A serious problem…

Just a very quick post today so I can make a shameful confession.  I bought fabric!

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That’s right.  Less than one week since I vowed not to buy more fabric, I have done just that.  I have a very serious problem!

In my defence, it really was too good an offer to resist.  I found these in Simply Fabrics.  They have a bargain bin, which is full of bolt ends and cut offs priced at only a pound per metre!  I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across these.  I got two silky, floaty fabrics, which I’ll probably use to make a couple of tops, and this gorgeous textured black stuff, which will probably be used for a skirt.  And the best thing?  The whole lot only cost me £3.50!  Absolute bargain!

I’m a bit annoyed that, in my excitement, I didn’t think to ask the shop owner what fabrics I’d actually bought, so I have no idea what they’re made of or anything, but they all feel lovely.  Maybe I’ll go in next week and ask.  Or maybe I won’t because that could be dangerous haha!

I popped into Simply Fabrics to ‘have a look’ around – all good intentions, honestly.  I’d been at a really exciting ‘Pattern Hack’ workshop at the Centre Front Studio, which is just across the road.  It was a ‘Copy Your Clothes’ workshop, so we got to take along clothes that we like the fit/style of and draft a pattern so we can recreate them.  How cool is that?  I learned a lot and came away with a new dress pattern, taken from a dress I love that has been getting more and more worn out.  It’s two half days, so I get to do it again on Saturday 🙂  It’s great fun!  I’ll write a post about it when I’ve had my second session and let you know which garments I’ve taken patterns from.

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My stash and sewing to do list

I’m making a sewing resolution – no more fabric!  Not until I’ve made some stuff.  This resolution came to me in A. Boeken, an amazing fabric shop I found while I was in Amsterdam last weekend.  This place is brilliant – I wish it was around the corner.  It has everything you could ever need – every fabric you can think of, as well as buttons, fastenings, all the notions, and even yarns.  However, I was quite uneasy to realise I couldn’t really buy any fabric because my stash is getting too out of control.  As much as I’d love to have a ginormous fabric stash at my disposal, I do have limited storage space so I can’t let it build up too much.  I made a split decision in the shop that I have quite enough fabric to be getting along with for now.  How sensible of me 🙂  From now on, it’ll be a ‘one out, one in’ approach – I’m only going to allow myself to buy new fabric once I’ve made something.  I need to get my stash down so that next time I happen upon a good fabric shop I can buy something.

For motivation, I thought it would be a good idea to make a sewing to do list.  Who doesn’t love a ticky box list?  So here’s a peak at what’s in my stash and what I’m hoping to make with it all.

These three are miraculously still leftover from my Plush Addict haul.  I’m hoping to use the striped jersey to make Coco dress, from Tilly and the Buttons.  I started a toile for this, but haven’t done anything with the dress yet, because I really like Coco and I want to make sure the fit is right.  The toile I’m making is the top version of Coco, so I’m going to get the fit right on that before I start on the dress.  The red faux silk is being saved for a Mathilde top, also from Tilly.  I chose a faux silk for ease of washing.  And I’m currently partway through turning the polka dot chiffon into the simple tee from the second Great British Sewing Bee book, Sew Your Own Wardrobe.  Here’s the thing with chiffon: not easy to cut at all!  By the time I’d gone through the stress of cutting the fabric pieces – and there are only two pattern pieces! – I just couldn’t face doing anything else with it.  It sat in a corner waiting for attention for a couple of months, before I finally plucked up the courage to do the shoulder and side seams, and now it just needs some bias binding around the neckline, armholes and hem.

What else have I added to my stash since then?  Well, first of all, I have these floral lovelies.

I love floral prints.  I got this blue Rose and Hubble fabric off eBay in the end.  A lady I’ve been following on Twitter, Claire Mason, shared a picture of her pussy bow Mimi Blouse, from Tilly Walnes’ Love at First Stitch, and I instantly fell in love with it.  It turned out she’d got the fabric a while back, so I hopped on to eBay to see if I could find some.  Success!  And, quite shamelessly, I’m going to make exactly the same garment [insert name here] did.  The grey Sevenberry Daisy cotton lawn is from Guthrie and Ghani.  I plan to make the simple sleeveless top from Lauren Guthrie’s book, Learn to Sew with Lauren.  I’ve had the book for a while, so it’s about time I made something from it.

Next up, some garments that will take me back to childhood.

This Alice in Wonderland fabric is from Liberty, so it was a treat.  I think the print is called Gallymoggers Reynard, and it’s to mark the 150th anniversary of the book.  I got this from Alice Caroline before I had any idea what I was going to make from it, I just loved it that much.  At first I thought it was so nice that I wanted to make something fancier out of it, but then I changed my mind – it’s so lovely that I want to make something I can wear all the time.  I think I’m going to make another Quilting Bee dress out of it.  I’ve done some measuring up and I think that will leave me with over a metre of fabric to make something else with, maybe a top or a simple skirt.  I got this Merry Cloth Fairy Tales fabric from the Village Haberdashery.  Isn’t it lovely?  It’s a cotton linen blend, which probably means it’s going to be a terribly prone to creasing, which is a shame.  I don’t care – I love the print so much, and hopefully the front will remain less crumpled.  Or I’ll just wear it to events where I can just stand in a corner not really doing a great deal.  I think I’m going to make a dress with a fitted bodice and a gathered skirt from this.  There might be some pattern matching involved, which will be interesting.  The red, purple and blue cottons are from my local fabric shop, Dainty Supplies.  These are going to be used to recreate Pam Ferris’ Peter Pan skirt from Children in Need’s Great British Sewing Bee.  All I need to do is come up with an idea for how to get the London skyline onto the bottom.  I think she used felt on the show, but I’m not sure that will wash well so I’m wracking my brains for other ideas.  You’re probably picking up on a definite theme here – I love fairy tales and children’s books.

And finally…

The denim is what remains from my first ever skirt and, as I mentioned in my Baggy Trousers post, I’m hoping to hack Colette’s Juniper pattern to make some shorts for my holiday.  I want to use the red cotton drill (from Plush Addict) to make a Miette skirt, also a Tilly pattern.  I’ve traced off the pattern for this, but nothing else yet.  The blue and white cotton is a fat quarter that came free with an issue of Love Sewing magazine.  I’m going to use this trial a pair of espadrilles!  How exiciting!  I mean, making your own shoes?  On a budget?  What a discovery!  I got the Prym soles from Guthrie and Ghani, and now I just need to invest in some extra strong thread of some description.  These would also be ideal to take on holiday with me.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I could scrabble together seven handmade items to take away with me?  One for each day we’re away.  Oh, my goodness – did I just make another little resolution there?  🙂

Anyway, that’s my stash 🙂  I really do need to start working through all of it, as I have a few too many projects to work on.  And that’s not including the alteration projects I have planned (remember the kilt?) or all the leftovers I have left from previous projects.  I’m hoping to make my espadrilles, my shorts and a top or two first.  I’ve made a few dresses and skirts now, but no tops – I’m feeling the need to balance it out a bit.  Plus, it would be nice to have a top to take on holiday to wear with my shorts.

Of course, fellow crafters will understand that all these plans are subject to much change.  Must.  Have.  Willpower.  😉

Quick question: am I still allowed to buy patterns and books even if I’m not buying fabric?

Baggy trousers

I said when I started this blog that I would share with you my triumphs and failures.  Well, true to my word I’m posting about these trousers – my least favourite project yet.

The pitfalls were nothing to do with the pattern – I managed to follow it with much less help than expected.  I used Colette’s Juniper pattern, which I’m sure would make a lovely pair of trousers if you don’t make the same mistakes I did, as follows.

1. Trying to make a pair of trousers, simple or not, before you’re really ready.

In a class of about 12 people, I think only two of us have gone on to finish a pair of trousers.  The class started in May last year, and we started making our trousers in October.  I finally finished mine just a few weeks ago – not just because I’d grossly overestimated my sewing abilities, but also because it became quite clear partway through that I was never going to wear them.  It’s hard to stay motivated with a project when you’ve got that eventuality looming over you.

2. Choosing the wrong fabric.

This fabric, from 1st for Fabrics, wouldn’t be too outrageous if it were used for a skirt or a different style of trouser.  However, the red corduroy combined with the (very) wide legged trouser has resulted in an almost comically 70s pair of pants.  If I were to make another pair I would choose a much more muted fabric.  I’m just not sure what my thought process was when I go this fabric.

3. Deciding the trousers fit, when they really don’t.

I didn’t really realise until I’d practically finished the entire pair of pants, but they are just too big for me.  Next time, I’ll go down an entire size and possibly make the legs a little narrower as well.  I have tiny feet (UK size 3), which get completely engulfed by the trouser bottoms – it would only be a matter of time before I fell over and broke a bone.

4. Last, but not least, storming through what remains of the project just so you can say you’re finished.

For months, all I needed to do on these was finish the waistband with stitch in the ditch and hem the bottoms.  They sat in a corner for months before I plucked up the courage to do those two simple things.  I thought, ‘I’ll just quickly finish these and then I can at least say I’ve made a pair of trousers.’  I rushed through it, and consequently, I’m just not happy with the finish.  The waistband is a bit wobbly and my hemming isn’t very neat.  Lesson learnt.

So, there you have it.  I made a pair of trousers.  It took me over six months, but they’re done.  And even though I’m never going to wear them, for all the aforementioned reasons, I’m still proud of myself for not giving up.  I may, at some point, if I can ever bear to pick them up again, attempt to turn them into a skirt of some kind.  There’s so much excess fabric in the legs, so there must be something I can do to make a wearable garment.

I am going to have another go at Juniper – a small hack to try to make a pair of denim shorts for my holiday later this year.  I don’t know about you, but I can never find shorts in the right length.  They’re either too short or too long.  I think I have enough denim left from my very first skirt, so it’ll be a good stash-busting project.

Quilting Bee Dress and Me Made May envy

Wanna make the easiest dress in the world?  Silly question!

This dress is the easiest thing I’ve ever made, by a long way.  There aren’t a million pieces to fit together.  No darts, no shaping.  It has a front and a back, a bit of bias binding, and all the shaping comes from a drawstring.  I made this in an afternoon.  I’ve never made anything in an afternoon before!  So quick and easy – perfect!  😀

I used the Michael Miller Marbles Cotton from my Plush Addict haul a few months ago.  I’m finally getting through that large pile of fabric.

The most time-consuming part for me was making the drawstring, which, in a fit of complete madness, I decided to sew by hand.  It took hours!  Hand sewing is a lengthy business.  In fact, I lied a little bit when I said I made this dress in an afternoon – I had actually prepared the drawstring a few days before.  I’m still fairly certain you could make this in a day though, especially if you’re good at hand stitching.  Plus, you could always ditch making your drawstring by hand if you can persuade it to go through your machine.  Or you could buy a bit of ribbon or cord.  I used pre-cut bias binding for mine, which I pressed into place and then slip stitched the two sides together.  I don’t actually know whether I was slip stitching.  I just think that’s what it’s called.  You could even swap the drawstring for elastic or a bit of shirring easily enough, I assume, if you’d prefer.

What is the pattern? I hear you ask.  😉  It’s called the Quilting Bee Dress.  I got my pattern as a free download with a special issue of Mollie Makes last year.  It was called Mollie Makes Sewing.  I can’t remember exactly when I got it, but it may not available anymore (it says Spring 2014 on the front cover).  However, the pattern is also available in the book Just For You, by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield.  I don’t have the book, but it looks like it contains some nice patterns.

There’s just one little snag – no pockets!  What was I thinking?  I must have been concentrating so much that I completely forgot to add pockets.  Oh, well.  I’ll definitely use this pattern again so I can add pockets next time.  🙂

I can’t write this post without giving a little shout out to everyone who participated in Me Made May, created by Zoe from So, Zo… What do you know?  I don’t know about anyone else, but I have developed some major Me Made May envy over the past few weeks!  I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts about it, and I was so jealous that I wasn’t able to participate myself.  I mean, I could have, but I would have had to get a lot of wear out of about five garments.  So, I’m pledging here and now that I will take part in Me Made May next year.  I will have enough handmades to join in by then, I will.

Before I sign off, let me show you this super-cute fairy tales fabric I’ve ordered from the Village Haberdashery!  How lovely  🙂  I love anything to do with fairy tales.