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Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Amber Glow progress (or lack thereof)

The Amber Glow progress is frankly minimal. I have lost interest in it which is terrible.
I have also lost my invisible zipper foot despite much hunting which gained me an entire box full of pins and
a vial of sewing machine oil, but no foot.
So today I gave in and ordered a new one from Jaycotts. I use it so much I am desperate without it.

I am already thinking what I can add in to the SWAP that is purchased or previously made, and have in mind a previously made cream blouse and a purchased brown jacket. I think my main issues are a lot of paid work interfering with sewing time, and not wanting to sew dark brown now it is Spring.

Anyway I will have some time to sew over Easter but may go off piste a bit and make PJ pants or something.
I'm now about to go away again with work for 3 days.which whilst interesting and useful sure cuts into sewing time a lot.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Planning the next SWAP

I have come to the conclusion that I am addicted to SWAPs/capsules/co-ordinates etc. I have not even finished the second of my two current SWAPs, my wardrobe is bursting (though its not all stuff I love) and I am planning my next SWAP/wardrobe/capsule.

The new SWAP is going to be black/red/white and has various pairs of striped trousers in  black or charcoal, various knit tops in prints/stripes using black/red/white and a piece of red linen. Plus a black/red/white print knit dress. Yummy!
Almost none of it is from stash and I have been buying the fabrics deliberately to go together. I think I am a hopeless case. However I think it will all be very work suitable. I love stripy trousers with a colourful print knit top and already have red costume jewellery and a funky red handbag, and even a choice of red shoes, depending on how badly my knees are hurting.
Plus its even corporate as my companies logo is white on a red background. (Have I convinced anyone yet?, I have managed to convince myself already!)

The next PR wardrobe contest starts in July, so will have to see if I can hold off until then. If not I might do my own little Ruthie SWAP in May and June and post it on the blog. Or perhaps Elizabeth will be hosting a Summer Sew Along on Stitcher's Guild I can join in with?

Since I am currently resisting it (as I have more pieces to make for Amber Glow) I have not actually pulled any of the pieces from the fabric cupboard, though a few have been auditioned and then put away again.

One thing I do want to do on any new pairs of trousers is add pockets which are large enough to hold a Blackberry. I now have one from work, and keep putting it down, so pockets in all trousers has become essential, and is probably cuter than buying a waist holster for the thing.

(Previously I had a work mobile phone, and avoided mislaying it by having it on a cable round my neck all day, I looked a dork, but it worked, BBs don't have a hole for a cord in the same way so can't continue that anymore.)

Burda Magazine for April

April's Burda magazine arrived today. Mine come from Germany and arrive after the people in North America get theirs which seems a little unfair to me.

I find it easier to see things on the website, and go through saving the garments I like. If we are truly honest I will probably sew the little V neck cardigan first from this magazine, though I like lots of the items, I am not sure I have a space for them in my life.

One thing I have realised with Burda tops is that they expect me to have more bust and front neck length than I actually do.
I am open to suggestions for how I can do a small bust alteration, neckline shortening thingy all in one.
I am the same measurement from shoulder to waist both front and back but with a forward head and have not yet cracked how to do this in Burda.
The partial success I had with Jenni helping me fit stuff appeared to involve the same 3 things
- petiting above the bust line
- reducing the front width above the bust
- lowering the front neckline

Friday, 26 March 2010

HP 1015 Riviera Once, Twice, Three Times a T-Shirt

NancyK was giving away patterns on her blog recently, and I was lucky enough to receive one of them.
Its the HP 1015 Riviera Once, Twice, Three Times a T-Shirt

You can see a bit more about the original designer inspiration here at Erica's blog

The reviews on PR are mixed, and I will say I have to do modifications to make HotPatterns work for me, but then I do love them and use them over and over, so reckon its worth the investment.

I will try a relatively small size and share the results with you :-)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Bond's Buckles

Bond's buckles These were 50p each. I am imagining the prongless ones on the Jalie tie neck top (which I don't own but plan to purchase the pattern).

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bond's Button Cards

Also from Bond's these buttons were 10 pence a card. Of course the challenge is to find more than one card of the same buttons which is often almost impossible. As you can see I have gone for my favourite colours in particular orange, as I had in mind a tee shirt with a large asymmetric button embellishment, something with an organic shape, but in the meantime they are like sweeties in a box!
I have neither counted the cards nor the buttons, but there are a lot.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Bond's Invisible Zips

The weekend before last I went to stay with the lovely YorkshireLass and we went for a little trip to a Haberdashers called Bond's on the outskirts of Leeds. Haby is the British word for Notions, and is all the zips, buttons, cord, thread etc bits and pieces. We spent 3 hours in the shop and spent quite a bit of money.
 Bond's have some large bins stuffed full of zips for 20 pence each. I noticed that they had some coloured invisible zips (no black ones though) and spent time diving through the bins adding invisible zips to my basket in what I thought would be useful colours. I did go a little bit mad, and when we got back and counted them I had purchased 54 of them. Somewhat ironically I have mislaid the invisible zipper foot for my Janome so can't currently install any of them!

My local haby place sells only black or navy invisible zippers and they are £1.20 each, so I didn't feel like I was too silly buying all of these. They now have a special box to live in and I've added all the invisible zips from my generic sipper box to them, so when I want an invisible zip they will be very easy to find.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Olive skirt and top

Here I am wearing the 'dirty' denim skirt and olive top.
A rare patch of sunshine so I bravely went for sandals!

The skirt is from Simplicity 9825 shortened slightly. I like this skirt pattern. The long straight skirt works relatively well on my bottom heavy figure.

The top is a TNT pattern based long ago on the Jalie wrap top but not showing much similarity any more.

Project queue, UFOs or just wadders

I was reading somewhere where the writer referred to her UFO pile as the Project Queue. This puts a slightly different spin on it, but I fear it is spin all the same.
In my head the Project Queue is stuff I have planned but have not started yet. Then I have 5 boxes of things I plan to recut, went a bit wrong, or are otherwise paused. Some of these go back a very long time.
Because they are put away in boxes they are not impacting too much on my conciousness.

Are these items a source of great potential for when I get a recycling head on my shoulders, or in fact just a load of old junk I should get rid of? Some of it I keep because I love the fabric, but plenty of it the fabric does nothing for me at all any more but its not wearable garments that the charity shop could take and I'm not willing to put in the time to make the garments up. It seems a waste to throw it away and so I keep it.

Since I have chocolate brown on the machines at the moment I might well have a little trawl through the boxes and see what might get finished off or resized down quickly (I have some old too large clothing) and be stuff I could wear or use.
Maybe I can even be brave and get rid of some of it.

Spring is in the air, maybe the spring cleaning bug will hit!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Botanical Garden Plus

here is the whole Botanical garden collection which includes
2 skirts
2 pants
1 dress
2 cardiwraps
9 tops
a total of 16 pieces

Dirty denim Skirt Completed

The 'dirty denim' skirt is completed. I shortened it by 3 inches and added spring green top stitching.



The Botanical Garden SWAP is now completed, though only hanger shots here, so will have to do some of me wearing the clothing.

'Dirty denim' skirt

I've been away quite a lot. I was away with work for 2 days and then went straight to see Yorkshire Lass for the weekend. Came home for a day and then away with work for another three days. Came back yesterday evening and only started to sew again tonight.
Fortunately I am not working this weekend and hope to catch up with housework and sewing.

I am sewing a 'dirty denim' long straight skirt from Simplicity 9825 with the browner side out, the brown and blue together look sort of olive, and this will probably be the final piece in the Botanical Garden SWAP.

The 'dirty denim' I am using here has tan coloured threads in one direction (which would normally be white ) and then very dark indigo in the other. As a result its kind of dark brown one side and sort of olive coloured the other. Here I am using the back which is the greener side.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Traced off Onion 1026

This evening I traced off Onion 1026 basic pieces and added seam allowances.
That used up all my spare energy so the cutting out is for tomorrow.

The pattern pieces are multi sized and printed in clear black ink on thick white paper. The pattern pieces overlap each other and are on both sides of a single sheet of paper, so have to be traced off to use the pattern. Seam allowances are not included. So other than being a lot clearer its a lot like tracing off Burda magazine patterns.

The instructions are written only with no diagrams and are in Danish only. ShopOnion sells translations into English which are very good and come immediately by email.
(ShopOnion also sells the paper patterns, but as mine took a month to come I cannot recommend that part to anyone else as it was a frustrating and negative experience for me and has taken the joy out of these patterns)


Just realised I missed the collar, facing and back facing off, so dare say I need to do those as well.

P.S. I think its a little bit spooky that the model has no eyes or nose, reminds me of an episode of Dr who where the electrically charged monster sucked people's faces off into TV sets (yes really). Dr Who rocks and I am unashamedly a big fan.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Botanical Garden: previously made items

The SWAP rules allow for 2 previously made items, and I thought suddenly of these two pieces.
The dress is sleeveless, very long and has an empire waist seam and scoop neck.
I tried to match the print in the centre front, and chose to have the strongest 'stripe' in the fabric running through the centre.
The skirt is made from crinkle fabric and has three tiers, each only very slightly gathered to the next, which keeps it all slim line.The hem has a floral machine embroidery all the way around with seed beads sewn into the centre of each flower and on each trailing stem. It took many hours to sew the beads on, but having started I had to have them go all the way round.

I chose to include these particular pieces for several reasons:-
- these are more summer weight and allow the collection to go through until summer.
- the dress features a print and the skirt embroidery and bead work so they fit into the themes of the SWAP.
- the colours work well with the other botanical garden pieces, as does the overall look and feel.
P.S. I also tidied up the sewing room and have to say it is looking MUCH better. I only found one pair of the orange handled shears though, but 2 tape measures, 3 boxes of pins, a seam ripper and some interfacing.
The best thing was getting back to the table top :-)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Rainforest Inspiration

I was looking at the new Spring collections today on M and Co and loved the Rainforest Collection it has elements which remind me of the greens from my Botanical Garden plus some Safari and Animal print items.
I have two Animal Print pieces in the Amber Glow Collection so could pull something similar together by pulling pieces out of both my my current wardrobes.
It was freezing here this morning so I don't think I am quite ready to transition to the Spring clothes just yet, but it sure is nice to look.


After my post about my good colours, I was putting clean laundry away and pulled several items from my wardrobe which just don't work for me. Mid grey pantsuit??? What was I thinking. Well I dare say I was thinking appropriate for work, but mid grey in horribly draining and wrong on me, so its gone off to a new life with someone else. I kept the dark charcoal grey pantsuit though as its almost black, and is wool and nicely cut. I paired it with a lime shirt and a funky necklace and it really came to life.

Perhaps the key with an easy to mix n match wardrobe is to be really true to your absolutely best colours and not be seduced by things which don't work. Lime was a brand new colour for me last summer and I really love how it works in with so much of what I already have. It really pops with so many of the basics adding life in particular to charcoal and navy.

Sewing Room

The sewing room is a bit of a disaster at the moment, and I am having trouble finiding things in there that I need. I have mislaid both pairs of orange handled Fiskars dressmaking shears and several patterns I wanted to sew.
I think I probably need to have a Good Tidy Up before I can work on anything else.

Machine dying

I have a pair of black RTW jeans which had been getting greyer and greyer, but the fit was still reasonable, compared to other purchased jeans so I decided to overdye them black.
I've used the Dylon all in one machine dye in black - this already has the salt mixed in, unlike the normal Dylon machine dyes where you add the salt yourself.
One pack of sye colours one pair of jeans, so they are in on their own and I will check on them shortly to see how well it has worked.
I have used the other type of Dylon machine dyes before and as long as you follow the instructions and don't try to dye too much at once it works very well on cotton fabrics. I had patchy results in the past with the hand dye, but I think that is becuase the liquid stays still.
Updated to add that I just took the jeans out and am very pleased with the finished result. The coloured top stitching is still orange, the button and rivets are shiny and the denim is a lovely deep even black.

This dye is designed to be used with a front loading washing machine (the normal sort in the UK). And how you use it as follows:-

Put the powder into the machine and make sure it falls through the holes in the drum.
Add the jeans/fabric and put the machine on to a 40 degrees Celsius cotton wash with no detergent.
This is the dye cycle and looks pretty scary as the water is black!
When this finishes, add a little washing poweder or liqd and run another 40 degree Celsius cotton cycle. This makes sure all excess dye is removed from the garment/fabric. You can then take it out and dry it. Probably best to wash with other dark things the next couple of times.
Last run the machine again on another 40 degree Celsius cotton cyyle to make sure the machine is completely clean.
After this you can use it again as normal.

My machine has a double rubber ring sealing the door and some black liquid was in this but I just wiped it up with a cloth before the final cycle.

Dylon have a guarantee on the package saying that it does not harm your washing machine.

Colours and sewing

On her blog, Myrna has been writing among other things about the colours that work best for her. I don't always agree with everything she says :-) but her comments often make me think a bit.
I don't recall the exact words, but if I think about my own personal palette I have quite a good grip on it these days.



Its basically brights and darks with a warm but clear undertone. I don't always follow that, but have to be careful how much I push it. I could wear anything I like but some things are going to look nicer than others LOL.
Brights. These colours have a LOT of pigment in them, and I do have to be careful that they don't look too cartoonish/childish, BUT they are my signature, and tbh if I don't wear an item in one of these colours I feel a bit sad and lifeless.
Brights: red, red-orange, strong warm pink, strong coral pink, turquoise, rich teal blue, rich teal green, emerald green, frog green, strong yellow green. The pinks and reds are particularly good for making me look healthy and well, the blues and greens (becuase I have green eyes with a blue learning) are particularly good at making my eyes noticeable.

I am heavier on my lower half (whatever my weight) so to contrast with my brightly coloured (and patterned tops) I wear darker plainer trousers and skirts. These are in my dark neutrals, and are colours like dark navy and bitter chocolate brown. Like everyone I also have black in my wardrobe though I don't like it as much as the navy and brown. I'm exploring olive at the moment, which seems to work even if its not quite so dark becuase of its green undertones. I did have a foray into purple, but am not convinced it works too well for me, ditto grey, even charcoal. I'm also going to try an antique gold colour but I expect its slightly too soft.

I also like to have a few ivory or cream items to add a bit of contrast. Pure white is a little cold on me, but like black easily available, so some purchased items do end up in the wardrobe :-)


I'm not an artist, but I like to make things. Amongst people who buy everything this still makes me a little odd, but its a good antidote/flip side to my day job organising the builds of large IT systems. Sometimes after a long and interesting day getting all the right technical people to do things in the right order to end up with something that works, I really NEED to do something with my hands.

I've been sewing on and off since I was a teenager, and have a basic competence in constructing simple clothes. I have a lot to learn on fit. And have learned a bit on shape/style/colour for me.
I have been a slave to the pattern, and only recently started to chop things about a bit to see what might work.
I have several large boxes of previous projects that went wrong, and I did not have the heart or knowledge to find a way to finish them off.
More recently I pull things from this box and see what I can do with them. Sometimes the results work out well other times not so much, but I am learning as I go.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Botanical Garden SWAP : Jacket Part2

The jacket now has sleeves and a front trim.
I cut a further 1.5 inches off the bottom and off the whole of the neckline, and then curved the panel round and added the trim. I also cut the shoulders in a bit, and I think its now got a more contemprary cut and I like it a bit more. Shown below with the green blouse and the stripe straight leg trousers.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Botanical Garden SWAP : Jacket started

Well I've started a jacket. Its an old Burda pattern shortened and is a princess seamed jacket with no collar, fully lined, size 16.
The fabric is a weave of warm pink, coral and  light sagey green which seems to work quite well with all the other items in the collection. Not sure if its too 'soft' a colour for me though as I am a clear and look better in bright, contrasting outfits. Full of cold so not showing me wearing it today at least :-)