Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On feeling overwhelmed

Last night I had a sewing evening planned. P is working away, I had the kids in bed, the dinner dishes cleared and the toys tidied by 7.45. Perfect. But... I couldn't decide what I wanted to sew.

Ever feel overwhelmed with inspiration? That's how I've been feeling. Being off on Mat leave is giving me a lot of time to spend reading blogs, on Instagram and browsing online fabric shops. Which is great. Except my head is full to bursting with ideas. I really want to buy ALL THE FABRIC and MAKE ALL THE PATTERNS!! I've fallen in love with double gauze, Cotton and Steel (both double gauze and the rayon), I want to make Ginger jeans, so I'm browsing denim. I want to make more Lindens and so am browsing sweatshirt fabrics (and struggling there, tbh), looking for inspiration for them. I have purchased the Ultimate Trousers and so need to muslin them and then look for and buy fabric. Add to that, I want to work through my stash, and finish up all promised makes and WIPs, and you can probably see why I just don't know where to start. My goal for 2015 was to clear out my cupboard and see what's what. I have yet to do that.

In the end, I spent the evening, for want of a better word, fannying about. I looked at Liberty fleece online and tried to justify the cost - while taking part in an IG conversation with George, who was enabling as best as she could. I looked in my sewing cupboard and despaired at the mess. I took some fabric out, draped it over me and tried to come up with ideas. I virtually stroked (i.e. gazed longingly), for the millionth time, at this fabric. I chatted briefly on IG with Hazel. I considered starting on some cushions for my mother in law. I pulled out my sewing box. I started writing a list of all the fabric I want to buy. I put my sewing box back again. In the end, I went to bed having achieved nothing and feeling really discontented, and to tell you the truth, a bit stressed. I lay awake in bed and decided that today I would do 2 things: I would do a repair on one of P's shirt and I would make the cushions.

So, today, I did both. The shirt took me about 20 mins. I cut and sewed 2 cushions which took me a little more than an hour. And what a sense of achievement! This evening I cut and sewed 2 more cushions, leaving me little more than scraps. So, 2 projects and one length of fabric out of my cupboard! Done and done.

Co-incidentally, today I stumbled across this blog post about why the blogger took all her daughters' toys away. It has nothing to do with sewing, but it made me think. It is making me question why I think I'll die if I don't buy and make everything on my ever increasing list?

I get pleasure from sewing, but if it's just the process of sewing that's key then surely I can sew anything? I don't need to buy more (expensive) fabric for that. Is it to expand my skills? In some cases, but ditto with not needing to buy more.What then, do I need in terms of filling wardrobe gaps? In fairness I do need jeans, and while I don't need them, one or 2 more sweatshirts wouldn't go amiss. What else? Am I picking potential projects based on what is likely to drive blog hits and IG likes? To impress people, even? Maybe. That public validation is important to me. Why? I don't know. That's probably another conversation for another day, but at least I recognise it's not the best reason to pick my sewing projects, or spend my money.

What next? I don't know. I won't be doing any more sewing this week - Great British Sewing Bee tomorrow night and then Small Boy and I are away at the weekend, so I have some time to think about it.

How do you record your inspiration and how do you manage your wish list? And how do you restrain yourself from buying all the things?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Completed: Grainline Scout Mark Eighty (or something similar)

Are you bored of me posting about Scout tees now? I know some bloggers ask this when they post about basics, or multiples of a pattern, but I know that I am always keen to see what others make, regardless of how many they have made before. Sometimes it's just the inspiration, you  know? They don't necessarily need to write much, if there isn't anything new to say. I suppose if you don't agree, you can just skip this post. :)

So, I made another Scout tee. Actually, I fancied making something different, but I only had a metre of fabric, and I didn't know specifically what I wanted to make. I certainly wasn't going to buy patterns on the off chance that I might fit all the pieces into a metre. So, another Scout it was. Officially, the Scout needs more than a metre, but I've found I can squeeze it in to 140cm wide fabric, if I make my own bias binding, rather than using the pattern piece given. This time, however I managed to use all the pattern pieces AND fit them into the metre. Win!

The fabric is Chalk Charcoal by Atelier Brunette, which I ordered from Guthrie and Ghani when I bought the fabric for my 1974 dress (and therefore is from the stash). I think I only bought a metre for financial reasons, rather than any other. I should probably stop doing that. At some point I will have enough Scouts.

The fabric is lovely. It has a gorgeous handle, very similar to Liberty Tana Lawn. It sews and presses like a dream, and is so nice to wear. It's a bit lightweight for this time of year, truth be told, and as much as I'm really happy with this iteration, it doesn't seem to sit that well under a cardigan. Other than adding 3cm to the length, this is a straight up as drafted and instructed version. The first time I've done that, I think. Now that I've done that, I'm wondering if I couldn't get away with a size smaller. I made the size 4, as I always do, according to my bust measurement, but it does have a lot of ease, and it might be a smidgen too big on the shoulders. I think I might try a size 2 at some point. Then again, I reprinted the PDF for this version, and didn't trace, so I might not...

The shoulder and side seams are French seamed, while the sleeves are currently pinked. This is because I made this in an evening. I didn't intend to, but it got to the point where I realised I could finish, meaning I would have a new top to wear the next day. The instructions are written so that the sleeves are the last thing you do (not the best, really, when you are sewing tired), and I didn't want to get the overlocker out at 11.30pm. I say "currently" because I probably will go back and overlock the seam at some point. Probably. My bias facing is really neat - probably my best, but I did manage to slightly stretch out the neckline, meaning it ever so slightly stands proud. Other than that, I'm really happy with it, and it's a nice addition to the wardrobe - even if it is more likely to be a spring piece.


Lastly, the light in the photos, and in my last post is not great. Apologies. My husband is working in Dublin a lot at the moment, so I am taking my own blog photos. WITH MY NEW CAMERA!* I'm still figuring it out, plus, you know: winter light. I'm hoping to get back to taking photos outside, but until I get a tripod, get over my fear of posing for photos in front of the neighbours (that yellow/cream wall that's featured in my photos relatively recently is across the road from our house), AND figure out how to take photos without getting run over, it's photos inside, and poor light. Alternatively I need to train up Small Boy.

* I bought an Olympus Stylus 1, which some retailers described as a bridge and some described as a high performance compact. It's smaller than most bridges which I preferred - with 2 small children, I already have enough stuff to carry around - but seems to have pretty good functionality and photo quality. Not that you can tell with the rubbish light...

Friday, 6 February 2015

Vintage Pattern Pledge

I've been giving this some thought, as in this post, I said my goals for 2015 were to not make any goals. However, I like the idea of the Vintage Pattern Pledge hosted this year by Marie and Kerry, and I can actually tie the Vintage Pattern Pledge into my non-goal goal (which is to finish WIPs and use my stash). So I am joining in, but I am keeping things simple, and pledging to complete 2 specific patterns.

Firstly the WIP.

I started this coat in 2012. It saw a bit of progression at the end of 2013, but work stopped when I got to the bound button holes. If you've never sewn bound button holes before then you'll not know that unlike "normal" buttonholes which are pretty much the last thing you sew on a garment, bound buttonholes are pretty much the first thing you sew... yeah, it really hasn't seen much progression. I don't know how many times I have committed to finishing it, and then reneged on that commitment. To be fair, I probably wouldn't have got a lot of wear out of it this winter, since the 3/4 sleeves are not hugely practical, and it probably wouldn't look fantastic worn with a baby (in a sling) on top. But apart from anything else, I want it out of my WIP pile, and the fabric is far too beautiful to be sitting in a plastic bag in a cupboard.

Secondly, this pattern:

I found this pattern, when browsing for patterns printed in 1974. One seller on Etsy had listed this as having been printed in 1974, but actually it was 1973, but I loved the pattern so much, I had to have it. Just look at that sassy lady in red!!!! She absolutely sold me the pattern, but I also love the extended shoulder/cap sleeve of the short sleeved version. The seller was US based and didn't ship overseas, so I had her send it to my sister in law who lives in Yonkers, NY. My mother in law was over visiting at Christmas, so she brought it back for me. Since I went to the effort to buy this pattern, it seems obvious that I should prioritise it for this year. If I can make it from stash fabric, so much the better, but nothing that I have is currently springing to mind. Plus, I'm not sure I can see beyond a red version...

So, here I go:

During 2015, I, Helen of Grosgrain Green will complete 2 specific vintage patterns: Simplicity 6095 and McCalls 7619.

Are you joining in? If so, what is your pledge?

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Completed: Quilted Linden

This is one of those happy times where the visualisation and the realisation align perfectly!

 There are a number of sweatshirt patterns around at the moment and it took me a while to decide which to buy: Linden? White Russian? Enid? They do all differ, and I may at some point buy another but this time it was the Linden that won out. Not sure why - I think maybe the relaxed shape was more what I was after, plus I have a good track record with Grainline patterns #grainlinefangirl.

This was one of these garments where I knew in advance what I wanted to do - grey marl, with a quilted front. I bought the grey marl sweatshirt fabric in The Cloth Shop at a recent blogger meet up (I never wrote about it but you can read about it here and here). It's polyester - I know! Again! Danielle will never believe it. It might have something else in there - elastane or something - but I really can't remember. The Cloth Shop doesn't sell ribbing, so I consulted the list published by Jen. It was actually harder than I expected to find a grey marl ribbing, at a reasonable price. I didn't want to pay more for the ribbing than the main fabric!

In the end, I decided that rather than go with a close match that wasn't quite right, I'd go for a bit of a contrast. I then decided to pick up the contrast colour in the quilting - inspired by Jennifer's Enid (I really, REALLY want that fabric!), so I ordered this from Plush Addict, and used their colour matching service to order a co-ordinating thread. I was impressed by the speedy service from Plush Addict, including a free sweetie, but... I wasn't impressed with their thread choice. To be fair, the ribbing is a melange so has various colours in it, but I wouldn't have chosen the thread myself. To my mind it didn't match. I could have sent it back, but it seemed a bit churlish for the sake of £1.40 or whatever. I'm sure I'll use it eventually. When I bought the main fabric back in November I bought 2 reels of co-ordinating thread, unsure how much I'd use when quilting, and at that time I was planning to match the quilting thread to the fabric. So, I then had to go back to The Cloth Shop to buy a fourth reel of thread to match the ribbing!!! So, yeah, I spent around £6 on thread for this project...

Good job, I like it! The garment went together really easily and quickly. The main garment consists of just 3 pieces: front, back and sleeve, and there are then 3 further ribbing pattern pieces. Fewer if you make the t-shirt view. And yay for raglan sleeves - no sleeves to set in!!! I have sewn a raglan pattern once before, and I seem to remember the sleeves being a nightmare. Not so this time, they went in beautifully. I took care to ensure the seams all matched at the underarm.

Underarm seam
But I am jumping ahead. I quilted the front bodice piece after cutting it out but before sewing the garment together. I stay stitched the neckline and raglan edge before I started, to stop any stretching out from handling. Using a scrap of fabric I did a few practice runs to get a grid size and stitch length I liked. I then drew the grid, using disappearing marker pen, and sewed along the lines. The ink disappeared quite quickly, so I drew 2 or 3 lines at a time and sewed them, drew another 3, and so on. I didn't think about placement, but by happy coincidence, the "diamonds" have ended up more or less centred. Win!

The garment was constructed on my sewing machine, using the lightening bolt zigzag. I left the edges raw, apart from the seams attaching the ribbing, which I overlocked. I am still nervous about using the overlocker to actually hold something together, plus my overlocker doesn't appear to have any seam allowance markings. Speaking of seam allowance, it's only 1/4 inch on this pattern - something to bear in mind when you are marking your notches, if like me, you snip into the SA. I had to make my SA a little wider in places to accommodate my slightly overgenerous snips! I twin needled the neckline, as suggested in the pattern. My stretch twin needle is quite narrow, and wouldn't straddle the seam, so I sewed with the right needle "stitching in the ditch" and the left holding the seam allowance down. It's a little wobbly in places but fine. I think a wider set twin needle would give it a more professional look, though. 

I do have a couple of small fit issues. The neckline stands proud on my shoulders. It looks like it's been stretched out, but it was like this before I added the ribbing. I actually thought the ribbing would pull it in, but it obviously hasn't, and instead I now have some weird "bubbling" where the fleece wants to stick up, but the ribbing pulls it back down again. There also seems to be fabric pooling just beside underarm at the back. I've not overly sure how to fix either of these problems, so if you have any ideas feel free to jump in. I'm wondering if I can fix the neckline simply by increasing the seam allowance just at the top of each of the raglans, thus reducing the neckline circumference?

*ETA* - I have just discovered that both Laney and Sew Charleston increased the SA to reduce gaping at the neckline, so definitely worth a try for the next one!

Neckline "bubbling"

Excess fabric pooling at the underarm.
I'm really happy with the finished garment! As I said, it is pretty much exactly as I imagined. I love the wide neckline, which I think is more flattering than the usual crew neck. The fit is relaxed but not overly so. The contrast ribbing works well, and while the quilting is a bit more subtle than I expected, I think it works really well. And it's so cosy and snuggly!!! Perfect for the miserable weather we've been having recently.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Two capes

My last couple of makes of 2014 were selfless sews and my first makes of 2015 are also selfless.

Firstly this, which was actually a Christmas present that never made it on time, so I figured I had better prioritise it. A while back, Small Boy casually asked "Mummy, can you sew me a superhero cape? And goggles?" To be fair, I never mentioned to him I was planning to make it as a Christmas present, so he doesn't know it's late, but he had been asking quite a bit, and I had the fabric to make it, so I had no excuses.

I found this tutorial for the cape, which was really straightforward. It literally took less than an hour and a half from start to finish; I fitted both this and breakfast into Baby Boy's morning nap. The trickiest part was sewing round those tight curves at the neck, combined with the lightweight fabric that my machine wanted to chew. I ended up doing one stitch, then pivoting a small degree, one stitch, pivot... and even then it's still not particularly curved, or neat!

The fabric is pongee lining in blue and red. In fact the same blue pongee I used for his Wise Man headdress. At something like £2.99 a metre, it's great stuff for fancy dress! It's a bit easier to sew with than regular poly lining as, due to the fact that it's not shiny, it doesn't slip around too much. It also doesn't fray as much.

On to the "goggles". I'm not exactly sure what he had in mind initially. He still quite often, rather endearingly, gets words confused: recent examples include confusing "awesome" for "moss" (as in "mummy, there is awesome on the ground"), and calling courgettes (zucchini) "tagine". Luckily, regardless of what he had in mind, I managed to persuade him that an Incredibles style mask was what he needed. One quick Google later, and we rustled these up from black felt and 1/4 inch elastic.

The cape was an immediate hit. He wore it into town, under his coat, the day I made it. The mask is less successful. He has super long eyelashes (like, ridiculously long), and I think they kind of get in the way of having things close to his eyes.

Cape in action
We *may* have also dressed Baby Boy in the cape to make Superbaby, and made him fly round the livingroom, but there is no photographic proof of that.

I liked the idea of making the cape double sided, so he could choose which side to wear. I also, somewhat naively thought that the blue side would double as an Elsa cloak (no gender stereotyping around here!), but I was told in no uncertain terms that it was too short for an Elsa cape. Luckily there was a plan in place for that.

He has had this length of blue and white striped linen in his room for ages. It's leftover from a top I made for MMM13, and have since binned. He wanted it to use as the sea when playing one day and it's just stayed in his room ever since. Recently it has been resurrected as an Elsa cloak: he drapes it round his shoulders and holds it in place with one hand while the other hand builds imaginary ice palaces. At the moment he likes to watch Frozen with it wrapped around him and when it gets to the Let It Go bit, he jumps off the couch, stands in front of the TV and basically copies Elsa move for move - including throwing off the cloak, when she throws off her purple one, and putting it back on when she changes her outfit, just in time to complete the dramatic, final "cold never bothered me anyway" flounce.*

He's really happy with the fabric, so I offered to just neaten it up a bit. I overlocked the raw edges, and cut a circular shape out of one short end (kind of similar to the cape) to allow for his neck. I added a small square of velcro and we were done!

Small Boy is delighted with both "costumes" and is a very happy boy!

"Cold never bothered me, anyway!"

*If you are lucky enough to have never watched Frozen, then apologies - absolutely none of that will have made sense to you!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Scrubs and a skirt fit for diving

I did some major power sewing through December. I got a bit carried away with plans, as I am wont to do, but this time I kind of had to deliver due to various deadlines! I've covered the Birthday Dress and the Nativity costume - next this True Bias Sutton blouse!

I did like this pattern when it was first released, but it only became high priority when I saw Caroline from Blackbird/Sewaholic's makewhich I absolutely loved and which became my inspiration.

My version is made from a poly crepe (this) and this lace, both from The Cloth Shop in Edinburgh, which is part of Remnant Kings. Yes, I know! I bought polyester!!! It was the colour that sold it. Recently I have, rather usually for me, been drawn to monochromatic and darker colours, and this just felt like such a happy antidote to that. It actually made me smile when I was sewing! Love it!!! I couldn't get an exact colour match for the lace, but love the contrast this provides.

The Sutton is a really simple, straightforward and quick make. Unless you stupidly French seam the back bodice piece on backwards. Harrumph. Well I figure there's got to be at least one stupid mistake per make as far as I'm concerned. Anyway. My first True Bias pattern. I like Kelli's attention to detail on finishing details. The side slits at the hem are finished so nicely and neatly, which I find really pleasing, as I do the French seams, and the method she uses to attach the bias facing.

Weird neck/face thing going on here, but you can see the sleeve and kind of see the hi-lo hemline.
It was my first time sewing with lace, other than a previous fancy dress outfit (not real sewing!). I made absolutely no attempt to do any research on it and jumped right in. The lace has a lovely scalloped selvedge that I hoped to use as the sleeve hem, but the back yoke is cut in one piece, which would have meant piecing the lace. I did do some reading on that, but quickly realised that the repeat was not exactly the same on each selvedge. And to be honest, I really didn't have the time, so I let myself off the hook, cut the yoke as directed and it seemed to work out ok. I think it might have stretched out a bit, so next time I might stay stitch all cut edges, but otherwise it was fine. I think the blouse took me a few days to make, but my sewing time is in fits and bursts - an hour or 2, here and there during nap times and in the evenings. And then there was that back on wrong side out incident to correct.

The colour is way off on this and the subsequent photos. The earlier photos are closer to the real colour.
The crepe is lovely and drapey, but it isn't particularly lightweight, so it's probably not ideal for the top. This is probably the main reason that I am actually a bit meh about the make. I don't know why. I love the colours, like the shape, but I am just not that excited about it on me. If I'm totally honest, it actually reminds me of scrubs, albeit posh ones. Just as well it's not blue!!! I don't think that about anyone else's version, just mine, so either it's the fabric, or the v neck, which is a shape I don't often wear.

Side slit finish - whoops wonky hem stitching there too!

Bias facing on the neckline. My V wasn't perfectly matched, but not bad. With a lighter weight fabric this would be easier.

Back pleat
The side seams can't be french seamed due to the slits at the bottom, so I used the overcast stitch on my sewing machine. I wasn't happy with the finish so turned and stitched as well. 
Anyway, my husband convinced me it was nice, and to be honest, I had a night out and nothing else to wear! But my friends all loved it too, so I am going with popular consensus that it's actually OK. Do you ever get that? You don't love an item of clothing but others talk you in to it? I'm still undecided, but will wear it because I love the colour, and it's nice and easy to wear with jeans - and with a cardigan hiding the lace, it dresses it down a bit for daytime. Not that you can't wear lace in the day, but small fingers like to pull and small teeth like to bite! 

With jeans
And what did I wear the Sutton with on my night out? Well, halfway through making it, I realised I didn't have anything that wasn't jeans that would go. So I made a skirt. In an evening. The inspiration for this came from the RK blog, via Hazel. I was convinced scuba wasn't for me, until she showed me the tutorial. It obviously stuck in my head because when I was deliberating on what I could wear with the blouse, this was what I thought of first. I didn't actually follow the tutorial. Instead I used the Colette Mabel skirt - the short version, as that was what I had printed - which I lengthened. I can't remember by how much, as this was very much fitted on the hoof. I cut the back on the fold instead of cutting 2 pieces because I didn't read the pattern pieces (told you: one stupid mistake per make), so they then ended up too big, as there was seam allowance included that I didn't need, but I just removed that as I fitted it. I have small hips relevant to my waist measurement, so even though I graded down a size at the hips, I still had to take quite a it more there too. I think about 4cm through the waist and hips.

It was all sewn on my sewing machine using the lightening bolt zig zag. Raw edges are unfinished. The hem is twin needled.

The waistband is faced with a much lighter weight jersey, to reduce bulk, but it's too lightweight for the scuba and has a much higher stretch percentage, so it doesn't work well. 

Inside waistband and side seam.

I think in retrospect I could have done with taking it in slightly more at the waist/hips. It was fine for dinner with the girls on Friday night, but at my Mother In Law's 60th birthday party the following night, it didn't quite pass the Mr Brightside dancing test*.

Selfie taken in the toilets at my MIL's party! RTW top
But OH MY GOD, scuba is THE most comfortable fabric ever! It is thick enough to cover all lumps and bumps, but stretchy enough to permit walking and dancing and eating. I even wore it on Christmas day.

So, there you go - a Christmas outfit, sewn in a week!

Mr Brightside by The Killers - the only acceptable dance to this is to jump up and down like a lunatic, punching the air where appropriate, for as much of the song as your fitness levels permit. Clothes therefore need to be able to stay in place without adjustment.