Sunday, 30 December 2012

FO: Purple Present Renfrew

This is a present for Eldest. She has a habit of taking a liking to most of the things that I make at the moment. She is currently still smaller than me, but it won't long before she is my size. In an effort to stave off the stealing from the wardrobe situation I made this top for her.

Another reason for this was that we bought her some jade ladies jeans a while ago that were reasonabley expensive. Part of the deal was that she could wear them, but they would be wrapped up for Christmas.  The nearer Christmas got the less happy she was with this arrangement, so in order to take the edge off her disappointment, the top was born. When I chose the fabric I very carefully put the trousers in a bag to take them with me and then left them at home... I was pretty sure it would go.  Eldest also has a number of other items of clothing that this will go with.
modelled with the jeans
I used Sewaholics Renfrew pattern in size 2 and I used the same type of fabric for this as my Renfrew, but in a different colourway. I think this fabric is double knit - I used this Christmas present to determine this. (There are several more colours in this fabric and I am sorely tempted by a beautiful petrol blue and a rather strident red.  The red might have to wait - it is just the wrong red to go with my hair colour!). The fabric is very wide and I found that Sewaholic's fabric recommendations were somewhat on the generous side. I bought 2.1m and ended up with over 1/2 a metre left.

I think that, given Eldest is growing like crazy at the moment, I really should have made it a couple of sizes bigger.  I've had this problem before when making stuff for her - you'd think I'd learn from that... this version fits perfectly, although seems a little tight under the arms to me. If she keeps growing at this current rate she will be passing it on to Middlest within a few weeks. 
slightly tight under the arm
For me, this was a super fast make - I started the day before Christmas Eve and it was all finished and wrapped before dinner on Christmas Eve - yay!

Here are a couple of detail shots:


 Eldest has decided she doesn't want her face in the pictures anymore, hence the chopped photos!

Friday, 28 December 2012

A little bit of Christmas sewing

Happy Seasons Greetings everyone!

One of the many things I have been sewing, but not posting, was a Christmas shirt for Husband.  I made him a wearable muslin for Christmas last year which he was very pleased with., using McCalls 6044:

Whilst we were in NewZealand, we bought some material from a fabric shop in Wellington (can't remember the name now) which was obviously bought with this shirt in mind. The picture below was taken in Novemnber 2010, andthe fabric has been sitting in my stash ever since:

Over the last year Husband has been slowly losing weight and getting fitter. He is very pleased with his progress, but is finding that many of his clothes don't fit so well any more. For example, a pair of jeans that he bought in the first week back from NZ in January 2011 that were a bit snug, he can now take off without undoing them!

The same applies to the shirt I made last year. I felt it was a bit on the voluminous side when I made it, but that is generally Husbands prefered style of shirt, however, since the weight loss it is even more so. I thought it prudent to take Husband's measurements before I started and it was a good thing I did... his chest has gone from 118cms down to 111cms and his neck from 44cms to 42cms. That meant that this time I made a XL instead of a XXXL - yay! Apart from changing the size, the only other thing I did was to make the whole shirt 5cms longer. Husband has a very long back and we noticed very quickly on his other shirt, that any further versions would need to be longer.

Again, no photo's of the construction as it happened.  I only decided to make this about 2 or 3 weeks before Christmas, so for me this was a speedy make, especially as I also decided to make something for Eldest as well (more in a later post).  As I was finishing up on the shirt, Carolyn posted about a shirt she had made for her Husband, in which she referred to a tutorial on flatfelling the sleeve seam. If only she had posted a few days earlier!

I struggled to find buttons initially, but these square ones caught my eye just as I was about to leave the shop and thought they were the perfect fit:

I am very happy with this shirt. It is much better put together than the previous version. The insides look considerably nicer too. I went for the view with contrasting collar stand and cuff and happily found a perfect piece of turquoise in an old pair of trousers that I had tried to butcher in the past.
I thought about trying to mimic the previous version with turquoise piping down the button band, but I couldn't work it out with the material I had in the trousers, so just stuck with the collar and cuffs.  

I put one pocket on the front:
and finally the completed shirt, donned for the day's festivities:

Meanwhile I recieved this from Eldest:
She made it all by herself on a little John Lewis sewing machine that I bought for her birthday!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

FO: Green for Halloween - an Autumnal Renfrew

I have made a Sewaholic Renfrew!

Possibley the last person in the "sewosphere" to tackle it, I bought the pattern some months ago, I think from The Village Haberdashery. There have been many Renfrews around but the ones that I have liked most were by ScruffyBadger, Lladybird, and Marie from A Stitching Odyssey, Karen from Did you make that? was a pattern tester as was Handemade Jane.

I have to say  - I love this top! I love the colour, the length of the sleeves, the neck, and the variations available from the the pattern. I am thinking of making the scoop neck version next, but still with the long sleeves - practical for the winter months.

I bought the fabric from Cally Co in Cambridge at the beginning of the year, thinking that I might make a Burdastyle Lydia. It languished in the stash for sometime, then I got to thinking about the Renfrew. I had a brief play with the pattern pieces and layouts and came to the conclusion that I needed more fabric. By this time of course, Cally Co didn't have it anymore (or not on the day I went anyway) so it languished some more!  Quite by chance I went into our new craft shop (1 year old last week) and there was my fabric - hurrah! Of course I couldn't remember how much extra fabric I needed, but knew it was less than a metre so bought 70cms - it is very wide.
As noted by other sewists, it is a quick make.  I think it took me three evenings of not giving it my full attention, which is fast for me.  I'm sure if I knuckled down and stopped reading about other people's sewing, I would be able to make it much quicker. Tasia of Sewaholic puts a lot of effort into sew-alongs and tutorials to accompany her patterns, on her blog, and she is, at the time of writing, doing a series of posts about the Renfrew.  I made it all on my sewing machine with a zigzag stitch to maintain stretch, but when I make this again I will definately try it on my overlocker. It was finished in time for Halloween, so it first outing was at our Haloween Party. 
My friend's Witches hat matched perfectly!

This was the first time we have ever made an effort for Halloween, because it is also our wedding anniversary and Husband and I are normally enjoying a lovely evening out. We all had great fun carving pumpkins and the party was a huge success - phew!

There are a few wrinkles at the top of my bust, something that ScruffyBadger noticed in her first makes.  I'm not sure what to do about this - it may well be something to do with the vest/cami I am wearing underneath.  This may also be the cause of the wrinkles at my lower back, but I know (from my pattern cutting class) that I have a sway back.

wrinkley back

With a neck this big there is great potential for silliness:

Friday, 9 November 2012


I mentioned in a post back in March about a quick project I had started - some cushion covers to spruce up a couple of sofas.

 I finally finished them in time for Halloween.  They were done in a rather adhoc way (I laid the cushion on top of the fabric and hacked away), but I did try to make them pretty!

The first one, which took ages and clearly put me off continuing with the rest, has giant ric rac on all four sides.  The second only has ric rac on two sides - much easier!

I thought I would have enough to cover a smaller cushion, unfortunatley I was out of luck.  I had a rummage and found some denim left over from my Denim Portfolio Dress, then added a strip of the stripey fabric and more ric rac.

I bought a selection of buttons at the same time I bought the material, but by the time I got round to finishing them, I couldn't find them.  I bought a new selction of buttons, hoping that the first lot would turn up, but they haven't yet!
two cushions
smaller denim cushion

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

FO: Burdastyle Twister Top

So, I finally finished the BurdaStyle twister top a couple of days after my last post.

It's interesting.
I'm not sure I like it very much - I like the concept, but just not on me. The jersey I used has turned out to be a bit fragile, and where I have joined a sleeve section I have a hole forming. Also after a days wear, I have a hole in the front, about where my jeans waistband and belt sit.  Not what you want to find in a brand new make. 

It was quite comforatble to wear, although the shoulder that I fiddled with continued to fall off  my shoulder thoughout the day. It wasn't too annoying most of the time as I was wearing it under a cardi, but when I took the cardi off, there was a certain amount of wriggling to keep my shoulder and bra strap under cover.

I made this almost entirely with my overlocker (serger). Only the hems were sewn on my normal machine, with a regular zigzag stitch.  I keep wondering about getting a twin needle for my machine - if I keep sewing with jersey I might look into it further. Given that my machine is 14 years old, I'm not at all sure they exist. 

The top survived the wash - I wasn't sure this would be the case given the couple of holes I mentioned. However I haven't worn it since.  I got it out to put on the other day, but couldn't bring myself to wear it.  I may try to recycle the fabric for a summer top.

I put my arms on upside down today!


Thursday, 11 October 2012

W.I.P and a F.O (but not mine!)

I need new tops for the coming cooler/colder seasons.  Instead of making something practical, my head has been turned by this top made from a pattern put on Burdastyle by Apfelbleute. As it happens a friend of mine has a very similar RTW top, which she kindly lent me for comparision:

RTW top with Burda picture on top
I thought this would be a quick make (silly me).  I had it cut out quickly,

basted it together and found the neckline was restricting and uncomfortable. I pondered this for some time, mostly by crumpling it up on the back of my sewing chair.  I took another look the other day, drew on another neckline with chalk, shoved in an extra piece to stop it falling off my shoulder,  serged  along the line, folded under the serged edge and sewed it down with a zigzag stitch.  I currently just have the hems of the sleeves finish in the same way... watch this space.
The fabric is from my Fabric Fandango haul, only a year and a bit in the stash. I was going to make a replacement for a RTW top, but had never got round to it, as is my wont.

The finished object is by Middlest Daughter.  We cut out a skirt pattern for her a few months ago and it sat ready to sew for ages.  At the beginning of the summer holidays, we had girls day of making with my M-i-L. Grandma helped Middlest with the majority of the skirt and the day ended with just the zip and the facing to finish.  Not much time was had for sewing over the holidays, and when she wanted to sew it was not a a good time for me, and when I was ready to help she didn't want me to. So a couple of weekends ago, our inclinations both came together at the same time and we got the skirt finished.  I was slightly concerned that she would have grown out of it by the time we finished.  It is rather short, and will need leggings under it if she wants to get any wear out of it before she does grow out of it. She is, understandabley, very pleased with herself!
happy face!

zip, top stitching and basting

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Polka dot Pants!

Ok, so I hope that I am not the last to show what fun we had last weekend! 

Winnie issued the invitation to come for a meet-up and knicker workshop sometime in the early summer and I was keen to sign up.  After much discussion at home, Husband and I decided that we would use the weekend to visit family in Cheltenham and have a day trip to Bath to show our girls the sights.  We used to live in Bath for a short period when Eldest and Middlest were little (too little to remember it) so it was a lovely trip down memory lane, and I got to see some bits that I hadn't been to before. 

I meet up with everyone eventually after much, probably unnecessary, stressing.  Note of advice - Do not drive into the centre of Bath on a Saturday unless you want to spend alot of time sitting in traffic!
Whilst on my brisk walk to meet everyone, Husband texted to tell me he had seen 5 Mr Darcy's! I, on the other hand, had seen a hen party clutching inflatable unmentionables - talk about one extreme to another!

The reason for the Mr Darcy's was that it was the 12th Jane Austen festival that weekend, which I have to say was an added bonus. I'm not really into dressing up, but it did look great fun and we spent a while admiring people's costumes.
Regency ladies waiting at a pedestrian crossing

We had a great time wandering around the City taking in the sights,
Having fun with cameras and timers
 then it was on to lunch at the Tramshed. Here we all are en route from The Royal Crescent to lunch:
Photo by ScruffyBadger

We were joined at lunch by Sheena from Tottieweeminiatures.

Lunch was delicious and over coffees and sticky toffee pudding, we got down to the serious business of swapping.
just before the swap...
I had taken some material that I had had for years, that I have never thought of using, even for the girls (I had got a bit scissor happy in Ikea!) and about a metre of some flowery lawn that I had left over from making my Portfolio tunic.  I am pleased to say that I came home without the material, but I did bring home a very sweet shirt dress pattern from Kerry.

The Makery was just round the corner from the Tramshed, so we finished up our swapping and went to make knickers.  Our workshop was run by Jane, supported by Cerys, who were both very patient with us all as we got to grips with our fabric, elastic, lace and 'driving' unfamiliar sewing machines.

Our pants had been precut for us, and our first instruction once we had got our selves settled was 'to grab a gusset and pass them on' which, I have to say, set the tone for the rest of the class! Much discussion was had over the size of the cut pieces and how much they would shrink in the construction process.
fabric, instructions and gusset


frillies under construction

construction phase 2

I was surprised at how quickly the knickers went together, the most time consuming part was at the beginning trying to decide on the trims and embellishments.  I have not worn my finished frillies yet and to be honest I'm not sure I will, but the class itself was as much fun as I hoped it would be.  It was lovely to meet up with people that I had met before, and just as lovely to meet the likes of Shivani, Kerry, Laura, Mimi & Roisin.
here most of us are, standing under/behind our knickers!
 Many thanks to Winnie for such a fun day.  It was great to spend the day with people who enjoy the same thing as you... My school gate friends admire what I've made, but most are not that interested in the process, so to have a day with like minded people was lovely - thank you ladies!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

FO: A skirt for twirling

Last term I had to take Youngest to hospital for a check up.  We ended up having plenty of time before the appointment and popped into a travelling fabric sale on the way. The sale is run by M.Rosenberg & Sons and they appear about every 4 weeks. We had a quick look round and Youngest chose some material for a skirt.

I showed her a pattern that I have had for some time, for a mid length, gathered, tiered skirt (OOP McCalls 4816).  That was deemed suitable, with the stipulation that it had the bows, please!
spot the bow!
 Making this skirt was straight-forward, but as ever seemed to take ages.  I did it in small time increments which possibley made it feel like it took a long time.  It did, however, remind me that I really dislike making gathered garments! It took ages to get all the gathers evenly distributed. The instructions for the bows appeared to tell you to cut a rectangle, tie a knot in it, then sew it to the skirt without out appearing to finish any of the raw edges. I did not do this. I cut bigger rectangles, folded each rectangle right sides together, sewed 2 of the 3 raw edges together, turned it right side out, slip- stitched the remaining raw edge, then knotted and sewed to skirt.

Whilst I was plodding along with this, my mother-in-law knocked up a very similar style skirt for Eldest in an afternoon, using a much easier method. My pattern had me cut 2 pieces each for the top two tiers, and three for the bottom layer, sew each layer into a loop then gather and attach.  My M-i-L copied a RTW skirt that had 2 pieces for all three layers. She gathered and attached the front pieces to each other, did the same for the back, then sewed up the sides, which seemed much more sensible!

Youngest is very please with the skirt, and has t-shirts of many clours to go with it!

Friday, 7 September 2012

FO: A Jasmine for Tamsin

This blouse was finished just before the end of last term, but I haven't got round to posting much recently.
I have been admiring the many Colette Jasmines that are out there and and it took me a while to decide that I *did* like it more than the Violet blouse.  This was one of my favourites as was this one and this one.

The fabric was bought at the end of last summer's holidays.  For some reason I took the girls down to Lakeside Ikea (we must have been running out of things to do!) We didn't get much, but whilst checking out the bedlinens, there was a huge basket of duvet/pillow case sets on sale.  I had a look, the pattern was pretty, checked the price - £2.99 for a double duvet set! Into the trolley it went! The girls were all up for me getting the King size set for £3.99, but I felt there was probably a limit to the number of things I could make out of the same pattern. Don't want to end up looking like the von Trapps!

The blouse was pretty straight foward. I could have done french seams, but I seem to take forever to make things, so went for the easy, serged/overlocked option. I think the sizing is pretty good, I can't remember what size I cut out.  However when I was making the sleeves, I suddenly looked at the cuffs and thought 'there is no way that is going to get over my elbow'. I don't think I have abnormally big elbows, but sure enough, when I tried to slide the cuff over my elbow it wouldn't go. 
I took a short cut and just sewed much narrower seams, but having worn it quite a lot over the summer (with no decent photo's), there is still not enough room for comfortable movement. Every time I move my arms, the sleeve moves upwards and then gets stuck, so I then have to try and wriggle it down again.
You can see that the sleeves are a bit tight still
 This is pretty irritating, so I will definately need to do something about it - either cut new, larger, cuffs, or make a new one. (Eldest had her eye on this one before it was finished).   Another thing I noticed is that the neckline is a bit wide for my shoulders and tends to slide a little to one side, showing my bra strap. Something to remember for another make.

tucked in

 One of my favourite bits is the little loop that the ties go through:

And for something totally unrelated, but one of the reasons I haven't done much sewing/blogging over the summer; gardening and the frog I found the other day!