#100happydays (part 4)

I finished my #100happydays challenge a couple of weeks ago and here are the final 25 pictures.

#100 happy days 76-100¬†I definitely got in the habit of thinking about the day’s photo and it was a little bit weird when I didn’t have to do it (I know I never HAD to to do it, but I was determined to do all 100 days). So here in full glory is one hundred things that have made me happy (or grateful, pleased, content, or not-so-sad)

100 happy days

Picture 100 was taken the day I got discharged from the physio and she said I could try to knit again (as long as I take regular breaks every half-an-hour and keep up with strengthening exercises) so I’m hoping for a summer of knitting.

 

#100happydays (part 2)

 

I have definitely got some of my sewing mojo back this half-term, but sadly the weather has been rather gloomy so I have lots of projects waiting to be photographed. If the weather doesn’t improve soon I’ll just have to take less-than-perfect pictures so I can show you pretty dresses.

I’m over half-way through my #100happydays project (this post is rather late coming as I am now on day 66) but it was really nice to look back through the month/term as it was a rather busy time.100 happy days 26-50I am quite surprised there were only 4 days of chicks, but you can see a couple of crafty projects I have been working on/was buying supplies for!

 

“I think I’m gonna go inside and sing myself some more karaoke. ‘Cause God knows that’s what I want to be doing, singing myself some more karaoke.” (aka Sew Dolly Clackett)

One of the things that helped me get back at the sewing machine was #SewDollyClackett organised by Sarah of Rhinestones and Telephones; it is a sew-a-long competition inspired by Roisin of Dolly Clackett to celebrate her awesomeness and her upcoming wedding. I’ve got to know Roisin in real/twitter life and she is as lovely as everyone says ūüôā And her fianc√© Nic is also good at fabric shopping with a good eye for a fun print.

I love Roisin’s style and for the past year I have been thinking “Would Roisin wear this?” when looking at fun fabrics and deciding if they are suitable for grown-up clothes.¬†People who know me in real life will have heard me defend my outfits by saying “but my sewing friend Roisin would wear…!” There are loads of great dresses on her blog, but here are some of my favourites (all pics from Dolly Clackett)…sew dollyPolka-dots, bright colours, gingham, animals (not animal print!), big flowers,… so much inspiration.

The first dress I made was fabric I already had; navy and white elephants. This print is fairly subtle for Roisin, but was a tester for a bodice mash-up combining the Sewaholic Cambie with the Simplicity 2444 bodices (details on how I did this to follow soon).  Annoyingly the fabric was printed off grain so I had a tricky job making sure the elephants lined up all the way around, but it made hemming easier as I could take it up by 2 elephants. This dress is really comfy to throw on, it feels like a t-shirt but with the

elephants

Next was the dress I was most exited about because the fabric has baby ducks on it!!! I saw the fabric on The Village Haberdashery¬†blog but thought it would be too OTT for a dress, then when I saw it in person Annie almost convinced me it would work (they also have pink Bambi and blue foxes!), but I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week so knew I had to have it. The pattern is By Hand London’s Anna with a full gathered skirt (a Dolly-Clackett mash-up) which I wasn’t overwhelmed by in the autumn but after wearing again recently I grew to like.¬†ducksI spent a long time matching up the ducks across the centre back and am really pleased with the result. I lowered the back neckline by a couple of inches as I wanted an invisible zipper to show off the pattern matching, and that was the length I had (too impatient to go into town to buy one!). The skirt has some subtle red rick-rack around the hem: a deliberate design choice and not at all because I forgot to add seam-allowances when measuring how much fabric I’d need to buy!

Finally I knew I needed some gingham or polka-dots to channel true Dolly Clackett style, and when I found this fabric I knew it was perfect for the challenge – tape measures that look like gingham! I made a classic Cambie dress and re-discovered how amazing the pattern is to sew, cleverly hiding away all the insides. I added a plain waist band as I had had enough check matching by this point (the tape measures are all slightly different widths, and a little flat piping/band around the neckline, but I’m not convinced how well it works from these pictures. I liked the dress when I was wearing it, but looking at the photos I’m not sure it is the most flattering…

checksAn adjustment I made was to pleat the skirt instead of gathering it at the waist. I pretty much folded along the lines of the tape-measures (to quote Roisin “I’m smug because I’m calling a pleated rectangle a ‘self-drafted skirt’ “)¬†so that the pattern is un-interrupted along the waist band. And I lined up the waist band with the tape-measures for a white border. Patrick and May would be impressed I think!

So there you go, three Dolly Clackett dresses in a week! Luckily I took a leaf out of Roisin’s book and sewed up some tried and tested patterns so there was no fitting, just quick sewing. There are so¬†many¬†amazing dresses in the flickr group it will be tough for Roisin to choose a winner tomorrow!

*The title of this post is in tribute to Roisin’s wacky post titles and one of our shared loves…

Finished Embroidery!

The other day I gave you a sneaky peek of my embroidery summer project. Well here is the finished article, just in time for the last day of my summer holidays…It is a little bag for holding all my crafting bits and bobs and is currently looking after my embroidery hoop. I based it on this pattern that I found ages ago – a square base (purple swirly flower and nature decorations) and four triangular sides (lovebirds and animals) sewn together with a ribbon draw-string.The individual designs were from the fab Doodle Stitching book, and I arranged the pdfs on my computer using a very old version of Corel Draw. I had measured my fabric to get the size of the sections allowing for seam allowances, so I could get the size and layout perfect, however I didn’t allow for fraying of the fabric and ended up with one squished seam. Other than that I am really pleased with how it turned out. And I managed to pace my self through a long project ūüôā

I think my next embroidery project will be trying to make some super-cool video-game themed picture/card for my “little” cousin’s 16th birthday. I call him little but he is officially taller than me now and pleased about that!

If you have the embroidery bug, Sublime Stitching currently has a half-price pattern sale (until midnight Monday US PST) РI downloaded a couple of patterns for the equivalent of about £1.10 each! Bargain!

Review – Doodle Stitching

One of my exciting crafty birthday presents last month was an embroidery book – Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray (ISBN 978-1-60059-581-3) The book was chosen for me because “it looked like it had lots of patterns, not just projects*” and I think this is the biggest strength of the book.The book starts with some Embroidery Essentials and some projects, including coasters, bunting, gift bags and tags, and even jewellery using balsa wood! Aimee gives instructions for making the items in each project, details of the motifs used and stitch choices, and alternative designs that could be used: there is enough detail for a beginner to embroidery, while giving plenty of options to put your own stamp on the projects.The last section of the book is full of motifs in a range of categories, from Alphabets and Circus, to Weather and Woodland Animals. The designs include some traditional subjects but are really fresh and modern, without being either too twee or trendy.** And what is even better, is that the book has a CD with all the motifs on, so you can re-size and combine them to make your perfect design.There are lots of cute motifs, and so far I have been working on a project featuring lots of woodland animals, birds and trees. I love the food and celebration designs (including ice-cream sundaes, picnic sandwiches and slices of pie) – one of Aimee’s projects is a simple shopping bag covered in lovely fruit and veg. There are so many potential projects I could make from this book, it is hard to know what to do next.
This is definitely a book I’d recommend as there are so many ideas and designs – 400 or so, plus a full alphabet – and some have so much detail they can be modified to create other variations.

*approximate quote
** I am really pleased that crafting is becoming cool to do and that there are so many new designers and products available now, however I find lots of things aimed at a younger crafter go for a super-cool street style or a really strong “Make Do and Mend” retro vibe. This is great if that is your style but its not really me, so it is great to see something that is nice and modern without being overly trendy or cutesy.

Travelling light as a feather

image

I am currently on the train for a week with my parents and appear to have packed more crafts than clothes. Fear not, I have everything with me for some exciting blog posts while I am away, but until then here is a sneak preview of something I am working on (all done on this train). I have a design dilemma: is mummy bird holding a brown twig or a pink worm?

Summertime (and the sewing is easy) Skirt [or How to make… your own maxi skirt]

Summer is officially here in the UK and today is supposedly the hottest day of the year (so far). With all the rain we have had lately I had almost given up on my summer sewing, but today felt like whipping up a quick and easy make (I am too white and British to be out sunbathing in this weather).

I bought this fabric from Classic Textiles with the intention of making a little summer dress, but I thought I would probably get more use from separates. Then I saw some floaty pyjama-style trousers in this months Burda Style magazine, but tracing a pattern and cutting it out and doing a toile seemed like too much work. So I took my tried-and-tested skirt waistband, added 2 big rectangles and voila.*

Plenty of fabric to sit cross-legged in the park!

Here is how I made the pattern:

It is pretty much the waistband of your favourite skirt, combined with two huge gathered rectangles (I tapered the corners so I wouldn’t have quite so much fabric around my hips). Simple. Gather the skirt panels and attach to the waist bands, insert a zip in the back seam, and sew up the side seams. I made a facing for the waistband, sewed them right-sides together at the waist, turned them right-sides out and top-stitched them.

* Okay, the waistband was too loose with the weight of the skirt, so I made a faux-button closure to pinch the excess out, and added a band around the hem to make it quicker to sew.

Twit-twoo, a gift for who…?

I have been working on a little gift for someone, and just as I was wrapping it up I remembered to take photos of it, so here is a sneak peek (since I don’t think the recipient even knows I have a blog)

It is an embroidered door sign for a teacher friend who is getting married (with her new name) since her school mascot is an owl. I used the Owlbert pattern from Sublime Stitching, adding my own details as I went along.

Most of it is done in running stitch, back stitch and chain stitch, but I did get a book out of the library to learn remind me of some other stitches, such as feather stitch and leaf stitch.

I finally got the hang of French knots after reading the fool-proof instructions on the website, and I had plenty of practice by the time I finished the whole piece.

I’ve definitely got the embroidery bug now – its just like colouring in with thread! I’m looking around to see what else I can add embroidery to…