Occasionally it seems that world is in pure chaos with nothing making sense, but that doesn't matter as long as I can sew. Sewing is a form of art, or at the very least creativity, and a form of expression. A great outlet for the tension of everyday life. Also you can make cute things. The craft revolution is truly taking place, old skills are being revived by a new generation, but with a seriously modern twist.

I've made Mario pillow cases, a giraffe print background, and turned duvet covers into summer dresses. I enjoy making something unique, special, and me- then I like wearing it and watching it fall to pieces or not fit properly. Then I enjoy (slightly less) fixing it.

One day I shall have a room filled with glorious fabrics and boxes of notions, and on that day I will have found my nirvana. But until then this blog will exist as my virtual haberdashery and sewing room. Hopefully you'll enjoy looking at my creations as much as I enjoy looking at other blogs, and you'll be inspire to make something of your own.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stripey T-shirt Magic

I picked up some cheap jersey for £1 a piece at the market a while back with the idea of making some t-shirts, two of the pieces are stripey, but I also have some denim style jersey so I could attempt legging/trouser things.  But lets start simple with a home made t-shirt.  I drew around a t-shirt by sister bought me for christmas that has a really nice fit to make my pattern.

With stripey fabric it was really important to make sure the stripes matched up between the front and back.  I cut the front pattern piece out of the fold, so after folding the fabric over and I made sure the stripes matched up and  pinned it in place before pinning the pattern piece on top.  Then I cut out the front piece.  For the back I did the same- folded the fabric over, matched the stripes, then pinned to keep in place  But I also checked on which colour stripe the armsicle (armhole, technical term would you believe?) landed and made sure the back pattern piece did likewise. 

 I decided to do the stripes vertical for the sleeves, to add a quirky touch and it meant I didn't need to line up the sleeves to the top.  (As you will see the direction of the stripes on the sleeves depends on whether your arms are down by your sides of outstretched, so I didn't really need to worry about the stripe direction too much).

The next step was to sew the front piece to the back piece- wrong sides together natch- carefully lining up the stripes again.  The fabric is jersey which has some stretch to it so I used a zig zag stitch which will stretch as the fabric does.  Sewing the sides is fairly simple but sleeves can be tricky.  Luckily for once I had faithfully traced the original t-shirt sleeves so my sleeve pieces were the correct size to fit to my sleeve holes.  To attach the sleeves I turned them the right way round (with the top turned the wrong way round) and put then inside the top, lining up the edge of the sleeve with the edge of the armsicle and sewing around the edge.

I think it came out pretty good, I left the edges around the neck and bottom raw because I thought trying to sew it up would likely lead to disaster.  I think it has a nice casual feel and a good fit.  

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Look Book- Oscar Party

Well I'm trying to keep these Look Books seasonal or slightly relevant, and the upcoming Oscars (February 26th) offer a party style look book.  I've kept the colour scheme simple, and Oscar appropriate sticking to gold, red, and black.  Most red carpet looks are fairly unappealing imo but Helena Bonham Carter usually wears something delightfully bonkers. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Work Skirt

Boyfriend kindly bought me The Burdastyle Sewing Handbook (I used the burdastyle website A LOT) for Christmas and I immediately decided to stop my search for a new work skirt (must be black, appropriate length/fabric for work but also fun and cute) and make one using the skirt pattern in the book. 

So nearly two months later I finally did it! There are very few fabric shops around here and finding plain black fabric was actually quite difficult, then I read the pattern instructions and discovered I had to trace the pattern piece out, the way the book tells you to do it is to use special carbon paper and a wheely thing to trace the lines.  So I had to order those and await they're arrival (which obviously involved two trips to the Post Office depot). 

I've had some time off this week so I set to it. The skirt design has an under and shorter outerskirt, I bought some plain black cotton for the outer and black flowery lace for the under.  Firstly having to trace the pattern pieces out was very annoying and obviously left plenty of opportunity for mistakes in pattern translation to creep in.  You have to add your own seam allowance and as a result all my pieces had different allowances (would that cause problems later?).  Also, using their prescribed method, I found it impossible to trace in a straight line, so all my pieces were a bit wonky.  It took about an hour to cut the pieces out, which was enough for Sunday evening. 

I got the bulk of the skirt made on Monday afternoon, although I found the instructions confusing especially those regarding interfacing.  My interfacing was bought cheap and came with no instructions, so I ironed it to the fabric yoke pieces and it went white and I thought I wonder how the lace will cover that up.  The book did not help me here and I improvised by cutting another yoke and sewing them together to hide the interfacing. 

The skirt was quite easy to put together, I sewed the front side pieces to the centre front, the back side pieces to the back pieces and the the front to the back.  Added the yoke (waistband) and the invisible zip. 

Of course it was too big for me, perhaps I chose the wrong size but also having seam allowances that were all over the place wont have helped.  I replaced the zip several inches further in, and resewed.  It's still a little big and wonky but I think it's the best I can get it.  It's quite hard to alter because of the overskirt.  And here's how I'd wear it for work (well I have a work shirt which I wear over the grey top).

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair Haul

A Saturday off work- reason enough to celebrate, but with a vintage fair too boot I was doubly excited.  Disaster seemed to strike earlier in the week though when my bank card was cancelled- but luckily I was able to get to the bank (passport in hand) and take money out manually.  I took out £50 to last me the week, for any unforeseeable necessary purchases but mainly it was for the fair.  As it turned out  I only spent £26, and got quite the haul- 4 tops, 1 dress, 1 skirt, 1 book, 1 magnet, and then a trip to Wilkinson for coat hangers, irn bru, and chewitts!

When I go to the craft fairs on Sunday's I usually take a turn about the room looking everything over, then go back to the stalls that looked promising.  I walked past one stall that had cool magnets but didn't buy one until my way out.  But the vintage fair has more stalls, and Saturdays have more people so I wasn't sure how to play it as I had less space to browse from afar and needed to get in and do some rummaging.  There was a rail of vintage-style new clothes which included cute cardigans (I love me a good cardi) with roses and anchors on them (as you do) but they were £30 and a little over budget.

I found a stand (the ladies had to stand on the other side of the pathway as there wasn't room for them in their actual stand) with a case full of clothes £3 each, 4 for £10, or 5 for £10 with a discount card.  I found three tops I liked but for another £1 I could get two more things, so I dug a little further and got 4 tops and 1 dress for £10!  They had labels in with previous prices which totalled £52! I'm going to have to customise the two blue tops as one is too big/long and the other is too busy and wearing it would be death by ruffles- so watch this space for a post on that. 

I was looking for separates if I could find them, especially cool trousers but I am an awkward fit at the best of times and vintage fairs are known for groovy dresses so trousers were few and far between.  Some nice snug jumpers around though but nothing that rocked my socks or looked/was a good fit.  I ended up at the large Mighty Baby stand- I recognised their offer, skirts/trousers/jackets are £10 each or 3 for £25.  There were three skirts I liked and toyed with buying all three but £25 seemed a little too much to spend even if it was a good deal.  I tried the skirts on there over the one I was wearing (so not warm enough for a skirt, and blew up in the wind as soon as I left the house) but it was obviously one was a little tight and I noticed it had a small rip in the back.  So I couldn't get the deal and decided to only buy my favourite. 

I stopped at the book/comic/record stand (one of the few not selling clothes) and picked up a Somerset Maugham book called Narrow Corner- I liked the vintage style cover, and the cheap price (£2) but was intrigued by the blurb (to paraphrase) -'a handsome Australian with a shadowy past...tense exotic tale of love, jealousy, murder, suicide...'  Walking along I had found a stand with free chocolates, so before I left I snook back and took two more :)Then headed to the exit/entrance when I bought the cool magnet I had seen.  Clearly just a sticker on some ceramic but it was only 70p so I went for it.  They had it in pink, blue, white, and yellow- normally I'm all about pink but I thought the image looked better on the yellow.  Plus renting a room in a shared house means none of my furniture/furnishings are mine and therefore there is no colour scheme so it's not like the yellow will clash. 

Then I headed to Wilkinson for coat hangers for all my new/old clothes!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Valentines: Mario and Luigi Patchwork Pillow Cases

Here it is, what I've been doing for the last three weeks- and clearly patchwork is not my forte as I am far too impatient and don't own a decent ruler.  But my boyfriend likes Mario and all that geekery, and yet weirdly wants a patchwork quilt of said geekery.  And apparently so does the entire internet as the craft-geek worlds have collided in a rather wonderful way as people make crochet Cthulhu* ski masks, plentiful t-shirt designs with nerdy slogans, and nintendo controller underwear.  In fact Etsy has a section called Geekery alongside clothing, art, or housewares.

And I want in!  Also I wanted to do something nice for my boyfriend, and with Valentines Day approaching it seemed like the perfect idea, obviously a full quilt would be a bit much but a couple of pillow cases would be a piece of cake- surely?
I used a picture thingy of Mario boyfriend made with beads as my initial guide, exchanging one bead for one square of fabric.  Then turned the image around and the red parts green to make a guide for Luigi (also made his moustache brown not black). 

 Then I went through my own fabric stash, but had to buy most of the colours I needed.  I decided to keep the  colours plain but add the occasional patterned piece to make it more interesting and crafty. I bought a few plain cotton fat quarters and picked up some small pieces from the remnants bin of my local Samuel Taylors. I made my squares 3x3cm (although when I cut them out I added 1cm of seam allowance), which made a 45x48cm design. For Mario I needed 44 red squares, 25 brown, 7 black, 35 blue, 2 yellow, 38 pink (skin coloured), and 73 for the background which I did in light blue.  Luigi was the same except the red became green and four of the black became brown (for the moustache).

After that came the somewhat laborious process of sewing the squares together in rows (also when I discovered that my cutting out skills are fairly poor and none of the squares were the same size doh!).  Then I sewed the rows together, I added two small strips to the top and bottom and wider ones to the sides to make the full pillowcase size.  

Then I took my two piece of light blue fabric, which I had prepared earlier, one being 20cm longer than the other which became that inside hood bit which pillow cases have.  I folded that section over , then layered the shorter blue fabric and the Mario design over the top.  I did French seams, you sew it wrong sides first then turn it inside out and sew it right sides together which hides all the seam mess inside the French seam.  Of course I did it all wrong several times and had to unpick and resew.
Then I got to do it all again for Luigi.

I can now tell you the products were well received, but boyfriend did turn it over to the plain/smoother side of the pillow case to sleep  So nearly perfect. :)

*scary octopus type thing