Tuesday, 27 April 2021

The Landgate from Merchant and Mills

Well it has been a while hasn't it?  It's not that I have not been sewing, it is more that I have done so much sewing I just couldn't keep up with writing about it.  I was so pleased with how the Landgate from Merchant and Mills has turned out I felt I should share it with you.

I decided to make this showerproof smock as I am planning to be walking up Mount Snowdon soon.  I wanted something I could stuff into a backpack but would be useful on a day when rain was not due but might happen anyway.  The fabric is from Flamingo Fabrics who have a fantastic range of 100% polyester waterproof plastics.  I decided I wanted to go bright and this fabric was perfect.

The fabric cuts and sews really well.  I was very pleased with how it behaved.  The pattern itself was for me quite challenging in the first steps when making the hood which I have to admit surprised me.  Not that I think I am so clever I never make mistakes, but I have made a few Merchant and Mills patterns over the years and find them straightfoward and always give me a pleasing result.  I think I was trying to preempt the pattern rather than sitting and reading it properly - always a mistake.  Thankfully the fabric allowed me to unpick stitches.  Some waterproof fabrics will be left with visible (and rain allowing) holes in them if you unpick, but the woven nature of this fabric seemed more forgiving.  Once I had got the hood attached I stopped the constant expletives (mainly at myself rather than the pattern)_and  the rest of the make settled down to be quite straight forward.
The sleeves needed trimming back as they were quite long, but that is better than being too short and it is always good to check all measurements before you cut!  I know this is obvious so maybe I am only reminding myself, but patterns sometimes surprise you where you don't expect it.

I really enjoyed making this smock.  I have been making quite a few simple jersey tops recently (more of that soon) and whilst I love simple makes, it was nice to get myself back into the headspace of something more challenging and structured.  

I will not leave it so long before posting again - promise!

until then, stay safe and be kind.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Sew Different Biker Jacket Cardi - with added tardis

I realise its been a while since I have written a sewing blog.  I have been sewing, lots of sewing, but lots of other stuff has also been going on so I am behind on the writing.  I have been writing these posts in a linear fashion:  I made this then I made this and then I made this.  It is therefore very fitting that this blog post is a bit more timey-wimey as I have skipped to the now.

It was way back in April when I went along to the Sew Different Sewing Retreat, whilst I was there I bought quite a bit of fabric and also a couple of other Sew Different sewing patterns.
I bought some lovely blue material which I thought would be perfect to make the Biker Jacket Cardi from.  I also knew I had some rather special material at home that I wanted to use for the lining.
The pattern itself is very straightforward:  quick to cut out and quick to put together.  The pattern itself suggests part-lining the jacket but I decided I would fully line.
I was very pleased with the result, this is the first garment I have fully piped around the edges.  I did this carefully and I think I did a good job.
Yes it is exploding tardis lining - how cool is that!  It just had to be done.


........because it is fully lined
it is also reversible so if I want I can go full Doctor-Who geek.

I might be happier with this then is reasonable.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

A slight pattern hack for the Til the Sun Goes Down Amelie Tuck Blouse

It is a while since I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate and sitting in my to-do pile has been the Til the Sun Goes Down kit for the Amelie Tuck Blouse.
I loved this blouse particularly for the collar, which is wonderfully vintage looking and quite frankly in my opinion, cool.  I liked the sleeves, but I was wanting a longer sleeve to the blouse so I decided I would make it to have the sleeves I wanted.  I already have made a couple of patterns from this company and the one I made for my daughter's wedding, the Ritz dress, had long sleeves. I wondered whether I could swap the sleeves from one to the other.

A bit of faffing around and I decided that it could work.  The pattern was quite straightforward to put together.  The tucks in the front were easy to do.  There should also be tucks in the back, I did not put those in as, she whispers, I do not have as defined a waist as the pattern would wish.  This made the pattern fit well and comfortably.
The sleeves fitted in perfectly and I think they do not look out of place with the overall design.
and the collar makes me very happy. 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Sew Different Sewing Retreat

Some time before Christmas, in those long dark days where it feels like Spring might just be a myth, I was having a discussion at work about how I needed to book something to cheer myself up, something I could look forward to.  I was talking to a colleague who I share a love of dressmaking with and I remarked that if only there was such a thing as a dressmaking retreat where I could just sit and sew I would be a happy bunny.  With that thought still fresh in my mind I headed to a well-known internet search engine and lo-and-behold I found exactly what I was looking for.  Sew Different aka Laura Casey, runs a series of sewing retreats.  This year they are based at Cannon Hall near Barnsley which is just a pop up the M1 for me.  I did not really think about it, I looked for the dates I could attend and booked.
I arrived on a greyish morning in mid-April.  I was a little nervous, would I be good enough at sewing to be there was at the fore-front of my mind and would I get on with everyone else?  The latter aspect was settled very quickly, we were a group of like-minded sewists, of course we got on.
First thing on the day was to choose the pattern that I wanted to make, well actually step one was to drink tea and eat a little cake, but following that I looked that the patterns that we had to choose from. I chose the Bell-Sleeve Dress to make on the day, and also left with the pattern for the Scoop Pinafore and the Bike Jacket Cardi, so you can look forward to seeing those two makes at a later date.

Next we were off to Fabworks Mill Shop in nearby Dewsbury.  Oh my giddy aunt it is the most amazing place, literally packed to the rafters with more incredible fabrics at very good prices than you can shake a stick at.  We were given a quick tour around the shop so that we knew where the different types of fabric were and then we were let loose........ and I immediately went into brain-freeze.  I had the pattern clasped in my hand, but wander around as I might, I was not getting inspiration to choose a fabric.  I saw fabric that would make a great skirt (bought it), fabric that would be great for the biker jacket mentioned above (bought it), that fabric that Laura has used to make up one of the sample dresses we had to look at, (bought it) but that elusive fabric I wanted to use on the day, that was at my fingertips yet so far away.
Did I mention the samples rack?  ok, back a step, whilst drinking tea, eating cake and looking at patterns, Laura has a sample rack so you can see the patterns made up and even try one on if you are around the right size.  This was so good, how often can you try a pattern on before you buy it?

Anyway, back to fabric choices, I wandered and wandered and then found what I was looking for.  A lovely muted green check fabric.  I showed it to Laura to see if she agreed that it would work.  After some discussions we decided I would give it a go.  Then, we all went back to the sewing workshop room and had lunch.

After lunch we were settled down with our machines and given a quick talk through by Donna King who was our sewing tutor for the weekend.  I chose not to take my machine, though you can if you want, as I wanted part of the experience to be using a different machine. Of course my hands kept going to the wrong place to lift the presser foot and some of its differences baffled me briefly, but it added to the fun.

Patterns were cut out and then the sewing began.  I got on quite well, there was a little struggling with the pointy bit of the bodice, but Donna talked me through how to deal with it and off I went again happily.

Day two was more sewing.  We chatted and laughed as we sewed.  We stopped for tea and cake.  We sewed and laughed and chatted.  We stopped for the most wonderful lunch with added fizz.  We were definitely being spoiled.
and then by the end of the afternoon we were done.  As each of us finished we tried on our makes and we all admired each other's work.  There were some incredible garments made.
and this is my frock, just look at those wonderful sleeves.  I worried that my dress was a little dull compared to some of the other makes that were going on around me, but I have already worn it for work and people said it was nice.  The pattern itself is really very straightforward.  It comes together well and, best of all, it has no zip.  The shape allows for it to be accessible without a zip, how great is that?

Of course I already know I need to make the pattern again and I have some fabric in my stash that will be perfect for it.  So watch this space.

Remember I said at the start I worried if my skills were good enough?  There were sewists there who were far more experienced than I am but it did not matter.  We all sewed and helped each other and Donna was there to talk us through anything we needed help with.  Donna also let us have a go on an overlocker if we had not used one previously and also showed us how to use rotary cutters and other good tips.  Just sitting there in the room was the opportunity to absorb all the knowledge and experience around me.  I learned a lot and, importantly, I learned that my dressmaking skills are not as basic I had feared.  It helped my confidence hugely.

I left wanting to book again.  There are two more sessions left this year but sadly I cannot make either one.  I will be watching for as soon as new dates are announced as I cannot wait to do it again.

I have to give a big sincere thank you to Laura and Donna and everyone who was there at the weekend.  It was a true pleasure to be there and I left inspired.

Whilst there I found some time to have a wander around the gardens, which is described over on the gardening blog.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

The skirt and jacket moment

I have been busy sewing away on these cold winter evenings and weekends.  The next two makes go as a pair as they were made for each other.

The skirt was the start, well actually the fabric was the start, one of my bargain buys from the Great British Sewing Bee Live last year.  I have recently heard this will not be happening this year after all, I am truly sorry about this.  I knew that this pink check wool fabric would be a skirt and I had the perfect pattern in mind.  It just had to be.

The skirt came together well and I lined it which has made wearing it so easy.  I love a lined skirt.
It looks a little crumpled here, I had just taken it off.

I also bought the wine coloured fabric at the same show, but was not quite so sure what to do with it at first.  Then I realised how well it went with the skirt. 
I had not enough material to make the jacket that is meant to go with the skirt, (that will be a suit one day, I am waiting for the right fabric to come along), but I had this free pattern that came with one of my sewing magazines I subscribe to, Sew magazine.  It felt like fate was playing its card.
The jacket (New Look F6013) was a whizz to put together and it fits well.  The material hangs well and works perfectly with the skirt.
I did not line the jacket but I keep thinking I might go back and do this, it would just help it feel a little more robust.

I wore the pair together for work and someone actually said how nice the skirt was without knowing I had made it.  I purred a little.
I was very pleased with both makes, they were nice and simple and will be patterns I will use again.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Swing Jacket Suit

I have always loved vintage style clothes.  As a teenager I raided my mother's wardrobe for several of her old clothes which dated from the 1950s.  I remember with great fondness the circular skirt that had a pattern of fireman climbing ladders on it.  I also wore her old short duffle jacket for a long time, it had a slight swing back and I thought it was wonderful.  Skip ahead to present day and there is now great interest in making vintage style clothing and many patterns are now available.
I found this wonderful Vogue V8146 pattern, note that has one of my favourite pattern descriptions - 'very easy'.  I had been thinking about this pattern for a while and I kept my eye out for finding it and some suitable fabric.  I found both at the Great British Sewing Bee, the pattern was on offer on one stand and the fabric on another.  All I needed was the perfect lining fabric for the jacket which I managed to find at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show and I had all I needed to get started.
I also had some help, Esme decided to help me cut out the lining.  I fell in love with this bright birdy fabric, it was perfect for what I wanted to do.
Whereas Bruce decided to help me cut out the suit material.  I cut out the pieces very carefully, I really wanted to make a good job of this and I was determined to take my time and do everything as good as I possibly could.
The dress came together well,
It was, as the pattern had promised it would be, nicely easy.  I even managed to match up the pattern, I was extremely pleased with myself for doing this.
The jacket also came together well.  I had some button-angst and had to walk around it for a day or so deciding which button to choose.  I nearly put all four on like this and still at times I think I might revisit this thought.
I actually chose this greeny-blue button as it matched the greeny-blue part of the check pattern well.
Making the bow might have been the fiddleyist part,
It sets off the back of the jacket perfectly and I like the bow, that I will never see when wearing it.
The suit turned out well and I am pleased with it.
I am also incredibly pleased with the lining.  it worked as I hoped it would.

There is however one slight detail where I slipped up.  If you look carefully the pattern on the jacket is the other way up to the pattern on the dress.  This is of course completely deliberate really.....  (every day is a learning day).

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A prickle of pincushions

I have a confession, I am a collector.  I get interested in things, often by accident and then before I know what is happening I start collecting them.  I love finding out about new things and I can (do) get a little obsessed.  So it is no surprise to anyone who knows me that one pincushion was not enough.

It was indeed an accident, I have a perfectly good standard tomato and strawberry pincushion but it was not quite what I wanted.  It is very small and light and tends to move around when I am using it.  I wanted something more stable and less likely to slip about.  So I started an internet quest to find the perfect pincushion. Suddenly a whole world of pincushions, particularly pincushion dolls and half-dolls was opened up to me.
So now I have a few, (but then again, too few to mention).  I firstly bought the large girl in the bathing suit, then the smaller one with the cocktail brolly (I assume her original parasol is long gone).  I then bought the n*ked girl with a puppy.  Whilst she is pretty I just do not understand why she has lost her clothes?  I then bought the fine lady at the back complete with thistle hat pin.  I decided I needed a complete doll with pincushion skirt.
Then this pincushion caught my eye (wot - no doll? I hear you cry!).  This one is made up of dark wood with a spiral of paper which the pins are pushed into.  
Then there is Miss Tippy-Tappy, she is called this as I am sure she can be heard tippy-tappying around the sewing room in the dark hours of the night.
and finally, my latest acquisition.  She also has lost all her clothes in a slightly disturbing way, but not disturbing enough to stop me from buying her.

I have to pause for a moment though in all this excitement to give a mention to the tomato and strawberry pincushion; that may have been feeling a little discarded and unloved. 
Whilst on my quest for the perfect pincushion I found out why the tomato pincushion is a tomato.  Apparently it stems from Victorian times when it was allegedly believed that a tomato could ward of evil spirits.  Obviously tomatoes are time limited in their lives and can go horribly mushy, which would be rather inconvenient.  The pincushion tomato is therefore a good way of having a tomato always to hand.  I now appreciate my tomato pincushion just that little bit more than before.

None of this though helped me though in my quest for the right pincushion.  

Did I mention I collect things?  

I also have a penchant for vintage Portmeirion, the pre-botanical garden patterns.  In the sewing room I had a small early piece of what I would call Dolphin-period Portmeirion.  It sits on my sewing desk just being pretty as it is too small to be of much use.....


.... unless I turn it into a pincushion....
Ta da! and here it is complete.
the more excitable Portmeirion collectors might notice that not only is this a piece of Dolphin-period Portmeirion,
the cushion itself is made from Talisman fabric that I bought I few years ago and never knew what to do with.

So there it is, my perfect pincushion and it does what it should.  It holds pins and does not slip about like the tomato did. (Now I have to stop buying pincushions, I have enough, though there was that one I saw......)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate November 2017

Several years ago, when I was in my dressmaking dormancy but knitting and crossstitching regularly, I visited the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I lived a bit closer to Harrogate at that time so it felt a reasonable day trip.  When I started to think about going this year to my delight I discovered that whilst I live a bit further away; the total journey time is much the same.  I was lucky to have been given a press-pass and so I enlisted my crocheting daughter as company for the day and we set off relatively early on the Sunday morning.

We arrived in Harrogate just in time to the show’s opening time.  My trusty sat nav helped us find where to park and we excitedly made our way to the venue.  As we got closer we just followed the steady stream of crafty looking people to the entrance.  It is a fascinating building, it looks very modern from the outside, but inside we discovered there is a wonderful old theatre.
Where we found a seat to drink tea and eat cake.  Energy was going to be needed for the day ahead.
It is a place with a lot of history and I loved that so much of the original building was kept intact.
My memory of the event was that is was large, I need to correct this, it is huge!  I think there were five large halls full or stalls and workshops. I say I think there were five as I am pretty sure that we actually didn’t find one of them. This is despite the plentiful extremely helpful staff on hand and lots of large maps and a Show programme. We had run out of oomph when we realised there was still a hall to find and decided that next time we would find that hall first. 

It is the most eclectic show you can imagine. There was plenty for me as a sewist and knitter, my daughter was in crochet heaven and I managed, just, not to buy any crossstitch, but only just.

One thing we did both buy was a guide dog.  Ok, we didn’t actually buy a dog, but we did both sign up to sponsor a puppy.  The man who was trying to convince us to do this convinced us both with one sentence, that they receive absolutely no government or lottery funding.  Think about that, think about the job that these dogs do - we were shocked and signed up straight away.

I went with a set budget.  I took the amount of money I wanted to spend and in a very disciplined way managed not to resort to card payments.  I felt a little proud of myself.  So what did I buy?

I came away with a rather good haul.
Firstly I bought some thread.  It might not sound the most exciting thing in the world, but I needed some this colour and it was a good opportunity to buy it.
I also bought these bargain buttons, I think you can never have too many buttons.
I had to buy these ones with poppies on.  Readers who follow my gardening exploits know that poppies are a very favourite flower of mine.
These kits from Til the Sun Goes Down were at a bargain price.  I love their patterns so I had to buy a couple, it was rude not to.
The fabric for these kits is perfect, I am in a paisley mood at the moment so I am really looking forward to making up the dress in particular.
I also bought these wonderful fabrics, I am thinking of using them for linings.  I am having a bit of a thing at the moment about lining in general and being more adventurous when lining.
Yes this is exploding Tardis fabric, how exciting is that?!
I also bought this amazing birdy fabric, which is already being made up into the lining of a jacket.  The birds are clearly very realistic as Esme was happy to help me when I was trying to cut out the pieces.
I do enjoy a good knitting pattern, and I love a good vintage knitting pattern.  So this little booklet had to be bought.
I really want to knit this suit soon. Isn't it fantastic?
I also bought this large ball of wool, no this is not to knit the suit from, but I will enjoy finding something exciting to make from it.
Finally I bought these very pretty little scissors.  Perfect for snipping threads.

We made our way homewards, tired, but very happy.  I think I probably have enough sewing projects now to keep me going until the next Knitting and Stitching Show in spring, which is at Olympia 1 - 4 March 2018.  The show returns to Harrogate in 22nd -25th  November 2018.  The show also takes place in Dublin and Alexander Palace, see their website for more details.
When I got home I found my daughter had left her trademark reminder of her presence, did I mention she crochets all the time?