One of the nicest things about crafting is sharing ideas with like minded people and seeing where the creative juices flow. Since I tend to work alone, (quite happily) in my shed, these interactions are really important to me and it always encourages me to get on and finish things or make something completely different.
Where I live, there are plenty of opportunities to take up new hobbies or join in groups and one of those is the Transition Keynsham Stitch 'n' Bitch (http://keynshamt.wordpress.com/stitch-and-bitch/), that I've been going to for a couple of years now. It's run by the lovely Erica who has a wealth of experience in sewing, knitting and crochet and she has helped me untangle small disasters on many occasions. This group opens up a new world to me within a small town and I love that this is something unique to us. It's not about being R&M's mummy or Mrs T, but just a love of making that brings us together from all our different backgrounds.
It was just a matter of time before a few friends and I suggested getting together for a similar purpose, to share skills and have fun creating and making. So far, I've learned how to make (& eat!) delicious curries and perfect my granny squares. It was my turn to host this week and I have to say I don't think my shed has ever been so hot - it must have been all the nimble fingers sewing and the flushed G&T tickled cheeks! Snap purses are BIG right now, I see them at all the fairs, so I thought we'd have a go at them. In true Blue Peter fashion, I did have 'a couple I'd made earlier' and we were all really pleased with our results.
Lorraine kindly passed on a girl's pattern & I've made Maggie a little nightie for these warm nights we're finally getting. Hoorah, it looks like summer out there!
Oooh, yeah, mustn't forget to share my top tips this week! My little scissors were getting blunt and I read somewhere that you could use foil to sharpen them - well it only bleedin' works,doesn't it! Just fold up a small piece of foil several times until it's about 8 sheets thick and cut it with the blunt scissors. After a few goes it starts to sharpen - MAGIC!
AND I've discovered spray painting, a bit late I realise as someone has already gone crazy in Bristol using it, but my needs were a little more domestic… I picked up a cheap wicker basket recently but didn't like it that much. A few wafts of spray paint though and I love it now!
This week I got down and dirty with jersey. Yep, and I can fairly safely say I will not be doing that again! I found this gorgeous brown/pink/orange jersey fabric recently and when I saw The Great British Sewing Bee's (TGBSB) pattern for a tea dress, I though they would make a perfect combo. Cutting out was ok using a rotary cutter, but sewing was, well, not without frustration. I'd read up on tips on how to sew jersey and I thought that having mastered oilcloth, I'd get a handle on this stuff easily enough. Using my ball-point needle and walker foot I began cautiously in the appropriate stretch stitch and whilst some of it went ok, most of it was very messy indeed and prompted rather a lot of swear words that filled the shed. I carried on regardless, desperately not wanting to add to my pile of ufos and actually, in the end, not peeking at inside seams at all, it has turned out fine and only took about an hour and a half to put together as it has only a few pieces (front, back, facings and sleeves). It fits, it's comfortable and I still LOVE the fabric. This is Nancy showing it off above, named by my daughter and I think it suits her. Said daughter is a little perturbed by her not having a head and begs me to give her the blue one that lives in my shed… relax it's polystyrene and generally just looks dandy sporting a venetian mask as I don't find myself at many fiestas around here.
Anyway, I digress… someone very kindly gave me an overlocker last year but I haven't yet tried it out; I'm sure that would have whipped through jersey without a hiccup, but I haven't yet plucked up the courage to use it. The GBSB pattern instructions were very clear but since I made the dress from jersey I avoided the need for an invisible zip, so I'll tackle that with my next project. Job done!
I also made these in the week, they're my hi-top bags in matt black oilcloth with deckchair and pink geo linings.
So for ages now, I've been thinking of writing a blog, to keep tabs on what I'm making and what things work and those that don't. There's always an excuse not to start writing - the children need feeding, the house is a mess, husband wants to chat etc. etc. but alas, today this all ends and my blog begins. Yay, bring it on and … YIKES!
Over the past few years I've renewed my pleasures of sewing, mainly through trial and error, but also following youtube clips and reading loads of magazines and books for inspiration. It's been great fun and I also manage to make some pocket money from the stuff I make, but ultimately it's all about me (ME ME ME!) having fun and sharing the joy of playing. Play should never be under-rated and I have the luxury of a shed to dabble in (steady on now, this isn't THAT kind of a blog) and since my youngest is starting school in September I figure I may as well carry on what I'm doing and see if I can take it to the next level, mostly in order to avoid getting a 'proper' job!
Here are some photos of the things I've made this month, starting with the Amy Butler Liverpool Shirt Dress I finally got around to making on Wednesday. I'd put off starting this for months because I had this gorgeous Amy Butler fabric (nanna chic) and was terrified that I'd cut it wrong and ruin it before it had even been near a needle. However, I'm glad to report that there was no swearing in the shed and the project was very straightforward. My spritely 80 year old mum came down to hold my hand as I made a calico toile (first time I've done that!) and she has lost none of her sewing know-how, just showing that the make do and mend mentality can survive! The dress took me about 4 hours to make as I was trying very hard not to cock up and I'm thrilled with the results and even wore it out on Friday. Responding to compliments with the 'I made it myself' line is always gratifying but I'm most pleased to have nailed some key dress-making techniques, like plackets (wonderful word, that), collar stands and darts.
To summarise the Liverpool review, I found the instructions to be really useful, breaking things down at every stage. Like others, I found the sleeve lengths to be better suited to apes, as the ¾ sleeve is a full sleeve on me. I heard the pattern was a little tight on the chest so instead of cutting 2 parts for the back I cut mine on the fold, giving me an extra cm or so to play with and keeping the lovely pattern unbroken. This worked well and I fumbled a dart mid-back to allow the collar to still fit. Anyway, here's the finished product, please be gentle with me, it's my first adult clothing I've made since those shocking jumpsuits I adored in my teens…
This blog should nudge me to continue documenting my efforts & after being hooked on the recent Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2, I thought a good challenge would be to work my way through each of the projects detailed in the book. There, I've said it out loud so now I'll have to do it!
Hi, thanks for dropping by, welcome!