Sunday, 4 September 2016

Finding my sewing self again

Hello sewing friends. I hope you've had a good summer. We have had one of the best summers for many a year; the kids are at that age where they can be a real joy, and need less constant supervision.

We've had a wedding to attend, met with many old friends, swam in the sea almost daily, been on a camping trip, holidayed in a castle, and generally had a fabulous time.  But in all the excitement I lost my sew!

I did make a few things:


This dress was run up quickly as a birthday present. It went down well, but I did not feel the love - it was more of a chore.

I have also made shorts for my little girl, which I love, but they remain unfinished despite only having the elastic to go. There are other UFOs too: a top, a blouse and a dress! It's so unlike me, and I don't like this lacklustre feeling. With each project there has been a mistake, or a few, as I'm too tired to sew properly, and a lack of inspiration has seen all these languish un-sewn.

Luckily, I have lovely Instagram friends who have given me advice and support. I feel so buoyed by others' confidence. I am inspired to try the re-fashioners challenge with a £3 pair of jeans, so if it goes wrong like those other projects I haven't lost much. Will report back...

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pilvi Jacket from Everyday Style: Lotta Jansdotter

It's the Summer Holidays - hurrah and huzzah!  No more school run for a bit; lazy days beckon in the sunshine, and I'm rather looking forward to it. But somehow along the way I seem to have lost my sewjo! I had some very necessary but rather boring sewing to do (alterations on two of the three bridesmaids' dresses below). I was frightened so much of messing them up, I took a lot of time over it, while all I wanted was to sew things for me! Very selfish, I know!

Bodices taken in, hems taken up, and the wedding now over, it was time to crack on again; but,  momentum has been lost. I have tidied my sewing room to make it more appealing, but it hasn't reignited my sewing passion just yet.


However, I do have something a few weeks old to show: the Pilvi Jacket from Lotta Jansdotta's book Everyday Style. I bought the book as a treat for myself when having particularly horrid hospital procedures earlier in the year. It is a great book, full of style and lifestyle pictures as well as great patterns to make up.  I have several of these patterns on my to-make list, and thought I'd start with The Pilvi.


I have made this as a wearable toile, using a loosely woven grey sparkly woolen-mix fabric. I bought it years ago, I think from Worthing's Wednesday Market. It certainly wasn't very expensive and isn't great quality - it definitely has a poly-content. I thought it was pretty enough that I'd wear it, but no great loss if it went wrong.


It's a simple raglan style jacket, unlined and with facings built into the pattern pieces. It was an easy and relatively quick sew. Or it would have been, but I didn't like my original black topstitching, so spent hours unpicking it before re-sewing with a complimentary sparkly thread. The silver topstitching looks much better.


Overall, I like the style of the cropped jacket, though it is slightly to big at the front. If I were to make it again I'd have to work out a way to make it smaller (it's already the smallest size in the book). Perhaps a brightly coloured version would look good?

I was all ready to pop out wearing it, when my photographer, otherwise known as my dearest darling husband, mentioned that it has something of Theresa May (UK prime minister) about it and I promptly took it off! I'm sure I will wear it, though it may be a while before I forget his words!!


I am looking forward to making the "Esme" shift dress in due course, when I  finally feel fired up for sewing again. Thanks for reading folks, Louise xxx

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Child's Simplicity pattern 1146 x 2

Hello stitchers,  This post is just a quickie.  A few weeks ago I was on a "reduce, reuse and recycle" mission. I had an old maternity dress that I had bought second hand, which had seen me through three pregnancies, and had definitely seen better days.


However, there was some usable fabric in the skirt section.  Enter: child's Simplicity pattern 1146. An easy (only two pattern pieces) knit dress, this one cut out in an age 4 with age 5 length.  As I made this a while ago it has been in and out the wash, and has been worn lots; no ironing as it's a knit. Happily, Little Miss loves wearing dresses, they are her favourite.


This version closes with ribbon ties; a second version I made at the same time has sweet little buttons.


This second dress uses up two tiny remnants from t-shirt making.  I haphazardly sewed them together before cutting out the pattern pieces. I did this to avoid spending too long faffing around over an everyday nursery kind of dress. One tiny bit of lace trim from my goody box (this had almost certainly been cut off another garment as it had treads over it) really lifts this little dress.


So, two almost free dresses. I did pay £2.04 for the pattern in a half price sale. The rest of the maternity dress, though beyond use in clothing, has been cut up for my rag rug course! Call me Mrs. Thrifty! See you soon stitchers.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My longest ever work-in-progress

Hi there stitchers, It's been hard to get enthusiastic about sewing post Brexit- referendum. I even bought some fabric on the day of the result in an attempt to cheer myself up - it's still languishing in the bag, not even photographed for IG. Very unlike me!  I do have a finished make, though, so felt I would share.


As the title indicates, this dress has been my longest ever WIP. I almost finished the dress last Autumn, but abandoned it to the naughty corner upon realising the fit was rubbish!  Then, recently I took in a centimetre off either side of the front panel, and reduced the length of the shoulder straps by 1.5 cm.

I still think the fit is pretty awful, which is sad as I haven't had a make I have been unhappy with for a while now. I have got used to my makes working, therefore everything that is wrong with this dress jumps out at me each time I put it on.


My husband assures me it still looks pretty, and I will wear it as the print is beautiful.  The fabric by the way is from the Fabric Godmother and was bought at Josie's first open day last year. It is so light and swishy, so I do feel rather glam in it.  I am sure I will learn to love it over the summer.


The pattern is a vintage one, lent to me by the lovely Kerry from Kestral Makes. I can finally return it Kerry, thank you. I love the style lines and aesthetically this is just what I love and want from a dress. I have bought a similar pattern recently, so I haven't finished with this style of pinafore yet.


So, all in all, not a 100% positive post, sorry about that.  But onwards and upwards. I have recently started a course in rag rug making and I will post my progress soon.  Until then, adieu.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Vogue Jumpsuit 9075

Hi all. We've been on hols over half term, camping in what felt like a freezing hurricane only to return home to glorious sunshine. Sods Law! However, I was able today to finish the hems on my new jumpsuit and get some sunny photographs of it.


I have been so excited by this new make. It's exactly what I wanted to be. I found the pattern Vogue 9075 through a "pattern picks" article in Love Sewing Magazine. It's a good job I saw those pictures, as I wouldn't have been inspired by the illustration on the cover.


I knew I wanted a denim chambray jumpsuit, and I found the perfect fabric immediately. It was from the bargain basement of cheap fabric, Fabricland. Although you have to trawl to find them, there are often gems to be found, like this: fabulous, butter soft, rich colour and beautiful drape. A true bargain at only £5.99 a metre.


I ummed and ahhed about whether to make a muslin, but in the end - as it had shorten lines for a petite bodice - I just went for it, I was too excited not too! And I love it.


Looking at these photos, there is a little pooling at the back of the bodice, so perhaps on the next make I need to make an adjustment. Any suggestions welcome. However, that tiny bit of pooling doesn't stop me loving this. I can see myself living in it throughout the summer.


The inspiration photo was of a version with no sleeves, which probably influenced me to do it sleeveless. The shape of this is on-trend, with wide legs and a close fitting bodice. The princess seams were easy to fit, and I am really pleased with how it looks on me. The bodice is self-lined and understitched, so it's a very clean look with no topstitching.  When I sewed in the zip, which is a centred one, the stitching, although neat, jumped out a mile. So, I unpicked and hand-stitched the zip and I am so glad I did.


When you stand still, it can look like a skirt; so, some moving about to show that they are indeed trousers.


The pockets are set into the seam and a perfect size. They really make it, in my opinion. I did choose to topstitch down the pleats, prior to the zip. But it doesn't jump out as much as the zip did, so I am happy.


That's it for today. Back to school-runs and normality now.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi friends; now, I know this is a sewing blog, and I am not about to change that, but I really wanted to address Mental Health Awareness week.  I do talk about sewing too, so please stay with me on this tangent. This initiative aims to raise public debate, with the object to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.


I yesterday listened to a great talk by Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor, who is famously open about his own mental health breakdown. He proposed that the more it becomes acceptable to talk about breakdowns and depression, the better our society will become at dealing with - and helping those - in distress.

So, to that end, I am outing myself and "talking" openly about my own mental health. I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember; certainly at age 14, I was aware how it would just come over me, all-consuming. It can be crippling living with a heavy, deadening darkness crushing you.  I have tended to hide this side of myself, as to admit to it can feel like admitting to a weakness, as if I was broken in some way! Also I couldn't bear that completely irrelevant and frankly hurtful question "but what are you depressed about...?"

Depressive episodes are horrible, but with experience I have learnt that they don't last forever, and I will emerge the other side eventually!  One thing that helps me a great deal with my mental health is sewing. It lightens my mood, relieves my stress levels. It has given me a great deal of pleasure. The flow you achieve whilst making is really Zen-like, your mind clearing to focus on the detail.  Now, I am not saying this would help whilst in a dark phase, but the joy that sewing brings helps lengthen the times between the gloom, and sustains happiness.

Lots of wonderful sewing bloggers at our wonderful meet ups.
The other joy sewing has brought me is friendship and relationships; through blogging I have made virtual friends with fellow sewers in many different countries. The relationships have strengthened over time and through commenting on blogs and interaction through IG these friendships have really blossomed so that we look forward to updates on each other's days, our fabric shopping and general plans. I have also met up with fellow bloggers and IG friends at meet ups. It's so fun meeting others who have the same passion for fabric hunting and stitching. They feel like happy and inspiring friendships. Locally too I have formed relationships  through sewing. At the "Brighton Sewing Bee", organised by the vivacious and gorgeous Stacie Madden, I've met other local stitchers, shared tea and cake with friends.

Brighton Sewing Bee at St Georges Church Kemptown.

Life with depression is manageable; medication, friends, and the most supportive of husbands means that most of the time my life is good.

Well I've outed myself now and it feels liberating. Apparently 1 in 4 adults suffer with mental health problems. I hope that by being honest, I will encourage others to think about these issues. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mimi blouse; Love at First Stitch.

Hello all. There's been no sewing this weekend, as life has been full of birthday parties and old friends. Therefore, today's make is from a few weeks ago; it's the Mimi blouse, from Tilly Walnes book Love at First Stitch. I have to admit, I held out against buying this book, and determined that I didn't need it. But fate had other plans, as a great friend bought me a copy for my birthday last year.


I have a quasi-rule that, if I have a book in the house like this (as with recipes in a cookery book), then I must make something from it, to justify its place on the shelves. I was trying to work out which pattern I would play with, and I saw so many lovely versions of the Mimi Blouse on the internet (e.g. Pootlemakes did a lovely version here) I felt inspired to give it a go! The gathers are very pretty too.


This is another fabric that I inherited from my Nan's stash, which has been patiently waiting for a project. It is a voile, and definitely seethrough! I will always need to wear something underneath, but that's fine. I think it will work with little bralettes, which are my preferred underwear anyway.


I had trouble with the sleeves, hence it became a sleeveless top!  When I sewed them on, the top was suddenly too tight across the bust. Thanks to sewing friends on Instagram, I have lots of ideas to rectify this on version #2, but for this one I have cut my losses and got rid of the sleeves; I used binding to finish the armholes, to create the sleeveless version you can see in the photos.

I am pointing at the gathers and pointy collar like a crazy, here!

I am pleased with the top and will very likely make it again, however I felt the instructions in the book were somewhat lacking. Had I not made the vintage shirtdress recently I doubt I could have followed the instructions. This surprised me, as nearly every review of Love at First Stitch waxes lyrical on Tilly's instructions and general hand-holding. Well, I like the pattern but the "how to" could have been a good deal clearer!



All's well that ends well, though, as I have a cute summer top to go with skirts, jeans or shorts. So, I am happy.