Mr GiW and I went to Cardiff at the weekend for a jaunt. We had some lovely meals, did some shopping and had a tour of the Millenium Stadium. I’m not a rugby fan, but we have seen Bruce Springsteen there twice.

We were so lucky on Saturday, with beautiful sunshine all day long. I went a bit mad taking photos of spring flowers in Bute Park.

It’s been the wettest winter on record in the UK. I’m fortunate not to have had my home flooded, unlike so many people, but the unending rain and grey skies get you down after a while.

I was desperate for sunshine and bright colours, as you can tell from the photos.

This first day of spring is officially 20 March, so not too much longer to wait.

If you’re in the UK and you sew, you may have been just as excited as I was at 8pm last night when the second series of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ started. Hurrah! Non-UK readers, can you get the Sewing Bee where you are?

Last night’s challenges were to sew a sleeveless cotton top, to customise a wool skirt and to fit and sew a silk night dress to a model.

The sleeveless top was simple, but this left no hiding place for those without basic techniques – no under stitching a neckline facing or clipping a curved seam? For shame! The silk nightie sewn by a policeman from Scotland Yard was lovely (am I alone in thinking he must get a lot of stick from his colleagues?).

However, watching the Sewing Bee does make me think about how much I’ve got to learn about sewing. I’ve got the basics (hopefully) but there are so many fabrics and techniques I need to master before I can call myself a ‘good’ dressmaker. Ah well, at least I’m having fun :-)

Hurrah, I have sewn my first garment for 2014. It’s a Miette skirt, by Tilly and the Buttons. I was in the mood for a simple project and this was perfect. ‘Miette’ is a flared wraparound skirt with waist ties and optional pockets on the front panels.

I wish the pattern had been around when I was first learning to sew. It would have been a much gentler introduction to garment sewing than The Skirt. ‘Miette’ is great for beginners – no hateful zip to worry about and it’s easy to pick a size. The waist ties mean the skirt is adjustable anyway.

miette_1

I made the largest size, added 3″ to the length and omitted the pockets. I wanted a casual skirt, so I used 3 metres of soft washed denim from Fabric Godmother. The skirt was a pleasure to sew up, although turning the belt the right way out is rather tedious. I fortified myself with a cup of tea and coaxed it with a bamboo knitting needle.

I wore my ‘Miette’ out for a walk into town last Sunday. As you can see from my wayward scarf in the photo, it was quite breezy! It was very comfortable, the waist ties stayed in place and, despite high winds, the skirt panels preserved my modesty. I’d like to make another casual version in a darker denim, and then perhaps a linen version for warmer weather (I can dream).

All in all, a big thumbs up for ‘Miette’ :-) But why do I always look like such a goon in photos?

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post. I’ve missed sharing my projects and interacting with you all. It feels good to be back :-)

Unfortunately 2014 hasn’t got off to a great start for me. I’ve had a stinking cold for the past week and my mum was taken into hospital unexpectedly on Monday evening. Thankfully she is being allowed home today, although she’ll have to go back for more tests. The cold has meant I haven’t been able to visit her, which has been very frustrating.

I haven’t felt like doing anything this week, other than sleeping and reading a little, but I have been thinking about what I’d like to achieve in 2014. I’m not going to make resolutions, as I think you are setting yourself up to fail more often than not. However, I am going to set myself some goals on the understanding that it doesn’t matter if I achieve them or not. My theme for the year is “do more of what you love” and the goals, below, reflect that:

1. Wear red lipstick as often as possible. Not a difficult one to achieve! My red lipstick of choice is MAC Ruby Woo. Forever.

2. Learn to sew with knits. I’ve sewn with woven fabrics up until now and I’m scared of sewing with knits. I’d like to make some cosy tops and maybe even a dress.

3. Knit the perfect top down sock. I’ve knitted a lot of socks, but I have two issues with top down socks. Firstly, finding an elastic cast on that works and secondly, eliminating the annoying gap that occurs in the corners when picking up stitches from the heel for the toe section.

4. Read more. When I was younger, I read all the time (and I mean ALL the time – whilst eating, walking down stairs, etc). Now I read very little and it saddens me. Instead, I waste time surfing the internet or watching disposable tv programmes.

So there you go. Have you set any goals for the forthcoming year?

PS sorry for the lack of photo in this post. I’m not well enough to crawl out from under the duvet to take pictures just yet.

Hello everyone (if there is still anyone out there reading…). I haven’t posted for a while. Shortly after my last post, something unexpected happened which knocked me right off my feet (metaphorically speaking). I didn’t feel like blogging or crafting for a while. It’s taken a couple of months for me to feel anything like normal again, but I think I’m getting there. I’ve got lots of sewing projects planned – I’ll be back soon (I hope) with project plans and maybe even some progress.

Hello friends. The past month has been very busy and stressful, hence the lack of posts.

I’ve finished my Kitty Foyle dress, but I’m not very happy with the result. In the end I didn’t bother taking a photo of the finished dress to submit to the Fall for Cotton pool. I will explain more in another post…

I’ve been so busy at work, doing hours and hours of teaching. Most evenings I came home from work and collapsed on the sofa, too tired to do anything else.

Also, Mr GiW and I have been in the final stages of buying a house! I’m pleased to say the purchase has completed and the house is ours. We’re spending all our free time packing up my flat so we can move into the house as soon as possible.

One VERY exciting thing is that I will have a sewing room in the new house! It’s a small bedroom that faces onto the garden.

The decor needs some work, but look! There is built in storage! I plan to make curtains to draw across the storage area.

Can you see I’ve moved my sewing machine already? It was the first thing I moved into the house (well, you’ve got to get your priorities right). My overlocker will be following shortly. The folding table and chair are what I have been using when I sew up until now. I hope to buy a decent sized desk soon. Any suggestions for sturdy desks (possibly from IKEA)?

Anyway, lots more packing to do…

Bonjour mes amis! My Kitty Foyle dress for the sewalong is finished, hoorah! I need to take some photos and then I will be able to share the final result with you.

In the meantime, I am doing some knitting. It’s my very worst time at work at the moment. Lots of teaching for the next few weeks, which means that I’m tired (and let’s face it, grumpy) pretty much all the time. I needed the comfort food equivalent of crafting, so I’ve started some basic socks.

When I learned to knit socks, I made them top down. More recently, I’ve been knitting all my socks toe up (partly to avoid grafting toes, which I don’t like). However, I fancied getting out my double pointed needles again.

The yarn is from the Opal Little Prince collection, in the shade ‘The Little Prince and the Geographer’. It’s gorgeous yarn to work with; soft and squishy with nice stitch definition.

I would love to be able to tell you that ‘The Little Prince’ was one of my favourite childhood books, but in fact I read it only last month when I saw the sock yarn and then remembered I had a copy on my bookshelves.

Anyway, I’m enjoying knitting the socks very much. It soothes my soul to have some ‘vanilla’ knitting to work on in my lunch breaks. Thank goodness for the healing powers of crafting.

My Kitty Foyle dress is progressing nicely. I’ve added the contrast collar and cuffs, sewn up the bodice side seams and set in the sleeves.

I attached the collar in the usual way. As I mentioned in my last post, I drafted cuffs for the sleeves. Basically, I measured the sleeve side seam, subtracted the seam allowance (1/2″) and then divided the remaining area into thirds. I have done one third cuff (4.3cm) to two thirds sleeve (8.6cm).

I made a tissue pattern piece for the cuff, which was 4.3cm x 2 (the cuff is doubled over) plus 1/2″ seam allowance all around. I interfaced the cuff pieces with lightweight iron on interfacing for stability and also to hide the navy fabric at the seam. Weird how I use both imperial and metric measurements! Does anyone else do that?

For each sleeve, I pressed a long edge of the cuff under 1/2″ then sewed the cuff to the sleeve at the other long edge. I was really careful to match up the white sections exactly when sewing the sleeve side seams. Finally I folded the cuff in half, wrong side to wrong side, bringing the pressed under edge to the seam on the long edge of the sleeve. I sewed the cuff down at 1/8″.

Just got to sew the bodice to the skirt, hem the skirt, sew the button holes and attach the buttons, then the dress will be finished! I’ve had my doubts whilst making it, mainly around the suitability of the fabric, but I hope the end result will look good. The above photo makes one sleeve look higher than the other at the shoulder, but it’s just the way the bodice is sitting on my dress form. They match in real life, honest!

Well, my week off work went ridiculously fast. However, I managed to get my Kitty Foyle dress cut out and prepared for sewing, as planned.

Cutting out fabric pieces for garments really, really wears me out these days. I don’t have a table big enough, so I have to kneel on the floor with the fabric laid over a child’s playmat (like this one, but mine has a snakes and ladders design with some very jaunty looking snakes).

I cut out all the fabric pieces on the crosswise fold. The fabric wasn’t wide enough to cut out the front skirt panels (which are pleated) when folded selvedge to selvedge. I’d read that you have to be careful to cut out darker fabrics in the same direction, otherwise the fabric pieces may look different when the garment is assembled. So I was extra cautious with my lay planning and cutting. I cut the collar and cuff pieces (which I drafted) from the white poplin. More on those in another post.

I serged all the raw edges of the pieces using a 3 thread overlocker stitch. Like an idiot, I forgot to interface the facing on the front skirt panels first, so I had to unpick the overlocking, apply the interfacing and overlock again. Thanks to Sewing With Sergers, I learned how to unpick overlocking properly – unpick the needle thread(s) first. Once you’ve pulled those out, the looper threads unravel easily.

I started sewing up the dress on Sunday (the first day of the sewalong) and I’m so glad I did. I’m back at work now and the roasting temperature in my office means that I feel shattered when I get home, which is not an ideal state of mind for sewing. I managed to baste the skirt pleats, sew up the skirt pieces, construct the front and back bodice pieces and then sew them together at the shoulders. Hopefully I can make more progress on the dress this coming weekend.

You can see the mess I work in when I’m sewing from the photo above. All my sewing stuff is jammed into a corner of my living room. On the left of my dress form are my pressing tools, on the right a pile of fabric, muslins and unfinished garments. The shadow on the left is from my sewing machine which is perched on a card table barely bigger than the machine itself. Ah for a sewing room!

I’ve gathered my supplies for the Fall for Cotton sewalong. I chose poplin, which is a 100% cotton fabric suitable for making dresses and other garments. I bought my fabric from here and I got 4 metres of navy and 2 metres of white.

I ordered more white fabric than I need for the Kitty Foyle dress. The poplin is quite wide (45″), so I hope to get a short-sleeved blouse from it as well. In addition to the fabric, I bought 10 half inch white buttons, navy sewing thread and navy overlocker thread.

I’ve pre-washed my fabrics separately in preparation. I’ve traced the pattern and made a muslin for a previous project, so I don’t need to do any work there.

The start date for the sewalong is 1st September, but I’m going to cheat slightly by cutting out my fabric pieces and serging the edges next week. I’m on leave from work for the week, so I’ll have plenty of time. The first week of September to mid-October is my busiest time at work, and I know from experience that I will be too tired in the evenings to kneel on the floor cutting out fabric. Also, the evenings are getting darker, so it will be more difficult to work with navy fabric.

I bought one more item for my supplies and that’s a DVD of ‘Kitty Foyle’. I’ve never seen the film before, and I thought it might inspire me to work on my sewalong dress.

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