Sunday, 6 October 2013

Preparing for the Tofino Lounge Trousers by Sewaholic... including Button Holes

Tofino Pattern by Sewaholic
Hello Ladies and Gents...

With my sewing machine clean, I could start to prepare the fabric for the Tofino Lounge Trouser pattern. I had been out to my local fabric shop (see link below) to select some gorgeous fabric for this pattern. I hunted through the racks - through gingham and flannel and cottons and spots. I wanted to used gingham for the project and spoke to the lovely shop lady who gave me some great advice. She said that gingham would look good but as I was a novice she thought a repetitive pattern would be best and move on to gingham after a bit of practice. With the hunt still
Tools for the job
on, I spotted a lovely pale blue with pink flowers on - perfect. I purchased the fabric along with a hem gauge and elastic. Happy with my purchases I headed straight home to wash the fabric ready for cutting!

After looking at the instructions on how to lay the fabric with the pattern on it, I had a dilemma on what size to cut. As mentioned in an earlier blog, this pattern is specifically made with pear shape women in mind. I looked at the size chart and could see I fluctuated between an 8 and a 10 and then to confuse me even more I looked at the finished measurements and couldn't fathom out how a 40inch hip would need a 47.5inch when finished. With me starting to worry I hadn't bought enough fabric I remembered that 'Tilly and the Buttons' had a great blog on this (see link below). After reading this (and
Checking the pattern fits!
understanding that although you are a certain measurement you wouldn't want your clothes the same size as otherwise it may stop  you breathing), I opted for a size 10, although this did not stop my dilemma as I bought fabric for a size 8! I lay the fabric on the floor and roughly lay the uncut pattern on the fabric, and phew I had enough! Top Tip: Check sizes before purchasing and also look at how long the finished item is - I was so focused on the bust/waist/hip measurement that this slipped my mind. I was lucky that the finished garment is 33 inches so just long enough for my 32inch pins.

With size selected I got snipping! I snipped all the pattern pieces out (I'm not using the contrast bits this time...I've not made a pair of trousers before and I checked it can be left out but there is always next time) and ironed it on a gentle heat. With my fabric and pattern ready, I pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out the pieces including the notches. With the pieces all ready to go I referred back to the pattern to see how to put it all together. One of the pieces requires a button holes to thread a belt through (ok, I may do this, but piping is definitely out) and haven't done button holes before so instead of starting out sewing the pieces together, I thought I would practice button holes.

Button Hole Presser Foot
Before I started to sew I checked the manual to see if I had the right presser foot along with how to do it. I was in luck that I had the presser foot but the manual seemed a little unclear so I dug out my sewing book which it explained in better detail. The button hole foot acts as your guide and has a nifty measure lines on it. I don't actually need it for buttons, but if you do measure your buttons and add 0.3mm to ensure the button will slip in and out with ease. With the button hole foot on and fabric ready (using scraps of what I had cut out) I set the stitching in motion. My first attempt, well, was ok but it would be for a massive button. Also as my fabric is thin it made the button hole quite weak. Top Tip: If using a light weight fabric you may need some facing to strengthen it. I don't have any so used a bit of left over
wadding from my quilting project. I made a wadding sandwich and tried again, and again and again and finally the third time was a success. The second time when I went to cut the gap to make the button hole I caught the thread so weakened the button hole. The size of the hole was 1inch x 3 stitches - this was the size specified and now I've practiced I think I will be good for the real thing... best order some facing ASAP!

I can't stress enough how importing preparation is on sewing projects. If you're like me you just want to get on your machine and start stitching away. Sadly though, if you don't prep properly then the actual stitching will become more tricky. I feel now that with my fabric cut and by practicing button holes I'm now ready to move on to stitching the trousers together! Until next time...

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric, pins, pattern, scissors, sewing machine, button hole presser foot and thread
  • Check sizes before purchasing - this will ensure you buy the right amount of fabric! If in doubt, ask the shop assistant or double check!
  • Look at how long the finished item is - I was so focused on the bust/waist/hip measurement that this slipped my mind. I was lucky that the finished garment is 33 inches so just long enough for my 32inch pins
  • Button holes: If using a light weight fabric you may need some facing to strengthen it. 

Useful Websites/ books:

Happy Prepping x

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Big Clean Up.... Sewing Machine Style

Hello Ladies and Gents...

Sewaholic Pattern
Today was going to be the day I started on my new sewing project - my Tofino Lounge Trousers (aka pyjamas) by Sewaholic. I found this pattern a little while ago and with Sewaholic specifically aiming their patterns at pear shape ladies I bought it and I've been looking forward to making it since then. I finally found some time so dug out the sewing machine. To my disgust I had put away my Singer covered in red fluff and dust (from making my red skirt...Seeing Red... Red Circles of Fabric)... the poor thing. So before I did anything I got the manual out to see how to maintain my machine.

I've cleaned it before, but it was a good four months ago and with the
thought of embarking on a new sewing project I wanted the machine to be lint and dust free and stitching like a pro. Top Tip: please check your manual on how to clean your machine as they are probably all a little different. I got manual, read through it, got all the necessary tools and I was ready to go!

The first thing is not to have the power on just in case - you don't want to electrocute yourself. With the power off, I took off the presser foot and the needle. Once removed, I started to unscrew the needle plate. When I took off the needle plate it was full of lint and grease - yuk. I took the little brush that came with my machine and with a lot of brushing and a few big breathes this part of my machine was clean.

Bobbin House
Now came the tricky part - to clean the bobbin house or hook. Remove the bobbin and flip back the retaining arms. Remove the hook race cover and hook and clean with a damp soft cloth. Top tip: Use one you don't mind getting greasy and also remember to use one that is soft and damp. Once cleaned, place to one side. Gently wipe the inside of the machine to remove any dust or excess grease. To lubricate your machine I use the Singer Super Oil which is specifically for sewing machines. Drop a couple of drops onto the hook race and move handwheel a few times. Once happy insert the hook and the hook race cover. Snap back the two hooks to hold the bits in place. Insert your bobbin, replace the needle plate, re-connect the presser foot and
Hook Race Cover & Hook
needle (it makes sense to replace it with a new needle as you've done all the hard work) and wipe down the whole machine and you are done. 
I couldn't wait to use it so I gave it a test run... it stitched like a dream! 

I'm so pleased I did it because now I know that when I go to use my sewing machine, it is ready to go with a fresh needle and dust free. It literally takes about 15 minutes - 15 minutes well spent in my opinion - so what are you waiting for - get out your sewing machine and manual and get cleaning!

Happy Cleaning x

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Twenty Counties of August... Week 2

Hello Ladies and Gents,

With Week 1 of our vacation being a truly wonderful week (see link here for the
View from Twinwood
blog: Twenty Counties of August... Week 1), Week 2 began in earnest however we weren't so fortunate with the weather. It was the bank holiday weekend and as usual the rains were back. However, we had planned to go to Lindy Lou's in Rayleigh and we weren't going to let the weather change this. With umbrellas packed we drove to Rayleigh passing through Hertfordshire and Essex to get there. The weather hadn't eased up so to cheer ourselves up we went to Coles Vintage Tea Room for tea and cakes. Now, I've previously written a blog on this delightful place (Link: 'Coles Vintage Tea Room') but I'm going to re-iterate how wonderful this place is. It's a small little cafe with friendly staff and delicious food. The scones are the best we have ever had - even after being in Devon!
Husbandy at Twinwood
Jacket: Lindy Lou's
After indulging in a hearty feast, we braved the storm that was blowing across Essex and went to Lindy Lou's. Again, I've mentioned this hidden gem before (Link: 'Lindy Lou's') but we had to collect a jacket they had specially made for Husbandy. We arrived and after speaking to the owners (who are friendly and nothing is too much trouble), Husbandy tried on some trousers and the jacket - the jacket was a perfect fit! Having a garment made to measure at Lindy Lou's does not cost any different to those straight off the peg and with this fitting perfectly it was well worth it! We were in Lindy Lou's for  a good couple of hours and we walked away with a jacket, shirt and trousers and I've ordered a gorgeous 1940s cardi - I can't wait to get it! 

Sunday had arrived and it was Twinwood day! Twinwood is a vintage event
Twinwood: Kai's Cats
with over 60 bands, all manner of vintage stalls, dance lessons, burlesque, dancing, tearoom, vintage beauty salon - a truly vintage experience that lasts three days. Husbandy and I only went on the Sunday so we got ready (I would like to note the hair and make up worked well), bought a spare umbrella and traveled to Bedford (this adding the county of Bedfordshire to the list). The place was really easy to find and well signed posted. We pulled up, parked, collected our wrist bands and went and found our friends who were staying there for the whole event. After a quick
Dancing at Twinwood
cuppa, we went down to the main arena. There was a big stage with a dance floor and areas to set up chairs. Stalls were all around the edge of the arena with repro and original vintage clothes. Husbandy bought a great suit from 'Some like it Holy' and I tried on some 'Freddies of Pinewood' and 'Terry Smith Saddle Shoes' (which I'm pleased to let you know I now own). A note to anyone who goes... take lots of cash if you can as there is plenty of treasures to be bought! We watched a couple of bands (one of my favourites being Kai Cats) and after some tea and cake and BBQ we went back to the Hanger for some dancing. We lindy-hopped for a good hour or so but sadly as we were not staying we ventured back to the car and drove home. Twinwood was fantastic and I'd definitely go again...lets just hope we are as blessed with the weather!

Moi at Twinwood
The next few days we stayed in London (we ventured to Richmond so Surrey was now on the list as well as the City of London) just enjoying the sunshine and relaxing. On the Wednesday we went to Islington to see a burlesque show in aid of Dixie Evans week. I had always wanted to see Banbury Cross and I wasn't disappointed - her act as Marilyn Monroe was glamorous and had oozed sex appeal plus she does have the best bum ;). The Host was hilarious with his jokes and mannerisms and all the burlesque acts were captivating and filled the air with exotica and imagination :). It was a last minute call to go and a good one!

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Our last big adventure was to Bristol (and I forgot to add Buckinghamshire from last time). If you've never been to Bristol I would highly recommend it. As this is where we are from (and where we met) we know the City like the back of our hands. After visiting a few old haunts we went and sat up by Clifton Suspension Bridge. The sun shone and it made the bridge, estuary and Bristol look spectacular. After wondering around we then went into the town for a mooch and then decided to make a move home.

Moi and Gromit in Bristol
So there you have it... 20 counties in 2 weeks (we also went to Warwickshire but this was a swift visit)... a lot of happy memories created and a time when I truly relaxed and forgot all about all seems like a long time ago now... but writing this has reminded me of the great time Husbandy and I shared together and how lucky we are. With Autumn now looming its time to get the sewing machine out and make some pyjama bottoms! 

Links to places/ good websites:
List of Counties:
  1. Middlesex
  2. Buckinghamshire
  3. Wiltshire
  4. Somerset
  5. South Gloucestershire
  6. Gloucestershire
  7. City and County of Bristol
  8. Bath and North East Somerset
  9. Devon
  10. Monmouthshire
  11. Shropshire
  12. Herefordshire
  13. Worcestershire
  14. Surrey
  15. City of London
  16. Bedfordshire
  17. Warwickshire
  18. Essex
  19. Hertfordshire
  20. Berkshire
Happy Holidaying x

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Twenty Counties of August... Week 1

Hello Ladies and Gents,

Yet another gorgeous September day...with this sunny weather it reminds
me of my glorious vacation I had during the last two weeks in August. I went back to work last week and a few people commented on my tan and said 'Where did I go on holiday?' I said 'England...and I either visited or drove through twenty counties of it!' Yes, you read right, I went to twenty counties in two weeks and had a blast! Let me tell you about some of my adventures....

Southern Valley Railway
During July when the weather was so fabulous, Husbandy and I booked to go to the day had come so we packed up the Mini and set off...! The sun was shining and the skies were blue - even an overturned lorry on the M5 was not going to dampen my mood...we were off to Devon to start our holiday - first stop, the Southern Valley Railway. We soon ate the miles and passed through Middlesex, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and arrived in the beautiful county of Devon in time for the 3pm train from Buckfastleigh to Totnes. This beautiful restored railway is seven miles long and passes through some quintessentially British countryside following the River Dart and rolling hills. Husbandy and I were lucky enough to get a carriage all to ourselves so we
On the ferry to Kingswear
relaxed and enjoyed the ride in 193
0s style. Soon the rail ride was over and after eating some scrummy clotted cream ice cream we traveled on to our B&B in the picturesque town of Dartmouth. The B&B was called 'The Captain's House' and it was such a quaint B&B. The room was large with a double bed and en-suite shower room. After a fish and chip supper from the Frying Pan (best chip shop in Dartmouth) we went back to the B&B to dream of Devonshire cream teas and sunshine! 

Goodrington Sands
Morning came and after a hearty breakfast we went down to catch the ferry from Dartmouth to Kingswear to go on another train... this time the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway. This line follows the cost from Kingswear to Paignton and again goes through some majestic countryside. It passes the lovely sea side town of Goodrington Sands which was so colourful with all its beach huts. It also stops at Greenway Halt which is where Poirot was filmed as Agatha Christie did live and write some of her books in Devon! Again we were fortunate to get a carriage all to ourselves and loved the style of
Husbandy at Blackpool Sands
the 1950s decor. On arrival back to Kingswear we got the ferry back across and made our way to Blackpool sands for an afternoon of relaxing and sunbathing.

After another night and breakfast in The Captain's House we had to say goodbye to the lovely little place...we packed up the Mini but before we moved on we had a morning in Dartmouth. There was a band playing in the bandstand and a lovely little market where we indulged in some yummy scotch eggs and hot dogs. After having a mooch
Dartmouth looking over to Kingswear
around we decided to move on to Totnes. Totnes is a little town on the River Dart - a paradise for charity shop hunters, tearooms lovers and sewing bees. Husbandy and I had a yummy Devonshire Cream Tea at the Anne of Cleves, it was tasty. I also purchased a lovely bedspread from a charity shop. With full bellies we left Totnes to travel to Dartmoor to our next place to stay. 

It was now Thursday and the sun was still shining and reaching temperatures of
Dartmoor Ponies
25 degrees. Husbandy and I decided to have a day on Dartmoor so traveled to Princetown. Princetown is a town right in the centre of the Moor with a prison dating back to the seventeen hundreds. The town itself has a few little shops (a great jewellery shop) and a couple of museums with the prison museum being a must visit. After a short while we drove up further into the Moor parked the car and walked onto the Moor for a relaxing afternoon - seeing no-one but sheep for hours - it was magical! Sadly time
On the Moor
rushed by and we went back to the car to travel all the way to Ludlow to stay with my in-laws and see our little guinea pig who had been there for his holidays. Now to get to Ludlow we travelled through B&NES, South Gloucestershire, City and County of Bristol, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire... making a total of eleven counties so far... wow.

On the Friday we went to Ludlow to visit Pepper Lane Vintage which is a great vintage shop (I've mentioned on a previous blog). I tried on some beautiful items but they were either to big or a little snug so left empty handed this time...but I know I will back again soon. We both started to feel a little peckish so we went to De Greys Tea Room for a spot of lunch. The food in their was scrumptious and the best flapjack I had ever tasted! On leaving Ludlow we went to Malvern (Worcestershire). If you've not been to Malvern there is so much to
Hairdressers in Malvern 
see and do...we wanted to walk to the top but sadly the sun had hidden itself for the day (our only grey day) so we headed for Brays instead. Brays is a shop that has not changed inside since it was opened so is a magnificent store to go to. It has some lovely bits as well as some unusual items of clothing...I picked up a handmade Japanese Kimono...its fabulous and so comfy.

Burgh Island 2008
With the weather not improving we decided to head back from Ludlow to London late on the Friday night so managed to sneak in another county (Gloucestershire) before reaching London in the small hours of Saturday morning. With one week done and with plenty of sunshine we felt we had been truly blessed....Devon is a special place for reason being as its where my gorgeous Husbandy and I went to Burgh Island for our honeymoon in 2008. I hate to say the old cliche but there is nothing like holidaying in England when you have the weather.... I shall leave this blog here and share with you the other counties and delights in a second installment of the Twenty Counties of August...Week 2.

Links to places we visited:

Happy Summertime xx

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Seeing Red? Zips, Waistbands and Hems...

Hello Ladies and Gents,

This is the second blog on making a circle skirt and they'll be a limited amount of photos... I was merrily taking pictures and when my Husbandy was looking through them when he spotted that they hadn't come out as the camera was on the wrong setting...I wasn't amused to say the least but I will try and explain the best I can and your imagination will also help!

So, I'm about to join the front and the back of the skirt together. I marked a 1.5cm seam along the side of my fabric and pinned the pieces together (right sides facing). I stitched the sides together using my Singer 2250, carefully following the line I had marked on the fabric. With one side done, I then moved onto the other which involved the invisible zip. Now I had been eager to use my invisible zipper foot for a while so now the moment had come! With my blog and Coletterie blog called "Installing an Invisible Zipper" at the ready, I was good to go!

When installing the invisible zip turn the fabric wrong side facing each other and rights sides on the outside. Mark a 1.5cm seam along the length of the zip and marking the bottom of the zip with tailors chalk. Unzip the zip and pin the zip right-side-down onto the right side of the fabric. Take the skirt to the machine and stitch making sure the zip teeth go in the left hand hole in the invisible zipper foot. Once done, do the same to the other side, pinning the right-side-down to the right side of the fabric only this time put zipper teeth into the right hole on the invisible zipper foot. Phew... invisible zip done! I must confess it took me more than one attempt to get right - especially as when doing the right hand side I puckered the fabric so had to do it again...and again. Practice does make perfect and one day I'll be the master of stitching invisible zips but until then I will do my best and not give up! To finish the seam I swapped over the pressure foot, turned the fabric inside out so right sides were facing, placed a pin at the bottom of the zip as well as pinning the two sides together and stitched. 

#selfie #nowaistband
So in theory I had a skirt and all it needed was some tarting up... how hard could it be! Now in my case I found the instructions for inserting the waistband a bit sparse so I went on to You Tube and found this great tutorial by Professor Pincushion called 'How to sew a classic waistband'. This tutorial is great for beginners and it really got me out a jam. 

With my fabric ready, I pinned the waistband to the right side of the fabric along the stay stitch which was stitched earlier. I then sewed along the edge of the waistband as close to the edge I could make it. I then took this to the iron and pressed. Once pressed you then had a nice smooth line to put in the top-stitch. With top-stitch complete, I folded over the fabric onto the wrong side of the fabric and hand sewed the waistband using a slip stitch making sure not to pierce all the way through the fabric. I then hung the skirt up over night.

Well I left it hung for a little longer than a night but it had all hung beautifully
Measuring up the hem

and I was ready to do the hem. I read the pattern and measured from the top to the bottom leaving a 1.5cm hem at the bottom. It was at this point that I could tell I had not been very accurate when cutting out the pattern so instead of measuring 1.5cm from the bottom, I measured from the top and measured at 61.5cm and joined up the marks. I then stitched using the sewing machine all along the tailors chalk mark. After stitching I took the fabric to the ironing board and pressed the fabric along the stitch I had just done. I then folded the fabric under to make a neat role and pressed and pinned - see photo below. Once pinned I did herringbone stitch all the way around to make a neat hem and ta-dah my skirt's complete.

Rolling under to make the hem
I enjoyed making this circle skirt by Simplicity but I will say a few things... 1) the pattern comes up big! When I had stitched it altogether (including the invisible zip) I had a size check and it virtually fell off! So this involved a lot of unpicking and cutting but all this made good practice for me so I saw the positive side. I followed the size 16 pattern (which says a 30" waist) and in the end made a size 12 (which says a 26" waist) so please double check before you stitch. 2) The other thing I would do differently is make the waistband double the thickness and perhaps insert some interfacing. By doing this it won't be so fiddly and make the waistband more firm and 3) The pattern is for beginners but still found the instructions a little confusing and perhaps lacking in detail. I do enjoy a challenge and working things out for myself but sometimes it can take the enjoyment away by not even having enough info to look up about! All this said, I will definitely make the skirt again and next time use a more exciting fabric!

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric (2m) with matching zip and thread, fabric scissors, paper scissors, tailors chalk, pins, sewing pattern, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, general purpose zipper foot, tape measure, iron and time!
  • Don't be afraid to research how to do something... if you're like me you like to figure things out for yourself but when you're learning you need to take 5 and research how others have done it to help overcome those little challenges
  • Double check the measurements before taking the fabric to the sewing machine! Although I didn't mind in the long run, if you were using a more delicate fabric it could stretch or damage the fabric which would be a nightmare. Pin the fabric together and make any adjustments with safety pins

Useful Websites: 
Happy Zipping x

Monday, 12 August 2013

Seeing Red? Red Circles of Fabric that is!

Hello Ladies and Gent,

Tools for the job
So I thought I would share with my latest sewing project... which is to attempt to make a circle skirt from a new pattern! When I went to my sewing class earlier this year, Claire-Louise aka The Thrifty Stitcher was kind enough to give me another pattern to try out at home. The pattern she gave me was the Simplicity 2906 which has two skirt patterns to follow but as I had all ready got a pattern for an 'A' line skirt I thought I ought to give the circle skirt a whirl. 

Now the dilemma of what fabric to use! I wanted to get some nice tartan fabric,
Useful hints from Sandra Bardwell
but I thought I would find matching the fabric up rather treaky so thought I better stick within my limits for now so chose a lovely crimson colour. I bought my fabric from Ray Stitch and I can't tell you how impressed I was with my visit. I called the shop the day before to see if they had the crimson fabric in stock along with a red 25cm invisible zip. I was thrilled when they said yes and told them I will see them the next day. When I arrived at 9.05am on Saturday morning they were open and had remembered my call and my goodies were all out ready for me! I was over-joyed that they had remembered and made my trip seamless (no pun intended). Now armed with my fabric (which was washed and pressed) I was ready to start creating!

Cutting lines
The first thing I did was measure myself - sadly my waist was still the same as when I made my skirt in April, but at least I've not grown in size. I took my measurement and I was a size 16 for this pattern. I cut the pattern piece out following the lines carefully and slowly. It was quite tricky as the pattern is large but I persevered  Top Tip: Gently press the pattern to ensure it is at its smoothest. I pressed the pattern when I ironed the fabric or iron it direct on a cool setting. Once cut out I then lined up the pattern on the fabric. This is when I had to remember grainlines and all that good stuff...which at first I had forgotten. I turned to my blog, Tilly and the Buttons blog as well as my good book called 'All you need to know about machine and hand sewing - Sewing Basics' by Sandra Bardwell. Although the pattern came with instructions its written in code for a novice so another Top Tip is always look up something if you are unsure of what it means. Like me I had to remind myself of the selfredge and the grain and I'm pleased I did as I originally pinned the pattern on wrong! 

I prepared my fabric (remembering to put strips of tailors chalk on the wrong
Mark the wrong side of the fabric
side of the fabric) and smoothed it by running my hand over it. Top Tip: Remember that the edge that is cut is not always 100% so don't pin the pattern against the edge. I had to look at this a few times and on the pattern you will have a long arrow which shows the grain line. In this instance the grain line was perpendicular to the selfredge. With my pattern securely pinned to the fabric, I took my fabric scissors and cut around the pattern and snipping a triangle where there were notches. The notches are there to help you line up the fabric pieces. I had to do this twice to make the front and the back piece of my skirt. Top Tip: If possible, this would be easier on a large table. I don't have this luxury but I cleared a large space on my wooden floor and cut carefully around the pattern.

Lining up the grain
Now with my fabric cut I wished I had an overlocker to stop the edges from fraying. However you can make a make-shift overlocker type thing on any sewing machine by using the zig-zag stitch. I set the machine to the longest stitch set on zig-zag and with one side sewn into the fabric and the other side just falling off the edge to catch the thread it secures the edge and helps reduce fraying. I did this to the sides and the bottom of my skirt. Tilly and the Buttons also recommends this but she does it when the hem is complete but I did it before hand - not sure if it makes a difference - time will tell.

I then double checked the instructions and realised I needed to put a 'stay stitch' in the top of the fabric to stop it from stretching. I didn't know what it was so I googled it - it is a long basting stitch that stays in - simple. So for this I set the sewing machine to a straight stitch on the longest setting and ran the stitch 1cm away from the top. Again, following the instructions I marked a 1.5cm hem down the sides with tailoring chalk in preparation for joining the pieces together and that all important invisible zip!

This is where I shall leave it today and tell you in another blog how I get on with the rest of my task! The one thing I will share is that I really enjoy the challenge this pattern is giving me! Its using the skills I have done previously plus being brave enough to try out new ones - lets hope the invisible zip comes as naturally!

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric (2m) with matching zip and thread, fabric scissors, paper scissors, tailors chalk, pins, sewing pattern, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, general purpose zipper foot and time!
  • Gently press the pattern to ensure it is at its smoothest. I pressed the pattern when I ironed the fabric or iron it direct on a cool setting.
  • Always look up something if you are unsure of what it means. 
  • Remember that the edge that is cut is not always 100% so don't pin the pattern against the edge.
  • If possible, work on a large table. I don't have this luxury but I cleared a large space on my wooden floor and cut carefully around the pattern.

Useful Websites:

Happy Sewing xx 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My Vintage Clothes & Accessories Paradises...

Hello Ladies and Gents,

Firstly let me apologies for not blogging for a while...with the absolutely stunning weather the British Isles has been having I have been more outside than in but today is to be a day of relaxation and recovery so an-in day it is... plus I see grey skies! I thought I would share with you my latest vintage finds and where I found them... I love finding out about new hidden gems so thought I would share them with you all. 

Dress & bolero - Vintage Fashion Fair
Vintage Fashion Fair -
A good friend of mine told me of this vintage fair... it takes place once a month at Cecil Sharp House, near Primrose Hill. I went to the fair in May and it sold an assortment of clothes, jewellery, shoes and homewares - plus other bits and pieces. Its a snip to get in at £3 with a select range of original vintage stock with a lovely tearoom and by being indoors you can go come rain or shine - well worth a visit. 

Pop Up Vintage Fairs - Islington
Another great vintage fair is the Pop Up Vintage Fair. I visited an event held in the Islington Town Hall. It has a wide range of original vintage clothes, jewellery, shoes, homewares plus it has pop up hair and make up booth, repro items, artists, card stalls, tea and cake stand and probably other wonderful stalls that I can't remember! From memory I think it was £3 to get in and runs every month, but I'm not sure if it in the same place every month. They have a facebook page with full details and if you goggle 'Pop Up Vintage Fairs' it will tell you when the next one is.

Pepper Lane Vintage, Ludlow -
Dress & bolero - Pepper Lane Vintage

This little gem of a shop was stumbled across by pure accident! Husbandy and I were in Ludlow and I was hunting through the charity shops. One of the ladies in the shop said you would love the shop down the road called 'Pepper Lane Vintage'. I rushed out the shop and went on the hunt...when I found it it was like a vintage dream selling original vintage clothes (for both men and women), jewellery, shoes, homewares and furniture.  They have an online shop but going to the shop itself opens your eyes to all the stock the place has - perhaps Ludlow is now the holiday destination of choice?? 

Cardi - Pop Up Vintage/ Skirt - Blackout II
Blackout II -
This hidden gem in the centre of Covent Garden is a delight for all those original vintage items. This shop is stocked to the rafters of original clothes (mens and womens), jewellery, hats, handbags and shoes ranging from the 1930s to the 1970s. This shop is over two floors and after some hunting you will find an outfit you wondered how you lived without. 

Ooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Shop - Facebook
This site is run through Facebook. Lovely people list vintage items of women's clothes, jewellery, shoes and handbags from all over the world  (a picture with some description on the garment) and if you want it you leave the comment 'interested' - this then ensures you get first dibs on the item. I have purchased some ear-rings and handbag from this site and have been delighted with them!

I'm sure you all have you own little favourite places to find your perfect vintage items.... please do feel free to share them with us and if you pop to any of them listed above let me know what you think!

Top Tips when shopping vintage style:

  • Take a tape measure...I always find this useful as original vintage clothes are on the small size and to avoid disappointment I give it a quick measure up
  • Examine the item thoroughly... this takes minutes and can save disappointment and frustration later
  • Take cash... seems a simple thing but the amount of times I've gone with just a £5 in my pocket and then had to scurry the streets is countless!
  • Taking care of the garment... now this is on a case by case basis. If an item is cotton I do risk putting it in the washing machine on a cool, low spin cycle. However this is not the case for everything as my dry cleaning bill proves so make a judgement also what the worth is before washing the garment
  • If buying a vintage item online don't be afraid to ask for more pictures or more information - at the end of the day you need to know the quality and make sure you are happy before buying 
Happy Shopping x

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Practice Makes Perfect....

Hello Ladies and Gents and how are we all on this beautiful sun-kissed evening? I just can't get enough of it hence the lack of blogging! As I've decided to have a lazy evening I thought I would share with you what I've been up to...

Well my sewing senses have been tingling and I thought I should start a new project! I was merrily looking at the gorgeous Bernie Dexter collection on the What Katie Did website and tweeted a link about the delightful Veronique Blush Dress in the collection and how much I needed it in my every expanding collection of retro and vintage dresses. My tweeter friend 'inkfairy' saw my tweet and said that there was a great pattern of a similar design that I should give a go! I thought ok, lets have a look at this pattern. The pattern is by Sewaholic and the pattern is the Cambie Dress which is a pattern specifically designed for pear shape ladies like myself. I did some research (as always) and it said the pattern was for advanced sewers... this put me off a little (for the moment) so thought what else can I sew instead? This is when I had a brain wave (or was it a heat wave???) and decided to see what fabrics I had in my stash before I embarked on such grand ideas. I saw I had some waterproof fabric and some satin fabric along with plenty of other pieces... I thought to myself 'I know what I can do...I'll make a shower cap for my mother-in-law and a quilt for my friend who is expecting any minute!'

Sewing in the Sun!
So I assembled my tools and took my sewing basket outside and set up camp. I started preparing all the fabric for both the shower cap and the quilt and before long I had 30 squares of 4"x4", the backing of 28"x24", 2 x 20"x2", 2 x 28"x2" and two large circles all ready for the Singer! Soon I was cooking from the sun so decided to have a break and lie in the shade!

The afternoon quickly rolled passed and I ventured in to start all the 
Shower Cap!
sewing. The shower cap literally took about 30 minutes of sewing and 5 minutes to thread the elastic through! I was amazed at how simple it seemed compared to the first time. I then started to make the quilt which again only took about 60 minutes to complete. I was so impressed with myself - particularly as these two projects seemed so simple the second time round!

Quilt front and back!
What I'm trying to share with you all is that practice does make perfect. I was surprised at the ease it was to make these two items and even more that I didn't need to refer to my blog as I had logged how to make them in my brain sack. It did make the experience more pleasurable not having to check instructions every two minutes but if I start a new project I will of course follow the instructions the first time! This opened my eyes and perhaps the stunning Sewaholic Cambie Dress will have to wait a little longer. I feel I need to practice the skills I've all ready learnt before taking the next step. With this new found flare I'm now on the hunt for some tiki fabric to make another 'A' line watch this space!

Below are a links to my previous blog plus a few other great links...

Happy Practicing x

P.S. The Bernie Dexter Dress will be in my collection's just so fabulous!! 

P.P.S. I just wanted to let you know my dear friend was over the moon with the gift of the quilt for her baby boy and here it is all ready in use. I'm so proud that I was able to share a gift that I had made with a dear friend. I hope it comes in handy and helps keep his little knees warm in winter.

Quilt being model by Baby Aidan

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Quilting... the Rockabilly Stitch Way

Hello Ladies and Gents,

Well I thought I would update you on one of my stitching projects as it has been a while. A little while a go I shared with you I was starting a stitching project for a good friend and now it is successfully completed! For my birthday my good friend and sewing advisor bought me a sewing book called 'Cute and Easy Quilting and Stitching: 35 step-by-step projects for you and your home' by Charlotte Liddle. I browsed through the pages and found the perfect gift to make for my friend - a baby quilt. After reading the pattern I knew I could make it - especially as it seemed quite simple and you can customise it as much or as little as you want - perfect for me!

Option 1 - Template
So the first thing I did was raid the fabric stash that has been growing over recent months. I looked through what I had and decided that I had enough fabric to follow the pattern so I went for it. My fabric was all ready washed so the next thing I did was iron everything...this ensures the fabric is smooth and easy to manage. I then had to make 30 squares of 4"x4" in order to make the quilt element. Now to do this I started off by cutting out square templates out of paper (option 1), pinning them to the fabric and cutting around them. After a few attempts of this I was concerned the squares would not be even so I thought of another way (option 2) - to use a
Option 2 
metal ruler, a 
rotary cutter and the markings on my cutting board. This method made the squares more even, less fiddly and a lot quicker to do. I cut out 7 plain fabric, 5 spotty fabric and 18 flowery fabric (4 different flowery patterns). With the squares I went on to design the lay out the quilt. Once I was happy with it, I then started sewing with my faithful singer machine (not hand sewing I hear some of you cry!). One day I will hand sew a quilt but this pattern can be done either way but I really wanted to use my
Quilt Pattern
machine as I hadn't used it since I cleaned it and put a new needle in. On using the machine I couldn't believe what a difference it made, so top tip, do maintain your machine and change the needle frequently! My machine has only had light use but even I, a beginner, could tell the difference.

This is where I became lazy and in hindsight I should have done this a bit differently. Instead of pinning a row of squares together, I just took two squares and sewed them using the pressure foot as the guide. I did this for each square and ended up with five rows of six. A thing I'm not lazy about (which I'm sure my husbandy will disagree on) is ironing the fabric as you go. Once I had five rows of six squares I ironed the
The lazy way...
seam to make it lie flat and keep the material in shape. When joining the rows together I did pin the edges and again followed the pressure foot as the guide. With all rows now joined it was starting to look more like a quilt! Again don't forget to iron the seams open. The next trick was to cut out the boarders....

Pinning the boarders
Now this is when I had to use maths to solve my problem. The two shorter pieces were the same width as the length of the quilted pieces (5x4"=20). I cut out two pieces of 20"x2" in the plain fabric. I then cut the long side pieces which had to be the same length as the quilt, plus the boarder - the total measurement being 28".  I cut out two pieces of 28"x2" in flowery fabric. I pinned the shorter boarder to the quilt and sewed with the sewing machine. I then pinned the long boarder and again sewed this on.... I was very pleased with myself at this stage and was having loads of fun doing it! 

My quilt was almost complete and all I had to do was attach the backing piece. For this you use one piece of material in what ever design you like. Again, I used a floral design and cut the fabric 24"x28". I pinned the fabric (right sides facing) and stitched around the edge leaving a four inch gap at one end so the wadding can be inserted. Once stitched I turned the quilt inside out and ta dah... I was finished! And I truly was finished as there has been a change of plan since its original use. Once completed I wanted to show off my work so I put it over a little table we have. My husbandy saw it and loved it so much we now use it as a table cloth! So I best get cutting more squares and making another one for my friend as the baby is due very soon! It just shows how versatile this simple pattern is. Without the wadding it is not a table cloth and with the wadding it could be used as a quilt. Sewing is a great way to express yourself... take a pattern and put your own stamp on it... and you'll have loads of fun doing it!

Top tips:
  • Equipment: Fabric (30 x 4" squares, 2 x 20"x2", 2 x 28" x 2" and 1 x 28" x 24"), Cutting Mat, Rotary Cutters, Fabric Scissors, Pins, Iron, Ruler and Sewing Machine.
  • Use what ever fabric you like - it's your quilt!
  • Do pin the squares may seem tedious but you'll have a much neater outcome - trust me :)
  • Do maintain your machine and change the needle frequently! My machine has only had light use but even I, a beginner, could tell the difference.

Happy Quilting x