It’s All About the Blog

Dibs nominated me to answer the blog hop questions doing the rounds at the moment.  I hope you’re not sick of them yet – I personally find them fascinating.  But I’m a nosey so-and-so and love to learn about the people behind the finished items and published posts.  It’s also made me write again, which is something I’ve missed doing!  So, here goes…

Why Do I Sew?

I have always liked making things.  Before sewing I was into cards and scrapbooking – paper based pursuits.  It sat really well alongside photography and I love taking pictures (as long as I’m not in them).  It’s a love I inherited from my Dad who used to develop photos he’d taken in our bath at home and would earn extra money as a quantity surveying student working for one of the best photography studios where I grew up.  Let’s just say he has a good eye!  I guess that need to be creative against a very precise job (I work in an enforcement role) is something we have in common.

My favourite class at school was graphic design – the aesthetic considerations being of just as much importance as the practical.  I guess sewing your own clothes is a (possibly stretched) extension of that.  You have the aesthetics of the fabric, colours and print against the amazing engineering blueprints of the patterns.  What intrigues me and challenges me after learning to follow that blueprint is that those blueprints are really springboards.  There are so many possibilities stemming from some lines on a bit of paper.  The possibilities are vast (and sometimes overwhelming!) and there’s always something new to learn.  A new technique, a new style line, a new fabric.

One of my most treasured sewing possessions is my copy of ‘Fabric for Fashion’ which is a swatch book of a myriad of unbleached fabric samples.  It’s a fabulous resource for learning about fabrics without getting distracted by the ‘ooooh, pretty!’ effect a good print can have!  Dad, with his construction background, saw it as a great reference tool to help understand the suitability or not of the materials you intend to use to follow the blue print (and yep, Mum and Dad bought it for me – it’s not a cheap book!).

The other reason I learnt to sew is because I wasn’t short changed in the bust.  Seriously – to get clothes that fit my upper torso means that they are around 2-3 sizes bigger than anywhere else on my body.  I hadn’t really realised this until I had Boy when all those hormonal changes increased that disparity even further.  I was sick of wearing clothes that drowned in one place whilst straining in another.  I felt self conscious enough, trying to wrap my head around how my body had changed, without the disaster that RTW was and is for me.

Sewing started out as cushions with my Nanny’s old Elna (a solid metal workhorse with those cams for different stitches), and then bags.  I followed a link from U-Handbag to one of Gertie‘s posts and the rest is history.  My focus switched to garments, my skill set grew (as did my blog reading list!), my clothing began to reflect who I was rather than what was the least offensive thing that fit, and I became a part of this amazing community.  You guys are part of the reason why I still sew – I wouldn’t have half the skills I do without you all sharing your knowledge so freely or providing me so much inspiration on a near daily basis!

Bound Buttonholes 2

What Am I Working On?

Currently, my Papercut Patterns Milano Cape.  It is so very nearly done and has involved a load of new techniques that I would never have tried a short time ago.  Pad stitching, re-drafting, bound buttonholes, welt pockets, bagged lining, drafting…  I can honestly say that the pattern has been an excellent jumping off point for me to make something that is perfect for me.  It’s not changed out of all recognition, but I’ve definitely put my own stamp on it beyond the usual fitting and fabric choices.  It’s also only been possible to make these changes because of the help I’ve had from fellow bloggers (Maddie and Emmie in particular!)

What am I going to sew next is a far harder question to answer!  I’ve got a wrap dress cut out and ready to go so I should make that up really, but I also want to make a Kimono.  I’ve had the fabric with that in mind sitting around for far too long.  There’s also a bag project I’ve started, Zo’s ‘Dolores’ top that’s recently come off the printer, and some hacked ‘Day to Night‘ tops that will fill a fairly massive void in my current wardrobe!  I also have an Elisalex hack that will be perfect for some events in December (and I have nothing else suitable for them so I’ll have to make it!).  Add the fact that fitting is like trying to hit a moving target at the moment, and my lack of ability to focus or stay awake beyond 21:30 and who knows what will come off the machine next!  Or when!

How Does My Sewing Process Work?

I’m not sure that I could ever call it anything like a process!  Sometimes I get ‘see-it-want-it-isis’ when someone has shared something they’ve made and I neeeeeeed it.  It could be the silhouette, the pattern or the fabric.  Other times I’ll see a fabric and it has to come and live with me and eventually I’ll find a pattern that it’s ideal for.  Other times I’ll have a pattern and then obsessively hunt down the fabric I’ve pictured for it (My maxi Annalex was one such combination).

I can’t say that my pattern purchases have any logical reason to them.  Some will be love at first sight, others will need to grow on me through repeated exposure (hello blogland!!), then there are the ones with an interesting detail (such as the Deer and Doe Belladone).  I’m not a pattern drafter – whilst I’d love to have the skills and am pretty sure I could develop them, my spare time is at a premium.  Rather than working from scratch I’m much happier paying a designer for something I like and then tweaking – it’s much faster than starting with a blank sheet of paper!

What Keeps Me Motivated to Blog?

You guys.  My interaction with you all through this space, Twitter, Instagram, keep me sane.  I think you also keep my Husband sane so that he doesn’t have to listen to me talk about sewing (just pretend not to see the mess I make).  My skill set has grown, my ambition and ability has grown and my circle of friends has grown.  All because I decided to do something a little reckless and very brave (for me) by hitting publish on that first post.

I’m never going to make a career out of this (and have no intention to do so), my writing is to infrequent and haphazard for that!  I’m also never going to be an expert or a professional – enthusiastic / slightly obsessive is where I sit.  I blog because I get to share what I’m doing with you all.

Sewing is quite an introverted thing to do – you don’t need a team of people around you, you don’t have to put yourself into new social situations unless you choose to.  Go to a meet up, or not; you can do what is right for you and share your sewing and your life on your terms.  Letting people in as much or as little as you like.  I’ve learnt about countries and cultures I have never been to and may never visit.  I have friends on every continent who all share a passion with me.  Through this blog I have people who will send me an email just to check up on me if I’ve been a bit quiet.  You all inspire me in some way or another, you’ve encouraged a shy and introverted person to interact on a global platform and travel to a capital city to meet people that I’d only previously met on the inter webs.  You’ve broadened my horizons, educated me and inspired me.  So I blog; in the beginning for my own records and now because I love having a conversation with you all and going ‘wheee!  Look what I made!’.

At this point I’m supposed to pass this on to two other bloggers, to find out what their take on the questions is!  So, I’m going to ask Sonja at Gingermakes if she fancies having a go at this one, as well as Amanda at Bimble and Pimble.  Both of these bloggers have awesome style, sew up a storm and regularly inspire me whilst making me laugh all at the same time – that’s a pretty hard combination to beat!!

A Bit (Lot) Stuck

So, I’ve managed to sew one garment since I last spoke to you and have taken no photos of it!  I’ve also cut out one pattern and got no further – the fabric is still a big piece of fabric.  So this is going to be a wordy rather than pretty post I’m afraid.

Basically – I feel a bit stuck.  I have all these plans of what I’d like to make (as you know from my last post) but I’m…  I don’t know really…  Confused?  Not sure?  Long story short – I’ve recently been living in my maternity jeans from five years ago and a couple of vest (singlet) tops and a maternity top that’s also five years old.  Don’t get me wrong – they’ve got plenty of life in them and they don’t need replacing at all but…

I like dresses.  I like woven dresses.  I like dresses that make the best of what I have and I’m not sure how to do that at the moment.  Don’t get me wrong – I adore being pregnant (and everything that it brings!) but I’m not sure how to express who I am through my clothes at the moment.  I’m also in that slightly odd transition phase where I don’t fit into my clothes anymore but don’t really look pregnant at the moment (although I’m told I’m starting to ‘pop’).

This leaves me wanting to sew but not having any real clue WHAT to sew!!  I’m in the middle of making a quilt but even that isn’t scratching the itch at the moment.  I want to sew something for ME so that I feel less casual and more put together if that makes any sense at all?

It’s a weird situation and one I wasn’t in when Boy was a bump.  I didn’t sew clothes then and having found out so late, a couple of pairs of jeans and a couple of tops got me through the few months when I did know about it (and went from not looking pregnant to looking very pregnant in a very short space of time) – I didn’t have time to get frustrated about what was on offer on the high street and quite honestly I didn’t project myself through my wardrobe in the same way!  I’m so grateful that I can do that through sewing but it’s a bit of a mind bender at the moment…

Sooo…  I’m getting used to the idea of (nearly) everything in a knit (I’m not a fan of the draped look although I know some people can pull that off brilliantly) as I still like to have some definition where I can.  Sewing knits is not a drama at all on my two machines either.  

So I don’t know what my problem is:
Is it what to sew?
Is it how to project who I am through who I sew?
Is it simply that I need to wrap my head around this transitional period and just sew something!

I think I’ll go with option three…

PS – Boy starts school on Thursday…  How on earth did we get to that stage already?!

Plotting and Planning But Not a Lot of Sewing… Yet…

I’m not even keeping up with my ‘one post a month’ target at the moment am I?!  But hey, tell you something you don’t know – right?  I promise I’ve had my reasons though, the main one being this:

Fidget

Meet Fidget, mostly known as ‘our baby’ if you ask Boy.  It’s earned the moniker as during the dating scan earlier this week they did not want to stay still and have their measurements taken, or give the sonographer an easy first appointment of the day!  Hence the face down, slightly blurry image!  Everything looked good though and the blood tests have come back as all being well.  We’ve also made it out of the first Trimester so are starting to feel a little less worried and able to share the news.  We’re hoping to meet Fidget in mid to late February.

I’ve been too tired to sew and the be quite honest, not even sure WHAT to sew!  Bed time has been 9pm for weeks, which basically means no sewing.  Sleep was the priority!  Instead I’ve been hoping, dreaming and making some vague plans – what to wear being one element.

I’ve had fun sketching in my Fashionary and come up with a few ideas that I hope will work in the coming 6 months or so as well as afterwards, and some may even have a longer ‘shelf life’.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Butterick 5860, which is a wrap dress.  I’ve got some fabric earmarked to make at least two of these as I suspect they’ll become my uniform at work.  I have a colleague who had the most chic and pulled together maternity wardrobe during her recent second pregnancy and is the inspiration for a couple of pieces in my planned wardrobe…

Staple Dress by April Rhodes but with the shirring falling just under the bust and with a bump accommodating adjustment.  This is currently in progress.  I’ve just got to get brave to make the bias binding from a very silky rayon.  I’m gonna have to face that soon as I need it for a wedding in just under two weeks!

Papercut Patterns Circle Top as this will work now and well into the future!  So far I’ve got a navy and a purple version planned.  These will be in solids to give maximum wearing potential and are in two of my basic colours.

Maria Denmark Day to Night tops (why do I always want to type Knight when writing about this top?!).  I’m going to use Zo’s maternity alteration on these as I need some tops to go with the maternity jeans I had when pregnant with Boy.

I’ve also found a gorgeous French company called Deuxieme Arrondissement which make some gorgeous maternity patterns.  I’ve bought two:  The Duo 13H and Robe Minuit.  I think the Duo 13H will be perfect for a wedding we’re going to in December.  They’re completely different to any other maternity patterns out there, and whilst they’re entirely in French, I have faith in my language skills…  They’re printed on lovely thick paper and I’m looking forward to using them!

I’ve also hacked Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi and am wearing a maxi skirt from a slightly failed experiment as I type.  I basically used a double knit and whilst I compensated for the lack of stretch everywhere else, with my changing chest size, it was a tad snug up top!  So I lopped the top portion off to turn it into a skirt.  I will probably revisit though, armed with a more suitable knit and again use Zo’s tutorial.

Finally, I’ve bought Burda 7239 with the express intention of recreating a top I wore when pregnant with Boy.  It was basically a cropped wrap cardigan with a false top underneath it made of a very light weight cotton.  It was fabulous to wear and my only splurge on maternity clothing with Boy.  It came from Mamas and Papas and cost me close to £40.  I wore it to death.

What I also need to do (and this is going to have to be interspersed by other projects) is crack on with my Papercut Patterns Milano Cape.  This was also inspired by my colleague, but it seemed wrong and tempting fate to do too much work on it whilst trying and then in the early stages of pregnancy.  Call me superstitious or plain daft, but after previous experiences I didn’t want to be presumptuous.

As for Fidget – well not a lot planned there at the moment as we’re not going to find out whether they’re a he or a she until they make an entrance into the world.  We’ve also got the vast majority of what we need for the early months from when we had Boy.  He was also an unknown so all our early baby stuff is neutral!  I think I may have a go at adapting Dog Under My Desk’s Day Tripper bag to be a more fun changing bag as the one from the days of Boy is a very man friendly grey!  Oh, and I’d love to make Boy and Fidget matching quilts…

So, some ‘quick’ projects (I hope) and some more involved…  Time will tell if I manage to get even half of them done!

Spring Sewing Swap

SSS_2014_600

I really have to say a massive thank you to Kerry for organising the Spring Sewing Swap.  Through this bit of selfless shopping and fun I discovered teafortwodiary written by Jen and Elena.  My swap partner was Jen and I had an absolute blast shopping for her!

She also did some truly epic shopping and stash diving for me!  Look at the loveliness that I received!

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There’s 3m of that beautiful poly – from Paris no less, the cutest little buttons, trim from Cloth House a dress which provides an interesting bodice for infinite skirt variations and a lovely card.  I think the fabric is destined to become some sort of maxi – I just need to decide on a pattern!

I have done a little bit of sewing too, in the last month.  I made a shirt for Boy’s best friend’s birthday – covered in dinosaurs but as I was attaching buttons the morning of said birthday I don’t have any pictures (bad blogger!) but he loves it and it got a ton of unsolicited compliments when it was worn to the Dinosaur Park!  His parents seemed to love telling people that it was a one of a kind and their friend made it for him!  I also got the biggest hug – I hope they don’t get ‘too cool’ for unique clothing anytime soon…

I’m also a hem and some binding away from finishing the Staple Dress that I bought as part of the last Pattern Parcel.  Shirring wasn’t too bad but my machine made some really strange noises whilst doing it – I think I may actually have to mess with the bobbin tension settings next time I take any shirring on – screeching squeaking is not good!

Oh and just to give you all a giggle, we took the rabbits in to have preventative fly-strike treatment and saw a rabbit specialist nurse.  Turns out Buzz is a boy and Woody is a girl.  48hrs later, Buzz became an ‘it’.  Hopefully we won’t get anymore surprises with those two!

So, you never know, I may leave it less than a month to make a reappearance here…  See you soon?!

Hi

Ah, another poetic blog post title!

I wish I had something amazing and couture to show you all, but in reality I’m just checking in.  Sewing is still pretty much non existent (but scheming… Oh my, the scheming!).  I’ve basically managed in a little over a month to make a teeny-tiny baby dress for my new niece with some matching baby bloomers, cut three shirts for Boy, order some fabric for a friend’s little girl who was born Saturday morning, order fabric for Boy’s friend’s birthday present shirt at the end of this month, lose a stone and a bit, start another course for another exam and still have a partially completed Mad Max Flora in a heap in the sewing room.  Sigh.

Hi

So, a lot to tell you but nothing to show I’m afraid (and this really is a space to show and tell!).  Having said that, by the weekend I may have assembled the new rabbit hutch for Buzz and Woody (who we have learnt are girls) if it’s arrived and be able to show you our latest project in the garden.

I’ve also recently done the summer bedding plants and I have enjoyed choosing the hottest, brightest most obnoxious, bratty colours I could find.  Cerise, purple, hot orange, lime green…  There’s going to be a riot of colour out there soon…

Anyhoo, hope you’re all well and sewing when you get the chance or just enjoying life in general.  Hopefully I’ll catch up again before another month as sped by…

Real Talk

I am in a funk. I’m not entirely sure why, but I am in one.

When I’m in this weird mindset, I want to buy all the fabric and eat all the things. One is no good for the bank balance, the other is no good for me.

I’m also stupid busy. Finding time to sew is just not happening and quite honestly this is adding to if not causing the funk. I’m fantasy sewing all the time in my head – my stash has been cut and sewn several times. Time is not on my side though, or at least it feels that way.

Work is busy, Husband’s business is busy, Boy is amazing and frustrating and life is what it is. I just need to find some equilibrium and some time to just be creative. To create and enjoy the process. Me and my machine, that’s my calm and happy place (unless I’m repeatedly attempting a sleeve or zip – then, not so much).

That’s why the blogging has become sporadic. I have so much I want to say, I have things I made a while ago that I haven’t blogged. I’m starting to put some crazy pressure on myself, which isn’t helpful. I’m just not sure where to start and my time is limited and there are a lot of things I want to do with it; blog, exercise, sew, sleep!

Please bear with me, once I’ve worked out how to get a bit of balance back, I hope to be back here a bit more. And not just rambling at half past nine on a Saturday night!

Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic

Hello my lovelies!  I’m so excited to share with you the Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic!  Back in February I got an email to ask if I wanted to test the pattern and after doing a little shimmy of joy I sent back a very happy ‘yes please!’ to Tasia.

You’ve seen the Belcarra Blouse quite a bit on the Sewaholic Blog already as Tasia was wearing it to model the Gabriola maxi skirt.  It is such a quick make but has some lovely details that really set it apart from your usual knit T’s.

Belcarra 2

View A is a simple raglan sleeved top with bias cuffs, View B has the cute pleat / tuck details and View C has the little pocket.  Me being me just had to overload my tester version with all the details so I made View B with the addition of the pocket from View C.

There are no darts in this top so it’s quite a loose fit but to accommodate the bewbs I did need to do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment).  I used the ‘Fit for Real People‘ Method which adds a side dart.  I did consider rotating the dart out but this added more fabric to the front and that’s not a look I’m a fan of.  However, Stitches and Seams has an FBA method that gets rid of the side dart and that extra fabric.  I’m going to give this a go on my next version.

Whilst I love the fabric I made this top from (a japanese slubbed cotton) it is probably a little too stiff for this stort of top – something much more liquid and flowing would give softer lines and would not crease nearly as much as mine does!  As a result of my fabric choice, my version looks far better tucked in than it does left out.  I wear it a lot to work with this Rachel Comey for Vogue 1247 skirt that I made over a year ago which is another wardrobe staple.

Belcarra 1

In the defence of my fabric choice, because of the slubs in the weave it makes it really easy to find the grain line and also makes the bias areas (cuffs and neck binding) a bit more interesting than just a change in direction of the print.  You could have a lot of fun with stripe placement on this top!

This is a really satisfying and fast make.  It has the potential to be a wardrobe staple depending on your fabric choice and it wouldn’t surprise me to see people with multiples of these in their wardrobes.  I have a number of future versions planned including one with lace sleeves (omitting the pleats and cuff) as I think that will look really cute with a solid coloured bodice.  I have a couple of other drapy fabrics in the collection that are destined for this top now too, particularly as it’s not too fabric hungry – mine came out of less than 2 yards of 44″ fabric.

Who knew that something as simple as a T could be made so interesting?!  Thank you for the experience of pattern testing for you Tasia, I loved every second of it.