Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Monday, 16 July 2018

My latest pieces - not a PAC or collection

As you might have noticed I like to sew things i collections and will join in with any SWAP, 6PAC or other wardrobing approach going.
However the last few weeks have not gone to this plan for some reason.

The trousers and cardigan jacket go together. (Dark grey with teal pinstripes). The start of SWAKOP at The Sewing Place.
But neither top work with them.
Blued teal with brown, which is a rework piece and a continuation of SWAP at SG.
and coloured stripes on ivory which used ivory thread and felt relaxed and summery.
Or with the other pair of trousers (grey and blue checks) because the fabric was the perfect size for the trousers pattern.
All the new pieces do go with other garments in my wardrobe, except maybe these blue and grey checked trousers, which are also winter weight!

Oh dear. Don't do this!!!

I'm not quite sure what sewing muse wants to sew next, I fancied more tops but they don't go with anything above.....

Linen mix stripe tee

I prewashed this fabric so should not get any shrinking problems.
I lengthened it about 2 inches and used the blue stripe for the neckband as I want to wear this with blue denim. Happily the blue is also the last stripe at the wrist of the sleeve, so that will hopefully work OK.
I was told by the vedor that the fabric is a linen mix knit though I've not tried to verify that. It has a dry hand and the base is an ecru colour with brown marl bits, with coloured stripes in blue, red, pink and yellow. I like the way the base softens down the knitted coloured stripes.

I cut everything out single layer to get good stripe matching and I think that has worked out quite well, though it is a bit fiddly to do.

 I used my drop shouldered tee pattern traced from RTW.

I have enough fabric left for a top with cap sleeves, and I'd try and have the red stripe at the neckline for that one I think to work with my red linen trousers!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Shrunken top rework

In early June I made this top.
(original top, looks lovely doesn't it, but a problem is lurking)
I wore it once and washed it.
It shrank. A lot. It was now only waist length and completely unwearable. I had clearly not prewashed the fabric, and had NOT (on this occasion) got away with it.
Here it is comapared to the original pattern piece.
(eek look how much it shrank)
I hung it on a hanger in the sewing room for 'fixing' and put the spare yardage through the wash to shrink that as well. It sat there for a while but was bugging me!
(Front with seam above bust)
The spare yardage was limited so I could not cut the whole top again. So I did the following:-
Cut a new lower front and lower back from the yardage, cut the top off under the arms, curved up at the front and flat at the back and sewed these in place. (I didn't want a seam at the tummy as I didn't want emphasis there, hence why I cut off so high up).
Cut a new pair of sleeves, one from the old lower front and the other front the scraps of remaining fabric. Cut new armholes (so they are less dropped now) and inserted the new sleeves.
Sewed it all back up.
(Back with yoke effect and lengthened back panel, slightly gathered)

I have some small scraps left but nothing large enough for a garment piece. I have some other fabrics prewashing now so this doesn't happen again!!!

Hopefully my reworked top looks deliberate rather than I just added stuff on when it shrank. It was as much work as making the top in the first place, but at least I got to salvage the lovely fabric.


I bought the fabric for this top last year from the Monday Market Man. He has a stall of lovely fabrics at very reasonable prices on the open air market on a Monday.
I'm not sure if he's still there as I've not been able to get out to see him for a long time. I'm also trying to sew from stash as much as I can.
He mostly doesn't label his fabrics but from feel this one had plenty of something soft and natural - cotton/viscose. It did have a very elasticated selvedge which made cutting out a challenge so maybe this should've been a clue? Anyway I am prewashing as much as possible now!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

What to sew next?

I really enjoyed the first 7 lace curtains and then pushed myself to sew the last 3 to finish all the upstairs. Complete is good but lost the joy a little.

So now I am free to sew whatever strikes my fancy and I'm not sure where to look. Lots of options but nothing really grabbing me.

I could sew some more pieces for SWAKOP at The Sewing Place, as so far I have made trousers and a cardigan jacket. I fancy some teal based tops, some teal trousers.

Or I could challenge myself a little and do something for The Sewing Place's Upcycle contest. I have a few things stashed away for this. Perhaps if I get them out the cupboard something will inspire me.

Stitchers Guild has the summer 6PAC. I could do something with that set of guidelines

or I could try the MAGAM challenges. I'm late for June but could still use it as inspiration and sew up some of the fabric I bought in Madeira.

 Or move on and do the July and August challenges.

The animal print top shrank excessively in the first wash (so I'd obviously NOT prewashed the fabric). It is now a comedy top and unwearable. I then washed the reamining fabric which also shrank. I could see how I could make a new top from the scraps and the garment.
This would perhaps not be that exciting, but it would fix an annoying thing that's gnawing away a little.

I have a few RTW alterations to make so my trousers don't fall down, in particular some suit trousers of a suit it would be nice to wear. Also a bit annoying, also very useful to get done.

I have my eye on some StyleArc patterns, so I could bite the bullet and get those and sew something inspired by the new patterns. Here were the ones that appealed to me.
I also have a woven shirt that needs mending.

Some more cool summer tops would be nice to have for the next 6 weeks or so, and maybe some new summer PJs.

How to decide what to do next?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Lace curtains - ivory leaf design

On 19th June I went to Economy fabrics my local roll end shop and bought various things including the rest of the roll of an ivory lace with a leaf design. With the 6 metres of other fabric and the 11 metres on the roll it was not helping my stash busting.
Here's a close up of the fabric showing the leaf design. I absolutely love things with a leaf, paisley or similar shape (much more than a floral).
Here are the curtains in the large front bedroom window. The dark curtains are purchased black out curtains in 'neutral' from Dunelm Mill.
The lace curtains are on a net rod I bought from the Range. These are great for light curtains as they adjust and just push into place without needing any fixings.
I liked these curtains so much I carried on and made them for the study, sewing room, landing and bathroom, using 1,2 or 3 widths depending on the width of the window. The lace has a scalloped edge which is very pretty as it follows the shape of the leaves.

All in all a great project for a couple of evenings, upstairs I have privacy (I live on an estate and the houses all overlook each other sadly) as well as light and lots of my favourite motif. Its like I have my own airy forest!

I only had a short length left, so have popped that away in the cupboard for another use.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Dyeing boots from light khaki brown to navy blue

I had some knee high boots, I had altered to have laces up the back.

However I still didn't wear them. I decided I would prefer them if they were navy blue (which I've not been able to find) so proceeded to dye them.

I used Dylon Leather Dye in Navy blue - I'd used half a bottle refinishing some worn navy brogues. So I started the boots with the other half a bottle. In the end I bought another 2 bottles to get several coats on the boots and a good rich coverage of colour.
Although the dye comes with its own small brush I don't like to use it. Instead I pour the dye out into a small plastic pot and apply it with an artists paintbrush.
This leather was quite matte and porous so I painted the dye (which has the consistency of calligraphy ink) on without use stripper first.
Once they had dried I liberally applied Timpson Navy Shoe polish and buffed with a shoe brush.
I am very pleased with my new navy boots and hope to enjoy wearing them this winter.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Summer Sewing

Its really hot at the moment for a large proportion of the UK. Of course by hot, I mean hot by our standards, so not very for other people. However our homes and meeting places are set up for more moderate temps. My local water company is sending me texts asking me to use less water, and I've started wondering about getting a way to recycle water from the shower for the garden.

Normally the summer is about 2 weeks in my area, so not a lot of summer clothes are required. I have more causal hot weather clothes and take them away on holiday to warmer climes. I am quite short of summer tops which a suitable for work, and want to run full loads in the washing machine so can't keep washing the few I have.

Of course you can see that this is leading to a sewing challenge. I think I need to have a look in the fabric resources and see what I have that would make a simple cool top for work. One favourite shirt made a rather nasty ripping noise yesterday so I suspect that one is gone now.

Off to peruse the fabric cupboard.

I may try to fit this into an existing sew along.

Artisan Square have a  SUMMER 2018 6PAC (6-PIECE SEW ALONG) : 1 May 2018 to 31 July 2018

And they also have a NEW follow on from SWAP for a Summer Sew-A-Long: Weekend Travel Wardrobe
Ready for a vacation, SG style? Come join us for a travel themed Sew-A-Long. Open for all registered members; subscribed or not. 

Meanwhile The Sewing Place has SWAKOP
Sewing With A Kind Of Plan - SWAKOP our first wardrobing competition

As I gained weight whilst I have had the Vertigo problems I am probably needing to dress more like a H shape.
So the simplest solution might be to make some darker tops out of thinner fabrics to make columns with my existing trousers, and then add a necklace for interest, with an open fronted jacket for the office air con (a bit variable).

Friday, 29 June 2018

Wardrobe Clearout

I've been having a clearout of my wardrobe and thought you might like to see the result of my efforts on my work clothes. Other areas are still a work in progress.

I have some thoughts about the process which I thought might be useful. So here are my tips

1. Have an end goal which you are working towards.
I decided I wanted to have easy access to suitable clothing for work. I work full time in office which has a slightly relaxed business dress code during the week and dress down on Fridays. These are my Mon-Thu clothes. I kept this in mind all the way through the sorting process.

2. Pre sort for seasonality
I went through clothing I had in various locations and first removed anything which was for a different season, and put it all together in another location. For me this is a rail and a storage bag in the loft. For someone else it might be a wardrobe in a guest room or similar. This gets it out of the way and gives mental and physical space to sort things.

3. Remove wrong colour items/worn out items/experiments/alterations
a. Last year I had another colour analysis with Imogen Lamport through her 7 steps to style. I had hung on to some 'maybe' things, but decided this time I was willing to donate them. I also removed some things which are in my palette so I tried but don't like (some purples for example). I overdyed some pieces and donated others.
b. At this point also get rid of anything tired and worn out. If not suitable for donation you may be able to reuse some parts (buttons etc).
c. This is also where I identified some things where I had been experimenting with a style which I realised was not flattering for my body shape or don't work with my personality.
d. Remove anything which needs an alteration/repair and commit to actually doing it. Fix those hems, sew that button on, take in the waist etc.

4. Clean the wardrobe
Once I had removed the wrong season and wrong colour things. I moved the remainder out onto a hanging rail in another room and wiped the wardrobe out and left it to air a little.

5. Try everything on.
This does take ages and is really boring (for me at least) but one of my frustrations is that I had gained some weight whilst I had been unwell with vertigo and would sometimes reach for clothes which did not fit. To make work mornings easy I wanted all the clothes hanging up to fit me! So to find that out I had to try them all on. I did this over several sessions because it got boring quickly.
Where something fit OK it got hung up in the wardrobe. Where it was only slightly tight and I could imagine wearing again it went on the loft rail. Where it was very tight/couldn't get it on I donated it.
(Some alterations are found here).

6 Organise what you are keeping
I put the items I had decided to keep back into the wardrobe using wooden hangers for jackets and velvet hangers for tops and trousers, and clip hangers for skirts. (I may change the trousers back to clip hangers if they seem badly creased, but my hanging space is not very tall).
I put the other types of hangers in a box for donation. I hung similar garments together and similar colours together to make it easier to find things. I folded cardigans and long sleeved tops in baskets at the top. I kept formal shoes even though I don't wear them much as they are hard to find again (e.g. classic black court shoes etc) and stored them in closed boxes in the wardrobe. I don't like shoes in open boxes in the wardrobe. Try to use things you already have for the moment and not buy loads of new storage boxes, hangers etc if you can avoid it. I do recommend the velvet hangers and they are inexpensive.
(The wire baskets came from two different old freezers and are great for clothes, the striped boxes are old Ikea storage boxes I had been using for sewing/craft cut down to fit better/remove the ragged tops).

7 Identify Wardrobe Holes
Once I only had the things which fit hanging up it became apparent I was short of jackets, and needed a bit more variety in tops. However I had bought quite a few pairs of trousers recently and they were a reasonable fit. When I later went shopping I was able to find several jackets in stretch fabrics or with wider sleeves. I had also sewed a cardigan jacket. I've since bought some new tops as well. I am happy to mix self-sewn with RTW.

8 Make some outfits
I decided to plan out some possible outfits to make mornings easier. Using the hanging rail I put together several options which I was able to choose from the following week.

I still need to work on my casual clothing and finish off my accessories station, but I'll share those late when they are done. But for now getting dressed for work has been easier, and I feel smarter and ready to face the day!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Charcoal and teal pinstripe cardigan jacket.

I used the cardigan from New Look 6735 for a cardigan jacket to go with the striped trousers I made previously.
I made mine about 2 inches (5cm) shorter than the pattern and did not make the belt.
It will give a soft suit look with the matching trousers.
Here's the pattern. Obviously its for knits, so if you use a woven it needs to have some stretch or you need to size up a little. My fabric is a woven with a little stretch.

I did finish this using the New Home MyLock 134D after all, as Keith the local repairman was able to sort it out the same day. Perhaps it was the threat that I would use the Bernina 800DL instead to finish the jacket that made him so speedy (he previously had a shop which sold Janome machines and so has his favourites).

It has had a general service, a replacement needle plate and a refurbished knife and no longer makes a noise like a pneumatic drill. I wish I had taken it in for a service earlier in its life as things would have been quieter, but I am very happy about this.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

New Home MyLock 134D in for repairs

I bought my first overlocker (serger) over 20 years ago. Somewhere between 1995 and 1998. It is a noisy old workhorse New Home MyLock 134D which is a Janome name. Its not fussy about thread and has cheerfully sewn all kinds of things without any issues.

Today the machine chewed the fabric on my latest project and to sort it out I had to remove the foot and the knife. I then rethreaded it from scratch and reattached the foot and knife. Either I'd done something wrong or it was the same problem which caused the jam in the first place.

Thankfully the local sewing machine repair guy has not yet fully retired so I've taken the machine round for repair (which he reckoned was worth doing) and hopefully will get it back later in the week.

I do actually have another overlocker (serger), a smooth and quiet Bernina 800DL which I bought 8 or 9 years ago but never really bonded with. I had lots of trouble with the threading (operator error!) and hardly used it. I recently got it out again to use the rolled hem which it did absolutely beautifully once I'd watched the videos enough times.

There is a whole series of videos on YouTube by Heirloom Creations for the Bernina 800DL. So I'll thread that up in black thread instead and carry on with my project.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Coverhem Machine

I've been asked about my Coverhem machine, so here is a bit about my machine and process.

I have a Janome Coverpro 1000 CP. I must have had this about 10 years and it is now discontinued. So it might be available inexpensively second hand.
I think the replacement model currently available is the Janome CoverPro 2000 CPX.
I have a Janome sewing machine and an older NewHome overlocker (which is an old name for Janome apparently) so I went with Janome becuase the price was OK and I like my other machines. I have not compared it with anything else.

I really struggled to learn how to use mine as I did not buy it from a dealer. However there are more resources available now, youtube and online discussions showing how to use coverhem machines.
I don't think these were available at the time, or maybe they were but it was pre broadband, anyway the learning curve was quite tough for me so I didn't use it a lot to start with which with hindsight was a real shame.

The Janome Coverpro 1000 CP has a unit on the back to hold the thread spools. I have damaged this on mine, and after the second time of dropping something heavy on it by mistake I removed it and use freestanding thread spools instead. This works very well. I understand from my local repair guy that this is quite a common issue. May be worth checking this if you are buying a second hand one.

I generally use mine with just 3 spools of thread and 2 needles, as I had a lot of problems with the middle needle in. I also flat complete hemming and then construct after as it didn't do well sewing over lumpy seams. These issues may be operator error. I like to put a little snip at the fold line through the overlocked seam and fold the two bits in different directions, this makes it less lumpy and the machines copes better. I don't have any attachments for the machine, though I'd love to do binding with it as they seem very expensive.

I only use my machine to hem knits (and anything else very stretchy) and I really like it for this as it gives a RTW finish on knit hems which I really like. If this isn't a big bugbear for you or you don't sew a lot of knits it is probably not worth having a separate machine for just that task as you can get a similar finish using a twin needle on a regular sewing machine. I like to have the separate machines set up for a single purpose and then sew lots of things so it works really well for me.

I normally use matching thread for all my projects which means, 4 on the overlocker(serger), 3 for the coverhem (2 needles) and another 1 + bobbin on the normal sewing machine. So I do buy 8 spools of the colours so I can get that match. This may not be something you want to do, so again that may influence your decision.

Hopefully this helps a little. Thanks Ruthie

Sunday, 17 June 2018

What to sew next

I am having a staycation this week. DBF is away with the boys so I thought I'd have the week off work and stay home. This will involve many things  only one of which is sewing (others being (shopping, DIY, socialising, wardrobe clearout etc etc), and I already have a quandary.

As you may have noticed I like to sew multiple garments with the same thread before I change. However this week I have a number of different projects and I probably do need to change thread colour unfortunately. (Photo of my thread drawers from September 2016 shows I do have plenty of thread in many colours so its not really a problem)
Things I want to sew this week (Sunday night version).

1- panels for the conservatory. I decided on a whim to take down the rolled fabric blinds left by the previous people in the conservatory. On one side I overlook the fence and back garden of my neighbours as we are on a slope and they are lower down the hill than my house. So I want a replacement screen of some sort on those windows to give us both privacy. I'm enjoying the extra light on the other side and out the back to my garden however so am not going to put them back there. The old fabric panels have been unpicked and need the raw edges overlocking, before washing, drying and being made into something else. These both need ivory thread on the sewing machine and overlocker. This is my current fun project because I just ripped the fabric down and am enjoying the light. I've left the panels near the neighbour for now so its not actually that urgent to do it today/tonight.

2 - alteration on red linen trousers which are loose on the waist. This needs red thread but only on the sewing machine.

3 - alteration on brown suit trousers which are loose on the waist. This needs brown thread but only on the sewing machine.

4 - sew charcoal and teal stripe cardigan jacket. This needs black thread (the machines are currently threaded in black). It would therefore make sense to cut and sew this next, but I am distracted by the conservatory and lure of reusing the old fabric somehow (no idea why this is). I will try to get re-excited about this!

5 - sew teal summer tops as this is an area lacking in my wardrobe. These would need teal thread on all three machines, so probably needs to happen later on, would then work well with the trousers and cardigan jacket though as work outfits.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Grey check trousers

Having sewn the striped trousers I came across some checked suiting in the stash.And as New Look 6216 was still out from the last pair decided to use it again straight away.
I cut it out single layer to get a pattern match on the main pieces. The waistband matches itself and the legs match all the way round but the pocket insides don't match, however I don't think that's a problem.
The fabric is quite thick so may not see loads of wear during the summer. There's not enouh fabric for a matching jacket but should work with other grey pieces.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Charcoal and teal pinstripe trousers

I made these simple trousers for work over 3 sessions. The first to cut out, the second to do 2/3rds of the sewing, the 3rd to finish the sewing and take a hanger photo.
These are sewn from a charcoal suiting fabric with a fine teal and aqua stripe running through it.
It is an appropriate work look with a little added interest that I love.
I've used my altered New Look 6216 pattern again because I love the easy to sew pockets and comfortable elastic waist. I always leave the tie off as I find that to be an unflattering detail over the tummy as well as making trousers look more casual.
I've not had chance to make the matching jacket yet, but I might still wear them tomorrow if I can find a suitable top for the warm weather (I have lots of teal tops but they are either long sleeved or velvet so will be too warm). I've not made the SWAKOP top yet.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

New Sewing Patterns

I decided it was time to replace my favourite New Look 6735 as the pattern tissue was in rather a mess. The best UK price seemed to be Hobbycraft. I also got 2 other patterns and some machine dyes. I think these must be going out-of-print so glad I picked the pattern up.

I want to make the cardigan in an 18. Perhaps I should trace this time!

This is for a woven, but I plan to make the jacket in an in-between length, probably in a knit, but maybe also in a woven, though need to be careful of bicep measurement.

This looks like a fun and easy coat style in different lengths and also without the sleeves. I've seen some versions with an altered collar shape. It does take quite a lot of fabric though so I may not be able to get it from some of the fabric lengths I have.