Thursday, 22 April 2010

Where are you, UK sewists?

In light of my recent foray into quilting, I have be doing a little cyber-browsing of quilting blogs and websites. Wowzers – quilting is VERY popular in the US! Not sure what other UK sewists have found, but I have noticed that sewing and quilting is much more popular in the US than it is here. Or at the very least, there are a lot fewer people who blog about it here… There has been a resurgence of crafting in the UK – particularly with respect to knitting which has become very trendy in the past couple of years (I am STILL knitting the back of a baby cardigan I started AGES ago – the bloody pattern is written in Greek or something) – a result of the credit crunch and the desire to improvise mainly, but I think people have also started to realize how satisfying it can be to make things; either for yourself or to give away. I haven't yet got to the stage where I have (a) made very many things, or (b) considered that any of the things I have made would be welcome gifts. That is something I hope quilting might fix – quilts must make lovely presents. I know I'd love to be given one! If only they didn't take so long to make… though I think that is probably just practice. And the fact that the quilt I have decided to make as my first appears to have about one billion teeny tiny pieces (I am prone to exaggeration).

A couple of my girlfriends have expressed an interest in sewing / knitting / quilting (one is making a rag rug – though I think her current rate of progress is not dissimilar to that of my baby cardigan) and we keep talking about having some sort of sewing circle. Maybe just meeting up one weekend or evening to chat and sew (or 'rug' – whatever the 'doing word' for that is) – a few cocktails, cupcakes, some Lady Gaga… Perhaps I should be more aggressive in my corralling and just propose a date.

Do any of you meet with like-minded people to natter and stitch? If so, how did you get started?

Monday, 19 April 2010

Who'da thought it?!

My new sewing machine came with, like, a zillion new feet. I have only experimented with about three of them so far, but - THESE LITTLE FEET DO ALL SORTS OF COOL STUFF! Rolled hem foot -BOOM - nice little neat rolled hem! I'm not absolutely certain I'm using it properly though - the instructions in the manual aren't the most clear... but it seems to produce an ok result... how do I know exactly how wide to finger-fold the hem??...

Tonight I have been using the 1/4" seam foot to help me sew some of the strips together for the quilt I'm making. This little baby has a little metal guide on it to make sure that the seam is actually 1/4" - so far proving to be much more accurate than my current magnetic seam guide thingy...

I am so keen to find something which divulges all the awesome ways I can use the special feet that came with my machine when I am making garments. The instruction book is informative but not very inspiring..!

Do any of you have any interesting techniques or finishes using different feet that you'd like to share with me??

Friday, 16 April 2010

New arrival...

My sewing-related spending binge has continued unchecked (this is REALLY IT for a while ever) and later today I shall be taking delivery of a Janome 6600P - how exciting is that! I decided a little while ago that maybe it was time to upgrade from my sweet but very basic J3-20 - I think this will be a giant leap... it obviously has about a million more features than I need or will probably ever use, but I am so looking forward to playing with it when it arrives. I did a fair bit of research on the internet and joined a Janome6600p-specific Yahoo group (!), and also went in to Peter Jones on Oxford Street to have a test drive (though I have to admit I didn't buy it from there but from a great UK based site which had £200 off the RRP) - I was amazed at how smooth and quiet it was - and (this might not be the right word) sure-footed! Aside from all the wizzy stitches it can do, the quality of the straight stitch was great and am pretty excited about this whole Accu-feed thing it has going on (supposed to make sewing different stuff together easier). I read that Sew-cial Butterfly is also waiting for the exact same machine to be delivered!

No doubt I will be overwhelmed by the instruction manual - but SO looking forward to making stuff with this!

Anyone else have one of these machines and have any experiences (good or bad) to share??

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Fabric splurge


I won't even bother with the faux oh-how-did-I-manage-to-spend-so-much-on-yet-more-fabric apology. There was fabric shopping. The end.


This paint splattery lushness I got from MacCulloch & Wallis on Tuesday. It was pretty spenny... and probably not to everyone's taste, but I
thought so amazing! It is a cotton with something (cannot remember now due to excitement, but I did find out) woven on top, very slightly metallic. But isn't the print really Marc Jacobs or Matthew Williamson-esque?? I love it. It will make such a funky dress (or maybe summer coat - but not sure I'm brave enough to try a coat yet) - desperate to find the right pattern for it though. It has quite a bit of body (is that the right word?), I think because of the sort of two layer thing it has going on.
Any suggestions?

Then from Shaukat I got two pieces of Liberty silk - one funky peacock feather purple which I thought would make a nice sort of slinky but
not-too-clingy dress... Quite an unusual fabric I thought - but it felt amazing! I have never sewed with this type of silky silk before (as opposed to dupion type which I made Jackie from) so not sure how I will fare...

The second piece was a little more
conventional and I thought would make a nice tea dress - the print is actually quite small and in a pale blue - from a distance the fabric looks a lot lighter than in this close up shot. But how nice for Sunday tea or lunch with the in-laws, don'tchathink?

I need some pattern suggestions... I also picked up a load of cheap cotton for making toiles which the lady at MacCulloch & Wallis kindly sold me for 50p a metre as it was a bit dusty. So armed and dangerous! I acquired the Michael Kors Vogue 1117 which I am so keen to try but concerned it might be a bit advanced...?! The thought of cutting into this prime stash is pretty nerve racking... Though that's what all that cheap cotton is for, right??

Armed with fabric and certainly dangerous - roll on the next big sewing sesh!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Over the bank holiday weekend I finally finished the Burda top I started here - I thought it very disciplined of me to finish it before moving on to the next project. Here are a few pics of it. I am generally happy with it, though I didn't bother making the button holes on the sleeves (just sewed on buttons as trimming) as I didn't need to be able to open and close the vents. Similarly I didn't bother with the tie side, just left it plain and sewed another button on there too. The finish on the neckline is a bit dull and I wish I had done something a bit more interesting or fun than the pattern directed - maybe just put the binding on so you could see it from the front too. I used french seams for all of the seams, after being inspired by the incredibly neat finish on all of Amanda's creations - I guess practice will eventually make somewhere closer to perfect for me..!

The fabric is a Rose & Hubble remnant I got from the most
amazing fabric shop - Shaukat - which is actually only ten minutes walk from me. I was down there at the weekend and got some amazing Liberty silk - more on that in another post! It is quite a sweet little top for the nicer weather we hope to be getting soon - in the picture I am wearing it with jeans post-work, but I actually wore it to the office today tucked in to a black skirt.

So I am starting to feel like I am a bit more in the sewing groove now, and ready to tackle a nice frock I think - especially given what happened when I went to Shaukat.....

Friday, 2 April 2010

Straight lines

So since my last post, I STILL haven't managed to do any sewing yet due to work / post wedding wedmin / housework. Today Husband (!) and I had yummy brunch and then went to see Clash of the Titans (meh) and this afternoon I have spent a couple of hours reorganising my sewing room our study - I thought it might inspire me further to break out the old sewing machine. I think the new layout is quite good - now two workstations (bottom left of room) and almost the full table for cutting out... we'll see.

Anyway, to get me back in the sewing groove I thought I'd start with (or really, continue with) the quilt I started months ago. Although I am primarily learning to sew to make clothes, I really love gorgeous bed linen and I thought it awesome to have some colourful quilts to chuck over plain white sheets (I buy almost exclusively plain white bed linen - looks so clean and fresh!) and a few months ago I bought this lovely book called Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lintott and started a cool looking quilt called 'Sparkling Gemstones' (I know, bit lame) with some fat quarters I had bought for the purpose. Then the wedmin got me... so I picked it up today thinking I'll crack on with a few straight lines to get me warmed up before starting my next fashion proj. Though boring, sewing in a straight line is quite mindless and theraputic (in small doses!).

So for my next fashion proj, thinking the simple blouse no. 102 from this month's Burda
. Do you think that would be ok in a silk? It does seem to have dreaded buttonholes though... gagh.

Has anyone made this yet?

PS for those of you who have asked, we went to the Maldives for our honeymoon - bliss!