Of Clouds and Silver Linings


In some ways this week has been a success, but in others an epic fail!

The not so great stuff:

Husband has been suffering a bit from depression due to lack of work, which affected me causing me to lose the plot at my place of employment on Wednesday.  Tears and sniffling in the middle of the office is not the normal me!  Husband is a plumber and heating engineer and the early part of every year is always slow work wise, not just for him but for the whole sector.  However he is not good at doing nothing and when given too much time to think he gets tunnel vision and starts to spiral and its very hard to pull him out of it.  I try and support him but its quite tough sometimes, particularly when I’m dealing with the effects of…

My medication being doubled.  Hello insomnia, nausea and generally feeling rubbish until I become accustomed to the higher dose!

Then to top it all I managed to infect my work laptop with such an evil virus (and I have no idea where it came from) that it had to be wiped and re-built.  So I didn’t manage to do anything productive until about 2pm yesterday.  I feel so guilty about it even though I can’t think where I’d been online that would have had such a nasty file.  Ack.

But on the flip side there’s the good stuff!

I’ve found a way to give Husband some control over the work situation.  One of which is to finally sort a website out for him so I’ve made an appointment to go and see a hosting and design company next week to see about getting a site made.  He’s also been contacted to do some short notice work and to quote for some jobs so I hope his mood is lifting…

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Thursday night I went to the theatre to see the touring production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  I enjoyed it, although for me the characters of Paulette and Kyle stole the show – probably because they provide the comedy and I was in need of some laughter!  The portrayal of Elle Woods was more annoying to me than Reese Witherspoon’s in the film although I warmed to it much more in the second half.  And no, I hadn’t been drinking!

I also wore a me made outfit – my Beignet and Sencha.  Both now need altering though as I’ve lost over 9lb since the start of the year.  The Sencha should be quite straight forward but the Beignet is going to take some thinking about and will probably involve removing the facing at the waistband and then nipping in at each seam…

And finally I finished two items this week!  My Taffy Jasmine and my Minoru!  I’m really pleased with both and will try and get some pictures to bore you all silly with next week if the sun ever appears today…

Colette Sewing Handbook Pattern: Meringue

So all I have to do now is decide what to make next…  I think a work appropriate Meringue is a strong contender as is a Renfrew.  If anyone has any tips for cleaning and caring for wool garments I’d love to hear them!

Wool Plaid from Annabelle

I also plan to get out my Renfrew pattern and do a FBA so that I can make one or two of those as well!  Would you like me to photograph the steps I’ve worked out for a dart less FBA on this top for a tutorial?  Lauren uses the technique of grading from one size to another, but as I start at the top end of the size chart that’s not an option for me.  Let me know in the comments…

PS – don’t forget to enter my give away here

Gratuitous Button Pictures

I knew I should have taken some photos of these when I photographed the skirt!  So here you are, as requested, detailed button pictures…

7 of 12

These buttons were a bit of a find on eBay.  They’re vintage, but old new stock.  So they’re old but they’ve never been used.  It seems that they were destined to be used with this fabric as they match in colour so perfectly.  They cost me £0.99 + £1.20 for fourteen of them, so I’ve got two spare.  They’re the reason why it looks like my skirt is buttoned with giant Polo mints in the pictures!

Up Close and Buttoned

I hope the last of the chalk washes out when its laundered as a finished garment for the  first time!  Out of curiosity, do any of you wash a finished item before its inaugural outing, or do you finish it, wear it and then wash it?

Finished Beignet

I’ve finally finished my Beignet!  I sewed the buttons on last night whilst Mr watched the Gadget Show.

Facing, lining and a glimpse of pocket...

So, here we have the facing, lining and a glimpse of the pocket in the side seam.  I love these colours!

Needs a belt!

And here’s me with poor lighting with my hands in said pockets.  Please excuse the creasing around the waist – its not that its tight.  In fact I could have gone down a size at the waist, (I cut an 18 at the waist and 16 at the hips) it’s just that the corduroy seems to crease like nobodies business!

Beignet no hands in pockets
Hands out of pockets

Much smoother lines when I haven’t got my hands stuffed in the pockets.  Is it me or are the pockets quite a way back on this pattern?  The side seams are literally down my sides and I do think I prefer my pockets slightly further forward…

Ooh, the flash worked!

Yep, definitely needs a belt of some sorts…  I haven’t sewn the belt loops on yet as I don’t want to limit what size belt to use with this skirt.  I know many will just put a belt over them, but I’ve already got a non existent waist (although beignet suggests that I might, it lies) so I don’t want to add any more bulk there.

For MkII I think I may taper the lower sides so that the hem is narrower – I think it’ll give the illusion of more curves?

So, would I make it again?  Very definitely yes!  I’m thinking that mkII will be the original planned Navy, with bound button holes but a size smaller (there’s a LOT of ease at the waist) and with the tapered silhouette I mentioned.

The easiest bit?  The general construction of the outer shell fabric.
The hardest bit?  The curve where the facing meets the lining.  I had to go slow and steady and baste the two together as using pins was disastrous and led to it being ripped out, re-pinned, hand basted and then sewn.  Which worked!
The scariest bit?  Twelve buttonholes!  Practice helped, and then when ripping them using fray check on both sides before I cut them open, and using pins before each bar-tack as a buffer for the seam ripper.

All in I’m very happy with the skirt!  The model could do with some improvement (and I’m not fishing for compliments there, its just a statement of fact) but I like that this skirt suggests that I have some sort of waist!

Feel the Fear and Sew

Thanks for all the help and advice about button holes!  I read through the links, and did some practices using various different techniques.  The one that gave me the best and most consistent results was the use of tracing paper!

See, an uncut button hole with loose threads and chalk marks!  I got nine of the twelve done last night and then ran out of thread.  So today me and boy made a quick shopping trip to get more thread and I also picked up some fray stop stuff as when I cut open the practice button holes the fabric was a bit unstable (is that the right way to describe it?!)

So three more button holes to go, then it’s time to get busy with the seam ripper and pins – to make sure that you don’t go slicing though the bar tack at the end of your buttonhole!

As you can see from this picture, the further up the skirt, the better the button holes get.  I’ll need to do some re-enforcing zig-zag on some of the lower ones as I ‘helped’ the feed-dogs do their work a little too much when these were being sewn.  I haven’t done it yet though as I don’t want to try and re-set the machine and then be unable to get the last three button holes to match.

I’ve now typed button holes way too many times in the last couple of blog posts, I’m sure I’ll use the words again in the next one, but for now that’s it!  Don’t forget to enter my birthday giveaway which closes in just over two days time.  I can’t believe the response it’s received and I’m looking forward to drawing the names on Friday night or Saturday morning…

Twelve Buttonholes…

Image from Colette Patterns

Can you tell that I’m at THAT stage of my Beignet?!

I’ve muslined / toiled and adjusted fit.  I’ve pre washed and cut fabric.  I’ve sewn, pressed, clipped, notched and finished seams.  I’ve cut and sewn (then re-cut and sewn again part of) the lining and hemmed it.  I’ve interfaced and sewn the facing.  I’ve attached lining to facing round very curvy seam lines, with the aid of hand basting, clipping and notching.  I’ve even sewn the facing and lining combo to the shell of the skirt.

And now I’m looking at twelve, TWELVE! button holes which will take front and centre stage on this skirt.  And suddenly I’m a little bit scared…

So, I’m going to do a load of test runs to make sure my machine is set up perfectly.  Then I’m going to measure and mark, and measure to check and then check again just in case…  Then I’ll have to commit and go for it.  I think I’ll still be a little bit scared though.

Anyone got any tips on buttonholes?  Particularly on corduroy…

Hurrah! And Botheration.

Well, it’s lots more HURRAH and only a little bit of botheration really.  With lots of exclamation marks and smiley faces and happy little jigs.

Ah, yes.  It’d help if I told you what this was all about!

I had traced my beignet pattern and graded it as per my measurements from a couple of weeks ago.  Well tonight I finally got round to making up a muslin of the skirt and dang me if it isn’t too big!  And too big pretty much everywhere too! See – told you it was all about HURRAHs!

So I re-did my measurements and safe to say they are definitely smaller than what they were.  Even after eating dinner.  So I now need to do another muslin (hence the botheration) on a straight tracing of the pattern – no alterations should be required…  So I now need to un-alter my traced pattern, pull apart my muslin, re-cut it and re-sew it.

You never know, I might actually then be able to cut my skirt out of the fashion fabric!

Some Progress

Last weekend I didn’t achieve a lot of what I wanted to achieve sewing wise.  And this week it’s been a bit hectic, what with one thing and another.  But the weekend has been a little calmer, and a little more productive!

Just in case the weekend was busy (when aren’t they?!) I planned my tasks in stages.  So rather than saying that I wanted to hem my circle skirt I broke it down.  It means that I’ve actually crossed off some of my ‘to do’ list!

So, for my reference (and probably to bore you!) here’s what my list looked like on Sunday night:

Trace pattern
Grade waist by slash and spread
Cut muslin pieces
Sew muslin
Fit muslin

Pin mark hem
Baste lining to shell along hem line
Trim hem to 1/2″ below hem line
Attach horse hair braid (HHB) following Gertie’s tutorial
Bind ends of HHB
Press and shape hem
Hand stitch HHB to lining fabric

Prepare purse pattern pieces
Order lining fabric
Interface shell fabric
Cut shell fabric
Cut fleece padding 

Hem my sister’s shorts

Sew Pendrell started last weekend

Once again, now that I’ve looked at it properly that is an insanely ambitious list!  But I got a reasonable amount of it done, which is brilliant!  My priorities were the circle skirt, but that has stalled as I need someone to help me pin mark the hem and Husband refuses point blank to help in that regard.  So I need to wait until I get to see my sister to get that stage done.  We were going to do it Friday evening but Boy was violently ill (I’ll leave it at that – it was spectacular!) so it immediately fell to the bottom of the priorities list.  I was also supposed to do her shorts for her trip to Cornwall that evening, and they weren’t done either!  Hopefully it’ll all be done for Friday so I can email Casey with the details as she’s planning a round up post!

Plum Sakura Fabric
Turquoise Bird Fabric
Tiny Anchor Fabric

The other priority was the purse pattern and fabric cutting etc.  The first three fabrics above have been cut.  Each fat quarter is enough to make two of these purses, although as yet I’ve only cut one of each.  A bit of production line sewing will be coming up once I’ve finished my circle skirt and Pendrell.  I may tackle these before I launch into my Beignet proper.  Please click on the photos of the fabric to visit the shops of the lovely Etsy seller’s who I bought the fabric from.

The Beignet was progressed whilst Merlin was on the telly on Saturday night.  It also meant I was with Husband as well.  He’s always bemused that I trace a pattern.  I’ve got as far as grading the flat pattern and cutting the muslin, but I’ve yet to sew any of it.

So all in, quite a productive weekend whilst still being able to enjoy time as a family and the beautiful but very unseasonable weather.  And if you have any thoughts you could share on this post, I’d be really grateful!

Beignet Plotting – Facing Fabric Found!

Do you remember the fabric and buttons I showed you earlier?  The one’s that I plan to use for my Beignet.  I was pondering what fabric to use for the facings, as I thought my moleskin would be too thick.

Fabric for the facings

Well look at this!  I found it whilst mooching on Etsy, having been distracted from lingerie patterns.  Oh, and I was looking at lingerie patterns because of A Few Threads Loose’s proposed lingerie sewalong.

Isn’t it amazing?  I count three of my palette colours in there too – the gold, teal and chocolate brown.  I think it will look fabulous against the navy moleskin and navy lining fabric.  A real blam of colour that will only be hinted at, but I’ll know.  A zing of summer in an autumn and winter skirt.  Besides, I’m not brave enough to use a print this mad as a fashion fabric, but it’ll be a fun detail.  What do you reckon?

This evening I hope to start the hem on my circle skirt.  I say start as it’ll be a multi stage event:  attaching the horse hair braid then the actual hemming its self.  Which will have to be done by hand as I don’t want it to go through to the plaid.  I don’t want to work out the circumference of the skirt at the hem.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be about 4 metres / 4.5 yards.  Of hand catch stitching.

So I’ll probably break it up and do the horse hair braid tonight, then allow myself the distraction of sewing some of my Pendrell (which was planned for yesterday but didn’t happen), then do the hand stitching on Friday evening.  At least that way if it takes me hours I don’t have to get up for work the next day!

Oh, and I have begun scheming for a giveaway at the end of November when I’m (gulp) 30.  I hope you’ll love it…

The Plans of an Ambitious Seamstress, Wife and Mother Will Often go Awry!

I had such plans for this weekend, sewing wise.  And I achieved very little of it.  Here’s what I was planning to do:

Pre-wash satin butterfly fabric for Pendrell blouse
Fine tune the Pendrell pattern after making adjustments to the muslin I made an eon ago
Cut out Pendrell x 2 for a bit of production line sewing
Grade Beignet pattern
Pre-wash Beignet fabric
Choose a fabric for the facing as the main fabric is quite heavy / thick and pre-wash that
Attach waist to circle skirt

Nothing huge, just lots of little bits.  It didn’t get done as we went out for the day on Saturday to Bewilderwood which is local to us and great for the boy, and then yesterday was catching up with the housework followed by being in bed at 7:30pm.  I’m so rock n’ roll!

The only thing I did manage was pre-washing the butterfly satin fabric.  At about 5pm last night.  I’m not sure what the fabric is made from, although I suspect cotton or cotton/rayon.  It went through on a 40′ wash and has survived, anyway!

Really dark blue fabric and teal buttons for Beignet

And I’ve managed to get the main fabric into the washing machine this morning for Beignet.  I think its a fabric called moleskin, it’s cotton (well it said pre-wash as per cotton on it, it was from  the sample rail at my local fabric store) and has a brushed look to it.  Clare Schaeffer’s fabric sewing guide doesn’t provide a lot of information on it other than referring you to the velvet section?!

The buttons are from my stash and are a dark teal colour.  Do you think this will work or should I invest in some navy ones?  I’ll line it in navy, but fancy a contrast for the facings, in a lighter weight fabric.  Is that living a little too dangerously, or if I go for a dark teal would that work?  Also, I’m considering bound buttonholes – have I totally lost the plot?!  It’d be a good workout for the buttonhole tool…  Anyone who’s already made this pattern have any words of wisdom?

Anyway, this evening I hope to get the waistband onto my circle skirt so that I can leave it to hang for a couple of days (to let the bias in the fabric to settle down) before I embark on the epic amount of sewing that will be involved in the hem!  And whilst it hangs I may be able to get on with some of the things I didn’t get round to this weekend?