Monday 31 December 2012

Last Bit of Sewing-Related Shopping for 2012...

... these last few bits I picked up today in town on the last day of 2012 (haha can't keep a girl from shopping when she needs to :)!!)...

Shopping 02

For holding water - bottles/soap dish (from 'Superdrug')... so I can save time running to the sick when I need to erase the wipe-off marker, iron-on edge tape (v. light weight) for staying curves, some general purpose scissors, some anti-moth lavender sachets to protect the fabric stash (all from 'John Lewis'), and a pretty coaster with a Liberty-print on it (from you guessed it Liberty) :)
Shopping 01

An A3 cutting mat (420 x 297 mm = 16.5 x 11.7 inches) only £3.45 - bargain! A Lino cutter printing kit set + pieces of lino (to try more at home following my visit to Crafty Pint in November where I got to try out fabric printing in one of the short workshops). Plus, a set of brushes... which I shall use not for painting - but to apply liquid fabric stabiliser to seam allowances on knit fabrics (to see if that helps me sew them a bit better !!).

Ohhh... and do please keep your eye-out for a special post from me on New Year's Day... as my little blog turns 2 year old, so I shall again be celebrating the anniversary with a GIVEAWAY. The giveaway details to follow... and it will be open to both UK and overseas entries :)

Little Bit of Christmas-Pressie Sewing...

So, I was pleased to be able to squeeze out a few me-made Crimbo-pressies for loved ones in time!

For my Mummy (who has recently decided to take up knitting again) I made this storage roll to neatly keep the set of x18 pairs knitting needles I bought for her off of Amazon. I made it from some lovely soft pink 'n' red floral cotton drill, plain red cotton quilting fabric, cotton wadding (all pre-washed) and some shop-bought bias binding. It was straightforward working out the measurements - and I custom-sized each little "pocket" to fit the different sized pairs of needles (which run from 2mm up to 10mm in diameter). In places the fabric was 6 layers thick + 1 layer of wadding - and my faithful Novum coped very well.

Knitting Needle Roll, 02 Knitting Needle Roll, 01
Knitting Needle Storage Roll - made for my Mummy :)

I was also able to use my Prym Turning Set (the same as this one here) which is a set of 3 different sized plastic tubes along with matching rods/sticks that along you to very, very quickly turn tubes inside out. I used the 'S' for tunnel widths from 9.5-16mm to make the ties for the needle roll - and it was dead easy to do with that handy gadget :) I think you could very easily DIY this gadget at home (perhaps I should investigate and do a blog post?).

For my Aunt (who's a keen and excellent cook) I made some hot handle covers - which will keep you from burning your hands on saucepans on a hot hob. I made a little cardboard template, and quilted layers of calico with x3 layers of cotton batting (per side) along with a cream/red/green floral cotton on the outside. Then I bound the edges with a forest-green bias binding.

To get the sizing correct, I based the self-drafted pattern (if you can really call a 1-piece rectangle with rounded corners a "pattern" ?? LOL!) on some worn out handle-covers I already owned that I bought years ago from Lakeland Limited (they now sell a slightly different style). The covers should slip over the handles easily - but not slide off unexpectedly... after all you don't want to burn those mitts eh ;)?

The handle covers were a big hit + I'm now commissioned to sew her some pot holders too ;) (Luckily and frugally speaking too - the fabrics for these all came from my stash apart from the binding - yay!).

Hot Handle Covers for Saucepans, 01 Hot Handle Covers for Saucepans, 02
Hot Handle Cover for Saucepans - made for my Aunt

For both projects I used a self-made cardboard template to help me pre-press the curves in place into the bias-binding; thus making it much easier to sew into place :) Nevertheless, there were a few occasional uses of the seam-ripper and a bit of re-stitching going on LOL! I also found Wash-Away Wonder Tape to keep the binding in position a fab time-saver (easier than a zillion pins ;) !). Plus, using the fine-tip of a sewing awl very handy to keep the edges of  bias-binding from twisting out of place under the presser foot on my sewing machine... as my fingers are a bit too big to manage this task alone.

I had tried to use a bias-binding presser-foot for my machine with very little success. The foot couldn't cope with the masses of layers - and made a real mess of the test-sample I tried. People - always do a test when using a new foot!! (You can see the book The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner and Lorna Knight that I first blogged about back in February this year in the left-hand corner of the photo above to help me get the best use out of the foot... and I shall try again on something far less bulky soon hehe!).

Ohhh... and do please keep your eye-out for a special post from me on New Year's Day... as my little blog turns 2 year old, so I shall again be celebrating the anniversary with a GIVEAWAY. The giveaway details to follow... and it will be open to both UK and overseas entries :)

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas Comes But Once A Year...

... and when it does, it brings good cheer!

Merry Christmas
Festive Signage on Oxford Street, London
Hello everybody! *Long time no post. I'm feeling pretty relaxed and cheery - tucked up watching the telly and eating my turkey 'n' chocs (not at the same time I might add LOL!) ... and I hope that you are all having a lovely time with family and friends too :)

Father Christmas has been most kind again to me this year - he helped guide the hand of my Husband and his wallet towards these pretty lovelies (lucky me :) !).
Cath Kidston Sewing Charms Bracelet
Cath Kidston Sewing Charms Bracelet
Poster - "Make It Sew"
"Make It Sew" Poster (à la cathphrase of Jean-Luc Picard)
I also had the privilege and pleasure to take part in VickiKateMakes's Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap and KraftyKat's Sewists Secret Santa.

For my fellow swapee's I sent out the following items (both were international swaps with US living ladies). I shan't name the ladies who received these packages of sewing-lurve (in case they've not opened them yet - so I don't ruin the surprise hehe!!):

Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap 2012
Items I sent out for the 'Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap'
Above, is the bundle of goodies I sent out to the recipient of the swap that VickiKateMakes sorted out for us. 4 lovely pieces of fabric direct from my own stash, a couple of cute sewing / sew-on fabric patches (badges?), a copy of the December 2012 issue of Burda Style Magazine, a me-made wrist pin cushion, and a lollipop for good measure! (This was a direct swap, so we knew each other's names, i.e. person A posts to B, and vice-a-versa.) My return package is as yet to arrive from the US (I'll post a pic when it gets here) - but hey... this way the festive fun lasts a wee bit longer than usual :)

Below, for KraftyKat's "secret" swap we knew the name of who we were posting our mystery and surprise £5 pressies on to... but not who was sending a surprise gift to us (I do luv a surprise!). For this, I decided to make some lovely things to post out: so I sewed up a me-made wrist pin cushion, a pressing ham, and a scissors holder, to this I added a cute sewing-kit in a tin (which I supplemented with some 'Betweens' hand sewing needles), 2 sew-on fabric patches, some sharp thread-snips, and yup another lollipop ;)!
Sewist's Secret Santa - Christmas 2012
Me-Made Items + a few shop-bought bits I sent out for the Sewists Secret Santa
Here's the lovely purple knit fabric (very thoughtfully pre-washed, yay!), special Chocolate and made-for-me pin cushion... all the way from New Zealand no less.

Sewists Secret Santa 2012 - Gifts I Received

Oh, and here's a lovely short video-clip I made on my phone of the fab Ebony Steelband that were playing an excellent rendition of the Christmas ditty 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer' on Oxford Street, London when I went shopping for sewing supplies earlier this month :)...

(*So sorry about that folks. Things have been extremely sparse sewing time-wise lately, as I've been crazy busy at work *sad face*. That only makes me daydream more about sewing projects - the imaginery future-hope-to-make kine, and the unfinished kind in equal measure *sigh*).

Friday 30 November 2012

Crafty Pint - Handmade Christmas 2012... Pre-booked & Ready to Go

This Saturday 1st December I shall be heading over to the Tooting Broadway area... to try my hand at printing tea towels and totes! I'm be enjoying the surroundings of the Crafty Pint Handmade Christmas being held at Tooting Tram and Social. The day lasts 12noon-6pm, and I've pre-booked my entry ticket as well as my workshop!

Image Source: handmadeintooting
Anybody else heading over fancy meeting for a coffee? Karen is trying her hand at the Print Your Own Christmas Cards workshop.

You can see their full workshop line-up here. And they offer drop-in on the day sessions from 12noon to 6pm.  Turn up on the day and take your pick. All their workshops are individually priced, just pay for what you make. I wished I'd pre-booked for the Fused Glass workshops (I'm hankering for some pretty coasters)... maybe another time *sigh*.

This (above) could be me after tomorrow (fingers-crossed!)
Image Source: handmadeintooting

Saturday 3 November 2012

Midlands Bound...

Got a train journey to make and some sewin' peops to meet ;-)...

Saturday 29 September 2012

Sometimes If You Ask Them Really Nicely...

... you shall actually receive somethin' for FREE :)
I met the lovely Tania at Karen's V&A meet-up back at the beginning of this month where we all went to admire the gorgeous ballgowns (Tania's the lady in the great red stripey dress on Karen's post).
Photo of Tania's poorly "Naked" machine (photo taken from her blog)

At the time Tania had yet to start blogging - something she has now rectified with aplomb! In one of her posts she showed us a sorry picture of her quote "naked sewing machine" *sad face*. Her machine had a little accident in the boot of her car (ohh... that makes it sounds like it ticked off the mafia or was criminally damaged almost LOL!) and it won't work properly now!

Sadly, her machine is around 20 years old and she's got very little in the way of instructions to work from quote: "The manual I got with the machine is a folded A3 piece of paper!" unquote.

Oh dear me that won't do at all I thought to myself.

So, after a little searching online I tracked down the website for the manufacturer and with the help of Google Translate sent them a few emails.

Tania's sewing machine is a Japanese made one. It's the Jaguar 415 (sometimes called the J415 - not to be confused with a car BTW - which came up a few times when I was trawling the internet haha!)

The people at Jaguar were very sweet, and the sent me for FREE the instruction manual (4-pages), and the service manual which works for their 412 and 415 model sewing machines (27 pages). The PDF files they sent me were both in English (I don't know what other languages they'd have too - other than Japanese - though it doesn't hurt to ask ;) !). They dated from 1995, and the instruction manual file also has Spanish instructions (though the service manual is in 1 language only).
Images of the 2 manuals from Jaguar International Coporation

I have this evening emailed the files to Tania, so fingers-crossed she can nurse her machine back to health - and in so doing save herself ssome expensive repair costs (we hope).

So... you see sometimes if you ask them really nicely people (in this case the sewing machine company) will help you for free :)

If anyone else is looking for those 2 manuals you can find them here, where I've uploaded them here to my Google Drive (the new name for Google Docs apparently!).

Here endeth the Happy Tale!

Friday 7 September 2012

Yes! You Shall Go To The Ball!!

Guess where I am tonight ;-) ?

Thursday 6 September 2012

Score One For Us Lads!

Go, go, go - TEAM GB!!! I'm at the GB vs. Canada semi-finals of the Men's Wheelchair Basketball.

(Luvin' London 2012 sooo much :-) will be very sad when it's over.)

Friday 3 August 2012

Power Plays with Irons... Do You Feel Switched On?

My Iron
My Iron
As a sewing fan (whether you sew your own garments, crafts, for couture clients or quilting) pressing is always an important part of the process to producing wonderful results in your work. Therefore, your iron and ironing board etc. are essential tools in your sewing arsenal.

But, hopping up and down betwixt machine and your pressing station to iron away at this piece and that bit can a) be tiring, b) time consuming, c) make your sewing area hot with a constant source of heat, and d) waste energy if you have to leave the iron turned on constantly.

Obviously, it can be wasteful of electricity (and likely your bank balance too in the very long term!) to leave your iron turned on all the time. Of course modern iron-models automatically switch themselves off after a certain waiting period; this is for both reasons of health & safety, and to conserve energy - so this can take the worry out of leaving a potential fire hazard on all the time!
You could of course try to remember to switch-off the iron by hand every time you visit your ironing board (but you might loose time waiting for it to re-heat up on your next go). Or, you can try to "work smarter" and arrange your order of construction so that you press as many pieces that require it at the *same time. (*This is something I am working towards on all new projects as it seems to increase my work flow, and I also prefer not getting up and down all the time between sewing each step in the pattern instructions).

If, like me you have a typical domestic iron (and not one of those super-duper heavy duty professional tailor's
über steamy type models) then turning it off all the time is a pain in le derrière. For my own iron there is no on/off switch - just the dial to adjust the heat setting (plus the steam settings slider/knob) and to turn it on you plug it into the mains electrical socket. Turning my iron off - means crawling down near the floor to reach the power-socket behind my pressing board - definitely not my idea of fun if you have to do it upmteen times an hour. At least my model has a fast heat-up time though :) (I've got the 'Philips Azur GC4870/02 Steam Iron'.)

My Iron... Adding an On-Off Switch

Disclaimer: Electricity is dangerous stuff - fact! This post is in no way a tutorial, or a set of instructions on how to carry out alterations or repairs to your iron(s) or other electrical appliances. I do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any losses, damages, injuries, accidents (or any other outcomes) to persons, possessions or to property as a result of anyone reading my post (or my photographs/images) who has then duplicated in full (or in part) my alterations (as shown here and/or elsewhere) upon their own (or upon someone else's) equipment. Persons who do so, do so entirely at their own risk and liability. Electrical work and repairs should always be carried out by an appropriately qualified, registered and insured professional.

So, I thought to myself "How can add an on/off switch to my iron - but without ruining it?". And, I had this bright DIY idea :) ! Add a switch to an extension lead, plug my iron into the modified extension + turn it on/off with only one finger easy-peasey! No need to unplug each time to turn off my iron (which for me needs 2 hands + crawling on the floor each time).
So, I bought this 1-Gang trailing mains extension socket for only £3.35 GBP ($5.20 USD) + an in-line **switch (sometimes called a thru-switch / cord switch) too 
**The 3-core type, so it can accommodate the UK wiring for Live (Brown), Neutral (Blue) and Earth (Yellow/Green) - plus it needs to be the correct Amp-rating for the iron (so 13A in this instance).

And, last night I (with much help from Hubby when the screws wouldn't co-operate LOL!) cut the cable into 2-pieces a few inches (maybe 7-10cm) from the socket-end.

Then, we stripped back the outer plastic, and wired it all together (very similar to my Sewing Machine Surgery last April).

On, Off Power Extension Lead (for my Iron)

Another cool option could be an in-line floor switch! You'd then be able to use your foot to turn off your iron - no bending down see :) !

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Which Way Do YOU Tilt?...

.... your Overlocker (Serger) that is!

I've read in a few blogs, and in books that it's popular for sewists to tilt their sewing machines and overlockers. Basically instead of the flat-bed of your machine being parallel to the table-top surface that it is resting on; you instead raise the back of the machine higher than the front. Thus the bed surface is tilted towards you as you sit at your machine. Supposedly, this is a more ergonomic way to sew - you do not end up leaning forward as much as when the machine is not tilted. So, it should reduce aches and pains on both your neck, back, wrists and hands, and make for a more comfortable sewing experience. Another bonus is that you should have a wider and improved field of view resulting in easier and more accurate stitching.

Threads Issue 150, Page 41 - Ergonomic Sewing (Sept 2010)

I believe that tilt tables for sewing machines are very popular in the quilting and patchwork world - where a long time can be spent sat stationary in position at your machine stitching together large swathes of fabric.

Commercially sold tilt-tables (e.g.: like , this one) tend to include an lip at the front-edge (the one nearest to your body), this prevents any chance of the machine from sliding down and off (we don't want any expensive accidents or broken toes - eekk!). However many models cost anywhere from $40 USD/£25.50 GBP, to around $70/£44.50 for this one (same model is about £50 - $78.30 in the UK here) and this one, or even nearly $100/£63.80 for this one.

Now, I don't know about you - but I ain't paying those kind of prices - "No Sir!".

So, some DIY solutions I've heard of are as follows:-
A pair of door stops! Rubber ones are best - so they grip to the machine and to the table surface slightly.
   Pros: Cheap and easy to get hold of (Pound-Shop / Dollar Store?)
   Cons: Could slip out from under the machine if nudged / knocked, nothing to stop the machine sliding off of them.

Threads Magazine Issue 118, Page 14 - Tip - Door Stops (May 2005)  02, Door Stops - Serger, Overlocker Tilting

A long computer keyboard wrist-pad rest (as per this tip from Threads Magazine)
   Pros: Same as above.
   Cons: Same as above, plus - might perhaps be a bit squishy / bouncy under a heavier weight machine.

Threads Issue 115, Page 12 - Wrist rest 
pad (Nov 2004)
An office binder / folder (as per Tip #30 from the book: 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips)
   Pros: Same as above.
   Cons: Nothing to stop the machine sliding off of the file / binder.

Pattern Review Book - Tip No. 30  03, Binder or Folder - Serger, Overlocker Tilt Table

This Quilter bought a wooden tilt table for her sewing machine. Another lady made one using a pair of small, and a pair of large castors / wheels underneath a wooden base.

But, I've come up with another solution! And it'll only cost you £3.50 (or $3.99 in the US) plus a trip to your local IKEA...

FAIR WARNING! I think this will only reasonably work for overlockers / sergers which seem to be much lighter in weight than "normal" sewing machines. So, a vintage cast metal machine would in all likelihood bend - if not break the plastic!!

Overlocker Tilt Table from Laptop Stand

If you like this tip you can Pin-It here on Pinterest :) !

My cheapo solution is the IKEA - BRÄDA Laptop support (comes in Black or Green plastic). (Article Number: 601.501.76).

Size:    Width 16½" (42cm)
            Depth 12¼" (31cm)
            Height 3½" (9cm)

There's a rubber strip at the back horizontal-edge that prevents the support from sliding around. And, a retaining edge keeps things in place (at the lower front-edge).

If you were worried about it being to wide - you can always saw it down narrower!

Now I need to go to IKEA and buy another one - I borrowed the one above from my laptop LOL!

Saturday 28 July 2012

It's Funny How Much You Can Buy in Your Lunch Hour...

01 Ridley Road Market, Dalston

Yesterday, I took my lunch break later in the afternoon, and I hopped onto the bus for a short trip to Dalston - home of Ridley Road Market (the market is located opposite Dalston Kingsland Train Station and beside Kingsland Shopping Centre).

The market has several African fabric 'n' textiles stalls and shops, it also has 3 more mainstream style fabric retailers, and a trims shop too (see below for links). The rest of the market is a bustling and vibrant array of fruit 'n' veg stalls, kitchenware, foods of the world, toys and DVDs etc.

In total I managed to pick up 3 pieces of fabric (8 metres worth), 4 cones of overlocker (serger) thread, 2 zips, a ball of acrylic *wool, 2 pieces of black elastic, 6 large spools of thread and a pair of second-hand jeans. Not bad for the Princely sum of £31.86 :)

02 Shopping

Blue Fabric - from Hamid for Fabrics £2 / metre, 2.5 metres 100% cotton. Feels light weight, but not too thin - the colour finish puts me in mind of Chambray (which I'm always a sucker for buying!).
03 Hamid for Fabrics, Ridley Road

Red Fabric - from Stall No. 118 (I think the stall is called Vawda's Textiles ?) in the Market, 3 metres of 100% cotton for... £1 / metre! It has a subtle sheen, and a lovely soft drape - I'm thinking nice blouse / top.

04 Fabric Stall, Ridley Road  05 Fabric Stall, Ridley Road

Purple and Light Blue Cones £1.50 each , Black Elastic 50p each and 6 Thread Spools 75p each - from U & I Trimmings. The 6 spools are for taking with me to sewing classes (smaller and lighter than cones dontcha know - but won't run out half-way through!) - as my preferred method for toile / muslin making on test garments is to thread trace my seam allowance lines and hems in black, and then to baste together in pale green - any subsequent changes to seam/stitching lines are made in red, then blue - before re-stitching together again in the pale green. This way I can see history and provenance of any changes I make clearly as I progress :)

06 U & I Trimmings, Ridley Road  07 U & I Trimmings, Ridley Road.JPG

'U & I' is a funny little shop - it is very crowded with ribbons, bias bindings, rick-rack, laces, and trims inside (there's barely any room to move), and outside there's tonnes of zippers, cones, thread spools, a few colours of wool (not real wool though), buttons etc.. Things are kinda lumped together into groups, and you really have to rummage around for what you want - for example the zips are jumbled together into boxes, they're not sorted by size / colour so be prepared to dig around. But as things are so cheap you might be surprised by what you turn up!

Yellow Gingham £3 / metre, 2.5 metres plus a ball of Acrylic Wool for £1.69 from Dalston Mill Fabrics. It's a woven Gingham rather than a printed one. And, unlike many printed cheap Polycotton Gingham's it feels more drapey (not overly crisp and stiff) - and not at all too thin. So, I think it might be a 100% cotton too perhaps? This fabric is destined for a special project at the mid to end of August ;)

08 Dalston Mills Fabrics, Ridley Road

I like 'Dalston Mills Fabrics' (links to their online shop) - it's like a Tardis inside. The front has a big display of PVC/Vinyl Oilcloth fabric, and also a bunch of de-enveloped patterns for if I can recall correctly £1 (maybe £2?) each. The patterns are not in any organised order though, so you won't find  say all the skirts together or anything handy like that. Inside there is a much bigger retail space, and a vast array of fabrics (sorry no pics of inside - I'll ask next time if they don't mind me sneeking a few!). There's wools, and lots of buttons towards the back. But at the very back are 2 smaller-rooms. One room is full of ribbons, elastics, trims - and lady behind a counter to cut them for you (you pay at the 1 till point in the centre of the shop). The other room has their wools and suitings - it's here that I found the 100% wool fabric I used to make my homemade pressing tools. They also have lots of zips, including long separating zippers for jackets etc. There's threads too, plus they have new Big-4 patterns inside + Burda too. The staff are always extremely friendly and helpful here too.

Then, a short walk heading South down Kingsland Road I popped into the quirky William Gee shop and picked up 2 more overlocker thread cones in Pale Yellow and Pink for £1.20 each. This was my 2nd visit to their store.

09 William Gee, Kingsland Road

10 William Gee, Kingsland Road  11 William Gee, Kingsland Road

12 William Gee, Kingsland Road  14 William Gee, Kingsland Road  13 William Gee, Kingsland Road

'William Gee's' bricks 'n' mortar shop is a stark contrast to their snazzy website is waaaay better than the store - I was a bit disappointed by the up close 'n' personal experience first hand. The staff seem nice enough, but I was surprised when on my 1st visit a few weeks back that they didn't have any lingerie or FOE (fold over elastic) :( which I'd hoped to use to make Zoe's FREE vest pattern. But fret ye not, eBay came to my rescue LOL! From their wall displays inside, and their window displays outside they carry a good range of shear, scissors, tools and rulers - including the love it or hate it Pattern Master. (See here for their range of Pattern Room Equipment & Design Aids.) The store was a single room - with old fashioned glass-topped counters either side (with 2 staff behind the counter) and it was devoid of all natural light. Unless it's within easier reach on a shelf (e.g. thread cones), you have to ask to be shown what you're looking for, so it's not a very consumer-focused retail experience really. I'd say don't go there to browse, go with a specific item in mind, or even better ring them up first to check they have it in stock to save you a wasted journey! (Or shop there on line hehe!)

Some other reviews of William Gee are linked at the bottom of my post. The company has been around since 1906!

And, practically next door is a big-ish sized Oxfam shop where I grabbed 2 Royal Blue zips for 39p each (brand new stock too!), and a pair of second-hand jeans for £2.99 - the jeans will get refashioned methinks (that's if I feel brave enough to get my pale 'n' pasty pins out whilst there's still a smidgen of summer left in the air!) :)!

15 Oxfam, Kingsland Road

*Nope I'm not taking up knitting or crochet LOL (there's not enough room in my little house for all the trappings of any more hobbies hehe!). It's to make the "hair" for a little dolly I'm making for my darling niece who has just turned 1 year old!

More reviews of WILLIAM GEE:
I did a quick Google search and I found these blog posts:
Set squares at the Scariest Shop in the World from 'One Foot in the Hull'.
Fabric Shopping in Dalston from 'Nicole Needles - Adventures in Sewing'.
Haberdashery from REAL shops! from 'Making My Tennant Coat'.
One gimp please from 'Sew Far Sew Good'.
This is an actually good read about the history of the place: At William Gee Ltd, Haberdashers from 'Spitalfields Life'.

Quote from this blog: The Lonely Crafter’s Guide to London from 'Cargo Cult Craft'.

  • William Gee on the Kingsland Road supplies haberdashery and equipment to the tailoring trade, but their shop, unless they’ve undergone a serious revamp recently, is one of the saddest retail spaces I’ve seen in my crafty travels. Difficult to navigate unless you know what you want, but they do have a pretty comprehensive range of professional tools, up to and including tailor’s canvas and pattern design and drafting supplies. 520-522 Kingsland Road, E8.

Friday 27 July 2012

It's Started! London 2012 Olympics - GO TEAM GB!

I've always loved watched the Olympics on the telly as a kid, and as an adult. And it feels all the more special as it's now come to my home town London!

The Opening Ceremony starts tonight at 9pm - and I'll be glued to the box, watching it :)

Go team GB!

I borrowed the sunnies from a colleague at work - and will be wearing my 2012 badge everyday until end of 9th September when the Paralymics close

Wednesday 25 July 2012

A Top, A Skip and A Jump!

(I'm paraphrasing "A hop, a skip and a jump")

The TOP is my 2nd finished Scout Woven Tee by Grainline, I successfully finished it in time on Sunday evening (just over a week ago), and wore it to work to show-off on Monday 23rd July.

01, Scout Woven Tee - Polka Dots

I made this with fabric kindly donated by Alana from Lazy Stitching at the April 2012 Walthamstow meet-up.

I managed to squeeze it onto barely 1 metre of fabric - and I'm quite proud of my pattern matching of the spots/dots around the side-seams, and tops of sleeves. I think the spots flow quite naturally, and don't look randomly cut-off or anything weird LOL!

Check out the early-morning photos I made poor Hubby take whilst my maquillage was all fresh before leaving for work hehe! (P.S. That's shower-fresh damp hair, not greasy strands alright ;)!!)

02, Scout Woven T-Shirt, Black & White Polka Dots

Following on from the details in my previous post... I stitched shoulder-seams, followed by side-seams, then the underarm seam on the sleeves, followed by setting-in the sleeves. I made the same mistake as on my first navy collared version of the top - in that I forgot to hem the sleeves before sewing them to the bodice (doh!) - it made it a little more bulky to manoeuvre under the presser foot but not impossible. I was careful when I altered the sleeve pattern to measure the curves along the armscye of the sleeve verses the bodice armhole - as I didn't want to have to contend with too much excess ease along the sleeve cap (I found it hard to ease this in evenly on the first toile / muslin I made). So, with less than ½" (1.3cm) of ease in the sleeve cap I first pinned the sleeve to the bodice between the notch marks along the lower edge of the fabric (aligning the stitching lines I'd marked on the wrong-side of my fabric using my Saral tracing paper) then I pinned between the notches along the top of the sleeve - distributing the ease evenly. Now, the first time I tried to sew a set-in sleeve it was tricky having to constantly stop 'n' start to remove the pins as I went along. So instead, I basted by hand with some bright red thread - about 1/8" (3mm) from the marked stitching line. I basted to the side of the line that was towards the bodice - so not in the seam allowance itself. I figured that basting on that side would control any tricky ease and awkward curves better than if they were stitched together in the seam allowance area.

I pinned the bodice front pattern to my toile / muslin at the shoulder and underarm/side-seam, and centre-front neckline. Then I use a pencil to mark on the paper my "actual" BP (Bust Point / Bust Apex).

03, Marking the BP on the Pattern

I wanted to find my exact "real" BP, so I could avoid placing any of the black polka dots from my chosen fabric over the bulls-eye! I used my top-tip to avoid dodgy placement of the dots over the "girls" ;).

I followed Jen's tutorial "Getting Flat Bias Necklines" to the tee! I worked really well, and I will definitely use it again!

04, Grading Seam Allowances
Trimming / grading the seam allowance

I cut the bias binding length as follows:
Length of Actual Piece of Binding to Cut =
*Neckline Length + (2x Seam Allowance), then minus 1/8" (3mm)
(*At seam line / stitching line - NOT at fabric edge!!)
I used my duck-billed applique scissors to grade/trim the seam allowances, and I was pleasantly surprised as they really did help to avoid inadvertently  trimming the bodice fabric underneath by mistake (something I've struggled with using normal shears/scissors in the past). As you can see from the photo above the bias binding got trimmed down in half to 1/8" (3mm).

I used some nude/ skin-toned bias binding (it kinda matched for my own skin tone) to face the inside of the neckline - I picked it up at Shepherd's Bush Market when I went out with Dibs recently. I think it worked pretty well! I didn't want an extra thick doubled-up effect you sometimes get with 2 or more layers of white fabric!

05, Pinning and Pressing Bias Binding Inside the Neckline
Pinning and Pressing Bias Binding Inside the Neckline on my Tailor's Ham
The bias binding is then turned to the inside. I pinned it carefully in place and pressed it between the pins (avoiding pressing over the glass head pins - which can leave marks of the pin holes in the fabric otherwise!). My homemade tailor's ham was very handy in laying out the neckline during this process - as it mimicked the natural contours of a real body well :)

Then, I hand basted in place close to the bottom edge of the binding (not so close as to catch in the machine stitches later).

Then, I stitched it in place on my sewing machine. I had the top the right-way out (not inside out) and then stitched inside of the neckline - so I could see that I was catching the edge properly of the bias binding. This means that the bobbin thread appears on the outside of the neckline, and the thread from the spool/reel shows on the inside of the neckline.

06, Finished Neckline
The finished neckline - lies lovely & flat!
Oh, and I used the new overlocker that my wonderful Hubby bought for me early this year for my Birthday (I was having trouble adjusting the tension on my old machine) to finish the seams on the inside. Handily it came pre-threaded with 4 mini-cones of white thread, so that saved me some time - but I did have a go at re-threading it and it was MUCH faster than my old Delta overlocker. I straight stitched all the seams first, and then overlocked (serged) them - I don't trust my judgement enough yet to just overlock them straight off. It was a bit slow going around the armscye seams - probably because it's such a curved line to follow, and I was worried about accidentally cutting off bits I shouldn't be with the machine's blade. But I was careful and it turned out great!

I also used seam tape to stay the shoulder seams before I overlocked them too.

The SKIP is... skipped stitches, I got trying to zig-zag stitch the side-seams on my first attempt at Zoe's FREE vest pattern.

Skipped stitches
Opps - can we say "Skipped stitches?"

P.S. If you haven't heard of this fab little pattern - where have you been hiding ;) ? I might be biased - but download it now and give it a go! It was my first try at sewing with knits (unless you count taking in the side-seams of T-shirts with glorious abandon for the ripped straight stitches that don't give - when I was a teenager haha!), and aside from the skipped stitches (hmmm... which I think are related to pressure issues with my presser-foot) it went together really quickly!

The the JUMP is the frightful jump I got when sewing my vest using my 'Walking Foot' and the needle snapped - eekk!

Broken Sewing Machine Needle
What's wrong with this picture :( ???