A few peeks

Firstly, thank you so much for all the entries to my giveaway with Cloth House – over 200 so far! It’s open for another week and a half so keep the comments coming – it’s so fun to read them, but I’m sorry only one can win the voucher.

sewing

So I’ve had a bit of a disaster this week. No sooner did I get my sewing room back after its building work than my overlocker completely died :( A bit in the lower mechanism is wobbly that definitely shouldn’t be and it won’t make any stitches. My local repair place says that Toyotas are difficult to get new parts for, so I’m worried it won’t even be salvageable. Between the building works and nearly all my other (admittedly more urgent) electronic devices like phone, camera and computer also needing repairs or upgrades, I am not sure I can afford a new one right away. Such a bummer as I have loads of lovely knits begging to be sewn up!

sewing
sewing

Anyway, on the positive side my room is looking beautiful already, even though it’s far from finished. It’s full of light and feels much bigger even though it’s still comparatively small – my A1 cutting mat basically fits the available floor space! I can’t wait to get it all organised and decorated; I know it’s going to be a joy to sew in.

sewing

That will have to wait a little longer though as I’m off on my travels again – beautiful Barbados this time. While my plan to sew a couple of new swimsuits was foiled by the overlocker croaking it, I did manage to make a few new summery garments to take with me, doing some serious stashbusting in the process as well as honing my French seam skills. Here’s a little peek…. more on them when I return!

sewing

sewing

Fabric love and giveaway with Cloth House

Hello! Oh man, I am having serious withdrawals from both sewing and blogging. The good news is that the building work on my beautiful new sewing room is pretty much finished! I’m hoping to move back in and squeeze in as much last-minute vacation-sewing as possible this weekend before Barbados next week. Anyway, I do have a lovely treat for you today: a giveaway with probably my very favourite fabric shop, Soho’s beautiful Cloth House.

clothhouseno47

Cloth House actually has two shops on London’s Berwick Street. At no 47 you’ll find the wovens: cottons, linens, denim and shirtings, as well as stunning ranges of Japanese printed silks and handblocked cottons, plus beautiful trims and buttons.

clothhouseno98

At no 98 there’s a treasure trove of knits – jerseys, sweater knits and cosy wool blends, plus coatings and also interesting technical fabrics like neoprene and Tyvek. I’d dare any fabric lover to try and get out empty handed.

clothhousesite

Luckily if you don’t live in London, they set up an online shop last year too with some of their most popular ranges available to ship worldwide. You can also order swatches and get any other stock from the shops delivered to you.

ch1

As a regular Cloth House customer and general fabric fangirl I got chatting to the folk there last year, and they kindly offered to send me some goodies to sew up and share on here. The parcel actually arrived on my birthday last week – I might have done a little squeal when I opened it (almost as much as when I opened my present from Josh which was a trip to NYC plus Mood vouchers! LET’S HANG, NY sewists!) I got three super pretty Japanese prints – Mount Fuji cotton, pom pom manmade silk, and paintbox cotton. I can’t wait to plan some projects with them – any ideas? I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I visited the shops last week too and treated myself to even more goodness – some cosy knits to make Linden pullovers and some incredible black stretch twill for high-waist Gingers. The fabrics do cost more than I typically spend but the quality speaks for itself, and I think they have a particularly high-end RTW feel to them, so it’s an investment I am happy to make. Buying quality fabrics definitely ties into my resolution to sew less but better, and it’s such a joy to visit the Cloth House shops – real fabric lovers’ candy.

winclothhouse

So, would you like to win a £50 voucher to spend in Cloth House, plus a fat pack of swatches to help you decide what to spend it on? Just leave a comment on this post to enter – head to Cloth House’s online shop and let me know what you’d buy and what you’d make with it if you like! Be sure to enter your email address (it won’t be displayed) so I can contact the winner. The competition is open worldwide but please bear in mind that vouchers can currently only be used for in-person purchases in the Soho shops – but if you aren’t local I’d be happy to buy and mail your choices to you. The winner will be picked at random on Monday Feb 9th. Good luck, and thank you Cloth House for offering up this ace prize.

Plum Gingers

Ginger Jeans

Oh hi! Do you like my new sewing room?! Obviously it’s not nearly finished yet, but with a dividing wall to some useless hallway knocked down the room has been made about 30% bigger and the light is 200% better. I’m SO excited to get back in there and sew as soon as it’s finished. I snuck in there today to photograph my finished Closet Case Files Ginger jeans – hence apologies for the mucky backdrop (RIP birdy wallpaper) but the rest of the flat is filled with all my stuff. This was a great project to start the year with: it’s a wardrobe essential, tests my skills, and was a good opportunity to practice my vow of ‘slow sewing’. I made them over 3-4 sessions around the new year so as not to get tired and make silly mistakes or cut corners; overall I think they took about 10 hours sew-time excluding PDF assembly.

Ginger Jeans

True silly story: I was intending to make view B, the high-rise skinny leg option. But I accidentally printed view A (low-rise stovepipe leg) instead *facepalm*. I couldn’t be bothered printing off 40 more pages so went ahead with A, tapering in the the legs manually. I AM going to make the real view B sometime as that high rise waist is hot stuff. Anyway I love the low version too and it more closely mirrors what I go for in RTW jeans.

Ginger Jeans

My fabric is plum cotton/lycra stretch denim from Minerva. It’s gorgeous; I love the colour, the stretch is perfect for Ginger (about 20% crosswise) and it’s got a super-soft brushed type finish. Plum (or maroon/wine/claret) is one of my favourite colours to wear and it’s a great partner to my large collection of grey and black tops.

Ginger Jeans
Ginger Jeans

I cut size 8 which matches my waist measurement but is smaller than my hips – a bit silly as there’s negative hip ease built in to the pattern already. I think slight vanity-size-choosing was at play :/ I ended up sewing the hip and thigh area with a scant seam allowance to compensate and just about got away with it. The waist fits perfectly, so I’ll stick with the 8 but do a full thigh-and-bum adjustment next time. In terms of other fit modifications, all very minor stuff: I manually slimmed down the leg below the knee to turn the stovepipe to skinny and took about an inch off the length at the hem.

Ginger Jeans

To accommodate my weird caved-in back I tapered in the centre yoke seam allowance at the top to about 1″, and redrafted the waistband to have more of a curve in it. It’s got no interfacing in but still hugs and stays in place admirably well. Best waistband yet!

Ginger Jeans
Ginger Jeans

The fly front is tidy although a little bit twisted – I think the buttonhole isn’t in quite the right place and also the fact that they’re snug across the hips makes it pull apart a bit. I went for the baby pink topstitching thread mostly to practice accuracy – contrasty topstitching isn’t really my favourite look so I didn’t topstitch the leg seams at all. But what i did do turned out quite nicely, and I only had to swear at the machine once or twice.

Ginger Jeans

I used leftover fabric from my first Holly for the pocket bags, which is nice and lightweight so they don’t show from the outside. Next time I will bias-bind raw edge of the fly shield rather than overlock for a cleaner finish. I’ll also definitely add the front pocket stay/extension because it really helps suck in and smooth out the front line.

Ginger Jeans

The best thing about this pattern  – other than bangin’ drafting – is the construction order and directions. It takes the best bits of all the methods I have picked up from previous jeans and adds some new tricks to make them even more foolproof. Heather also has you switching between normal seams/overlocking/topstitching as little as possible to avoid annoying machine change-overs. There’s also the comprehensive sewalong which I referred to once or twice.

Ginger Jeans

A few other random thoughts, mostly notes to self for next time:

  • Back pockets a bit too close together – the CB seam topstitching makes them look uneven, even though they’re correct from the seam itself. Tiny bit smaller?
  • Bit of tension at front crotch – add length/flatten crotch curve.
  • Wrinkles down the back leg – lengthen back crotch curve.
  • Slash and pull open front hip a little bit.
  • Taper 1/2″ out from back yoke at top.
  • Add the front pocket stay/extension.
  • Finish fly shield with bias binding.
  • Take excess length out from the knee line rather than hem.

Ginger Jeans

I’m really happy with the final jeans – for an un-toiled foray into a new pattern the fit is impressive and they definitely fill a wardrobe, gap, adding a bit of colour to pair with all my monochrome tops. I’m a bit torn now about which jeans pattern to use as my TNT – the Gingers, Burda 115, and Style Arc all fit pretty well but none quite perfectly. The thing is, as Heather has said, you need to baste jeans together every time you make them really because each denim will fit differently, so perhaps I’ll just rotate depending on whim, ha! Props to Heather anyway for this great pattern and for getting so many sewists over their fear of jeans.

Plans for 2015

pinterest

Happy new year and all that, chaps. I don’t really like new year time to be honest, and I won’t be doing any sort of 2014 retrospective. But one thing I do like to do is look forward and plan some exciting sewing projects for 2015. I certainly did learn a lot in 2014 across technique, fitting and my personal style so I feel like this’ll be a great year for my stitching. Seemingly like a lot of others, my key plan is to make less, but make it all with increased thought and care.

Unfortunately, I think January and February will pretty much be a no-sew zone for me which isn’t a very good start. Over the next 6-8 weeks I’ve got: building work starting on my sewing room (to make it bigger! yay!); two demanding work contracts; ten days in Barbados; a weekend in Berlin, and my 30th birthday. Phew. So here’s what you might be seeing on here some time around March…

(nb if you can’t see the pins in a feed reader, click to view.)

Jacket (not)January

I was really hoping to crack on and get a Rigel bomber out during Jacket January, but due to the reasons above I don’t think it will get done in time for the sewcial sewalong – I hope it will be done in time for wearing in spring though. I also really want to make Marilla’s Freemantle coat in a black tweed.

Swimmies

I actually kind of need another swimsuit for Barbados, so that’s a high-priority sew. I’ve been tinkering even more with my self-drafted pattern and have got everything I need to give it a go. I may well still make it available for download too, don’t hold me to that though.

Jeans

I’ve got a pair of Ginger jeans in plum-coloured denim (with baby pink topstitching) half-constructed already, so they need finishing up and I’m excited to see how the fit compares to previous pairs. I’m going to back to basics, closely following Heather’s fantastic instructions and sewalong to try and pick up some tips and hopefully get my best results yet. Hopefully more will follow!

Tops

Confession: I have a bit of a weird vendetta against sewing tops. Basically if I have enough yardage of a fabric for a dress, I feel like it’s sort of a waste to make a top instead. Stupid, right? I need to change that way of thought as it’s really too cold for a lot of my dresses at the moment and it’s much easier to layer a top. I wear a few of my favourite me-made woven tops to death so need a few more in a similar vein.

Dungarees

After making the short Turia dungarees for my sister, I rather fancy a dress or long-trousered version for myself. Definitely in something very neutral like a plain black denim so I’m actually inclined to wear them. Oh alright, maybe tiny polka dots.

Bras

I’ve been wanting to try sewing bras for a while as I’m fussy with RTW ones and they look so fun to put together. Plus as Lauren mentioned, lingerie is a great way to get to sew obsessively without adding yet more garments to an already-full wardrobe. I think I’ll pick up a kit and pattern and see how it goes.

Self-drafting

I’d like to carry on with my self-designing and drafting experiments this year, I find it incredibly satisfying. First up I’m desperate to have a go at knocking off a dress similar to these two beauties, with the darts converted into concentric square pieces. Shouldn’t be too difficult a job and I can probably stash-bust some complementary fabrics.

I want to make use of some of the pretty trimmings I’ve collected so have been saving some fun placement ideas.

And I’m really interested to experiment more in making unique textiles for garments, whether that’s piecing/patchworking, printing or dyeing.

Quilting

I have two quilts for myself in the pipeline. One, for the bedroom, is half-done and is more abstract with muted shades and lots of linens mixed in – very inspired by the Season Evans one above. I’m also planning a more geometric ‘tumbling blocks’ one for the living room in solid grey and yellows.

Well, I think all of that will keep me busy for a bit :) What do your 2015 sewing plans look like?

Christmas sewing

xmasgifts

Phew, it’s all over for another year, and I can show all the things I made for gifts now they’re with their recipients! I was pretty sly with my project choices – making gifts gets a rep for being a stressful undertaking but I really enjoyed it. Basically I see it as an excuse to buy (or stashbust) fabric and to sew a lot, but for selfless ends – win win! I also went for either quick/fun knit projects or things i wouldn’t normally pick for myself, so it was fun to try some new types of garment out.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I made Simplicity 1620 top for my aunt Mandy out of a gorgeous John Kaldor viscose jersey from Stitch Fabrics. A nice quick project all on the overlocker – I just removed a wedge from front and back neck (narrow shoulders and hollow chests run in the family) and sized way down as I was using a knit instead of woven and the ease is typically ridiculous. I also self-lined the yoke burrito-style to finish the neckline and arms; the pattern doesn’t specify that but it made sense to me. The pattern is the cover gift on Sew magazine this month if you’re interested.

Christmas sewing

My mum got another version of a dress I made for her birthday back in September (I didn’t blog them at the time but here’s a photo). It’s a self-draft rub-off of one of her favourite dresses that she gave me to copy. It wasn’t a very complex shape to reproduce – separate waistband, slashed-and-gathered neckline and front skirt, yoked pockets – and the fit turned out bang-on so it was just a case of making it up again. The fabric’s a rather nice snuggly knitted-effect jersey from Abakhan. She loved it and it looks fabulous on her – I’ll try to get a photo as I bet she’ll wear it for new year’s and you can’t see the shape on the hanger.

Christmas sewing

I also made my mum a Love Notions Trendy Tunic using more John Kaldor jersey from my stash. I was disappointed with this pattern though; nothing seemed to line up properly and the drafting is pretty wack, with the arms being very tight and a load of excess fabric pooling in the back. I should have stuck with self-drafting as it ended up not fitting/suiting her unfortunately. In fact my recipients ended up having a bit of a switcheroo – this top ended up with Mandy (who wore it Boxing Day and it looked great on her), and Mandy gave her 1620 top to my other aunt Christine who it suited better. Hey, if everything ended up with a happy recipient I don’t mind! I probably wouldn’t make so many ‘surprise’ garments again though as I learned it’s pretty hard to predict someone’s sizing and taste, even close family.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

For my little sister I made a Dixie DIY ballet dress from some Liberty jersey – I happily grabbed the very last 1.5m of this while it was on sale in the store itself. (If you recognised the Shavings and Sharpenings print, I’ve used the same print in tana lawn to make myself a dress too.) I’ve made this pattern for her before so knew it’d fit, and she immediately wore it for the rest of Christmas Day so it was definitely a hit.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

At last minute I also made her a set of Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees out of two quilting cottons I bought with her in mind (she loves foxes, remember?). I had the pattern and notions all ready from early Dec but thought I’d run out of time to make them. Turns out they were a fairly quick sew, even with my decision to fully line them and try to achieve a semi-reversible finish. I kind of winged the construction order/method but ended up with quite a clean result – don’t ask how! It luckily fitted perfectly and I’m sure we’ll make another pair for her sometime, it’s a fab pattern. I quite fancy a corduroy dress version for myself actually.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I was incredibly touched to receive a beautiful handmade gift back from Natty. She’s been learning to sew over the last few months, taking two courses at Ray Stitch and suffering my very poor tutelage occasionally in between. She made me this stitchy-themed holdall bag, and I seriously couldn’t have done a nicer job myself. Her piping and topstitching are totally on point and I was so touched that she pushed herself to make something like this for me when she’s still a beginner. I nearly cried!

Christmas sewing

Finally, a few other sewing-related gifts I was delighted to receive. Dorky stuff: a mini iron! Thread rack and stock of threads, Chaco chalk pen, double tracing wheel, new zip foot! Fancy brass scissors and a kitty tape dispenser to make PDFs more fun. And fitting and pattern drafting books which I had my nose buried in all Christmas day. Sewing honestly brought me quite a lot of extra Christmas joy, both in the giving and receiving of handmade gifts. I can’t wait to get back to the machine now.

Super happy fun Holly

Holly dress

All right, one last fun little make before I sign off for Christmas. This dress just makes me happy! It all came together quite organically and turned out exactly how I planned in my head. I needed that after coat-gate and a lot of selfless Christmas stitching.

Holly dress

I used the BHL Holly bodice, sized up to a 14 like my previous ones for a looser fit, and popped in a metal zip instead of buttons. Gotta love a TNT bodice and all the variations it can give you once the fit is perfected.

Holly dress

THIS FABRIC THOUGH. 1.5m of it accidentally slipped into my Shaukat shopping cart when I ordered some Liberty fabrics for Christmas gifts. It’s called Peter Woodward and omg it has tiny manga-style lions, dragons and unicorns all over it. I love how it’s basically a total novelty print but the muted colourway keeps it quite subtle. Looking down at those happy little animal faces really makes me smile though.

Holly dress

The skirt is simply the width of the fabric gathered to fit at the top – I didn’t have enough yardage for anything else. Tana lawn is about 53″ wide so it’s a slimmer fit than I usually make with gathered skirts but I like the resulting shape a lot. It does hella cling to tights though, I need to buy/make a slip.

Holly dress

The zip was a last minute decision. I was going to do buttons on the bodice ending at the waist, but thought a metal zip might offset the cute-factor of the print a bit. There are no other fastenings on the dress, so undoing the zip does give a bit of extra wiggle room to get in and out of it.

Holly dress

OK, I think that’s me out for now – off for some family time and hoping Santa brought me all the sewing goodies I asked for. Have a great one, everyone!