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Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Red Fur Shrug

I have a 0.5 metre length of gorgeous dark red faux fur and fancy making it into a little shrug to wear over Christmas outfits. Not sure what style to go with just at the moment - ie try and get separate sleeves out, or just go for an extended shoulder.

Here are some ideas I have saved from online stores, though I am also wondering about the style which is a simple 2 seam shrug, I believe there were instructions in a Threads Magazine (which I don't have) as per this review on PR.



Any suggestions?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Multi Strand Pearl Necklace

I've sewn a simple black dress for Christmas parties and its going to be a good dress. It is a little more understated than the usual Ruthie look. My style personality is Flamboyant Natural, ie a Natural style with a very large dollop of Dramatic. I've learned to embrace this and find things that are me and still suitable for the office without looking too crazy.

Anyway I fancied pearls to go with my black dress, but not a single strand, or a carefully graduated set of three strands...... no I wanted a full on set of 10 strands of pearls as I need the impact which can only be obtained by larger jewellery if I'm wearing an open neckline. Pearls are a Natural material and a good colour for me BUT as I am not a Classic style personality, its not my best look to wear the normal classic pearl look.

I bought 3 sets of very very cheap costume jewellery pearls in white. Each had one long strand of medium sized pearls and one slightly shorter strand of smaller pearls. I also bought some double sided grey ribbon. After some experimentation I chose to use all 3 strands of the medium pearls, but only 2 of the smaller pearls.  Once I was happy with the layout I tied the pearl grey ribbon through the strands, knotted twice, added a dab of FrayCheck, knotted again and snipped the ends off.
I then pinned a diamante brooch from my grandmother on the lower 3 strands off to one side.
I also bought some simple pearl elasticated bracelets and some pearl stud earrings.
(All my pearls in this set are cheap plastic, not even glass pearls and definitely not real. I do have a classic triple strand of real pearls + some glass pearl bracelets, but I've not used them here. This was done partly for cost, but mostly for the weight which in nice quality glass pearls would be a bit much for a normal neck).

I followed the memory of a simple tutorial I found somewhere on the web but have since lost the link for. I will add it back in if I find it.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Remnant Cardigan

I finally got the buttonholes and buttons done on the little cardigan, which I made from a strange shaped remant of fabric. This is a sort of stretch lace with boucle fabric, the lace part is black and the boucle bits are cream and caramel. I've used textured black, cream and caramel buttons and continued them up and around the neckline for fun.... The first 5 button, and the other 5 are just for decoration.

Here it is styled with tan blouse and black necklace.

Meanwhile I went through the less interesting boxes of fabric and pulled a few pieces out, including some scraps of black and silver mesh knit which would work well with the black and silver stars fabric.
We will see how it works out.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Finishing things off

I have a couple of pieces which need finishing off.
The black and taupe cardigan needs buttonholes and buttons and the black velvet leggings need hemming.
Here's the hemmed velevet leggings. I am hoping to make a tunic out this very blingy stars and black sequinned fabric to wear over them as a comfortable but fun Christmas outfit.
The buttonholes on the taupe and black cardigan are still causing me a lot of trouble. I will have to think about my plans for them, but I will hem in the meantime whilst the coverstitch is out and ready.

One thing which was holding up progress on both was the black thread I was using kept snapping. Its a brand called WIMSEW. I had 10 spools each of black, white and cream free with a machine (either the coverhem or the overlocker, I can't recall which) and whilst the white and cream seem to be OK, the black has not impressed.

I went to Fred's Haberdashery at lunchtime earlier in the week and purchased 6 reels (all they had) of Moon thread which is not expensive and has been good for the overlocker etc before.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

SWAP 2012: Angled poise - garment plan

SWAP 2012: Angled poise - garment plan

My current thoughts are as follows:-

I am going to limit myself to red/black/white, simple shapes, use stripes and plains. An office wear wardrobe (My captions will read Monday at the office, Tuesday on a work teleconference, Wednesday in a work meeting, Thursday travelling for work etc) which doesn't try to be anything else. Sophisticated, grown up, but still with that Ruthie twist of colour/print.

Season wise, no heavy wools, also no lightweight summer clothes. Mid weight stuff you can wear in the office pretty much all year round.

At the moment I'm thinking .....
red knit dress, possibly with a red knit cardigan in the same fabric
red/black/white/pink funky knit print dress

black and white sweater knit cardi (if I find the fabric in the stash.....)
red skirt and jacket which can be worn as a suit or split apart
black pinstripe suit - jacket, trousers, skirt and waistcoat, perhaps a simple dress though less likely
black and red print silk tie neck blouse
black and white stripe shirt
Black and white stripe tee, red/black/white/pink funky knit tee (maybe with black to eke out fabric leftovers)
this is slightly too many things but allows for changes of mind, projects going wrong etc.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Angled Poise SWAP 2012

Here's my thoughts for the SWAP 2012, I've called it "Angled Poise" which is inspired by angles and has a generally grown up feel. I have used pictures which inspired me, rather than these being garments I shall reproduce exactly, but it give an idea of the vibe, colours, styles etc.


I am planning to use the black, red and white palette. Lots of stripes, top stitching and simple, almost stark silhouettes. Dresses, suits and separates suitable for the office.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Real Ruthie

Whilst not the most flattering photo ever, here's a photo my mum took of me when I was out walking the canal with my parents the weekend before last. It is so great being able to spend some time with them now I am nearer.
Dad sent cryptic instructions to meet at a certain location, I then drove them to another location, we then walked back along the canal to their car, then drove back to my car and then went back to our respective homes. Complicated but actually worked really well.
Here's mum and dad as taken by me. (see lock mechanism in the background).
They've been so good to me :-)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Black Velvet Leggings

I'm still thinking about the jacket honest, but in the meantime I cut out and sewed up these black velvet leggings. The little velvet bits which float in the air after cutting did make me sneeze a bit, but the leggings have come out quite nice and are super comfortable. Tomorrow I will coverstitch the hems and they will be done.
I've added a tiny scrap of cream knit to the centre back as a blank 'label' so I know which is the back.

Jacket Plans

I haven't ever really managed to make a jacket that actually fitted. However my fairly recent discovery that I have a forward head has been quite a revelation, and I now know how to alter patterns for knit tops, knit dresses and cardigan type jackets to fit better. This is good.
My woven jackets have always been a bit hit and miss, but armed with my various new wedge alterations I thought I'd start with a simple collarless jacket. Because I have worked out on my tops what to do with Simplicity/New Look patterns, plan to use a Simplicty pattern.

A bit of a trawl through my pattern stash resulted in finding Simplicity 4194, and my original plan was to use the short jacket from this pattern
Then I had a look through some of the already selected patterns on my sewing table and found I had Simplicity 4081. I decided this was going to be a better choice and will be working on View B (the red jacket) though without the detailing. This doesn't have a centre back seam so I shall need to add one.




Friday, 11 November 2011

More fabric purchases

As you might have noticed from reading my blog I am a bit short of fabric (hahahahahaha NOT). Anyway I was surprised to discover I didn't have any plain black jersey, and I wanted some black leggings to wear with boots plus some leftovers for other nefarious sewing purposes.

On this basis I went to town at lunchtime, and discovered what I thought was a carpet shop with a few rolls of fabric, has loads more fabric upstairs (which I thought was a storage room). This was good. I found the plain black jersey and bought 3 metres of it. I also bought 2 metres of coral pink jersey, 1.5 metres of cream jersey with a brown leaf print and 5 metres of striped black washable suiting to make separates. I came back to work very happy!

I suppose you would like a picture of the goodies?

OK here goes :-)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Denim Leggings

Using the basic Burda leggings from the January 2011 magazine in a size 44, I cut out some stretch denim leggings. The denim was a lot less stretchy than the last fabric I used which was a 4 way stretch knit, so I added super large seam allowances and then sewed the seams at 1/2". They are snug but quite wearable.
I took 3" of the top of leggings and 1.5" off the bottom before cutting them out and they are still plenty long enough. I used 2" elastic for the waist and did 5/8" machined hems to the legs, and there is still some scrunching at the ankles. I am 5'5" or therabouts.
I have chunky legs, and definitely don't consider leggings to be pants, so I tried a few things on before I settled on a wearable outfit. The best one only showed a tiny bit of the leggings
- long white linen shirt, worn over long coloured cami, dark denim leggings, knee length brown suede boots. Topped with the mink cable cardigan made from the throw.

I like them, and can see other dark stretch denim fabric pieces being used in a similar way in future.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My Image Magazine

My Image Magazine has arrived.
I ordered both Winter 2001/2012 (above) and Summer 2011 and am very pleased they have come so quickly.
I wonder what I shall try first!

This is a Dutch magazine and as far as I can tell is only available in a few fabric shops in Holland and Germany, but nowhere else, so yes if you want to order it use the links above to go to their website. You can use your credit card to pay via Paypal as a guest and they will ship anywhere in the world.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

More dress

I'm going to work on the dress a bit more tonight honest.
<cheeky grin>

I am wondering about getting a haircut. I have mid length naturally wavy hair, fine but lots of it. I have a greasy scalp though, so team clarifying shampoo with plenty of good conditioner on the hair ends.
Now here comes the confession. Other than trimming my fringe (bangs), I have not had a haircut since January (before I split from my ex) as I had a home hairdresser who came to the house to cut both of our hair. I've been quite happy to grow my hair out as its felt girly and I like that. However 9 months without trimming can't be good for the condition of those ends. I have done a home colour twice or maybe 3 times in that time just to keep the greys at bay and don't overdo it on styling etc, but I wonder if sometimes I look a bit too natural, and maybe like I don't really care.
Maybe I'll ask the girls at work tomorrow and see what feedback I get, they are fairly honest but nice with it.

I found with my hair type I either needed a short layered style - but that only works when I'm right at the bottom of my weight range and my face has thinned right down - not currently. Or a lot longer with layers. Style personality wise I am Natural with a large dose of Dramatic, and the long wavy layers has that Free Spirit Chic look. I could take the colour more dramatic (ie more into the red) which would bring out my green eyes more, but maybe make wearing some of my Spring pinks it a bit more challenging.
For work, especially when I need to be serious, professional or metaphorically kick someone's butt, I twist my hair back and make a twisted loop on the back of my head which I pin place with a barette.
I like being able to have both as I can literally let my hair down at the end of the day!

Right enough wittering back to sewing or I shall have nothing to show for it!

Updated to add quick hanger shot of the dress, still needs hemming.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Dress progress

The dress is cut out and I've constructed the back, front twist and lower bodice at this point, so only sleeves and hemming to go, hopefully tomorrow.
I'm liking the fabric. The gold sparkles are somehow woven into the fabric, not printed on, but are very subtle, and only on one side. I have no idea how it is done but for a poly it has great hand, not plasticky at all. I think it'll make a nice little black dress with a twist (literally). Though the gold sparkles will probably make it too much for work. It should however be very flexible for events. I can see the centre of the twist being a great place to pin an accent brooch, or sew a faux jewel, and since it'll have sleeves I shall be warm enough and not be exposing my upper arms to the world.
The length does appear to be just about knee length with the additional 2.5" so I shall do a scant 1/2" hem on the coverstitch machine and hope that's OK.
So it will need black hosiery to slim my calves, but I think will be very wearable.

edited to add for some strange reason some of the colour came off onto my fingers whilst I was sewing. Not what I would expect from a polyester knit. I'll need to wash it before the first wear to avoid getting a tide mark at the neck from the dress. Very odd and slightly disconcerting.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Dress Idea

I have some 2 way stretch black knit with gold sparkles. It's very polyester in content but really rather tasteful. (Some sparkle fabrics are tasteful, some are blingy, this is tasteful).
I think it is going to be a dress from New Look 6071 with sleeves. I've sucessfully altered a few New Look patterns to deal with my forward head so I think it quite doable, as it even has the back neck seam already.
The sparkles make it too much for work, but it could be great for those Christmas parties. And being poly should wash and dry very easily ready for the next event!
I imagine it styled with pearls and velvet evening knee boots, red nails and lips.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

SWAP 2012 thoughts & Party outfits advice wanted

The SWAP thread on Stitchers Guild is still undergoing questions, including various exceptions which confuse me as they appear counter to the main rule set, but perhaps these will be incorporated into a final rule set before sewing actually starts and this will address the current apparent contradictions.

I must say I'm not hugely enamoured of the 'new' rules as they seem a long way from the wardrobing approach of 6 tops, 4 bottoms and a jacket which was the orginal SWAP, but hey its not all about me, and I'll eventually find a way to sew a new SWAP plus some extras to fill things out (especially more knit tops).

I had already planned a colour scheme and theme for SWAP before the rules were published and still like it a lot, however I'm not going to share that here or on SG until much later. That's because I've had experiences of people being so inspired by my mood boards they copied it directly before I had time to sew things up which was rather a shame and rather took the wind out of my sails. Sorry about that folks, but you will get to see it at the end of SWAP when you can judge for yourself how closely I stuck to my original inspiration.

I had my powerpoint slide of the mood board printed off, and one key fabric which seems to sum up the whole collection nearby and then have been through most of my fabric stash  deciding what would work and what would not work. This was not quite everything as there's some fabric I recall owning which I have not yet found, presumably still in a moving box someplace. As ever this is enough fabric for about 3 collections but since its every piece which might work, and of course could be too short yardage, wrong weight/fibre etc when examined more closely etc I'm happy enough with that and it gives me a starting point.
When sewing capsules, wardrobes or collections I like to have a few alternatives for when things just do not work out as expected. And pretty much each time I have a few things which work better than I expected and a few other things which didn't quite live up to the original vision. I see this as part of the creative process and don't beat myself up about it too much, but it does mean I need some extra options for when things go a bit a pear shaped.

I still need to think what I am going to do in terms of more Autumn/Winter sewing, as well as what I should do for dressy events over Christmas.
I already have one week with 3 Christmas events on consecutive evenings (Wed, Thu, Fri of the same week) which blows my usual '1 outfit for all events' approach out of the water as not enough time to launder. I have one sleeveless dressy dress which is red and I tend to wear for both weddings and Christmas things as well as various sparkly blouses/tops and plain trousers, so I probably need to get it all out and try on to see what works and what doesn't. Because the sparkly stuff gets so much less wear I tend to keep it for a lot longer and it may have dated rather.

Remember I am a not too slender pear, with long wavy hair and newly single.... what do you suggest?
(Edited to add make that 4 on 4 consecutive nights, the date of the Church Youth Ball (I help as a youth leader so kinda need to go to this) is now confirmed and is the Saturday after all the others!)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

SWAP 2012 Official Rules

The SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) Official Rules are up at Stitchers Guild. DragonLady has taken things in a slightly new direction.......

No purchase neccesary anywhere; this contest is open to anyone with a needle and thread, regardless of budget or availability of items.  Just jump in and join the fun.

When SG ran the first SWAP contest after Julie Culshaw gave it to us, we switched the emphasis from "wardrobing" to "sewing".  Several people told us how happy they were that sewing was the main point, because SG is foremost a sewing board.  Thereafter, the "sewing" aspect has been the primary focus.  However, last year's challenge was an undeniable flop.  Lots of people made plans, a few bought supplies, a few made a garment or three...but only two people finished.  A wide variety of reasons were offered, ranging from other life challenges to simply feeling overwhelmed with the rules.  I want to continue keeping "sewing" as the main focus of our contest; however, I also want everyone to end the challenge with a wardrobe of gorgeous clothing.

There is, today, also a thread in the "chatter" section discussing sewing success rates.  An informal poll has revealed that a large number of our members still struggle with wadders and failures.   But the tip-over  point seems to be fitting, and working with NEW patterns.   Whether they are purchased or self-drafted, a set of basic patterns that result in successful garments on a consistent basis helps ensure that sewing time results in wearable garments.  And that those that still fail don't make the sewist feel like a failure -sometimes, the pattern or garment just doesn't work. 

This year, our SWAP will focus on fitting, and making tried-and-true patterns: testing and fitting paper patterns, muslins, and fashion garments that will help lower the overall sewing failure rates,  result in fabulous clothing to be proud of, and (hopefully) give every contestant a pattern or two that works every time it is used.

Choose any seven garments from this list:

Button Down Shirt w/Collar         
Blouse or polo shirt                   
T-Shirt         
Vest                               
Overshirt               
Dress           
Long Pants or Jeans     
Shorts or Capri Pants     
Skirt 
Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)                   
Coat  (suit or sport coat)
Overcoat or Raincoat   
Bathing Suit & Coverup
                           

From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together.   Those four may either be repeated garments from the same pattern, or one each from two different patterns.

 It doesn't matter what styles you choose, but *do* keep in mind these should be patterns you will be using over and over in the future, so keep 'em simple with lots of room for future alterations, changes and embellishments.  You will probably want to make a test muslin of each pattern, so that any fitting issues can be addressed early on.

If you already have a full set of basic patterns, this is your opportunity to expand a bit.  You may have all the coats and coat patterns you'll ever need, so you can skip that and make two skirts instead. 

There is no requirement regarding the type of fabric, whether you use solids or prints, or a certain number of tops and bottoms.  At the end, you should simply have eleven garments that fit you nicely, will live together peacefully in the same closet, and be wearable -often- together.  We're not looking for the most breathtaking garments; we're looking for the ones that fit the best and will work hardest as wardrobe staples.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2012.  Muslins, pattern fitting and cutting may be started whenever you are ready. 

 This is not quite what I was expecting, since I am still a fan of the "wardrobing" side of original SWAP. So I have some thinking to do, and some patterns to consider.