Join me in the happy dance!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Front view

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back view

At long last I have finished the blessed brown trousers. Actually I finished these last Thursday but have been waiting for a good photograph to blog with. As usual at this time of year the light has been awful, and when we have been outside (more later) it hasn’t been very much better so I have stuck with the selfie. It has taken so long to finish these you would be very welcome to join me in the happy dance!

Anyhoo, the trousers! This was my Jeanius pattern (cut from instructions given in the Kenneth D King Craftsy course which seems to be at sale price right now!) and cut in fabric brought back from Spain. The fabric was probably suited to a ‘tailored’ style but I tend to wear jeans and t’s most of the time – so jeans it is.

I knew that the pattern fitted reasonably well so I just made them up as cut. I had forgotten that I added 5mm to the side seams last time (Doh!) and whilst these are a snug fit over the butt and thigh I am not concerned because of the amount of stretch in the fabric. I could probably wear these to the gym and be able to cope – although I have no intention of doing so!

I have worn these a lot since I finished them and can say they can bear up to a full days wear looking good, and barely crease even after a couple of hours in the car. I think we have a winner. It would have been nice to have this fabric in another colour but since I don’t remember exactly where in Spain I bought this, and it was forever ago, I am unlikely to manage that. It would be nice to imagine I would be able to find some in the UK but I can’t recall seeing anything similar over the years. I will just have to enjoy what I have.

I had hoped to get a decent photograph last weekend as The Management and I spent the weekend in Bournemouth. Despite the weather being fine I failed completely to get a photograph of me outside at all. No particular reason for a weekend away, but I really enjoyed the break. I find January and the early part of the year quite difficult – probably related to the lack of daylight (S.A.D would be an extreme version of what I feel) so it is nice to break up the expected with little breaks.

Hippies sign

Hippies sign

On the journey down I spotted this sign in a house window. We were stopped at a red light when I noticed it – considering I had to dredge in my handbag, find the camera, turn it on, point and shoot I think this turned out better than the photographs I really try with! Maybe I can learn from that. You might have to click and enlarge this to read the detail but I found it really funny.

 

Two at once socks

Two at once socks

I have also finished my ‘two at once’ socks. These were knitted from my favourite sock pattern from Ravelry but without the lace pattern, and two at once ofcourse.It was easier to manage the further you got into knitting these, and it was brilliant to be able to cast of and only have to darn in the ends before putting on a new pair of socks. No chance of ‘single sockitis! Again these have been worn and I can confirm that they are warm and comfortable. I used to be a little concerned about the difference in ‘nubblyness’ on the soles of hand knitted socks by comparison with the commercially produced socks but I don’t notice the difference now (apart from my feet being warmer in the wool socks).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fabulous bundt cake

I bought a new bundt cake tin after being bought the new  Simply Nigella  cook book for Christmas and seeing her cakes. Isn’t the shape just fabulous? In checking Amazon for the link this book is also available at a deep discount – the hardback is cheaper than the Kindle copy – and I can confess to spending way too long just drooling over the wonderful looking food.

I can’t believe just how easy it was to make a cake that looks so impressive! I made this particular recipe (rather than one of Nigellas which I will make in the near future) as Jess was trying a Vegan January and I am always up for a cooking challenge.This was a vegan chocolate mud cake I made. I wish I could share it with you – it tasted infinitely better than the title makes it sound. We had a slice each exactly as it was, but the next time we had it with chopped strawberries and some coconut soya yoghurt as a pudding. Delicious!

I have sewn something else which I will show as soon as I photograph that (I couldn’t do it at the same as the trousers as I was going out – I did put shoes on. Honest).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vogue 2948 finished

Finished – but again I am not entirely happy with the result. I think part of the problem is that they have taken an unreasonably long time for ‘a pair of pants/trousers’. You might remember that I have been watching the Craftsy course ‘Pant fitting’ by Sandra Betzina. This Vogue pattern is in new sizing which relates better to todays figures (hence the name) but that didn’t mean that it would match everyone. That means me. Again.

The Craftsy course is pretty comprehensive, and I found it easy to follow the alterations that were demonstrated. I think that the Craftsy platform is pretty good, even if (or especially if) you are fairly new to sewing or pattern alteration as you can watch the video lessons as many times as you need to, and also ask questions which should be answered by the tutor. The whole course is worked around Vogue 2948 (included in the cost of the course) which is an ideal trouser for adjustment since it has princess seams and a yoke. The more seams available the easier a garment is to adjust.

I cut the size that appeared to fit my hips, having adjusted the pattern to be larger around my waist. All looked well, and I tried them on with the sides tacked to fit. CLOWN PANTS! I really couldn’t believe it – these were big. I checked the original pattern pieces and whilst I could find the finished waist size (3cm ease allowed) and the finished length I couldn’t find the finished hip size. Maybe I was just losing heart by then. One of the things that is stressed throughout the course is to avoid ‘over fitting’ – ie. taking out all the wearing ease to give a ‘skin fit’. We have all seen people wearing clothes like this and it is never a good look. Anyhow, I repinned and sewed the seams, fitting the zipper and just wanting to get this project to finish. (More haste…). See what you think.

Front - lightened to show better

Front – lightened to show better

Back - I didn't see those drag lines until now!

Back – I didn’t see those drag lines until now!

Lots of hip space!

Lots of hip space!

The fabric wasn’t expensive – this was intended as a wearable muslin – it is a basket weave polyester that I found in the £2 a meter pile at Barrys in Birmingham. These are good enough to wear, but not anywhere ‘special’. I am not sure what I was doing here – the pattern by size and adjustment should have been OK but it looks as if I have made them to grow into and I would rather not if you don’t mind! I hadn’t used a side zipper in pants (rarely in skirts either) and find I don’t really like it. I could try these again with the back zipper option but I don’t think I like the pattern enough to do so.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Since I was a bit fed up after making these I decided to have a bash at a quick project. Step up ‘ By Hand London’ Polly top. This looked perfect for my shape as I could make a top that fitted well over my bust but easily take in at the waist/hip so that it didn’t poke out in front. Again the sizes didn’t match me at all. I chose a bust, then the waist was up one size, and the hips went down two sizes from the waist. The finished measures looked better – the bust was the largest size, going down one for waist, and down again for hip. I printed, taped, traced off my size (Pffft!) and then went ahead in the scrap I had found to try out. Can I just say I am currently feeling deformed. I love the pattern, and it is clearly a very popular choice around blogland, but it isn’t for me. If anyone out there would like the taped PDF (and the white/blue poly trial in a 16) let me know and I will send it out happily.

Rather than going through lots of full bust alterations in order to make commercial patterns fit properly I have decided to get back to pattern cutting. I use this to make the patterns for my clients so it is about time I sorted my own blocks out again and got on with making my own patterns to fit my own clearly unique shape!

For anyone who doesn’t have a pattern cutting background and wants a great site to find out how to alter patterns for a full bust head over to Communing with Fabric where Shams (who has a very similar body shape to me) has already done a sterling job in explaining what is needed.


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


Where is May going?

I can barely believe that it is already the 18th May. It has been busy here Chez Hood, and in addition to client work I have had a wonderful house guest as my dear old Mother-In-Law has been to stay. Now that is all wonderful, we even had a trip to Stratford to see Henry IV Part 1 at the RSC (Wonderful dahlings!) with dinner after, but it isn’t getting my sewing done.

I have made a start watching the wonderful Kenneth D Kings Jeanius course, and I have to say I am enjoying it enormously. Quite a lot of what I have seen is basic practice when you have been sewing for decades but you never stop learning – and few sewers think they don’t need to know any more. Sewing is the sort of thing where it is always possible to learn something both new and amazing. Sadly, I haven’t got any further than watching (but I hope to get the trousers prepared for copying this week – honest!).

Sleeve detail (The Management said 'Ready for take off' at this pose. Beast)

Sleeve detail (The Management said ‘Ready for take off’ at this pose. Beast)

Back view

Back view

However, I did make another incarnation of the Drape Drape t-shirt that was so nearly right – but not quite. I made the adaptions to the pattern soon after the last effort was made so that I didn’t forget anything I wanted to do. That meant that I was ready to go as soon as I found a suitable stretch fabric to make up. A trip to Birmingham (whilst collecting the aforementioned MIL from her train) meant I was able to buy a suitable, but not expensive – this was still a try out – fabric. Once settled with pattern pressed flat (yes, I folded it for storage) and fabric ready I think this project was done in under 2 hours using the overlocker and coverstitcher.  I raised the neckline 10cm which means it is now decent (although if you aren’t careful you could probably still ‘flash’), and reduced the size overall. I wish I could say how I did that but I’m afraid it was just a bit of ‘fiddling’ with the original copy shop print. I had traced two sizes onto the piece I took to be enlarged and this incarnation is around the smaller size – but with some alterations. I will never be able to repeat the pattern if I lose the one I now have!

The fabric is just a four way stretch polyester jersey in another of my ‘shy, retiring’ prints! The lady in the shop has also bought this with the intention of making a holiday garment. I have to say it is perfect sunshine clothing, and I suspect this will be washed and worn to death over this coming summer.(Yes I know, I am an optimist but I am sure this will be a good one!).

The Management has just left for a week overseas so I am hoping to get loads done this week. Watch this space. And if you see me with a cup of tea and a book please remind me of the list of jobs that are waiting for me 🙂


May GAM – A Jeanius Idea

Sorry for that title but I couldn’t help myself.

I was supposed to be stash diving and making up my mind what I wanted to make in May over this weekend but instead I spent most of it outside in my very neglected garden. All of my muscles are aching but the garden is looking infinitely better, and I even took all the rubbish to the tip today so I feel as if I have completed the task. Whoever called these long weekends ‘holidays’ was obviously having a laugh.

Anyhoo, the May GAM choice. I have several pairs of Max Mara trousers/jeans which are now looking a bit sad. They were all bought at deep discount whilst I worked for a ladies dress shop doing their alterations ‘in house’. I have been very reluctant to throw them away despite their decrepitude as they fit me so well – Max Mara clearly suit ladies with ill defined waists and small hips. So I am going to use this as an excuse to do the Kenneth D King ‘Jeanius’ Craftsy course that I have had lined up for ages . Honestly, it has been waiting patiently for so long it is embarrassing.

I have seen several reports where people have successfully used this course to reproduce their favourite jeans so I have fairly high hopes of getting a replacement for the shabbiest pair of Max Mara Weekend jeans. I still have to choose a fabric. I am hopping between the brown fabric I bought in Spain many years ago, which will give an almost identical garment to the one to be copied, or the yellow fabric I think will just be fun. Any suggestions?


Musings on fundraising.

In short? I should have started much earlier. All the things I had planned to make, the time allocated (until a client came with a crisis), the fabric I knew I had (somewhere). Despite my organisational shortcomings the fundraising total stands around £400 at the moment with the possibility of a little more if/when the last of the items I made go.

So, what did I make?

Lots of cake

Lots of cake

Lots of muffins

Lots of muffins

The cake from last week was all used up after a trip to my bridge club. I can’t believe how the ladies (and a few gents) who almost all claimed to be ‘on a diet dear’ can clear a table faster than locusts! Thankfully they were also very generous and boosted the total very well.

My husband (The Management) took the muffins into his office, along with some of the sewn goods and improved the total further. Thank you to all who donated. You are all wonderful!

Sewing took more time than I expected, and as I said to begin should have been started earlier. However, I am happy with how things went and some of the items I made are shown below.

London Apron - suitable for bake off or barbecue

London Apron – suitable for bake off or barbecue

London shopping bag (can be used elsewhere!)

London shopping bag (can be used elsewhere!)

The print on this fabric was an obvious choice for London Marathon fundraising. It is a lovely heavy cotton, so well up to the job of being an apron or bag. These are both made from self drafted patterns.

The apron was a very simple ‘draw around an apron I already had’. It really doesn’t come easier than that does it?

The shopping bag was basically two sections (it could have been made without the seam in the bottom but I wanted to keep the design ‘right way up’) which I sewed into a bag (what else?) and then stitched across the corners to create a base. There was an inside pocket so that you could keep a purse or phone accessible when in use. The main thing I had in mind was to ensure the handles were comfortable to hold, and also very securely sewn in place. They aren’t coming off any time soon I can promise!

Loop/Infinity scarves

Loop/Infinity scarves

Another ridiculously easy make was the loop/infinity scarf. I managed to make use of some of the remnants that had been lurking in my stash for a while making these. I chose 150cm wide fabric and cut 50cm strips (or as close as I had. Seam along the long side (wrong sides together) starting and finishing about 10-15cm away from the short edge. Press and turn before joining the short edges to make a loop. I hand stitched the remaining little opening closed but it could probably have been done by machine if you wanted to be faster.

Runners/walkers arm pockets

Runners/walkers arm pockets

I am very lucky to have had permission from several people to use their patterns to raise money.One of these was Melissa from Fehr Trade who kindly said I could use her arm pocket and ruffled wristlet patterns. The arm pocket is another very easy make – and is useful to both men and women – so I set up a production line with these! They are made in Supplex so they are super comfortable to wear and sold very well. I have included the links to Melissas posts for each of these items in case you would like to make your own. Thanks Melissa!

Sadly I ran out of time before making any other little bags as I also had permission from Rhonda to use her clam shell wristlet, and Stephanie at Cake patterns to use her Red Velvet Mini clutch (available here as a free pattern!). Stephanie is happy for these to be made by anyone who wants to raise money this way – just not if you are a multi national or similar! I really wish I had left enough time to make everything I wanted.

I am glad to have finished the fundraising makes, and needed to make a little something for myself just to get back in the mood. Ages ago I watched the Beginners Serging course on Craftsy (having already killed off one overlocker/serger)  which I thought would help me to make better use of my machine. Despite owning and using this machine for years I did come away from the course with some new information so I was very happy (and I bought it on sale so it was a bargain – who doesn’t like a bargain?) On the course was a cute washbag/make-up bag that I thought would be nice to make. It is completed entirely on the overlocker (including a clever way to make the little loops for the sides, and inserting that zipper!) and was a very quick project, made almost entirely from scrap that was lying around  waiting for a purpose. I love it!

Washbag innards

Washbag innards

Cute bag - and fast to make!

Cute bag – and fast to make!

 

It is a little way off but I could make some of these for my friends McMillan Cancer coffee morning. More fundraising. Doh!