Saturday, 11 November 2017

I sewed a little more

[Oh darn: this draft is from some time earlier in the year. Oops, forgot]

I have made a bit more progress on a couple of things. But nothing seems to get done easily, let alone quickly.

Issues with two skirts:

My black and white wool skirt still needs the inside corner of the vent sorted out, I'm not happy that I haven't done that yet. And I thought I was done with my second self-drafted wool skirt, the one in the heathery pinkish-red.  It isn't!  Sneef!

I had blind hemmed the bottom of the wool fabric hem to make sure it would lie flat. Then I hand sewed the lining to it. Well guess what: now the lining pulls at the skirt in plenty of places and I basically have to re-do that.

Or pull the blind hemming back out and I'd have to un-do and re-do at least some of the sewing on the lining for that too. It's not exactly a win-win situation - I'll have to do quite a bit of work either way. I do have the feeling that the blind hemming could continue to be a problem. Bother!

Update: I finally got started on this and it didn't even take long. Does it ever? You just build up this problem in your head and it seems insurmountable!  I put lots of pins into place and released the lining - sewing it back was the work of a half hour at most.

Here is the problem of the black and white skirt:

Folding the hem the wrong way at the back vent looks terrible!  Really amateurish.

Here is the inside:

I did plumb up the open bit a little so it's easier to see in a photo. But the fabric might have done that by inside when wearing so this definitely couldn't stay the way it was.

Another update: I finally got over the "but I've already hand-sewn it on!" feeling and re-did it. Again, it didn't take nearly as long as anticipated.

I don't like the asymetric jersey top in the Brushstrokes pattern, I can't see myself wear it because it doesn't look very nice on me. I am losing weight at the moment because I'm counting calories but it doesn't seem to affect my waist line in the slightest so the problem with this top will continue. Plus I'm bound to put weight back on at some point.

I need to get a photo taken of me wearing this to illustrate the issue:


Also: it doesn't help that the lining now turns towards the outside which you can see in the badly fuzzy photo on the left. Grumble.

- - -

I long wanted to make a dress with a waist seam in the shape of an inverted V or chevron. This shape might be called 'swallow wings'.  I didn't have the right sort of pattern and thought I could draw this myself, but I never did.

I found New Look 6183 which has this waist seam but it also has some rouching along the top of the front side panels where they meet the centre front panel. I wasn't keen on those but I tried the original side panel piece when I tried out my toile, and then folded the side panel piece to suppress some of the excessive length so I could sew this other side with less gathering.

I liked the lesser amount better because I feel that it won't show up my big tummy as much as the original rouching would.  Not sure if that's wishful thinking.


There are no bust darts: the top pieces are gathered under each bust. This is a style I have not tried before so it'll be interesting to evaluate.

I had set aside a cheap viscose fabric that I got in a closing down sale. This is a fabric that irons wonderfully well and drapes quite well too.  It is a fabric that's quite light though and the flimsiness means that this is slightly difficult to sew: both my overlocking and the straight stitches wrinkle up and make the seams pull.

A good press makes this a bit better but doesn't fix it altogether.  Rough skin on my hands also gets stuck on this fabric and I find that I have to drag it over my ironing board because it clings to it as well. I've never encountered this problem before!

These problems mean that I got rather disenchanted with carrying on with this dress and feel that I need to try the pattern in another fabric. It would be interesting to see if which gathering I prefer in a less light fabric.

So glad I managed to sort out the vent on the black and white skirt, hopefully I'm making progress with other things too. Fingers crossed.

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Spiral flounces!

Oh dear, I haven't posted in too long. I have been crafting but just not blogged about it. Still, there's lots ot catch up on then!

Just to show you what I'm working on right now, i.e. a little taster:

Spiral flounces!

I already pinned the two layers together. The outside curve is not perfect in so far as the distance between them meanders in and out rather a bit but I don't care.

I reckon they're pretty good for a first attempt. And it wasn't even as difficult as I feared:

This is what spiral ruffles look like when you straighten them out:

The top part will follow the curve of the neckline to begin with, starting from the shoulder yoke:

And the bottom part will then run alongside the blouse's button band:

I wasn't able to straighten this out completely for the photo, but you get the idea.

This is traced off the Oxfam blouse that I bought and liked a lot, expect for its pasty light blue colour and the fact that it is rather baggy under the arms. That the bust darts didn't point in quite the right direction didn't help either - all issues I can solve in a traced off pattern!

I will re-visit the paper pattern pieces and check about the outside curve. I hadn't thought to superimpose them to check how they would look one on top of the other. Now that I think about it, that would have been the obvious course of action! But you live and you learn.

I'll adjust the pattern pieces for the event that I want to make this again in another fabric.

I must say that I really adore the shapes that this spiral ruffles make. I wonder how big you could go? Must try that.

Monday, 20 March 2017

One red top: modified!

I am so very pleased!  I altered a red top that I had for some years and I still love, love, love the colour, but the fit is much too tight over the bust and I got bored with the overall look.

My good friend Tash unwittingly gave me a great design idea.  She was going to use a scallop hem tutorial and this made me think about what other shapes you could do.

This top makes a great project to try out my shaped hem idea. If it works then great, but if it doesn't then I can either chop off the hem and straighten it back out, or just let this go.

It worked out well!

This is what I started with:

It was only when I looked that I realised that I already had to do a repair job on the top of the side seams.  I hadn't worn this in a while so I didn't recall that there were holes, - and my hand sewing wasn't all that great either:

I machine basted the hem to turn out and press (I pressed to the inside first but realised that this wouldn't work. Lucky escape!).  Then I drew the pattern on and started to v-e-r-y slowly stitch it. It wasn't as easy as I expected:

My shape is a bit overly complex.  But I like it a lot.

I then turned this inside out and prodded and poked until all the little corners and peaks looked okay.  Again not as easy as I blithely assumed:  my scissor tip method did end in a couple of frayed tread ends poking through.  I ruthlessly cut those off.  This isn't a high value item - I just want to enjoy it while it lasts.

Then I edge-stitched this to retain the shape when I wash this next time:

No idea why this is upside down

I also ripped the long sleeves out and inserts wedge shaped gussets into the top of the side seams. This way I could make the top big enough to fit at the bust, and it also had the added advantage of getting rid of those pesky holes. Win-win!

I scooped the armholes out a bit to make a pleasing shape.  That ended up being a bit of a problem: the armholes probably gaped before but this emphasises it.  So I sewed bust darts in, longer ones at first but these looked awful, then shorter ones.  I am still not over the moon with this area, but I think top is wearable.

Here it is:

I think this is a successful project that I hope to get lots of wear out of in the summer!

Thank you Tash for the inspiration!

Monday, 6 March 2017

UFOs finally finished

I finished two different UFOs in the last couple of days!

I am utterly delighted.

So I knew I was going to post about these two and only had a look through my blog to check what other completed project I blogged about in the last few months.  It seems that I say quite a bit about the process of sewing and ongoing projects, - but not as much about those that I finished?!

How odd is that?

I'll need to go through my completely items and blog about them soon.  Or update my blog about what project I got stuck on and why.  Plenty of material in both these categories.

So here is my silver grey wrap skirt that took me years to get done.

The problem is that this is only the 8th project since I started sewing again after a long gap.  This was a good 5-6 years ago.  I am up to 67 projects now, so it really has been a while.

Which is probably the explanation for why I went wrong with this skirt: I thought a nice bright pink lining was a great contrast to this grey fabric, - and I do love the combination.  Unfortunatley I chose a satin like material that's much too thick for the fabric weight.  I'm not so sure that this will be good to wear.

I am really happy with the shaped ties that I came up with.  The whole skirt is self-drafted - the idea was that a wrap skirt would fit me easier even if my weight goes up and down.

This teal coloured Lekala blouse ran into a huge problem.  The website made this look like a great standard long-sleeved blouse pattern, - except it was listed under 'stretch' fabrics?

Sorry, what?

It has bust darts, a button front and sleeve plackets and cuffs.  All hallmarks of a pattern for woven fabrics and the opposite of what you find in jersey fabric patterns.  Really odd.

Then it turns out that the fit would have been perfect if I were to put a zip in instead of buttons - there is no overlap.  I solved this by sewing a gape guard behind one of the fronts, attached buttons to this seamline and thread button loops on the edge of the other front.  Not ideal though.

Here is the graphic from the Lekala site:

It does look like a great pattern, but the lapels are very, very small.  That makes me think that the pattern was incorrectly drawn without the overlap needed.  It's easy enough to fix so I might make this again in future.  Not in a polycotton though, the sleeves wouldn't go in without puckering.

What I got stuck on was the sleeve plackets that I wanted to put in.  They turned out awful.  I must made a few mistakes cutting out the placket pieces and then couldn't overcome my revulsion at having to fix it.  It just wasn't happening and I'd rather not have this hang around for a few more years.  It's been too long and it was too difficult.  Plus I had to chop off quite a bit of the length because that looked awful on me too.

So today I chopped off the sleeves and made it into a short-sleeved blouse.  It was the quick-fix-solution that I needed.  So there.  Done.

I might now give it away to a charity shop because I am fed up with the thing.

Here's the better news:

Not a long-time UFO, this is a current sewing project that I am delighted to also have finished (SP64).  I also started another skirt, in a reddish-pink heathery wool fabric (SP67), where I only need to deal with the lining then this will be done too.

This isn't as A-line as it looks lying flat.  It is much more straight on me when I wear it - funnily enough.  I really must get someone to take a photo of me in this.

SP stands for sewing project.

So onwards and everything!

Happy sewing.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Book: "Vintage Details" by Jeffrey Mayer and Basia Szkutnicka

My photo isn't terribly great, but this is what it looks like

I have bought and am giving myself a fantastic book as a present. Yay me!

"Vintage Details - A Fashion Sourcebook"  is just wonderful. It is also pretty heavy, a real coffee table book and I would buy it as a paperback again for easier storage. But this book deserves to be so heavy: there is just such a lot in it. And what gorgeousness!

It is chockful of photographs, initially as smaller index card style photos ('Visual Index') so you can quickly leaf through this section to visually identify what you are looking for.  This index tells you what page the larger photographs are on. So useful!

Often one of the pictures later on in the book will show a close-up of a detail, a cuff turned inside out, sleeves laid so you can see the most interesting part, a pocket flap turned back, the inside of a garment, etc.

Just look at this beautiful gusset, courtesy of the sleeve being folded out of the way:

The folded back tab shows an otherwise hidden seam and where the button is relative to the pocket flap:

The book is divided into several chapters: necklines; collars; sleeves; cuffs; pockets; fastenings & buttonholes; hems, darts, stitching & fitting devices; pleats, frills & flounces; embellishment; surface; and construction.

Going through the book feels like you've been to a fabulous vintage clothing exhibition but you didn't have to take your own photos hoping they'll come out well and show the details that caught your eye - instead it is all in here, in a very well presented way.

I love the shaped seam under the inverted pleat
This is in the Construction chapter, showing the inside of the dress

I know I will go through this book again and again: to look for inspiration, to remind myself of something I half remember and just for the sheer pleasure of indulging in this visual delight of what makes vintage clothing so fascinating and absorbing.

I give this book five out of five stars. I can only recommend it warmly: go find it, buy it.

"Vintage Details - A Fashion Sourcebook" by Jeffrey Mayer and Basia Szkutnicka. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2016

Thursday, 2 February 2017

A pretty crochet border

...or how good it feels to complete a long-time UFO.  Damn good!

I started this project, a nice, cool summer top, so many years ago that I don't remember when. Judging from intervening house moves it was at least three years ago, but could be longer.

It is finished!!!  Ta-da!

I am so pleased. The feeling of satisfaction at completing something that was cluttering up my space: it is a priceless, unbeatable feeling. To no longer come across it and having to think: "Oh yeah, I need to finish that at some point, soon, whenver...".  Such a relief!

I do have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy too many unfinished projects hanging around like a bad smell. Triggering uncomfortable, opppressive vibes.

I want to no longer contribute to even more of them. It has to stop: either complete it, throw it out or do something (whatever it is) with it. Give to friends, to a charity shop, rip it back down if it's knitted, throw it in a clothes collection bin for making blankets out of or whatever they do...

I don't intend on exposing myself to the disheartening pressure of wanting to go through everything I have lying around and get this fixed right this minute, if not yesterday - I will take my time over it.  I am able to do this on a gradual basis, I don't have to stress myself out.  I will look at a few projects at a time, both knitting and sewing or quilting projects, and decide on which one 'grabs' me the most.  I like using spontaneous urges that have me pick up one specific thing - it usually means that I successfully deal with it.

As I mentioned, my sewing group is having a two-part sewalong on looking over UFOs, one was in January, the next one Part 2 is in March.  This proved extremely beneficial: I got the urge to look at just this or that UFO, and had started to do a little sewing here and there too.

Then I came across some of my knit UFO projects that are too numerous to mention - this is just the first one I was able to do something with.  I had absolutely no idea how I was going to deal with a gaping big neckline, the thought of knit ribbing was a bit offputting.

Seeing how pretty this crochet border looks, I am extremely glad that I looked for something else.  I do save a lot of photos I find inspiring. One of them was of a page in a Japanese book, an edging there inspired the top half of my border. I improvised the other part at the bottom:

I put down a foundation row of double crochet stitches.

I was able to go 'around' the corners by not crocheting into every stitch. The top part of the pattern then also missed out a stitch here and there to make it lie flat.

Same at the back.  You can also see that my "seam line" between sleeve and body looks a little odd. I used the seamless method* by decreasing at this point in every second row. The kink in the line comes from switching from decreasing in the body area to decreasing at the sleevehead.

This method is probably a bit better for fibres that are smoother and will pull into place a bit better than this cotton yarn.

I made the ribbing in a K2 P1 pattern.

This photo shows the problem of the neckline very well: not only is it too big, the fabric also rolls in as well as out in several places. This would have never looked good or felt comfortable if left like this - I was really unsure what to do with it for a long time.

I can also see now that I could have decreased between sleeve and body a little more further down. You live and you learn!

Overall I am content but not ecstatic with how the top looks on me.  I am utterly delighted in an over-the-moon way that I finished it!

Yay me.

Now where is that other WIP where I need to do my magic with the squashed sleeveheads? Lemme at it!

PS: The seamless sweater method* has been explained by Elizabeth Zimmermann in at least one of her books, and also by Tuulia who developed a pattern that you can buy.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Another thought on why I build up a stash

I am using some stash fabric in making a new quilt, that is the patchwork for its top. I don't intend to get this done any time soon, I just wanted to see what the blocks look like.

I saw this intriguing tutorial about sewing four strips together and cutting four triangles from each square. It does make a lovely pattern:

The busy looking navy is a cheap fabric I got from a Shephard's Bush shop several years ago for the purpose of mixing it with other navy fabrics for quilts. The assembly of this pattern was intriguing, I wanted to see for myself how this would turn out. I literally started without a plan. Can always make a baby quilt, right?

So of course I like this so much that I would love to make this into a big quilt and of course I am running out of these fabrics! That was kind of obvious, wasn'n it?  I like this patterned blue fabric so much that I want to run back to Shephard's Bush to check if there's more and then buy loads!

I think I may have had another insight on why I build up a stash and then have huge trouble to dip into it and use stuff up: when I sew with a fabric like this one, that I had been looking forward to using, only I had no idea on what yet... means that I need to let go of something that seemed to have a lot of promise. I could maybe even make a top with it if the mood strikes! I'll make lovely quilts! I'll do this, I'll do that!

I am finding it so hard to use stash material because I might 'waste' it on something that won't look great (like it does in my head when I think about the potential) - it's like some fabrics are my favourites and it feels painful to see them graduate (to become part of a project), grow up (move from 'possibility' to 'actually being used') and then leave home (i.e. leave my stash).

I bought a great FQ once at Alexandra Palace (I used some of it for my Steampunk vibe skirt) - the seller said something like she was letting one of her kids go: because it was the last one of this pattern, and that she knows all her fat quarters so well that it feels like a loss when she sells some of them.

I finally know what she meant because I am experiencing it, just by putting the darn thing to the use it is intended for. I had some fabrics so long, they feel like part of the family now! Ach...

I really need to get over this. If I want to keep admiring fabrics then I should hang them on the wall like it's artwork. But I can't just keep them around in case I want to pull something out and sigh over it! I mean, come on!? That's beyond silly.

The issue with this specific fabric is also that it felt like a very versatile fabric: the pattern can be mixed with anything: similar navy shades or contrast colours. I feel a bit desolate that I narrowed it down to this one choice, and therefore it is 'versatile' no longer.

So looking at the whole thing from another angle: does that mean that most of my fabrics are not versatile enough to be easily applied to a pattern? Did I buy a lot of fabrics only because I liked them but they may be too difficult to use?  Is that another reason why I have so much stash?

I do find that it can be really difficult to try and find a suitable fabric when I want to start a project. I often wish I could go and buy new so I get to pick weight, colour, pattern and fibre in special dedication to the particular item. But when I did try and buy new for e.g. my waterfall collar jacket [I'll insert a link once I do post about it] I couldn't find a single thing I really liked - "making do" with something from my stash did then let me go ahead and start.

I may have to let some of my old fabrics go. To lighten the load. Or start with a fabric and decide on a project, that might work better. Oh crikey...

Sneak peak of the waterfall jacket (it needs a lot of fitting and adjustment work):

Monday, 23 January 2017

An interesting vintage pattern

I really like the new blog called Catherine's Patterns.  She is talking about vintage patterns and showing very beautiful examples. She will also introduce some of her own designs in the future. I am looking forward to that.

She showed a really lovely floaty number from the Jazz Age exhibition and a 1920s pattern from her own collection - both dresses have the bodice wrap around towards the back.  A really fascinating detail!

I must say that I didn't used to be that keen on vintage patterns because most of them look best on figures that are very different to my measurements so I feel that most vintage garments would not be ideal for me.

What I love about them is that many patterns show details and design features that you can't find in modern patterns. Take the side seam that Catherine wrote about: how lovely is that?  Have you ever seen a sewing pattern with this kind of side seam?  I don't think I have.

The follow-on thing from the above that I like about vintage patterns is that you can find very intriguing design ideas and if it is possible to isolate them from the rest of the pattern, then they might be a fantastic source of inspiration for copying to your own sewing projects.

Reading Catherine's blog made me think about what vintage patterns had found their way into my pattern stash (why does a stash feel like the Star Trek episode with 'The Tribbles'? They seem to multiply when I'm not looking).

And see, I had bought several!  Oh boy.

But most of them have some kind of detail that I really like and hope to use by Frankenpatterning the vintage element with a modern pattern that will fit me.  Not that I have already developed a template block pattern that fits me really well just yet, but I fully intend to get there one beautiful day.

Here is one I just had to get because of the collar, - well, the front view of the collar:

Vogue 9083. I believe this is a reprint so you can still buy this pattern

Just look how gorgeous this looks both as part of the dress and under a jacket too!  I just love it.

It is this kind of structural looking design element that appeals to me.  Having said that, the skirt is not at all bad either.  In fact I really like the pocket placement at the bottom of the side panel seam.  I wonder how difficult that is to sew?  It is probably a good idea to strengthen the corner of the centre front piece with a little bit of interfacing...

Never mind, back to the collar.

It tunrs out that it is not part of the dress.  The dress in fact is shoulder and strap less. The bodice part is a bustier shape with a horizontal seam across under the arms, and parallel to the ground all the way around. Who'd have thought.

The collar then buttons onto that bustier in four places on the front, the back of the collar hangs down and is not attached.

When I looked at the collar before I could study the pattern pieces, I had intended to make the back of the collar a very different shape to this sailor's collar rectangle. Perhaps a gentle curve across, or some more shaping to this curve.

I still want to go with a design change like that but I may have to make a top or dress that does have shoulders.  A collar that's much less high at the centre back could flip up in windy weather.  I am also thinking of sewing this to my top or dress (made from a pattern that fits me well) as if the back of the collar is a back yoke instead.

It would also make it easier to slip into a jacket without getting the back all squashed up.

What do you think of the idea?

White jacket project

I think I only just figured out that you can't sew the lining to the sleeve hems unless the lining armhole seam has not been done yet. Or perhaps the side seams?

Because of how you have to encase the outer sleeve with the lining sleeve, that's why. Duh!

I really thought I'd be able to sew this with only the jacket hem still to be sewn - I didn't realise that the machine needle and foot has to go somewhere and the more sleeve hem you sew the less space you leave for the machine parts as named.


Well, I'm glad I learnt this today - you live and you learn. So I am hand sewing the lining to the sleeves - I also attached the lining to the jacket bottom, after ripping open some of the lining side seam. Gotta turn it inside out at the end!

I am making more progress: I cannot begin to express how wonderful a feeling this is.  To have picked up an old WIP and to get somewhere with it.  Despite discarding most of the design features that make this design. Oh well, it's better to do than to hesitate and ponder and to then put it all off again...

In other news: it feels like I will never have to buy more white sewing thread, I have tons of it.  I will need more once this lots becomes old and brittle, but we're not there yet.  Black thread on the other hand I seem to misplace and search for all the time. I obviously don't have enough of that.

But then again I have about seven measure tapes and can often find just the one, if I'm lucky. I started leaving one in a specific spot on my sewing table - but I do lug it around quite a bit so that spot doesn't always yield a tape.

Friday, 13 January 2017

UFO progress!

I am delighted. I was able to pick up The White Jacket again which had been a most aggravating unfinished object for several years.  I started numbering my projects when I began to seriously sew again a few years back.  This is project number S9!  That's how long ago this is.

This is how far I got today after some pressing and general fiddling about:

I 'only' need to do body and sleeve hems now

The photo below showed (half of) the stage I was at which gave me so much trouble.  I had followed the pattern quite faithfully and found that the shoulders are much too wide on me.  I thought it was going to be such a long-winded and time-consuming endeavour to unpick the sleeveheads and move them inwards by a good centimeter.

Until I started the first one. I took the shoulder on the left in and the right shoulder is the 'before' picture. Isn't that a huge difference?  The sleeve just dips off the shoulder on the right and makes the jacket look very home made. That one centimeter (or so) pulls the whole jacket off whack.

I literally cannot believe how little time it took to remedy the situation.  That should be a lesson to me to stop putting things off for so very long!

I had some other concerns that caused the delay. The jacket was supposed to have a lovely contrast material overlay of lace or similar on the lapels. See pattern:

I had decided against the mock pocket opening fairly early on - I didn't think that they would look good on my bigger figure and wouldn't add that much anyway.

But I was quite keen on those lapels.  They are the reason why I picked this pattern.  Even though I didn't want to include the other design feature (those black pocket borders) and also lengthened the sleeves.  These three quarter sleeves just look odd to me.

I had such a tough time trying to decide what contrast material to use.  None of the lace I either had or looked to buy was right.  Then I considered various ribbons and braids, some of these I bought (see the photo above), I just couldn't get all that enthusiastic about any of them.

I think I wanted a lace very close to that on the pattern envelope (how unimaginative is that?) but couldn't find it.

Encouraged by our upcoming UFO planning sewalong I was thinking about the whole project early in the morning when I had lots of time and no pressure to be anywhere.  It's very freeing: you know that you don't have to jump up and act on any sewing decision then and there, and it's just a lovely, relaxing time to think things through.

Not for the first time, this turned out to be a very useful exercise for me.  I visualised the steps I would carry out to get the lapels looking the way I want: to cut the lower layer smaller than the upper so the stitching line would not show up. Same thing for attaching the lapels to the front side seams: I would need to pay attention to the turn of cloth space needed and it all felt like a lot of fiddling around.

Plus I hadn't even washed my sample with the ribbon sewn on!  I would have been extremely annoyed with myself if any of the black colour had come off onto the lovely white jacket if I hadn't washed it.

So I finally had a very clear thought: I have masses of sewing projects that I started, it will feel incredibly good to get some of them completed and I have to admit to myself that I will not be able to finish this jacket any time soon if I have to faff about with it for much longer.  Plus: how much do I like these lapels when I think about the bother of getting them done?

Answer: not all that much.

So leave them off.  What a relief!  It was the best decision I could have made.  If I do ever want a jacket that has lapel lace overlays then I can start another project as soon as I have a lace I want to use.  And then maybe I won't use this odd pattern that has lapels as separate pieces.

I might write about this element of the pattern another time because it seems odd to me for lapels to be separate to the front jacket pieces. The whole stitching technique described in the instructions doesn't feel very promising - there is a lot that could go wrong.  But as I said I might write about this another time and can then include a photo of the instructions that make it clearer what they are asking for.

In danger of this post becoming too long yet again.  I can't help myself, I just attached straps to a tote bag that is taking much, much longer than I had hoped.  Here it is:

I "just" need to add lining to the inside so the black bottom doesn't catch too much dust and debris. The corner seams would just be dust traps.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

What about this UFO?

Do you want to join a virtual sew-along?  (January 2017)

I am planning a virtual "Sew-along" with my sewing group: look over unfinished objects (UFOs), otherwise known as WIPs (Works in Progress) - and consider whether to chuck, alter or finish.

And oh boy! Do I have a lot of material to work with on this one!  It's downright embarrassing to be honest.

I already posted about a couple of projects on the group's website ( - London Dressmakers). I've since remembered a lot more, or found them when I looked through a basket I've long left alone.  Oh my word, it's horrifying.

I would start projects, run into some kind of issue with it (or maybe just get bored?), decide that I'd work on it again when I am in the right 'head space'... forget all about it... Pick it back up for a look and then promptly lay it aside again.

That's what I kept doing.  Did I mention it's horrifying?

I desperately need this virtual event to motivate myself into looking into the recesses harbouring long forgotten items that I probably don't even want to think of again.  I don't know if I find it reassuring that one of the sewalong's options is to chuck anything that I don't want to carry on with?  Or does the thought make me feel anxious: I would also be throwing away my hopes and dreams and aspirations wrapped up in that never realised item?

I need to get over that, I cannot just let things lie around and become oppressive, I really can't.  That's not good for your soul, let alone your sewing mojo.

I must say though that I started to think about some sewing WIPs in the morning before I need to go and do anything else: I think through what my next step on a project is or if there is some kind of difficulty.  Because I know that I don't have to get up and tackle that challenge right then and there, my early morning thinking time is quite pleasant and more productive: no pressure.

I have actually had an idea or two of how to tackle a UFO that may even help, we'll see (this is about the White Jacket, which I have now posted about).

For now I will identify those projects that I want to include in our sewalong (I can't do them all) and maybe plan a couple more blog posts around them. I already blogged about my tunic with the clever pockets.

Do you want to join in virtually? (Time of writing: Jan 2017)  Click through and describe your UFO/s in the comments and let us know what your thoughts are about it - the sewalong is on for two weeks, and can easily be extended.  There is a photo album to post pictures (close-up shots of details are particularly useful). If you need advice then the others might be able to come up with something, so use the comments to ask!

It'll be fascinating to see if we can get some of those old projects kick-started again. Happy thinking, planning and sewing!

Monday, 9 January 2017

My sewing threads

I bought a wonderfully big rack that holds 105 spools of sewing thread.  I am incredibly lucky to be able to hang this up so I have all sorts of colours available whenever I need, and within easy reach. That's particularly useful because I swap and change between projects a lot.

I have this rack hanging next to the window that is in the perfect spot for matching fabric to thread colour.  At least in daylight hours so I need to plan a bit in winter.

I took the photo for the project, but at least it shows the rack

I used to have a lot of different colours and have since either given away or used up some that I don't need. I kept mainly those colours that I want to wear so there are no muddy greens or orange hues left now. I still have a spool or two that I use for basting, but that's it.

Because I have this much space and only those colours that I use, I often find that I already have the right colour that I need for a new project.  I can't even begin to say what an advantage and sheer relief it is not to have to pop out and buy the blasted thing before I can throw myself into the next project. Having to go on a shopping expedition would smother my sewing mojo even more, I'd much rather have more thread than I know what to do with.

I have run into the issue of trying to use a thread though that had gotten too old and brittle: it shredded like mad at the needle and even a new needle wouldn't remedy it (always worth a try: re-thread or use a new needle. Will solve the issue 99% of the time). I tried another thread: problem solved and promptly chucked the offending article. What a relief. I just have to keep it in mind that this can happen.

So for reasons of nurturing my sewing mojo as much as I can and not quench the precious and delicate flame, I like to stock up on threads when I see that I am running low.  Which recently happened with light silvery grey, dark grey and a dark blue.

The greys turned out to be easy buys: look at all the G├╝termann greys, find the correct shade number, done.

The dark blue was rather annoying: despite dozens of dark blues in the G├╝termann range, none of them was the perfect match to the Coats yarn I was running out of. Can you believe that I now have four shades of dark blue that are not the exact same?

All pretty close, but no cigar
See: different shade numbers!

I suppose the Coats dark blue is somewhere in between the middle two shades.  It won't matter all that much because it won't be obvious. To keep top-stitching uniform, I'll have to pick and stick with a single shade, preferably one of the new ones, - but it'll be fine for seam stitching.  You won't spot it when you gallop past it!  As they say in quilting circles.

I am also lucky to have quite a lot of bobbins and that I can keep them with their threads by use of something that calls itself 'bobbin mates'.  Yah.  Okay then.  But they are very useful!

Here's a photo:

The short, fatter end gets shoved into the sewing thread spool, and then you have space for two bobbins on the longer end.  For the most usual colours (white, black, grey and whatever else I use a lot) I fill up bobbins: then they're handy to be used without having to fiddle about.  The bobbins for some of the other colours I don't fill to the fullest extent because I want to make sure not to use up more than half the thread, which would be a bit pointless.

All this makes me really happy, and it gives my sewing a much appreciated boost!