28 April 2014

My Coral Silk and Lace Zinnia

OK so I will start with a huge apology for how many pictures there are in this post, but I am so massively proud of how this turned out so I am going to ram it in your face as much as possible!

I hadn't planned on making this skirt, but I had decided I wanted a project which was not a dress. I also wanted to try using some more complicated fabrics to challenge myself a bit. When I saw a post from Colette patterns about The Stitchery hosting a sew along for this skirt I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to have a go at both those things.

Project details:
Fabric lining: Real silk crepe de chine in peach, a fabric remnant from eBay
Overlay fabric: Stretch lace in coral from Tia knight on eBay

There are three versions of this skirt, 1: a gathered waist with button placket and pocket details. 2: A pleated waist in a solid fabric. 3: a pleated waistband in a sheer fabric which includes full lining. I went for version 3 to give myself a bit more of a challenge, also because I love the drape and flow of how this version looks on the pattern website.

Before I go into the construction of this skirt I want to start by saying that I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!. I wasn't sure if the colours would go but they work really well together, the fit is spot on, the drape is perfect, there is nothing that I don't like about the finished item, Woo Hoo!

This pattern is labelled as 'beginner' which I do agree with, but take this with a pinch of salt if you are doing version 3 and handling difficult fabrics. The fit is very simple, you only need to fit in the waist band, lovely and easy, I like that. I wanted to time how long it took me to make this skirt but decided to stop caring after 10 hours! 10 hours to sew a skirt that only requires fitting in the waist!. This did include all the patter cutting, the fabric cutting, markings etc etc but still, yeowch.

The main issue I had with this skirt was sewing the two fabrics together. I was using a delicate silk crepe and trying to sew it together with a stretch lycra lace, not easy, those little buggers just kept slipping and stretching and puckering all over the place. However, after my first attempt at the waistband I calmly decided to try attaching my walking foot to my sewing machine to see if that made a difference. Did it? hell yes, that made things so much simpler, the fabrics really wanted to just flow together through the machine with those extra little feed dogs helping them along. Phew. 

I really wanted to get a good finish on this make and so tried very hard to make this skirt as perfect as possible. Because of the sheer fabrics I did my first ever French seams on this make on both layers of the fabric. I am so happy with these, I keep showing them to people whilst I have the skirt on (stop flashing at strangers Helen!) much to my surprise they sewed up pretty easy and they make the whole finish look so much neater and more professional. 

The pattern instruction for version 3 is a little vague on the back seam/hemming instructions. When inserting the zipper you are told to sew both layers together joining them in the back seam. However, later on you need to hem the underskirt separately and shorter than top layer. How are you supposed to do that when you have attached them both together? I eventually gave the pattern to Mr Fox to see if he could get his engineer brain around it and he suggested sewing the back zipper seam short of the bottom to allow me enough room to turn both layers under. This did seem to work a treat but it did baffle my brain for a while. The only other thing worth mentioning is that marking the pleats is a painstaking task, but make sure you do it. I used some contrasting tread but by the time I got there half of them had come out and it made life very difficult.

So the end result... big beemy face from me, and I will finish off with a compilation windier pics to show you just how lovely and swooshy it is.


25 April 2014

A Quickie Striped Lady Skater

Happy Friday once again, it's also my sisters birthday today so HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I am looking forward to seeing her later and also to eating some of the spectacular food that she always puts on. My lovely car, Electra, is having her MOT today so here's hoping she does well. In other good news it looks like we have sorted the kitchen so we just need to confirm the quote and get it booked in... exciting stuff.

I have a quickie sew to show you this week. I made up a super speedy version of the Lady Skater dress last weekend. Honestly I whipped this up in a few hours that's how easy this pattern is. I went for a plain black jersey for the skirt and some white and black stripe for the top section because I really like the contrast.

About the Dress:
Pattern: Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo
Size: 3
Fabric: Black and a White and Black Stripe Jersey bought from Derby Marketplace
Alterations: Took 1.5 inches from the bottom of the skirt. Re-drafted the neck slightly so its slightly lower and a bit more square.

To make the neck adjustment I took a store bought jersey top which I like the neckline of, folded it in half and re-drafted around this on to the pattern piece. I didn't take much off so didn't adjust the length of the next band. It does gather a bit at the front so in hindsight it probably would have been a good idea to add half an inch or so just to accommodate this.

I had a much better go with the elastic this time. I used my walking foot which stopped the issue with the stretching that I had on the last version. I did still have a little bit of stretch on the front body but not too much to stress about. I have been wearing it all day today without the belt coverup. The overlocker really shines with this pattern its just so simple and quick, but would be just as easy using a zig zag stitch on a sewing machine. I also managed the twin needle hem in one easy motion and this is only the 3rd attempt at one so I am very happy at how that turned out.

I am very pleased with this little version, it feels very spring like, I just wish we would get more of the sunshine and less of the showers (though the garden likes it).

Do you have any plans for a version of this dress? I have a lace version going on in my head at the moment so it probably won't be long until you see that one as well.


21 April 2014

A Jade Prom Dress

Happy Easter Monday. I hope you still have some chocolate left over and haven't pigged it all just yet! Its been great having these days off., me and the Mr haven't done a great deal this weekend, just caught up with some stuff, seen the family etc. Its been nice just to have some time to chill out. One of the fruits of me having this time was that I managed to finish off some sewing. YeHa!

So I bring you my jade lace prom dress which I have been making ready to wear to a wedding in the summer. Now I promise you this was a pure coincidence, but when I was pinning this together I realised the wedding is actually the wedding of our friend Jade, and my dress is Jade! How perfect is that! I swear I couldn't have planned that if I was doing it on purpose!

About the Dress:
Pattern: Prom Dress from the first Great British Sewing Bee Book
Fabric: Jade Cotton Sateen and Black Stretch Lace both from Fabricland
Size: 12
Adjustments: Shortened the straps by about 1.5 inches and removed 2 inches from the bottom

I love this dress pattern, its a really good pattern for a beginner and the fit is great for me with minimal adjustment. There are few pieces and they fit together well and in a logical order. I seriously recommend that anyone who owns this book should make up a version of this dress. I love the way it hangs in the front. I do think that I could have done with it being taken in a little bit under the arms but its not at all noticeable with a shrug on. Having made up a toile in a more sturdy fabric I do think the dress lends itself better to a stiffer fabric that I have used here  so it would be a perfect dress to make using a cotton poplin or cotton lawn for summer, or some drill/twill/brocade for winter.

This version of the dress is made using two layers of fabric, the jade cotton sateen with a layer of black stretch lace over the top. In order to make sure that the pieces didn't slip whilst sewing I decided to (painstakingly) overlock the two layers together around all the pattern pieces before I started to construct the dress. This was a big faff, and it took a while, but I do think it was worth it because I had very little difficulty sewing it up, there was very little movement between the two layers which helped a lot. I really liked working with the cotton sateen, its the first time I have ever used it and its got some great stretch to it. This would have been perfect for a version of the georgia dress.

All in all I am really pleased with this one. I have my concerns that its actually quiet thick and so it might not be perfect for a summer wedding, but if all else fails I have another wedding to attend in October so it will be perfect for that one if its too warm in July.

I will leave you with one final image of me prancing around... did you notice I don't have my hands on my hips once in this post!!


18 April 2014

DIY Bow Ring

I have seen these little things popping up all over the internet of late. I am going to give you a quick tutorial on how to knit your very own version for some instant DIY gratification.

Firstly, Happy Easter (4 days off work WooHa!) I hope you have some exciting plans and can enjoy as much chocolate as you can forcibly cram in. Now that we have the pleasantries out the way lets get on with how to make this utterly cute little accessory.

If any of you have looked at my pinterest you might have noticed I have a bit of an obsession with bows at the moment. I first saw these knitted numbers when one of project craft made some smaller than this to attach to some knitting, but I have since seen lots of these all over the internet, not surprising really given that you need only the very basic of knitting know-how to make it up.

You will need: 
  • A scrap of wool, preferably DK but anything will be fine as long as its not too thick
  • Small knitting needles. I used 2.75mm for mine. You could use anything up to 3.5mm but you will need to be wary this will make the bow bigger than mine was
  • Ring Blank
  • Glue Gun 
This bow is knit in garter stitch (where each row is a knit stitch). If you are not sure of knitting, or its bin a while, there are lots of tutorials, books, you tube videos etc out there to help you out. I personally love you tube for a knitting conundrum but there are also some basic techniques here on Martha Stewart 


To start off cast on 20 stitches.
Row 1: Knit 20
Row 2: Knit 20
Repeat until you have done 12 rows of knit stitch
Cast off.

Next you need to join the bow together. Fold both ends in towards the centre and using a needle sew the two ends together to form a circle. To make the bow shape hold the front and back flat together with the join seam in the centre back. Using your loose ends wrap the wool around and around the centre to hide the join until you have a bow shape and are happy with the amount of wool in the centre. Cut off your loose end making sure that the end is to the back of the bow.

Finally, using your glue gun, put a tiny blob of glue under the loose end to tack it down. Then put a nice big blob on the top side of the ring black and stick that bad boy on there squashing it down so its nice and secure.

Viola.. you now have the cutest little accessory ever! Top Tip: make sure to take it off before you go to use the ladies, you don't want it getting all soggy when you wash your hands!

I am so going to be making many many many of these...*runs off to ebay to buy more ring blanks. Enjoy your weekend everybody xx


14 April 2014

A sneak peak and the weekend I got my Husband back

Today is great, the sun is shining, its a 4 day week (followed by a 4 day weekend), I spend an hour less in my car each day on my commute, There was a man leading a trail of ducks and I saw a man with a beard like a walrus! Can the week start any better? As well as this, as you know, thanks to Mr Fox handing in his dissertation, I finally got my husband back. I can't tell you how much more relaxed we both feel now that is all over with, suddenly life seems a lot less stressful. It was however my intention to spend as much of the weekend together as possible and not run off to get lost in little projects on my own. So aside from taking a couple of pictures for my post the sewing has been strictly off limits.

We did however have a lovely weekend. We bought a BBQ (and lots of meat to go with it), ate pizza, saw friends and generally just hung out together. The sun has been shining here so everything is pretty good.

I am not a huge fan of a 'what's on my sewing table' post, but do you know what, that's about all I got for you right now so you will have to lump it! If you haven't noticed yet, yes that picture above is a piece of shocking pink leather!!! I know its incredible! I picked this up from the post office Saturday morning and I can't wait to get started on my little leather project. Since buying this piece of leather I have had so much inspiration of things to make with it. Assuming my little experiment with this stuff doesn't go hideously wrong I can see me buying many more pieces in my future. I am afraid the project is going to stay under wraps for the moment so you will just have to watch this space.

What actually is on my sewing table is this little number on top (can anyone guess the pattern from the sneaky peaky picture underneath?). The Jade/Teal is some stretch cotton sateen with some black stretch lace over the top. I don't think when I started this project I realised just what I was getting myself in for! You can see from the picture above that I have overlocked nearly all the seam edges to make sure that the lace and the sateen don't move about too much when sewing them together. Yes this did take me an age but hopefully it will make the assembly a whole lot easier. I have also decided that I really like Jade and Emerald greens for some reason, I think I need to find more excuses to work it into my wardrobe.

And to finish off I finally bought myself a copy of the Winifred Aldrich metric pattern cutting book which was recommended to my by my sister. This book supposedly gives you all the tools you need to be able to design your own patterns. I am not hugely interested in pattern drafting as a full time game (I would much rather leave this to Rachel) but as my main reason for sewing is to make things which fit better I hope this gives me a much better understanding for alterations and fit going forward. I look forward to getting into this book, though I fear it might bring on some headaches before I fully understand it all!

I hope you all had a good weekend and found something to celebrate like we did, here's looking forward to the 4 day weekend ahead. 

11 April 2014

Velvet Circle Skirt

Happy Friday everybody! I am pleased to say that Mr Fox has officially handed in his dissertation now! Yippee! Hopefully this means he can be more relaxed, less stressed, and we will have more time to spend together. He does still have a presentation to do but at least its not as much work. So I am dreaming of sunny beaches and cocktails in my near future.

This weekend I need to go collect a parcel, which I hope is the mats for something special I plan to work on. We will also be going for a hair cut, which I have pursuagded him should be followed by celebration pizza, and the some drinks with friends. All in all feeling very chilled now, especially with the sun shining outside.

On to the skirt. So whilst I was really busy doing all the stuff for project craft I was also secretly working on two simultaneous easy projects. the Lady Skater and this velvet circle skirt. I was trying to be clever and sew them along at the same time so doing all the overlocking on each project then moving on to the machine etc etc. This worked pretty well but all in all it was very disjointed and fragmented. So although I am happy I got them both done shortly after project craft it's definitely not my preferred method of working.

Anywho, on to the skirt. This is my velvet skater/circle skirt (black velvet is such a hard thing to take picture of, I know why goths love it so much, its black as black!). The pattern was taken from the first GBSB book though I made a couple of changes due to it being made from a stretchy velvet. I omitted the zip, and added elastic to the waistband to make it easy to wear.  I also removed a massive 8 inches from the hem. In hindsight, this was way too much, I should have gone for about 6 and hemmed it up with a 1/2 inch double folded hem. It ended up verging on the indecent and I had to sew a really narrow hem on it which hasn't resulted in the neatest finish ever. I also tested the twin needle on the Lady Skater fabric then moved straight on to the velvet. This was not a great plan, the velvet is much thicker and again hasn't made for a great hem.

The elastic waistband was made by joining both seams together to form a circle, but only sewing half way down the seam. I then folded over the waistband and pinned it evenly across the top of the skirt overlocking it in place. Then, using a safety pin, I thread the elastic through the waistband and stitched it together at the desired length to form a circle. I finally closed the hole in the waistband with some hand stitching. I could do with finding a way of securing the velvet in place as it has a tendency to creep within the waistband which is a bit annoying. Does anyone have any tips for this? Maybe I need to re-overlock it catching the elastic in the seam so its secure, though that's a very permanent solution so I need to think on that a bit.

I really need to find another pose, I always seem to have my hands on my hips! Anyone got any suggestions of how I should rock out my next garmet poses? Anywho, that's it from me. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

7 April 2014

Don't Fear the Twin Needle: My First Lady Skater

I went shopping this weekend and had such a huge attack of 'I could so make that myself, and it would fit better'. This can be quiet an irritating habit because not only do you need to find the time (who are you trying to kid you have time for this), but also getting all the fabric/notions required to actually make the thing that you probably could have purchased for less than £20! Never mind. I did at least come home and do some sketches as well as making a pinterest board to keep my ideas together before I forget.

But that wasn't what this post was supposed to be about was it, no! Its a post about my first ever Lady Skater. I did it, not only did I conqour a fear of knits, but I mastered both the overlocker and had my first ever attempt at using a twin needle. My conclusion: Don't fear the twin needle, its great and really easy to use (even if my threads did tangle on one occasion).

A bit about the Pattern:
Pattern: Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo
Fabric: Grey Leopard Jersey Knit
Size: 3
Alterations: I took the hem up by 2 inches.

Verdict: I LOVE this pattern and can foresee many more versions of this in the future. Its so easy to fit, I fit it on my waist size and you can see that the girls are sitting in there fine with no major issues at all. The skirt is flared so there is no need to worry about hip adjustments either. All in all this is the perfect pattern for trying your hand at some knit/jersey sewing. The instructions were really clear and it has a simple construction. I ditched the iPad half way through as the construction was so obvious. This makes me happy. When making this up again I will probably try and scoop the neck a bit more by tracing one of my favourite vest tops. I will also shorten the sleeve as I am a bit strange and don't like a 3/4, I sort of prefer a 1/2 coming just to the elbow (you can see its already bunched up and will stay that way!).

At this point I want to impart a bit of wisdom on to you all. If you only ever buy one additional foot for your sewing machine make it a walking foot. I bought mine because I was doing some quilting but my goodness this thing is so useful for EVERYTHING. It basically 'walks' both layers of fabric through the machine at the same speed. Perfect if you have fabrics of different construction, or are sewing knits to stop them from overstretching.

Those of you who have already made the Lady Skater might notice the issue I had with the elastic on this one. I am not going to lie to you, its a mess! This pattern wants you to sew some thin elastic into the seam allowance on the shoulders and the waist to stop the fabric stretching over time. Wearing it I can see why you would do this, however putting it in was a mare! The elastic I used is very plasticy and so it wouldn't feed under the machine foot. I ended up having to pull it through the machine to attach it and it just stretched the seams way out of proportion. Thankfully the lovely Amanda who designed this pattern gave me some top tips which I will certainly test out to find out which works best for me before sewing up the next version. These were: try a walking foot (literally D'OH, why did I not even try this!); make the feed tension lesser, i,e treat it like you are sewing something very think; stick some masking tape to the bottom of the presser foot to stop it sticking (I have also heard this is good for sewing oilcloth, so I need to try it on PVC) or stitch through some tracing paper and then remove after sewn in. Hopefully the walking foot will work but there are lots of options to try if not (Thank you Amanda).

How cute are these tights! Meow! They were from Primark in case you want to snap up a pair.

So if you haven't tried this pattern I really suggest you do, overlocker or no, its really great and so comfy to wear. Not to mention knits come in the most amazing array of prints. Despite this being a bit of a glorified muslin I think it will still get worn with the belt as it covers up the biggest sin.

And don't forget, don't fear the twin needle, honestly, try this for knits it gives a perfect finish. I will leave you with some of the sketches and the pinterest board that I made instead of just giving myself an easy life!

6 April 2014

Post Wedding Round Up: Everything Else

I have been meaning to put up some more pictures from the wedding for some time now to cover all the little details that I haven't covered already. I really want to be able to make a little gallery for 'Our Handmade Wedding' page above (where you can find all the other blog posts as well) and it seems a bit silly to do this without talking you through it first. All images taken by our wonderful photographer Ed Godden

We got married in a real ale pub in Derbyshire which is an old listed coach house called The Bear Inn at Alderwasley. One of the things we felt was important on our day was to make sure us and our guests felt relaxed all day and not standing on ceremony. A pub was the perfect choice, I mean I feel right at home in the pub! It was also a real ale pub and because most of our friends and family are beer drinkers this was much better than being somewhere where everyone has to drink wine or choose from a limited selection of generic beer on offer. The staff were amazing, they were so helpful and tentative, and the work they did setting everything out and making sure we didn't have to think about it was incredible.

The room which we used for the ceremony was a small function room with its own bar. It is painted white and has lovely atmospheric dark beams. The venue very kindly supplied their own bunting which I am very happy about, I think I would have gone insane making all this up myself!

We did however make the large tissue paper poms. There are loads of tutorials on the net for these so you can go google it :). My Godmothers other half even made the pink and blue one a couple of pictures above. He was very proud of himself and I think he showed it to everyone he spoke to!

95% of the reason why I picked this venue was the chairs (right now you are probably thinking I'm a bit insane!). I really didn't want those sash covered plastic chairs, its just not us. Now wood, that's more like it, I love these chairs. My mum very kindly, and painstakingly, made 50 hanging hearts which we hung off the ends of the chairs whilst we walked down the isle. I love the finished look of these. Not one person left me with a leopard print one though, and I go to other peoples houses and see them hanging there and can't help but grumble in my head a bit :) It's fine though, I am glad people liked them so much that they wanted to take them away.

Me and mum grew all the flowers ourselves in my garden and in the allotment. Not all of them worked but we ended up with masses of white and various shades of pink cosmos so it looked beautiful. My mum admitted to me the day before the wedding that she thought I was crazy suggesting that we grow flowers which would still be in bloom at the end of October. HA! looky what we achieved, Win!

I couldn't do this post without showing you my hair. I had this crazy idea I wanted to make my hair into a bow at the back after seeing someone else do it at a friends wedding. I really didn't think my hair would be long enough to make this work but the hairdresser Holly did and incredible job. She even spent the night before painting bobby pins pink with nail polish so you couldn't see them! How incredible is that!

We made all the decorations for the tables (thought you can't see them all that well). There were felt hearts and plush numbers. The ombre candles, hundreds of paper stars, more flowers, flag place holders held in Ferrero Rocher, pom pom napkin rings and little chocolate hearts. I knew that making all this stuff was a huge undertaking, but I never ever imagined it would look as incredible as it all did.

So I will leave you with a small selection of images, but remember if you want to have a look at more than this you can see them all on our Photographers website: www.edgodden.co.uk


4 April 2014

Easter Project Craft: Round Up

Project Craft is now done for Easter and we raised over £500 for Improving Dementia Education and Awareness (IDEA) which is absolutely fantastic. I want to send out a huge thanks to colleagues who invited me to be a part of this with them. It was immense fun doing all the prep, seeing other peoples craft, and working selling the items to eager donaters

But I should also send out a big thank you to all those who donated home made cakes and tasty treats to the cause, as well as all the people who came along and bought from us. I hope they all enjoy their little treats and I am sure that the money will be going to great use. 

You can obviously see some of the items in these pictures but this doesn't even begin to cover what we had for sale. I would post a picture of my purchases but I have a bunny loving family member who I might need to keep this a secret from for now!

I will tell you something though, I forgot how much hard work it is running a craft stall. I always thought it was the fresh air, but I was absolutely shattered after doing this. I am looking forward to planning ahead for our next event which will hopefully be towards Christmas, but not before a well deserved rest!

Some of the things we had for sale: Felted eggs, chicks in eggs, flowers. Knitted hats, scarfs, cushions, chocolate egg cosies, decorations and mug hugs. Glass bead magnets, rings and necklaces. Sewn bunting, bunnies and bags. Along with cards, plants and gifting chocolate (pretty much everything Easter related you can imagine!) 

So given the success of this its pretty much onwards to Christmas. Is April to early to be thinking about Christmas? I know I have had my tree up in August before but this feels a it much! 
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