Ashamed, ashamed, ashamed……….

My last post was in January, and since then I have stitched a grand total of………

NOTHING!!!!

How bad is that?  No, I tell a lie – I have turned up a further two pairs of jeans.  Does that count?  No?  Thought not.  Granted, a lot of my time this year has been spent shooting with The Pix Factory (I am the lighting monkey, the bag carrying monkey and the transport monkey – my husband is the super-talented photographer).  However, that is no excuse.

So.  I’m getting myself organised.  I’ve been in touch with local designer Helen Rhiannon about signing myself up for a pattern cutting workshop.  She’s in Oz until March but she says that she’ll have her workshops up and running as soon as she gets back.  I’m also simply going to pull my finger out and so some stitching again in the meantime.  I’ve had two ladies suits hanging up in my sewing room since July – they just need hems altering.  So I’m going to do that today (the poor woman must think she’s never going to get them back!).  A good excuse to blow the dust off my machine.  And then I have a skirt for myself that needs finishing – all it needs is the lining to be inserted, facings added and turn up the hem.  How long would that take!  A couple of hours – including coffee breaks.  Get on with it woman!

I’m also hoping to get myself signed up for a Photographic Make Up course at our local college.  Hoping to be a very busy bunny in the very near future.  Watch this space…..

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Woo-hoo for the Jean-a-ma-jig!

You know what its like – somebody asks you to turn up a pair of jeans.  “Yeah, no problem” you say, “leave them with me and I’ll have them done in a jiffy”.

And then they sit there staring at you for weeks.

So after another nagging from my friend this afternoon I thought I’d better crack on.  One of the reasons I’ve been putting it off is because I hate sewing over the thick seams on jeans.  They make my machine go haywire and I’m terrified of breaking it.  But now I have a secret weapon …….

This nifty little gadget only cost a couple of pounds and is designed to help you stitch over those pesky seams.  I’ve had it in my sewing drawer for about two years now but I haven’t been able to work out how to use it.  Yes, I know – why didn’t I look on the www for advice?  I have no answer.  Sometimes I am just stupid.

Anyway, I finally took the plunge today and took it out of the drawer.  I Googled “how to use a jean-a-ma-jig” and up the answer popped.  It was so darned simple even my cat could have used it!  For those of you keen to know how this little bit of plastic works click – http://www.dritz.com/brands/showcase/details.php?ITEM_NUM=915          

It was easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Anyone need some jeans turning up?

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Happy 2011!

Well, here we are.  2011.  Is this going to be the start of a mega-crafting year for me I wonder?  I would like it to be, but, knowing myself as I do, I will probably spend much of the year procrastinating.  Does it count if you read about crafting?  I do lots of that.  I love to sit and read about all the wonderful projects I could start, then plan what fabric I’m going to use and when I’d wear or use said completed project.  And then I don’t actually do it.  I’m a bit rubbish that way.  I need to be poked with a stick to actually get something done.  Which leads neatly to my latest project …….

I poked myself with a stick for this one.  I wanted to make myself a dress for my work Christmas “do”, so to make sure I actually started (and finished it) I told everyone in work that I was GOING TO MAKE MY OWN DRESS.  They were suitably impressed which meant I had to pull my finger out and get on with it!

The pattern I chose was Butterick 4343. 

I’d seen Tess Daly sporting something similar in “Strictly” a few weeks earlier and she looked fab in it (I however am not Tess Daly but I didn’t let that minor point bother me!).  As the pattern claimed to be “Fast & Easy” I thought I’d give it a go.

Well, it was neither fast nor easy but I rather suspect that the problem was more to do with my lack of expertise than the pattern itself.  I needed to make a Full Bust Adjustment in order to contain my ample bosom which took a couple of attempts with a toile.  Got there in the end though.

I’d bought some lovely fabric online from Fabricland – “Can Can” taffeta in Shot Peacock colour.  They also supplied me with the lining, zip and thread for a grand total of £17.  Bargain!

Making the dress went without too many hitches (although I did manage to cut the lining out the wrong way round and stitch it to the dress back to front!).  After a lot of huffing and unpicking I managed to sort that out.

Everyone in work got a blow-by-blow account of how the dress was coming on (whether they wanted it or not) bless them, and I managed to finish it with two whole days to spare!

I’m sure you’re all desperate to see the finished result aren’t you?  Here it is – drum roll please – Tada!!

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Finally happy with the dress

At last!  I’ve finally made a version of New Look 6207 that I’m happy with.  I’ve altered the shoulders slightly so that the back lies (almost) flat.  I’ve worn it in public and I felt comfortable in it.  Success! 

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Busy Bee …

… exactly what I’ve been the last few weeks.  Unfortunately, not many pics to show you what I’ve done.  Everything I’ve made recently I’ve finished by the skin of my teeth so no time to take photos but hopefully I can take some retrospectively.

Firstly, I finished the costumes for the class assembly.  I have to say I was very pleased with the way they came out although the bonnets were a little on the “snug” side.  If I made them again for the same age child I think I would use narrower seam allowances.  I would definitely recommend the pattern though – nice and easy to use and the bonnets look gorgeous.  I’m pretty certain Jen took some pictures of the assembly so hopefully I’ll be able to post some in September when we go back to school.

I’ve also had a go at upcycling “The practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value”.  There was a great project to upcycle an old pair of jeans into a skirt in Issue 15 of “Sew Hip” .  I have to admit, I’m not blessed with great ideas so previous attempts at refashioning clothes have been rather, well – let’s not beat about the bush, pathetic.  But following Tracy Cushing’s clear instructions – voila!

I added a little (very basic) embroidery i.e. cross stitch, blanket stitch & running stitch.  The last time I used those stitches I was 10 and making a Sampler Pencil Case out of binca (remember that?) in school.  I also added some little mother of pearl buttons that I’d bought for another “upcycling” project that never really happened.  I’m quite pleased with the result, especially as the jeans were so badly torn at the thigh (“curvy” thighs – jeans always split there with me) that I was going to bin them.

I’ve given my crochet hooks an airing for the first time in about 8 years.  My friend recently gave birth to a baby boy so I crochet him a little jacket and beret.  I used a pattern from Sirdar book 269 “Babies in Crochet”.  It’s the only “proper” boys pattern I’ve ever managed to find.  I want a pic of him wearing it and I’ll post that as soon as I get one.

And lastly (but not leastly) I’ve been making end of term gifts for some of the girls in work.  I’ve dabbled occasionally in jewellery-making so made a few pairs of earrings (no pics – sorry) and also some matching bracelets (piccies above – sorry they’re a bit pants, photography’s hubby’s specialist area but he’s in work).  I saw something very similar in a local gallery for an absolutely extortionate price and thought “I can do that”.  So I did.  It’s a bit tough on the fingers but the results are worth it.

Time to clean the house now s’pose …..

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Costumes for school

Ok, I’ve finished playing the drama queen over my linen dress.  I’m still not 100% happy with it but I’ve had lots of lovely and helpful comments about it (http://www.thesewingforum.co.uk/photoplog/index.php?n=3313 and here of course – thank you everyone) so I don’t feel quite as rubbish about it as I did.

Onwards to my next project.

Jen and Yvonne (teachers in our Year 1 class) have asked me if I’d make two costumes for their class assembly next month.  The children are going to perform the story of “Mary Jones and her Bible” so I need to make a costume for Mary and her mother.  The story takes place in 1800 so I’m looking forward to making my first “historical” costumes.  I’m using Simplicity 3725 – view B for Mary and view B but with view A’s bonnet for her mother.

The story of Mary Jones and her Bible is the true story of a poor young Welsh girl who saved for six years and then had to walk barefoot the 25 miles to Bala to buy her very own Welsh Bible.  Wikepedia gives the factual details of the story but I prefer this version –  I can remember being told this version of the story as a little girl in my own school assembly.

I’ve just ordered the fabric from Online-fabrics.co.uk – they’ve got a really good offer on crepe at the moment – ideal for the dresses.  I’m itching to get started!

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Crisis of confidence

I’m feeling pretty down about my abilities as a dressmaker.  This morning I felt pretty positive but my emotions with regards to sewing are like a roller-coaster.  Why do I feel so miserable?  This is the culprit ..

It looks ok on the dummy but when I wear it the back gapes out.  It wouldn’t feel so bad but it’s actually the third time I’ve made it – I made two “test” pieces before cutting into the actual fabric and thought I’d altered it properly.

The problem lies mainly with my bust – I’m a DD cup.  The first attempt I cut the top in a size 14 and graded the skirt section down to a 12.  I sure those of you experienced in alterations know that that wasn’t going to work – it fit across my bust but nowhere else .

My second attempt I cut the pattern out as a 12 and then added a little at the bust seams.  On the test this seemed to work but for some reason on the dress proper the back still gapes.  I can’t work out what to do about it.  Do I take a little off the zip edge seam or do I cut it in a 10 and add more to the bust?  Or do I just not bother?  Give up?  Admit defeat?

I sometimes feel that I should just give up and find a new hobby.  I love sewing but I rarely seem to be able to make things fit properly.

I’m not really going to give up of course but I worry that I’m never going to be as successful as my heart wants me to be.

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Finally – pics of Chloe’s top

Piccies as promised!  I took them a couple of weeks ago – it’s taken me until today to get round to uploading them!

When I took the pics (sorry about the poor quality – I was rushing) she was on her way into town shopping with her friend.  She was beaming when she came home – “guess what happened today” she said.  Apparently a lady had approached her in a shop and asked her where she’d bought her top.  When she told her that her mum had made it, the lady asked if I made and sold them to other people!  Made my day!

I made her go and tell her dad then because he kept telling us how he really didn’t like it (I think the colour put him off more than the top itself).  Bless him – he thinks there are even more nutty ladies in the world now.

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Ooh – new shoes …….

Well that’s not very sewing-y you may say.  But you’d be wrong …..

So the big (shh) birthday came this week.  Much to my surprise I’m feeling ok about it.  We had a lovely family meal at Gallini’s on Swansea marina to celebrate, I bought myself some quad skates (mid-life crisis no doubt) and I had some very lovely presents.  Which leads me to the shoes ….

I’ve been drooling over a gorgeous pair of Irregular Choice shoes for months but they were a bit out of my price range.   I’ve been telling the girls in work about them and how they are so “me” and how I’m going to save up for a pair.  When I got into work on my birthday morning there was a beautiful blue shiny box sitting on my desk.  Inside the box, wrapped in tissue paper sat ……

How fab is that??  With it was a note from my friend saying “I couldn’t stretch to the shoes so I got you the bag instead”.  What a lovely surprise!

When I showed hubby my prezzie that evening he said “well, you’ll have to have the shoes now won’t you”.

And today they arrived!!!!!!

Lush

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A Very Good Week :-)

Well, just over a week really …….

……. starting on Good Friday

Hubby took me away for the weekend for my birthday.  Ok, it’s not actually my birthday for a couple of weeks but it was the only weekend he’s not going to be working for a while.  He doesn’t normally take me away for my birthday (not to mislead you that we’re very posh and do this sort of thing all the time) but it’s a big one this year 😦

So to soften the blow he booked us into the Castle House Hotel in Hereford.  Oh it was gorgeous!  You can take a little peep at the suite (yes, I did say suite!) we stayed in here.  What a treat! 

We stumbled across some lovely little sewing/fabric shops while we were there.  Doughtys have three shops in Hereford – one for quilting fabric, one for dressmaking and one for habi.  After a lot of agonising I eventually chose some lovely fabric to make myself a couple of summer dresses.

I got this:

Amy Butler’s “Wildflowers” in Navy.  And this:

Erin McMorris’s “Freespirit” in turqoise.  Yum!

Since I’ve been home I’ve worked on Chloe’s flourescent yellow top and I finished it this afternoon (pic to follow).  She loves it but her dad is rather unimpressed with the colour.  As I pointed out to him, we were wearing the same colours back in our teens and our parents probably thought the same.  (Although I was chatting with my mother-in-law last night and she told me how she wore those colours in her teens too!  Fashion doesn’t just go full circle – it loops the loop!).

And last, but certainly not least, we went to a couple of car boot sales this morning and I picked up som real bargains!

Bargain 1 – teenage girl books for 10p each!  I bought 7 for Chloe so that should keep her busy for a day or so.

Bargain 2 – BRAND SPANKING NEW Fiskars Softouch 21cm scissors for – wait for it – £5!!!!!  Amazon are currently selling them for £14.99. 

The packaging was seriously ratty but the scissors themselves are perfect.  It looks like the people selling them are buying damaged stock because they had lots of different types of Fiskars products for really silly prices.

For those of you living in the Swansea area they go to Singleton Hospital car boot on a Saturday morning and Julian’s (Garngoch) on a Sunday.

We’re off to Gloucester for the day tomorrow – maybe there’s a little fabric shop tucked away ……….

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