Thursday, 26 June 2014

Rosebud Dress

Please excuse the photos taken with it pinned
to my ironing board - I don't have a small
enough mannequin
So, I’m guessing if you’re here, then you know about sewing blogs, and if you know about sewing blogs, you must know about Lindsey from The Cottage Mama. Lindsey’s work is truly incredible – most of us make clothes for children for them to wear, she makes tiny works of art to put on her children – seriously, the time and effort she must put into each and every piece, it’s like couture, but for kids. I’m a massive fan of hers. 

She has released a free pattern, WHICH JUST MAKES ME LOVE HER MORE, The Party Dress was originally released as a sketched pattern, but has since been rereleased to her email followers as a proper pattern, in sizes 6months through to 10 years (I KNOW!) - and it is just ADORABLE. I decided that I wanted to use it to make my flower girl’s dress for the wedding, but before I did that, I wanted to do a wearable toile, to see how long it would take, and to judge which size I needed to make it in. 

I braved the button box for these
Now, a few weeks ago Mr P’s mother gifted me a HUGE bag of fabric – she doesn’t really sew anymore, and she had a lot of things from Mr P’s grandmother, who used to make bridal dresses when she worked! I was obviously, completely delighted, FREE FABRIC, that’s the best kind of fabric – and whilst I was rootling through it choosing what I would take away (all of it), our little niece was “helping” me. I decided on a whim to ask her what she would like a dress made out of, and she picked out some pink poly-cotton, and some sheer green fabric, I couldn’t tell you what it is. I was dubious at first, but then I stumbled upon these darling little rosebuds – I have SO MANY OF THEM, I only used a few for this project, as I felt too many would have overdone it, but it made for the perfect dress. 

I wasn't convinced on
the colour combo -
 I lined the whole thing in dark green lining fabric (also from Mr P’s mother), and the buttons were from the button box she gifted me, OH YES, I GOT A LOT OF TRIM WITH THIS STUFF TOO. TRIM AND BUTTONS AND ZIPS AND ALL SORTS OF VINTAGY GOODNESS. 

Yes, the ironing board is
leaning against my dressform
 I will admit, the button box overwhelms me at times – I have OCD, and the mismatched array of buttons doesn’t sit well with that, HOWEVER, I managed to steel myself for long enough to search through and find some buttons to go with the dress – at the time, I also managed to find the CUTEST buttons for her flower girl dress, but you’ll have to wait to see those. I didn’t hem the green sheer fabric, just used the selvedge as the bottom hem, it kept it nice and light, and was neatly finished already – I’ve still got loads of all of these fabrics left, so suggestions would be welcome! (Although I’ve a plan for part of the sheer fabric, but not a lot of it…) and this was such a quick and easy sew, I made most of it in an afternoon at a friend’s house! (Craft Khaleesi, go visit her for AWESOME SCALE MAIL KNITTING).

Such cute button loops
Decorative stitches are the best!
 I finished the armholes and waistband by hand – because I like hand-finishing things. That being said, this is not the neatest sew I’ve ever done – it’s for a little girl, so I’m not bothered, because much though I love my little niece, she is VERY GOOD at destroying things – so I don’t expect it to last five minutes in her hands! I think one of the cutest features on this were an accidental feature! I hadn’t bought any ribbon or spare fabric with me to make button loops, however, I discovered that I’d cut the pieces for the sheer overskirt too long – so with a bit of chopping, I had enough of that to make into some adorable button loops, with the use of a decorative stitch on my machine – as advised by Craft Khaleesi, and oh my goodness, didn’t they just turn out cute? 
Hand finishing!

Overall, a pretty adorable little dress I think – I’m hoping the recipient likes it, and I’m feeling really confident about making the flower girl dress :-D as it should be even easier to sew up, as it’s only got one layer… I say should be… famous last words!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Why I Sew

Oh goodness – what a tricky question. I guess, in part, I sew to create. I’ve always said that my true passion is making clothes, and sewing is just a convenient way to get there. Growing up, I enjoyed textiles classes at school if only because it was the only ‘arty’ sort of subject that I was any good at. All my friends at school were very artistic, and I felt like the dunce of the class whenever we were doing painting, drawing, or clay modelling – but in textiles my work was passable. I was always overly ambitions as well, our final textiles project was to make a piece of clothing from a pattern – everyone else chose pyjama trousers (as our textiles teacher recommended) and I chose a fitted shift dress, which I made in a lilac fabric (I still remember it) and actually, I didn’t do too badly (although my grandmother put the zip in when she came to visit!)

I didn’t really sew much once textiles stopped being a compulsory subject, the occasional flag when we’d made a cool den and wanted to put our mark on it, or some clothes for my dolls (yes, I’m talking about being between the ages of 14-18 – I have delayed emotional development, so I act quite a lot younger than I am) until I graduated from school, and decided on a dress I wanted to wear to results day – which just so happened to be a dress that existed only in my head – so I made it (badly, I hasten to add, but I made it none-the-less)

That turned into a bit of a theme, wanting clothes that didn’t exist, like the time I was in my first year at Uni, and wanted a denim mini skirt with yellow ribbon edging to wear out (that evening) – I didn’t own it… I did own a torn pair of jeans though… I hand stitched the entire thing, because I didn’t have a machine with me!

By the time I’d reached my second year at uni, I’d stolen my mum’s Toyota – which I mostly used to make kit for LRP events – which was all I made throughout uni, until I started working, and needed a black skirt for work, and I happened to have some black corduroy. The rest is history!
Mostly, I love being able to envisage something in my mind and then create that thing. I’ve never been the sort of person who can imagine a picture, or look at a landscape, and then transfer that to paper – but I can envisage a dress, or see a skirt that I want to copy, and make it for myself!

Recently I’ve gotten more into hand sewing. The ladies over at Simple Simon & Co wrote a wonderful post entitled ‘Heroes of Homemaking’ – I won’t go into it now, pop over and read it, but the essence is that the dull tasks are when we can let our mind be free. I’m terrible at setting aside time to pray each day (I have a friend who prays in the shower, but oddly, I just can’t pray to God when I’m naked… which is stupid…) but I pray whilst I’m swimming lengths of the pool in the morning (which is a fantastic start to the day!) and I pray whilst I sew – mostly I pray around the garment, either thanking God for creating the amazing people who went into the pattern designing, and the fabric making, or thanking Him for giving me such a wonderful gift. If I’m making a gift, I often pray to Him to help me be a better friend or relative to that person – at the moment, I’m doing a lot of work on my wedding dress, which means I’m praying for His help to become the wife that Mr P needs.

Handsewing has also become my portable hobby – I used to read all the time (on trains, in cars, anywhere I had to be sat down but didn’t have anything to do) but sadly, the M.E. has affected my concentration sufficiently enough that I can’t do that anymore, but I can sew! Although sewing requires concentration, for me, hand sewing is very repetitive, so good for someone with a memory like a goldfish!

In short I sew because I love to create. I sew to keep my hands from being idle. I sew for love, love of fabric, love of clothes, love of God and love of the people I sew for.

This is me at LRP with some of the people who I love dearly. I made the top and skirt
that I'm wearing (although not the corset) (I'm the one in the green skirt btw)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Patchwork Elephant

Rubbish patchwork - adorable elephant!
So, my friend Chrissie loves elephants, with a passion and I found this pattern by Katie over at Made By Enginerds - so I decided I simply had to make her a patchwork elephant for her birthday. Now, a quick disclaimer – I CANNOT DO PATCHWORK, the patchworkyness of this is SUPER MESSY, but it does look quite cute and quirky.

I made a couple of pieces of patchwork that were big enough for the pattern, and then cut it out. It was really quick and easy to sew up, although there was almost a HUGE DISASTER, when I was clipping the seams to turn it right side out, I slipped and almost cut his trunk off – however, this actually turned out really well, because I just stitched around the accidental incision I’d made, and it made his trunk look a lot better (I wasn’t so keen on how attached the trunk was on the pattern).

Look at that under-ear multicoloured deliciousness
Giving gifts to friends who can sew is always a little nerve-wracking, so I was delighted when Chrissie posted pictures of my little patchwork elephant all over facebook :-D. I’ve never made a stuffed toy before (incidentally, I stuffed him with offcuts of some really soft fleece which will appear for your viewing soon in the form of a COAT) and this was a really easy starting point. I’ve got a few more soft toys planned (mostly because my friend Ruth has a ragdoll pattern that I’m dying to try out!), but I would heartily recommend this one if you’ve not really sewn 3D shapes before.

I did debate making him out of just one fabric, but I liked the crazy patchwork, maybe because I loved Elmer books as a child – although this elephant isn’t quite so colourful! (Also if you don’t know who Elmer is, you totally should!). I made the ears out of just a single piece of fabric, as I thought the patchwork could get a bit overwhelming.

The tail is made out of a plait of several threads of embroidery thread – I think it looks so cute, and kind of matches in with the odd colour scheme that he’s got going on!

His eyes are badly embroidered on. I say badly, because the embroidery itself isn’t actually that bad (I used a woven wheel, it's actually really simple), but because although I measured and marked the eye points, I did it before I sewed him up, and must have not sewed him up perfectly (surprise surprise, this is me, queen of speed over perfection), and so the eyes are quite wonky when you loo k at him head-on. But hey! Let’s not judge an elephant just because he has wonky eyes.

Katy x

p.s. apologies for the terrible pictures, I had to take swift pictures of him before I parcelled him up to be posted off, so they were taken in the dark, with the light from my bedside lamp -.-

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Ruffled Denim Skirt - THE TUTORIAL

Photographs taken on my kitchen floor
So, a while ago you may recall I showed you a picture of one of my favourite skirts – made out of an old pair of jeans. Well, I had another pair of jeans go (they always seem to get holes right in the middle of my behind! It’s very strange), so I figured I’d sew up another skirt, and whilst I did it, I’d take pictures and tell you how to do it.

This is a picture of the hole in my jeans
#super classy
For this tutorial you will need: A pair of old jeans, fabric that goes well with them, your maths brain, regular sewing stuff, OPTIONAL TRIM… who am I kidding? Trim is never optional… TRIM. An overlocker… I did the first one of these before I owned an overlocker, just zigzagging the edges – but it turns out denim frays, a LOT, so if you don’t have one, you might like to consider doing bias bound seams or something.

And now you see why I sew on
the kitchen floor - can't accidentally
cut tiles
Step one: cut off the top of the jeans. Now, I will say at this point, for this skirt, I feel for me I cut it off too low – it doesn’t sit particularly flatteringly when it’s on, but it’s still wearable with certain tops. You may need to unpick the pockets at this point – I suppose you could just slice through them, but I think that would look tacky. So yes, unpick pockets, and cut off the top of the jeans, just before the crotch (or, if they have a hole in them… just above the hole!). I made sure the cut was even by cutting one leg – which I measured with a ruler, then folding the jeans in half at the centre seam, and cutting the second leg to match.

Shortest skirt ever
This leaves you with the top of the jeans… which could actually be a skirt all by itself… IF YOU LIKE SHOWING PEOPLE YOUR PANTS. I will refer to this bit as the ‘top of jeans’ from here on in. Also, you will note that my waistband isn’t straight at this point – these are well worn jeans, and I always wear my jeans higher at the back – so I know this is how they sit on me – if I were to try and match the front and back of the waistband up, the bottom seam of this section would end up all wonky when I wore it – so bear this in mind.

Step two… cut up the legs of your jeans. Now, this actually involves a little bit of thinking, because you want to turn the legs of your jeans into one long strip of fabric. PLEASE NOTE: If the legs of your jeans are super damaged beyond repair, then you could skip this step, and use a different fabric. Anyway, back onto using the jeans… cut the seams out, yes, you can unpick them, but unpicking denim is NO FUN, and if you cut really close to the seam, you get enough fabric.
Ok, don't look at the burn marks
on my ironing board

This will leave you with four strips of fabric, of roughly equal length (two from each leg, the front and the back). Now, depending on the type of jeans you are using, you may need to even up the strips – my jeans are bootleg cut, which means the front of the jeans are narrower than the back, and just above the knee is the narrowest point of the jeans. So, the quick and easy way to even these up, is to eyeball where the narrowest part of the narrowest strip is – measure how wide that is, and then cut each of the strips down to match it – using the grainline to ensure you are cutting nice straight lines – also if you don’t cut along the grain, it will look slightly odd.
This is just four strips of fabric...

Ok, at this point you should have: 4 equal rectangles of fabric, 1 top of jeans.

Please excuse the blurry photo
overlocker light does nothing
for pictures
The next step is to stitch the 4 rectangles together to make one long strip of fabric. Then sew the last two short edges together to make a circle. Overlock it. You may find it helpful to overlock one or both of the long edges at this point – it just makes it easier to work with. You could also hem one edge at this point, or if you are adding cutsie trim like I did with the last one, this is your moment to do that.

Ok, bad news: here is the mathsy bit. Good news: I’ll walk you through it.
1.      Measure how long your circle is all the way around
2.      Measure how deep your denim strips are
3.      Measure how long your jeans top is all the way around
4.      Measure how deep your jeans top is
5.      Work out how long you want your skirt to be

Now, you need to cut out a strip of your contrasting fabric (or several strips together like you did for the denim circle) – the height is the easy bit, it’s just however high it needs to be to make up the rest of the skirt length: skirt length – (height of denim strip + height of jeans top) + SA

The length of the strip is quite tricky, essentially you want it to be halfway between the skirt top, and the denim circle. So if your skirt top measured 1 metre all the way around, and your denim circle measured 3 metres, you’d want the middle layer to be 2 metres long.

There’s an easy way you can work this out: (round jeans top + round denim circle)/2
Again, rubbish
blurry photo of
doom #sorry

Ok, now you have another strip of fabric, sew this into a circle and overlock it. The first think you want to do is to join the denim circle to this circle – you’ll need to gather the denim circle to do this (quick gathering – sew two lines of really long stitches along the edge you want to gather, and then pull on those threads). Stitch the gathered denim circle to the fabric circle, and overlock.

The finished product
Now do the same thing to join the fabric circle to the top of your jeans, and then you’re done! You have a brand new skirt (unless you didn’t hem it earlier, if that’s the case, you need to hem it now!)

And here! The finished skirt. I'm not too happy with how this one turned out compared to the other one - the top section is too long for it to be flattering on me - lesson learnt for next time.

I hope that wasn’t too complex – I’ve never really done a tutorial before, so feedback would be SUPER APPRECIATED.

Bonus skirt: pop on over to my friend Luthaisea's blog where she's made a GORGEOUS gold version, with the cutest trim around the bottom - it's delicious!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cushion Covers for Mammy

Picture property of Mammy
So, home-making is not something I get to do a lot of, with living in a rented shoebox at the moment, but my mammy’s house, aka the house I grew up in, is awesome, and she is making it look fabulous now she doesn’t have me and my brother constantly making a mess!

Yes, I NEVER MOVED as a child – stayed in the same house until I moved out to go to university. It’s an awesome house, I love it. It’s on top of the cliffs, on the south coast of England – just so you can picture it, here’s a picture of the view from the front garden. Lush huh?

With the exception of mine and my brother’s rooms (which we still get to keep! Yay!), mam has a bit of a ‘beach’ theme going through the house. She’s in love with lighthouses, and the blue/white striped beachy style. I have to say, I think in someone elses hou se it would look disgustingly twee – but it’s been done subtly, and because it’s so close to the sea, it just feels right!

See, they match the beach hut ones!
So, for her birthday I made her some cushion covers – she’s slowly re-doing the living room, and had bought some HIDIOUSLY EXPENSIVE but very beautiful cushions, and wanted some more to cover her old cushions – of which I was more than happy to oblige. We went to the local fabric shop in Exmouth – which is awesome, and she chose some contrasting fabric, I then had to add some ribbon trim, because I saw it and thought it was TOO CUTE FOR WORDS. It really is. ADORABLE.

Then, that afternoon, I sewed up a few cushion covers. Mr P helped out on this one, mostly because he is a perfectionist, and therefore makes everything SUPER NEAT, which is cool. They go perfectly with the existing cushion covers, and really brightened up the room (although with the French windows looking out to the sea, it doesn’t need much brightening!)

Please excuse the super blurryness of the pictures,
 but YAY trim!
The technique I used was super easy – the covers have no fastening, they just overlap at the back to create a pocket, meaning they can be taken off easily and washed (my mammy has a dog, so the furnishings all need to be easily washable, dog hair gets EVERYWHERE, even though she’s not supposed to go on the chairs), I added the strip of trim across the middle for interest, and also because IT IS SUCH CUTE TRIM.
So yeah – I made some cushions (or cushings as I like to call them) for my mammy. She loves them :-D

Katy xxx

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Failure on the First – A Whole Weekend of Failure

Do you ever have those weekends, where Saturday morning rolls around and you think ‘YEAH, I am going to get SO MUCH DONE this weekend’ well, the weekend I am about to tell you about started out like that.
I had one task on my ‘must do’ list, and then a whole bunch of other things that were on the ‘I’ll do if I have time’ list. The ‘must do’ task was to make an irish dancing skirt for my goddaughter. It was her birthday the following weekend, and it needed to be ready to be parcelled up as a present and sent off. I’d never made one before, and I was using stretch fabric, which perhaps isn’t my forte, and a twin needle, that I’d never used before either. BUT HEY. What could go wrong.
I was so confident about this self drafted pattern that I was going to do a tutorial for you guys. LOOK. AH how I now laugh at the sweet naïve me that preceeded that weekend. OH HOW I HAVE LEARNT NOW.
Failure number one was: pinking shears. They are pinkING shears, not pinkY shears. Apparently I misheard. This was the last photograph I took. Everything started to go downhill from there. I would also like to point out that the first thing I did when this happened was jam my finger in my mouth and run to the sink, because I had no idea how deep I’d cut and I was damned if I was going to bleed on my fabric! I then got Mr P to get me a plaster – I’m obsessed with plasters, I love them, it’s an unhealthy love, a truly unhealthy one.
I thought doing the majority of the sewing on the overlocker was a GREAT IDEA. Because overlockers are fab with stretch fabric, that’s what they’re best at. So I did. Forgetting of course that I was trying to put godets into a skirt is possibly not the easiest thing to do on an overlocker. I totally managed it though. Had to go over some of them a few times. And they looked a bit funny. But hey.
I then decided to do the waistband with a twin needle. Honestly, I don’t know what I was doing wrong, but the two threads kept twisting together in my machine, and all I could find online about it was the words ‘make sure your threads don’t twist together’ which is SO HELFPUL. But, I persevered, stopping every few inches. Only a skirt for a 9 year old, so it wasn’t that big, it didn’t matter so much. And I got it finished. And then I cried. IT WAS JUST SO UGLY. In retrospect, I gave it the designation of ‘looks pretty ugly on the hanger, might look alright on’. But at the time I thought my world was ending. So I sulked. And by sulked, I mean I did baking. Don’t judge me.
Baking done, I sat back down at the sewing machine. I needed something to give my goddaughter, and the ugly skirt just wasn’t going to cut it. So I decided to make her a simple patchwork tote bag to take her dancing things in, and a notebook cover. I’ve made the notebook covers before , just once or twice, and I am a MASTER at sewing these up. Seriously, I find them so quick and easy now. So, I decided to embroider a quote onto a patch on my machine, nice and quick, and then stitch it to the notebook cover. I got to the final stages of making said notebook cover, and wrapped it around the notebook only to find IT DID NOT FIT. I don’t know how. I’ve made SO MANY of these. And yet, this one didn’t work. Ugh. Failure weekend had me again.
So, I turned it into a cute little failure pouch. Which I put the ugly skirt into (I’d decided to send it to her as a prototype, as without seeing it on her, I couldn’t make any adjustments).
THE PATCHWORK TOTE WAS NOW MY ONLY HOPE. And patchwork is REALLY not my strong point. Actually patchwork is probably a bit of an overstatement at this point. Each side of the tote was made with 6 squares. That bit went FINE. I decided to line it to make it look all professional and nice, and also decided that it would be cute to put a pocket on the inside, with her name embroidered on it . Ok, so I’m a bit obsessed with the feature on my machine that means I can embroider letters… anyhow, I went to press the lining, which went fine! And then went to press the pocket down, the pocket which was made out of the same fabric as the lining, and THE IRON MELTED IT. I still have no idea how this happened. Demon Iron. Anyway, it fortunately didn’t melt it too much, and the pocket was salvageable.
Next, I went to stitch the lining into the bag. This is probably my only ‘win’ moment of the weekend. It’s less of a win, and more of an averted fail. I came within inches of sewing the lining to the outer bag completely and leaving no room to turn it right side out. BUT fortunately I realised my mistake in time, and just had to turn it through a TINY HOLE instead.
It actually looked pretty cute though. So I parcelled it all off and sent it to the birthday girl. Then I did more baking.
Happy June guys – it’s got to be better than that!
Katy x