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Spreading the sewing word

Dear all,  Two things ….

If you have been on holiday or in a media blackout you may not have realised that series two of the Great British Sewing Bee starts next week!

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Are you as excited as me?  If you fancy yourself as a prospective contender for the next series  you can apply now – hurry though – closing date for applications is 16th March.

sewing bee poster

Isn’t that just great news – it shows how well it’s being received if series three is being planned before series two even gets screened! Go on!  Wouldn’t it be great to see some familiar faces on TV!!

And of other sewing goodies-news, I was contacted by Vintagerockchick about a niche giveaway – a gorgeous vintage pattern, pinned into the fabric and cut out. 

Why niche?  Well it’s a teeny tiny size.  pop over & have a look!

Cheerio for now!

Giveaway results- 1 & 2

There was I all ready to sum up all three giveaways (cos there must be some impatient people out there) when I realised that the last one has until the end of today to run … & what an interesting read- finding out what your sewing bibles are – there’s an information-sharing post coming out of that, I tell you.

So today I shall announce the winners of the first two giveaways.

The Spearmint coat has been won by Hayley (we are now expecting a Spearmint in hot pink with polka dot lining!!  Watch out Brighton) well done!

I must say I had a few new ideas from the second giveaway….but it seems as if most of you would make skirts (with the Grainline Moss mini being mentioned lots), with jeans coming out close to the top.  But I like the ideas a few of you shared to go nautical & high waisted….be it a denim pencil skirt or trousers.

Giveaway pie

And the second giveaway for that sumptuous denim has been won by Ruth who will make a skirt & add the ric rac as an added bit of fun.

Congratulations you both!  I shall email you both for your addresses.

Minerva make: Vogue 8829 in crepe

Minerva make: bow neck shirt dress truly awesome …

crepe 1So let me tell you where I started with this month’s Minerva Blogger network make.  I started for a change with the pattern.  Usually I start with the fabric & then match to the pattern, but this time it was different.    Vogue 8829 is a pattern I’ve had for about a year, and always bring out to swoon over.  This folks is a shirt dress with sophistication & elegance.

Whilst it provides quite a few design options in terms of skirt shape, length, sleeve length & even collar style for me it was always going to be knee length pussy bow with sleeves (long or short).  It was also always going to be a dress I made in a solid colour- I could not imagine it in a print (except polka dots) , and that is why I have never made it until now – most of my stash & fabric buying tends to be ruled by prints you see.  So making my Minerva wish list up started with selecting this pattern & choosing suitable fabric from there.

crepe 3With my Minerva makes I try to extend my sewing skills & try something new.  I aim to develop my sewing skills & experience as it could be that if it scares me it might scare others, & if I can breathe in & take the plunge, it’ll encourage others to try as well.

This month’s personal challenge was to sew with fabric that was expensive (to me).  Being someone who is always attracted by discounts & bargains I almost have subconscious guidelines on how far my purchasing power extends, as one of the reasons I sew is to have an array of unique clothing that is not only very personal, but does not cost me the earth.  I am at heart a cheapskate.  This means that any quality “expensive” fabric that I do buy tends to lay wrapped up in tissue paper in a drawer until I can pluck up the courage to slice into it with my shears.  Therefore, choosing some absolutely incredible “designer” crepe as my November supplies forced me to be brave, to put my teddy bear to one side, take my thumb out of my mouth & lavish reverence, care & extreme attention on this most stately fabric.  I hoped this crepe would make a winter dress for work that would be easy to care for, but never having worked with crepe before, I did not really know if it would be true!  But folks, in reality this fabric is not as expensive as buying a ready to wear dress – remember that.  This fabric costs £11.99 per metre and is 150cm wide.  This dress takes 2 m – it really is not expensive!

crepe 2So this fabric is amazing folks.  It is definitely a mid weight autumn/ winter dress fabric.  Apart from its wonderful touch (feel the quality) & drape, it has two very distinct finishes.  It could be described as “self lined” for those who want to wear it with matt side out, shiny side in.  But then you might want to wear it shiny side out, in which case the inside would be matt.    However, even though the pattern envelope of my chosen dress showcased a dress in shiny fabric, I knew that would not be my look of choice.  Matt side out was my intention from the outset.

crepe 8So away I went.  Once I had sewn a toile of the bodice.  I wasn’t going to plough through my crepe with an as yet untested pattern!  The bodice fit fine (apart from a vertical pinch I took out from shoulder to chest) & in fact has quite enough ease.  It all seemed to be hitting the right spots, so then I wielded the shears & went past the point of no return.  It helped that I had a deadline to make this for.  No room for dithering!  I set to & made this dress up in a day.  I cut out style A but with the narrow skirt – but you can see that it is not a tight narrow skirt, more of an A line with soft pleats (more of those later).

crepe 4Oh folks, this was a dream to sew.  I really enjoyed the challenge of sewing with more expensive fabric.  Not to say that I am slapdash, but my usual need for speed when making things had to be tempered with giving this make the respect both pattern & fabric deserved.  As a result I found I raised my game with most of my manoeuvres executed with precision & when I did make the odd mistake, I did not allow fudges, but took it back & did it again.

crepe 5But I don’t think there were many mistakes, just the odd bit of topstitching that had veered off line.  I found all of the instructions were clear & easy to follow & loved the construction of the dress with big soft pleats at the yoke to create a blouson effect as well as big soft pleats in the skirt.   It seemed odd sewing the hemline before the dress was finished as that is usually the last thing I do, however, when it’s a style with a button band, the button band has to be attached with hem complete.  I think the trickiest sewing though, was attaching the tie collar when the size of the collar to neckline needed gentle easing to accommodate the slightly larger neck edge.

crepe 9Hahahaha – love the action shot!

OK, so that’s all I have to say about the sewing and the fabric.  What about design options?  This fabric gives you a new dimension which did not occur to me until I was well on the way.  With its matt/ shiny contrast think about how you can make use of this.  My choices were quite conservative opting to keep the dress matt with a shiny lining.  In this case I reversed the yoke lining so that its shiny side was out (you’d normally sew the inside yoke lining right side out), this made all of the lining shiny.

 

crepe 6

When I was sewing the neck tie it occurred to me that there were lots of areas that I could have played around with the play between matt/ shiny sides.  Eg shiny cuffs, button band and neck tie.  That felt too flash for me though, as this is going to be a work dress.  I just made use of the shiny contrast in its self cover buttons, which I like a lot.

crepe 7So I’ve worn this to work now & it is just the dress & more.  In fact it has exceeded my expectations as I think it doesn’t have to be solely an office dress as I was intending.  Worn with the right footwear you can get different looks, not just smart workwear.  Its fit is casual & blouson-ish which makes it feel fun to wear.  And I love the bow neck!  Swoon.   Should you want to give it a go, Minerva’s kit contains 2m of fabric, matching thread and  self cover buttons.  This dress though has plenty of room to wear long vests, t-shirts etc underneath if extra warmth is required without compromising its style by trying to get the right cardi.  Perfecto!!  I am imagining how lush this style would look in a check flannel now…

Our fifteenth castaway, Alessa, from Farbenfreud

It’s Friday, Fridays & I’ve spied a splash of colour climbing up one of the palm trees on the adjacent island.  Why it’s none other than Alessa from Farbenfreud!  I have severe wardrobe yearning over Alessa’s makes as she has a definite self sewn (& knitted) style: intense colour, polka dots & plentiful use of knit fabric.  She usually takes parts in the Me Made Months and I love to catch her cheery outfits & location shots (she lives in Germany).  But apart from being an inspiring creative, did you know she has recently qualified as a doctor?  Of the medical variety?  Talk about years of study &  dedication.  Huge congrats again Alessa.  Now over to you ….

“You are stranded on a desert island, surrounded by beautiful crystal blue water populated by turtles & tropical fish (no sharks!). You have a comfy cosy shelter, an abundance of food & drinking water & a solar generator. Upon exploring the island you find a container that has fallen off a cargo ship & guess what? It is filled with what seems to be a never ending supply of fabrics of all descriptions, threads & notions!! What chance!

You are allowed to take your sewing machine & sewing box but which would be your 8 desert island patterns? (Note I will leave it up to my interviewees to imagine that their desert island’s climate & their adventures did not only require bikinis & sarongs but maybe more of a variety of clothing- but up to them! This is about designing their dream but limited wardrobe.  The patterns might be practical choices, or maybe they have more sentimental meaning).  So what will it be?”

 

Oh, my very own desert island, wouldn’t that be nice! I’ve always wanted to live close to the water. Although I can’t quite decide if I’d rather have a temperate island with ragged cliffs and blustery winds, or a balmy tropical island with sandy beaches, colourful fish in the torquoise waters, and an abundance of yummy fruit. Hmm. But maybe, if the island has seasons, I can have both? So there can be leisurely knitting on the beach, and balmy evenings spent sewing silks on the porch and sipping exotic cocktails, as well as warming up from windy walks by knitting and having a spot of tea on the couch overlooking the cliffs, and fingering my warm, wooly fabrics thinking about what to sew next. Ah, my wonderful, trusty box of endless fabric!

1. So. Patterns. Let’s see. One pattern that I definitely don’t want to miss is my self-drafted knit top/dress block. The first time I used it, I made a navy striped top from it, but I can think of five tops of varying sleeve lengths, including the flowery one with the Macaron-like yoke, as well as the same number of dresses, with different sleeves and skirts, that I made from it. It’s my go-to pattern whenever I want a quick jersey top or dress, and it’s great fun to alter little details, like the neckline, or the sleeves, and to imagine it in all kinds of different fabric combinations.

I actually have a boat-necked version all planned out, to be sewn soon, and I imagine that the different skirt parts I’ve come up with would also work great on their own, with a simple elastic waistband.

2. So I now have a motley band of knit tops to get me through the seasons, but what bottoms to pair with them? My current favorite skirt pattern (apart from the simple jersey half-circle skirt) is Simplicity 2451 (blogged here )

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which has several options for gored or pleated skirts. I made one up in green corduroy, but have also planned a red version, and probably one in denim. I love the subtle a-line shaping from the pleats, and it’s got pockets!

 

3. I don’t often wear trousers, but in summer, shorts and a pair of linen trousers are essential for me. Although I haven’t tried any pattern, yet, I’ve heard great things about Sewaholic’s Thurlow Trousers  and I’ve seen quite a few cute versions out there!

I’m sure they’d look great in all sorts of colours of flowy linen (I’ve been thinking about turquoise, or grass green). Or maybe a pair of jeans?

4. So. What else do I want to wear on my beautiful island? I’m thinking that Victory Patterns’ Lola would be perfect. Totally comfy and it’s got big pockets for all the little treasures I’m bound to find on my island walks. Seashells, interestingly shaped pebbles… Not to mention a bottle of water and an apple. ;)

My Coral Lola blogged here  and my summer lola blogged here.

My summer version has shorter sleeves and a wider neckline, and I’m thinking that a winter version made from fleece and featuring longsleeves and a hood might be fun.

 

5. I also definitely want to take the Colette Macaron pattern. I’ve made it three times to date and I love the sweetheart shaped yoke and the endless possibility of fabric combinations! Plus, it’s got pockets. And I still need to make one with a circle skirt. :)

Blogged by Alessa here

 6. I’m tempted to take another dress pattern, but thinking about it, what I’d really like is a pattern for a bias slip dress. While I usually line my woven dresses, sometimes I’m too lazy, and there’s also the jersey dresses, which need a slip when I start layering them with leggings or tights in colder weather. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an assortment of luscious silk slips in all kinds of colours? They could double as night gowns, too, and made of cotton, they’d probably make cute sundresses.

Source: The Wardrobe Reimagined

Like Ali’s version of the vintage Simplicity 1144. Isn’t it pretty?

7. For a little challenge, and since it’s sure going to be windy some days on my beautiful island, I’d like to take a jacket pattern. I’ve never made outerwear, and I think it would be a nice challenge for the slow days on a desert island! As for which pattern to take, I’m leaning towards Sewaholic’s Minoru.

It’s practical, feminine and cute! Although I recently saw a very cute rendition of Colette’s Anise jacket over at The Handstitched Files

and now I’m in two minds!

 

8. Last but not least, I’d take my self-drafted (well, copied from my favorite pair) knickers pattern, which is very similar to the free Rosy Ladyshorts pattern from Clothabit. Why? Well, one can never have too many cute knickers, and they’re my favorite method of jersey scrapbusting. And since I have a neverending suppy of beautiful jersey scraps and lace… :D

You are also allowed to take two books, firstly which sewing related book would you take & why?

Good question. Since I probably won’t have the Internet for troubleshooting and looking up techniques, I’d best take a book like the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Secondly, which non-sewing related book would you take & why?

With this one, I’ll cheat slightly and take Diana Gabaldon‘s (entire) Jamie&Claire series. For reasons I’m not quite sure about, myself, I’ve read all seven (for now) books multiple times, and between them, they’ve got about a million pages, so that should keep even a voracious reader like myself occupied for a while.

Next your one luxury.  What would you choose (doesn’t have to be sewing related this time!)

Does my boyfriend count? If not, I’d take my ebook reader. ;)

And finally if you could only take one disc of music what album would you choose & why?

A very good question, and not so easy to answer. I think I may take my good friend Lili Sommerfeld’s album “Opposites Attract”, although I wish she’d already have out an album with her newest songs, which are even more amazing.

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Wow! and aaah!  for your non sewing choices!!  And some more new experiences to discover.  Thank you Alessa for your desert island choices.  Your patterns did not disappoint & as always refreshed me with (yet) more inspiration & revisited some of the things you have made that I thought at the time were top makes – & if they score as your favorites after many wearings, then that’s always interesting too.  Thank you for taking the time to pull this together.

My sewing and style ?!? Guest posting

Just a quick one lovely folk.

I’m guest posting at The gorgeous Seamstress Erin about my sewing and style….if you’re interested here’s the link.

My thoughts on my sewing and style

It was an interesting exercise as I never thought I had a definitive style and this gave me chance for my brain to make some kind of sense of it. If you’re interested, See what you think….

Happy holidays

Just a quick post to wish all you out there a very happy Christmas…

Thank you everyone for reading my blog, I feel so lucky to have such a wonderfully supportive extended group of friends! So want to wish you all a dazzling festive holiday time….

I'm taking a break for a week, but will be back with some exciting pics of new makes…and will do some kind of review and look forward.
just have huge fun, hope you get to relax, do what you love doing …..

;

The bounty of bound buttonholes, not quite ballgowns & the Bear

In reverse order, here’s the Bear!

In time honoured tradition, started by Karen at Did You Make That, I managed to capture a sewing blogger at Paddington station with the dude himself! Now speaking of Karen …what better way to learn how to do something new than to do it with friends, with chocolate cake, a super calm teacher who has learnt from her mistakes, in Walthamstow, & even with some celebratory fizz to end!! I was so lucky to be invited by Karen, ostensibly to be a guinea pig for bound buttonhole teaching. You see she is helpfully writing it up as a step by step e-book & wanted to test her approach so far on some willing volunteers. Enter Handmade Jane and Marie of A Sewing Odyssey to complete the set.

Have you ever seen such owner-perfect umbrellas? Marie with animal print & Jane with polka dots? Karen has written up her side of the story here, & not to repeat, it really was the most fun I’ve had for a long time (oh, I know you’ll understand being fellow sewing enthusiasts!) & I think it’s fair to say that all of us now have much higher confidence levels in sewing bound buttonholes.

Karen’s gentle & dulcet instruction ….

Plus we have some almost finished examples. You see I have tried them before for my Vintage Vogue jacket, but they are a long way off being perfect! Karen’s comprehensive instructions & gentle teaching style (& massive amount of preparation) resulted in me coming away understanding a lot more about the why you do it that way, which bits are important & when I can rely on a “Badger Bodge” & when the impact of such a bodge would jeopardise the final result. So as soon as Karen’s e-book is available, I’d highly recommend it….

Jane beavering away at the sewing machine

The opportunity to check we were doing it right at every stage felt like such a luxury. So much nicer to learn in company than to only have the internet or a book to refer to. Karen is not pretending to be the world’s expert by the way, she is just generously sharing her learnings, her trial and error from a very practical bottom up approach. But In my view, the bound buttonholes she’s made on *that* suit ( see the jacket on the dummy behind) have a finish I’d aspire to.

We’ve got bounty to take away:

  • My almost finished buttonholes to complete
  • Reading material & step by step instructions to test on our own, away from “teacher” & chit chat & chocolate cake

Karen, thank you, for putting in so much effort to make this work so well, even so far as to prepare all of the fabric pieces in advance. What a super fun afternoon & a wonderful meal at Eat 17 (seriously surpassing tasty!). Now I was suitably inspired, & as I was in London, to fill a spare 45 minutes soaking up inspiration at the V&A. I have never been & if I’d had more time would love to go to the ballgowns exhibition that is currently running. More time than that – I’d just spend all day there! However, I found a feast for the eyes just in the general fashion exhibit. First of all I caught sight of this beautiful evening Dior ensemble

And couldn’t resist closer inspection at the buttonholes!

Now that’s what I call delicate & precise.

Then some other clothing that had a mixture of bound buttonholes and hand sewn buttonholes I spied these, some of which is “utility wear” after the war.

But the top right is from the Dior display, I just loved all of these shapes. Hmm, bound buttonholes, tweed, suits, it must be coming up to thinking about autumn sewing plans! Interesting! And finally for some details that I snapped do you like this collection of all sorts of uses of lace? I’m sorry I haven’t made notes about them, as I was being too busy being inspired, but they represent a wide range of fashions from Victorian, right the way up to Chanel.

My head is buzzing! I’ve seen so much to inspire me, have learnt lots I want to try & I need to think about my autumn plans! Do you ever get flooded with thoughts & then find it hard to settle down & do anything? There’s SO much I want to do, but so little time ….

By the way, I shall also catch up with my blog reading as well ..something that I am rather behind with but I predict it will also add more inspiration/ temptation into the mix!!

For those of you who have a bank holiday off tomorrow, enjoy your long weekend! How FAB to have three days off :-)

Abakhan, Manchester, so much to answer for

Hello everyone …thank you so much for the hearty comments in my last post & I’m sorry I haven’t replied to them en blog yet, I have not been able to, being away from home, but will be catching up with everything super soon.  There is another massive apology due – the photos in this post are dire!  They are camera phone pictures & as such look crappy ….but for once I thought the excitement generated might show through despite the poor quality.    Imagine …me in my new spotty bow top & red trousers fumbling around with phone “where is the ‘trackball’?! ooops, it moved”  & snigger OK?

So we went to Manchester.  We love going to Manchester, one good, or actually that should be two good reasons is that it is where the boys live now & so there have so far been 4 years’ worth of pilgrimages “up north”.  Oftentimes it is an extended group of us that includes the former Mr Scruffy Badger aka Mr Technical Pants aka extreme Morrissey fan.  Frequently a further good reason makes this a triple pilgrimage timed to see the aforementioned 53 year old & incredibly awesome Mozza himself.  This was one of those occasions.

It’s funny that photos make it look like you were far away … we weren’t. This was taken during Ouija Board Ouija Board – like you can tell!!

We always gravitate towards the Northern Quarter, vintage, retro heaven sprinkled with interesting bars & restaurants.  Slightly off the main drag near Piccadilly Gardens.  It’s funny that over the four years I can see how it’s developed – some of the rougher edges are decidedly smoothed & there are many more cafes & tea shops there than when we first started visiting.  We usually head to Affleck’s Palace, an emporium of collectables, vintage clothing, records, jewellery, computer games crafts & all that stuff you remember from the 70s & 80s arranged over ?4 floors perhaps occupied by lots of independent sellers.  We usually partake in a slap up breakfast on the third floor…Anyway this is a long way to explain that this time I easily managed to persuade the men in our group that Saturday morning in the Northern Quarter would start with a full English then “just 20 mins” in Abakhan for me whilst they had plenty of poster, record & design shop options to keep them occupied.

So what’s the deal with Abakhan you might ask?  It’s got a regular online shop & is frequently listed as one of the fabric suppliers for SewMag’s makes.  But for me it was my first ever thrilling & slightly scary fabric purchase experience.  You see whilst the upstairs are regular bolts of cloth measured out to your yardage, downstairs, on the ground floor you are faced with lots of this:

Lengths of fabric sorted into types & sold by weight.  I tell you the first time it really knocked the fabric shopping stuffing out of me because I was overwhelmed & more than a little worried about how much it would cost.  Have you ever weighed your fabric to know how much a length that might be a metre and a half would weigh so you could then apply some mental arithmetic to estimate the cost?  What kind of unrealistic extreme pressure is this?  Weighing & mental arithmetic?!

Excuse for fuzzy picture: excitement & embarrassment

So you get the flavour.  After I’d plucked up courage the first time, I discovered that it was a very fun & not expensive way to buy.  In fact you can pick up some real bargains & some really unusual pieces with a bit of rummaging.

Luckily I had a good strong man to lug a large sack back to the hotel (all 4.65 kg of it).

Which looks a bit like this

I bought 4 lengths of lovely quality plain knit fabric (1.3kg @ £8.59 per kg ); some poly wool knits to make cardigans out of (hmm, interesting don’t you think?)- three lengths (unfortunately only greys) including that floral grey in the middle (1.6kg @ £9.95 per kg), & more …

Here are my faves

 

Some vintage jersey ruffle / crinkle (£2.03) that will be a cute skirt; the floral print poly wool knit (for a cardigan ) was £7.26; a small piece of super hero craft cotton for boxers (£3.10 way hey!!); cerise butterfly print lycra (£4.63 for loads) and a small piece, 1m perhaps of vibrant green/ yellow stretch lace (£1.07);  So yes.  I am going to experiment with sewing cardigans, what do you think of that?  Plenty of room for failures as this is acrylic I’m working with, but no point in starting with posh expensive knits is there now?  Anyone sewn a cardigan?  I have Simplicity 2154 to draw upon, but think I might start from an old existing one….and cross it with Renfrew perhaps….

So just 30 mins after entering the shop, I deposited the sack in the hotel room & we went to the People’s History Museum which was totally interesting – looked at the events I remember from History lessons at school & made so much more sense, was so much more relevant as an adult.  (I must have been so  unenlightened as a child!) It covered two hundred years of the political struggles that have achieved the level of democracy & rights we take for granted these days: the Chartists, Tolpuddle Martyrs through to the suffragettes right through to the politics of the 80s.   As a history of how political messages were communicated, it was doubly fascinating: satirical 19th C cartoons, a huge collection of awesome banners for trade unions & the artwork & imagery used in the posters were inspiring.  Oh my camera phone let me down.  All I could manage were these & they can only give you an idea of the ones I thought you’d enjoy …

And this one

So the visit was topped off by the Moz himself.  I must say it was an awesome concert- he & his band were in top form, some of his songs nearly made me cry & I couldn’t look when they played “Meat is Murder” due to the PETA film footage behind.  Maybe there will be some veggie converts as a result.

Top weekend (much needed) & back to normal now …kind of.

Live as I write ….what’s captivating me?

This is what I am working on now, right this minute.

Follow the link for details of Simplicity 2154.

I’m making the sleeveless bow blouse.  Give it an “ooooh” – it’s in polka dot poly chiffon…..more from Birmingham Rag Market.  This is my machine sewing, the 1940s Minnado Dress is destined for finishing this weekend too…..

So much am I enjoying the therapy provided by sewing…much needed this week.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Till next time

Scruffy Badger xx