#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!

 

Stripy Swishy Gabriola Maxi-skirt

I’m a big fan of Sewaholic patterns and I always get a good fit with minimal (compared to other pattern brands) tweaks, so I was really excited to get the new Gabriola skirt.

gabriola 1

This skirt needs a lot of fabric for its swooshiness (especially on a taller person) so it took me ages to find something I liked and was happy to buy in multiple metres. This first (yes, the second is already under construction) was made with some blue cotton shirting from Stone Fabrics that has a subtle multi-coloured pinstripe (the stripes change from blues and purples to creams throughout the length of the stripe). It was a lovely soft fabric to work with and had a great flowy drape which was perfect for the style.

gabriola 2

Unfortunately the lightweight fabric didn’t drape so well around the waist as it seems you need a heavier fabric for something that needs to be fitted around a tummy! When I tried it on mid-construction with the interfaced waistband it was far from flattering; tight waist and bumpy seam-lines all over my stomach. So I decided to get rid of the waist band and interface all of the yoke pieces, to allow a nicer fit at the top with flowing fabric from the hips.gabriola 5

I was a little annoyed to have to do this as I had carefully French-seamed all the seams and top-stitched them down with careful double rows of stitching and the insides were looking AMAZING. I cut out out new yoke pieces (both top and bottom) and interfaced them, then sewed them to the new waist line as a facing (and top-stitched to the bottom of the yoke so it didn’t flap around). The structure at the top is much more flattering (not that you would know in the picture below).

gabriola 3

I’ve worn this skirt a lot since making it (these pictures were actually taken last Bank Holiday weekend, but I didn’t like them (despite my awesome hair I did myself) and wanted to get some where I looked less podgy, but then eventually decided last week that I didn’t care that much and people will be more interested in my pattern modification than the size of my tummy) and I’ve found the perfect partner to wear with it on hot summer days. I’m wearing this with my Self Portrait top which is really cool and floaty to wear. It is so much nicer that a t-shirt that as well as cutting out my second Gabriola yesterday I also made another portrait blouse using some yummy voile from Gillian.gabriola 4
If you swap the real shoes (beginning of May was warm but not that warm) for sandals, then I think this will be my go-to outfit for the summer.

Me Made May 2014

If you search back through this blog, you will find that my second ever post was about Me Made June 2011. It feels like a lifetime ago that I started this little blog and even weirder to think that once upon a time the sewing blog world was just something I read about. To quote myself

“One of the reasons I decided to start my own blog was seeing the Me Made June challenge on So Zo… What Do you know? The challenge is to wear handmade items every day in June. I sorted my wardrobe and counted (at the time) about 20 different items and thought it would be something I could just about manage. “

I loved the challenge of the Me-Made or Self-Stitched months and they really helped focus my sewing hobby into a way of creating an actual wardrobe, turning it from a pastime into a way of life. Last year my challenge was to wear all me-made garments (excluding bras, socks, tights and sports wear) each day , and after a few emergency knicker and trouser sewing sessions it was easily managed. At the end of May I actually filled a huge IKEA bag with all the RTW clothes I hadn’t missed over the month, and unpacked a couple of dresses and cardigans I still loved.

Most of the clothes I wear are me-made (or a few years old) and in previous years I have found myself frantically sewing up a me-made version of something I already own. This goes against my normal approach of tweaking and refashioning, as it seems silly to sew up a new pair of work trousers (that will be covered in paint or dirt (seriously, on Monday I was covered in mess before lunchtime)) when there is a perfectly good pair in the wardrobe. Now I know I can be totally me-made, it doesn’t mean I have to for the sake of it.

A challenge wouldn’t be a challenge if it were something you had already done or something you knew you could do pretty easily. We tell the kids at school that if something is easy you aren’t learning so this year…

 ‘I, Alison of anotherlittlecraftycreation, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one ENTIRELY Me-Made Outfit (with the exception of shoes and socks) a week for the duration of May 2014’

What this means is that a) I will have to have a (me-made) pyjama day once a week or b) I will have to finally make a bra that I am willing to wear inside or outside of the house. I think I may have forgotten to tell you, but in February I did a bra making course! The bra I made was finished well but was not the sort of garment I wear to give me the most support. The next week I traced a pattern from an existing bra and made another, but there were some weird fitting issues. I have copied a different bra to make another pattern, this time marking on the sewing lines not seam lines and so far it is looking good…fingers -crossed it looks okay when I try it on. If not, then it’ll be pyjamas for me!

“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 🙂 And her fiancé 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…

Hello!

Hello! Hope you haven’t missed me the past few months 🙂 I’ve been struggling with a combination of bad wrist and bad brain, so even if I’ve felt like crafting I haven’t been able to, hence there hasn’t been much to blog about.

There are a few things coming up soon that have really helped me get inspired again (Sew Dolly Clackett and Me Made May) and meeting up with the lovely Spoolettes to cheer on the amazing Rehannon in her marathon running. April is a busy birthday month so I have been forced out of bed to bake (including cake pops this week!) and weather is now good for trips to the park.

I am doing 100 Happy Days challenge and am a quarter of the way through: some days it has been hard to find one thing happy thing to take a photo of, but other days I have been having too much fun to look at my camera. Here are days 1-25.

#100happydays 1-25

Two of the photos are of dresses I have made this week now the holidays are here, and I’m hoping the weather stays bright so I can get some good pictures 🙂 I also have a tutorial coming up that I entered into a Craftsy magazine competition and has been returned to me (in hindsight I realise I had WAY too many photos in my instructions to fit in a magazine spread!). Hope you all are enjoying a nice long weekend.

Safari Adventures

There has been a bit of silence round these parts as I have been away on safari! Well, not quite as exotic as that sounds, but I needed a safari suit for a murder mystery dinner party in the depths of West London.

Apologies to my Australian readers, but my character was a loud and brash Aussie businessman who wears a safari outfit, and this was my me-made short-notice costume. I got the invite with costume details while on a Spoolette shopping trip to Goldhawk Road and was rather disappointed to discover I wasn’t going to have the chance to drape myself in Oriental silks (the mystery was set in China), but I had just bought some calico for muslins/toiling.

safari b

I made the long shorts using my self-drafted/traced pj pattern, adding a few extra inches of ease all around. Luckily it was winter and I had to wear tights underneath, as the calico was a little too see-through to wear in public. I found some home-decor weight fabric (a remnant I got thinking I’d use it to make tote bags) that was just big enough to fit the By Hand London Victoria blazer on. I lined it with scraps of rusty red and leopard print I had (I was just a bit too late for Jungle January) since this was fancy dress, but I quite like the mix-and-match lining.

The first Victoria blazer I made fitted amazingly in the stretch twill I used, but it was lucky I made this “wearable muslin” as this stable fabric was a touch too snug around the arms. Wearable for an evening, but good to know for a future everyday version.

safari a

No Australian outfit would be complete without a cork hat. I joked that as a non-drinker I should use milk bottle tops instead of corks, but then I found these cut little wooden spools! I borrowed a hat from a friend and sewed them in place, but they got very tangled during wearing. Strewth! Finally I used a scrap of faux fur to make a moustache (not pictured here) to complete my outfit.safari c

Aubergine Corduroy Hummingbird skirt

cord hummingbird 4

This skirt has taken ages to appear on the blog.

The fabric was bought over a year ago at the Peter Jenson sample sale, but because I had so much of it, I wasn’t desperate to sew with it. Then in the summer I got the Cake Hummingbird pattern and thought the cord would make a great skirt. I cut the fabric in the summer but couldn’t find a zip that was anywhere close to the colour. So it sat untouched until the autumn, when I found a brown invisible zip that blended in okay, but by this time I had lots of other projects on the go and was busy moving house. Then in the Christmas holidays I remembered I had a skirt cut and ready to sew, and it was really quick to put together.

A month later and the weather, time and laundry have finally coincided for me to be able to take some decent slightly better photos!

cord hummingbird 3

This is my second Hummingbird skirt (the first is a black twill that is worn all the time, but is too dark to get decent indoor winter photos) and the construction was really straightforward. As with all Cake patterns, it is really easy to get a good fit just by following the steps in the pattern. This time I added the tail flounce which was a little trickier as there was a long bias edge to work with. The flounce is really fun and allows a lot of movement in an otherwise fitted skirt.

cord hummingbird 5

The colour is very aubergine and as much as I love it, I’m finding it tricky to pair with other garments, especially in winter darkness when I’m getting dressed. I wasn’t sure if it would be too much purple to wear with my new cardigan, but when I had some fabric in my bag (to send to Gillian so we could be twins) someone said they looked nice together. What do you think?

cord hummingbird 1

I lined the pockets with leftover hot air balloon fabric for a fun surprise. The skirt isn’t lined which is a bit of a problem when wearing winter tights, so I made a wearable muslin of a half-slip to wear underneath. I made the slip from some old lining fabric but I have some Valentino silk I picked up at a swap ready for the real thing.

cord hummingbird 2

Review: Hoop-la! 100 things to do with embroidery hoops.

hoopla

Last year I rediscovered the joys of the local library, and was pleasantly surprised to find how many crafty books were on offer. One of the books I borrowed and loved was “Hoop-la! 100 things to do with embroidery hoops” by Kirsty Neale, and it made it onto my “must buy once I’ve returned it” list.

hoopla 02

As the title suggests, this book is all about things to do with embroidery hoops; some projects involve embroidery and some don’t. It is unbelievable how many different projects there are, from using the hoop as a screen for printing, adding hinges to make books, and all sorts of lovely decorations.

hoopla 05hoopla 04

Some of the projects are a little zany and for things you might never have use for, but there are so many techniques for various abilities that are clearly written and illustrated. Lots of these skills could be adapted to other embroidery projects, or general crafting, so don’t be put off if you don’t want a wall covered in hoops! There is a fresh and modern style to the book (lots of the designs remind me of a new-ish style of kids illustrations I’ve seen in modern picture books, and the sausage dog above is just like Sizzles from Charlie and Lola) but it isn’t overly cutesy and I’m sure it could be adapted to any taste in fabric.

hoopla 11

One of my favourite projects is this French Shading. I’ve never seen it before but I love the technique and am desperate to find a suitable project to try it on. It is a shape filled with French knots, but the colour totally matches the backing fabric. I just want to touch it so badly!

hoopla 12

hoopla 08

What I liked about this book was the range of skills and techniques covered. I find that at the moment I am in a weird no-mans land where I am no longer a beginner wanting easy projects to do in an afternoon, but I’m not expert enough (or awake enough) to want month long sagas to work on. Does anyone else find that books and magazines are either pitched too much towards a beginner or too specialised to accommodate the intermediate sewist who doesn’t have as much time to spare as they’d like? Well this book has something for everyone, from quick sewing of buttons to computer generated applique (wouldn’t an applique portrait make a perfect present for a special occasion?!). There are clear instructions and templates to follow throughout, plus little clouds full of tips, tricks and variations.

hoopla 07

I really enjoyed this book and found it very inspiring; there were simple projects to start immediately and lots of new ideas to imagine and daydream about. I think it would be a great fun gift for a new-ish or keen crafter, and would be a great addition to a sewist’s bookshelf.

~~~Disclaimer~~~
All opinions are my own and not connected with the author. I did not get any rewards, but if the publishers want to send me a free copy I will gladly accept as I loved the book!

Lush Purple Tweed Cardigan

This is actually one of my last makes of 2013, but the blocking process took a long time in cold winter weather, and it was only just ready to wear on New Year’s Eve. Since then I have barely taken it off; the only days it hasn’t been worn were when I was wearing a soon-to-be-blogged aubergine-purple skirt and I thought it would be overdoing the purple slightly!

cardigan 8

The cardigan in Tin Can Knits’ Lush cardigan (check out my Ravelry notes here!) and knitted in Rowan Silky Tweed in Jazz. I bought the yarn in John Lewis sale last year, and in googling a link I’m disappointed to see it is discontinued as it was scrummy to knit and is so lovely to wear.cardigan 2

The Lush pattern was unusual in that the yoke was knitted first, then the collar and neck was knitted up, and the body and sleeves were knitted down; I’ve never come across this construction before, but it meant the lace pattern was only over a small number of stitches and so was easier to follow on the chart (I coloured in each row in different colours to help me keep my place). I really enjoyed the lace and I also learned how to do a provisional cast on (one side of the yoke is knitted, then the other, for a lovely symmetry – see below, which is the most accurate colour of the yarn) which was not as scary as I thought. What I did not like was having to pick up over 300 stitches for the body and sleeves, and realise I had too many and have to start over again to get the spacing right!

cardigan 5

Once the sleeves were put on stitch holders it was plain sailing, but of course I made things harder for myself by adding bust darts (short rows) for shaping and to provide more length over the chest. I did this using the method in the Craftsy Curvy Knits course, with measurements doodled on a piece of graph paper at school one lunchtime. In hindsight I should have adjusted the measurements to take away the proportion of the negative ease the pattern has, as they are slightly too big, but I’m super pleased with the alteration as it is.

cardigan 3

 

The big thing I have learned since my Basic Bella Cardigan is about zero or negative ease in knitting. I carefully took my measurements and chose the size smaller than me to give a close fit, which I am liking so much more. I lengthened the sleeves, with a little too much negative ease, so I did rip back a couple of inches and stop decreases earlier. This was a pain, but is worth it in the end for a good quality garment I can wear forever. The sleeves are a perfect length for me, and I am so glad I ignored my “are we nearly finished?!” grumbles in my head.cardigan 1

 

The sleeves and hem were bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off which I cam across when googling bind-off techniques. It was simple (adding in a yarn over before each stitch) and is so stretchy, keeping the stretch of the cuffs.cardigan 6

 

The Thursday before Christmas I braved the thunderstorm to walk to knitting night at The Village Haberdashery, but I was the only one wise enough to do so! I needed to wind some hanks of yarn for my journey home for Christmas and needed some buttons for the cardigan. It was just me, Annie and gorgeous baby Harvey, but Harvey helped me choose buttons (he liked the train ones) but I found these perfect floral buttons. I had been looking for ages and could only find solid colours that looked too flat against the tweed, but the subtle colours in these ones match the tweed beautifully. (This picture doesn’t do it justice, but is the best of bad lack of daylight).
cardigan 7

 

I am so pleased with this cardigan and know it is going to be getting a lot of wear over the cooler months. The yarn was bought on sale for around £30ish and the buttons were £9 for 10, so in total this cardigan was approximately £40 and took 2 months to complete. Not bad at all.cardigan 4

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!