Monday, 31 January 2011

I have changed the title of my blog.

I have decided to change the title of my blog, because it seems most of my posts are about finding fabric at a bargain price, turning a quilted throw into a jacket and bag or making gifts out of scraps of curtain lining, or during this recent cold winter in the UK turning Ikea fleece throws into fleece tops (so nice a cosy to wear) and at the usual bargain price. 
I hope these tips and ideas appeal to like minded people who also love a bargain.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Vogue Woman - 8435 and Vogue 1194 and a visit to my favourite market.

Gosh I have had busy week this week.  Following the shock figures on the tape measure a couple of weeks ago I have been very good and working out in the gym.  I have got my running up to 1.5 miles before I have to stop to replenish my oxygen supplies - so slowly but surely building it up.  I had managed to get my running up to 6 miles in one go, so I need to work towards that.  My aim is 3-4 times a week.
So as mentioned in a previous blog I had cut out Vogue 1194 red dress and I finished this in time to wear on Friday night for a work dinner.  I was pleased with the result.

The fabric was really cheap only £1 a metre and I had bought 5 metres of it - not really knowing what I was going to make.  I tend to sew in batches, so if I have my serger/overlocker threaded with red, then I try to continue using the same colour so I don't have to mess around changing colours.

What would I do differently about this dress.  Not too much - the elastic that is threaded through the front band is a little strange to work with, but I wore the dress and felt really comfortable in it - on what was a cold winter night in London.

So this weekend it was my Niece’s little girl Amelia’s christening.  I had purchased Vogue 8435 last year and never got around to making it, and I thought I may as well use up the rest of the red fabric.

Here is the end result.  I had cut out the set in the larger size, and wish I had actually cut it out in a size smaller - but on the whole I was pleased with the result and again very comfortable to wear.

I changed the neckline on the t-shirt by following the method in Lynda Maynard's The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques.  The pattern instruction was to just turn in 5/8" on the neck edge and stitch - I cut a bias strip of fabric around 1 1/2" wide, folded it in half.  I cut some fusible interfacing to the shape of the neckline around 3/8” wide – stay- stitched the neckline, fused the interfacing around the neck edge and then attached the bias strip on the right side, turned to the inside and top-stitched.  I have never done this before and will certainly use the method again.

One other change I made was to make a couple of shoulder pads out of wadding, and covered it in the fashion fabric to give a little definition to the shoulders.

The skirt was made out of some stretch velvet purchased for the extortionate sum  of £2.  With a little manipulating, I think I have enough left over to make the t-shirt (with a back seam this time as I don't have enough fabric to cut back and front on the fold.  I can then wear with the skirt and red jacket to ring the changes.

I calculated that the 5 metres of red fabric cost me £5 and the velvet cost me £2.  Notions for all the outfits were only thread and elastic £1.00 - so I think  a dress, skirt, two t-shirts and a jacket for  £8.00 and the cost of my time has to be a bargain in anyone's book.

Saturday I was a happy bunny - I persuaded Mike to take me to the Market to purchase some more fabric and thread.  Yes I have loads of fabric, at only £1 or £2 a metre it is such good value for money you just can't go wrong.

So that I didn't get carried away I took £50 with me and that was it.  I couldn't spend a penny over £50.  For my money I bought 3 x 4 metres of crepe suiting material in dark grey, teal, and a sort of stone/sand colour.  Some lovely white stretch lace; some mock suede (to try out my biker jacket before I cut into my real suede, two lots of fabrics for blouses plus some interfacing and some lovely soft pink fabric to make the baby something in due course.  That all  came to £35 so I had £15 to buy some more overlocker thread.  The Market (Walthamstow) is great it only costs me £1 a reel so I bought 4 each of red, black and white, some underwear elastic - total cost £15.00.  The stallholder was really kind and said seeing as I had spent £15 I could pick up some more bundles of elastic.  I said I needed some more zips so he walked around to the front of the stall and gave me 6 zips for free.  This made my day and Mike was very good and waited in the car for me while I spent around 30 minutes doing my speed shopping.  I LOVE THAT MARKET.

Last but not least, here a photograph of my beautiful  granddaughter who was oh so interested in my necklace. she is now 6 3/4 months old and a real delight.


Monday, 24 January 2011

A Sunday drive with my beautiful Granddaughter looking for building Land

I had great day yesterday, despite the fact that I didn't do half the jobs I had promised I would.  

I have made a start on my red DNKY and so far so good, it’s looking good and I want to finish it for a dinner I have on Friday night - I may also wear it for the christening  of my Niece’s little girl on Sunday.  But the dress was left sitting on Edna the mannequin untouched yesterday because we picked up my beautiful little granddaughter Alana and drove off in the direction of the River Stour to have a look at some Land that is for sale.

Mike and I have been together for 4 years this coming August and we are looking for a plot of land to build a home together.  Because he loves to sail, and I like my garden we both decided that our dream home would be something with panoramic views over a river but a small garden to erect a poly-tunnel so that I can grow my vegetables and fruits etc.

When we arrived at the site I was amazed, it ticked all the boxes.  The property wasn’t overlooked by anyone and at the very end of the road = no passing traffic – you could see the river clearly and you could even walk down to the river following the footpath at the side of the property which would take 5-10 minutes.  The Architects plans were for a very modern house with  panoramic windows to the upper floor overlooking the river  – it’s all perfect however the price is very high :-(. 

Mike said he would  follow it up with the architect, but his one concern is where we would place my sewing room ha ha.

Well that is enough dreaming for one day best kick Luke out of bed so I can finish my work otherwise I will start doing work work and that will not be good on my last vacation day.

Friday, 21 January 2011

My trousers and trouser slips

Following my sewing course last weekend I took a couple of days off to put into practice what I had learned.

I selected the Palmer Pletch classic trouser pattern  McCall’s-5239 for my fitting and decided to make a totally plain pair of trousers so that I could concentrate on the fit.

Once I had made up the calico - and put a tuck in to reduce the crotch length I was ready to go.

I selected a nice piece of dark navy crepe  for my project and it really is nice and hangs nice.

One of the things we discussed was if Gill lined her trousers.  She informed me that she makes a trouser slip out of lingerie fabric.  These are made by taking the trouser pattern and overlapping the outside leg together (to create seamless side seams) – you don’t make the darts, and use lingerie elastic for the waistband.

 Here is the trouser pattern (that was transferred to the dot and cross paper) you can see the outside legs overlapped ready to cut out the trouser slips.  Because I want the slip slightly shorter than the trouser I folded the bottom up a little.



Here are my finished trouser slips

Below you can see me inserting the elastic with my overlocker - I was really pleased with the result. 

Here to the Right and below are my trousers - I used the small zipper foot that came with my Bernina sewing machine and was great to use.  I just need a hook and eye and the hem and they are finished and ready to wear with my new trousers slips.

 My darling Mike is flying in from the USA tomorrow morning - I have been multi-tasking by making some bread, posting this blog.

I am now going to start work on my red dress now.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Suede, sewing jobs and exercise this week.

My suede turned up over the weekend from Tandy – my first view was the back of the skin (not a pretty sight) and at first I thought OMG what have I just spent £150 on., however once I turned it over it wasn’t too bad.  I think my first tip would be if you want to buy suede that you are better to go to a supplier and select the skins yourself – I am not 100% convinced that their colour matching is the same as what mine would be.  This is a project for later in the week as I have also booked to take Thursday and Friday off. Last time I did the sewing course I flew directly to Houston the following day, so had no time to put into practice what I had learned.  

You recall yesterday my absolute horror about the size of the measurements following gill’s fitting process.  Needless to say I resolved to get my very fat bottom into the gym.  I have a treadmill, rowing machine and small weights machine in my outbuilding so decided there was no better time to get started.  I managed to do 1000 mtrs on the rowing machine, 1 mile on the treadmill, some sit-ups and weights.  This morning I can really feel the muscles in my stomach – something I haven't felt for some time – I plan on doing another 30-45 minutes in the gym again this morning.

So my sewing job list for my vacation period is:-

  • 1.     Adjust my calico trousers to remove some of the bulk in the front around the crotch area
  • 2.     Transfer the calico pattern to my dot and cross paper to make my master pattern
  • 3.     Cut and sew my trousers in my fashion fabric
  • 4.     Duplicate everything I have done for my trousers for my jacket that Gill fitted to me on Saturday
  • 5.     Sew the Vogue 1194 DKNY dress that I cut out last week.
Phew that will keep me busy.  Well I have a horrible work job I need to do before I start anything today – so best get on with that and emailed off so I can do my gym session and then get into my sewing room.

Today's weather is horrible - it hasn't stopped raining since the very early hours and my lovely Mike has left the house for his own trip to the USA today so he will be gone for a week.  This is both good and bad - bad because I will miss him, but good because I can play and not feel guilty.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Results from my sewing course Friday and Saturday.

I got back from Birmingham last night around 9pm following two days on my sewing course.

Friday I had a 6 ½ session with the tutor Gill and then Saturday I was one of 6 taking the Principals of Fitting Class.

So I had a list as long as my arm for what I wanted to cover in my 6 ½ hours, sadly far too much to cover in the one day.

After an initial chatting process we settled on altering the pattern for a pair of trousers. I  had brought along the Vogue shell pattern for both days – trousers for Friday and the dress for the Saturday.  Unfortunately Gill informed me this was a body fitting pattern will really just take the shape of my body rather than the fit of a pair of trousers.  After a little while Gill found a Palmer Pletch trouser pattern for me to use (one which I actually have at home!!!) so I had to buy another one from her, plus a jacket pattern to do the fitting class Saturday.

Now for the depressing bit.  Like  everyone over the Christmas period I have put on a little weight, but more to the point I have put on weight due to lots of travel, lots of eating out and lack of exercise.  When Gill popped all the tape measures around me and jotted down my figures I was horrified and when she told me the pattern size I needed it was even worse.

So despite the fact that I have resolved to lose weight and exercise a lot more, I also want to make a pair of trousers that fit me and don’t have me bulging out all over the place.

So there are several steps (more involved than the Palmer Pletch method) in calculating both the size and fit of anything you wear.  Gill does the following:-

1.     Bring in a pair of trousers that fit me nicely – (that was the first problem, I don’t have a pair that fit me nicely) to take all the measurements from them and transfer them to a chart.
2.     Popp down all my body measurement taken while wearing a cami top and thick black tights (not a pretty sight).
3.     Based on my hip measurement calculate the approximate pattern size then transfer the actual pattern sizes to the chart.
4.     Add, or subtract the differences between my body size, the pattern measurements and the preferred garment size showing the figures that need to be added or subtracted.
5.     Mark on the pattern the waist, tummy, hip and thigh measurements so that when I fit it I can measure on the circumference lines all the way round to the floor to make sure they are even.  Its a good idea to use a plumb line for this, side seams, centre front and back etc to make sure the lines are falling straight and not to the back or front.
6.     Fold the legs on their hem lines ensuring they are even and crease the paper to form the creases in the trouser leg and mark with a pencil.
7.      Pin the paper and fit to body, making adjustments where necessary.
8.     Mark the seam lines where you have pinned and then unpin and cut the pattern in calico.
9.     Transfer all pattern markings to the calico and then sew together for the first fitting and any other adjustments.

I have to say, calico fitted pants, with the seams to the outside are not the most flattering, however I did think that they fitted will on the bottom.  They would certainly benefit from some nice double welt pockets in the back and some nice belt tabs to give them a design edge.
At this point I can't make up my mind if they are a little on the big side, but from all the calico samples I have seen, non of them look great.

I had a great weekend, hard work but very enjoyable.  Met up with a couple of the girls who were on course last time, and Viv and I hit it off liek two peas in a pod - chatting about current and future sewing projects.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Well readers it’s my birthday today and I have been a very lucky girl.

Firstly, amongst other things, my lovely Mike bought me a copy of the Threads archive DVD – this, for the uninitiated, is a CD which houses all the Threads magazine issues dating back from 1985-2010.  I haven’t had too much time to look through them, but what I have seen so far has been fantastic.  There is a search  function, and because I am waiting for my suede to turn up, I did a search on “leather”, and low and behold there are several pages about sewing leather – perfect for when I start my jacket.

For anyone interested, here is the link to the web site

I am sure I am going to have lots of fun with these – I just need more time to be able to read them.

I have been given lots of lovely presents, and my middle son Luke even cooked me a lovely roast beef dinner tonight (I did have to stop off and shop for all the food before I got home) – however it’s a first, and much appreciated.

Thanks to everyone for all my beautiful gifts - I am a very lucky girl.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Another sewing course yippppeeeee and experimenting with suede

Thursday evening I will be driving up to Birmingham again to attend another sewing course with Gill Arnold.  This time I am having a whole day – one-to-one tuition with Gill and then on the Saturday we are doing her Principals of fitting course.

I have been thinking about what I would like the 6 hour time slot to be spent on and I think I would like her to concentrate on couture techniques and I may get her to help me fit a pair of pants.

I will let you know how it went.

I have just recently bought  this Kwick Sew 3764 pattern to see if I
can make something similar to the jacket above.  I have found some beautiful super soft pigskin suede in the taupe colour below from Tandy leather factory.  This will work out about half the price of the jacket from the catalogue, and that includes some special shears to cut the leather, and I also bought a belt  buckles and end tab.  I hope to have enough suede to make the jacket and and belt and perhaps even a bag - any left-over pieces of fabric will be used to trimming pockets, collars etc.  Hopefully the suede should arrive next week.

Vouge 1194 - DKNY

My next project is this lovely Vogue pattern by DKNY 

– I am using a nice soft cotton jersey fabric, in red, for this and have got as far as cutting out the pattern.  I actually love the way they present the dress in the pattern with black tights and shoes.

At the moment, work is still manic so I am doing everything in stages, and some evenings I have been too tired to do any sewing - however after reading the instructions, this dress shouldn’t take too long – famous last words!!!!


To be continued…………………….