Monday, 4 July 2016

Summer vibes, by the seaside

It feels good to be back behind my sewing machine!


Finished cushion with the kit image
I thought I'd reminisce about the glorious Nha Trang beach in Vietnam with a little 10 inch square seascape cushion.  I picked this up as a kit for a mere £7 at the Knitting and Stitch show last winter from Sally Holman and I managed to complete it in one weekend of evening sewing.   

It's simple yet effective, I particularly love the applique images as I got to mess around with decorative stitches on the machine.  The instructions for making the cushion front are very good; the only thing missing from the kit is instructions for making the cushion up and some more stranded cotton for the embroidery (I ran out very quickly)! 

I really enjoyed this project and hope to see Sally's other designs at the show this year. 

The only thing left to decide on is where to put it...

'Seascape'

The seams are hidden between the interfacing and decorative fabric which is folded and pleated to add texture
Lighthouse with machine zig zag stitch
Seagull with free form feather stitch
Beach hut
Sail boat with blanket stitch, by hand

I managed to finish my crochet daisy headband whilst on holiday!  Here it is...
I used a cream top stitch thread to finish off the inner seam of the outer border

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Factory Dress

Ten sewing evenings later the simple and sleek Factory Dress is finished.  

The pattern from Merchant and Mills creates an oversize dress and combined with the heavy wool fabric it looks like a 1940s dress a woman would have donned for work during the war.  I'd give the pattern a impressive 10/10 for design and style; its effectiveness lies in it's simplicity. 











It features a v neck pull over front, bust darts, two types of pockets, collar, sleeves and front pleats

It has handy side pockets which you can only see properly from the back as they're set back from the side seam
Collar finished with black topstitch thread
Collar layering was particularly important with this heavy fabric
The collar has a full facing
Turned up sleeves really create that factory feel

The dress is not lined so keeping the inside tidy was quite important (I even darned in the overlocking thread ends)

Where this pattern is lacking is in the finer details of how to construct the dress, with some instructions simply being missing (how deep should the hem be?)  

After a while I also found myself getting frustrated with the diagrams which are quite simple and they use lots of cross hatching. I felt they were quite confusing as I'm used to precise and technical drawings from the leading brands.  I was also surprised when I came to attach the skirt to the bodice that there was no notch on the skirt front to line up with the bodice centre seam.  I ended up improvising by measuring the centre of the distance between the two sets of pleats and lining this point up with the seam to ensure the front was sewn accurately. 

Thankfully I've learnt from experience to not just take instructions at face value. However I did think this was a real shame for beginners; the pattern should be suitable for them but first it needs some improvements.  

All in all the £13 price tag is steep for the quality of the instructions but the finished design is really impressive.  With only two meters of fabric used (@£14 a metre), two spools of thread and some interfacing (which I already had) this dress has cost a total of £45.  I think it's going to be a winner at work. 


Friday, 20 May 2016

Crochelize


It's been a busy few months since my Easter post in my attempts to get better at crochet.  I've been practising away with a set of six coasters which I thought would help me to try and maintain my tension across different pieces of work.  So inevitably coaster number two was smaller than coaster number one and had to be pulled back.  But after that mishap I managed to get into the rhythm and produce six circles that appear the same size.  









This quick pattern was one given to me on my learn to crochet course at Stitch studio.  I've given them to my mum as a little birthday present; she found them quite fitting as, unintentionally, I have made them in the colour of different grapes, which also happen to be associated with wine and the glasses of white and red that she has already tested out on these coasters!  If you fancy trying this pattern out, head over to Ravelry - you can find me there as CharGoonan; I've put them on there with a link to the designer!



I've also started going along to a social group in Ramsbottom, aptly named 'Crochelize' where I've been making granny squares for a bag pattern.  

It's part of a kit I picked up at 2015's Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate; although I didn't mention it on my post about the show for fear of getting ahead of myself (I'd only been on a two hour taster course)! 

Luckily for me I had taste for a pattern that is actually very suitable for beginners, consisting only of chain, treble and double treble stitches (so far).  It's from Hooked By Design, a Yorkshire based company which sell lots of crochet and hooking kits on their shop here



My Vietnam holiday is only five days away and I've already packed my handmade summer clothes (my Ramie blouse and satin silk dress)!  Now I can focus on deciding what crochet projects I can pack for the flight.  

I'm thinking I might take this Naissance Mandala pattern:
Naissance Mandala by Cotton Pod made with DROPS Paris
This is the work of Sharon at CottonPod (where you can download the pattern for free).  She's also published a tutorial on her blog here.



I'm also thinking about taking the wool for my granny square bags.  I might be able to construct all of the squares whilst I'm away, even if I just do five squares a week and then construct the bag when I'm back.


AND I'm toying with making this floral headband to wear just after landing back in the UK for a Stone Roses gig (it's that or a paint splattered t-shirt). 

Is three projects, two unread magazines and a book a little bit excessive for two 15 hour flights?!  I best order some spare hooks in case they don't make it through hand luggage security...

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Summer Ramie blouse

My latest dressmaking venture is one inspired by holidays and the beaches of Vietnam where I will be spending many hours this summer.

I've picked a simple cropped blouse which I've made using Ramie fabric from the Organic Textile Company.

I had no idea what Ramie is but after a little research it seems to be made from nettles!  It feels just like linen and creases like cotton, but not quite as bad. It's the first time I've worked with it and I've never worn it before but it feels very durable when I tried it on.






The pattern is from an old edition of Burda, although it's beginning to feel a little less old now I've started a cross stitch pattern from a 2006 copy of Cross Stitcher!

It's a simple design with a simple set of instructions to match so I chose simple things in the construction like matching thread and pale buttons.  The look I was going for was seamless and I think it's quite effective for a casual throw on beach blouse.




This was also my first attempt at proper button holes.  And by that I mean ones that I have to position properly and sew straight for the blouse to look half decent (so not just a single one on a bag!)  I'm very pleased with them but next time I won't be too risk adverse with allowing for the depth of the button; they're a tiny bit too wide!



















It might be nice to try creating a more striking look with some contrasting thread and buttons.  That can be my last minute holiday project!  But for now I've made a start on the holiday wardrobe...only two months to go!

Finished collar
Collar construction




Nha Trang beach, Vietnam - not long to wait now!


Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

Happy Easter!

This bank holiday weekend I've been busy making spring inspired Daffodils in gorgeous cotton yarn.  I went on to make a wreath to display them on, together with primroses and mini flowers.  I'm delighted with it; it's bringing a little bit of light to this damp Easter Sunday!


For those of you who have seen my Facebook posts you'll know that I've just finished a four week learn to crochet course at Stitch studio in Ramsbottom.  I turned up for the non-existent week five because my tutor Sharon was running a one-off two hour workshop on how to create these Daffodils.  By the end of the session I'd made one and, true to form, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning making more!



To make the wreath I used double crochet stitch around the outer hoop of an embroidery frame and then made chain spaces which I slip stitched to the double crochet.  For the inner hoop I used bias binding on the diagonal and wrapped it round tightly, overlapping it the width of the folded under edge.   


If you're inspired to have a go yourself then the pattern can be yours for a mere £1.50.  Visit my tutor Sharon's new website store Cotton Pod and download it here or buy a kit here.  You can have fun experiment with different sized crochet hooks to watch flowers appear in beautiful spring shades.



Oh, and I can't go without showing you what else I made this Easter.  I've had three so far today...!



Happy Easter from me and this little one

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

I knew I wouldn't get to keep this project when my mum caught a glimpse of it.  So this is what I gave her, a handmade sewing bag.

It's made up of 22 Japanese folded patchwork blocks; I've used three complimentary black fabrics for the outer circles and four different pink fabrics for the inner squares.  I've finished the bag with handles made from one fat quarter which repeats different square patterns.

I love the shape of this bag and it's a great size for carrying some wool or other light sewing bits.  I followed a pattern I bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate (several years ago now) and it took me over 40 finger numbing hours to complete.  The only machine sewing was in making the handles and securing them to the bag (I've used the big buttons to cover this stitching).  

For a first attempt at this technique I am quite impressed with the end result, and my mum really loves her present.  I learnt some new skills, like how to use rotary cutters, and resurrected some old hand sewing skills.  The reason I picked this project to do now is to practice cutting fabric for a patchwork quilt which is my main soft furnishings project for this year.  And it's already underway!

For anyone wanting to have a go at some Japanese patchwork, I found a good blog here which has a step by step process of how to make these blocks.  You could sew them up however you like, to make whatever it is you want!  I've you're going to make anything that should have some strength then simply use a thin layer of wadding underneath each square like I did here.  And use a good thimble for putting your blocks together!







Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Silk Satin dress - Part 1 (the toile)


Tartan wasn't quite tricky enough, so roll on the silk!  Literally.  The stuff won't stop moving.  Any tips for keeping it still?  Is spray starch any good for this?

Before I hack the silk though I'm making a toile out of a polyester silky satin to check that the finished dress will fit.  Thank you Auntie Moira for the lovely fabric!  Do you like what I've done with it?



























The bodice
I started by tacking stay tape to the shoulder seams of the front and back pieces (centering the tape over the stitching line of the fabric) and ironing (after tacking) bias vilene tape to the armhole and neck edges of the front and back pieces (this time placing the stitching, which is on the tape, on the stitching line of the fabric).





The bodice is worked by attaching the front bodice to the front bodice lining and the same for the back bodice.  Then you put one inside the other and join the shoulder seams of the dress together and then the same for the lining shoulder seams.  Finish by pressing the shoulder seams open and turning it all right side out.  



The skirt
The skirt is very simple to make; simply sew the front and back pieces together at the side seams and then tack the lining to the skirt by putting it inside the skirt, wrong sides together.

The only difficulty I had is with the fabric stretching slightly as it is cut on the bias.  I'm hoping my silk will be a bit more robust and I'll have to make sure I handle it a bit more carefully.

Attaching the two  
Next was attaching the front pieces of the bodice and skirt.  Again this was very simple and I sewed the seam allowance down (using top stitching) to create a channel which I fed my elastic through.


Finishing the back
The back pieces of the bodice and skirt do not get attached together as there is a nice opening there instead.  I applied a facing to the opening which I turned through to the wrong side and secured.  I then made two rouleau tubes and attached each one to either end of a piece of elastic which I threaded through the channel.


Hemming the dress
I used a rolled hem on my overlocker to finish both the dress and lining hems.  This is the first time I've done a rolled hem and I really like the scalloped effect it creates on this fabric.

And best of all the dress fits well so I can go ahead with making it in silk in time for the Summer.
























Cost
ItemSupplierQuantity£
Floral silk satin    My auntie! free 0
White silk satin lining http://www.abakhan.co.uk/silky-satin-1-white-145cm.html 2m @ £4.55 per metre 9.1
Thread http://www.abakhan.co.uk/ 2 @ £1.55 each 3.1
TOTAL 12.2