Tuesday, 30 July 2013

New blog format

As you can see I am making some changes to my little blog. 

After some very useful feedback (you guys know who you are!) I asked my brother to design a background for me using turtles. My brother is rather talented when it comes to designing and the turtles are inspired by tribal tattoos. I'm very pleased with what he came up with. 

I still need to do some recoding to make sure everything matches and work continues on the right sidebar. Please bear with me while these changes take place. 

I hope you like it!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Completed: The Marathon Thurlows

I was absolutely determined that I would have two pairs of me made shorts to take away on holiday. I have a dislike for shopping for shorts, I can rarely find a pair that fit me well around my waist and are the right length. Then there is the ride up factor, I detest shorts that work their way up your legs as you walk. Seriously, what is that about? Shopping for shorts, for me, is like shopping for glasses - I just can't find a pair that works for me and it is a complete nightmare! The Thurlow shorts were to be the answer to my annual dreaded shopping trip. 


Green Thurlow: front

I have loved this pattern since I first set eyes on it. After my shopping trip in Birmingham I knew they would look great in some of the suiting fabric I bought, in particular the grey and green. I did wonder about the navy but couldn't bring myself to make a suit out of my anise and these shorts, even if I wouldn't wear them together! 

I delayed making them until the month before I went away as I'm still losing weight. Great idea as I wanted them to fit the best they could, bad idea on time! I had read up on the pattern ahead of time and knew that I would need to make some alterations. I am essentially using a pattern designed for pear shaped ladies while I have narrow hips. Taking out fabric from the back didn't seem like a big deal but man, I was SO wrong! Stick with me, I have chopped out large parts of my marathon journey. 


Grey Thurlow: front

I used the finished measurements to work out which size to cut. The waistband sits across the bellybutton so the waist measurement is different plus there is a lot of ease. I happily traced out the pattern and made a toile. I put it on and as suspected they fitted around my waist but my legs couldn't been seen under so much fabric. 

I decided to grade down the pattern from the waist to the hem line. This improved the fit around my legs but I ended up with this. 


Thurlow toile

What a smile! Using the very helpful series by Sunni, I tried everything I could think of to get rid of it. I added more width to the inseam and lowered the crotch line (I'm not going to apologise here!). You can also see an additional seam in the photo. This is because I had to remove 1.5cm from the back side seam and an additional 2cm from the centre of each of them. By the time I had got to the end of my third toile I knew I needed help and emailed Sarah Liz who has been on a trouser toile mission recently. I then waited patiently, trying not to tweak any more. 

Green Thurlow: front

Sarah Liz saved me the following morning. She realised that I needed to make a sway back adjustment. Why hadn't I thought of that?! I know I can get away without alterations on tops and dresses but clearly not with trousers. Perhaps that is why I struggle to find good fitting trousers of any kind. She also sent me a very helpful comment that told me exactly what to do. I do love the online sewing community. 

I slashed the pattern horizontally in two places. The first was 7.5cm from the waistline and took out 1.5cm wedge from the centre back tapering to nothing at the outside edge. The second was 20cm from the waistline and I added in the amount I had removed. Roll forward to completed toile number four which had the other alterations and to my shock, it worked! Phew! Suddenly I knew I was back in the game and I would have two pairs of brand new shorts to take with me.


Green Thurlow: back

This pattern comes together very easily once you have got the fit right. I was a little worried about adding the zip but in the end it was a piece of cake. I followed Lauren's really helpful tutorial and both zips behaved themselves although I did break a needle by accidentally trying to sew over one of them - not clever. My machine didn't like the belt loops and refused to sew the stitches correctly so I hand stitched them on to the grey ones, skipping them completely on the green. For the lining, I used the left over map fabric for the green pair and the white and grey fabric from my Jasmine for the grey pair. 


Thurlow shorts: peak of the lining

I did need to recut the waist band for the green pair as I somehow got myself mixed up and sewed the lining to the wrong side and then couldn't get it to work once I had realised and tried to correct it.


Grey Thurlow: front

I think I prefer the green pair. I do like the grey ones but they lost a little bit of their shine when I was told they looked like the shorts that Adam used to wear to Cubs! Anyway, that doesn't take away from the fact that I finished these and I am proud of them. I almost gave up and was planning a shopping trip but a bit of patience, determination and an ask for help saved me from my nightmare. For that alone, I'm thankful!


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Slightly terrifying

Pin to mark the exact placement - CHECK

Godet original placement

Pin to mark 37cm from hem, measured twice - CHECK

Godet pin marking

A small snip and thread found - CHECK

Godet thread find

Ready to cut- ARRGH!

Godet slash

Yes, I am slashing my dress to put in the godets. This is the most terrifying thing I have ever done while sewing! Three down, four to go. 

What is the most terrifying thing you have done on a project?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Eek, here's my first refashion!

A few months ago I went to the Vintage Fair at the Town Hall in Oxford with a few friends. We all bought some lovely items and I picked out a couple of dresses for refashioning. I have never refashioned anything before but it has been high on my list for a while. The recent heat has revealed a lack of summer clothes suitable for work. I have been scrabbling around each morning and then I remembered this dress.

Poppies original

I was drawn to the print. I like the big poppies, which makes it busy but balanced through the visible background. It is made from a lightweight cotton, perfect for warm weather although it does it has a high crease factor. I pondered for a bit about what I wanted to do and as I was inspecting the item looking for inspiration I realised it was hand made! I first noticed that the edges have been finished by hand. The darts and seams are all back stitched. It must have taken an age to stitch this together. Being able to appreciate the work that the previous owner had put into it made me decide to stay true to the original design and more determined to do a good job. 

Poppies: hand made proof

To begin with I removed the sleeves and the shoulder pads. The side seams were taken in a fair bit to give a more fitted shape and finished using mock french seams to encase the raw edge. The original dress didn't have a zip and I wanted to avoid putting one in, if possible as the centre back seam allowance wasn't in the best condition as it hadn't been finished. It was the only seam that hadn't. I took care of that with a zigzag overlock stitch. 

Poppies refashioned 2

I took in the shoulder seams by 2cm to align more with my shoulders. I originally wanted to finish the edge with bias tape on the inside but it just wouldn't sit right and after two failed attempts I gave up. Bias tape made from the original sleeves worked much better!

Poppies refashioned

The original hem was deep, easily 10cm with another 3cm folded under. I marked a new hem, just above my knee, and snipped off the excess fabric. I chose a 3cm hem to provide a little bit of structure. 

This was a simple refashion but it was good to dip my toe in the water. I'm pleased with the result. It felt good to wear it in the office - this is very much a work dress! 


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pattern drafting - week 7

First of all, I wanted to thank you all for the nice comments about my Sorbettos. You guys are great! I hope you haven't forgotten about this dress! We had an extra session last night above the shop at Darn It and Stitch. While it was absolutely sweltering, progress was made.

Before the session I had managed to get the darts in on the front. This was tricky as they needed to merge with the curved seam line of the side panels. Plenty of basting later and this is the result. At that point I hoped that the silk lining wouldn't stretch again. 

New front darts

Well that was wishful thinking! Let's talk about the bustier now, we will get to the stretching again soon. I also put this together before the class. The bustier is, quite frankly, the most fiddly thing I have put together. Ever. It was fun though as I only had the toile that my teacher created to work from. I unpicked one side to find out how it was constructed and then used that as my pattern. The other side was left in case I needed it as a reference. Somehow I managed to stitch everything together on the wrong side which meant a LOT of unpicking. I can now honestly say that I hate unpicking chiffon, it takes so long as the potential for holes is extremely high.

I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get the pleats in place and stitch them in so I left them overnight. I found myself thinking carefully about the construction while trying to drift off to sleep and hit upon it. This is the only good part about having very noisy neighbours at midnight! I just pinned the pleats in place and hand stitched them with a running stitch from the back, keeping the thread hidden under the top layer. It took an hour to do this but I was pleased with the result. Now, can you see the problem with it in the photo below?

Bustier with pinned pleats

Yep, the right side (left in the photo) had stretched at the top. A fitting in the class showed this. I couldn't face unpicking it again so my teacher opened up the side and clipped the seam (I may have forgotten to do that) which worked perfectly. We also had to reposition the centre seam. What did this mean? Yes, more unpicking! The lower two pleats moved in the alteration but I finally got them to match reasonably well. 

From here I moved on to adding the bias tape to the neckline. Again this took a while as the chiffon likes to move but they are both in now, with the help of a catch stitch. I love the fact that you can hardly see it in the photo.

Bias tape

Now the really exciting part. I basted the neckline and bustier to the front. That's it, I now have a dress! Here's a sneak preview. 

Sneak preview

I also got the pattern for my sleeves which was incredible to watch. My teacher had pulled a pattern out of thin air for another member earlier in the class. It did feel like magic, or perhaps that was the heat getting to us. This was used as the basis for mine. We have added some puff to them and they will be gathered at the top and bottom. These, installing the zip as well as fitting and perhaps stitching the bustier in place, is my homework for the weekend. Good job I'm not back at work until Tuesday!


Sunday, 14 July 2013

I'll have a triple Sorbetto please

I'm extremely late to the party but I have finally made a Sorbetto! My holiday is approaching (whoop, whoop!) and I realised I needed some more clothes to take with me which has led to a flurry of sewing activity. The ironing board is now living permanently in the kitchen! They have also come in useful for the warm evenings we have been having in the UK. 

Black & white Sorbetto

This pattern is very easy, it is made of two pieces of fabric plus bias tape on the neckline and arms. It can be put together in an evening, this is the kind of quick project that I like. I didn't need to make any changes to the pattern which makes it even better! This is sensible sewing for me, cake if you will. I need tops that will match the shorts and skirts I have or will have by the end of the month. 

Black & white Sorbetto side version

Hunting through my stash I found some left over white cotton with scribbled black flowers and knew it would be perfect. I didn't have enough for both pieces so made the front in white and used the left over black cotton used for my winter coat lining. I used French seams as the white cotton adds very little bulk.

Spotty Sorbetto

I then noticed the brown cotton with pink spots and thought it would make a great second. I picked up this fabric in the swap at Birmingham last month. Shamefully, I can't remember who brought it along but thank you! I love this top and it has been worn quite a few times already. I even had enough for bias tape. The edges are finished nicely with French seams. 

Pretty with pink Sorbetto

It seems I just can't get enough of this pattern as I made a third one! This time I hacked the pattern a little. I drew a smooth, gently curve from the just above the darts to the centre seam and chopped it off. I decided to keep the pleat as I really like it. I chose a white cotton for the main part and back and pale pink for the top yoke. The seams aren't so good on this one sadly. I had hoped to use French seams again (anyone tell this is my favourite way to finish seams?) but I pinned the pieces with right sides together and only realised when I had stitched them all. I could have ripped them out but it was very late and I couldn't be bothered. They are finished with a zigzag over locking stitch instead. I finished it off with the buttons I got free from Sewbox


Pretty with pink Sorbetto button

Three tops in three evenings and they were free! Don't you just love it when you have everything to complete a project and can make it out of stash pieces not quite big enough for a full garment? 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

20:20 Challenge: How I'm getting on

You may have seen that earlier this year I set myself a challenge. Dubbed my 20:20 challenge the plan is to make twenty individual items from twenty different patterns. I'm now almost midway through and thought it was time to check progress. I haven't really been keeping a log of items made except that I know I need to make two items a month. 

I started off with twelve chosen patterns with eight spare "slots" as I knew I would find some along the way and would want to buy patterns as they were released. And I have! I now have just two more to choose. I added the Sorbetto, the Miette and the Victoria Blazer. I also have my self-drafted pattern. 

How many have I made then? Nine, just one short of my target for half way. I'm pleased that I have managed to stay on track so far. I couldn't resist sharing again the photos of the completed items! Unfortunately I don't have photos for my Miette or the Sorbettos (yes, plural) yet but they will come soon. 


Reglisse
Reglisse
Spotty Jasmine
Jasmine
Flowery Alma blouse front
Alma
Pink butterfly skirt
Simplicity 2451
Mathilde front
Mathilde
Colette Laurel Front
Laurel


Navy Anise front
Anise

Some of you will remember I promised at least half of them will not be blue, black or pink. I'm still comfortably within this, with six being those colours. The fact that I have been selective with which Sorbetto to include helps with this a bit. Is that cheating? I don't think so as I set my own rules here! Which means you can probably guess what colour the Miette is. 

Three patterns are work in progress. The Peony, which I haven't looked at since I noticed the fitting issues, my self drafted dress and the Thurlow shorts for which I'm going to stay toile number 3 this weekend. I'm hopeful this will be the last one. 

I've noticed that, in typical fashion, I have completed the easier projects at the beginning. I'm convinced this will come back to bite me as I attempt to complete two more complicated patterns a month. Oh well, I learn the hard way! 

What about you? Did you set yourself a goal this year? If so, how are you getting on?


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Turtles: An Explanation

Yesterday the postman arrived with the package sent from Sam. I tore it open and discovered this.

Turtle!

How AMAZING is he?! I'm completely in love with it and will shortly be buying a frame. He will be the first picture we hang in our apartment and we've been here 18 months! I love how the colours compliment each other and I can see him gracefully gilding through the ocean. 

There has been a lot of talk about turtles recently and many people have asked me about why I chose the name for my blog. Let's be honest, the online sewing community is vast (yay!) and I needed something memorable, plus all of the names I came up with have been taken by bloggers who got there before me! After sewing, crafting and football the next thing I get excited about are turtles. To me, it just seemed natural to follow this. 

Lonesome George
Lonesome George - I couldn't resist sharing this
My fascination with turtles really began when I went to the Galapagos Islands following three months of volunteering in Ecuador in 2006. We saw many amazing things there: Blue Footed Boobies, bachelor Sea Lions (who are terrifyingly huge), bull sharks and Lonesome George before he died (I do feel honoured to have seen him) to name a few. However, one moment stands above all of them. We were walking down a beach back to the boat and we saw a female turtle at the top of the beach in broad daylight - we're talking midday. This is really unusual for turtles, they normally come ashore at night during high tide. She was laying her eggs. We stood for 30 minutes and watched her, it was absolutely memorising. It looked like hard work though, these creatures are streamlined for a life in the ocean and she looked exhausted as she scooped up sand to cover her eggs. I can't say this is an efficient method as her flippers sent sand everywhere increasingly the length of time it took to cover them. Once that was done, she had to start the long shuffle back to the ocean. We're only talking 20m but it took her 5 minutes at least as swimming in sand is a lot harder than in the ocean. 

Beginning to cover her eggs

Later that week I saw one in the ocean as we were snorkelling and that experience was just as thrilling. Turtles are such graceful creatures. They have survived many changes in the world and I'm in awe at how long they live. When we went to Australia last year to visit my brother who was working in a town near the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the main question I kept asking was whether we could go snorkelling to see a turtle. We did, and we were lucky enough to see one in the distance. I couldn't believe it and couldn't contain my excitement! 

Covering her eggs

I've been asked whether I see similarities in myself to turtles. I'm assuming this question is around my preferences and behaviour rather than whether I have a shell and flippers. I guess you could say there are a few. I'm not as solitary as turtles but I do enjoy time on my own, I can happily fill a couple of days where it is just me - any more than that and I start to feel a little cabin fever. I was asked whether it is because I like being in my own shell. I think the answer is yes but in the way that I have become more comfortable and confident being me rather than staying within my comfort zones. This is something that has been on my mind for the last year or so. 

Turtle returning to the sea

Anyway, enough of the deep talk. This is a sewing blog after all. I'm off to see if I can make the second toile of my Thurlow shorts before watching the Wimbledon final. It is interesting using a pattern designed for the pear shape when you have narrow hips. My hip measurements are four sizes down from my waist! But before I do, here is a quick video that I took showing how hard it is for a turtle to move through sand. 


video

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Work vs Play: How do you decide?

Since I started working I have often debated over which clothes in my wardrobe should be for work and which should be for play. Every morning I look at my options and ask that question. I've also noticed that this has got worse since I started sewing. For some reason, in my head, there needs to be this distinction. I'm not really sure why, it is just there. Yet the reality is different. I noticed when I reviewed my wardrobe a few months back that a lot of my clothes fall into both camps. 

Obviously there are items that do fall into only one camp. I have an outward facing office job which means I need to look to smart. There is no way that I would wear the short blue lace dress I own or the shorts that I am about to make in the office. Jeans sometimes sneak in (like today, when I can get away with it!). Similarly, I am unlikely to wear the trousers I have for work at the weekends.

However, the majority of my wardrobe falls into both camps. Practically everything I have made has been seen at work unless it was for a specific occasion. This morning I left the house in a rtw jacket (which I dearly love) and while I was waiting for the bus I realised that my Anise would have looked better and yet I'm not sure I want to taint it with the "you've been worn at work" thoughts that circulate every morning.

Perhaps I should just make some items for work. Perhaps I should make more items for home and move some of the loved items to the work camp. Perhaps it doesn't matter at all, and it shows that I have a wardrobe that I love and want to want to wear whatever the situation. It is strange - I don't have the same thoughts about shoes or bags. 

Anyone else have similar thoughts? How do you decide to split your wardrobe? I'd love to know. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Four pieces of loveliness

I've had a few lovely things arrive recently, both physically and electronically and I had to share them with you. 

I want to be a turtle clothing label set

First up, did you see the label giveaway offered by Madalynne? I was lucky enough to win it! This was my first giveaway win and I was so excited. I had been thinking about getting labels produced for my clothes and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The lovely Becky from Beckamade took my design and printed it onto fabric. They arrived today and I just love them. I'm thinking this will be a nice, late addition to my Anise and all future projects!

I want to be a turtle clothing label

I had ordered a couple of patterns from Sewbox and they arrived promptly with a little surprise. Check out these buttons! I can't see them on their site, but I hope they do start stocking them as I can see me buying more. 

Pink heart buttons

Then I won my second giveaway, the one hosted by Sam at A Little of What You Fancy. She's going to send me an turtle! You can see some of her work here - aren't they great?! Again, I was thrilled again. You see, I rarely win anything, even on raffles, so this is exciting for me. 

Just one last thing to share. I was sitting with a cup of tea, reading the many blog posts I had to catch up (I always do this with a cup of tea!) when I saw that Kelly at Make, sew, do had given me my second Liebster Award - thanks Kelly! This time I'll be breaking the rules as I won't be nominating any others. I had a hard time trying to find ones last time who hadn't received it recently. 

Have you had any good surprises recently?


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