More haste, more disappointment

Yet again I have rushed work for myself – with predictable results.

I had a mad busy February, with almost all of my time taken up with two long standing clients with big orders. I couldn’t have predicted this – and my decision to reduce work (mainly by not taking new people, and pulling my telephone listing so I am harder to find!) could have made no difference to this situation. I love working for both these people so I just had to get stuck in.

I had planned to make myself a few new things before going on holiday to Lanzarote a couple of weeks ago. I even bought the fabric well in advance to ensure I was all sorted. And then I ran out of time and rushed the job. Rats. The Management has pointed out that no-one but me gets such poor service, and that I would never rush a clients order the way I do my own work. I know he is absolutely right. Welcome to the world of the professional dressmaker.

Anyway, the sorry details.

First up is a pair of leggings in white scuba lycra. Intended always to be worn with long t-shirts/tunics I thought they would be a great advantage to a holiday wardrobe.  This was lovely, thick, opaque, lycra fabric – there is no way I would have considered leggings in white if it hadn’t been so nice. I realised it didn’t have quite as much stretch as the other fabrics I had made my pattern up with so I added a quarter inch onto the side seams. ‘What about along the length?’ I hear you say. Yup, that was the problem. They fit OK across the width but they could do with a bit more body length. And I always intended them to be above the ankle. Honest. Wearable, but only just. No photos as I couldn’t bear to show such a scew up.

Odd looking on Bessie, sorry.

Odd looking on Bessie, sorry.

A bit lumpy over the tum.

Next was that wonderful Vena Cava dress I made before. It was such an amazing dress even made up in such tatty fabric that I was delighted with the scuba lycra I got that looked almost like a cloque. And it is orange! You all know I  can’t pass up orange fabric by now. It didn’t seem very thick, handled beautifully, and sewed up in a flash. Perhaps I should have stood back a bit off the pedal and tried this on a couple of times before sealing it up. Again, the lycra clearly didn’t stretch quite as much, and the fabric was a bit thick to be persuaded into all of those tucks over my tummy. I still like the dress, and can (and will) wear it – but it would look better if I lost a few pounds. Again, no photos of me but I persuaded Bessie into the dress.

There is no-one to blame but myself for these flops, and whilst I might seem as though I am having a whinge (and I suppose I am a bit) I have fessed up to this so that anyone else thinking that they have fouled up because of lack of experience can see that even someone who should really know better can do it if they don’t give things enough attention. I am determined that the next project gets full attention, and I can finish something I will be proud to wear.

Stone tower

Stone tower

To finish, a nice picture of a tower of stones which were all over the water front in Playa Blanca where we were staying on Lanzarote. Anyone know why they do this?

 


Jungle January

jj2

I know I am late! Please don’t slam the gate to the water hole Anne – my zebras are here! I have watched in awe in previous years at other peoples garments made with animal print fabrics for Anne at Pretty Grievances ‘Jungle January’ and thought this was the year I really ought to take part. Fabric bought in December, although I did but the second fabric only a couple of weeks ago, and pattern at the ready so I thought this would be done early January. Humph. Anyhoo, I bring you…..(mental drum roll)

Jungle January - Zebra dazzle

Jungle January – Zebra dazzle

Jungle January - Zebra dazzle. And our local 'big cat' Boot.

Jungle January – Zebra dazzle. And our local ‘big cat’ Boot.

Zebra dazzle! Yes, this is one of those fabulous Funkifabric offerings. Just after I ordered the fabric for my daughter they announced a 20% off sale. Who could resist? I ordered more but that isn’t Jungly. The leggings pattern was made from the Kristina Shin book (post here), but I decided to add the back zippered pocket which is so useful in RTW running leggings.

The pattern alteration involved drawing the pocket shape in the back piece (don’t forget the elastic turn depth to guide how deep you want the pocket) and tracing this off using the CB seam as a straight of grain guide. By straightening the top of the pocket I ended up with about 4cm extra back length which didn’t worry me as I had felt I needed a bit more there anyway. Cut two pocket pieces and fit the zipper into a letterbox shaped hole (Edited to clarify – think bound buttonhole so you press back the fabric to make a rectangular hole).I drew the rectangle onto the fabric with the wonderful Frixion pen.

Draw the pocket shape on the back piece.

Draw the pocket shape on the back piece.

Layout with pocket - just fits 1metre of fabric!

Layout with pocket – just fits 1metre of fabric!

You could use a cotton or something to support the area whilst you sew in the zip but I found it went in pretty easily just as it was. I sewed both pockets together, with the underneath fabric right side up so it is still pretty when you open the pocket, before sewing it into the ‘hole’ in the back left when the CB seam is sewn together. It doesn’t look as though it will fit but it goes in well with the stretch in the fabric – you could put a few balance points on the pattern pieces to help but I just had CB. Almost all of the construction was done with 4 thread overlocker, but I used a 3 step zig zag to anchor seams where I wanted to prevent rubbing. Another fairly quick and easy make.

I plan to debut these at Parkrun in the hope that they will make me run like a zebra rather than the asthmatic donkey I usually resemble.

Jungle jammies fabric - not sure where whales fit into the jungle

Jungle jammies fabric – not sure where whales fit into the jungle

Very comfortable for bedtime reading

Very comfortable for bedtime reading

My second offering is another TNT pattern (First shown here). I felt I needed new PJs and when I was in Birmingham I found this glorious brushed cotton. I’m not sure where the whales fit with the jungle animals but I thought it was so good I wasn’t splitting hairs! The pattern is known to be comfortable, has pockets for you bedtime snacks, and buttons on the front to help orientate when really tired.

Phew! I made it. Just in before the gate slams for another year. There have been some fabulous offerings already this year – and some people have made loads (yes Ruth, that would be you!). If you are new to the jungle go check them out. Just make sure you are very quiet…….


BP (or Before Pinterest)

Whilst I was sorting photographs after Christmas I found a batch from a visit we made to Hughenden, a National Trust house that was once lived in by Benjamin Disraeli, way back in September. It was a lovely place to visit but on the way round I found a copy of a scrap book made by Mrs Disraeli in which she plans her wardrobe. Clearly the idea that ladies in the public eye have to make a particular effort is not a new one!

Mrs Disraelis scrapbook

Mrs Disraelis scrapbook

Pictures had fabric scraps for reference

Pictures had fabric scraps for reference

Lots of pictures and notes

Lots of pictures and notes

This one please!

This one please!

 

Because this book was a copy I was able to spend quite some time looking through it. I enjoyed being able to read the notes (presumably copied from an original) which gave an insight on how it must have been to have lived then, and also to have been a person of note. Or at very least a person of notes wife.

I have just joined Pinterest and am intending to make much use of the facility this year. Just imagine how useful it would have been to Mary Anne Disraeli!

 


2014’s hand made Christmas gifts

This house believes

A bit late I know but I can now show you what I made for my friends and family for Christmas.

Damson gin!

Damson gin!

Bottled and ready to go.

Bottled and ready to go.

I started months ago with an unreasonable amount of damsons given to me by a friend. At the end of an hour pricking them (that bodkin will never be the same again!) they were all popped into a demi-john, covered in gin and left to soak for a considerable time to flavour the gin. I probably took longer than was necessary to decide when I had put enough sugar in to sweeten the gin but I can confirm that it tastes great. Not one to waste food (and those damsons sure seemed too good to waste even though they tasted terrible as they were) I also made jam with the strained fruit which tastes wonderful – but I forgot to get any photographs. As you can imagine from the bottle label the jam had ‘Eat Me’ instead but looked very similar! I am told that the gin has now been drunk but that the jam may last a little longer. Opinion is divided as to whether it is ‘Drunken Damson’ or ‘Boozy Breakfast’ jam. If anyone wants the recipe I used let me know.

Granny's Cardigan

Granny’s Cardigan

Continuing my knitting for pleasure around client sewing I was able to knit this cardigan for my delightful mother-in-law. This is The Cosmopolitan Cardigan from Vogue Knitting. It was knitted in a lovely thick, soft yarn called Elegance. I had made this model for my MIL before so I knew it was a hit and would fit. Thankfully I was right – and she loves the colours. It isn’t clear from the photograph but there is a tiny metallic twinkle in the yarn.

Gryffindor hat

Gryffindor hat and sweater – bear sized

Gryffindor hat

Gryffindor hat

Following that, Jess made a request months ago for a Gryffindor hat. Once again I went to Ravelry and used the St Mungo’s simple hat and added the necessary stripes. Now, many (many, many) years ago Jess was given a lovely snow white teddy bear for Christmas. He is now fairly aged, a bit grey, and somewhat slimmer due to lots of hugs – but still very much loved and I knew that  he would also look really spiffy in his new hat and sweater set.

PJ's for The Management

PJ’s for The Management

Despite having to use the sewing machine (and not getting paid at the end!) I knew that The Management would appreciate a new pair of PJ’s. Self drafted pattern already tucked away (TNT now), fabric in stash – sadly not silly this time!- so a good afternoons project. I can confirm that they have been worn and declared a success.

At the beginning of December I received a tweet with this picture saying this would make the DREAM leggings. Brilliant – except that this is just a picture – not a link to some fabric she had found. Supermum into action.

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Find this fabric!

 

 

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Plain blue supplex, and the space leggings!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She had a happy face – but no make-up and hair not done so….

You can’t get a tweet like that and not act on it. After some time searching the internet I remembered that Melissa and Winnie had both used and recommended Funkifabrics. If you are going to click on that link can I suggest that you make yourself a drink and get settled for a long time – there are a gazillion wonderful patterns which are printed to order. I panicked a bit when the fabric arrived as it had a large plain white border and I was concerned that I hadn’t taken that into account when I ordered. Panic unnecessary – the patterned section = the size ordered. Magnificent. She was pleased – I think that was what the scream when she opened them meant.

All in all I think that was a very successful Christmas – even more so as we were able to spend the morning (after a walk in the Wyre Forest) on our balcony in the sunshine with a bucks fizz and a mug of tea.

Merry Christmas from the wine balcony !(Bewdley branch)

Merry Christmas from the wine balcony !(Bewdley branch)

It wasn’t until I looked at the photograph later I realised that I was wearing my Larry sweater, snaky jeans, and hand knitted socks.

 

 


GAM Finale and RTW Fast result.

Well it couldn’t have got any closer to the wire – I finished the last garment I will make this year about 30 minutes ago. I really can’t believe how quickly 2014 has flown past. And just how little I have managed to make for myself. Again. However, changes have been made so look out for a more productive 2015.

So, garment number 8. I discovered pieces already cut out in a box I tend to chuck my ‘get there eventually’ stuff into. I couldn’t actually remember cutting this out so have no idea when I did it. Shameful. Clearly I was making something influenced by Simplicity 2451 which I remember being very popular in blogland. If you have a good memory you might even remember!

Cord skirt with yoke. Finally.

Cord skirt with yoke. Finally.

Cord skirt with yoke pocket and tuck detail.

Cord skirt with yoke pocket and tuck detail.

 

I vaguely remember deciding that I needed to use my pattern cutting skills more so I imagine I thought this style was simple enough to copy and make up quickly. Part right. Once started this skirt didn’t take too long to sew. Had I tried it on whilst sewing I would have discovered that it was in need of an alteration. The waist needed to be reduces by 2″! Was I happy to know that my gym work has had some good effects. I was too late to get a photograph wearing this but will do so sometime soon.

Garment number 9 is something I have wanted to do for ages. I have made running tights for my daughter from a block detailed in the Patternmaking for Underwear Design by Kristina Shin but not for me. Until today. I decided that since I had a free afternoon I would draw out my leggings block, which I managed very quickly so I completed the pattern. Well, when things are going so well you really have to continue – so I cut out and sewed the leggings after tea. I had some black supplex fabric which I bought ages ago from Tia Knight so was able to get right on with the project. I know how much Jess enjoys her supplex leggings so I am looking forward to wearing these – they are so soft! A really satisfying, speedy garment.

Running tights

Running tights

I didn’t quite manage the 12 garments I had hoped to make for myself, but I am considering 9 out of 12 not too bad. The whole project made me reconsider how much work I want to do for clients and I did decide recently to remove a telephone listing which will definitely reduce work whilst still enabling me to work for my established clients. All in all this is a good result.

Alongside this GAM challenge I have also been on a ready to wear fast. The wardrobe is looking a bit skinny at the moment as I have been getting rid of things that had worn out, or that I decided I really didn’t wear and passed on to someone who would, or one of the local charity shops. The only things I have bought this year are three bras (professionally fitted and I don’t like any of them – guess what may be attempted early next year), and a commemorative Parkrun sports top. I am amazed at how little I have missed shopping for clothes, so much so that I am prepared to do  it again next year. I may be a little less strict but truly I don’t think it will be a problem.

I do have more to show you – I made some gifts for Christmas which I can reveal now – but I will do another post for them.

So, off now to enjoy a glass of Breaky Bottom fizz which the darling daughter bought for The Management and he is willing to share. Have a wonderful New Years Eve, and a very productive 2015 to come. Cheers!


Another jeanius!

These were finished almost a week ago and I have finally given up waiting to have someone available to take the pictures and resorted to the tripod. Aaargh. Anyhoo, let me introduce the snaky jeans.

Snakeprint Jeanius - front

Snakeprint Jeanius – front

Snakeprint jeanius - rear

Snakeprint Jeanius – rear

This fabric had been in my stash for an embarrassing length of time so when my eye was drawn to a pair of snake print trousers in Bazaar magazine I knew it’s time had come. Some might say it ought to have been saved for Jungle January over on the Pretty Grievances blog (yes, it is happening again in 2015) but I have actually got a pearl of a fabric in store for that!

I knew exactly what changes I wanted to make to the last pair (which have been worn and washed like mad) so I was able to just cut out and put the pedal to the metal all the way to finish. This was also helped by having bought the Advanced Industry techniques class from Craftsy in their last big sale. (More on the class at a later date).

What can I say about these? I love them! They have been worn out in public – and admired which is always nice. I now know that unless I change shape radically I have a TNT jeans pattern. Thank you Mr King :)

This brings my GAM target up to 7 – only 5 left if I am to finish this year. And only 21 days. Hmmm.

(There is more sewing etc going on here but as in many sewers homes it is top secret at present!)

 

 


Jeanius at last!

Don’t ever let anyone say I can’t stick to a project. This one was started months ago. (In May – shocking huh?). But now I have finally finished my first pair of jeans from the Craftsy Jeanius course. And I like them! I am counting them as my 6th garment in the GAM Challenge and I know I have some catching up to do. About six weeks left to make another six garments – not terribly likely but I can try to make some, even if I can’t make them all.

I bought the course with the intention of copying a pair of Max Mara Weekend jeans that I wore loads last year but when I tried them on they didn’t look as good as my faithful Marks&Spencer Per Una everyday jeans.The Management said so so it must be true – he doesn’t often offer an opinion. The Craftsy method of providing video tuition that you can access whenever it suits you is good for me. I learn visually, so it helps that I can see someone actually demonstrating a process. As an experienced dressmaker the demonstrations (not just in this course) are sometimes a bit ‘fullsome’ but this will no doubt be of great help to a novice tackling the project for the first time. Again I came away with new toys (my pressing dept. has been expanded) and I am looking for another couple of things which Kenneth D King makes look indispensable – I will let you know how I get on.

 

Jeanius muslin front

Jeanius muslin front

Jeanius muslin side

Jeanius muslin side

Jeanius muslin back

Jeanius muslin back

The method he showed to get an accurate copy of your garment was really good – and in no way tied to jeans. I have already used this method to copy a clients jacket for her. Score. I even made a muslin after making the jeans pattern. I just forgot that the jeans were stretch denim and that calico doesn’t stretch. Did I mention how long I have been sewing?

Despite the lack of stretch I was able to get into these, and even fasten the zipper. I was fairly happy with the fit (giving some consideration to how it would translate into my stretch denim) so I went ahead and cut it out in some black which had matured sufficiently in the stash. I like it but don’t love it so wasn’t going to be broken-hearted if it didn’t live up to my hopes.

Jeans front

Jeans front

Jeans back

Jeans back

In the interest of learning I followed Mr Kings instructions precisely – except for the pocket which was different in my jeans – and ended up with a pair of jeans I am happy to wear. Changes on the next pair – use my method of installing the zipper which hides a bit further back in the fly front, use his pocket method as I think it may sit better than mine. Everything else worked well – I loved his method of working the waistband which makes a straight piece into a curve, and the pocket support.

I wore these all day yesterday and they are just like the original so I am very happy. Sadly black really doesn’t photograph well so you will have to take my word on the fit being pretty good. I already have the next fabric washed ready to cut out so I guess this has to be considered a success. I bought the course on sale so I am a very happy bunny! The course is on sale again at the moment – 34% off – if you are inspired. I don’t have any affiliation with Craftsy  – I am just a satisfied student.

On a totally different matter The Management and I had a day out at Dunham Massey (another National Trust property) recently and I saw this sculpture. Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Gorgeous wooden horse

Gorgeous wooden horse


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