Thursday, 28 April 2016

Think Pink! Pink skirt #2

You know when you make something you love so much that it just gets worn all the time before you even get a photograph or a blog post up? Well this is what happened with my last make, a proper 'woohoo make' as Kirsty would say! 

I like pink, a lot. My Wildwood Flower skirt gets worn loads so I thought it was about time to make another pink skirt to add to the wardrobe. This is the Great British Sewing Bee A-line tweed mini skirt pattern from the Fashion with Fabric book. There are so many lovely patterns in this book but I decided to start with this as I really needed a warmer skirt for winter.  I am so so pleased with this skirt and wear it at least once a week, often more!

One very neat invisible zip!
Making this skirt involved learning some new sewing skills. This was my first time attaching a lining, first time hand-sewing a hem, and first time using binding to finish a waistline.  The wonderfully vibrant pink wool came from a batch of fabrics gifted to me by a friend who works for a high street fashion store - they hold these fabric sales to get rid of left-over fabric from sample stock and she picked me up some wonderful fabrics! I splashed out and bought some Bremsilk Cupro lining from MacCulloch and Wallis, which is also where I got the brown faux-leather binding.

Hand-stitched hem and lovely purple lining

The instructions were pretty straight-forward as there are no pockets or facings and the directions given for adding the lining worked really well. I made up a straight size 10 but only used 1cm seam allowance instead of the recommended 1.5cm as I thought it would be too snug otherwise. However it's actually turned out a smidgeon too loose so if I make this again I'll just use the given seam allowance. I hand-tacked my zip down before sewing it and am really pleased with how it looks. I can see from these photos that I need to press the hem more but I was scared to as when I initially pressed the fabric it burnt a little bit, thankfully it's on the back and with a little bit of brushing the wool it's not noticeable at all.  Also, it looks squint in these photos but it really isn't, it must be the way I'm standing! I really took my time over this and, I think because of the influence of the quilting I've been doing recently, did more hand-sewing than I usually would on a garment. Both the hem and the back of the binding are hand-sewn, and the tacking stitches for the zip were done by hand.  It was so nice to challenge myself a bit with a pattern after lots of jersey sewing (with more jersey sewing to follow soon!) and I'm looking forward to doing some more sewing with wovens over the summer.

Summary -
Pattern: A-line Tweed mini skirt hack from Fashion with Fabric, Great British Sewing Bee book. This was a present from my husband for Christmas.
Size: 10, no alterations except reduced seam allowance by 0.5cm
Pink wool - present from a friend
Lining - £10 from MacCulloch & Wallis
Binding - £4 from MacCulloch & Wallis
Zip - stash
Thread - purple and brown thread from stash, pink thread £1.60 Hobbycraft
Total cost £15.60 - for a lined wool skirt, woohoo indeed!

This week though it's all about jersey again as I'm taking part in Katie's, from The Creative Counselor, 'Back to Basics week' - which is all about sewing yourself basics, as simple as it sounds. It's been a great push for me and I can't wait to share my next make with you when I get some photos!
And it's Me Made May soon! Who's taking part? Have you changed your pledge at all? 
Here is mine:
'I, Kathryn of Kathryn's Busy Town, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear one me-made/refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2016. I also pledge to start work on one of my vintage patterns during the month of May'

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Stack-o-cats baby quilt

Well I think I can safely say that's me hooked on quilting now. This is my second quilt and I so enjoyed making it and am very happy with how it turned out! I still love sewing clothes but have a feeling there will be more quilts making an appearance here now, in between sewing for me and toddler sewing. This quilt uses the 'Quilt for a baby boy' pattern, another free pattern from Purl Soho.
I could go on a rant about gender/sewing/colours etc here but I won't as Molly, the creator of the pattern quite clearly states she doesn't agree with genderising colours/patterns etc but created this quilt for a particular baby boy, hence the name.

The starting point for this quilt was when I saw the cat print fabric on M is for Make. Well actually the starting point was of course my friend having her baby girl but when I saw the cat fabric, that's when I knew I was going to make her a quilt as my friend loves cats and knitting so this 'stack-o-cats' fabric featuring cats with balls of wool was just perfect! I couldn't decide between the two colour-ways of the print so I ordered both thinking I would find fabrics in my stash to co-ordinate (like I did on my first quilt). However I could only find the green, violet and the coral fabric in my stash so I contacted Kate at 'M is for Make' and she was brilliant! (I'm not getting any sponsorship or freebies from them, I just happen to love their selection of fabrics, and their customer service). She gave me a list of options that all went really well and I picked out some solids, and the lovely Atelier Brunette tangerine.  The white is a lovely quality double sheet I found in our local charity shop (for £1) and the binding is Tangerine Kona, also used in the quilt. I bought the cotton batting from my local Hobbycraft store.

I am so pleased with how this quilt turned out! I love the combination of colours but I think it's the expanses of white that really set the colours off and make this quilt so nice and bold. I used the Purl Soho tutorials again, for making double-fold binding, sewing on double-fold binding, and slip stitching, as I find these so clear and helpful.  The quilt instructions by Molly are also easy to follow and the nice straight lines make for easy quilting.  I think my next quilting challenge might be to try some more free-form quilting, using circles and waves instead of just straight lines. So many things I've read about quilting say a walking foot makes a huge difference but for my Bernina that would mean £80-100 so I think that will need to wait a while. In the meantime I've got a foot my mum used for free-hand machine embroidery so I'm going to do some experiments with that. There's also the rabbit hole of quilting blogs which I've just discovered so I may be spending a lot of my time getting inspiration from them!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Kids Clothes Week - February 2016

Aren't these trousers just the cutest?!

Back view of Purl Soho Baby Pants

My plans for February Kids Clothes Week this year didn't quite get off the ground properly unfortunately, due in main part to a poorly toddler who needed all my attention. Thankfully, for him and me, he was feeling better by Tuesday so I could get on with these incredibly cute trousers, or baby 'pants' as they're called on the pattern.  These are a present for the daughter of a friend of mine and I made the 3-6month size in the hope that it will be warm enough between March - June for them to be worn as the fabric isn't very thick.  This is the free Baby Pants pattern from Purl Soho and on the whole it was a very easy pattern to use. It's only 3 pieces and comes together relatively quickly. The only difficulty I found was in attached the cute bum patch, or 'rear gusset'.  As it's quite a tight curve it was really hard to keep it from puckering and it required a pretty crazy amount of pinning!

The dark chambray is left-over from the Stylish Dress Book Dress D and is from Merchant & Mills. The stripy fabric is an Ikea pillow case - more of which was turned into bias binding for my recent quilt.  I also had the 1/4" elastic so this was another make entirely from the stash.  All these recent makes should have led to a significantly smaller stash but I just spent some birthday money on some gorgeous fabrics from M is for Make and Faberwood last week so eh, it just kind of balances it out, doesn't it?!..

My other makes this week are 2 t-shirts from pattern no.10 from Ottobre magazine 1/2013. Zoe kindly sent me two Ottobre magazines a while back and I've had so much use from them! I hadn't tried this pattern before though so I sized up to the 98cm as the last Ottobre tshirt I made Harris was a 92cm and it's too tight now.  However the 98cm is actually a bit too big but he'll grow into it.  The navy and white stripy fabric is an old M&S tshirt a friend gave me as the neckline had stretched out too much. It is really good quality cotton and I was able to use the original hem band, sleeve bands and neck binding (though I had to cut and re-sew the neckbinding) so this was such a quick make!  

The blue, white and pink t-shirt, well you should recognise that pink fabric by now! So far I've used it for a plantain, a Marilla Walker Sailor Top, some recess raglans and now this.  It's almost all gone now but I'm sure there's enough for one more toddler project!  The blue and white stripy fabric was a medium Gap t-shirt I picked up in the charity shop thinking I could wear it but it was a bit misshapen.  Again I was able to re-use the hem and the neck binding but the t-shirt wasn't big enough to get sleeves from and I like the contrast pink anyway.  It still surprises me how large a t-shirt you need in order to get enough fabric to make a toddler t-shirt. I kind of thought the medium would be enough but really you need a large or xlarge if you're doing long sleeves.

So, a bit late in posting my makes but once again Kid's Clothes Week was a great motivator! I'm looking forward to making some spring clothes next - toddler shorts are so cute!! 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Triangle quilt

My first quilt!
This is not a post I thought I'd ever be writing, for two reasons. First off, when I set myself a deadline of just over a week to make a quilt I wasn't sure it was possible. Secondly, I just never thought quilting would be my 'thing' but it was so much fun and I think that might be me hooked now! The reason for the crazy deadline was a trip to Scotland last week which included meeting up with one of my best pals and her beautiful baby boy. When he was born I thought about making another baby blanket but decided to challenge myself a bit more. Once I had spotted the See Kate Sew triangle quilt I couldn't resist giving it a go. I started cutting the fabric in the summer but only got 2 of the 6 colours cut out before doubt set in and I convinced myself I couldn't do it. It got hidden in a drawer until, two weeks ago, I suddenly decided I could and would make it, in a week!
Deciding on the colours wasn't too hard as I'd already picked the spider fabric, pale chambray & yellow and knew I wanted colours to stick to more muted colours (well blues, yellow, & white is pretty muted for me!).

Taking some pics of the quilt in my in-laws garden before taking the quilt to its new home
This quilt was made completely from my stash woohoo!
The fabrics:
Spider fabric leftover from a baby blanket I made, fabric from M is for Make
Yellow fabric bought years ago from Shepherd's Bush Market
Pale chambray left over from many Oliver + S sunny day shorts & bucket hats
Dark chambray leftover from my Japanese dress book Dress D
Pale blue was an old H&M shirt of mine
White, leftover from my Banksia top
The quilt batting was organic bamboo batting I bought in Ray Stitch
Striped bias binding made from an Ikea pillow case, I love how it turned out and have another 3 to be turned into bias binding too!

I'd read that there was a problem with the quilt template design that meant the triangles don't keep their points. However I found it OK to get the points using the original template. You just have to be careful where you match up the sides - I've included some photos below in case it helps anyone. I used the 1/4" seam allowance recommended to sew the triangles together but ended up using a bigger seam allowance to sew the lines of triangles together as this was the only way I could see to get the lines almost flush. I machine stitched the binding on the front them slip stitched the back using this Purl Soho tutorial for guidance.

Sewing the first 2 triangles together. On the pinned side you can see the point at the top meet but at the bottom the fabric pinned on top extends further than the fabric underneath.

Attaching the third triangle. I tried to line up the top right corner of the yellow triangle with the top of the dark chambray (they are folded in opposite direction but if you turned the dark chambray under the yellow the corners of the triangle would meet.

First three joined. You can see there is a nice point on the triangle but quite a big border at the top.

Same again, I made sure the fabrics matched up at the top of my stitching.

You can see there is a sizable border at both ends above the triangle points. This meant the 1/4" seam allowance wasn't enough to make the lines of triangles join us so I just had to work out where to sew each line myself. 

This took me pretty much every evening for a week, plus 2 nap times, to do all the cuttings and sewing and even then I still hadn't sewn on the binding before it was time to go to Scotland. Luckily my mother-in-law sews too and had offered me the use of her machine when we arrived in Fife. I had 2 days in Scotland before delivery of the quilt, could I do it?! Well, I would never have done it on my own but, with my mother-in-law's help we got it done. I did the machine stitching then we both sat down one evening and slip-stitched the back.  It was SO nice to sew like this, sitting chatting and working on something together. I can totally see the appeal of quilting bees now and kind of wish I could be in one. Maybe I'll need to start one?! So this was a quilt made with a lot of special fabrics and a lot of love and friendship. And now it's already being loved and well-used in its new home which is all I could wish for.  Sewing to a deadline like this really helped me, I enjoyed the push to complete it and think I will set myself more deadlines, even if they're totally arbitrary!  What about you, deadline sewing or do you prefer more relaxed? Does anyone have any recommendations on any other quilt patterns for beginners?