Black Lives Matter

Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 Review

2011 has been a strange year. I moved house twice and got divorced. I spent quality time with my parents, and built a new relationship with my mum and dad as an adult. I moved to a new town where I knew a few people from work slightly, but no-one else. I lived on my own for the first time ever, and also holidayed alone. I went camping with my parents and nieces. I've taken up hillwalking, made some new friends and started volunteering with the young people at church. There were also a lot of changes at work during the year - a change of boss and working a lot more with staff in India.
There have been some tough days, but I've had two friends who were particularly supportive at the low points and I made it through.

Oh but wait this is a sewing blog ROFL!

This year I've hardly been on Pattern Review but have enjoyed the community at Stitchers Guild very much. Thank you all. I follow a number of blogs and use the side bar as my blog reader. I get lots of ideas and inspiration from this online sewing community.

This year for the first time since 2006 I have not really managed to sew myself a co-ordinated collection. I didn't enter SWAP 2011, and haven't really completed a 6PAC. I'm not beating myself up about this, but am going to really go for SWAP 2012.

I have done some sewing this year though :-)

Before I moved to my parents last Jan I made a faux shearling jacket - this may have been at the very end of December..... I've not worn it yet and it still needs the fur hooks sewing on - maybe Monday before I go back to work.

February and March I didn't sew anything. In April I made some cushion covers for cushions to put on an old sofa my parents were going to give me for my own little rented place.
May I moved into my new home and unpacked. My blog followers got to 100, I thought about a giveaway but never quite followed through (sorry).
In June I made a top - but without the overlocker so doesn't quite have the inside finish I prefer.
July I didn't sew. In August I started sewing for Autumn. The theme was orange, brown and cream. I made 3 knit tops, a cardigan, a hat and some mittens. No bottoms though so a bit of a cheat as a collection goes.
I had planned to sew more pieces in this colourway but it didn't really pan out. In September I made the cardigan on the right. I went on holiday and turned it into a fabric buying spree!
In November I switched focus to Christmas party type clothes, plus made leggings. The pieces don't really work as a wardrobe, but I did another collection board anyway.
The dress on the right and the red furry jacket were sewn in early December but did not get worn as something about them is just too much.
After Christmas I came back from my parents and had a few mad sewing days making cushions and covers for bean slabs.
And then two new knit tops, which work in with the Autumn Collection.

My plans for 2012 include the SWAP on Stitchers Guild, making my home dec scraps into useful things and selling them at the church community centre craft fayres, and something of a wardrobe edit.
I hope you'll continue to tune in to Ruthie's Sewing Adventures in 2012!!

Friday, 30 December 2011


Its my birthday today, and the first since I've been living on my own. Its a tough time of year to arrange social things as lots of people are busy with their families, and it makes a singleton feel a bit left out.
However in the end I've had some kind people help me make plans for today.
First up is lunch with my mum, auntie and two cousins at Ikea today. We pick Ikea as a meeting point because its a similar distance for us all to drive, the cafe is not expensive and you can also buy storage boxes or whatever! This is my craft show sewing auntie too, so she's bringing me some samples of her work, which I am welcome to copy and adapt. We live far enough apart that we're not going to impact each other's sales :-)

Then this evening a few ladies from church are coming round for drinks, nibbles and a chat, which is definitely nicer than staying in on my own feeling glum. Its quite hard when you've moved to a new town and although you know people they are not really close friends yet, so I appreciate these ladies making the effort to care for me.

A few cards came already in the post and I put them carefully under the Christmas tree to be opened this morning. A BIG THANK YOU to Jenni (aka Yorkshire Lass) who sent me a very elegant card with a dressmakers dummy on it and a beautiful embellished notebook which says 'Once You Choose Hope, Anything Is Possible' - almost too lovely to write in :-)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Cowl/turtle neck top 2

Here's the second version - this time in plain cream.
This also needs coverhemming on the hem and sleeves.

Both tops have cross grain strips sewn into the shoulder seams and back neck seam to stop things stretching out. This was quite fiddly to do, but I hope means the tops will retain their shape in the longer term.

Cowl/turtle neck top

When the weather gets colder I would love to be able to wear a turtleneck to keep cosy. My forward head means normal turtleneck styles are unwearable, so I have been getting by with scoop neck tops and soft scarves, but this leaves a draft at the back of the neck, and doesn't work under scratchy wool jackets.
So I have adapted my altered scoop neck tee pattern, lengthening the sleeves from 3/4 to full length, and replacing the neckband with a loose collar which is a looser version of a turtleneck but which works for me. It still needs coverhemming but I am very pleased with the John Kaldor cotton print knit top as my first version.
I have a cream version cut out, ready to do next, and then will probably switch the machines to black and do something which will work with the SWAP colourway :-)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Burda Style January

I picked up Burda Style for January yesterday.
I quite like the pencil skirt and the chiffon wrap blouse.
None of the underwear is calling my name, but it'd be handy to have access to the patterns if I have a lingerie push in future.
The ruffle collar jacket also has me interested, and I wonder if it would work with boiled wool.
This is also the costume edition, which might I suppose come in handy in future.
There's a rather lovely plus tunic - used as the cover model on the UK edition - though I am not sure its worth the effort to downsize it.
The apron pattern might be useful, though I must admit I have a simpler approach which is just to trace around a purchased apron!
The slim leg pants also look interesting and might be a good way to introduce this silhouette to my wardrobe as well as being a good starting point for making jeans (since I have such a Burda butt)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Home Dec Sewing

Here's the three 22" cushions I made for snuggling on my slightly battered terracotta sofa.

I also recovered the big bean slab, used for feet, TV remote etc.
The bean cube tends to live in the hall for somewhere to sit when talking on the telephone or putting shoes on. The small bean slab (standing on end in front of the bean cube) can be used as a back rest for the bean cube to make it more chair like.

I made the inserts for the cushions on the sofa yesterday evening as I didn't have anything large enough to hand. The bean cube and small bean slab are also homemade (from a long expired beanbag) but some time ago, but did need new covers.

I don't have much fabric left over but will cover a little lumbar cushion to match, and see what scraps still remain after that!
After that I will probably make a knit top or two whilst the cream thread is on the machines.
And then after that, it will be SWAP time :-)

Socks, SWAP and sewing

For Christmas Jenni (aka YorkshireLass) sent me some absolutely gorgeous handknitted socks. They are lovely!!! Look rainbow stripes :-) How lucky am I? (Very that is....)
I never mastered knitting and am in awe of the knitters, since I can only sew. Thank you Jenni!

SWAP has started and I'm desperate to sew. For some reason the sewing urge has manifested itself in a spurt of home dec sewing, which slightly took me by surprise. But its using up stash, and producing useful stuff so who am I to argue?
It is a little strange when the creative drive is in a different direction than the conscious brain thought it was planning, but I'm just going with it for now, though it may needing reining in if I am to complete SWAP!

So far I have made covers for 3 bean items - a cube, a large slab and a small slab. I then fancied large cushions (22") so proceded to make 4 cushion inners this size from one of my huge bags of stuffing. I now want to make covers for these cushion inners and will have then used up all of that particular piece of fabric, bar a few rectangular scraps, which I may just throw away! (We shall see).

Having hauled some of these home dec pieces through 3 moves now, I want to use them up usefully this year as much as is feasible, and get the volume down some as it poses a bit of a storage problem. Home dec and crafts which could be gifts or sold for the church community centre seem a great way to go, so I'm really pleased I have some ideas.

Monday, 26 December 2011

SWAP 2012

SWAP 2012 sewing officially starts today at Stitchers Guild, which works well for me as I have a few days before going back to work in the New Year.
However I also want to make some new (giant) accent cushions for my sofa and recover my bean cubes in nicer fabric (currently dark blue/black faux leather) as well as do some craft sewing for church.
So I'll see how all those things work out together!

If you are interested in SWAP 2012 it is here on Stitchers Guild.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Joyful Christmas!

I would like to wish you all a Joyful Christmas. I'm off to spend a few days with my mum and dad, and make some space to think a little about the birth of my Saviour.
It'll be good to spend some time with my family also. And whilst I do really enjoy the meals with colleagues, the sparkly decorations and the gift giving, I don't want to lose sight of the Christian festival that sometimes gets obscured by Santa and all the hype.

When I get back I shall launch myself straight into sewing, and want to really make a dent in the SWAP whilst I have a few quiet days off work. I have two big boxes of fabrics and a style sheet rather than any concrete plans, so probably need to do some firming up of Fabric X with Pattern Y.
I have a need for some cowl neck tees to wear under boiled wool jackets, so may sew a bunch of those even if they don't quite make it into the SWAP.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Jacket A Month

The Stitchers Guild Site have had a thread called Jacket A Month which is about sewing 12 jackets during 2011.
The idea is very appealing to me but sewing has been at a lower output this year due to life circumstances.
I have managed a few though :-)
first up, and this was probably technically sewn in December more than January is a faux shearling jacket, I'm going to sew the beige fur hooks on today, this is a sort of coral orange colour, and toasty warm to wear.
A big pause then on the sewing front until the Autumn, when I made a cardigan coat from a cotton sofa throw. This worked very well though would have been good with more closely matching serger thread. The cotton throw fabric was very thick at certain seams and I went through a few needles on the sewing machine completing the project.
 The next project used the same pattern, and a lacey sweater knit for a shorter boxy cardigan.
My final jacket project was a red furry jacket, intended for party wear but actually not worn at all as yet.

4/12 isn't fantastic, so I think I'll have another go next year at Jacket A Month.

Partywear Update

Perhaps unsuprisingly, the red fur jacket and blingy stars dress have been hard to wear in real life.
The dress is stretching out across the back neck and needs elasticting back into place. I think it would have more life as a top with black jeans, so will hem shorter.
However I've worn the black dress with the gold sparkle multiple times and it washes up well ready for the next occasion. Each time I've accessorised it a little differently - jacket, necklace, boots etc. So this one is definitely a wardrobe keeper. On Friday I wore the velvet leggings and a cami under the dress for warmth and a previously made shrug from the same black velvet.
Icy underfoot so stuck to my flat boots.

Although I'm seeing family for Christmas and New Year I am back home in between, and will be starting the SWAP sewing as well as having a frank assessment of my wardrobe. It's crammed and not everything is wearable. And New Year is a good time for reassessing I find :-)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Too much together?

I've been pulling together my outfits for the 4 events I have. Friday night is going to be in town for drinks and dancing until late and if the opportunity for the most sparkle - is this going too far?
Velvet leggings with star tunic and red velvet shrug. Too much, or do they somehow balance each other out a bit?

Christmas Collection

Here's the recent projects

Knit cardigan (not really Christmassy), fur shrug, two sparkly knit dresses and two pairs of leggings - one velvet, one denim.
Not sure you can really mix n match the pieces all that much with each other but they add to the Christmas section of the wardrobe.

Tips on sewing with faux fur.
Cut out from the wrong side in a single layer and try to just cut the backing and not the pile. This reduces the amount of fluff everywhere after you have cut out. I did do this and it helped quite a lot.
Its worth chalking around the pieces before you flip them into their new location (I did not) as this lets you see you really can fit them on before you start cutting. I didn't do this, and what I thought was the halfway fold on the fabric was not, so my back piece came out too narrow and I had to add a piece later.
Obviously faux fur is a napped fabric. I went with the fur pile going down the body. This means you have to cut all the pieces the right way up.
Once cut out do pin together and try on just to check it works. I did do this and found it helpful.
You can trim the pile from the seam allowances, though I admit I did not do that, and maybe my seams are bulkier than they might be because of this.
My jacket is lined, inserted by the machine bagged method. You need to leave a bigger than normal gap in the lining to pull the bulky fur through, mine wasn't quite large enough and I got a little tear I've had to sew up. Its under the arm though so not noticable.

Red Fur Shrug

The red fur shrug is done. I shall now go and hoover everywhere. Not too bad on the fluff front tbh since I cut from the back in a single layer.
The back has a long wedge to make it wider, as I made a mistake when cutting out, but actually I quite like the almost swing coat look that gives from the back.
The lining is matt slightly crinkled mystery fabric which was a very good colour match. I had thought about black satin, but actually this is a much better look I think.
I had bought some ribbon to use for ties, but am not currently convinved that is a good idea, instead I plan to sew a fur hook in the tie position and see what that is like.
Its based on the shrug from Simplicity 4192 view C, only with the upper and lower sections pinned together before cutting out, the back detail as mentioned earlier and a bagged lining.
Bagged linings always give me a moment of severe doubt having sewn the sleeve hems up, but before turning through!

I also cover hemmed a dark PURPLE jersey RTW maxi dress to be a midi dress. I also hemmed the piece I cut off so it could be a sort of scarf should I so desire. I also removed the empire waist ties. The whole original look was rather frumpy I thought, but cinched at the waist with a wide purple belt and hemmed to midi length it works much better for me.
Black version of my purple dress (pre alterations by me).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Argh fur and an old project

Well the red faux fur is having mixed success tbh, but hey I will salvage it. I will explain in more detail tomorrow. Definitely a "don't do it the way I did" type project, but all a learning experience!!!
In the meantime here is a still not quite finished project from last Dec (prior to moving out form the old house) which is made from a remant of faux shearling. I was VERY creative with the layout. It just needs some fur hooks and its cold enough again to wear it, as its a super toasty little jacket.
Seems to be in the colour for 2012 - Tangerine Tango. A complete accident, it just happens to be a great colour for me.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Idea for the Red Faux Fur

I thought this beach wrap (view C) might adapt well to the faux fur cover up.
I'll have a little trial tomorrow evening and see how it works out.

The plan would be to pin the upper and lower fronts together and cut it as long as the fabric will allow, add a lining and I'd have a little shrug!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sparkle dress

I need to level off the hem, but I don't think I shall coverhem as the stars are a bit lumpy for seams, so I shall leave raw or at most serge the edges.
To make this work the cowl collar and the back are in a contrast black and silver mesh. I needed something soft for the collar and the fabric wasn't really wide enough for a front and a back. So I chose front and sleeves.
The fabrics are slightly sheer, more obvious on the back, so I will wear with a slip, or opaque tights and a cami.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Christmas tree skirt - explain it to me

Sooooo I see people writing about their new Christmas tree skirts and I'm not sure if I need one or not.
I have an artificial tree which sits on three legs. My cunning plan is to pile gifts under and around it so the legs are not seen. But I am a sewing lady so I could sew one. If I could see that I needed it. And tbh I'm not sure that I do.

They are sold in Marks and Spencer (a British Institution heh heh) so probably are a required item.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Using contrast fabric

For those times when there is not quite enough fabric for the project. A few ideas of how you can use a contrast fabric. These blouses all have the contrast in the necktie.

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 :-)