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Tuesday 29 June 2010


Well I made a dress - knit in a black and white print, and have cut out a navy knit top which I have not yet sewn up.
My home internet connection is broken so just occasional postings from other locations.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Knip Mode

Today I sat in the garden in the sunshine with a large cup of coffee and the four Knip Mode magazines.
Of the 4 magazines, September 2009 had the most items I could almost immediately see me wearing, with February 2008 (from Jenni) having almost as many. The two more recent issues April and June 2010 were rather disappointing, though I find summer frustrating with Burda and RTW as well, lots of shorts/short skirts and sleeveless things and hardly anything that someone with fat arms and legs could wear to the office.
Also what's with the carrot pants? I just cannot see them being flattering on my pear shaped lower body.

June does have a swimsuit pattern which looks quite interesting, though I am not planning to sew one at the moment, though I do have some bright emerald green swimsuit fabric in stock somewhere.

Anyway as with any new pattern company, generally I find the best approach is to sew something simple as a test and see how far you differ from their sloper, so I need to find a simple top with sleeves, a simple skirt and some basic trousers across the 4 mags and make some trail garments.

Friday 25 June 2010


Been away with work for a couple of days so no sewing.
I did however wear a couple of self sewn outfits.
We went out for a big team night out (drinks, food and clubbing) and I wore the Union Jack jeans and the Kimono style top from the Christmas collection.
Fortunately there are no pictures of me on the dance floor with a lot of 19 year olds well after my usual bedtime.

Today I wore the pink lace top (with lined body but sheer sleeves) with pinstripe navy trousers and a purchased red jacket, earrings and necklace.
I never used to wear red and pink together but these days I like to use the fairly close colours together.
Ie pink with red, teal with lime, orange with red etc, I am not quite sure why but its a great shot of colour which is very uplifting.

In more sensible news my Knip Mode magazines arrived from the nice people at Naaipatronen.nl.
I've only managed a quick flip through but so far I like September 2009 the best. It has a particularly nice jacket that is very me. Well OK several.

Anyway due to the partying, dancing, working and terrible drive back this afternoon I am frankly very tired and an early night is required, so am not even going to go in the sewing room tonight in case injure myself or any equipment.
Night night

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Wearing the jeans

Here I am wearing the jeans. I wouldn't normally tuck tops in so this is just to show the jeans off.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

London Calling: Jeans Finished

Here are the finished jeans. I am very pleased with how they came out. I have topstitched the heck out of them. The denim is quite thick and soft, so might be overkill for a July weekend but I'll still wear them.

I have existing pieces in red, cream and navy which could be worn with the jeans but I am still planning to sew some other pieces, and you never know it might turn into enough of a wardrobe to be my entry on the PR wardrobe contest.

Monday 21 June 2010

London Calling: my next collection

Sometimes you just get an idea and then go and run with it.
My latest idea popped into my head, pretty much fully formed and named.
Its LONDON CALLING and is based around some (partly constructed) jeans which have stylised Union Jack pockets.

The idea of of these is that they are part of a capsule to wear to the Stitchers Guild weekend in London at the end of July. And having thought 'I'd like some new jeans' the concept gathered steam once I thought of the pockets based on the British flag.
The concept of the pockets took a couple of versions before they were urban rather than crafty and were frankly a pain to sew on, but the effect is pretty much what I imagined so I am pleased.

I am imagining lots of red and navy tops worn with the jeans which have red pocket linings and inner waistband.

Topstitching is a pain isn't it, I keep having the wrong colour thread on the machine for the next step.

P.S. To Melissa re the overlocker, you CAN disenage the knife, as the chap at Jaycott's did to show me something when demo'ing. You have to move the needles up to the highest position and twiddle a knob.
If I can find the section in the book I'll share.

Sunday 20 June 2010


OK so I fibbed, I am not making black trousers after all, but instead have cut out some dark blue jeans in a trouser style.
I will thread my new overlocker (serger) up with dark blue thread and see how I get on with the machine and the jeans.
I have some ideas for interesting back pockets but not sure yet that they will work OK.

Update - good progress made on jeans. Two pairs of back pockets made becuase the first ones were too literal an interpretation of the theme I had in mind.
Front pockets constructed, back darts constructed, lots of edges serged to keep the bits down - did I mention I got a new overlocker (serger). Its beautiful and is soo much quieter than the old Janome 134D, you can even tell what song is on the radio whilst using it! (The old Janome serger was compared by DH to a pneumatic drill when he was trying to watch TV in the room below).

Then there comes a point in the evening where you get a bit dopey - folks this is the point to stop sewing - you can switch to reading sewing blogs if you still need a fix, or maybe a bit of hand sewing - buttons or hems perhaps, but you have got to leave the machines alone.
This is the time of night when sergers unthread themselves, cut holes in garments, you sew over you finger with the sewing machine, press something poly on cotton setting etc, so as insurance I stop now when I start to feel tired, and the sewing room accidents are right down. Funny hey?

Self Stitched September

Self Stitched September is a follow on from Me Made May which I didn't participate in this encourages bloggers to wear and share clothing they have made themselves everyday for a month.
I couldn't run to whole outfits everyday, but could definitely have one piece.
In the past I used to have one piece I made everyday, though often it was just jewellery - usually bead earrings, or next most often a knit top.

As a practice for that I might try when I go to the Stitchers Guild London weekend at the end of July, to take and wear as much 'made by Ruthie' pieces as possible.
The better I get a wardrobe sewing the easier that gets!

(Now if I allowed myself thrifted items - ie stuff from charity shops - it would be easier as I have a few pre owned items in regular rotation).

Not sure I could manage photos every day though, especially if I was away with work.

Updated to add a bit of feedback to some of the comments.
Joy - yes I have made a lot of clothes, but I have not made many nice jackets, and my working life needs jackets.
To have an entirely made by me wardrobe that fitted my lifestyle I would need to sew a lot of jackets, soft jackets and cardigans as my layering pieces. I would also need more tailored pants and some more jeans. And slightly surprisingly, for this time of year some short sleeved tees, as the ones I have made in the past have long sleeves mostly.
I have been looking at simple unlined jacket patterns, after a post on SewingPlum's blog sparked some ideas. Some old Prima magazine patterns I saved for unlined jackets/coverups look interesting.
One has a waterfall front, another a doubled band around the front and neck, and a third a simple shawl type collar and single button.

The stuff I have made for myself is more and more wearable, though I've had a few gone wrong moments.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Upcoming sewing plans

I'm generally very co-ordinates focussed and really love sewing co-ordinating collections of simple clothes.
I did two collections for the Stitchers' Guild SWAP and have also been working on a collection in black/white/red. I'd then planned out a turquoise/chartreuse/dried sage wardrobe for the PR contest, but I've only made one piece for it.

However at the moment I am wanting a break from co-ordinated collections, and think I might sew as the projects unfold naturally if that makes any sense. Having just finished the black/red/white dress with black bands I have black on all the machines, and one thing I would like to have in my wardrobe is a pair of textured black trousers with pockets. I have a nice RTW pair but they are plain and pocketless which requires always carrying the handbag.

So I think those might be the next project and after that who knows. Its nice to be sewing without a plan, or even a colour scheme in mind, though I think I will say to myself that anything I sew has to be wearable straight away, so season appropriate and other stuff to make an outfit already in the wardrobe, but other than that its free choice!

New Overlocker (serger)

Woohoo, here's picture of the overlocker I just brought home, a Bernina 800DL.
I've had a stable of Janome machines but used a Bernina overlocker on a course and have been thinking about replacing my 15 year old overlocker and chose this one from Jaycott's in Chester who are my fave sewing machine shop.

Friday 18 June 2010

Coverstitch Hemming

A tip from Jenni cracked the problem I was having with the Coverstitch. I was using poor quality thread in one of the needles that kept breaking. I switched it out for an identical looking but better quality spool and hemmed the dress.
Here it is with the belt tied at the front. It doesn't hang right on a hanger - my widest bit is the hips, which are not demonstrated in a hanger shot.
Perhaps a photo this weekend of me actually wearing it :-).

I am not sure what I want to sew next. Inspiration is not striking me. I have black thread on all three machines, so something black would make sense. Perhaps my current fave Burda trouser pattern with side pockets.

However I am planning to test drive new sergers/overlockers tomorrow as I want to replace the 15 year old one which sounds like a pneumatic drill (according to DH).

I also ordered some KnipMode magazines from Naaipatronen.nl as they have a 3 for 2 offer on the magazines and I have wanted to try them for a while. I think Dutch style might be quite me.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Fabric purchases

Bought two knit fabrics on Leeds market today. There's a double stall in the indoor market that I really like - they sell quite nice stuff at quite reasonable proces.
There's another stall that's cheaper but never seems to have anything nice.

Anyway on the nice stall they had a selection of jerseys, mostly not colours I wanted but I bought a dark red viscose jersey - very stretchy and a nice white, navy and red stripey knit jersey which would work really well with jeans.
I bought two meters of each and its quite wide so not sure what (other than knit tops obviously) I am going to make. The stripe has a fault in the middle so I got a bit of a discount, which left us all happy.

The plain jerseys are £3.00 per metre and the striped ones £4.00 per metre but the colour ranges are limited.
Apparently the owner buys them as leftovers from someone who imports knits from Germany, so in order to get the good prices he can't predict the colours.

Do you think it would be too much to have a dress in this red fabric? I might buy some more if it would be do-able. I reckon for my A line skirt dress I need 2.5 metres of knit fabric.

Sunday 13 June 2010

First try at knit dress

Here's my first try at a knit dress. Not sure about the print which looks rather checky at a distance.
The bodice is Jalie, the sleeves Butterick and the skirt traced off RTW. The waistband was my own invention and needed some tweaking.
The coverstitch is misbehaving again so the skirt hem is a job for tomorrow, otherwise it is done.

Pink and white knit top

I originally made this knit top as part of the PR Wardrobe Contest in 2007.
I wore it a bit and then lost some weight, but put it to one side to be resized later.
Later has now come, and its been recut down to a new smaller size which is lovely.
The pattern on both occasions was the Jalie crossover top.

This top works with the Botanical Garden Collection clothes, so plenty to wear with it.
One thing I need to remember is that coral pink is very flattering to me and I should find ways to wear it around the face. One of those colours where minimal makeup is required to make me look fresh and well.
(Remember the pink lace top? That got me a 'you're glowing comment' which was lovely :-)  )

Slightly annoyingly the coverstich machine's looper thread ran out about 6 inches before I finished the hem last night , at this point it was midnight so I threaded the upper threads back through on the fabric and tied them off and went to bed.
Today I had to get the manual out to work out how to thread the looper and also rethreaded a needle.
After a few samples we were off and I finished the top.

All that for 6 inches, since I am now going to change to black thread on all the machines and make a few more items. Ah well its valuable experience learning the machine, and a whole lot LESS annoying than when I first learned to thread and use the overlocker/serger. That was soo bad I'd put off sewing for days because I couldn't face it. These days I hope I am made of sterner stuff.

Not sure if the coverstitch is simpler, or becuase I can already cope with a serger, the coverstitch makes sense?

Saturday 12 June 2010

Knit dresses

I have really struggled with getting dresses to fit.
Two sorts seem to work
1 - empire line fitted through shoulders and bust and then gently flaring out after that
2 - fitted body, waist seam and slightly flared skirt.

I just twigged that no2 means I could make a knit dress by taking any well fitting knit top pattern (and I have a ton of them) cutting at the waistline to create a waist seam and adding a slightly flared skirt to it. I'd need a lot of skirt to cover the nether regions though so will have to make sure I purchase enough fabric when I see a great print.
Knot front knit dress anyone, cowl neck, the options are endless, I am feeling a little bit delirious.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Turquoise print knot front top

Since there was still white threads on all the machines, I sewed this up tonight.
My cover stitching is getting better all the time!
A bold print but very me, and I've avoided getting the giant flowers in any unfortunate places :P
Though that was purely accidental, though fortuitous :D

The fabric is from the Remnant House in Harrogate and is still available at £3.75 a metre. Its on page 6 of the Jersey fabrics.
Link to Remnant House
It has come out well. I wore it to work today (Thursday) with a cami, a boring brown pant suit and a bold funky strand necklace.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3549 with sleeves added from the Simplicity cardi wrap pattern.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Knit dress

I wore a purchased knit dress to work today and liked it so this evening I traced the skirt off and modified the Jalie wrap top pattern to be the bodice and added the traced skirt.
My machines are all threaded with white thread and although this has a white background I want to add black bands so need to sew up in black really.
Swatch of fabric I am using shown below. The coin is a UK 50p coin which is quite a large coin, just over an inch in diameter so you can see that its a large print. let's hope its OK when sewn up :-)

Sunday 6 June 2010

What to sew next

Pattern review have a wardrobe contest running at the moment, and I love a wardrobe contest. I have the fabrics chosen and have cut out a knit top today but not sewn it up.
On the other hand I could probably do with certain fill in the gaps type items in my wardrobe, some of them boring (black trousers with flat front and pockets) and some of them experimental (aubergine border print maxi dress).
I'd also like to sew a knit dress based on the Jalie cross over top, and would like to have ready some dress and jacket TNTs (though have not put the work into these yet).

Mayeb I can rotate round between things over the next 3 months.
a) fill in the gaps sewing basics
b) interesting projects which suddenly appeal
c) muslins and test garments
d) wardrobe contest

I wonder how best to get the balance between creativity and planning in my sewing.

Kwik Sew 3549 with sleeves

Here's Kwik Sew 3549 with added Simplicity sleeves.
I am very pleased with it :-)

Trying new knit top patterns

I love wearing and sewing knit tops. But it must be said that I have really used the same few over and over again now and its getting a bit boring. So I thought I would branch out and try some new knit top patterns. There is always a bit of risk in new patterns (which is why I love TNTs so much) so I bought 5m of horrible pink striped poly knit @50p per metre to use as 'muslin' for knit top patterns.
I know all knits are not created equal but since I have started to pay a bit more for my nice print knits I'd like to know the patterns would work. Particularly in terms of how the front neck and bustline fit as I have sometimes come unstuck on this.
So the two I want to try next are a Kwik Sew knot front top, where the front is all one piece with a centre front seam, this is very simple but I have not had success on the fit with Kwik Sew woven tops so am being cautious.
The second is from Prima magazine so not available anymore but this is an all in one shrug + cami style top which I have seen a lot in shops here but not in a pattern elsewhere. The ones in the shops were either too low at the front or the shrug part exposed bra straps but I am sure if I sew my own I can sort those issues out.

Here's the test shrug top. DH not wowed, but perhaps he can't see past the yucky fabric. Thoughts?
I have made short sleeves in the test garment but would have 3/4 or long ones in reality.
One thought is to gather the centre front with elastic to give a more sweetheart neckline.

And here is the Kwik Sew knot front top with little sleeves added. I sewed a medium but need a bit more room around the lower tummy and hip area. Not good in a stripe IMHO, but again I am just testing the pattern to see if it works out. A bit of fiddling with the knot is required to stop the wrong side showing but it comes out OK after that.

I like the Kwik Sew enough to make it up in nice fabric. Not sure about the Prima though, its obviously not wide enough through the shoulders (I cut a 14)

Saturday 5 June 2010

Purchased jacket

Today I saw a fun jacket which really appealed so I bought it.
This picture is from the EWM website and the print is more broken up on the jacket I purchased, but it gives a good idea of the style.
The buttonholes are red which is a nice touch.
It should work well with other red, black or white pieces already in my wardrobe and will be great for work - very me.

Friday 4 June 2010

Cowl neck print top

Having not managed any sewing all week (largely due to work) I have managed to get a chunk of time in this evening to finish up this HotPatterns cowl neck top in white with black, red and coral floral print.
This is part of the Newspaper Collection - red, black and white wardrobe, and may well be the final item in this collection for a while as I have a hankering after my new plan - Turquoise Trends.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Jacket fitting

I am going to have another go at fitting a jacket. After 2 muslins I am going to try in fabric I like but wasn't expensivve, but make the jacket up all the way to see how it works out.
After much debate I am going to use a sage green twill and cream/green poly print for a lining with some age green buttons.
I'll then quickly sew up a matching skirt and then with existing tops I should have an outfit straight away.
I'll wear it a bit to check the jacket works before cutting into more expensive fabric.

After that I'll probably need the mental break and do some TNT tops and trousers but then I would like to muslin for a knit dress and a woven dress and see if I can bottom out the issue I have had with dresses.

One idea for a knit dress is to take the modified Jalie wrap top, cut it off at waist length and add a skirt.
The nicest knit dresses I have seen use a dark background print as their basis which I find interesting. However nice print knits are very rare beats in these parts so I probably won't get to try that out.

Tired now so off to bed. Happy sewing!