Saturday, 28 March 2015

Wanna see where I sew?

"My course starts soon, I need to find somewhere for me to study" Adam told me one day towards the end of last summer. "Sure, no problem. You have two choices - the lounge or we can rearrange the spare room" I responded. "The spare room sounds great, I can get a desk and it will be quieter than being in the lounge." When the desk was delivered and we had rearranged the spare room, a tiny part of me died as it dawned on me that I had given up a sewing room without realising it...

Now, I've learnt not to resent it (ok, I do a little) as I've managed to perfect my dedicated sewing space in the lounge and I thought it might be fun to share it with you. I love seeing where others sew - you can guarantee I leave those posts green with envy from the prettiness. While I have my own space, pretty it ain't!


My set up works around the fact that I don't want to waste a lot of time moving between my machine, overlocker and the ironing board. At the top of our lounge is a dining table which is situated just in front of the French doors leading onto our balcony (it sounds grander than it is!) This table is where I trace patterns and cut fabric before positioning my machines. It is reasonably sturdy but it is too low - I get back ache very quickly if I work there for too long. The overlocker sits in front of the doors and my sewing machine sits at the head of the table. Behind the chair and in the kitchen is the ironing board. Yes, they really are as close as they look in the photos. It works brilliantly because there is a maximum of five steps from the ironing board to the overlocker.


Our ironing board is massive. Not only is it very wide, it is also high and therefore doubles up as a standing desk. I love this feature as it saves hunching and therefore reduces the amount of strain on my back. My only grumble with the positioning of the board is that it lives in front of the fridge making it difficult to get to the milk for a tea break. 


While this set up works perfectly, there is a dangerous element which I haven't yet worked out. The nearest socket is in the lounge on the wall closest to the ironing board. This means I need to use an extension cable to plug in the machines as well as the ironing and that cable has to sit underneath or behind the chair I use to sew. You can just see them in the photo above/below. I'm convinced I will break my leg one day as I can't count the times I have tripped over them... 


So that's the quick tour of my tiny sewing area. Do you have your own room or do you sew in a shared space? Any tips for staying tidy or am I doomed to stay this way? 

Saturday, 21 March 2015


Thanks to everyone who voted on my last post. The Granville shirt won by a small margin when all votes from the comments, Twitter and text messages were added up. I'll be honest, a small part of me wanted the dress to win but I've been enjoying working on the shirt so far and it really will be a useful addition to my wardrobe. 

I thought I would provide a quick update for those who have not been following along on Twitter or Instagram. Each morning this week I have been posting a photo to show progress.

Granville wk 1

Day 1: sticking the PDF pattern together. The pattern came together very easily. 
Day 2: Cutting the pattern to size. As tracing is my least favourite part of making an item, I don't trace my PDF patterns. I would rather cut and stick another version if needed. 
Day 3: Cutting the pieces for the toile. I chose to cut nearly all the pieces so I could check the techniques and find any potential pitfalls - very important when you might still be a little sleepy when sewing.
Day 4: Toile taking shape. The back seams, back yoke, shoulder seams and button plackets were completed. The collar was also prepared. 

I've enjoyed getting my creative spirit flowing for 30-40 minutes each morning. I feel like I am winning before I've even left the house. It is taking some willpower not to power on when I get back from work so I'm working on another project: Simplicity 2442

Simplicity 2442

I spotted the potential in this pattern after looking at the drawings - the pale blue satin on the front of the pattern does nothing for me! I wish I could say it is coming along nicely but I've realised I need to unpick the top seam on both of the bodices and my overlocker stopped being my friend last night, as shown in the middle picture. Hopefully it will behave itself today and it won't be long before I can share the finished item.

What's on your sewing table please?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Two patterns, one time slot - you decide!

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about time. There seems to be an ever growing demand on our time and I've been wondering if I use mine wisely. The part of the day that has caught most of my attention is before I go to work the morning. Please stick with me, I'll get to sewing shortly and then I need your help. 


My weekday morning routine involves getting up early and I generally have at least 90 minutes before I'm forced to face the world. This time normally involves a small amount of housework, reading blogs and generally messing around on the internet. I'm convinced I could use this time more wisely, especially the latter part when I'm fully awake. 

So, I could go for a run. Ha! Who am I kidding? A 6am run is the last thing I want to do. Naturally, my mind flitted to sewing as the next option. How long would it take me to create an item from scratch using only the time I have before I leave for work? I have no idea but I intend to find out. 

The rules:
  • This exercise starts with tracing a pattern or piecing together an already printed PDF (I'm not getting the printer out at that early in the day) through toile(s) to the finished item in fashion fabric. 
  • Using my overlocker is not allowed. This is purely out of courtesy to Adam and my neighbours - no one wants to be jolted awake by the noise of this machine. 
  • I'll only work on this project Monday-Friday (annual leave and bank holidays are not included as I won't be up!) and only before I leave for work.  
  • Fabric will be prewashed - it's not possible to get through a full wash in the time restraints.  
Now, here's where I need your help. I can't decide which pattern to use. I have two options and you get to decide! I think both of these can be easily broken down into stages. 

The first is Sew Over It's Betty Dress in Sweet Female Attitude from By Hand London


The second is Sewaholic's Granville shirt. I would love to make this from the floral purple Thai silk in my stash but I'm not sure there is enough... Whatever I decide, it will be office appropriate. 


Let me know in the comments which pattern you think I should choose. 

Update: voting on the blog and Twitter has now closed. It was a close run with Granville winning by two votes. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Burda Editorial Trousers

Can you get excited about office wear, specifically basics? I generally can’t and as a result this post is long overdue. I was forced into this make by going down to one pair of trousers suitable for the office and this was problematic in terms of laundry logistics but also in maintaining interest in my outfits. 

Editorial trousers side view

I’ve delayed making trousers because I knew getting the fit right would be a hard task due to my narrow hips and larger waist. Thankfully I was saved from a long headache by attending a trouser fitting session with Kelly, Hannah and 
. We spent a few hours around the house of the lady who taught me how to pattern draft and all came out with a pattern that fitted or a block that to use in the future. It really did feel like something magical happened that day - I suddenly understood a lot more about my lower body as well as which parts of a trouser pattern I need to pay attention to. I’m now on the hunt for a couple of tried and tested patterns to fall back on. 

Editorial trousers back

This pattern is the Editorial Pants from Burda 08/2013. I chose them as they are similar in style to my remaining work pair and it is a shape that I love. The main difference is this pattern has front pockets. To get the right fit, I cut the largest size to match my waist measurements and then pinched out the excess at side seams on the front around my hips. The other alteration needed was along the crotch line. I added a small amount to the centre back seam and remove a small amount towards the end of the curve. This worked well as I can comfortably sit and stand. The result is a pair of trousers that fit perfectly in the waist but I'm not sure about the rest of the fit. 

Editorial trousers pocket

I should have made another toile to check the changes before committing to finishing this pair. The £2pm poly suiting in my stash persuaded me that a wearable toile would be acceptable - if something went wrong I would be unlikely to cry over lost fabric. The pockets and inside waistband are made from the leftover peacock cotton that Minerva sent me to create my peacock dress. Building in colour and interest somewhere was a necessity to balance all of that black! Anyway, back to the fit. The fit issues I have noticed is a ripple across the front just below the fly, some wrinkling around the back and I wonder if the legs are a little to wide. All things to work on for my next pair. I hope you can see what I'm referring to - photographing black indoors is always tricky! 

Editorial trousers back

To my surprise, I enjoyed making these. I was convinced that sewing basics, particularly in dark colours, would be dull and uninspiring. Add Burda’s reputation for unclear instructions and welt pockets and that feeling grew stronger. As expected, the instructions were not as clear as you would like them to be. I could, though, follow their instructions for the welt pockets but the text on inserting the fly and adding the waistband was confusing. To make life easier, I followed the instructions from the Thurlow pattern to insert the fly which went in perfectly first time. I added the waistband in the most logical way I could think of. After the welts behaved following an initial hiccough, the rest of the construction was relatively simple. Being a wearable toile, I took a few short cuts. The waistband closes with a large popper as I was too lazy to add a button. All pieces were overlocked or have zigzag stitches within the seam allowance as the fabrics are prone to substantial fraying. As a result the inside isn’t as nice I would normally like but no one but me will know - except of course for everyone reading this post! 

Editorial trousers side view

Even though the fit isn’t right, I’m convinced these will get a lot of wear through necessity if nothing else. I’m now on the hunt for some fabric for another version (after a couple of additional toiles no doubt!) and ideally these won’t be black or another dark colour. Strangely, I seem to be only comfortable wearing dark trousers in the office. I’d love to know if this make sense to you or do you wear brighter colours?


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