Sunday, August 30, 2009

My room is so bright......I've got to wear shades!

Ok, I can't really post a photo of the difference in my sewing room - you will just have to trust me on this one!

This afternoon my hubby installed a strip light in my sewing room for me and put in daylight tubes - WOW! Before I had a single light bulb that used to cast my own shadow on my sewing, cutting and ironing area -now the light is almost blinding!!
Even my youngest son commented when he came home today! Not sure it will help me sew any faster but it will certainly make it all a lot easier :-)
In other news, on Saturday afternoon I spent a few hours at Debbie's place doing a card making shoe box swap. I came away with 6 new xmas cards and only had to come up with the idea for one of them! Great! Now I just have to make the time to do some in time for posting to UK!! I always miss the last guaranteed posting day, my parcels etc usually get there in time anyway.
I didn't completely finish my WIAW garments. I got a skirt and top finished, have worn the top and just have to hem the skirt - which is a little bit tight, but we won't talk about that!!!!! I have almost finished the second top and plan to sew tomorrow evening as it is one of the few weeks I don't have to go out on a Monday night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tutorial; Fabric Weights

Ok girls, this is my very first tutorial - so please be gentle with me Lol :-)) I started off with two square washers per weight. The washers measure about 2" square and should be available in most hardware/diy stores, the hole in the middle isn't huge as you can see in the second photo, just perfect for stitching the buttons through! Here goes.......................

First stack both your washers one on top of the other and measure round them - this measurement doesn't need to be really tight but the thickness of the tape measure and the fact that it bends at the edges, seems to give enough extra room for the 'pockets'.
Make a note of the m/m (or, if you have a better memory than me, just remember it!). Mine measured 4.5", although in the photo the tape had slipped a bit so it looks like more.

Next make sure you have a rectangle of fabric that is large enough to wrap round the weights with a 'bit' to spare. I was using a scrap of leftover quilting cotton and it just happened to be the right size - incidentally, I could have made covers for 8 weights out of one width of fabric (112cm/44"). If you want to be exact you can double your previous m/m and then add a bit for seam allowances but it is easy to eyeball this. You will need extra fabric on the three raw edge sides of the weight pocket, the fourth edge will be the fold of fabric.

Take the m/m from the first step (or, if you have forgotten it, measure again Lol!) and halve it. Fold your rectangle of fabric right sides together and mark that measurement on the fabric, centre it so you have a seam allowance on each side but it doesn't matter if they are exactly the same.

Stitch the seams down both sides on the marked lines. Reverse at the folded edge for strength. Trim the corners at an angle and trim the seam allowances to approx 6mm/1/4".

Turn your 'pocket' through to the right side. Slide your two washers in, they should be a snug fit but not so tight that you are forcing the stitches apart at the seams.

Tuck the leftover fabric in at the top. This takes a bit of fiddling with, I used the blade of my scissors to push the side seams down as that is where the bulk is. It should look like the picture below.

Stitch the opening closed with a hand stitch and matching thread, only takes a minute!

Finally, as an optional extra, stitch a button on through the hole in the middle of the washers, this also tightens the 'pocket' round the washers. I just used a stranded thread, Madeira Decora, and left the ends to tie.

This is the thread I used and the huge needle!

Finally, after about half an hour....................Ta Daa! Six new fabric weights! I love these as they are nice and flat and don't get in my way when I am cutting out.

Thanks for reading to the end :-) It is highly likely that those of you who were interested, may have already figured out your own way to make these, if not I hope this was a bit of help :-))

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Retreat - what a treat!

What a great weekend we all had! Although I didn't arrive until lunchtime on Saturday, I still got lots done - in fact everything I took with me to do except for finishing the binding on the quilt, I have still got to hand sew about half of it down.

We stayed up until about midnight on Saturday (as predicted by Isobel, whose house we were at!) and even managed to watch the rugby in between stitching! By the way, in my previous post I said that Isobel would be watching a cricket test match - I was wrong, it was the rugby test match, and the All Blacks won!
I finished my pattern weights and will post the tutorial tomorrow - although they are very simple so I don't want anyone to think I am being patronising :-)
So, to finish off I will share a few pics of the weekend - and at the end show you the reason why it was hard to concentrate on sewing during the day when it was light, although my machine was facing the view so all I had to do was look up! Warning - pic heavy!

Chocolate quilt top almost finished - just borders to add.

Billy took a liking to it too!
Grommett bag finished - sorry for the sideways pic!

Fabric weights done!
Our sewing area - Isobel's lounge! 3 tables forming a T shape, perfect!
Head's down!
.......decisions! 3 heads are better than 1.
The view! Even though we live at the base of this mountain and see it most days (weather permitting!) it is still a stunning sight and always a distraction!

Covered in snow and a bit of cloud.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Square washers and my Friday morning

Goodness, I never knew square washers would have caused such excitement Lol! They measure about 2" square and have a hole in the middle - they came from the deep, dark, depths of our garage where my husband stores all sorts of rubbish - sorry, important items! He says you should be able to pick them up from a hardware store like Placemakers etc. I used two together for my pattern weights. Now..... I don't want to teach anyone to suck eggs, but I will take some photo's of how I cover them and post them here on Sunday/Monday. I really do find them the best weights for my dressmaking as they are flat. I have some filled with sand/granuals of some sort but they are too high and get in the way, these are perfect for me.
On to photo's of my morning at Debbie's house for a project we have been trying to get together to make for ages! It was a class with Sharlene but we had to postpone one or two (or more :-)) times! It did take us a little longer than we thought it would although it was the first time - second time is always faster! Mind you, it was all cut out for us too, so perhaps it will not be quicker the next time :-) This is a great little gift, all it needs is a pack of stamps and the envelopes for the cards and that's it.

A good way to spend part of my day off, I am now going to adjourn to my sewing room and do some work on my first WIAW garment. See you soon :-)

Rev your engines, put your pedal to the metal!

It is Friday 21st August and as of 7am I can (could have!) officially started sewing for Wardrobe In A Week! I haven't got anything else done this week, not sure if it is because the things I want to make are cut out waiting for WIAW? I did have plans to cut out my Pamela's Patterns t-shirt and tank but didn't get round to it!

I am off this weekend for a sewing weekend with friends but I won't take my garments as this is mainly a patchwork weekend - not that I couldn't if I wanted to, but taking my overlocker and all the threads I will need, and also trying on during the sewing process (which I always like to do - just in case Lol!) is something I would rather do in my own place. Instead I am going to work on some projects for the shop:
a bag with grommets for the handles to go through,

a quilt in the chocolate fabric we had recently,

also, these square washers will become more fabric weights! 10 minute job :-)
I am not sure if I will get them all done - the quilt has only got to be joined together which will only take about half an hour - another half hour if I want to add my borders (which I probably should while I am working on it :-)) but the bag has to be quilted with a grid pattern and then a diagonal grid pattern - lots of quilting, must remember my walking foot! I will do the quilt and the fabric weights first then work on the bag. Isobel has assured us she will be up until at least midnight as there is a cricket test match on - and she is a BIG cricket fan! I will post some pics when I get back, note to self; don't forget to take camera!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WIAW progress

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I last posted! Since then I have cut out all my WIAW garments, all that is left is to fuse interfacing to the facings of the skirt, make sure I have all the threads I need and then wait for Friday to arrive :-))

Last night I traced off Pamela's Patterns T-shirt and Tank , I will test these as soon as I can, possibly this week as they won't take long. If I use the same fabric that I made my last t-shirt in I still have the overlocker threaded up.

I have got a class tonight so won't get anything done, but tomorrow I can do some sewing. This weekend we have a sewing weekend at a friends house, a small group of us get together on a regular basis. I will only spend Saturday out there as I have plans for Sunday but I should get some work done in that time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pamela's patterns, Simplicity 4076 & meet my new pet!

Phew, long title! I didn't think they would make decent posts separately so I lumped them all together :-)

My Pamela's patterns arrived today. I got a lovely surprise as I had completely forgotten I had even ordered them! I am keen to test them out so I might see if I have got some time during my WIAW prep week, it all depends on how long it takes me to cut out my garments and 'prep' them.

I have almost finished Simplicity 4076. I tried it on tonight to check hems etc - and it is quite snug and a little bit short in the body. The hem as it is now, just overlocked but not turned up, is a bit shorter than I would wear but I could put up with it and would wear it as is, no hem. I think next time I will cut out the 16 right up to the underarm, then the 14 around the armhole and neck. Apart from that I really like it and will definitely be making more. This one will hang in my sewing room until I lose a little weight (and a few inches in height Lol).

One thing I didn't like was their instructions for the neck band. They wanted me to stitch the band on and then turn the seam allowance away from the neck and top stitch close to the seam - this would have meant stitching over the gathers - made no sense to me?! So, I left it unstitched.

Finally, meet my Gorilla :-)) I decided it might help if I got myself a tripod to take my own photo's with, this gorillapod was in the camera shop across the road so I thought I would give it a home. I have yet to try it out. I think I will also have to consider a remote for my camera, if I can get one for it.

So, Friday is my day off (yay, I had to work last week so am really looking forward to this week!) and also the start of the August WIAW over on Stitchers Guild, so I will be spending a good bit of my day 'prepping' my choices - and likely changing my mind a few times - well, isn't that a sewist's perogative?? :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I couldn't sew without....part 1

I was having a tidy up in my sewing room the other day and was making sure I placed my most used tools near my sewing machine. I started to think about how much I use some of them and how they make my sewing life so much easier. I thought I would do some posts over the next few weeks and each one will feature one of my most used tools.

I have had this sewing gauge for so many years I can't even remember how old it is! It has been ironed (almost lost it as it warped!!), thrown in the bin with my scraps, lost on numerous occasions! I always panic slightly when I can't find it straight away, after pins and scissors (and sewing machine of course :-)) I think this must be my most used item when I sew! It has inches on one side and millimetres on the other - mentally, I tend to jump between both when I am sewing so I find it really handy. I have never seen another one of these the same. I did find a metal one once but the edges were sharp and it wasn't as nice to use - I also have the terrible habit of putting it between my teeth while I pin and the metal one felt horrid in my mouth, haha - gross I know!

What can't you sew without?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hey, I won :-) - and 'down and dirty denim skirt' pics.

First of all, I am so excited! Jane, from 'The Small Fabric of my Life', chose my idea for her airport outfit for when she goes off on her holiday to Spain! She asked for suggestions as to what she should wear and will bring back a souvenir for the person who chose the outfit she liked best! That was me :-))))) How great is that? I'm still smiling ;-) Actually, I hadn't absorbed the bit about the winner getting a prize from her holiday, it wasn't until I read the post on her blog asking me to email her with my snail mail address that I went back and re-read it - thanks Jane, you made my day:-))

I love Jane's blue and silver striped skirt she has just bought, and I plan to make my own version this summer. I have the perfect fabric, an emerald and white stripe cotton - slightly narrower stripe than in Jane's skirt but it will still work. I also want to make myself a version of her American Apparel circle scarf, it looks so versatile and I love scarves! Watch this space.........well, blog :-)

Ok, I had my son take some photo's of me in my denim skirt today - I am putting them on here but I have to say that I don't like them! Does everyone feel they look terrible in their own photo's? I don't know how to stand, what to do with my hands, to smile or look serious...and I feel I look totally shapeless Lol!

when it came to it this was the best of a bad bunch - clearly I need to work on my photo's. I need to get a close up of me and not so much 'stuff' (it probably doesn't help that my lovely, helpful son is 6 feet tall so the angle isn't good! my story!!), but without cutting off my head or legs.............then again, maybe that could be an improvement! Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Simplicity 2603 - finished, I think?!

Over the weekend I put together Simplicity 2603. It went together very fast, partly because I didn't bother with any kind of edge finish. I decided to wear it today to see if I liked it that way, and I think that I do. I am not sure if I would leave it unfinished in a different fabric, but in this strange nylon/polyester type knit it seems to be ok.

This is it left loose - not sure it is very flattering so probably won't wear it this way too often.

I had originally made this up as a test run for the August WIAW over on Stitchers Guild, but now I have made it I am not sure I want another one! Also, the other fabric I had in mind is much heavier and would make it very weighty! Will have to think about it.

Also, on the advice of my eldest son, I shortened my denim skirt. He is my stylist too *smile*, I always know he will give me an honest opinion, and he cares! He is also one of those unusual breed of (straight) young men who are quite happy to go clothes shopping, hang about outside the changing rooms, get a bigger size (don't usually need a smaller one, Lol) etc. I tried it on with my new boots and he said it was too long, so I whizzed round the bottom on the overlocker and took off about 3 inches! Of course, because it is my down and dirty denim skirt, I didn't bother changing the red thread that was already in the machine - after all it is my down and dirty denim skirt!

A word about the photo's, I felt very strange having a photo taken for my blog, I asked my son to take it as I had no luck with the mirror!!! I will have to get myself a tripod - I am sure I will get more comfortable with practice :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Down and dirty denim!

Meh! About 2 months agoI started this Hot Patterns Metropolitan Superfly skirt in a lovely soft denim I had in my collection. I was really looking forward to wearing it and thought it would be a great piece to add to my wardrobe for wearing with boots for the winter and into the spring. I stopped working on it when I just had the hem to do! Why?

Well, for a start I was not too happy with the shape. The pattern picture looks much slimmer than the skirt is and I didn't think to check that beyond making sure it fitted round the waist and hips - and I had topstitched all the seams before I realised.

Also, I had a horrible 'bulge' at the bottom of my zip - seriously, I looked like a guy in drag! It was that bad! Now, after agonising over the instructions for the facing and fly (I knew I could do it my way but was determined to follow the pattern! Perverse, I know) I was so p****d off I almost threw it in the bin.

I had made the pockets and decided I wouldn't put them on because they weren't flattering on my substantial behind, and all in all the skirt was very plain and boring! What a waste of time! I decided to see if I could save it and at least wear it for a few months (I am on a weight loss programme so hope it will be too big in a few months anyway :-)). I spent an age unpicking my carefully sewn in zip - complete with bar tacks! - and taking off the facing. I found this silver funky zipper in my drawer and decided to make it a feature in the front, in an effort to make it a bit less 'plain'. After inspecting a friends denim skirt (that had cost her a fortune) I took note that it had just been zig-zagged at the hem and waist (no facing), so I whizzed round the waist on my overlocker that was threaded with cream thread from L's dress, and then decided to do the same with the hem.
When I had finished and was pressing it I decided to stitch one of the pockets on after all - at the hem!

At the end of the day I am glad I saved this skirt, I hate to have to give up on a project. I am hesitant to make another one of these - shame.