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Saturday 31 October 2009

Inspired by the Sea Wardrobe

When I came back from a late summer holiday I posted this mood board I created inspired by a boat trip.

Then my work really kicked off and my sewing slowed right down as work cut into free time.
Then I had a bit of a crunch day at work which woke a few people up and my workload got backed off a bit, ta- da time to sew again.

So today I fished out all the stash fabrics which worked with the mood board, and chose things which will meet the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest. Really this is a 3 month contest and I only have one month (November) of it left, so I have chosen a simplified wardrobe as follows:-

Teal lined wool jacket - no collar, 1 button fastening from a Prima Pattern
4 pairs of trousers all from the same pattern - I shall use a TNT, probably Simplicity 4638
(navy denim, navy washable wool, navy pinstripe wool, teal corduroy)
6 knit tops - probably from different knit top patterns I have used before ie cowl neck, scoop neck, shell etc (various shades/prints of teal and turquoise)

So this will be my Wardrobe in a month (WIAM), which is like doing a whole SWAP in a month.

Is that insane? I think its quite achievable actually, but I guess you'll have to watch this space to see if I can do it.

Also in November I am going to go across to Harrogate to the 'Knitting and Stitching Show' and will get to hang out with Jenni (aka Yorkshire Lass) as well which I am really looking forward to.

P.S. I hemmed the teal knit dress and moved it through to the wardrobe, and plan to wear it to work on Monday. I might even try and take a 'whole Ruthie' picture, but photos are not allowed in the office, so not quite sure when that might be.

SWAP 2010 initial plan

A couple of years ago for the Timmel SWAP I planned to make a chocolate brown/orange/ivory SWAP. Then I ordered fabric from Julie's site for my entry, and when it came it was more of a coral colour than an orange. I changed my plan that year to work with the the coral instead, but have kept and added fabrics to those original colours which I still love.

I try and dress relatively smartly for work, but it is always a personal battle though between what I consider suitable office wear (in my head all pinstripe pantsuits) and what I like personally (bright colours, waistcoats, boiled wool jackets, fit n flare dresses etc). I would describe my style as a Flamboyant Natural and I recently came across the web site for 'East Clothing' and a lot of the outfits there seemed very me.

So this year I am going to try to be true to myself and create a 'RuthieK being herself in the office SWAP'.

What that might include is still open to debate but one plan goes like this.

Option 2 in choc/orange/ivory
I have a 'key' fabric which is dark brown with coloured stripes in ivory, orange and gold.

2 dresses
dress 1 - knit mock wrap in an animal print (black/brown/tan)
dress 2 - sleeveless dress in the 'key' fabric, can be worn alone or with tops underneath.

6 tops
burnt orange satin shirt
gold crinkle wrap over blouse
ivory cowl neck knit
orange/white crossover knit top
dark orange knit top
yellow knit top

2 bottoms
Straight leg pants in either the 'key' fabric or dark brown wool
long skirt in dark brown faux leather

Boiled wool jacket with front drape - dark brown

If I don't do the dresses I would make an extra pair of pants (whichever not done earlier) and an extra skirt (dark brown crinkle satin).
I may well do them all anyway as I think it will work well in my wardrobe.

In terms of the sewing extras
- matched print/stripe: this will be covered by the dress or pants in the stripe fabric.
- embroidery/beading/sashiko: this will probably be on the neckline of one of the tops
- buttons/unusual closure: probably buttons on the shirt, or interesting clasp on the jacket

Friday 30 October 2009

Teal dress almost done

The teal dress just needs hems and loose threads snipping and it is done. Here's a quick photo showing what it looks like. I really like it and can see myself wearing it to work with boots or for Christmas day with ballet flats.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Teal dress started

The teal dress is started and I really like the way its very shaped in the back with a simple crossover at the front. I think this could really work for my figure.

I have lengthened the dress by about 8 inches and added a centre back seam in case I need to alter the back for my sway back forward head.

I also added 1/2" to the upper edge of the sleeve to give me a bit of room for my chunky arms.

Hopefully I will finish this tomorrow evening or over the weekend.

Note on the fabric. Its is a teal background of a plain knit which then has navy (or at least bluer teal) velvet flowers woven into the fabric. I'm not sure how its done but its quite nice.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

New Look 6429 dress

My next project is going to be this knit dress from NewLook which has been in the stash for a while.

I am going to try it in a teal knit first and then maybe for the SWAP in the animal print from a few posts ago.

Anyway first I need to finish cutting the pattern tissue, so don't expect progress to be too quick.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Shirt finished

The stripe blouse is completed. Sorry its only a hanger shot at the moment, I will try and wear it soon.

The last bits were to add 5 teal buttons on the front and 3 smaller ones on each cuff. The buttonholes are in white thread but the buttons sewn on with teal.

I also added some tiny teal green beads on the chest embroidery, at the tip of the flower petals. I did not add beading to the cuff, as I thought it might be annoying when wearing to work.

I decided that this was a good point to stop and not do anymore beading, as it can be easy to go OTT with embellishments and I just wanted a twist on the menswear shirting with a few feminine touches, but to still keep it as a work suitable item.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Knit fabric

I have really got into sewing with knits, and the knit tops I have made I often wear, plus they are quite quick to sew up when you want a co-ordinating wardrobe.
On this basis when I needed to go to the next town to the opticians, I took the route which almost passes the fabric store and had a little detour.

Left - ivory slinky, which I think will be fab as the HotPatterns Cowl Neck Top. I have 1.5 metres of this, and it drapes beautifully as its quite heavy.

Centre - poly animal print. I already had a small piece of this but bought 3 metres so I can make an animal print knit dress if I want to.

Right - red/orange viscose knit. I've bought this before and made two tops from it. Maybe a cozy or twinset this time as I bought 3 metres of this too. It is quite nice to sew but absolutely lovely to wear and a wonderful colour on me.

New scarves

I have a big thing about accessories. One of my loves is Pashmina style scarves. Today I purchased two new ones. One is a pale lime/apple green (I do already have a bright lime scarf, but liked the idea of one which is just a little softer). The other one is almost an Ikat print in shades of teal, and although I already have several teal scarves I loved the weave in this so had to buy it. I was very good otherwise though and didn't buy anthing else (well other than the fabric shop, but I went there on my way to town, will show the fabrics from there later).

Embellishment inspiration

I was browsing in Wallis today and came across this top which I really liked. Its a simple viscose jersey top in black with a ruched front, however what makes it special is the embellishment. This has been applied on a stiffened facing piece which is on the outside, stitched on by machine at the neckline, but by hand lower down.

I really like this - maybe almost enough to buy it (its £35 for anyone who is interested) - but definitely enough to try to be inspired by the method for the 2010 SWAP. One of the rules is to have among the collection,
"1 will feature embroidery, beads or sashiko"

Friday 23 October 2009


I came across the 'East' website today and was all buzzing about it. I really like a lot of the clothes on here - ie 70% of the garments on every page, which is astonishing. Its interesting though as its not quite how I dress in real life, but does seem more 'me' than the way I end up dressing if you know what I mean - maybe I am not making sense - any what I like is there use of bold colours, and slightly relaxed silhouette.

Here are some of the outfits they have styled form their website. I love seeing outfits put together like this. http://www.east.co.uk/

Blouse has sleeves

Tonight I managed to get the sleeves into the shirt in a satisfactory manner. Each sleeve has been inserted 3 times but I am finally happy with the result.

I struggled to get the sleeves in last time I made this shirt as well so there is an obvious issue with the alterations to the pattern which I need to address in future.

Anyway this was an idea from Jenni (YorkshireLass) on how to get the sleeves eased in. It is a strip of very thin knit, sewn to the seam allowance instead of gathering stitches which pulls the sleeve head nicely into shape and makes sewing it in easier. (see lower picture for how this works).

The shirt still needs buttonholes and buttons adding but its 11:30pm on a Friday night, so I will tackle that another day when I am fresh(er) .

Wednesday 21 October 2009

SWAP 2010

Fabrics pulled from the stash for the SWAP + a photo of my sewing assistant 'helping' with a job. Poor sweetie is quite old and was woken from her nap by the flash.

SWAP 2010 initial thoughts

I'm a layers person. I live in a temperate climate and run cool, so almost always wear a sweater/cardigan/jacket over my top, and the thing I found with SWAP in the past was that actually there were not enough over layers, but I understand that the rules have to cater to a large group of people and lots don't wear an over layer apparently.

Jackets are also a pain to sew, and I know the jacket component stressed me out the most last year to the point that although shown in my pictures I did give the jacket away as the fit was just not quite right.

The matching print or stripe sounds quite a challenge. I am almost done on the recent stripe blouse and working with the stripes has been quite an eye opener for me and definitely requires some skill and attention.

I'm not sure I love the emphasis on embroidery/unusual closures and so on, but I can see its a bit more creative. I am a bit nervous of it though as it tends to lead me to bizarre and unwearable madness if I let the crafty side have too much reign and the clothes still need to be tasteful and wearable.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

SWAP 2010 is here

Here is a shortened version of the rules, to join go and register at Stitcher's Guild - the rules in full are there at http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php/topic,8747.0.html
SWAP 2010 Official Rules

No purchase necessary anywhere; this contest is open to anyone with a needle and thread, regardless of budget or availability of items.
This year, to accommodate the many different clothing needs of our members, we have three SWAP formats to choose from. Certainly you may make more than one if you have time, but if you do each finished SWAP must fit one of the three formats.

They are:

Option #1:
6 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
4 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

Option #2:
2 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
6 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
2 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

Option #3:
5 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
4 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
1 bottom - jeans, pants, shorts, skirt or kilt.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

2 garments may be purchased or previously sewn.
1 may be knitted or crocheted.

1 will be a matched print or stripe.
1 will feature embroidery, beads or sashiko
1 will have buttons as the star feature OR use unusual or alternative closure(s).

This year's emphasis is going to be on making a wardrobe that fits your needs, and showcasing your sewing and embellishing skills.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2010. Because this is a shorter time frame, pattern fitting and cutting may be done whenever you're ready.

Sunday 18 October 2009

My sewing history

My mother sews and sewed a lot of our clothes when we were younger children (I have a younger brother), although as we got older we wanted shop bought clothes as home sewn did not look right (sorry Mum!).
I often remember falling asleep to the sound of the machine running as mum made our little outfits.

Mum's mother sewed and both of her sisters sewed too, so that obviously got passed down :-)
When I was the only child (I am the elder) apparently I would sit in mum's lap whilst she sewed, she'd told me to keep my hands in my lap and away from the needle and I did LOL.

I took a 2 years of Home Ec at school. This was an all girls school so only equipped for cooking and sewing (one and a half terms of each, each year). A very academic school the sewing was all about making sample pieces for a formal exam, the teacher never wore clothes she had made herself.

I found the class deeply frustrating because I could already sew a bit, but apparently it was all wrong. I never bonded with that teacher at all, and although my work was displayed as examples of things the class completed (many never finished) and I did extra things at home, I dropped the class to concentrate on my academic studies rationalising it with 'I'll still sew on my own at home'.

In 6th form (16-18 yrs) I had acquired a basic machine, I think a birthday/Christmas gift from my parents, and freed from the shackles of school uniform had started to make a few odd things. I knew nothing about fitting though so this was deeply frustrating, I made a bright yellow cotton jumpsuit (hey it was the 80s) and a knit green miniskirt with asymmetric hems. Not sensible projects at all but I had fun.

When I went away to University I took the sewing machine with me, seeing it as essential as a kettle and made a few projects as well as loaning it out to others.

Since then I took an evening class for a couple of years which did help my skills a bit but I stopped because it was an endlessly repeating beginners class and the teacher knew nothing about fitting.
At that point I found Pattern Review and Stitcher's Guild online sites and have really been able to move this interest along.

Saturday 17 October 2009

New patterns

Sewing World magazine has issues every few months where they sell end of line Simplicity and New Look patterns at a reduced price.

Whilst unable to compete with the US 99c sales, this is a cheap way in the UK of buying patterns so I ordered these 5 and they came this morning.

They all have good reviews on Pattern review and I think cover a good spectrum of garments though I am sure I will have to do alterations to pretty much all of them to my slight wierdnesses of shape.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Stripe blouse sewing

Today I made the collar stand, attached it to the collar, attached the collar to the blouse and topstitched.

I had to have a couple of goes at sewing the collar to the blouse becuase I kept catching little bits, but after a few unpicking sessions got it to lie down.

It's starting to really looks like a shirt now.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Stripe blouse sewing

I made the collar for the stripe blouse today, did not get to the stand but I guess even 30 mins of sewing is better than none.

Work is busy still, and I watched Project Runway on Sky1. Bathtime now :-)

WiaW waistcoat and trousers

This is the waistcoat and trousers from the August WiaW, with a purchased top.
I feel quite 'me' in this but the photo is lacking feet and actually looks a bit shapeles - sigh/

The fabric is black with teal and purple stripes.
Simplicity 4638 Slim leg pants and an ancient NewLook pattern 6958 for the waistcoat.

Sunday 11 October 2009

New goodies

As you know I have a 'thing' for necklaces and on that basis I purchased these two new ones on Saturday. They are laying on some purple fabric I had from my mum's fabric stash and which i think I might sew up in the Prima pattern pictured.

Green fingers

My parents have started growing a few of their own fruit and vegetables.
This year my mother grew pumpkins again. My father grew some cucumbers outside, and tomatoes and peppers in his greenhouse.
I was lucky enough to be able to bring a few items home with me, and am very excited, look how gorgeous it all looks.
(I am a townie with no gardening skills so this all seems fab to me!)

I don't seem to have inherited the green fingers unfortunately, but maybe they will come later in life when i am less busy.

Finishing projects

This weekend I spent some time with my parents and was telling my mother about my UFO problems, she laughed and took me to her study/sewing room and showed me her 5 not quite completed knitting projects and her 4 partly done sewing projects.
I think I might have identified the source of my problem!!

I have made no progress for ages on the stripe blouse but need to tackle that this week, and I am sure I can get it moving along OK.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

More earrings

Here are some more earrings made with the same method.
The coral ones use the same style of bead in three sizes - graduated to give a nice shape.
The ivory ones are using irregular polished stone chips teamed with tiny cream lined clear seed beads. You can get a lot of looks from this very simple method depending on the beads you use.

I also like to buy fun bead earrings and replace the ear wire with sterling silver for wearing comfort.

Tutorial: How to make earrings

Step 1
To make earrings in this style you need:-
1. jewellery pliers, these ones are round nose pliers
2. ear wires - these are sterling silver
3. eyepins - lengths of wire with a loop at one end
4. beads - one larger and 2 or 3 smaller ones for a nice shape

Place the beads on a non slip surface like a towel, or a specialist bead board from craft shops - this is just to stop the beads rolling about.

Step 2

Thread the beads onto the eyepins and start to bend the end over with the pliers. Make sure you leave enough length on the eyepin to form the loop. if the stack of beads is too long rethink your design or use a longer earwire.
To form the loop slightly bend the wire over to one side before gripping with the pliers and beginning to make the loop.

Step 3
Put the partly formed loop through the ring on the earwire, and close up with the pliers. Adjust until it is a nice round or oval shape and completely touches the upright section of the wire. Give it a little squeeze with the pliers to make sure its snug.

There is an art to this as you want the wire to just touch at the top of the last bead. If the eyepin is too long you can snip length off with sidecutters.

Step 4
repeat with the other earwire and wear your earrings.
This is an easy way to make earrings to match your outfits and as you only need to have two of each bead means they can often be made when you don't have enough for a necklace.

Monday 5 October 2009

Sewing machine fixed

The sewing machine is fixed (happy dance).
I was telling YorkshireLass about it and she suggested that if there was fluff under the bobbin casing that might be the issue.
I unscrewed the machine's throat plate with a dinky dwarf screwdriver took out the thing which houses the bobbin and it was full of fluff - the kind of fluff that has been there so long its almost felted. So I fished that out, discovering that it had a big knot of thread in it also, reassembled the bits and 'ta-da' it now sews again.

I would like to apologise to my lovely Janome for letting it get in a state like that and then expecting it to sew. I will try not to let it happen again and might even buy you some Gutterman thread as a celebration instead of making you sew with Moon thread.

Friday 2 October 2009


Having jammed the sewing machine up on a friday evening after a long week at work, I decided it would be easier to sort out with fresh eyes at another time and switched it off.

So feeling creative I decided to take some of my many beads and make myself a few pairs of earrings.

I have sensitive ears and have to wear gold, silver or some hypo-allergenic brands, so I used silver hooks for these earrings. I have dark hair which I often wear down, and a fairly short neck. Having experimented a bit I realised my earrings need to be light or bright (dark ones just don't show at all), neither too small not too large, and about this length - long enough to hang down from the ears, but not so long that my short neck is too obvious.
If I want to wear dark earrings I have to have my hair swept up or clipped back to showcase them.