My plans to wear a woolly Basic for OWOP have had to be trashed in favour of this hybrid.  The top of the dress is New Look 6459 with added waist darts which have been merged into the Basic Skirt Block for the lower part.

This dress looks great with high heels, tanned legs and two months of a lower-stodge diet, but as it’s March I haven’t had two months to prepare!

Friday 30th, Birthday Boots

Out in claret corduroy and Nicotine  as I road-test the new boots I got for my birthday. 

So OWOP, I’ll associate you forever with sunny skies.  You’ve forced me to rethink my wardrobe, I discovered a top I’d forgotten I had and through reading others’ blogs, I’ve got more projects than even in my stash.  Ciao!