Saturday, 25 July 2015

Adventure Springs Granville

Hello, everyone. I hope you've all had a good week. I'm here with a quick post for the first of my makes from my recent sewcation. After the mixed success of my first sleeveless Granville, I knew that another one would be needed. I love this pattern and wanted a wearable sleeveless version to hand while I waited to fix the side seams of the Remember Me version (I'm hoping to do this before the end of the month, but we'll see). 

Adventure Springs Granville

The fabric is Adventure Springs by Art Gallery Fabrics. I was drawn to the jewel tones and then the white arrows. I thought it would make a great top and snapped up 1.5m from misformake. For this version, I made a couple of tiny alterations - raising the arm holes by 1.5cm to help with the gaping in this area and reducing the shoulder seams by 0.5cm. The pieces were cut out at a sewing day with Vaire Gwir and Hannah. It took a little while to do this, partly because I wanted the arrows to line up as much as possible, but mainly because Vaire had her eye on the fabric and would have stolen it if I had left it unaccompanied for too long! Thankfully, making it sleeveless ensures that this beauty remains mine! 

Adventure Springs Granville
Adventure Springs Granville

I didn't have enough fabric to get the two yokes, so used some pale green cotton from my stash for the inside. The arms are finished with a pretty floral bias binding. As this is my third version, I don't have anything new to say on the construction. What I love most about shirts, are the details. For this version, I chose topstitching. And lots of it! Every flat felled seam has two rows of stitching, the width of the seam apart and I did the same with the hem. The button placket and collar have two narrows rows either side. Despite the amount of top stitching, it remains subtle as the thread is only one shade lighter than the green. 

Adventure Springs Granville

I've worn this shirt a couple of times and it feels good. It is just loose enough for warm days and fits well underneath a cardigan or jacket. The arm holes no longer bother me. It works with jeans for a casual look or with a pair of smart trousers or a black skirt for work. Overall, a useful and versatile make. I think I will be putting this pattern away for a short time - three versions seems enough (here's the first in case you haven't seen it) although I'm sure that another sleeved version will pop up during the winter. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

2015 goals: 6 month update

Just over six months ago, I shared some goals for this year that I wanted to achieve. This post is a slightly late update on how I am getting on. Straight up, it has been difficult to keep up over the past three months as the breakdown below will show. There are, however, good and important reasons for why as a course and work have been taking up a huge amount of time. 

From the end of May to the beginning of July, I attended a mindfulness course run by Mind. I wanted to explore this as a way to develop resilience as well as trying to manage the periods when I sink into murky waters. The course was wonderful and I may share my experiences in a future post. I attended the sessions every Wednesday evening and then needed to find time for formal practices during the day. This, with a temporary dramatic increase in my workload, threw out my routine and my ability to keep everything on track. 


I finally hit 50% of my target a few days ago, a couple of weeks overdue, but it felt really good to get there. This means I have covered 376km this year! May was my best month where I set personal records for calories burned on one run, longest duration (just over an hour) and the furthest distance (10.49km).


A few observations:

  • I'm still enjoying going out but it's been harder to find the time. I have worked late for more evenings than ever before which sucks up the time I rely on during the week to put on my trainers. 
  • I am finding it easier to run up hills. Ok, they aren't very big ones but I do include at least one in each run. 
  • I love running to podcasts. Recently I have been listening to Modern Sewciety. They are guaranteed to last the length of the run and I find many of them inspiring.

Eating well

This is one area that I have been keeping up with successfully, although not necessarily using my cook books. The BBC Good Food website stepped in for two months while Jamie's 30 Minute Meals provided inspiration for the other month. I didn't keep track of the meals but the one that stands out is the Asian Style Salmon from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals. I remember this very well as it is about the only homemade meal that I took a photo of! 



Wow, have I struggled with this one. I've even fallen behind on blog reading - my blog roll is currently at 300 or more! Obviously this means I haven't finished the books that I mentioned in my last post. However, I am slowly working my way through two different books. 

The first is the book that accompanies the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit that I saw in May. I'm also lucky enough to be seeing it again later this afternoon as I'm currently in London with Vaire Gwir and Hannah. But I digress. I am enjoying this book and as it is a series of essays, it makes it easier to pick up and put down. It is fascinating to learn more McQueen, his collections and his process. 


The second book is The State We're In by Adele Parks. I'm not sure when I got this book, I think it might have been one of those free books Amazon gives you on certain purchases. I'm a third of the way through and it is readable. It is a chick lit (I generally don't read these) and tells the story of Jo and Dean - they meet on a flight to Chicago and each other's opposite. That's as far as I have got. Some of the characters are intriguing but some seem to be rather irritating and I can't work out if Jo will remain as ridiculous as she has been so far. 

In a few weeks, Adam and I will be going on holiday to Tuscany and I'm looking forward to the chance to read. We will be travelling around a little by train and I often pick up a book while I'm travelling. I'm starting to think about which books to take me. Is there a good read that you would recommend? 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Lessons from my sewcation

For the past week, I have been at home merrily stitching my way through my plans for a summer wardrobe while watching a lot of Wimbledon. The sewcation was strategically planned, allowing me enough time to go and buy items for my upcoming holiday if I didn't have time to complete these items. I did well though - seven items will be completed by the end of tomorrow evening. The Vintage Shirt Dress has already made its way here and I'll get the others all up as soon as I can but here's a photo to keep you going.

To make up for the lack of photos of a shiny new item, I thought I would share some observations, lessons learnt or reconfirmed over the past few days:

  1. Always buy more black and white thread that you think you need. You will run out of both at the most inconvenient moments.
  2. It is always the right decision to buy zips of a single colour in multiple lengths. 
  3. You may need to actively remind yourself to eat and drink. 
  4. Fray stopper will transform your button holes.
  5. Your machine will become fussy. Feed it good thread, especially for button holes.
  6. Button holes are so much easier when you grade your seam allowances properly.
  7. Use a bright coloured thread where possible to baste so you can see them. It makes it easier to remove them or reminds you to do this step. 
  8. Do as many steps as you can at once before moving. E.g., pin as much before stitching, stitch as much before pressing....
  9. Your blind hem foot works beautifully as a guide for edge stitching/ top stitching.
  10. Always buy 8 or more buttons. I never have enough, or any spare in case some come off.
  11. It is far too easy to still be in your pyjamas at 11am for a couple of days in row.
  12. If you don't tidy as you go along, your sewing space will look an absolute tip and will make visitor's eyes widen when they walk in to deliver a large bag of items for some unselfish wedding related sewing. 

I'm sure I've forgotten many more points that should be included. Are there any points you would add from your experience of sewing for a full day or more?

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Vintage Shirt Dress

Over the past year I have watched many shirt dresses pop up in my blog reader. The almost constant supply of inspiration made me want to join in but I didn't go looking for a pattern. Then the Vintage Shirt Dress from Sew Over It appeared and landed in my letterbox a few days after it had been released.

Vintage Shirt Dress 1

I hatched a plan to use this gorgeous white eyelet that has been sat in my stash for a few years. I bought it on my first visit to the Birmingham Rag Market. It was a piece that I was happy to let sit there as I knew that the perfect pattern would eventually come along. I'm sure the eyelet is polycotton as it didn't take well to a hot iron which caused a few problems getting the facings and the collar to sit properly. Underlining was essential for modesty. As the eyelet is fairly thick I chose a lightweight cotton in a bright blue from Minerva to add a fun element to the dress. The two fabrics work well together and I hope that you can see the glimpses of blue through the squares. 

Vintage Shirt Dress 3

I was surprised by the amount of ease in this pattern. It's not a bad thing, just that I like my clothes to be a little more fitted. I went down a size or two and then did a 2cm FBA, sharing the additional fabric between the pleats and the gathering at the shoulders to ensure the pleats weren't too deep and noticeable. I made no other changes to the pattern, although I'm starting to think that I should have lowered the armholes by a centimetre - they feel a little too high but are comfortable enough to wear. The hem is the suggested 4cm and it hits higher than my normal hem level which is perfect for summer. I would lengthen it for an autumnal/winter version. 

Vintage Shirt Dress 5

Stitching this was an enjoyable experience. The dress goes together very well and I didn't find any of the steps too complicated - a beginner willing to tackle buttonholes should be able to get through this as the instructions are very clear. I had to seriously grade the facings and collar seam allowances to reduce the bulk from the eyelet. The button holes took some figuring out as I needed to avoid the bulky squares as much as possible - my test samples showed the needle struggled a little. To prevent fraying I used Fray Stopper from Hemline and it is only of those products that I should have used many projects ago. The finished result is very neat. I'm also happy that the rows are continuous across the buttons. The buttons are pale blue to allow them to blend with the dress.

Vintage Shirt Dress 2

I love the little details of the pattern - the gentle gathering at the shoulders, how the shoulder seam is towards the front and the pleats. It is a simple, classic pattern and I hoped that my plan would stay true to design. I'm delighted with how this dress turned out. I was worried that the eyelet wouldn't work as well as it did and it took until hemming for me to realise that I was adding a nice and much needed dress to my limited summer wardrobe. What's on your sewing table, please? 


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