Who ordered Autumn?

Before I went away to America I had a load of fabric in a pile hoping to make it up for summer. Clearly that didn’t happen – and some will certainly not cross into the autumn range even if used as a layering piece. Because in my absence autumn arrived to Bewdley. Yup. Full on. Crispy mornings, leaves changing colour, the house is now feeling distinctly cool. I swear it was warmer outside today but I suppose that shows it is well insulated!

I cleared a few of the more ‘urgent’ jobs from the heap for clients last week (it isn’t that big these days which is a joy!) before having a weekend in London. This weekend was primarily a visit to Ealing to my daughter but we were also able to visit the Tate for the Georgia O’Keefe  exhibition. Well worth the time – and The Management said that he saw somewhere that there are none of her pictures on display elsewhere in the UK. None. We saw some in a gallery in Chicago so I knew I was going to enjoy this . The other reason for the visit was that I have been training for Ealing half marathon – and this was the weekend. Can I just say that I had a great time, and my daughter paced me all the way round beautifully! More info on my running blog if you want it.

Anyway, as a result of all of the running I have changed shape a bit – partly back towards my original blocks so it is mainly a good thing. The other good thing is that because most of my trousers and skirts are now too big in the waist I really need to either alter them (Boo!) or make new ones (Hurrah!).

Probably time to put away the fabric I got out for summer wear and go stash diving for what I need for the cooler weather. I always enjoy doing this as I inevitably find some fabric I had completely forgotten buying!

Have you changed to sewing for the next season yet?


Running shorts

Running Shorts

OriginalRunning Shorts

Running Shorts

Gusset

Some time ago Jess asked if I could copy a pair of running shorts in one of the FunkiFabrics patterned lycras. She wears shorts most of the year regardless of weather and these were apparently the most comfortable pair she had found.

I did make the pattern and trial pair before Christmas which were tried and declared a success.

Running Shorts

Copy pair

Running Shorts

Thread detail

They were made in the most basic way possible (no back pocket and little detail) but I did have some variegated Gutterman thread that I wanted to try out in the looper of the coverstitch machine so they got a tiny bit of interest down the front leg. The main reason for these shorts being chosen as ‘favourites’ was, I think, the crotch gusset which allows for much more freedom of movement than the basic leggings pattern that I have used. The side seam has also been moved slightly forward so I presume this is a position that is less likely to cause friction over a long run.

As I wanted to clear this project before starting the orange waistcoat/jacket, and I thought I could clear it in a couple of hours, I got stuck in and cut into the monster fabric which Jess had requested (and approved when she saw it at Christmas!). The only difference this time was that I was to put in the pocket and anchor all the seams so that they wouldn’t rub.

I have put these pockets in several pairs of leggings now – but not this particular style which was cut in one piece across the back, with another full piece behind it to make the pocket back. I had been sent this tape by Linda from Nice Dress, Thanks I made it! and was looking forward to trying it as a stabiliser in this process. As you can see from the photographs I started by drawing a rectangle with my beloved Frixion pen the size of the ‘hole’ I wanted the zipper to fit into. I then surrounded it with tape before cutting the fabric. Once cut it was easy to fold back the fabric onto the sticky tape and create a perfect hole to fit my pocket. I put another line of tape top and bottom to hold the zipper in place whilst I sewed it permanently. This process was a huge success, no wiggling from the fabric so the pocket was sewn in double quick time. Thanks Linda!

Pocket drawn, tape around the edges.

Pocket drawn, tape around the edges.

Hole cut and fabric stuck to tape, more tape in place to hold zipper

Hole cut and fabric stuck to tape, more tape in place to hold zipper

Finished pocket.

Finished pocket. 

I used plain black lycra to back the pocket, and also on the elasticated waistband.

As you can see I used the triple step zig-zag to anchor the seams this time instead of the coverstitcher. I’m still a little uncertain that this was the right decision. Maybe it is just the black thread, which I decided was probably the best choice given the amount of colours inn this barmy pattern. Anyway, Jess will have to decide if these are OK – and I shouldn’t ever struggle to spot her coming in a group when she is racing in these!

Running shorts Front (check out the gusset!)

Running shorts Front (check out the gusset!)

Running shorts Back

Running shorts Back

I love the pattern – the little monsters just seem so friendly!

This pattern fitted into 50cm of lycra from Funkifabrics with a little left over which I can probably incorporate into another project.

If anyone wants the details of how I intend to alter my basic leggings pattern to make a pair for myself (I get horribly overheated when I ‘run’ so I want to be prepared for when it gets warmer) let me know, and whilst it wont be until after I do the orange garment I will be happy to email the information – or maybe do a blog post if there is a demand.

One less distraction for now!

 

 


Je suis finis!

Well I made it. Just before the 7th December deadline I have completed the 22 mile Aspire Channel Challenge. I finished my last lengths in my swimming lesson this morning with the people who have given me the confidence to even try this.

I have to say an immense thank you to the people who have contributed to my fundraising. I was aiming to raise £100 but thanks to everyone’s awesome generosity I have exceeded £200.  Again, thank you.

So, to anyone who is looking at any challenge – big or small, fundraising or just for yourself – my advice is JUST DO IT! You might be very surprised (I am!) And it’s a great feeling. Even if you don’t succeed, at least you tried. How do you know what you are capable of without stretching a bit.

I saw a lovely quote recently that said something like ‘aim for the moon, even if you fail you will still be amongst the stars’.

So todays challenge from me. Do, or plan to do, something you didn’t know you could. Backward roll anyone? Bound buttonholes? Knitting a sock? Whatever you decide to do enjoy your challenge and tell me about it.


Another Jasper…and other stuff

In my last post a referred to something else I had made – another Paprika Jasper sweater. This one is without the hood as I had a very limited amount of fabric. I really love this pattern and can see lots more made this winter.

My new favourite sweater

My new favourite sweater

So, the details. The fabric is a piece of (probably) polyester ‘stuff” which has been in the stash long enough to have celebrated multiple birthdays. It’s more likely to have been there for decades. I seem to remember buying it from a market stall in Kidderminster which hasn’t traded in a Loooooong time. I had seen a number of cabled sweaters in the fashion magazines, Pinterest etc. and this fabric came to mind. I had just 1.5m of 150cm wide so I knew I was going to have to get creative with the cutting to fit it all in. Delightfully, it fitted with whispers to spare. I always like to have minimal amounts of scrap after cutting out.

Tiny pile of scrap

Tiny pile of scrap

Unexpected bonus!

Unexpected bonus!

 

I have already worn this lots, and I can confirm that it washes well! It was brilliant to discover I had a ready made ‘spectacle hanging loop’ as I frequently put my specs down and can’t find them again. Must be age.

 

 

Looking good at half way.

Looking good at half way.

My daughter was home this weekend and admired the hoodie while I was wearing it so that is a

Jess on the finish line

Jess on the finish line

big seal of approval. She had run the Snowdonia Marathon on Saturday and managed to beat her London Marathon time on a course with mountains!

 

Which leads me on to the next make. How many of you have used the wonderful Funki Fabrics printed lycra? Yeah, it’s great isn’t it. But how many of you have spotted the winter lycra? Can I send you to the site right now because it’s great – no wait until you  have seen Jess’s leggings.

The lycra has a kind of fleecy back which feels gorgeous. I think it might be just a fraction less stretchy in the width than the standard lycra but has plenty of stretch in the length. I made Jess the normal Shin leggings pattern without any changes and she declared them a success after wearing them on Sunday morning (actually all of Sunday which is probably a good sign). They haven’t been washed yet but I am sure that with the pedigree Funki Fabrics Have it will be fine.

 

Winter leggings

Winter leggings

I have bought more fabric in black for me so I hope to make some warm leggings for myself really soon. They will not only be worth having for running (stretching the definition the way I ‘run’) but also for marshaling at Parkrun, and to wear as an extra insulating layer under my diving dry suit. These are going to be so useful I should really get on ASAP.

I must make a comment about my coverstitching. As you may know I bought the Janome coverstitcher which I have been very happy with. However, on this garment I started to have problems with the thread getting stuck and breaking – lots of unpicking and bad language. I was confident the cops were Moon (which is a Coats thread and usually pretty reliable) and they had behave beautifully on the overlocker. However, I decided to change all the threads to Gutterman reels and try again. Perfection. I can only assume these reels were an inferior brand and the Janome didn’t like them. So, anyone having problems with a coverstitcher – before you start fiddling with all the dials try changing your thread. I will not be saving any pennies with ‘cheap’ thread in the future as it costs too much in time if I make a mistake.

 

Swimming update

You might have noticed from my ticker in the side bar but I have now swum half the distance needed to complete my swimming challenge. I was thrilled to be able to get this far in the official half way point as I had been on holiday for one week, then ill another. I am now pretty confident of finishing the English Channel distance (22 miles) by the required 7th December deadline.


Catch up post

Confession time. When I published my last post I was on holiday with The Management in Croatia – the promised sunshine (although not technically Winter sun so maybe I can get another break on a technicality?). Unbelievably, although I wore both the yellow skirt and trousers there isn’t a photograph at all! As I take most all of our photographs there are rarely any photographs of me on holiday. He could take someone else and no-one would be any the wiser.

Anyway, if you did check on my swimming progress last week and wondered if I was on the bottom of the pool that is the explanation. I have been to the pool since our return so I think I may be back on track – I had fallen behind target slightly by the end of week 2.

On a sewing note I have taped the Paprika Jasper hoodie pattern together and copying that , and hopefully cutting out my fabric, is a job for today along with sorting out holiday photographs (which I have started).

I leave you with a Saint. This picture of Saint Lucy was in a church in Skradin where we stopped to have lunch. Whilst I found the eyes on a dish a bit gory I was intrigued by the cotton reels and what appeared to be a ball of yarn (or a pom-pom). This is Saint Lucy who is apparently the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. I imagine the lace makers of Croatia must have had occasion to have prayed to her for assistance. There are a few dressmakers I know who would be glad of her help on occasion too.

Saint Lucy with bobbins and yarn

Saint Lucy with bobbins and yarn

 


Another Swimming Challenge

Way back in April this year I started adult improvers swimming lessons. I am still having lessons but am glad to say I have improved quite a lot! I did a Swimathon at the end of my first block of lessons and was amazed at the distance I managed to swim in aid of  Marie Curie cancer care.

Kim Hood

Well, I have agreed to do another fund raising swim but this one is a bit different – and an altogether bigger challenge. This one is the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge. Over the next 12 weeks (ish)  I’ll be swimming 22 miles across the English Channel to raise money for people who have been paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. Apparently every eight hours someone is paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. It can happen to anyone at any time, and I am aware of this because one of my friends had what she described as a minor fall from a horse and suffered a major spinal trauma. Her consultant said that if it had been one vertebrae different she would have been instantly and totally paralyzed. She was lucky and has made a full recovery (although I am sure she still has days that are somewhat painful though she never complains). Not everyone is so fortunate which is why I intend to swim this 22 miles in 12 weeks. Thankfully we avoid sea water (and the boats in the english channel) by swimming this in our local pool.

I managed to swim 2.7 miles in my first week which is a bit ahead of schedule but means that I am able to relax if I have a particularly busy spell with clients and such. Perhaps this is why my waist is starting to shrink a bit. Hmmm, nice side effect though unexpected.

Maybe you would like to join the challenge if you are in the UK, or you might like to follow my progress over the next couple of months at my Aspire swim Challenge page. I don’t expect to be sponsored by my blog readers but if you feel you would like to contribute to this cause (maybe you have personal experience of how traumatic this can be) I would be unbelievably happy. Here is the link to my Aspire Just Giving page.

Who knows, by December I may even have a recognisable waistline!

P.S. Because it has become so.much colder, and because I bought the Indie pattern bundle, I have decided to make the wonderful hoodie from Paprika patterns. The fabric has been purchased from Minerva and the pattern printed and trimmed. I will be very glad of this as the weather gets colder so I need to get stuck in!

 


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…….