May 20th, 2014
Went to London yesterday with my friend Kristina, had some lunch, did some shopping. One of the shops we went to was Liberty of London. And of course had to go up to the fabric floor. Last visited the fabric department, June last year. I hadn’t been sewing long, had only made some cushion covers, so I felt a little overwhelmed by it all. I never thought I was going to be brave enough to make clothes so didn’t dare buy any fabric, although I thought it was all quite beautiful. So yesterday it felt quite different. I had a good long look at all the beautiful prints but I just couldn’t decide, they really were all so pretty. Again I was overwhelmed and decide not to buy anything. Kristina asked me why? And I told her they were all so lovely I just could not make a decision, so rather than make the wrong choice I wouldn’t make any choice. Kristina wasn’t happy with this, and said she would pick one out for me. She knows what I like and the style of tops I make and wear. I thought why not, lets see what she picks. Kristina walked up and down looking at the fabrics, picked out three different ones and showed me. I rejected the first, the second I liked but I wasn’t keen on the third. However after holding up the fabric against myself we came to the conclusion that the third choice was actually the best one for me. I duly purchased a metre and off I went. Happy! :0)
This is a really gorgeous fabric, feels so soft and silky. And the pattern is just wonderful, so much going on if you look closely. Lots of cute little details. There will now follow lots of pictures.
I love the little details, like the hearts in the middle of the flowers.
I can’t wait to make this into a top. At £22 a metre its not the most expensive fabric I’ve bought but it still feels a bit special and I’m a little nervous. I really want to be able to do the fabric justice.
Watch this space!
February 14th, 2014
I’ve now made a fair few tops so its back to the bags. I love the bag shape that I’ve been making, but my heart belongs to the messenger/crossbody style of bag, and I’ve been wanting to try this shape for a while. I feel ready to have a go now. You may or may not remember the fabric I bought back in June, that I felt was too lovely to use at that point, nor was I ready to cut up such an expensive fabric. Well now I’m ready. This fabric is gorgeous, both of them. I’m quite excited to see how it will turn out. I line the fabric I’ll use for the outer bag with calico, it just makes it a bit more substantial. Its quite a fiddlely make as the sides are quite narrow, and I haven’t perfected the corners yet. I swear a little bit whilst sewing, as the extra bulk due to the calico makes it quite tricky. But I get there and I’m really pleased with the outcome. I used gros grain from Merchant & Mills for the strap ( I know it seems like I’m constantly plugging M&M, but honestly I just love their products) and I think it works really well.
Now for lots of pics!
Attention to detail people.
more attention to detail
I bloody love this bag, and have been using it almost constantly for six months. The fabric has held up really well, shows some signs of wear on the back from where it rubs against my clothes but otherwise still looks fab! Up till now I’ve had a very expensive bag habit, meaning I liked designer bags. I have several, that now rarely see the light of day, as I love using a bag made by ME :0)
February 9th, 2014
It is now the end of July and you might remember dear reader that my original plan was to make tops! You might also be aware that so far there has been no sign of any tops, at all, haven’t even mentioned them since that first post. Has she forgotten about them? You might ask. No I have not forgotten about them, I have been thinking about them a lot. Even bought a pattern, had a look at it and promptly hid it, as it was far too scary! Too many pieces and far too many instructions and nothing made sense to me. So I started to think I might just stick with making cushions, bags and pouches.
But the idea of making my own clothes was still calling me. And somehow or other, I don’t know how (divine intervention maybe), but I came across something on “The Daily Stitch” a blog for “The Village Haberdashery”. “Portia’s no-pattern-required summer top tutorial“. This was posted the middle of July and I stumbled upon it end of July, it was meant to be! I read the post, re-read the post, read it again just to be sure and started thinking maybe, just maybe, I could do this.
A couple of days later I went back to Rye and to Merchant & Mills and bought some lovely hand woven, hand printed, 100% indian cotton. I think that description is right anyway. A beautiful light weight fabric, perfect for summer. I had some fabulous advice from the chap serving me, helped me make the right decision and was very encouraging when I told him I’d only been sewing for about 6 weeks and this would be my first top. Between us we decided how much fabric I would need (I think I bought a meter).
I took my precious fabric home, and having been advised to wash it first, promptly stuck it in the washing machine. The next day my fabric was dry and having read Portia’s post several more times, I decided it was time to have a go…………………..
The beauty of this top is, its mostly straight lines (I’ve gotten better at straight lines), and that it involves just one piece of fabric. I measured out carefully how much I needed and then cut accordingly. I had my laptop in my sewing room with me so I could keep referring to Portia’s instructions. This I did many times. The most complicated part for me was the neck and the facing, I managed to completely overlook part of her instructions, but luckily it didn’t make too much difference for me (and I didn’t realise till I came to do my next top).
I’ve discovered that with sewing, there is an awful lot of ironing that goes with it. You iron the fabric before you start anything, then after you’ve done some sewing, you iron again, this helps set the stitches in the fabric better. Then you iron the seams in place and the hem, and then at last you iron the finished article! I have re-named sewing and call it “creative ironing”. Honestly i have never ironed so much in my life before I started sewing! I would actually say that sitting down to sew is only about 20%-30% of what making your own clothes, bags, cushions or anything, is about. Sorry I digress.
What joy, what pure and utter joy I felt at finishing my first handmade top. I made a top, its not perfect, the finishing could be better (I realise this as time goes by, and I make more clothes), but I made a top. I am on “top” of the world and feel so happy and clever. I never in a million years thought I’d be making an actual top! Its a little over 6 months since the idea popped into my head and now I’ve actually done it( its all thanks to Miss P. You can find her blog here). This is absolutely huge for me. I’m so happy that I’ve discovered the joy of sewing and dare I say it? I feel like I might have a bit of an affinity for it. I just feel so happy whenever I’m in my sewing room. And no matter what part of the process I’m undertaking I enjoy it. Even if I think I’m not, I am, I truly truly am.
There will now follow some pictures of said top! Please forgive the headless modelling pics, I do not generally photograph very well, unless properly posing. And I usually take the pics of finished articles right after finishing, so I usually look a mess anyway, and no one wants to see that!
February 7th, 2014
July 2013, don’t be fooled by the amount I’ve sewn so far. I am still nervous, and get sweaty hands and a headache whenever I sit down at the sewing machine. At the moment I’m loving the preparation more than the sewing. I take real pleasure and pride in marking out my fabric and plotting where best to mark the fabric to get the best showing of the pattern that I’m working with.
I’m also experimenting with sizes and dimensions of bags. 19th July 2013 I make a lovely red spotty one which I am initially very happy with but after using once realise its not quite right. Why you might ask? Well the handles are too short and its not got enough depth/width, too narrow. And it really doesn’t work. So I remove the handles, not letting them go to waste and I use the bag for my scrap materials.
This is the rubbish one that didn’t work!
27th July, I alter the dimensions of the bag, making it deeper and the handles longer again, no major changes but it makes a hell of a difference. I’m so so happy with this one. I love the fabric too. I use the beach hut and boat fabric for the inside, however the bag is reversible so this could become the outside, but I love seeing it when I look in the bag.
February 2nd, 2014
I’m now on a roll. I made my first cushion cover on the 10th June 2013, the second one on the 11th June, then a third on the 12th. Forth on the 13th, had a day off on the 14th, then made the fifth on the fifteenth June. Was away for the weekend and back to work on the Monday. I was now officially sewing! I had made things, I had made things that had a function. I turned flat pieces of fabric into something. And boy oh boy was I happy I was so happy, so so happy! Sorry for all the boring pics of cushions, but I’m very proud of them and want to show them off.
Lovely lovely cushions
February 2nd, 2014
I’ve finished my first cushion cover and am now eager to do more. I didn’t really like the pillow case type cushion cover I made first time so looked for alternatives. I found a brilliant tutorial on “gone to earth” on envelope back cushion covers and they looked gorgeous. I read and re-read the post on how to do it, went to Dunelm mill and bought some gorgeous fabric. I also bought several cushion inserts and more cotton. I was almost as nervous buying fabric as I was making my first cushion cover. I didn’t really know how much I would need, and I think I totally confused the poor sales assistant, but she was really helpful and between us we managed to come to the conclusion that I’d need a meter of two types of fabric. I purchased said fabrics, drove home and went up to my sewing room and started to mark out the fabric, very very carefully. I was so nervous, this was lovely lovely fabric and quite expensive and I was scared of messing it up. After marking it very carefully I even more carefully cut the fabric, this was the point of no return! I cut the fabric, then marked out my seam allowance, Pinned it and began to sew……….
February 1st, 2014
It was around this time last year, at the age of 41 and 11 months, that i had an epiphany. Whilst toiling away at work one day feeling pretty miserable and wondering how I could maybe find something else to do with my life, an idea popped into my head. I could make my own tops (I can never find exactly what I want in shops so why not make my own) and these tops would be so fab that all women would eventually want one! And I could give up work and have my own fashion empire. Yes dear reader I have a vivid imagination and once I reigned it back in I remembered that I don’t actually know how to sew!
Hmmm could be a problem but only a minor one I thought. So I started looking into sewing classes, unfortunately they were few and far between where I live. I found the nearest thing that looked suitable, a “Pattern cutting and dressmaking” course at my local college. Apparently according to the blurb in the prospectus it was suitable for all abilities. However it did not say “suitable if you have no knowledge whatsoever of sewing or how a sewing machine works or anything at all to do with dressmaking”! I chose to ignore that fact and enrolled. I started the course in March and needless to say discovered it wasn’t for me. Although the lovely course tutor said I would be able to do it I simply felt out of my depth. Plus we were using industrial sewing machines which, given half a chance, wanted to sew my fingers to the fabric. So i decided not to take up any more of her time, or take her away from those who would benefit from the course, and left.
All was not lost though, I discovered that I was happy, very happy, making marks on paper and fabric and sticking pins in things and I was more determined than ever to discover how to make my own stuff. So my lovely Mum lent me her sewing machine to see if I could get on with it. I sat down with it and read the instruction manual, yes thats right, actually read an instruction manual. I’ve never read an instruction manual in my life, but I read this one. And I wound a bobbin (don’t you just love that word?) and threaded the machine. Oh man was I ecstatic!
So it is now June and I buy my first piece of fabric, I’m going to attempt to re-cover an old cushion. After examining my pillow cases I decide thats what I’m going to try, a pillow case type cover. Finally I feel ready to have a go! I don’t really know what I’m doing or how I’m going about it but I’m going to try. I measure the cushion, I mark the fabric, cut the fabric, and finally sit down to sew the fabric. I’m so nervous I am shaking and my hands are getting sweaty. I tentatively start the sewing machine and start sewing. I can’t do a straight line to save my life but its not too far off track, I keep sewing till I’ve finished. And when I finish I breath a sigh of relief. Then its the moment of truth. Will it fit the cushion?