Fabric and Friends

On Saturday, I got on the train just gone 7am and headed to London.  My plan was very simple – visit Walthamstow Market and visit Dibs.  Claire very kindly met me off the train at Liverpool Street and escorted me to Walthamstow and showed me around.  Oh. My.  I loved Goldhawk Road when I went last summer and quite frankly I also love Walthamstow but for different reasons.

22 March 1

In my whistle-stop shopping trip Walthamstow seems to specialise in knits, trims and haberdashery.  I did see a couple of places selling African Wax Print and Sari fabrics too but didn’t go in.  Whilst there were plenty of wovens on offer (particularly at Saeeds and the Man Outside Sainsburys) the strong suit really did seem to be knits.  I have to admit to not being a well versed visitor to either area, this is just my general impression!

Claire took me to the far end of the market and we worked our way back towards Walthamstow Central.  I loved our first stop where we bought fabric at £1 or £2 a metre.  I came away with a print test run on what is (we think) Rayon that cost £2/m and as there was only 2m I bought it all!  I also bought a gorgeous brushed navy twill, a very stable striped knit and a solid navy.  10m of fabric for £18.  I’d be lucky to get 2m of knit for that price locally.

22 March 2

Over the road was another fabric shop with similar prices where I bought a pink leopard print knit.  I think this will probably become a Tiramisu and a pair of cropped leggings.  We’ll see how it goes particularly as I’ve now noticed it’s got lots of little runs in it.  It only cost something ridiculous like £1.50/m so whilst it’s annoying it’s not the end of the world.  I know I got change out of a £5 note for it!

We then went into a haberdashery and trim shop where I spent £14 on thread.  12 cones of overlocker thread which are identical to the ones I use at home and paid £4 each for – these were £1 each!  The Coat’s Moon thread was 50p a spool – vast improvement on the £2 I usually pay.  Whilst I only bought black , white and navy and some moon thread to match the pink leopard knit this shop had every single colour under the sun.  Salmon pink, neon orange, sage green, dusky blue – you name it, they had it.

22 March 7

Next stop was Saeed’s.  This was a complete contrast to the other shops in the area in terms of space, general presentation and how the fabric was displayed.  I bought 3m of a digital print linen to make Sewaholic’s Gabriola and spent the most per metre I had all day; £6.  £6!!  I am sure that locally this fabric would be at least £12/m if not more.  The staff were so friendly and helpful too – I can’t recommend them enough!

As we went down the market we popped into another haberdashery where there was a wall just full of beads and sequins.  I only bought 2 bags of trouser hooks – each bag was £1.  I was starting to become completely overwhelmed by it all.  The number of trims was insane.  Pompom, braid, bias tapes, ribbons, diamante, beaded collars…

We then found the legend that is the Man Outside Sainsburys.  I bought a dress length of cotton lawn and also of an alleged silk blend.  I’m inclined to believe him as it has the most beautiful drape.  Being such a dork I didn’t even ask the price when I saw the silk – I just wanted it!  I was gobsmaked when he only charged me £5.50/m for it and £2/m for the lawn.  He also had a lovely drapey fabric with an enormous digital print of magnolia in black and white on it.  Quite frankly, a trip to Walthamstow is worth it for him, Saeed’s and the insanely cheap first shop and my favourite of the day The Textile Centre (the one with the green writing outside at the end of the market nearest the tube, hiding behind a stall selling saucepans of catering proportions).

22 March 8

It was mental how many people were in there.  It was still a pleasant experience though as the staff were doing all they could and apologising for the delay.  I came away with 3m each of an Ikat style knit in blue and purple and 4m of the same hummingbird border print knit that Karen used for her Coco.  These were all about £2/m!  They also had a sequin fabric at £5.50/m which I loved but had no idea what I’d do with.  I’ve seen a gown online though with a similar silhouette to BHL’s Anna that was a full on sequinned number so that is now haunting me.  Not that I’d have anywhere to make such a gown!  Whilst we were there we were told about their other store on Watney Market (Called Paul’s Fabrics) which is apparently twice the size…

Whilst we were there Dibs caught up with us and did some quick shopping herself before we all headed off to her home to make macaroons!  Which I’ll save for another post as this one is ridiculous already!!

Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Bat Shirt!

Seriously, it took me so long to work out how many Nah Nah’s there were in this title and I’m still not sure it’s right!  Anyway, behold the Bat Shirt!

Bat Shirt

Boy has got a serious Super Hero thing going on and this has lasted nearly a year!  His favourite hero is Batman, which I think is kinda cool as he told me it’s because he hasn’t got any super powers but is just really really clever and strong.  He has a point, although I’m sure the fact that Bruce Wayne is a billionaire or something probably helps!

This shirt was made back in January, but photographing a marauding four year old is hard!  I have no idea what he’s holding in that first photo – I think it might be an apple.  Or it could be a toy car – anyway he’s definitely not standing still!

The pattern is The Thomas Shirt pattern by Felicity Patterns.  It’s a PDF that cost less than £5 and I am so pleased with the result!  She states in the description that it’s a generous fit and she’s not wrong.  In the end I used the age 4 length and one of the skinniest cuts as Boy is not bulky – he’s like Husband and very lean.  Even so the shirt is a little big on him, but I hope that means we’ll get a year or so of wear out of it.

I followed the instructions that came with the pattern and didn’t make any changes – the yoke is a double one so the inside is all neatly finished in the same way Grainline’s Archer is.  There aren’t any flat felled seams but for a casual shirt like this I don’t have a problem with that.  The hem is just overlocked, turned up and stitched.  Not the neatest looking finish when you can see the guts but it’s plenty robust enough.  This shirt is in heavy rotation and is standing up to the consequential numerous trips in the washing machine just fine.

The fabric came from Plush Addict (who don’t seem to stock it any more) and this shirt came out of 1m.  The buttons came from eBay although I did make a bit of a mistake in that the shirt buttons up ‘girl’ style as the buttons are on his left hand side rather than the apparently correct for boys right hand side.  I wasn’t aware of this until Husband pointed it out.  Boy doesn’t care though – I’ll just try and get things the right way round when I make the next version with another Batman print!

7 Hours, 179.9Km & 5871Cal

Yep, goal 1 of my self imposed fitness challenge is complete!

Earnt Flora

As a result I have ordered Flora and I have already bought one length of fabric for her, have plans to mash her with Elisalex and Sewaholic’s Gabriola and also involve her in Sew Dolly Clackett.  Oh yes, I can NOT wait to get my hands on this pattern!  And it’s so much the sweeter for having worked for her.

For the next fortnight I’m working for Tilly’s Coco – not my usual aesthetic but the top length looks so fabulous on Oobop and I need some lovely solid coloured tops (working for this and filling a wardrobe hole?!).  I’m also planning a day in London which I am really really looking forward to.  I don’t often have a day out on my own (the last one being the Goldhawk Road meet up I went to last summer) and this time I plan to visit the legendary ‘Man Outside Sainsbury’s’ on Whalthamstow market and see what he has to offer.  I’m after fabric for Flora, Emery, Gabriola and Coco (and lets be honest, what ever catches my eye!!).

Bound Button Hole Practice

Also known as, damn – I’m very proud of myself!

You all know I was swapping out regular old button holes for the glitz and glam slightly couture bound buttonhole.  There is no way on this earth that I was going to hack holes in my gorgeous wool and cashmere blend fabric without testing this brand new to me technique out first.

I’ve had Karen’s Bound Buttonhole eBook since she launched it.  I bought it as it was a technique I wanted to try out ‘some day’ and because I love reading her blog and wanted to support her self-published effort.  Being completely frank, without that little eBook there is no way this would have turned out as beautifully as it has.  If you haven’t done so already, buy her book. It will stand you in excellent stead when you want to use this technique.

Bound Buttonholes 1

Because the Milano Cape pattern by Papercut isn’t designed with bound button holes in mind, there aren’t any markings to help other than where to make a button hole.  So I needed to determine the width of the button hole myself.  Using the notes in Karen’s book I measured the width and depth of my button and added a smidge to determine how wide it should be.  I included the shank in my measurements and I’m not sure that I should have done.  Anyone with more experience than my one button hole have any advice on this?!

Even though this was just a practice I carefully thread basted my lines after marking them with chalk to make things easier (and whilst I photographed that step I haven’t included it in my collages – doh!).  I did deviate from the prescribed welt size as I wanted something chunkier.  Instead of cutting them 2cm wide (making each lip 0.5cm) I cut them 4cm wide so that each lip was 1cm.  I like these proportions better.

Other than that, I did exactly as I was told and I am seriously happy with the outcome.  To say this practice run has increased my confidence by a billion miles is an understatement.  I now know that my buttons will fit, that the fabric presses beautifully (and smells like wet dog whilst doing so – wool, I do love you!) and that I can totally and utterly make eight of these bad boys in the real thing (eek!).

Bound Buttonholes 2

Little win, big happy!

I’ve also got to recommend the button covering service I used.  I posted the cheque, order form and fabric at 22:00 on a Tuesday night and when I came home on the THURSDAY they were on my doorstep!  It cost me £8.00 to have ten of these dual dome buttons made which to me is an absolute steal.  In short, if you’re in the UK and want the most beautifully covered fabric buttons then I can’t recommend www.buttoncovering.co.uk enough.

Next step in Mission Milano is pre-treat what feels like miles of wool/cashmere fabric which I’m too chicken to lob in the tumble dryer with a wet towel!  Anyone got any film or series recommendations that I can watch whilst I steam a mother load of fabric?!

And… Have you heard the By Hand London news? They’ve launched a kickstarter campaign to start printing fabric! I’ve made a pledge… It’d be great if you can help too. You all know that I have some serious love for those patterns (2 more rides and Flora is mine!).

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Working for Flora

So, I’m sure you are more than aware that By Hand London launched their latest pattern last week, the Flora dress.  Oh, my.  Isn’t she an absolute show stopper?!  I’ve loved seeing all the tester versions across some of my favourite blogs.  And seriously is there anyone on this planet who, if asked, would turn the BHL girls down?!  And having seen some of the care packages they sent out to their testers, wow!  The BHL girls know how to look after their pattern testers!

She has a fitted bodice and full skirt that I love, but with a twist.  I love the faux wrap top and whilst I have always, always been wary of a mullet hem, this dress has converted me and I want one NOW!  But, I’ve made myself a promise to get fit and as an incentive for each fortnight I complete my 30 minute bike workout, I can buy myself a present.  Flora is going to be my first present.  I’ll tell you this, it makes me want to get on that bike and work!

In in the interim (when I’m not telling myself, xx minutes until it goes to an easier resistance, or xx minutes to go) I’ve been dreaming about which fabric I’m going to make her in.  And then Amy, who blogs at Almond Rock,posted an Instagram picture of a fabric at Textile Express and I was sold. I’d never come across this retailer before but I know Amy has used them on a number of occasions so I jumped in and bought the fabric (and some floral jersey too – well if you’re paying £6 P&P you might as well get your money’s worth!).

d8_floral_navy

It’s just perfect, Navy, floral and a lawn.  It’s going to drape beautifully and I may be a little bit in love!

If you want any inspiration though, just look at Lizzy’s TWO versions (AM and Nightshade which is a knockout), Sonja’s vibrant beauty, Dixie’s classic interpretation, Roisin’s use of a fabulous print, Marie’s classic beauty, Fiona’s Pretty in Pink version, Lauren’s vibrant summer dress, Zoe’s chic monochrome number, Nette’s vibrant red dress and Emily who selflessly made the dress for her sister!  If these incredible pattern test versions don’t get you wanting to get behind your machine and make your own version in very short order, I don’t know what will!

Gather Kits: Mortmain

Hi y’all.  Sorry for the absence on Monday it has been a crazy couple of weeks and this weekend there was just no let up.  As a result I have been floored by a cold (yep, a simple cold) and sore throat.  My body is telling me I need to give myself a bit of time for some R&R!  Long story short, work is busy, my Husband’s self employed status is turning back to employee and director as of the 1 April as we’ve taken the decision to change his business into a Limited company.  His business is stupid busy, which means behind the scenes I’m busy!  We’ve recently put in for a number of jobs and been awarded the majority of them which makes me incredibly proud of him but also brings with it a fair degree of stress as these are all on a commercial level.  Pretty damn impressive for a one man band!  At the moment I’m working a minimum of 32hrs a week in my place of employment, working 10-20 hours on Husband’s business and being a Mum as well as trying to maintain a clean(ish) house with food in the cupboards!  How I’m not crazier than I am I have no idea…

Anyway, please forgive my less than glowing face and somewhat grumpy expression, I wasn’t feeling exactly glamorous when taking these, but you’re more interested in the dress than me, so what the heck!

Mortmain

Back in 2013 Gather Kits were looking for pattern testers for their first pattern ‘Mortmain’.  I stuck my hand in the air and was lucky enough to be picked!  This is actually my second version of the dress as the first one is now too big (wahoo!).  I made it using a teal plaid wool (I think, it was from the charity shop and presses like a wool!).  I did my usual FBA (please forgive the bust darts that look like they’re heinously placed – I’m wearing a different bra to the one I fitted this in) and sway back adjustment.  I also chose to fully line this rather than just use the facings and also swapped out the exposed zip for an invisible one (but I forgot to take back view photos – sorry!).

Because I chose to line the bodice with white cotton, I didn’t want to run the risk of this peeking out around the neck or armholes.  So I carefully pressed the edge of the facing under and edge stitched it to the lining.  I’m really pleased with how close I got the edge of the facing and how close to invisible it is!  To get a really good finish on the lining I followed this tutorial.  I then catch stitched the lining to the waist band of the skirt.  This enclosed where the skirt meets the waist band too.  I lined the skirt by duplicating the skirt pattern piece and creating the box pleats with both the outer and lining fabric.  I think I got the plaid lined up pretty well!  The lining was finished with my overlocker and I overlocked and pressed up the skirt hem before catch stitching it by hand.

Mortmain 2

I love working with plaid – it’s a challenge but when you get it right it’s really satisfying too.  You can also have fun with the direction so I cut the waist band on the bias and used some lightweight fusible interfacing to stop it stretching out.  It gives this work appropriate dress a little bit of a twist and some added interest.

This pattern is a great basic and the box pleated skirt manages to have a full hem that I love with out being too bulky around the waist.  The separate waist band nips you in and gives a lovely shape.  I used the instructions to insert the exposed zip on my first version and they work really really well giving a fabulous finish.  All in all I’d recommend this pattern and not just because I was lucky enough to test it!  It’s a great building block and with the sleeve options with their cute cuff detail it has so many possibilities!

Gratitude

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It’s ‘Sew Grateful‘ week again. A now annual event organised by Debbie over at My Happy Sewing Place. You’ve probably seen posts popping up in your reader all week with giveaways, tutorials and people using patterns they were gifted.

I’m not going to offer you a giveaway (having just held one) and I don’t have a tutorial to offer (I don’t feel qualified!). I haven’t got a pattern that someone gifted me sewn up and ready to share. What I do have is gratitude.

You know me, I’m honest to the point of TMI on this blog sometimes. You all know about the things that have gone right and wrong and some that have floored me and taken a while to pick myself up and dust myself down from. I’ve suffered from depression and the destruction, saddness, alienation and everything that goes with it. To quote the Blogess: “Depression Lies”. Remembering that is hard.

Thankfully I have things mostly on an even keel and have done for a little while now, but every so often I wobble. I’m human. To help combat the wobbles I’ve been keeping a record of things that I’m grateful for.
Now before you get completely weirded out by me (and I accept and love the fact that I’m a little bit weird!) can I ask that you keep reading for a little bit?

This week has been insane and intense for a number of reasons. Work, home, Husband’s business, slamming my hand in the door of the truck (who knew I could swear in multiple languages?!), thinking I was going to have to have my wedding ring cut off as a result of the swelling caused by that damn door… You get the picture. The thing that stopped me starting on a very slippery spiral was just reading back through those gratitudes I’d made a note of.

There were common themes to them which I hadn’t really picked up until I read them back. Family, Boy, Husband were all in there. The fact that I have a nice home and a reasonable income. The one that made me sit and think though was the kindness of people I have never met in real life.

Take Lizzy. I was in a funk on Monday morning but we had a chat on Twitter and she reassured me and virtually held my hand.

Then there’s Maddie. I got completely stuck with a pattern alteration regarding collar roll and reached out to her. In a short amount of time she gave me some starting points on Twitter and is going to provide me with further guidance and advice over the weekend.

Emmie came to my rescue when I was trying to source tailoring supplies and sent some of her own horse hair canvas for me to use. She wanted nothing in return.

Sonja made me laugh about slamming my hand in the truck door.

Some of these people are less than a hundred miles away, others are across the Atlantic or in the other hemisphere. I’ve only met one of them for a brief time in reality. But I’m proud to ‘know’ each and every one of them. I’m proud to ‘know’ each and every person I interact with through Twitter, Instagram and this blog (my social media outlets of choice).

Through sewing, a wonderful range of people and perspectives have entered my life and informed, educated, supported and shared with me not just sewing but their day to day lives. Sweary, I know you’re not into blogs, but you have opened my eyes to so many different things through Twitter.

I can’t think of any other more graphically diverse community that would hold a sewing competition in honour of the marriage of a member of that community. Sew Dolly Clackett is going to be immense? Unreal? I can’t find the right word. And the motivation is not blog views, sponsorship or any form of self gain or promotion. It’s purely because Sarah is across the Atlantic and wanted to do something for Roisin and Nic. Pure and simple.

The blogging, tweeting and instagraming that goes on in our community is so much more than ‘look what I made’. It’s a welcoming group of people with whom you can share life, love, laughter and tears with. That’s pretty damn special.

My gratitude to you guys is immense. I love helping you out when I can, lending an ear, pattern, opinion, support. Just being part of this community has enriched my life immeasurably. Thank you x