Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Progress on the skater dress

Progress update on my skater dress.

I decided to be brave, or foolish(!) last night and cut out the pieces for the dress in the blue fabric I wanted to use. It took far longer than I wanted it to, but I didn't want to screw it up. The fabric is more brighter blue but my camera doesn't pick it up very well!

I've sewn all the darts, then zigzagged the raw edges of the bodice. I prefer sleeveless dresses so I've also done the raw edges of the shoulders. I'm planning on using bias binding to tidy the armholes. I may play around with cutting more of the fabric away though, I'm not sure yet. 

I need to recut the facing neckline piece. On my toile I noticed that it came up short on both shoulders so that the seams weren't aligned once I sewed the facings to the bodice. This time I cut the piece longer but while pinning thought it was fine and cut it to match the length. Once again I screwed it up, because once I'd the sewn the seam it's too short again, so I need to recut with an additional 1.5cm on each side.

I started zigzagging the raw edges of the skirt pieces, but I'm struggling with the curves as its making the edge flute in some places. My machine chews up the fabric quite easily so I've had to zigzag further away from the edge than I'd like but it's still within the seam allowance. The fluting is worse on the areas where I veered too closely to the edge, but I might have stretched it as it's on the bias of the fabric. My bobbin ran out in the middle of the front skirt piece so I decided that was enough for one day! I'm on nights this week so won't be able to do quite as much as I'll have less time and focus/concentration during the day after sleeping. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Fitting & tension issues

Well, I hate zips!!

I've had no end of trouble inserting an invisible zip, I finally got it on the third attempt. I managed to do it fine the first time except that it wasn't lying flush with the bodice and it was altering the fit, so I redid it. I also added the facings as I hadn't bothered initially.

On the second attempt I managed to sew one side of the zip the wrong way round! Right side to wrong side... then spent ages wondering why I couldn't do it up! Finally inserted it correctly on the third attempt, it's still not perfect but it's a lot better than it was!


I'm still having problems with the fit of the shoulders, I'm just not sure if taking it in at the seams will make it lie flat or shorten the bodice too much. I also had problems with getting the facing of the neckline to fit properly, pinning it flat to the neckline ended up shortening the overall thing by an inch and a half so my shoulder seams aren't matched and don't meet at the back of the bodice.

Having finally sorted out my tension problems this zip completely screwed things up and I've not been able to fix it since. These are the loops on the underside of my stitches, which I believe means that the top tension is incorrect. I just can't seem to win, I've tried all of the tension settings for the top needle now and nothing has worked.

Top tension set to 8.

Top tension set to 2.

If anyone has some advice I'd be very grateful!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A Growing Sewing Stash

I don't watch a lot of live TV, mainly I watch downloaded programmes through BBC's iPlayer and save them up to watch when I'm knitting or when its quiet on nights in work. Recently (like everyone else!) I've been watching the 3rd season of Great British Sewing Bee which was bloody awesome. It has given me a huge kick up the arse to get back into sewing more regularly too :D

I was so chuffed for Matt when he won - his look of surprise was just awesome. I was really sad to see the others gradually leaving though, so it was nice to see how they have been doing since the series was filmed last year. I discovered Deborah's sewing blog two nights ago, then stayed up reading it to find out how she'd made that gorgeous navy polka dot dress! Turns out its an Anna dress, so I have a new pattern to add to my pattern list.

Speaking of which... I've been on a bit of an eBay bidding spree in the last fortnight. I'm pretty sure my postman hates me now, he's been knocking every day for the last week! I took some pictures of the patterns that have recently arrived;

Love the pin tucks down these blouses - but this is definitely something to aim for. Not quite at that standard of sewing yet!

This pattern is far too big but I'm hoping to alter it to make it much smaller. I need to learn how to regrade patterns anyway as my bust is usually a size or two smaller than my hips on most patterns.

I do love a good 60s dress!

This is a suit & blouse pattern, but I mainly bought it because I like the style of the jacket. Looking forward to trying this one out.  

I've not been just buying patterns however, I did buy some gorgeous blue solid Ditte fabric from Ikea on Monday at £3 a metre. I'm planning on using it to make a dress using this pattern:

I know absolutely nothing about different types of fabric so I'm hoping buying a variety will help me learn through feeling and playing with them. I'm going to make a toile first though as this pattern only includes finished garment measurements and doesn't state back length etc.

I've also made a toile for a sencha blouse, which needs to be altered. I'm off on annual leave for the next 10 days so hoping to crack on and teach myself how to alter the fit using Tilly and the button's superb book which also arrived last week!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Getting back into sewing


I graduated and started a full time job in July, yay! However it definitely keeps me busy and I've started having the urge to make something again. I ended up signing up for a beginners sewing class as I'm self-taught and had been struggling with threads getting all knotted up, knowing how to adjust the tension etc.

I went along to a brilliant 3 hour class in October at The Stitching Boutique in Cardiff, using a voucher I'd bought through LivingSocial. Tamsin, the lady who owns and runs the shop, is such a nice lady! She purposely keeps the classes small, I think there were 6 of us, which was brilliant as we were all able to have 1-2-1 time with her if we got stuck on anything.

The class was £30 (down from £55) was for a 3 hour class which taught us to make a cushion, and included the fabric and pillow insert. I opted to upgrade for £10 to some fantastic Roald Dahl polka dot Matilda fabric, which was £10 rather than the usual price of £13.50 per metre by virtue of being in a class, and picked a gorgeous teal blue thread. I didn't even know Roald Dahl fabric existed! It feels beautifully soft and I keep hugging my cushion :D

As we all had a go at cutting out a simple pattern for a 17inch cushion, Tamsin made sure we were all able to thread the machines, pointing out the differences between vertical and top loading bobbin machines (the class machines are shiny, new and top loading, mine loads vertical and is slightly older).

The 3 hours flew by, we had some gorgeous coffee which we all drunk fairly quickly as we were eager to return to sewing. It was really nice chatting to other ladies who were interested in sewing, some also knit so I found out about a new knitting group which meets just down the road that I'd like to try out.

The cushion itself was really easy to sew, so we were encouraged to use decorative stitching however we liked, just to help us keep practising our stitching. We also covered all the different basic stitches on sewing machines, and how to use different feet for different things. One thing I noticed that was quite different on my machine was the sewing seam allowance guidelines on the foot plate - mine is completely blank which is unhelpful! I've bought a magnetic guide online to help me out in future.

Some of the new things I learnt:
- How to cut out fabric using a rotary cutter and cutting mat - genius!!
- How to adjust the tension on a vertical loading bobbin case - something that was worth the £30 for the class alone!
- How to sew buttonholes - will need to practice that one several times again though.
- How to use a buttonhole foot!
- How to spend ages pressing buttons to discover how many different decorative stitches modern sewing machines can do!
- How to finish raw edges using zigzag stitching.

All in all, I had a brilliant time and definitely learnt quite a few new things. It was also really nice to be one of the more confident beginners in the room - and reassuring to know that I haven't been screwing things up too badly!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Baby Boy Card

Made this tonight for a friends recent new arrival.

The blue card is from a craft magazine gift and the sentiment, green paper & the grey backing card are from random eBay sellers. The stamped image is a Bumble Bear stamp, also from a magazine issue - I forget which. I used to buy loads 4-5 years ago when I first moved to Reading. 

I used (yet another) folding template to score around the image rather than cutting it. I've lost my paper guillotine somewhere in the transition between Reading & Swansea and I'm awful at cutting straight lines! This makes it look slightly more intentional where it wobbles a little! I think it also makes it stand out & gives a slight 3D effect. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Fabric Sorting

Decided to dig out my fabric collection this afternoon. I'm going to sew some giant letters & numbers, then stuff them for two little ones I have the pleasure of knowing. I found the idea here, which also has a downloadable file for the letters & numbers. One will be for a girl & the other for a boy.

I meant to make the male set first for Noah's first birthday in a fortnight but having collected my fabric I've realised I own mainly feminine colours so I'll have a bit of shopping to do first! So I'll make Olivia a set for Christmas first, while I shop for 'manly' fabrics!

After digging it all out, I thought it was only right to keep it together neatly. This box was holding my Jewellery supplies but I think this works better. So for now, I have my fat quarters & other lengths in here, along with my pincushion and my fabric scrap squares. I will make a quilt some day...!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Knitting Goddess

I properly love The Knitting Goddess. The colours are just fantastic, I can always pick out skeins of hers. I treated myself to two mini skein packs on Tuesday as a birthday present to myself.

This is the May mini skein club pack, which has 7 skeins in lovely soft, light & summery colours. My blanket has a tendency to get darker in some areas, so I'm hoping these will help balance it out.

Last but not least is this 7 skein pack of 'charcoal rainbow' which predictably is the colours of the rainbow with dark grey & charcoal running through it. I can't wait to ball these up & knit them into my sock yarn blanket over the next few days.

(It's a crap photo but I've noticed all of a sudden that my blanket is actually noticeably bigger & has grown now. It's a nice feeling but it's already taken two years to get to this stage and I'm not even 20% of the way there!)

I think these are maybe my 4 or 5th packs from The Knitting Goddess. I have several 'full size' 100g sock skeins, plus lots & lots of mini skeins. You can buy the mini skeins in packs like above, or individually for £1.50. I'd recommend trying some, the colours are just beautiful. (I'm not affiliated in any way with The Knitting Goddess, just a fan of several years!)