Thursday, 31 May 2012

Negotiating skills hmmmmmm

So you may recall that I mentioned my deal - 10 shirts = 1 Chanel handbag.  On Tuesday, I thought I would actually look up the cost of the handbag, gasp, horror, gulp.......

Now when my D Mike agreed to the deal, he too guessed how much the bag was, so was reasonably happy with the deal, believing the price was similar to the one I thought of too, however we were both about 30% short of the true price.

Now as you may recall, it was his birthday a couple of weeks ago and one of his birthday presents was dinner at the OXO Tower in London.  We sat down on the balcony, enjoying our drinks, and spurred on by the splendid 3/10 shirt he was wearing,  when I thought I had better broach the subject of the cost of the bag and explained that I may have under guessed the cost..................

Now Mike being Mike said that if this was something that I was going to cherish and keep for ever and ever, then he didn't mind getting me the bag.  I sighed a huge sigh of relief, and thought how lucky am I.  Shortly after we were asked to take our seat at the table and the waiter offered Mike the wine list.

"Oh this looks lovely £5,000 a bottle, oh no, I have found a better one, £15,000 a bottle, well you are paying for tonight, and you did say I could have what ever I wanted didn't you"?   Noticing that I had turned a paler shade of white, he laughed and went for a bottle of wine more fitting my credit card limit, but I think he thoroughly enjoyed himself for a while.

We actually had a lovely evening, and if you are in London I can recommend the restaurant.  They finished the evening with a birthday ice-cream, complete with candle and Happy Birthday writing on the plate together with a photograph of us on the balcony.

Tomorrow I have my Fellowship graduation - I have been awarded the Fellowship status of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.  I hope to post some photos of the event.

Catch you later....................................

Monday, 28 May 2012

Nails, shirt and buttons

Hi, I have been getting some great bargains in the charity shops lately, and I think this may be my back-up to Walthamstow market.  I managed to purchase some 5 mtre pieces of fabric a few weeks ago, and again on Friday but following the announcement of my 10 shirt marathon, I need quite a few buttons - 100 to be exact.  Now my local shop is charging me 10p for each button, not too extreme I hear you say, 10 buttons per shirt = £1, but you know me I love a bargain.

It is amazing what you can buy in a charity shop.  I purchased a Fisher Price musical chair thing for my DGD for only £3.50 and when I looked up the new price it was £35.  This toy looks brand new and Alana loved it.  Today I purchased an ELC cooker washing machine toy (she is always pushing my washing machine buttons) and again it was only £3.50.

The original reason for going into the shops in the first place was looking for ties (to use as bias trim - go for the pure silk ones to add a touch of glamour, and they are great for Hong Kong finish to your seam allowances too) books and buttons, however I was distracted by the toys lol.

Friday I purchased a bunch of ties along with the Fisher Price toy, but best of all was a Hermes tie for £1.25 which is still selling on line today for £135.00 (that has to be the bargain of the century).  I wasn't going to tell my D Mike that it came from a charity shop, but without the lovely orange box they sell these things in, it would be hard to convince him it was new.  Still I think its great.  Its bright red, so I will have to make him a shirt to wear with it.

Today I planned on getting the buttons for shirt number 3 on route to the dentist.  There are a couple of charity shops close to the fabric shop, so before buying any I thought I would ask around.  The first shop said no they didn't have any but get them from time to time, but I struck lucky on the 2nd one and managed to buy 200 (I've counted them) for £3.00 - they only asked £1.99 but I was so pleased, and it was for charity I gave them a little more.

Last but not least I had my nails and toenails manicured on Saturday.  My nails are shameful - too much crafting and sewing means they break really easily, so I have had a set of gel nails done, for the first time ever - not bad in 53 years.  I am still getting used to them.  They put tips on my nails then applied the gel - they are hard, so I hope durable too, however have you ever tried picking up pins off the table with these nails - I have to lick my finger if my fingers aren't tacky enough and even today I feel like I have something alien stuck to my fingers, but they look pretty - lets see if I can keep up appearances.

That's all my news for now.  As you can see from the picture below - No 3 now has buttons (not from the charity shop because I didn't want white) and it looks good.

Let me know if you ever go to the charity/thrift shops and get good bargains.  Catch you all later...........

Sunday, 27 May 2012

3/10 only 7 to go

Ok, I have had too many late nights, early mornings so I have stopped sewing for the evening, but managed to finish 3/10 shirt, all but the buttons because I don't have any grrrrrrrh.

Do you know that there are so many different ways of sewing a shirt collar.  David P Coffin sews his by attaching the collar stand to the shirt first then inserts the collar.  The Pattern gives another version, and following a search on the internet this morning, I chose one of the old fashioned methods of making the whole collar (complete with stand) and then attaching it to the shirt.

One of my niggles of this shirt pattern (Kwik Sew 3883) is the size of the collar stand.  To my mind it was just a fraction too thin, so I added an extra 1/4" to the upper edge of the collar stand and I think this is the best version of all three shirts.  I have also done a much better job on my collar stay too, as they say practice makes perfect, and indeed the more I am making of these shirts, the better I am getting.

I made another minor change to the pattern by adding a small pleat on the back.  To do this, just slice the pattern where you want the pleat, and insert a strip of paper (enough to make the size of the pleat you want).  I only added an inch because I didn't want to make the shirt too baggy.  Mike does want some darts in the back too, but I will put these in later when I can compare the size etc with his expensive shirt - this will give a nice bit of shaping to the back.

If I get up early enough I will cut out shirt No.4 to take to the flat with me, but I may not have enough time - we will see.

Hope you all had a great weekend, and if you are in the UK enjoyed the sunshine - dare I say it was a little too hot for me lol

Catch you later................

Shirt No 2/10 - I am on a mission

Ok readers I am on a mission.  You know that recently I made my D Mike a shirt for is birthday,  and the week before he purchased a very expensive shirt from a local shop, well I said to him, "do you realise that 10 shirts at that price = 1 Chanel handbag.  So, there were some giggles (nervous ones from Mike I think) and, well how can I put it, we have a deal..............(excited is an understatement).

Now I am just a little bit motivated you understand, but I also want to make changes to the pattern and each shirt as I go along.

I am using the same Kwik Sew 3883 pattern but made changes for each shirt I made.

For the first shirt I copied a RTW French Cuff/turn back cuff and replaced the simple cuff provided by Kwik Sew.  I also embroidered the monogram on the cuff.

For this shirt, Mike wanted collar stays, plus I used a white cotton for the inside yoke and collar stand, and cuffs to give a contrasting look.

The fabric is quite a heavy weight linen mix, but has sewn really nicely.

For the collar stays I used an existing RTW shirt to draw my pattern template.  You can see my pattern template overlaid on the existing under collar pattern piece.

Cut your normal under collar and then cut two of the collar stay pieces, (you need one for each end).

Place the collar stay pattern piece on the under collar and use it as a template to mark and press under the diagonal line on the under collar.  Now take your new collar stay piece, and basically fill in the gap you have just created and stitch the under collar to the collar stay piece.  This allows you to create a channel for the metal stay to be inserted (see picture below for stitching lines).  Now construct your collar in the normal way.

If anyone is interested, let me know and I'll do a tutorial later - I didn't really have enough time today.

No. 3/10 is nearly finished ( I was only going to cut it out but got carried away).  No.3/10 also has some more modifications to the standard pattern but I will show you that later on.  Back to the workshop...........

Catch you later.............

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Paris May 2012/Orange

Having only just got back from our trip to Scotland, I had to take a trip out to Paris for work.

I never fly to Paris, I am fortunate enough to live close enough to one of the stations that the Eurostar stops at, and trust me, once you have used the Eurostar, you never want to fly.

Now  I am not saying the Eurostar is never delayed, or you don't get stuck in a long queue to check-in etc., but its just so much more comfortable, especially as  I am lucky enough to travel Business class for work.  This means so I can sit at a comfortable table, and work on my laptop in relative comfort with slightly more room than on an aircraft.

I don't have anything exciting to show you because I arrived, went out for dinner, next day gave two presentations back to back - another dinner and bed.  Today another early start, more presentations and meetings followed by a long conference call before dashing out of the door to grab my cab to the Gare du nord to get the train back to the UK. C'est la vie

Still here are some pictures just to prove I was there.  The weather has turned extremely hot, and everyone else in Paris was enjoying the sunshine.  I, on the other hand, was in my business suit feeling very hot sitting in the back seat of a taxi, making our way through the mad crazy traffic of central Paris.

Once I was in my car on my way home, I popped into a shopping centre to see if I could find some orange shoes.  "Orange" I can hear you say.  Well while I was on vacation I picked up a cute little orange bag, and I wanted a pair of flat ballet pumps to go with them.

Sadly I didn't find what I was looking for tonight, but have found some one line so will order them and wait for them to arrive.  I will post my ideas with these bright coloured items when they both arrive.

Catch you later..................................

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Holiday, Linton Tweed, wedding and outfit

Hi everyone

I have combined my sister's wedding in Scotland with a road trip holiday to get there.

Firstly I promised to put up some pictures of the outfit I made for the wedding comprising my Burda jacket and Burda Style dress.  I wore this outfit with some lovely, albeit extremely high Carvella shoes and a great little satin flower bag given to me by my twin sister. Ignore the crumpled look of the left-hand sleeve head on the picture of the dress below, I had just put the outfit on and asked my D Mike to attach the lingerie strap to my slip and it got a little twisted in the process and never mentioned it to me before taking the photo's ahhhhh.

I am very glad I had the jacket to wear because the weather in Scotland was very cool and I never got to expose the dress because I felt too cold.

For our holiday route, we left our home base in Essex and set off on the first leg of our journey heading for beautiful Derbyshire, then on to the Yorkshire Dales, followed by Coniston Waters.  We left Coniston Waters on Tuesday heading for Loch Ness, but took a little detour to Linton Tweeds in Carlisle where I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Our next destination was a beautiful little place which overlooked Loch Ness and last but not least we stopped just outside Aviemore before arriving in Elgin for the wedding.  Here are some pictures of our trip:

Above you can see me getting my fabric cut.  I specifically wanted some black and white 4-point star weave, which you can see laid out ready to be cut.  This is will be used for a traditional black and white Chanel type jacket. I then saw the lovely cream and black and found some nice honey coloured fabric which will work perfectly with this fabric for me to make a skirt.  I was delighted when I found some 1-metre lengths in their bargain bucket (I have to find a bargain) one of which was the exact same blue wool crepe as my dress.  This extra length of fabric will now give me enough to make a skirt to wear with my jacket which I am delighted with.  I found two other pieces that I will be able to put to good use and finished my purchase with some more of their 100% wool crepe in black, which I will make a dress and skirt, ideal to wear with the jackets I will make from the other fabrics.

I guess I was a little surprised by the size of the shop, which shares it space with a coffee/tea lounge, and an area of RTW garments.  I wasn't interested in any of the RTW items, but could have easily bought a lot more than I did - the fabric is beautiful and the girls are so helpful.  If you get a chance go. 

Now for a little selection of pictures from our trip.

Can you spot Nessie in the pictures above?  Our folding bikes came in really handy when we wanted to go and explore, and can you believe that Mike kept asking me to get closer to the waterfall - is this a sign I ask myself - should I be worried?????

In a small town close to Aviemore, famous for its skiing centre, we spotted this beautiful little red squirrel outside our bedroom window - this was a first for me, and look at the wonderful cattle - don't you just want to give them a hug?

Last but not least I have to include a photograph of the wedding - from left to right, my sister's daughter-in-law, her new husband Robert, Linda the bride and her son Ross, and in the front row, Ross and Karen's wonderful family, Ollie aged 2.5yrs, Adam 4.5yrs and a very grown up Owen aged 6. Don't they look handsome.

Check out the guys dressed in their kilts - they had to do a twirl for the camera ha ha.

So, bags are unpacked, washing on and we have one more day at home before heading back to work.  I am off to Paris on Tuesday for 3 days but will have the whole weekend to myself to start on my next sewing project.

I hope you have all been busy - I have lots of catching up to do.  Catch you all later..............................

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wedding Cake for my sister

Hi everyone

I have had two gruelling days of pension meetings for work, and then when I cycled to the train station it was pouring with rain, so I look like a drowned rat.

Thankfully I got home at a reasonable time, and after a brief sit down I set too and started on my sister's wedding cake.

I have to put my hand up and confess to cheating on the actual cake.  I actually purchased the cake bases last weekend due to the time constraints of not being here to make one.   They are both fruit cakes, and normally you would make them and then allow at least 4-8 weeks for the cake to mature for a better cutting consistency and better taste.  However, let it be known that I love baking cakes and normally I would bake my own but I just didn't have enough time to do it all.

Confession out of the way, here is the end result.

My sister sent me the ribbons because these matched the ones used for her invitations and I believe she is using them for her table settings too.

Although its not clear from the photographs, these are oval cakes not round.

I used an ivory coloured Regal icing and marzipan for the two cakes - the colour in the photograph has come out more yellow than the actual colour. The flowers are made from sugar paste.  I was going to do more, but decided on the "less is more" approach.

In addition to the ribbons I purchased some sweet little pearl trim which I have stuck to the bottom ribbon, but can't stick it to the top ribbon because I will take the top tier off and put it in a separate box for the trip up to Scotland.

I hope she likes it.  Another job I can tick off my list, but still lots to do lol.

Catch you later........................ 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Comments and new Members

Firstly I have to welcome all of you who have recently subscribed to follow my blog.  I always find it exciting to see new followers, so thank you.  I am very flattered that all of you follow the trials and tribulations of my crafting activities be it sewing, knitting, cooking etc., and even find the time to post a comment too.  Thank you thank you thank you - all comments are welcome.

I know that I find so much inspiration from the blogs that I follow, and I hope that I provide the same for you too.

I have had a lot of comments on my Chanel jackets, my Burda dress and Mike's shirt, so once again, many thanks to all of you that commented.  Some people have said how inspired that they are after reading my posts, and that they too want to go and make something, be it a Chanel jacket etc.  That is brilliant, do it, don't delay.

I have sewn for many years, but under the guidance of my mother.  Sadly she died around 14 years ago, so I lost my go-to person to ask how to deal with my sewing conundrums but have found the internet and many sewing blogs, sewing sites and new found friends, from following these sites,  a wonderful resource.

Sometimes people have left a comment saying "oh I am not ready to do that" or "I don't feel confident to make something like that".  Well the first thing I have to say is the old saying "practice makes perfect" is absolutely true.

I resurrected my sewing nearly two years ago when I couldn't find the perfect "mother of the groom" outfit.  Originally my D Mike said that he would purchase my wedding outfit - I couldn't find what I was looking for, so my daughter said; "why don't you get someone to make it?"  I then came up with a brilliant idea - I said, "tell you what don't buy me the outfit, buy me the sewing machine and material and I will make my outfit".  He did just that and having bought the hat first, I then took it into the fabric shop to match the hat to the fabric I wanted.  The rest as they say is history.

My Son Lewis and I just before he got married - Sorrento 2009
I think like everyone, I am self critical of my sewing.  I get annoyed if there are gathers where there shouldn't be, or the curve or the point isn't perfect etc etc., but the honest truth is that some of the RTW garments we buy and wear are often far from perfect.  We should strive for perfection, but realise that occasionally we just need to accept that maybe sometimes its not 100% perfect. We learn from our mistakes and unless its a complete right-off, we can still wear it and I doubt that anyone would ever know.

The more you do, the more you learn and I am on a continuous learning curve. There are lots of things I have never made that I want to make.  A bra and jeans are next on the list, but then I will look on PR and see something amazing and think "I want to have a go at that".

So why is she rattling on about all this.  Just give it a go.  If it doesn't turn out perfect the first time then try again - you will get there in the end, however I suspect most of you are much better than you think.

Catch you later...................

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

BurdaStyle Magazine - 09/2011 Geometric Sheath Dress

The term busy is an understatement for me right now, and I just didn't have time to dress up for a photo shoot over the weekend to show off my Burda Geometric sheath dress, but thought I would show you what it looks like on Edna.

I love the design on this dress, and it makes it just a little different from the norm.  I made my wearable muslin in yellow here and fell in love with the design to took another deep breath and cut into my 2nd Linton Tweed fabric.

Here are the details:-

The pattern recommends that you use a dress fabric or a wool/wool blend.  I used a wool blend from Linton Tweed.

The directions on instruct you to line the top, but I lined the whole dress and its feels lovely.

The "V" insert in the front was a little low, exposing the top of my bra, so I added an extra 5/8" to extend it.

I haven't produced these yet, but I will add a couple of safety straps to attach to my bra strap to stop the sleeves falling off the shoulders - they do sit just on the edge, so the straps will give some extra support.

The dress is quite long on my 5' 4" frame so I shortened it a little to make for better proportions on me.

If you are looking for something different this is the dress - originally I was going to make a simple sheath dress, then saw this and thought "yes that's the one".

So my Chanel style Jacket is made to go with the dress - both have been made from Linton Tweed and both have been lined in the same gray lining.

I used the same dark gray bias binding on the dress hem and sleeves hem.  This wool crepe fabric frayed like mad - so this was double protection.

So I have some great nude shoes and some peach coloured pearls that I will wear with this outfit.  I am now looking for a bag - I know the fashion is not to go for matching sets these days, but I am a little old fashioned and quite like that idea but I am still looking.

Catch you later...................

Monday, 7 May 2012

Kwik Sew 3883 - Men's shirt

[please click here to be directed to my post on "one pattern many looks" as I have made 8 shirts now]

I can't tell you how busy I have been this weekend, but I am glad to say that I finished my first ever men's shirt for my D Mike (shush it's meant to be one of his birthday presents).

I ordered Kwik Sew 3883 and after a couple of modifications to their pattern, I am absolutely delighted with the end result.

Pattern description:  Slightly fitted shirts have left front tab and double yoke collar with collar stand, patch breast pocket and shirt-tail hemline.  View A (full length sleeves with cuff and sleeve placket - this is the one I made) and View B has short hemmed sleeves.

I cut a "M" which is for a 38-40" chest and 15 1/2" collar and this fitted Mike perfectly.

Fabric is a beautiful cotton oxford cloth - purchased at a bargain price of course in my beloved Walthamstow market.

The original pattern pieces had a normal button cuff but Mike prefers to wear cufflinks for work, so I took a cuff off  one of his old worn out shirt to use as a template.  You can also see that I have added a monogramme too.  Mike designed this in PhotoShop - e.mailed it to me and I then digitized it with my Janome Digitizer pro software.

Here are a few other changes I made to the original pattern, which I think turned this from being a "home made shirt", to one that equals any of the very expensive RTW ones and one that Mike would actually wear for work.

In the pattern instructions there is no mention of encasing the seams.  I wanted this to be as good as any top quality shirt so all the seams in this shirt are enclosed by sewing wrong sides together with as small a seam allowance you can get away with, followed by sewing the same seam right sides together and I just used the edge of my foot as a guide.  This pattern only allows for 1/4" seam allowances so I knew I didn't have much to play with.  Once the seams were stitched, twice, I then topstitched each seam 1/4" using my 1/4" edge foot (see bottom left picture of the sleeve seams).

I had a bit of a problem embroidering my monogramme - I made the cuff, added the buttonholes and then embroidered the cuff - problem was I embroidered it upside down lol.  Unpicking this was a nightmare, but I managed to do it without too much damage.  To make sure that I didn't do the same thing again.  I cut out my sample monogramme - positioned it on the cuff, with the cuff in the right position and then put a pin in the middle, and then stuck the cuff to my embroidery hoop (I used a sticky back stabiliser) with the centre point of the monogramme to the centre position of the hoop - success.

For some reason or other I always struggle with my hemming foot, so found it easier to just turn the hem under twice using my fingers and gauging the hem by eye - it worked fine.

One tip I would make is that you hem the back, then the front pieces before you stitch the sides together - works much better.

What would I do different?

I am not 100% happy with the collar stand - looking at Mike's fairly expensive purchased shirts, they look a little bigger than the pattern provides so I will adjust that.

Mike also likes collar stays so I recall Sandra Betzina doing a tutorial on this, so I will have a look to remind me.  Can I add a collar stay to this shirt - perhaps if make the little triangle complete with the stay channel and then blind stitch in place - an experiment.  But for my TNT pattern I will amend the pattern, make notes and add it to the pattern envelope.

So I know I have made a rod for my own back now, but seeing as it was Mike who bought the sewing machine, a few fleeces, a bit of embroidery for his sailing club shirts, and now a few shirts isn't too much to ask for is it?

I  really enjoyed making this - and can't recommend this pattern enough (with or without the modifications).

Now for my next task I have to ice my sister's wedding cake - no pressure lol.

Catch you later.....................

Saturday, 5 May 2012

How to make a Pin Pouch - You Tube tutorial

Hi Guys,

A couple of people asked for a tutorial on making the Pin Pouch so I made my first You Tube video.

If you are anything like me, I hate the recorded sound of my voice (sure its the same in real life too)  plus you don't realise how often you hmmm or er, and I didn't put any make-up on lol, however notwithstanding all the bad bits, I hope that this helps you all.

What you will need:-

  • Some card (approx 6" x 10")
  • Scrap fabric (I used some quilted fabric) approx 2 x 7" x 12"
  • Scrap fleece (not essential)
  • Elastic (approx 4" x 1" wide elastic)
  • Bias binding (approx 14" long)
  • Cord, tape, binding for neck strap. (cut to whatever length you want)

I am finishing off my  blue Burda dress and have been wearing my new pin pouch and I can't tell you how useful it is.

Hopefully my next post will be a photo shoot of my wedding outfit I am about to continue with finishing off the last bits I need to do by hand.

Catch you later...........

Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Pin pouch and Burda dress progress

Ok, I make no apology for the shoddy workmanship on my pin pouch, but watching my new Chanel DVD I was inspired by the little pin pouches the ladies in the workroom wore.  Here is my version made from some scraps of quilted fabric and some fleece.

Cut yourself a piece of cardboard to whatever size you want your pouch to be - score it where the fold line will be.  Cut your fabric pieces slightly larger than the cardboard.  Sew right-sides together on 3 sides, press, turn right sides out and then slip the piece of cardboard in side before blind stitching the open edges in place.

Fold the cardboard sandwich just slightly less than in half so the back piece is slightly higher than the front as you can see in my picture below.  Secure the side seams.  I finished mine with some bias binding.  On the back sew a safety pin in place which will be used to attach the pouch to the front of the garment you are wearing - alternatively you could sew something to the pouch to hang around your neck.

I have been using this tonight when doing some hand sewing and it is great.  I often use the sleeves of my garment, or even stick the pins into my bra (I know stop laughing)....  Still no longer will I do that now I have my pin pouch.

I managed to do a little more to my blue Burda dress, I stitched some of the lining pieces that are ready to be pressed and attached the sleeves to the dress.  Once I have finished sewing the lining pieces together I will be ready to insert it into the dress and get this completed by Saturday at the latest.  I still have to make a shirt for my D Mike's birthday and make my sister's wedding cake on Monday.

Catch you later.................

Signe Chanel DVD - review

I guess I am still in a Chanel mood because I ordered and received a copy of the Signe Chanel DVD, a documentary by Loic Prigent.

I LOVED THIS DVD - and can't wait to replay it especially to look at the sewing room scenes.

The DVD takes you through the process of Karl Langerfeld drawing his sketches, the ladies in the workshop interpreting them into the design you see on the catwalk - amazing.

If you, like me, are going through a Chanel phase of your sewing life, you will love this film and draw lots of inspiration from it (I am going to make one of those nifty pin pouches they wear).  For those of you who love to do hand sewing you will be in your element.  Unless I missed something, I didn't see a single sewing machine in the workroom.

This was not a cheap DVD, but I loved it.  I also purchased another DVD, Valentino the last emperor, so will let you know what I think when I have the chance to watch it.

On a separate note, I have had two horrific days of driving to and from work.  It took me 3.5 hours (instead of 1.5 hours) to get to the office yesterday and I didn't get home until 9pm in the evening, so I have been too exhausted to sew, but I am working from home today and intend continuing my work on my Chanel inspired wedding outfit tonight so I can get it finished because I need to make a wedding cake this weekend.

Catch you later...............