Thursday 24 March 2011

The Labels Have Landed!

Yesterday, the postie brought me a most welcome little envelope containing blue and white loveliness - my labels had landed!

Garment Labels 03
My actual labels - yipee!

The mock-up from the website

And, I reckon that they came out damn near spot-on compared to the mock-up that you can automatically generate on the website (yay!). At least you know that what you see is what you get (excepting of course for the usual differences in colour you get between monitor screens vs. real-life etc., etc. LOL!).

Garment Labels 01
They come stapled in strips stapled onto a little card

Garment Labels 02
The card tells you how to attach the labels

I'm one very happy bunny now :) !

In other news... 
Last Monday (14th March) I finished my 9-week pattern making course, and I am going to use some spare time I have next week to make the tweaks the tutor suggested during the fitting session we had in class to the 2nd toile (muslin) for my basic bodice block. Plus, I shall be making the 1st go for the muslin of my trousers block (sadly I no longer have access to the tutor to have an expert assess for fit :( hoo-hum!). Hopefully... the sloper from the trousers will help me complete my unfinished work on Sunni's Trouser Sewalong (at last hehe!).

Friday 11 March 2011

Getting Labelled!

Preview Image of how my labels "should" look when they arrive!

So, I was reading about Karen's happiness-inducing skirt when I was struck by the loveliness of her custom made label.

Karen's label from her blog: Did You Make That?

Mmmmm... me likey, me likey lots! :) And, they are so not naff in the way that having your Mum sew your name-tag into your school uniform used to be ha-ha, they'll make my me-makes look extra swish I think (yes indeedy)!

So, I asked Karen where she got these lovely labels from - and she sweetly replied so say that they came from and they were only £3.99 for 72 (standard P&P is 99p) so that works out at less than 7p per label (bargain!).

But, me being me I got sidelined viewing the more expensive option, and I've forked out for the Craft & Hobby Labels (x72 labels, 12mm wide narrow woven option, 2 lines of text + logo) opps! That option works out at a fraction under 25p per label (nearly x4 times the price the more sensibly-minded Karen paid). On the up side I paid for them on PayPal and I'd sold loads of unwanted things on eBay recently so I had the cash practically going spare in my PayPal account - so I treated myself (hehe), besides x72 labels will last me years (yay!). Plus, I selected what I hope will be a lovely shade of turquoise for the lettering - and blue IS my favourite colour afterall :)

If you don't want to fork out on woven/embroidered labels there are a number of tips/tutorials & other sundry how-to's out there on t'interwebs:

Passiona Cottee's tutorial on BurdaStyle
made these lovely stamp-pad & pen labels

Custom labels for me-made items are quite popular amoungst sewists it seems:-
  1. Elizabeth of SEWN has some lovely labels to match her blog logo :)
  2. Kristy from lower your presser foot made her own using ribbon & t-shirt transfer paper, as did Nikkishell on BurdaStyle with her how-to
  3. Lindsay T (Lindsay T Sews (Again) and Shop The Garment District) sourced some cute ones from Etsy 
  4. Dana on MADE has a great run down on what to look for when getting a big batch of labels professionally made for you (perhaps this is more of a read for those looking to set up in business/Etsy/Folksy etc. more than a home sewer?)
  5. Tanit-Isis used the print and transfer sheet idea to make several different coloured labels for her girls clothes and for her coat
  6. This tutorial shows you a way to print directly onto fabric to make DIY labels (or you can buy special printable fabric-sheets like Patty did).
  7. This page has 5-ways to make your own labels
  8. This  tutorial uses a stamp-pad and pen combo for different look, this one uses stamps too.

Of course if you have a fancy embroidery sewing machine you might want to try a few ideas on that too - ribbon, twill tape, mini-fabric patches etc.!

P.S. There's another DIY method I've seen recently different to all those above that involves cotton twill tape, ordinary plain paper (not transfer paper), reversing the printed image, and some soaking using cotton wool balls - with I think either nail varnish remover (which is usually acetone based) or surgical spirit - but I cannot find it at the moment, if I do locate it I shall add it to the list!

Wednesday 9 March 2011

"Sing-er When You're Winning"

 Seller's Photo from eBay (this is my actual machine!)

Just today I picked up my *4th sewing machine, an eBay purchase (hence the " * *winning" theme LOL!) for the princely sum of £16.50.And, I saved on any postage/ courier costs by going to collect it in my lunch hour from work. A tube journey, a 1-stop mainline train trip, some walking down a long station approach and she was all mine :)

It's one of the vintage Singer Hand Crank Machines (i.e. as the name suggests, it's not electric, powered by your hand turning a crank on the right-hand side). It's quite (well very really!) old, and it doesn't have a model number on it anywhere. So, I Googled and found this handy website. You answer the multiple choice questions, and click on your answers to jump to the next question (v. clever!).

And, hey presto! This is my model it's a Model 28 (the "28" is the ¾ size version with only a 12"/30.5cm long bed), and using this page from the Singer website along with the serial number on the front, I found out that it's 110 years old (made if 1901), and was originally manufactured in Clydebank, Scotland! So a proper, proper antique, blimey :)!

It didn't come with a manual - but luckily for me it's a free download from Singer.

Instead of the typical bobbin shape we are used to in modern, and even most vintage machines. My Singer 28 has a long narrow bobbin (approx. 1¼" / 33m long), this goes inside a shuttle and the action of the machine is to swing (or shuttle) the bobbin back and forth - passing it through the loop of thread formed by the needle as stitches up and down. It has one bobbin in the shuttle, and 3 in the little storage compartment on the side.

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Luckily it stills has it's shuttle - as a quick search shows they cost £30! And, it seems to take standard, ordinary needles (yay!).

She's going to stay at the office for a few weeks until I finally clear out all the junk in out spare room and have a home to bring her back too LOL! In the meantime I shall bring in some sewing machine oil and other cleaning bits to work with me & make it all shiny and show it some love (it smells a bit old 'n' musty at the moment - and so do my hands every time I touch it!!).

The case it came in is very probably a replacement for the original (it's a bit ugly and doesn't have the elegance of the many varnished wooden ones you can see around the web) - but at least it'll keep Suzy (that's what I'm naming her) safe 'n' sound from knocks 'n' scrapes.

I think it should come in hand for top-stitching things like jeans, etc. :)

Oh, and I this Suzy deserves a proper photoshoot when she's all clean and tidy - a girl's gotta look her best dontcha think ?!

*Yes I now own 4 sewing machines, all but 1 of them is Vintage (this number is not including my not-been-used-yet Overlocker !)
* *Sing When Your Winning is a Football song/chant

Friday 4 March 2011

Jeans... jean-ius or jean-uinley tricky?

Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness is running a Jeans Sew-Along starting on Monday 2nd May 2011. It's open to girls and guys alike - jeans after all are worn by practically everybody aren't they? However, for something we often spend an awful lot of time wearing it can be tricky to find a ready-to-wear pair that fits you well. Therefore, what better solution than to make your own? Butt (pun intended!), jeans are of course a type of trouser, and as is so often said in sewing circles trousers are bl***dy difficult to fit properly (hence I can see that Peter's sew-along will be a very handy resource for sharing tips and sewing-woes alike).

Ladies jeans patterns are pretty easy to find ("good" patterns are another debatable thing though LOL!), e.g. there's the much talked about and praised Jalie 2908 (made and much-altered by Tanit-Isis , Elaine and more recently by Melissa) it's been reviewed and talked about extensively over on

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Those 3 lovely ladies have both shared tips/thoughts on jeans-making too:

To Do, To Don’t, and What do I know?
The Selfish Seamstress answers your jeans questions
The first Jalie jeans

However, there are precious few resources out there for mens' jeans patterns.
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Having been inspired by Peter's sew-along, here are few places and patterns that I have un-earthed for men's jeans patterns.

In the UK the Kwik Sew 3504 Pattern (as mentioned in Peter's post) is available here: and also at Sew Essential too.

Kwik Sew 3504                                              2-pictures of: Burda 7733

Or worldwide people can download 3504 from: - Kwik Sew 3504

Also, for download are: Burda 7733 (Men's Straight Narrow leg jeans) I cannot find 7733 on the German website, but this [translated into English] for the French site has more info. on this pattern

The Jalie Men's Jeans 2107 are also on - Jalie 2107, or can be bought in the UK from - Jalie 2107 too.

Or, I wonder... if any of the many pages of Men's patterns on the Leko site could be adapted into jeans (maybe just tweaking the pockets into that familar rounded shape?) the advantage is that Leko let you download lots of their patterns in 1-fixed size for free!! But, you'd need to get grading if you choose the free copy :)

On a personal note I have the ladies Jalie 2908 (a Christmas present ;) ) on file ready to go! I'd mentally made a note to try making jeans toward the end of the year as I indeed feel that they are a tricky-make, however I can always save Peter's posts to file and follow along at later date if need be. Besides, I've only 2 more weeks of my pattern making course to finish and I hope that the trouser-block I make will help towards fitting a pair of jeans more easily too :) Here's hoping my jeans endeavours turn into jean-ius creations ;)

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Stylish Blogger Award - erm... are you sure you meant me?

I'd like to thank my parents, my agent, the producers and the rest of the cast and crew for this Oscar award!

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Umm, what can I say!? I've only been blogging a little over 2 months and clearly I've struck a harmonious chord with Katherine from Something in the Way She Sews who has very sweetly awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award (*blushes*).

Now... I don't know where the award originally started from - but, I do know that awards like these are created by fellow bloggers (thanks guys!) and are a great way for us to recognise, acknowledge and share-the-love throughout the blog-i-verse of people whose content and posts we enjoy :)

With this award I am cordially requested to share 7-things with you that you may not know about me, I am then to pass on the torch and award it to 7 other bloggers too. So, here goes...

7-things that you may not know about me!
(1) I have a degree in Science, but I work in an office! Yup, I spent 4 years on my *thick sandwich degree course (a 2.1, BSc in Applied Biology with Hons), but I ended up working in an office - first in the Training department, which then evolved into many years in the large HR team, and in recent years I've moved side-ways in the same company into an Office Management role :)

(2) My party conversation piece is to bore you to tears about glace cherries! (Don't say I didn't warn you!) Okay, so you see those shiny bright red glace cherries on top of your lovely Bakewell Tart; you think they come in that colour naturally? Think again! As part of the production process the colour turns a bit horrid... so they bleach them (yes I did say bleach), then colour them to a garish hue of bright red. Think about it - when have you EVER seen a fresh cherry that colour come off of the tree in nature... hmmmm?

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(3) I am teetotal. I don't drink alcohol - this is a personal choice, and has nothing to do with faith or religious rules. a) I have a really sweet tooth and love fizzy soda drinks anyway, b) I am so incredibly light-weight that when (many moons ago) I have had a drink and here I am recalling an occasion years ago with a half a pint of half-strength lager shandy - which I had along with a full Sunday roast dinner and pudding, I ended up feeling so bad (think dizziness, depression, tearful, couldn't walk-straight, couldn't see straight and just downright awful) that I had to be helped to go and lie down in a dark room for the rest of that day and night (and it was the same thing a few years later with half a glass of white wine and Christmas dinner too)! So, at parties and going out I'm the sensible one keeping and eye on the pile of handbags in the corner for everyone haha!

(4) sooo... I might be teetotal... but I don't drive, so whilst I could be the "designated driver" I actually can't (sorry Hubby!). I failed my driving test *coughs* "X" number of years ago when I was **17. In my driving lessons I'm so nailed the 'reversing around a corner' manoeuvre the first few times I tried it, that my instructor said I didn't need to practice it too much (so who was I to argue?). However, come test day I was concentrating so hard on a) not hitting the kerb, and b) keeping my car straight... that I parked it 6ft from the kerb. When the Examiner told me at the end of the test that, had I corrected the distance I would have passed I had a bit of a face-palm moment! I never took the test again as I shortly moved to London to attend University and with all the lovely tubes and buses around I've not needed to drive since (plus why have a dog Hubby and bark yourself eh ;)?).

(5) I am one of the messiest; yet uber organised people. I have a love-hate relationship with tidying. I like stuff to be tidy, but because I like things organised "my way, or the highway!" it tends to take ages to do it... so stuff piles up until I have a mega session, then it's all filed v. systematically. I'll also do stuff like I have a 'Holiday Checklist' saved to my laptop - it has a full list of things to take on holiday/and or do before we leave (like passports, empty the bins, email contact details of where we are going to immediate family) but it has 3 columns i) Need to buy it, ii) Got it, and iii) Packed it in the bags. It is also v.v. detailed there's no column just for wash-kit (oh no!) I have toothbrush, toothpaste, flannel, eyecream etc. all on there own rows. Why so much detail? Because I've forgotten stuff when in a hurry before and now I NEVER go wrong :D! I also separate our luggage evenly i.e. half of my holiday clothes in one suitcase (with half of hubby's) and the same in the 2nd case - this is in case one bag gets lost in transit. But the outfits in each bag are checked so that they all match colour-wise and purpose wise e.g. if I take 2 bikinis then 1 goes into each case. Oh, I also take x1 pair of knickers, x1 bikini, x1 pair of shorts, and x1 T-shirt (along with a mini-sized SPF 30 Sunscreen, toothbrush + paste) in my carry on luggage - so that if ALL my luggage ends up in Australia whilst I am heading for Greece then I don't have to rush out and buy new things at inflated prices in the local tourist shops (see I said I was organised!).

(6) I seem to be addicted to buying Sewing books, by the last count I have 37 sewing and pattern making books (check out my page). I covet them for like ooohh all of 10 seconds, then I go "Oh, s*d it I'll buy it!". + are sooo good for finding used books at cheap prices - especially older out-of-print titles :). Christmas and February (my Birthday was last month) were very kind to my sewing library - as I got lots of vouchers to use up (yay!). Now all I have to do is find the time to read them, but it is SO nice knowing they are there, ready to flick through to find a technique. Oh, if you ever want to know if any of the books I own covers something you want to know (in case you want to buy it for yourself ;)) just contact me and I'll look it up for you :)!!

(7) I spend stupid amounts of money on my haircare, like £350 quid! (approx. $570 USD) However, in mitigation I only spend that amount every 12-18months. See I have straight-ish hair with a mind of it's own. It takes 60-90 minutes with straighteners to get it to behave, and that's too much time in the morning to waste. So, every now and then I spend 5-6 hours (yup it takes that long really!) getting my long hair permanently straightened with the Japanese Straightening. This not only avoids the straight fringe I have from doing a Jason from 80's Neighbours, but stops me from burning my house down (I came home once having left the straighteners on all day to a singed bedspread where I'd left the straighteners on the bed oops!). My dodgy hair is where I got the idea for my online username Seemane (it's what I use on Etsy & See = sounds the same as the letter "C" (for Claire), and mane = mane of hair!. But, 365 days per year is 365 x 1 hour, or 15.2 days saved of hot-straightening-iron time per year, and works out at £0.96 cost per day, so worth it to me :) When my hair is chemically straightened it takes no time at all to style and it looks swish-ily straight all day long (what's not to love?). Now I need to book the next appointment as it's due shortly and I'm fed-up of constantly living in ponytails to tame my tresses!

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*That's what they call a sandwich course that has a 1-year work/industry placement as part of it's structure LOL!
**The youngest age in the UK at which you may sit your driving test.

7 Stylish Bloggers that I admire!
In no particular order are:-
(1) Tanit-Isis Sews, it was the delightful jeans-making Ms. T who first encouraged me into blogging ;) Check out her free 50's Shrug Pattern!

(2) Elaine aka The Selfish Seamstress, always has me giggling and nodding my head in agreement at her witty and humorous posts (oh how I wish that she would return to blogging soon!) Her Coffee Date Dress is a popular blogger make - Grosgrain did a sew-along for it here

(3) Melissa whose Fehr Trade blog has such an array of great self-made garments, and she's so fun & chatty in person too (we meet-up for coffee and sewing-chit-chat a few weeks ago). Londoner's and visitors to our fair city should read her fabric shopping guides for great places to shop & explore :)

(4) Kathleen of Grosgrain - for her fabulous photos in her posts (congrats to her for her recent engagement too!)

(5) Tasia - the proprietress of Sewaholic Patterns (& blog too of course), not only is she drafting and selling her self-designed patterns, but she runs sewalongs for her designs to help beginners follow her step-by-step, with photos along the way to blouse-perfection!

(6) Sunni - The Cupcake Goddess, her trouser know-how is helping me to make my first ever pair of trews! And, I admire her for taking the plunge into her own business too.

(7) Casey's Elegant Musings - I simply covet the clothes she makes, and to top it off she shows you how to style your hair to match to complete the look too!

Other's I would like to honorably mention are fashion-figure collector and identical-cousin to model Cathy - Peter of Male Pattern Boldness; Juebejue, of Petite Republic such stylish stitching; Sewiknittoo one of the first blogs I found on my sewing journey, she doesn't post frequently but when she does it's often to share great finds she's come across on the web (yay!) :), Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing because it's just absolutely fab and choc-full of useful tidbits of info., and finally Patty The Snug Bug this lady works in a sewing-store that she can walk/cycle to from home (I'm jealous on 2-counts LOL) and seems to have time to sew 'n' play with patterns everyday *sighs - if only I had the time and a job in sewing*.