Monday, 9 October 2017

Birthday gift and more sewing catchup

It seems the more I sew, the less I blog which is a bad situation to be in. Anyway here is my latest make but first, I'd like to share a recent birthday gift I received from a very dear friend and one of my biggest fans of my sewing and blogging. This was a big birthday for me and such a brilliant present that fits perfectly in my sewing room.

The photo doesn't do it justice but the frame totally matches my curtains. The background of the picture is made of tiny thread reels and apart from the machine having my name on it you can see the thread on the machine loops up to a heart before threading its way down to the needle. I just totally love it. This was just such a thoughtful gift and so appreciated.

Now on to my latest shirt....

I described this as a 'noisy' shirt to a friend who enquired because it's not exactly 'loud' but it isn't quiet either. The fabric reminds of those paper crafts where you dip it in liquid having spotted it with oils for some pretty amazing designs.

I can't remember where I got this fabric now but it's a quality 100% cotton and would have been too overwhelming in one colour so I used some accent plain fabric for the cuffs, shoulder tabs and inside of the yoke and collar. The collar came out a bit 'Elvis Presley ish' and wasn't intended but I know where I went wrong. I drafted the pattern from my SFD basic body blueprint where I then added my usual 1 cm seam allowance but instead of drafting a new collar and stand, I took the pattern from one of my original drafts which I now realise used the old standard 5/8" seam allowance [employed in the early days of my sewing career until I followed more experience tutors who taught me 1 cm in most places is much easier than the larger one and then having to trim down after - made sense to me].

Anyway the colar is now referred to as a 'design element' but I'll be more careful next time.

The cuff was another design element that I hadn't intended at the outset. I wanted the cuff to have the plain colour lining but I realised it would have more impact turned back in half. The only problem here was that being an afterthought I had already allowed for the 'turn off cloth' for the other way so there is a slight border effect around the edges which isn't very professional and certainly makes it look 'home made'. 

I've got a T-Shirt and some Yoga Pants for my new Tai Chi QiGong classes starting next month on my cutting table so that's my next project.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Sewing catch up

Gosh, I have been doing a lot of sewing but not a lot of blogging recently so here goes with some catch-up photos.

So first up is a polo neck top and check trousers. The black narrow rib top is fairly plain and straightforward using my basic T-shirt block. The real benefit was using my new coverstitch machine for the neckline and hem. I am certainly appreciating the way it creates a superb finish but still allows lots of stretch. A definite investment that has paid off in terms of a professional and comfortable finish.

The trousers were from a block that I drafted from a new book bought for my recent birthday. I used fabric that I bought in Portugal during our trip last year but I made sure the pattern matched my SFD blueprint. I made the belt loops by employing the wide stitch again on my coverstitch and it worked a treat.

I want to make this pattern again with a beautiful teal linen fabric I have and initially this pair were to be a wearable muslin but they fit and feel so comfortable I think I should look at them as a pretty excellent garment in their own right. I lined them as I've blogged about before and this adds to the comfort factor.

The lilac T-Shirt has purple stars all over it and is a firm but stretchy knit that will act as a staple in my new colour combo as well as acting as a layering piece in the winter.

Next up is this tunic top and again I've employed the coverstitch to do the top stitching in a contrasting gold colour to emphasize the shoulder yoke detail. I'm not too happy with the neckline as I prefer a high neck or collar so my toning scarf dresses it up better for me.

And last but not least I made this comfy turtle neck sweater from a medium weight Ponti knit. I have worn this top to death as it is just so great to wear. I bought the fabric from ebay and am really pleased with it. I know I keep banging on about the coverstitch but it comes into its own when doing collars like this one. It allows the stretch so it pulls over my head easily and the hem just sits there without trying to roll up

I have a few other pieces I need to 'show and tell' but I think that is enough for this blog. Keep a look out for the next installment when I reveal a shirt I made for my Husband and the set of Pattern Making books I referred to above.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

From Oz to the UK and back again.

Some of you may remember that we had a fabulous trip to Australia earlier this year and stayed with friends for a few days during which time I bought my first piece of Aussie fabric from a Spotlight Store in Brisbane. Of course I bought others along the journey but not as much as I'd expected to due to the very high cost compared to the UK. Nevertheless they all arrived home safely in our luggage and I added them to my stash whilst I decided what to make and in what order.

That was back in June but then our Aussie friends decided to come over and visit us here in England and I thought it was time I introduced one of the best admirers of my handmade wardrobe to a special piece just for her. I had taken her measurements before we left Brisbane and created her Body blueprint from my SFD dress kit. I'd also made up a muslin ready for a fitting when they arrived at the end of August.

The test fit was quite good but still needed a bit of tweaking and then to choose a piece of fabric. Yes, you've guessed it, the first Spotlight fabric was perfect so here is the shirt we made. This will now be travelling back to Brisbane in the next few weeks which seems really funny.

I got a lot of pleasure from making this as it was not for me or hubby but a very dear friend who, because of distance we don't see often enough. It's not perfect and we know what would need to be different next time but the colour is so pretty on her.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

New trousers with a hidden secret

Here is a photo of my latest design trousers made with my SFD pants body blueprint. I've used this so many times that the tracing paper pattern is beginning to look very tatty so I may have to redraw it. 

However, as always it worked well and produced a perfect fit for me. I stress 'for me' because it is my comfortable fit. I read a lot of blogs about fitting trousers [pants] but I think many people try to over engineer the fit with the result that whilst they may look good standing up and keeping still but for practicality, sitting down, crossing your legs or general wear it's a comfort fit that counts, especially in a woven fabric with no stretch. 

Well I have found the solution but more about that later....

I saw a 'sailor' design in a magazine [see below] which basically just added some buttons and I quite liked the look. I had several of these large fisheye lilac buttons and decided to sew them on as you see in the picture above. I must admit they have a very slimming effect when worn, drawing the eye into the waistline  so a very simple but effective decoration. But that's not the secret, keep reading...

This was a featured design in the My Image Magazine Volume 13 and available in 5 different European languages. 

It is full of young designs which aren't always 'age appropriate' for me but there are inspirations such as this which is why I like the mag.


I like my trousers to sit at my waist and would normally wear a belt but left it off in the photos. I made the belt loops with my new coverstitch machine which was super easy and quick. 

The fabric is 100% cotton [not top quality] and creases easily so apologies for the crumpled look but I had been wearing them for quite a while before taking the photos.

I like the back view [not something you'll here me say often!!] and there is no gaping when I sit down.

The pockets are nice and deep, again self drafted to my liking. I don't like things falling out when you sit down so deep pockets are a MUST for me.

I know I've made lots of trousers but every new pair is better than the last as the slightest alteration leads to a more perfect and pleasing result.

So you've read down this far and now you want to know the secret....

I've discovered that lining trousers is so comfortable and transforms the wearing experience beyond words. You will have to try this for yourself to truly understand the revelation.

All I did was cut out the same pattern excluding the pockets and with no waistband. Then pin the two together, wrong sides facing, and complete the waistband as normal.

I actually only cut the leg length to just below the knees as it wasn't necessary to go the full length and this would ensure the lining never showed below the hem of the trousers.

OK, I admit the bright green satin isn't much of a secret but only I know it's there and apart from feeling very luxurious it makes me smile when I put them on.

I am intending to add lining to ALL my trousers from now on. Especially the pure wool fabric which has a tendancy to feel scratchy sometimes.

Have you ever worn or made lined trousers? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A New Toy in My Sewing Room

Yes I've bought myself a gift and it's another learning curve but thanks to You Tube and a Craftsy Class I am getting to grips with my new Coverstitch Machine. I've got some results to show you that I think you'll find amazing!!

First of all, here it is - It's a Janome CoverPro 2000CPX

And I've already had a practice which whilst not perfect yet [I've only had it 4 days!] is certainly a whole lot better than my sewing machine could have done.

First up is a turquoise blue T-shirt that I'd half made and embroidered my initial on one sleeve before it arrived. In fact I stopped making it when I finally caved in and made the purchase. It was the perfect garment to test so I waited for it to arrive before hemming and finishing the neck and sleeves.

Here are the results.

Take a close look at those hems. I'm really impressed with the result. The machine came loaded with white thread which is why you see this top stitching in white and not a matching thread but at least it shows up so you can see the effect.

My next effort is a strawberry colour knit fabric that was very difficult to handle. It's quite drapey and thin but a fantastic colour.

I matched the thread this time so seeing the result is not so easy but hopefully you'll get the picture.

This has made such a professional looking difference and copies high end fashion so well. It's easy to use and I have lots of other plans so expect to see more examples in my next blogs.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Butterfly T-Shirt

 Just a very quick post to show you my butterfly T-Shirt.

This was made with one metre of fabric bought for silly money at FabricLand in Bournemouth during a recent trip to stay with friends. I was generously surprised by our host taking me just 10 minutes down the road to the Fabricland Warehouse and this was one of 6 peices I bought.

The fabric is super stretchy and it feels very comfortable. I like the fact that it hugs me and is the length I like my T-shirts to be as well as the sleeve length being right. This could only happen when you draft and sew for yourself.

Sewing my own clothes is a great hobby, not only can I now make clothes that fit and feel comfortable on me but I have a unique outfit for a fraction of RTW.

I do have an issue though and that is to do with inspiration. I subscribe to BurdaStyle and My Image magazines and follow a lot of bloggers and vloggers who all show of their latest patterns and makes.

They are all very young though and trying to find age appropriate designs is not simple.

I was reminded of this when I found a great pattern in the latest bi-annual issue of My Image. The pattern looked great and I had the perfect fabric, a silver grey crushed velvet. It was a bomber jacket with ribbing at the waistline, cuffs and neck edges.

I have made the garment and although it's not perfect, it turned out pretty much like the picture in the magazine and I am pleased with the fit but I will be 70 years old later this year and I wonder if I should be wearing a bomber jacket or am I just in denial?

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Nauty Cross Body Bag

A bag with a nautical flavour. This was a free giveaway pattern for a limited time from So Sew Easy that I downloaded after watching the video tutorial that went with it.

It was really easy to make but like most bags the huge amount of time was taken in cutting out the pieces and fusing interfacing. To be honest I left out fusing the lining as my fabric for both the outer and lining were quite stiff and I didn't want to add too much weight.

I bought the nautical fabric from The Fabric Man on one of his Friday visits to Redhill Market at a stupidly cheap price and I'm so delighted with the result.

The idea of making a bag that was meant to be smaller than my previous one was to stop me carrying so much which was making it heavy.

I don't think I have a lot, keys, wallet, glasses and cellphone mainly but it seemed to always fill up [probably overnight while I was asleep!] with things I never remember having added to which, I'm sure most of my female readers, will have also experienced.

However, although this bag looks a lot smaller I've still managed to accommodate everything from the previous one although it does feel lighter to carry - or is that just my imagination?

Well the design is very professional and all the pieces went together as they should and I'm very happy with the result.

I have made a wallet from this blog site before and that was equally well designed so I wasn't surprised at the way this came together so well.

As you can see the closure is a magnetic clasp and the front navy blue pocket is deep enough to keep membership cards and receipts without them falling out.

The back of the bag has a secure zipped pocket and the space behind is also a pocket but with no closure.

Taking a photo of the inside proved a little tricky but I hope you can see the space left even after my keys, tissues, pen and glasses have been stowed away in their appropriate pockets.

The strap is very sturdy and can be unclipped although apart from putting it on another bag I'm not sure why you would want to take it off.

With my success I also made a self drafted Bum Bag.

I've recently joined a group in our local park in Reigate for some fitness classes and I realised that I need somewhere to keep my car keys and a small amount of cash for a coffee in the cafe afterwards. Actually the coffee hasn't happened yet as I'm so exhausted after the hour that it's all I can do to crawl back to my car!! Still it's getting easier so it must be doing some good!!

Anyway, I had an old bum bag that was a horrible faded red which I took apart and traced around to create my pattern. I then stitched my new bag and used the straps from the original. It turned out rather well for a test so as I have some of the nautical fabric left I think I'll make another bum bag to match it.

I have no excuses not to get fit now....