Plans and goals for 2013 – A Review

Do you remember Karen started the sewlution jar in January? Well I threw my name into the jar with this main goal: I am going to make less but what I make will be better. Lets see how I did…

couture couture jacket liberty hawthorn Floral Cambie

I learnt some more couture techniques from reading and online tutorials, which I used to make my turquoise couture jacket; The majority of this was finished by hand, which took lots of time, but was to a finish I’m really proud of. I took my time making dresses this year, using higher quality fabrics, and spending much more time on the muslin process and using better pressing techniques to get a better finished garment. I’m not sure if I have really made less, but most of what I have made will be worn for years to come. I’ve made more classic quality pieces and less impulsive fast fashion garments, so I think I can say my Sewlution was achieved, oh Mistress of the Jar!

Other goals I set were:

  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.
    Did you see the giant bag of clothes I took to the charity shops at the end of Me-Made-May? It included many me-made garments that just weren’t getting worn. A couple of garments were kept for recycling, but these are still in the to-sew pile.
  • donationsI will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). Errr… not as much success for this. When I moved house I did get rid of loads of scraps and pieces, but I also had to buy more storage for my stash :-S oops.
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! I have used the Block of the Month and Free Motion Quilting courses to make my Black and White and Red All Over quilt,  and I’ve been watching knitting classes to learn how to get a better fit in knitting garments (finished cardigan is still drying, must turn heating up!).
  • I really want to make bunting! I made some bunting for the Crafty magazine fox competition, but sadly I didn’t win (I think my tutorial was much too long for a magazine). But that means that I can now share my super cute tutorial with you all instead!
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. I have a tripod and a remote control, and have been taking hundreds of pictures to get 5 decent ones for the blog. I set up a proper background to take photos of my girly cupcakes.
  • girly cupcakesI am going to be a better blog-reader. I am better at commenting using twitter, but there is still the issue of getting past comment validation systems on a phone. Still a point to work on as I have loved all the great comments I’ve recieved this week.

retro recipes

  • I am going to explore new recipes. I only made 5 recipes as part of my retro recipe plan, but they were all great dishes that I know I will return to. I will carry on trying the classic recipes, but found it tricky this year with my wrists bandaged up.

I think I had a pretty good go at those plans, but the main change has been my attitude to my crafting; more planning and precision has led to more successes. If you want to read my plans for 2014 you can see them here.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you in 2014!

Self-drafted cardigan

Today was a gloomy day; weather was grey and I woke up with a sore throat. I didn’t feel like wearing a jacuzzi bright cardigan, and then remembered that I had experimented with making this cardigan last weekend when I realised that lots of clothes didn’t got with aqua or red cardigans. It was super cosy and I got told I looked very smart (obviously I refused the compliment by asking people to guess how much it cost!)

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I used my jersey bodice block, cut the back and sleeves as normal, and cut the front in two parts with an extra inch on each side. I tried it on and pinned where I wanted the neckline to be before cutting the v-neck shape. Then I added folded bands around the neckline and sleeves, and hemmed the bottom (not enough fabric for hem bands) I decided not to add buttons as I didn’t want to risk buttonholes on the ribbed jersey.

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The fabric was a remnant from the Peter Jensen sample sale and half had been used to make a polo/cowl neck jumper, so this cardigan cost a whopping £1.50, however this meant I had VERY little fabric to play with. I had way too much ease in this make as I didn’t account for the weight and stretch of the ribbing- I took a good few inches from the side seams to get a nice fitting silhouette.

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Quick post on a quick make. Sorry about the phone pictures, due to being full of cold. I had planned to show you my new trousers this week, but a lovely child at school tapped my leg with a chalk-covered hand; photos after they have been in the wash!

Pants!

Thanks so much for all the lovely comments about my spotty Tiramisu dress 🙂 If you liked that dress then you are in for a treat tomorrow when Me Made May ’13 starts! I have a new make ready to wear for the first time tomorrow…

I spent lots Sunday sewing and watching a Toy Story marathon (the 4 year olds in my class are singing “You’ve got a friend in me” for our assembly this week, with cute “best friend” photos on the screen behind them, so of course I had to research!). I made a dress and realised that, unless I want to spend the whole month of May doing laundry, then I’d need a few more pairs of underpants. Daddy and big brother, I know I pester you to read my blog, but you have permission to stop reading this now!

pants! 1

I used the Ohhh Lulu pattern for retro high-waisted panties (Gertie’s recommendation I think), with a few modifications. I don’t like teeny tiny pants but these were seriously high waisted! I made two variations; the first was 2″ shorter than the pattern and are belly button height, and the second version were 2″ shorter than that!pants! 4

The original pattern also had 4 panels, however I combined the sides and back to reduce the seams. I like the look of the front panel contrasting with the back/sides, and it was a great way to mix and match scraps. I used up almost all of my jersey off-cuts and even refashioned some old tshirts (one that was made from a £3 remnant when I first learnt how to sew 3 years ago, bargain!)pants! 3

Now I’m sorted with Me Made undergarments, I need to rustle up some spring-weight trousers or spend the next month at work in just skirts and dresses.

A quick catch-up

I thought I should write a quick post before I go back to work tomorrow and get busy with real work again, so here is a quick round up of some of the things I’ve been up to this weekend.

  • I met up with some friends and we played board games and decorated cupcakes. L had got some amazing tools and cutters for her birthday, including some adorable teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny ones. I said I couldn’t eat mine until I took a picture when I got home, but they was a slight jumble in the tin as we power-walked for the train so there was only one photo-ready cake…
    cupcake
  • The train journey there and back, plus a movie night meant I’m making good progress on my red cardigan. I think I showed a swatch in the summer (August to be precise) and never revealed what it was for, so I will make sure I take some pics to show you what I’m knitting.
  • I whipped up a quick top using the purple floral remnant I showed you at the beginning of the week. Not much to say about it. It is my go-to jersey top pattern (a mish-mash of BurdaStyle Sadie and Lydia patterns). Since I was using a remnant I had to have some designer seams on the sleeves (there is a seam below the elbow and a wide cuff band) but the pattern is so busy you really can’t tell. The other change from my normal making is that I applied iron-on seam tape to the shoulders and neckline to minimise stretching (my black and white striped top is on its last legs now and much more revealing than it originally was!)t-shirt
  • I saw this picture online this week:
    It reminded me that I have to show you my dinosaur embroidery. A T-Rex trying to knit except his arms are too short! I love his puzzled face. I can’t decide if it is finished or not. Should I keep it as it is, or risk filling in the outline with colour (satin stitch is not my strength!). What do you think?finished

What do you think should happen to T-Rex? Have you been crafting this weekend?

Half-term plans

Yay! Half-term is finally here after what has felt like the longest week ever. I have woken up everyday thinking it was one or two days later in the week. So what am I going to get up to, now I have time at home to be awake and crafty?half-term plansClockwise from top left:

  1. I have two silks I got in the John Lewis sale to make some nice tops/blouses from. I resisted them twice, but decided £14 for a silk top was probably a good buy. Underneath them is a jersey remnant, about 80cm long, so I’m going to see what I can squeeze out of it (sleeves or no-sleeves, that is the question).
  2. I need to quickly finish my pieces for #imapiece and get them posted. First Hannah mentionned it on Monday and then Tilly had a guest post by the Craftivist Collective so I had to whip out my embroidery threads (well pick my case up off the floor) and get involved. Two out of three are finished but number three needs some sparkle of some sort…
  3. Pressing some sad looking flowers. Since I read Attic 24’s review of the year in flowers I’ve started buying the occasional bunch of flowers to brighten up my little flat and this morning afternoon I managed to grab some flowers before they looked too sad and have pressed them in my flower press.
  4. My current crafty reading list. A cute jacket I can’t stop thinking about in one issue of Burda and a spring tunic in another (I need to get some muslin fabric asap). Gertie’s portrait blouse is a contender for using my sale silks. 100 flowers to knit and crochet is filling the post-blanket crochet hole.

The best things in life are free

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I got a phone call at school from a local interior design shop asking if we would like some scraps of fabric they were chucking out. As Art and D&T coordinator I was very excited to get free stuff to supplement my budget so I arranged to go round and pick it up. I arrived at the shop to see three bin-bags full of off-cuts and scraps, and a huge box full of old sample books (and that was only the stuff she had brought upstairs!). As we were chatting about what the kids could use the fabric for, I mentioned my personal crafting obsession and she said I could take stuff for me…

I felt a bit like the candidates on The Apprentice when they have the shopping challenge and have to get items and return to the boardroom in time – I looked at my watch and realised school would be locked up in 15 minutes and we had to grab what we could and get it in the car asap. We took five large sacks back to school, and they are sat in my classroom awaiting sorting next week (well being hidden in the cupboard until I have time to sort them). I was desperate to rummage but I could hear the caretaker’s keys rattling so all I had time to grab was…Liberty

Two Liberty home furnishing sample books. They are pretty heavy and were a pain to carry on the tube, but it was worth it as inside are lots of samples of Liberty fabrics. They all have little pictures to show how the whole width will look.PicMonkey Collage

Some of the pieces look like they could just about make a side of a cushion (maybe with a little border) but others might need to be cut up and panelled or patched together to be big enough to be a cushion. I had been thinking of doing some patchwork quilting this year, so this might actually be the inspiration to do it (once I work out how to open the sample booklets) as it probably my only change to have Liberty silk cushions judging by the price list below…price

The designer said she had at least five more bags in the basement so I am very tempted to go back once I’ve sorted (and worked out where to store) the first lot!

Plans and goals for 2013

I have just the one row of scallops (and darning in ends on some squares, I had to sew them together first as they were taking up too much/all of my floor space) so fingers-crossed I will be able to take some proper pictures tomorrow.

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In the meantime I thought I should get up and stop sitting around in my pjs (just one more row of crochet is currently a couple of hours!) so here are my crafty plans for the year. The first few goals are what I submitted for the sewlution I posted on Karen’s blog – she is going to check we keep them at the end of the year – and the rest will have to be checked by my lovely readers.

  • I am going to make less but what I make will be better. I’m specifically thinking of seam finishes, precise measuring and cutting, perfect fitting. I have enough cheap and cheerful tops I have made and worn but some of the most recent ones are starting to look shabby – it is okay to make a few fun tops in a crazy print but, after jumping on the blogging bandwagon and reading Overdressed, I think my wardrobe should be built to last. I want to make a proper winter coat by the end of the year and make more hand-knitted items.
  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations. If I don’t have a wearable garment I will still have enjoyed myself and learned skills, so I need to stop being so protective of the unwearable garments and actually turn them into something else! At school one of the current trends is how children view learning – do they feel success when they have got 10/10 or is the challenge and learning experience more important for them? Which is more important – the finished garment, or the lessons learned in the process?
  • I will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). (see above) At the moment I have 2 blouses, a skirt and some jeans cut and partially made – the jeans were left until I lost a bit of weight before fitting them, the skirt went horribly wrong (how can 2 makes with the same pattern differ so much?!) and the blouses have slight sleeve fitting issues. No wonder my pin-cushion looks rather empty!
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! This year I did the Couture Dress and Jeanius courses and they were amazing and I learned SO much. I have other courses lined up in my account that I need to find time to do, plus I have lots of techniques in my pile of Threads magazines and books waiting to be used.
  • I really want to make bunting! I’m very surprised I haven’t actually made any yet, so this year I will get around to making some to jazz up my little flat. I have some crochet books that could be perfect for making little things to hang on garlands, or I could recycle and reuse all the fabric/projects going spare.
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. The blogs I love reading are the ones with great pictures, and I want that to be true for this little crafty place. I think my pictures have improved, but they are not always as good as they could be, so I am going to learn to use all the settings on my camera properly and make the most of natural light. I suppose I should include taking better action shots.
  • I am going to be a better blog-reader. I LOVE reading comments from readers on my blog but I am not great at commenting on other blogs. I catch up on blogs on my reader apps on my phone or iPad, but there is no comment option on them, and by the time I have got home via the supermarket and made dinner etc then I have forgotten what and where I wanted to comment! I am going to try to star the blogs I want to comment on so I remember when I get home and can have a comment session, however I am finding some blog platforms wont let me comment from the iPad – if anyone has any apps to help me keep in touch please let me know.
  • I am going to explore new recipes. When I say new I mean new-to-me. I acquired some of my Grandma’s old recipe books but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Instead of looking online for recipe ideas I will look for inspiration in books! In my snazzy blog button you can see my Grandma’s old red binder (full of cuttings and handwritten recipes) and The Radiation Cookery Book (the 35th edition printed in January 1949, designed for fancy new gas ovens!)

retro recipes

 

Cosy Crafting

Last week I had a free weekend, but after waking and getting up at 7am I started to get a little stir-crazy in the afternoon. I wandered down to Tate Britain and then decided to jump on the bus to Fabrics Galore, with the intention of getting some fabric to make something for someone for Christmas (I can’t be more specific as I keep hassling my family to read my blog and I think they actually do now). I brushed past a pile of tartan brushed cottons and after lots of umm-ing and ahhh-ing I got some to make some cosy Christmas pjs (a new tradition I started last year). Yesterday I popped into work with the intention of getting a couple of metres of something to finish a something I started making for someone. I got a few bits of haberdashery and some other bits for other presents I’m going to make, but then something caught my eye.  Last time I popped into John Lewis I spotted this cosy knitted fabric but showed great restraint and left it alone. The weather has really got chilly over the past few days and the Christmas lights were twinkling, so last night I was feeling festive and gave in and purchased some to make a polo-neck jumper.

The other fabrics in the photo are all for Christmas presents. Half of the fabrics are cut out and the others are about to be chopped up and sewn up – today is perfect weather for Christmas crafting and watching films 🙂

Movember sewing

Somehow it is already the end of October, which means tomorrow is November. Or Movember as it is becoming known in certain circles. Movember is when guys look really silly by attempting to grow moustaches to raise awareness of men’s cancers. A colleague at work told me she had got some moustache earrings to wear for the whole of November, so I wondered what I could do and on the tube today I embroidered this little badge. A scrap of muslin and just one needle of black embroidery thread and now I can pretend to be an East London hipster! And what is that in the background? Oh, it is my new cowl/roll-neck jumper/top using some of the fabric I got on Saturday. I used about half of the black ribbed knit, so I think this jumper cost £1.50. Seriously! I wore it yesterday with just a vest underneath and got a little too hot at times and was unable to take it off, so I think this is definitely a jumper and not a top. The neckline was a little low and wide for a roll neck so it is more of an over-sized cowl, but what ever it is it is perfect for keeping cosy in this chilly autumn weather.With just two months to go until the end of my crafty resolution, tomorrow I will do a count of my (meagre) progress and try to get up to speed before the weekend is over. Hopefully I’ll have some good crochet news to share tomorrow!

Fabric Frenzy and Half-term plans

On Saturday I got up bright and early to meet Kathyrn, Elisalex, and some other lovely bloggers/sewing fanatics to go to the Peter Jensen fabric sample sale. We got there just after it opened at 10am which was a good plan as it was already very busy and the queue to get fabric cut was huuuuge. The sale was in a design studio which was interesting to nosy around – look at the pin-cushion attached to the sewing machine!

There were mostly plain solid fabrics and no sign of the crazy prints we were expecting, but they were all lovely quality and bargain prices. I was queuing with some lovely aubergine corduroy and deciding how much I needed and for what (cord skirt, winter shift/pinafore dress, jacket… someone suggested a Minoru) and got convinced to take the whole roll end. Uh oh! Except it was only £20 for over 6m of lovely fabric, which is what you would expect to pay for 4m (which was what I was planning on getting). I’m still deciding what to make with it as I realised I have quite a few skirts planned already. (The other roll is some spare inner tubes I grabbed for school – to make a wigwam? – which were interesting to take on the tube!)

I also got a roll of black ribbed jersey from the random remnant bin. All the bags were £1, £2 or £3 and the £1 bags really did just contain off-cuts. My bag/roll was £3 and unrolled it looks like there is almost 4m of it! This is going to be a snuggly long-sleeved top with a cosy cowl neck, although I’m not sure if it is warm t-shirt or cool jumper thickness.

There were various ribbons and elastics for 20p a metre, rolls of bias binding (the pink was 10p and white was just £1) but my most exciting buy was these super sparkly buttons. They are black with faceted edges and I got two sizes – the tiny ones were 20 for £1 and the larger ones were 20 for £1.50. What a bargain!

Today I have cleared my table and am going to get cutting my stash – its not my favourite part of sewing so I am going to cut out multiple projects ready to sew bit by bit over the next few weeks. With the weather turning cooler I am looking forward to cutting into some of my wools from Goldhawk Road  – a simple charcoal ginger skirt and some stretchy herringbone grey trousers – and a wine pinstripe that I got in the summer sales to become a chevron Ginger skirt. I also grabbed a remnant in John Lewis a few weeks ago (when in to get a zipper for the wool skirt) which I couldn’t resist (John Kaldor fuscia with black and grey splodges) as it was exactly the right size for another Burda Septemeber 106. I think this will quickly become a wardrobe staple as it feels so good to wear something fitted and woven.

Wow! That sounds like a lot (2 skirts, 2 tops and 1 pair of trousers) but I suppose it is what you could buy in a day of shopping and I know I will live in them (if they are successful!) now it is getting chilly! I better log-off now and get to work!

p.s. Any pattern recommendations for a good winter corduroy dress? I want to be able to wear it over long-sleeved tops and pockets are a must! I am thinking about drafting it by combining a good bodice with a Ginger skirt…