Monday, 28 March 2011

Trip to Birmingham to the Sewing for Pleasure show

 Thursday my D Mike and I headed off on a trip to Birmingham with his parents - this was a dual trip, firstly to visit the home building expo because we want to build our own eco house, ideally somewhere near the river in Suffolk, and second for me to visit the Sewing for Pleasure expo.

All of us have come back with lots of inspiration and ideas from the building show and I came back with some lovely goodies from the Sewing for Pleasure show.

The first thing I did at the show was some silk painting – I purchased some silk paints a little while ago, and just haven’t had a chance to experiment with them yet, this was the perfect opportunity.  I selected a small square which already had a nice design on it and gave it a go.  It’s great – very therapeutic – the colour just bleeds into the silk and the effect is great – note to self – find some extra time for silk painting.

There was lots to see at the exhibitions, I managed to see some retailers who I have purchased goodies from before – for example the Babylock stand was there and I was able to address a couple of problems I had with my overlocker/serger (user error).  Gill Arnold was there, I attended a couple of her courses, so said hello, and asked a couple of questions and she mentioned that Linton Tweeds had a stand at the show.

I left Gill and dashed off to find Linton Tweeds, renowned as suppliers to Chanel and other prestigious international fashion houses.  I have often looked at their web site but there is something tactile about purchasing fabric, and I like to look, feel and touch before I commit to buy.  I found the following items (at a great price of course) so that I can make myself a couple of Chanel inspired outfits.

This is the pink woven and the black wool crepe they will work great together.

Here is some black and white weave and again I will use the wool crepe as the contrast and should I need any more, I should be able to reorder.

Here is the brown wool crepe, together with the silk that I purchased in NYC from Fashion Avenue - I think they all work great together.

I find the trouble with purchasing expensive fabric, as apposed to the fabric I buy from the market at £1 or £2 per meter, I am petrified of putting my scissors into it.  This means I DEFINITELY have to make up a calico version first.

Last but not least, I purchased a new gadget, a Husqvarna Viking embellisher machine.  One of the girls on the sewing discussion at the Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum, Shams, made a beautiful coat where she had embellished it with her own design – it looked great and once I had a play with the machine at the show I was hooked and brimming with ideas. While I was at the Linton Tweed stand, I also purchased these balls of yarn below – I thought they would be great for trimmings and using with the embellisher and on another stand the skeins of wool.




 I think these are left over from the woven fabrics!




So I am going to sort out my sewing room and get ready for two weekends of sewing while my D Mike is away.

More later........................


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Vacation = sewing providing the sun isn't shining

I booked 6 working days off starting last Friday.  It was my sister’s 60th birthday so I and my other two sisters travelled up to Scotland to join her for the celebrations, and a nice weekend was had by all.

I didn’t arrive home until late Monday night so this only left me yesterday and today for catching up on many jobs I have stored up at home, and to take advantage of sewing time but there is always something that scuppers any best laid plans – SUNSHINE.

So just as I was thinking about my next sewing project, the sun kept tapping on my window to tell me it was warm, dry and the perfect time to get out into the garden and give the lawn its first cut since the autumn.

While it was disappointing that I couldn’t get on with my sewing, it sure did feel good to have the sun warming up my bones and I managed to get the lawn cut, some plants cut back and those dead brown leaves picked up in some parts of the garden.  So you think, well that didn’t take all day, so when did you start sewing – I didn’t – I made that big mistake of opening my work laptop and looked at my e.mails – 4 hours later……………………………………………

So today is a new day – can you believe it, the sun is shining again so I am thinking I need to get out on my bike, even if its to run around the block and back before I take myself upstairs. 

I still had other jobs to do – filing, paying bills etc., but its now 12:30pm – am going off for a bike ride and then dedicating the rest of the day baking bread and sewing because tomorrow my darling Mike and I are off to Birmingham for two exhibitions – one on building your own home, and more important the Sewing for Pleasure expo ---------- yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

More later.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

matching cardigan to go with Vogue 2980

So someone suggested making my jacket reversible, and giving it some thought I came up with the perfect pattern to use
 I have made this up before, but altered the pattern to use it with some fleece type fabric, so I didn't mind the extra width with the stretch knit because I wanted a more flowing type cardigan.

So this is the end result and I think I am happy with my new ensemble (ignore the black pants) I intend to wear this with either brown pants or a brown skirt - am thinking another Sandra Betzina skirt with a suede trim.

Sadly I only had enough fabric to cut one sleeve in the lining fabric so I didn't line the sleeves - but hemed the raw edge of the lining and finished the sleeve edges by hand to give a nice neat finish and I included a couple of shoulder pads to give a better shape.

For the rest of the lining, I just more or less used the bagging method by putting right sides together and stiching completely around the neck, front and bottom edges and then turned the jacket through one of the sleeve openings.

I have to say the outfit is so comfortable to wear so now the question is can I do half day's work, get my hair done and run up a skirt by tomorrow night ----- think this may be a tall order even for me, however my D Mike has to leave at 6:30am tomorrow, so I could get a couple of hours in before work ..................  lets see what happens.

Infinity scarf or neck ring

This article was published in the October 2010 issue of Sew Today magazine and I have made several since and they are a great item to add to your wardrobe.


  1. Cut a rectangle of fabric 24" by 60" (61cm x 1.52m).
  2. note to wrap it around your neck twice you will need at least 60" length.
  3. With right sides together, fold in half lengthwise and stitch the long side, stopping 4" - 6" from each end.
  4.  Turn right side out.
  5. Bring right sides of the short end together and stitch.
  6. Hand stitch opening closed.

 This is a picture of the page from the magazine (hope they don't mind as it does advertise their magazine) but they don't have a dedicated web site linking to articles in the magazine.

 The Hermes looking fabric wasn't made with a 60" length, so can't be wrapped around twice, but it still looks good and I can imagine using pretty pins to place the folds too.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sandra Betzina close fitting pullover top - Vogue 2980.

I had the urge to make up something quick, easy to pack, and something I could take to Scotland with me on Friday as I am spending the weekend with my sisters (3) to celebrate her 60th birthday.  So here it is:-

Completely  made on the serger, other than a little difficulty in getting the cover stitch to work properly (I always have problems when I thread the machine for the cover stitch), and finding that I had missed one of the layers when sewing the 2nd sleeve in which meant unpicking a serged seam - yuck (less haste more speed as they say) but in the end it was done.

To ring the changes, I made an infinity scarf which can be added to the top to give a different look or worn on its own over a sweater.

To pick up the brown in the design, I have cut out a knitted cardigan design and I am facing it with the same fabric as the top to coordinate them together. 

Now I would be sitting upstairs sewing my matching cardigan, however MD Mike's meeting was cancelled and he came home!!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Burda Blouse completed

I have now finished my Burda blouse.  I recycled buttons from one of MD Mike’s Ted Baker shirts and bought some nice blue trim to line the inside edges of the collar and the front.

I borrowed some of Mike’s cufflinks to try out my buttonhole placements and they work out fine.

What would I do differently?

1.    Make the sleeves slightly shorter
2.   Probably make the cuffs slightly smaller too.
3.   I feel the shoulders were a little big, so I think for the top half of the blouse I need to cut it a size smaller (especially when using a fabric with a slight stretch)

 See the blue trim that runs around the inside of the collar and down the inside front - I have seen some shirts, that pick up the colour in the trim on just one button at the top of the shirt ---hmmm nice idea.  the trim has two rows of white running stitch going through it - but doesn't show up too well in these photos.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Burda 8153 nearly finished

I have almost finished the Burda blouse leaving just the buttonholes to do, but its 9:15pm and Mike is going off on a course this week, so I really need to spend some sofa time with him.
Here are the photos during the different stages of production:-

Here you can see the thread marking for the centre front and fold lines. I confess that sometimes I just clip the top and bottom end where the fold line is, but this was quite quick to sew (large tacking stiches through the pattern - then clipped through the middle of each tack before lifting the pattern).

Here you can see the centre front lines. - as above, easy to see and quite easy to remove.

Collar just waiting to be topstitched. I used the shirt interfacing that I purchased from Gill Arnold for the collar and cuffs - it is very stiff - I am sure it will soften after washing - lets see!

Topstiching on the sleeves and the shoulder seams.
The pattern didn't call for this, but I was following the stitching on one of Mike's Ted Baker shirts here.  I like the finish and it keeps the serged seams inside nice and flat.

All finished except for the buttonholes.  I may buy some of my favorite trim but in white with a blue dash for inside the collar.  Hope to finish this tomorrow because I need to think about what I will make to wear for my sister's 60th party and dinner (that means two outfits).

Sunday 13th March - Perfect Weekend

So I have to say yesterday was almost the perfect start to the weekend.

As previously mentioned MD Mike and I woke rather early and after what we commonly call “faffing” (reading books/papers, surfing the net, while having a nice cup of tea and toast and marmite- all in bed of course) we got up because we were going to babysit my DGD Alana while mum and dad did a few errands.  Let me tell you grandchildren are complete time-wasters; you get absolutely nothing done while they are around.

Once our little family had departed, we had decided that the sunshine streaming through the windows was just too good an opportunity for us to dust the cobwebs off the cycles and go to do the weekend shop. 
I have to tell the readers that we kitted our bikes out with saddlebags especially for this job and while the kids think we are mad because we have two sports cars and a 4x4 between the two of us, we prefer to use the bikes when we can.

So off we went, completely filled 4 large saddlebags, one front basket and even tied another plastic bag to the back of the saddle with our food shopping.  The weather was just so beautiful, we decided to cycle home, unload and go off again. 
We took our normal route which avoids a lot of the traffic and changed it slightly to see where a certain direction took us.  To my amazement we arrived at a parade of shops hosting a very well respected butcher. 

Ever since I made my first batch of sausages, I have been wanting to source the sausage casings from a local butcher rather than getting them online.  I found one butcher that would supply them, but he didn’t have any in stock.  I put on a brave face, walked into the shop and asked if he would supply me some – long story short, I saw a thyme plant on the counter, he went off to get the sausage casings and when he returned I said I would take the plant too – can you believe he only charged me for the plant.  The total cost was half the cost of the online casings and the casings would make 30 feet of sausages much more than the previous ones – so our little cycle outing paid off in more ways than one.

We must have been out in total for over 2 hours, and when we dismounted from the bikes the air was filled with moans and groans from both of us.  I thought I was a little fitter than MD Mike because I have been trying to run a few times a week and do some weights – but it’s always the same when you do a new exercise – boy do you feel it!!!

So last night MD Mike had to go home to collect any post that was festering in his post box, deal with the content and then be in town early today to meet his son to look at potential accommodation for him near to his college.  While it is always sad for me when he has to go away or home, because we are so used to staying together now, it is also great  because I have the rest of the day today to finish my Burda blouse, and potentially tidy my sewing room.

What I did do before I went to bed was to put some fabric in the washing machine  and separately preshrink my interfacings as per the following instructions:-

1. Fill the bathtub with enough hand-hot water to cover the fabric,

2.Immerse the interfacing into the water and leaving them until the water cools down (do not agitate the fabric in the water because it can loosen the adhesive)

3.Once water is cool, drain the water from the bathtub

4.Lift each piece and let all the water drain off and then wrap in a bath towel to take up the extra water
5.Place somewhere for them to dry – I use these foam pipe insulators over the bath see pictures – plus you can pop them on the washing line and hang the fabric over them to stop you getting the line marks on the fabric.

So these they are ready for use – especially the collar and cuff one (white) to use in my burda blouse.
haning between the edge of the bath see exposed pipe insulator

 So here is the foam pipe insulator (they come in a pack of 5 priced £4.99) on my washing line outside - it prevents the line marks appearing on the fabric if you dry outside.

Other sewers – do you find the same as me – there is always the opportunity cost of time:– sewing v tidying -------- Because I leave it so long, tidying will always be a big job, but of course there are some efficiencies to be found if everything is tidy and I can lay my hands on the things I want/need, when I want or need them, and I will not be wasting time looking – moral delema.

Right I am off to sew – more later.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Princess Seams - by Sandra Betzina - take advantage of the fit.

I saw this article on the Power Sewing website and thought it was really useful

 While we’ve all heard that you get a better fit with princess seams, few garment sewers ever take advantage of just how great the fit could be.
For example, full high hips in back or butt would be camouflaged considerably by letting out the side back seams below the waist in back. This would eliminate the horizontal wrinkle at the waist and give enough fabric for the garment to set properly over the high hip.
PrincessSeamsAdjustments on princess seams are easy if you cut wider seam allowances to begin with. After fitting, these seam allowances can be cut down to eliminate bulk.
Another area where the princess seam could provide relief is the middle-back. Many complain as they age, that garments feel tight across the back or fit too closely, climbing to rolls in back.
  • Once again, cut seams allowances wider so that alterations are possible.
  • Let out the side back seam, starting 1” down from the shoulder to 1” below the waist.
  • Sew gradual curves so that seams will press open properly.
  • This seam can be taken in above the waist for a narrow back but a horizontal tuck across the entire back is usually necessary.
Pricess SeamsOne area that does not benefit from the princess seams is the pot belly. Letting out the side front seam to make room for the every growing tummy only emphasizes it. Keeps this seam straight, creating more room by letting out the side seams.

A hollow above the bust can be eliminate by taking in the side front seam above the bust. If the princess seam goes into the armhole, you will need to fold out the same amount from the sleeve front.
Do this by taking a small horizontal fold in the sleeve front, just above the notch. Let the tuck taper to zero by the middle of the sleeve.

Tailoring - step-by-step guide to creating beautiful customized garments

So this is a warning to anyone, like me, looking for books to perfect their tailoring techniques.

 I saw on PR The Classic Guide to Sewing the perfect Jacket - Tailoring on amazon, one of the ladies in the Netherlands purchased this book and raved about it - I took a quick look and thought yep just what I am looking for.

 So Amazon being Amazon recommends other books and I saw Tailoring, a step-by-step guide to creating beautiful customized garments and thought I'll get the two.

 To my horror when they arrived - different cover, different titles, different publisher, different price - BUT THE SAME BOOK.  What a con.  First I have to say, the books are great, but needless to say you don't need two.  Because in the not too distant future, MD Mike and I will be living half the time in London and half in the country, I have decided to keep them both and take one to London with me.  But as soon as he gets his new ipad, I have been promised the hand-me-down, and I confess it may be worth me sending one back and getting it in ebook form to use on the ipad.

Still despite being a Saturday, we both were awake by 7am (an hour lay-in compared to during the week) so have been looking at PR site, watching some of the Power Sewing archives on the Sandra Betzina's website and we are eagerly waiting the arrival of my beautiful DGD Alana so we can babysit for an hour or so while mum and dad go off and do some shopping.

Plan on finishing my Burda blouse I cut out and started during the week and if I get a chance will tidy my sewing room and think about my next projects.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Vogue - 8539 finished

So here is the finished Vogue 8539 – this was made out of another throw purchased in a sale for less than £5.00.

I decided on the shorter version however there is a longer option available in the pattern.
This is really quick to sew and great for beginners too.
Already had its first outing over a pair of jeans.

Because of the thickness of the fabric, I didn't line it nor did I make a buttonhole, but just added a popper to the neck edge.