Thursday, 23 July 2009

Small clothes

There was obviously something in water around March / April this year, because it seems like almost everybody we know is about five months pregnant. Aside from being (not so) quietly smug about being able to booze, an upside of this means I have a legitimate excuse to make some baby clothes! I have over the years thought about making some for my doll Jemma, but that may be construed as a bit weird.. Thankfully at least two of the people I know who are pregnant will be giving birth to little girls which is excellent – the clothes for girls are so much more cute than for boys. So when I bought my overlocker last week, I also picked up a couple of patterns for baby clothes - Simplicity 3509 and New Look 6310. I started with the Simplicity pattern and made the dress up in the size for a six month old... what sort of scary-ass six month old I am not quite sure, as now it's finished it looks like it would almost fit me. OK, maybe that is an exaggeration, but it would certainly fit a four year old I think... You will see from the pics that I have utilised my overlocker for the first time (yay!) for finishing the seams and also attaching the lace trim at the bottom (that was a bit scary and best not to look to closely at the overlap). It is actually quite cool making small clothes as they take a lot less time than gorwn-up ones, and you get to use some fun fabrics. One thing I have realised though is that you really need to think about which fabrics, trims and fastenings you use. I used a standard invisible zipper at the back of this dress and made a little rouleaux loop at the back for a button at the top, but really the zipper pull is too spiky for a baby to be lying on top of in a cot. I think snaps are probably the best thing to use - easy to fasten on a small child and neat to look at. I need to order some of those nice pearlised ones I think. Also you really need to wash the fabric first (which I didn't do). I think this attempt I will keep as a prototype and maybe give the next attempt away.


So last week I finally gave in and bought an overlocker. The thought of super-quick and super-neat seams was getting to be too much of a temptation, and I had been mooching around on the interweb looking for reviews for a pretty cheap one that would still be of a good quality. I almost went for a Brother 1034D, but then read some good reviews about the Janome 9200D (how much of a geek do I sound) – I have generally heard that the build quality of Janome machines is excellent, and this model was only £199 at Peter Jones.

So after lugging it home on the tube I finally got it out if it's box and plugged in. Miraculously, it came already threaded (hooray) with white thread (I have therefore managed to put off threading it myself for a bit longer). So I watched the DVD and had a little play.... it is amazing! Everything is so neat! Oh the neatness! The rolled hem function is pretty cool too – will have to use that on something soon – and you don't need to change the needle plates or anything (not exactly sure what this would entail in any event – I fear a screwdriver would be involved – but all the reviews said much better not to have to do it). I have a feeling it does loads of stuff that I have no idea about – perhaps when I am really bored I will actually read the entire instruction manual. Pretty excited about being able to sew stretchy fabrics too – have bought some cotton jersey to practice with. Watch this space!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Things I Shall Never Wear #2 - mustard

I must prefix this post with apologies to the lady in the 'photo. I express no actual opinion whatsoever on your outfit choice.


On my way to work this morning (Monday - groan) I saw a girl wearing mustard colour opaque tights. I did the most stalker-y thing I've ever done and snapped her on my iphone from behind. I will not mention the fact that - as you can see - she is also wearing tartan. WTF? Anyway, I digress. Tartan in casualwear is a whole other post.

I realise that this colour was all the rage a few seasons ago. On catwalks. On supermodels who can make a bucket of sick look wearable. But oh my. It's rancid. I don't know why I dislike it so much. There are few colours that I can say I would never ever consider wearing. Mustard is the only one I can bring to mind just now. Obviously not a good choice for blondes, but even brunettes don't exactly set it alight. Yellow, fine. Mustard, not fine.

As an experiment, I went to net-a-porter and typed in 'mustard' in the search box. Seven things came back, two of which were lingerie with yellow bows. One of which was a Vera Wang skirt which I would class as more yellow-y. I think the lesson for mustard is not en masse.

Anyway, the only true 'mustard' item was a Bottega Venetta skirt. Check it out.

I rest my case.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Lovely Lisa

So yesterday I managed to finish Lisa - I had a total nightmare with the zipper... I bought a plastic invisible zipper foot and put the zipper in but I think I must have sewed too close to the teeth because the zip got stuck fast and I had to unpick all the stitching, take it out (the zipper was broken after that), buy a new zipper and start again... that was a nightmare. The second attempt was better but still not perfect.

Also because the finished size of the bodice according to the pattern was too big for me, I had to adjust it at the sides and centre back of the bodice to make it smaller (I made it up in Vogue size 10 which as it turns out was about two sizes too big) - by that point I had already stitched on the grossgrain ribbon decoration so the adjustment meant the ribbon didn't quite meet at the sides and back. A bit annoying but not too bad.

Always a bit mystified as to the best hem finish - I usually do a double folded hem (which is what I did here) but need to experiment with other finishes. Same for seams - takes ages to finish seams... think that will be what prompts me to get an overlocker...

Friday, 17 July 2009

Trimmings trimmings trimmings...

Yesterday on my way home from work (which was happily about six hours earlier than it has been over the past few days) I popped in to VV Rouleaux just off Sloane Square. Can't believe I haven't been in there before - it is amazing! Trim and trim and ribbons and pom-poms and feathers - oh the feathers... I am now desperately trying to think of something I can make which requires peacock feather trim. Think I might be setting my sights a little haute-couture-high... but a girl can dream. In the pic, which I took on the stairs leading from the ground floor to the basement, you can just about see the racks and racks of gorgeous ribbon and sparkles and frills and lace and... ok, I should stop now. I bought some purple velvet ribbon (purple is big this season - thinking of using it in my black velvet mini project), some gorgeous wide satin striped ribbon with lovely colours, and some cord. The cord has all the colours of a duvet cover and pillows I just got for our bedroom so thought I would make some scatter cushions. Annoyingly, I managed to pick the board which didn't have the little fabric edge for sewing it in like piping - and when I got home realised I'd basically come away with 5 metres of pretty rope. Damn it.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Something new

I have just stumbled across this fantastic website which features pics of very stylish older ladies and gentlemen snapped in NYC. These guys are so hip - and leave Londoners for dust...! LOVING all of the hats. Hats I always think - though making a comeback for sure - are really something previous generations got right. Hats and gloves. So smart. Bring back the 1940s and 50s. I was born forty years too late...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Things I shall never wear #1

I think it's time for a new item on my blog. I shall call it 'Things I shall never wear'. I was inspired to start this by a pattern I - surprisingly - saw on the Burda website. Note the pic to the left is NOT the pattern made up (no no, that pic is something I found lurking down the back of the interweb).

Behold: the skort. Are you kidding me? A mini skirt with shorts underneath? For what purpose? I honestly cannot think of a single occasion on which this would be considered a sound sartorial choice. Netball? Don't think so - netball SKIRT. Or knicker SHORTS (I still remember with horror realising in P.E. aged 12 that I was going to have to run around in front of boys wearing essentially only sturdy knickers **shudders**). Hiking? Nope, shorts thanks. Riding a bike? SHORTS. Why all the excess fabric? Any sort of social occasion whatsoever, including for the avoidance of doubt social occasions when only person present is self - EITHER SKIRT OR SHORTS, BUT NOT BOTH AT THE SAME TIME, SIMULTANEOUSLY AND CONTEMPORANEOUSLY - FFS. And what is with referring to it as a 'ladies' skort' - in case you accidentally purchase (god forbid) the version for gentlemen?
And what is with this picture - why is she raising the skirt bit of the skort (see, it even sounds ridiculous)? That's not very ladylike now is it?! If you don't want people to see your pants, then WEAR SHORTS. If you are engaged in the type activity which requires the wearing of a skirt but there is a risk that your pants might make an appearance, THEN YOU NEED TO BE WEARING SHORTS.


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Spotty pincushion

I made this on Thursday evening as I fancied doing something different - found an awesome pattern on Heather Bailey's website - the pics look so cute. Thinking of putting a little elastic wristband on it so I can use it while pinning things to Maud more easily.

Now, got to get back to finishing Lisa...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Jackie Oh..

So here is Jackie, modelled rather fetchingly by Maud. I wore this to a wedding and I think my daddy managed to take some nice pics, but sadly I don't have any of those yet. I had to finish it the night before I had to leave for the wedding, and ended up doing an all nighter... like an essay crisis - sewing crisis!

In real life, the fabric isn't as shiny and weird as it looks in the pics. The fit is ok - nice around the midriff but the shoulder straps are too long (the ribbon pinching was an attempt to shorten them!) - my alteration clearly not needed and in any event conducted with little or no accuracy.... gagh... oh well, I'll learn for next time. It is also not tight enough at the back. and gapes a little - requiring perfect posture with shoulders pushed back to keep it flat and nice! Comes as a result of not really fitting it properly I guess. But now I have Maud....

The invisible zipper also isn't great - not that invisible - but now I have a new zipper foot (though between you and me, there are about a billion bits to it and am frankly terrified at thought of taking my presser foot to bit in order to attach it).

So many lessons to learn from this one I think!


Maud! I finally managed to collect her from the Post Office on Friday. I ordered her on the interweb a little while ago - Lady Valet (uh hn), size small. She is going to help me to make things that actually fit instead of things that would fit someone who had eaten me. Very exciting. Not sure how accurately I will be able to replicate my measurements on her but it has to be better than pinning myself - risking numerous puncture wounds - and attempting to take it off and mark everything... I am a little nervous that I have taken an 'all the gear, no idea' approach to sewing though.. I have purchased an awful lot of stuff - fabric, equipment, patterns... and so far have only made two tops and a dress! I really need to keep making more stuff to get my money's worth....