Thursday, 9 October 2014

Hoppity Hoppity Hop

The amazing Danielle from One Small Stitch, who never fails to amaze me with her flattery and generosity (I haven't yet told you that she knitted Baby Boy the most gorgeous cardigan!), has nominated me for this Blog Hop that's currently doing the rounds. Hopefully you are not yet bored of reading this type of post. I know I'm not. I love finding out more about fellow bloggers - it rounds out their personality in my head - and this hop is interesting in that it's about the writing process, not just the sewing.

So, here goes:

1. What am I working on?

Plans. I'm not actually sewing anything, but am planning my next few makes. In the past, I have fallen into the trap of writing a big "summer/autumn/winter sewing plans" type post, and then 100% failed to deliver. I always overestimate my capabilities and underestimate my time. This autumn/winter may be no different, but making my recent Scout in 3 days was a real confidence booster in terms of execution but also in terms of realising what I can achieve if I put my mind to it. P will be working in Dublin for 8 consecutive weeks in the near future, which will leave me lots of evenings to myself, with plenty of sewing time. Of course, it will also mean me looking after 2 children by myself all day (and since our recent holiday Baby Boy has steadfastly refused to go back to sleeping through the night. Sigh.), so of course my evenings may instead be spent exhaustedly collapsed in front of the TV. But I'll go with the optimistic view for now.

My next make is most likely to be another blouse - I bought this gorgeous viscose (below) at the recent Glasgow bloggers meet up for this purpose. I won both the Belcarra and the Afternoon Blouse back during Me Made May, so the viscose will probably become one of these. Unless I go the easy route and churn out another Scout. I am wearing my most recent one every other day at present!



Other plans include a Mabel, a Moss, more blouses/tees (patterns TBC) and perhaps even the Ultimate Trousers if I can psyche myself up enough.

I also have a huge pile of promised unselfish sewing that has been hanging around since the beginning of the year (I promised a friend a dress for her Christmas last year!), and since I  now know that I won't be having any daughters to sew for, I'm taking more interest in boys clothing patterns. I absolutely adore this tee by Girl Like The Sea:

Girl Like The Sea

2. How does my work differ from others in it's genre?

It's written by me. Hopefully my fabric and pattern choices, my personality, my decisions and my skills make my blog mine, because from every other aspect its the same as a million other sewing blogs out there.


3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I sew because I love it. Simple as that. My motivation was never to improve fit, to stop buying RTW or to make a stand against fast fashion. I just really like the process and the achievement. I find sewing utterly addictive and totally consuming. It allows me to switch off from every day life, as it requires concentration, but it's something I love to concentrate on, which makes it a joy. That being said, there is also some motivation around being able to make a "one of a kind" garment, as I do like to be different (my sister would say I like to be contrary, but I disagree :)). That I can make something fit better, that I can avoid unethical manufacturing processes are secondary benefits.

I'm not sure why I write. About 18 months ago, the idea of writing a sewing blog became appealing. I think I wanted to join in and belong to this great online community that I had recently discovered. I wanted to be part of the fun, and I wanted to communicate with like minded, passionate individuals. I suppose a small part of me also wanted to show off what I was making. I actually never expected to stick at it. I thought I'd get bored pretty quickly - I had previously written a blog that had a very short life - but then I found I really enjoy the writing process. I miss it when I don't blog. I've found that having had a baby this year has cut off 2 creative outlets for me - sewing and writing. The 2 have become intertwined for me.


4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I am quite ad hoc about both. As I mentioned above, I make plans but rarely stick to them, so there ends up being no great design. I am easily distracted by the next shiny pattern release, and by pretty fabrics. I didn't take part in Me Made May this year, but if I had done, I know my conclusions would have been no different from the previous year - not enough bottoms and not enough casualwear. I am hopeful this will change. Being pregnant and then not sewing for a while, plus now having different wardrobe requirements (I will be off on maternity leave for a year and don't have nearly enough casualwear for that) are forcing me to think differently. I can't necessarily make the next "big" pattern, as it might not fit my currrent lifestyle requirements, so I'm trying to focus on what will work for me and my current circumstances.

With writing, again there is no one approach. I obviously blog about more than just my sewing here. My personal life does make quite an appearance, and sometimes I have been brutally (too?) honest about things that have been going on in my life. Sometimes I just start writing and see what comes out. Sometimes I have a game plan. I write about what interests me and what I think I'd like to read elsewhere.

With the FO posts, it's a matter of documenting the what and the how. I narrate my post in my head as I sew, but of course I don't write it down, so when I eventually sit down to write, I'll have forgotten most of what I previously "wrote". I'll frequently publish a post only to immediately edit it with something (several things) I have missed. I try to keep a record of changes, issues I've encountered and fixes I put in place, plus any helpful tips I've come across along the way. I don't really consider myself good enough to be writing tutorials, but I like to give something back.

My photography leaves a lot to be desired but I like to ensure I include photos of me wearing the item I have made, front and back views, plus some photos of the insides. I am unfailingly honest about my makes and will post the duds as well as the successes. I'm not sure if that's what people necessarily want to read about, but for me it's important. I like to show that everyone makes mistakes, but more crucially I like to record what I learnt so that (hopefully) I don't make the same mistake again. Unless, of course, I am pregnant/hormonal/sleep deprived in which case I will continue to sew things inside out and back to front.

Writing a post takes a long time for me - several hours. I will write it, read and reread it. And then reread it again. Mostly I end up having to edit and remove content, as I waffle (I do it in real life too). It's important to me that I write "well". I like to read something that's well written (correct spelling, grammar, extensive vocabulary), so I am careful to write something I would want to read, as much as I can within my capabilities. I'm not saying I'm a brilliant writer - far from it, I am far too fond of excessive exclamation mark use - but I like to push myself to be the best I can.. I am also careful to keep my voice. I can easily be swayed by the writing styles of others (e.g. Lauren from Lladybird has a distinctive voice), but that wouldn't be me. And if I wrote like that, you'd be mightily disappointed if you ever met me!

So, I think that's it from me. I'd now like to nominate 2 fellow bloggers to carry on the fun, and I am keeping it here in Scotland, although neither of these bloggers are Scottish! - Kerry from Kestrel Makes and Nessa from Nessa's Place. Kerry's was was one of the first sewing blogs I discovered. I love that she makes 1980's patterns her own - they never look dated on her - and she is less likely to jump on the new pattern bandwagon, so there is always something different to read on her blog. I'm also pleased to hear she's planning to go back to recording her charity shop finds! Nessa makes clothes but also makes the most fantastic quilts. They truly are beautiful! I don't quilt, but again enjoy the differences in the posts she writes.

I have enjoyed this series so much that I would encourage any of you to join in, nomination or no nomination. In fact, although I'm not naming you, consider this your nomination if you fancy a go! If for no other reason than to appease my nosiness!

Finally, because this is a very text heavy post, here is a picture of Baby Boy to break things up. Told you, I put too much of my life in here!



Monday, 22 September 2014

Completed: Pleat Front Grainline Scout

Gosh, that was a bit of a break, wasn't it? I expected not to sew for a while, but somehow I thought I'd still manage to blog.

Lots to catch up on, but I will cut to the chase with this post and go straight to the sewing chat, and will save the life stuff for another time. I will say though that Baby Boy is now 4 months and finally into a routine, or something close, which has freed up a bit of Me Time! I finally got my bum into gear and turned that into Sewing Time! I had other plans, but having followed OWOP on Instagram, I found some new blogs to read, and came across the idea for this top. This is an old favourite with a small twist, which was the perfect reintroduction back into sewing - a familiar and straightforward make. It's the Grainline Scout Woven Tee, with an added pleat in the centre front. This idea was borrowed from Stitch and Cappuccino. I liked it because it added something different aesthetically but, more practically, it added more volume, which I hoped would allow for easy access for breastfeeding, whilst not being a shapeless sack. I think I achieved what I was looking for.



I had planned a "shoot" at the Kelpies, but one child was crying, the other needed the toilet and it was COLD, so this was all we got!
According to my current bust size, I am 2 sizes larger than I originally cut on my Scout pattern. I just wanted a bit of extra ease across the bust, not anywhere else, so rather than reprint the PDF, I adjusted my pattern piece very unscientifically. I measured the difference between 2 sizes, which was about 1cm, and then added that to the bust area (starting immediately beneath the armscye), tapering to nothing at the hem, on both the back and front bodice. For the pleat, I added 1.5cm to the centre of the front bodice piece along the fold edge. I also added 3cm at the lengthen/shorten line. This was really just to provide a bit more coverage when feeding.


The almost pattern matching at the pleat was complete fluke!


Hard to tell from these photos, but I am not convinced I have the fit right yet on the shoulders on this pattern. I think it's too big.
After sewing the pleat and then front and back together, I tried it on and decided the pleat was too narrow, and that I had plenty of ease to play with, so I added some width to the pleat. I also reduced the length of the stitched part of the pleat, which I had initially just eyeballed, so it released just beneath my bust. I think the pleat could stand to be even wider to make more of an impact, but I am happy with it as is.

So, for future reference, I ultimately added 2cm to the front bodice piece for the pleat,and I stitched down 16cm. This means I only added about 0.5cm to the width at the side on the front bodice piece. 





Some of you may recognise the fabric I used. It's the same as I used for this maternity dress. It's a viscose bought from Mandors in Glasgow. I had initially planned to refashion the dress , but there wasn't enough length in the skirt pieces. Fortunately I had a good metre left of this, plus scraps. So it was a stash busting project, and I still have scraps left, plus the dress. The viscose is perfect for this project. It's light and drapey, which allows it to hang nicely. It was a bit shifty and slippery to sew, but not too bad on a straightforward make like this. However, as you can see, it creases pretty badly. I had only been wearing it for a couple of hours when I took these photos. 

Construction-wise, I overlocked all seam allowances for speed. The tension seems to be off on my overlocker, so the stitching is a bit loose. I need to have a look at figuring that out at some point. I considered using a contrast binding at the neckline. This fabric is odd - I look at it and I think it's a dark red, but when I wear it, it seems to become skin coloured! A contrast would have broken that up a bit, at my face, but I only had a complementary, not a coordinating fabric to hand, and I thought that might look a bit random on just the neckline. If I could have figured out how to incorporate more of the binding elsewhere in the garment, I would have gone for it, but I couldn't, so I stuck with self bias tape. I chose to bind the neckline, so it's exposed, rather than use it as a facing. I am still on the fence about this. Using it as a facing might have looked cleaner. What do you think?


Bias bound neckline
I do love this tee. It does exactly what I need it to, and I think another will be on the cards. It's really comfy to wear, it provides quick and easy access for feeding, but also covers my tummy whilst I do so. Plus, I feel great about the fact that my first sew in over 4 months was a success, and I am itching to make something else! I am meeting some fellow bloggers in Mandors in Glasgow this weekend, so I think I will be looking for more viscose!


Finally, a shot of the top "in action". See? Can't see a thing!



Friday, 23 May 2014

Me Made May 14

Obviously I didn't actually participate in this year's Me Made May. I would have liked to, but reckoned I probably had quite enough on my plate. Plus I wasn't in the mood to whip up a self stitched hospital gown with matching surgical stockings...

But, I have spent a LOT of time on Bloglovin and on the MMM14 Pinterest board, and have really enjoyed following along. I've actually found myself skipping past other posts to get to the MMM ones. I think it's that nice thing of seeing how people actually wear their handmade garments IRL. To read about what works and what doesn't is actually pretty interesting, plus I'm always interested in styling ideas. And let's not forget the ability to nosey in on others' lives!

I haven't really been on Flickr at all but have enjoyed the Pinterest board this year, particularly as it's introduced me to some great new blogs to follow. I am spending a lot of my life currently, on the couch, baby on one arm, iPad in the other, so more blogs = more to read. I have literally been gorging myself on sewing related chat! 

The view, as I type.

I have, however, been joining in spirit this year, and have managed to still wear some me made items. So far, since the baby (still to come up with a nickname for him) arrived, my focus has been on comfort, whatever is clean, and whatever doesn't need ironed. And it needs to be breastfeeding friendly. To that end, I am pleased to say that my 3 MN ruched maternity tops have been in high rotation. They are really comfy and the drapey fabric is easy to feed in, and I can get away without ironing them! They are so comfy, I'm considering hanging onto them even once I am "back to normal". I figure if I can take them up at the front to get rid of the extra length, they might just work.  

Obviously my dressing gown has been used quite a bit, although, ironically it was too hot in hospital to need it, and it's been cooler here again this past week, so it's not had as much use as I expected. 

Sadly, my polo shirt refashions aren't proving as useful as I expected. Not sure why but they are just not that flattering. Maybe they never were. I think the combo of shape (boxy) with fabric type (stable knit) just doesn't work now that I've slimmed down a bit. I may try taking them in, but then suspect they then might not work well for feeding, as they don't stretch. I hope I can make them work somehow, as I really like them.

And that's about it. My wardrobe is very limited right now, with literally 2 pairs of jeggings, and a handful of tops. I hope to rectify that soon (not least because I am struggling to stay on top of ensuring I have something clean to wear each day), but not sure when I will be sewing again. Small Boy actually asked last night when I was going to "make things again. Dresses, and sewing or something"! I can of course, buy stuff, but I am missing sewing - a direct result of reading about it so much - and hoping to get back to it soon.

What are you working on now?

P.S. Does anyone know how to add links on the Blogger iPad app? I can't figure it out...



Friday, 9 May 2014

Completed: My latest make

This make has been a WIP for, oh, about 9 months. You could say, it's self drafted...


This wee boy was born on Tuesday. He is happy and healthy, with the requisite number of fingers and toes etc.

His big brother is also glad he is here (although would still like a baby sister at some point, apparently).


I am also doing well. He was delivered by elective c section, so it was very calm and it all went to plan. I am sore, but recovering well.

I don't share Small Boy's name on the blog, so won't be sharing this little one's either. So, I will need to get inventive and come up with a pseudonym for him at some point. 

The blog will be somewhat quiet for a while, while we get to grips with our new family member, and put the jigsaw pieces together to figure out how this is all going to work! I will still be reading your posts though! I'm sure they will keep me sane during the long nighttime feeds! 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Liebster Award!

I was recently nominated for another Liebster award - actually my third - but they are always lovely to receive. This time I was nominated by Louise of Seams Odd, Louise.


Louise has posed some really great questions. These are:

1. What is your biggest, most ambitious make to date?
My coat. It's now 2 years in the making and still SO far from finished. Maybe 2014 will be the year I complete it?


2. What do you get out of blogging?
A sense of community and inclusiveness, support, kindness, inspiration and friends across the world. A space to brain dump and to chat sewing. And I actually really enjoy the process of writing, something which has really taken me by surprise.

3. What's next on your sewing to-do list?
A million things: I promised my mother in law some cushions a long time ago, chair cushions for us, a post-maternity, nursing friendly wardrobe (I have started a Pinterest board here), stuff for baby, Small Boy and Husband. But realistically there probably won't be much sewing being done round here for a while. Unless this time I am blessed with a sleeper... :)


4. What advice would you give a new blogger?
Join in, but don't overdo it. Presuming it's a sewing/crafting blogger I am talking to, there is so much out there in terms of sewalongs, challenges, swaps etc, and it's a great way to find new blogs to read, and to get other bloggers (and sewers) to find your blog. Let's face it we blog because we want people (even just a small group) to read what we are writing and to see what we are making. But don't overdo it. It's easy to overcommit and to get stressed out and to feel obliged to join in with EVERYTHING. Most importantly, it's a hobby. Remember to enjoy it!

5. Where would you most like to go on holiday and why?
I'd love to go to Denmark and Sweden, because I've never been, I think they look like beautiful countries to visit, and I love Scandi design. I'd also love to go to New York. I've actually been several times because my sister in law lives in New York State, but not since I started sewing and I think a trip to the garment district would be a must... Plus it would obviously be nice to see Rosie and her family again! :)

Copenhagen
Now I know I'm meant to nominate more blogs, but I find that so difficult to do.. Mrs C/Maryanne from Sent From My Iron summed it up beautifully here, saying:
"So instead I drink a toast to all the little blogs. Blogs that for whatever reason have never struck a populous chord but are enjoyed by their followers. New blogs, still unsure whether they will go gangbusters".
Thank you Louise! x

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Completed: Liberty Kimono

Hello! I'm still hanging in there. As of today I am 38 weeks so still a bit to go. And still sewing!

My friend Lorna and I had a Crafternoon planned for last Tuesday. Lorna sews home dec and soft furnishings, for a living, specialising in curtains, cushions and gorgeous appliqued gifts. It was all good in theory, and I duly packed my machine, sewing stuff and even my overlocker into the boot of the car, but events conspired against us, and it turned into more of a Chat-and-eat-ernoon instead. We should have known better seeing as we haven't seen each other for a few weeks, we had lunch and cake to eat, and she had a brand new 10 week old puppy for me to meet! Unsurprisingly, not a stitch was sewn. We did have a bit of sewing chat though - her asking for my advice on how to refashion her daughter's old dress into a skirt - and me asking for her advice on how to make piping, so it wasn't all lost.

So, Lorna will be reading this, fully expecting a post about the chair cushions I had planned to work on (and pipe) that afternoon. And instead, although this has already been given away by my post title - I have made a kimono! Eh, what?


I did say back in this post, that I had wanted to make a lightweight dressing gown to wear in hospital. I had kind of forgotten about it, until recently Kirsty from Top Notch made the same one.

The pattern came from The Liberty Book of Home Sewing, which, funnily enough, Lorna gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's a beautiful book, but this is the first thing I've made from it.The biggest turn off as far as the book is concerned is that it doesn't come with any patterns: you have to draft them.


Actually once I got down to it, the drafting wasn't that bad. I used centimetre squared dressmaking paper (like this), which I already had, and basically copied the "technical drawing" in the book, which was also printed on a grid. It was pretty straightforward. The idea of it was much worse than the reality.


I "drafted" the pattern on Wednesday, and then went fabric shopping. I went with a fairly open mind, not necessarily wanting Liberty fabric (i.e. hoping to find something cheaper) but of course, that was the thing that jumped out at me. The fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, from Mandors, and was labelled as Abstract Blue Rose. I've done a quick Google search, but haven't found it so not sure what it's official name is, nor the history of the design. I deliberated for a while in the shop over various contrasting and co-ordinating fabrics for the trim. I really wanted 2 co-ordinating prints, but nothing looked right. Eventually I settled for this solid lightweight cotton. In the shop it looked quite purple-y, picking up the little purple spot in the middle of the flowers, but since I got it home it has looked much browner, which is how it has photographed. It gives the kimono more of a masculine feel but I still really like it. And the purple/brown fabric is actually shot with pink, albeit not that obviously.

Pretty good match, non?
I like to imagine there are little zebras hidden in there.
You can just about see the pink in this photo.
The make was really straightforward. The only changes I made were to add in-seam pockets and a hanging loop, and using French seams throughout (yep, including those pockets, using this tutorial). I finished the front and cuff bands by hand.
My first every rouleau as belt loops
I made a third rouleau to use as a hanging loop
French seamed in-seam pockets! So, so proud!
I completed the majority of it on Thursday. With the handsewing finished across Thursday and Friday evening in front of Masterchef. I was sewing slowly as I've had quite a bit of back pain this week, so I tried to keep moving while sewing, mixing up cutting and sitting at the machine with standing to press. As a result I took the long and probably less logical route. I didn't even cut it out in one go. But that was infinitely preferable to rushing it. I am immensly proud of this make. The insides are so pretty!!!

My only gripe, other than drafting my own pattern, is the sizing. It's one size, which the book describes as a "comfortable UK size 12". Now, I know I am pregnant, but even so, I expected it to be bigger - a size 12 is 2 sizes bigger than my normal size and this barely meets over my tum. It will fit me once the baby is born and is comfortable, but to me a dressing gown or kimono should be oversized, not snug - the lounging lady in the book (pic at the top of this post) would certainly suggest that. My old M&S size small towelling dressing gown fits me, 38 weeks pregnant belly and everything, with room to spare! It's not an issue, but something to be aware of if you were planning to make this. I can't tell you the number of times I have checked the measurements and seam allowances.

It was a joy returning to sewing with cotton. I have enjoyed the knit sewing I've been doing recently, but cotton is and always will be my favourite. It's just so easy!

Now, I know it's always much better to see finished garments worn. But since this currently looks a bit ridiculous on me, I decided to embrace the ridiculousness and so Small Boy and I embarked on a photo shoot! Bear with us on this one. I did deliberate over whether to use these photos, but figured if Nessa can post a photo of herself in a slip, I can do it in a dressing gown. However if I ever decide to look for a new job, this part of the post may disappear...

With our PJs, our dressing gowns and our teddies (and yes, that's my original 1970's teddy bear I am holding!)



Pockets in action!
And just in case you think I wake up looking like that - I don't! This was after my shower, I have my normal make up on, I have "post-hairdressers" hair (from yesterday), and I am wearing underwear (top and bottom!). Small Boy on the other hand, really does look that cute, and lively, when he wakes up! :)

Friday, 18 April 2014

I won!!!

I had a nice surprise last week. I won a giveaway courtesy of Anneke of Annette Tirette. To celebrate coming second in Colette's Albion Coat sewalong competition, she very generously hosted a giveaway of her own.

I won this:





Roughly 3 metres (or possibly yards) of what I think might be a cotton/linen mix in a red/white/blue colourway. How patriotic! I love the irregularity of the stripe. Every so often you get a double red stripe, and then a single red stripe.

I have no idea what I'll make with this. I love the idea of a summer dress, but won't be making any dresses this summer. Alternatively I fancy a circle skirt - I have a bit of a thing for striped circle skirts at the moment - but I don't want to make something that won't then fit me next summer. God, pregnancy is really messing with my sewing plans!!!

Anyway. Thanks for the fabric (and the lovely Belgian chocolate), Anneke! When I eventually make up my mind, I look forward to using this! :)