Thursday, 29 December 2011

A new Year starts on Sunday - Happy New Year

A couple of the blogs I read have looked back on what they have made over the past year, or like Ann on Everythingsewing the goals she set herself for 2011 and what she did or didn't achieve.

Meeting new friends from cyberspace and other sewing related activities.

January last year I went on a speed tailoring course and met a lovely lady Viv who has wowed the members of the Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum with some of her beautiful work since I introduced her to the site.  We had a lovely day a few weeks ago when we cycled around London collecting fabric and notions from various markets and shops, followed by lunch while discussing our 2012 sewing plans/goals.

My frequent trips to Houston allowed me to meet up with Anita who I met via another site Perfect Sew and Fit where Patricia Schoeman helps sewers with their fitting problems.  This site is also responsible for the occasional exchanges of emails with a lovely lady called Marisa, and last but not least when one of the PSF members visited the UK, I met up with Linda in London.

Earlier this year I met up with Elizabeth aka ejvc from Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum and she was kind enough to show me all the best places to go to for sewing supplies close to where I live in London.   This month I had the pleasure of meeting Sigrid who has a fabulous blog with wonderful tutorials, who wowed me with her amazing talent for lingerie sewing, and beautiful tailored garments.

The Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum has also introduced me to some very talented sewers, who are fantastic at sharing their knowledge, by providing useful tips be it links to some great free downloads from Pina. or wonderful sewing tutorials from Ann Rowley, inspirational work from Kathryn  , Bunny  from lasewist who does the most amazing work, or Ann on Everythingsewing produces some fantastic embroidered dresses for the rodeo community while sharing the progress her "Spousal Unit" is making on the house (that term always makes me laugh), or some of her gifts that she makes to sell or give away. Art Attack in Houston, Gosh there are so many talented people on that site, most of them have great blogs too.  If I haven't mentioned your name it's probably because there are too many to mention but they all give so much inspiration.

Back in January Viv and I had a sort of goal to try and make ALL our work wear - I am pleased to say that the majority of outfits I take on my business trips have been made by me so I am close.  I have bought very few RTW but when I have they have been jeans, bras and cardigans.

So what are my plans for 2012?

I have some denim to try out two jeans patterns I have bought - the Jalie 2908 and McCall's Palmer Pletsch 5412, both of which have received quite good reviews.

I am definitely adding bra making to my list for next year and will take some advice from Sigrid on this subject - her lingerie work is stunning.

The two Jalie patterns I tried out this year were very successful so I will definitely be looking at more of their patterns.

I would like to say I will enter some of the sewing plans initiated by Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum such as  SWAP 2012 (Sewing with a plan), TAM (top a month), PAM (pants a month) SAM (Shirt a month), etc, but I am not very good at this - I said I was interested in the SAM because I do wear a few shirts for work - but to be honest I get so easily distracted, for example, at the drop of a hat I decide to make a rag doll and just have to do it.......  I will see how I get on.  I know it would be good to plan out my sewing projects but................

I have read lots of different threads on sewing rooms, pattern storage, fabric stash storage that all inspire me to do something similar.  The one thing that I think I may change is the way I store my fabric.  I purchased some clear very large containers to put my fabric in, but to be honest I more or less have to unpack the whole container to find the piece I am looking for - so there may be a little job for my son to make me some shelves for my sewing room where I can both store and access the fabric I want much easier than I do now.

I have booked myself on a quilt making course so I am sure that will have me return with many ideas.

Anyway - just in case I don't get a chance to post again between now and Sunday, first let me thank all the visitors to my blog for stopping by, and thank all of you that post comments here - they are ALWAYS appreciated, and

I would like to WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR and look forward to sharing my news and reading about what everyone else is doing in the sewing/crafting world.

More soon........................................

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

ABC Quilt finished

I finished off Alana's quilt this morning.

Using my own black bias trim I finished off the raw edges of the quilt

Some of the squares have puckered a little, but it looks worse in the photograph than it does in real life.  I trimmed the edge in black to keep the colour scheme going.

I know that there are some things I have done that my fellow experienced quilters will feel I should have done different or better - but I am sure that Alana will like it and I hope it will become a much loved favourite quilt for her to use.

Now a cup of tea and one with the 2nd UFO my cardigan jacket.  I am determined to go into the new year with no UFO's.

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

ABC Quilt

Over the past few weeks I have been embroidering squares for my DGD Alana to make into a quilt for her.

I decided because of her love of the little ducks we have in her toy box that there would be quite a few ducks in the quilt, and yellow would be the prominent colour.

My D Mike had to do some things with his son, so I had most of the day to get on with some sewing, so thought I need to finish off all my unfinished projects so got on with this.

I sewed a selection of squares some with the alphabet on so she can point to letters when she gets older, and some with her name on together with cute images.  The background fabric is made up of little sheep and numbers.

Other than a little quilt I made my hand for Alana's carry cot when she was born, this is the only the 2nd larger quilt I have made, this being the largest and to give you an idea of scale, it is covering the armchair.

There was approximately 2 metres of the background fabric, and approximately a metre of yellow and white, and half a metre of the black.

I embroidered the squares using my Janome 350e machine - and most of the images came from free downloads from various sites such at SueBox designs, Cute - just google free embroidery designs and you will see lots of them.

The alphabet squares I designed myself using my digitiser pro software, I also used my software to add Alana's name to some of the other squares.

To back the quilt I am using one of the really soft Ikea quilts.

I thought this was a good opportunity to break out my BSR foot that came with my Bernina Machine so I could do the aqufil embroidery between the squares.  My results are not perfect by any means, but its a start.  I did find moving the quilt around a little difficult but I got there in the end.  I think it is a case of practice makes perfect......hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I have started to make some black bias binding which I will use to bind the quilt's raw edges tomorrow.  Its late now and time for bed, so more later......................

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas is over and Presents unwrapped

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I was up fairly early to get my Turkey in the oven as it needed 5 hours to cook.  We had all the trimmings to go with it, fluffy potatoes roasted in goose fat, home made pork sausage meat stuffing, spiced red cabbage, brussel sprouts, parsnips etc etc.  Needless to say we all sat down after Christmas dinner and felt rather fat and full.

You recall that I made my DGD Alana a dressing gown and a rag doll with matching outfit.  Well, after a little struggle we managed to get her into her PJ's and dressing gown and here is a picture of her with Auntie Lauren.

Alana wasn't too happy about wearing PJ's and dressing gown because she thought she had to go to bed.

I couldn't resist popping this photo up - she just loves ducks and her auntie Lauren.

My children popped into my local sewing machine supplier who was very helpful by suggesting various Christmas gift ideas for me, so I was glad to open lots of packages of Madeira thread, embroidery machine needles, tear-away stabiliser and a £50 voucher which will be spent on accessories for my lovely Bernina.  My D Mike got me some great ebooks that were advertised on the Threads site which are now sitting on my ipad, and bless him, he paid for a sewing weekend that I had put my name down for to be held one weekend in April, and I got a new office chair too...........  I was very happy with all my gifts and feel very lucky.

I made my D Mike another fleece and embroidered some RTW Tees for him too and I was glad that they all fitted well.

I hope to do some sewing tomorrow, so I should be able write more later..............................

Friday, 23 December 2011

Last Christmas Presents finished


I am delighted that I have just finished my last present for my D Mike - so needless to say I can't post a photo of it on here until after he opens it - need to keep him guessing.

I managed to get Alana to try on her PJ's and I need to remove the elastic around the wrists as this was a little tight and add some elastic to the leg bottoms just to make them a little tighter, this is about a 15 minute job,  and then I am done with those.

I have sewn all but 2 squares for Alana's quilt, but I will have to put that together after Christmas - just ran out of time now.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all of you who stop by to read my blog, and especially those that leave comments - its always so nice to receive your comments.

I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a lovely few days with family and

More soon......................................

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Most of the Christmas gifts wrapped.

Not a very productive day for sewing but I did drive to London to collect my D Mike and all the Xmas gifts he needed to bring home.

I  took my iphone to be repaired at the Apple store (I dropped it at the airport and it smashed the glass) £119 for the repair costs I can't tell you how much that hurt................. and we managed to purchase some last minute Xmas gifts including one for me a nice new office chair :-).  I did suggest to my D Mike that he didn't have to wrap it.

Once home we set to and got most of the presents wrapped, watched "Kirstie Home for Christmas" for my readers outside the UK this lady has been learning how to craft, sew, cook etc, so right up my street - I want this job.  I baked a loaf of bread and now at nearly 11pm I have had time to surf the net.

I have a bit of sewing I need to finish for a certain person so I need to do that tomorrow, and I have to embroider 2 more squares for Alana's quilt and then stitch them all together.  I am not entirely sure I will make the Christmas deadline but she will still receive it very soon.

Well that's all from me for now, more later......................

Monday, 19 December 2011

2nd rag doll finished too.

Phew, I have just finished the 2nd rag doll, and the pj bottoms for Alana.

For this doll I halved the length of the hair strands and as you can see, the hair is still long enough to tie up into two bunches.

I used some old fleece for the tunic top and the legs for this doll which also feels really cuddly.

I hope Ella likes it.

Here are my gifts made so far - now need to find a pattern to make Alana's pj top and then she has a complete set..............should I make her little black bootie slippers to make the set complete???

first Rag doll completed

Today I managed to complete Alana's rag doll.

Yesterday I had finished the doll but today I had to dress her.  The first thing I made her were her shoes.  I used some left over fleece I found in my scrap bag and sewed these by hand - it really didn't take too long.
I used the leg/foot pattern piece to gague the size of the shoe, drew around the foot part, and the cut a slight curve as you would find in a shoe.  For the base of the shoe, I just use the base of the leg/foot.  Each shoe has been finished with a strap and a little bow.  I decided to sew the shoe to the foot to save them getting lost.

Next step was the doll's PJ's and dressing gown.  I chose night-wear for my doll because I thought it would be good fun to make a dressing gown for the doll that matches Alana's dressing gown,

and of course I now need to make Alana some PJ's to match dolly's pj;s.

Here are the end results - Dolly in her PJ's and dressing gown ready to cuddle up and watch TV with Alana on Christmas day.  Sadly I didn't have enough fabric to make a fabric belt so used so ribbon instead.

Now I need to finish dolly No. 2 and make Alana's PJ's.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Rag Dolls for our beautiful granddaughters

I decided yesterday that I wanted to make a rag doll for each of our two little granddaughters for Christmas gifts.

Its many years since I last made a rag doll, but I more or less knew what pattern pieces I needed and just drew something out on some paper.

Here you can see I have a head, body, arm, leg/foot and the small piece is for the sole of the foot.

Saturday I popped to my local market and saw someone selling a pack to two pillows for just £5.  You can often pay £5 for some stuffing so I thought these would be ideal.

I opened up one of the pillows to reveal the stuffing and emptied it into the plastic bag and then used the fabric of the pillow case to cut out my pattern pieces.  The case was enough for one full doll and the body and head of the 2nd doll.  As you can see here, I have only used about 1/3rd of the pillow stuffing so I will be able to use the rest for other projects.Constructing the doll was easy I just sewed a 1/4" seam leaving an opening to pop the stuffing into, however before I cut out the head, I embroidered a face onto a piece of the fabric.  It was easier to keep the fabric large enough to go into the hoop before cutting the head out.

For my face I am proud to say that I used my Janome digitizer Pro software to construct my face.  I have imported images into the software program before, and then asked the software to digitize it, but this time I created my own face (please ignore the little bits of thread I need to clean up).

Now that I have experimented, I am keen to try out more of my own digitizing.  Once the head was embroidered (this took approximately 20 minutes), I then placed the pattern piece over the embroidery and cut out two pieces of the white pillowcase for the head and then stitched them right sides together before I stuffed them and joined the arms, legs and head to the body.

I had to send my D Mike out to purchase some wool for me today (I was preparing a family lunch) - I saw some in a local shop and thankfully they still had some - it came in a pack of 4 balls.  To cut my strands of wool required for the hair, I wound the wool around a small ring-binder and cut it where the two flaps come together (easy) and all the pieces were the same length.

Sewing the hair is a little time consuming to say the least.  Basically you fold each strand in half and stitch it to the back of the head,

You can see in the 2nd photo that the loop you created when folding the strand in two is always pointing down - this way, the hair falls back over the loop, similar to you pushing your hair backwards away from your forehead.

Here I have nearly finished filling in the back of the head - you can leave a gap of approximately 1/4-1/2" between each row because my wool was quite thick, for thinner wool, you could keep the rows very close together.

For the 1st doll, and because I kept the strands quite long, it took 3 balls of wall for the hair, however I have a doll with long locks that can be  put up into a ponytail, etc etc.

And here is the end result.  Once you have completed the back of the head, you need to add some around the front of the head.

On my doll here, you can see I have defined the waist and the wrists by back-stitching these areas by hand.  I may also sew some lines in the hand for the fingers.

I have made two dolls, the 2nd smaller than the first, and am now sewing the hair on to the 2nd doll.  I will post up a picture of the two dolls when I am at stage 2 - dressing the dolls.

This is the first rag dolls I have made for a very long time and I have to say I have really enjoyed it.

As normal, I will post more later.................................

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dubai sunshine


Well I arrived in Dubai at 8:45pm last night (4:45pm UK time) and then I had to force myself to go to sleep around 11pm (7pm UK time) and then get ready to be up for 7am (3am UK time) and its fair to say that at 8:29pm tonight I am now almost ready for bed.

The temperature was 75f when I arrived last night and it has been lovely and hot here all day, however I only managed to sit outside for 1 hour for lunch where we sat in the shade and for the rest of my day I was in an office for meetings.

Sadly, I am not sure I will get to experience too much of this beautiful weather as I have back to back meeting scheduled for me all week, but it is nice that I don't have to wear a coat to walk from the hotel to the office.

This is the weather forecast for the coming week:-

Weather for Dubai - United Arab Emirates

23°C | °FSunMonTueWed
Mostly SunnyMostly SunnyMostly SunnyMostly Sunny
Partly Cloudy
Wind: W at 9 mph
Humidity: 49%
More later....................................

Monday, 5 December 2011

McCalls 5978/Jalie 2805

Last week I purchased some nice knit from Leather Lane market, and this week I managed to get going on it.  The first thing I made was another Jalie 2805 polo/turtle neck jumper

and I knew that I wanted to make a twin-set so decided to adapt, and then use McCalls 5978 for the cardigan/jacket part.

I lengthened the cardigan from the waist to give a longer line, but I want to use this for work, so decided to insert two double welt pockets - I have circled the pocket in the photograph because it hard to see.

I used the Palmer Pletsch method to produce these double welt pockets, taken from their "Jackets for Real People" book.  I cut the actual welt sections on the bias which they suggest you do if you are using a striped fabric.

This isn't a true stripe, but the ribs in the fabric give a striped effect and you can just see the angle of the of the ribbing where this was cut on the bias.

The pattern doesn't include lining pieces, and therefore, its not really designed for a double welt pocket.  I didn't have any grey lining, so I used a flesh coloured lining for the pocket bag, which doesn't look nice if the jacket were to swing open, so I elected to line the jacket.

I made my own lining by cutting the back piece but about 5/8" from the fold line to give a little extra fabric for movement - I will put a pleat in the centre back.

For the front I took the front pattern piece, traced a new pattern piece, then placed the facing pattern piece over the top and traced around that. (basically you don't need this part) I added 5/8" for seam allowances and then cut away the section I don't need and as you can see from the pinned section below the lining is attached to the facing edges..

I have partially attached the lining, but will use the bagged method to complete this.  I am not 100% happy with the way the front it sitting so I think rather than rush this to take away with me, I may leave it until I get back.

I know you are not going to believe me, but I have nothing to wear for my business trip on Wednesday.  I know I have been making things and posting them on here, but unfortunately I have left a lot of them at the flat, and I am not going back there before I go away.

I did remember to bring home my grey pants, and my knock off lace twin set, and one of my other Jalie tops, but I did forget to bring home some of my blouses that would have been ideal for Dubai.

Still that said and done, I decided to run up another of the fabrics that I bought in Leather lane the week before last.  I used Jalie 2805 again, but this time I halved the collar to create a crew neck top rather than a full polo/turtle neck top.

Hopefully this top will cope with the cold weather that has been forecast for the coming week.

I did manage to run up 4 pairs of panties from my kwick-sew pattern (well you know what they say if you get run over etc) ha ha.

That's it for tonight and probably until I get back now.

More, but much later.............................................

Alana in the dressing gown

I thought I would  post these photos for you to see - we managed to get Alana to model the dressing gown today (she would only put it on if Daddy put it on her).

So I managed to get the length right, however Alana seems to have short arms so we just have to roll the sleeves up - but I think the fabric will wear out before she grows out of it.

So I am pleased say her first outfit was a success.  I am now thinking perhaps a pair of matching PJ's.

Weight Loss Monday's - no change

Sadly there is no change this week.  In my defence, I have had the most dreadful cough and cold and I haven't done so much exercise last week because I was nursing my cold at home, during a time I had set aside as vacation.

Still on an up note, I haven't put any weight on, so I can't complain.

Onwards and upwards, my diet is going to be even more difficult over the next two weeks because I am going to be away on business in The Hague and Dubai, so little or no exercise unless I take some running gear, which at the moment, as I cough my way through this post almost seems unlikely.

I saw my niece yesterday at the zoo and she has lost a huge amount of weight.  Well done Rebecca, you have inspired me as you look great.

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

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Simplicity 3711 - Dressing Gown

Friday I met up with one of my sewing pals Viv who I met a year or so ago on a sewing course in Birmingham.  She agreed to make the 2 hour train journey up to London so we could go off exploring the sources of fabrics that we have in and around London.

Our fist trip was back to Leather Lane where we both managed to find lots of lovely goodies - but I will save them for another post.  Later we cycled to Dalston Junction, and I took her to Dalston Mills, a great place first introduced to me by Elizabeth, aka ejv from the Stitchers Guild Sewing Forum.

Viv loved the shop and we spent most of the time wandering around going ooooh and ahhhhh because there are some lovely fabrics there (I have my eye on their cashmere).   Viv bought some great fabrics to make some more beautiful couture jackets that she does so well, however, apart from some fantastic embroidered quilting fabric that I will make a jacket out of, my sights were set on some lovely soft fleece to make this Simplicity 3711 dressing gown for my beautiful little granddaughter Alana.

I found exactly what I was looking for - guestimated a metre would be sufficient (she is only 16 months old) and the lady cut the fabric - this should have been my first clue - we were all covered head to foot in tiny pieces of the fleece, and of course, both the lady serving us and myself were dressed in black.  We looked liked we had just walked through a winter wonderland.

Sadly, when I got home and cut out the pattern, I had the same problem, I was once again covered in the tiny pieces of extra extra soft fleece.  This also proved a little difficult when I was sewing it on the serger because it was difficult for the feed dogs to grip the fabric.

Still, I persevered, and here is my end result.

I embroidered her name on the right front, I also found some ribbon with little hearts on too, but only enough for trimming the pockets.  For the front and the bottom edges, I trimmed it with pink and blue ribbon.  I have sewn the belt to the back waist part of the dressing gown, so that it doesn't get lost.  I also hand sewed the belt loops too.  So this is the first of my little Xmas gifts done and dusted.  I have been working on my embroidered squares, which I will make into a quilt for her, but that will have to wait until I get back from my business trip.