Where is the time going?!

14th of March already! Yikes. I have been enjoying watching the signs of spring arriving here in Bewdley (catkins dancing, lambs prancing)and not noticed just how the days are flying by. I have been working sewing and knitting but really don’t seem to have a lot to show for it. I have also been spending time completing this jigsaw loaned to me by a friend. Yes, we are still friends! I have finished it now but it has taken an age….

An almost impossible jigsaw!

Jersey ‘bits’ from outside

All from Barrys bargain table

I did have a lovely day in Birmingham when I met the lovely Fairy and Glenda for a market trip. It’s almost a month ago so Fairy has probably finished sewing all of her cloth already and mine is still waiting for action. *sigh*

I had intended not to buy any fabric at all since my stash is heaving but I couldn’t resist these pieces. The jersey from the outdoor area was ridiculously cheap and I have no real idea yet what I want to do with it but I really don’t want it hanging round for a long time so I will decide soon. the Barrys bargain fabrics were a bit more substantial. I think I bought 3m of each of these. The brown and grey lengths are slightly stretchy and would make good shirts but would also work on the Lynn Mizono dresses that I want to try out – and at  £2 a metre they wont break my heart if I don’t like them afterward. The black is a textured polyester – a little bit like scuba but a bit less dense – that Fairy and I thought would be worth trying for the bodice on this dress. I already had fabrics for the Mizono patterns I wanted to use but you know how a bargain can lead you astray….

Elastic and easy thread needles

 

Talking of which, I have a bag with all sorts of lingerie/spsortswear odds and sods in it (including a fair quantity of elastics) but I couldn’t help but buy the red and black fold over elastic. I can’t even remember what it cost but I know it was well worth it! Add it to the bag.

The other item was a bit of experimentation. I bought some of the easy thread needles I have seen around. Have you tried them? I did wonder how the thread didn’t just fall out again but it seems to work! Whilst I’m not quite in need of them on a full time basis yet I can see how they would be useful if you did have difficulty threading up. I tried them out on the shirt I’m working on and they work fine but the top is a bit ‘poky’ and I found I really needed to use a thimble to prevent puncturing my fingers.

When I haven’t been swearing over jigsaw pieces I have done quite a lot of knitting. That gorgeous Botanical Yoke sweater is coming along beautifully – I’m well into the yoke section now so I thought you could have a sneaky peek. It looks amazing – and really isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be (or as it looks!). The Managements quilt is started now but there  really isn’t anything worth showing yet. I know I’m fitting it in around other jobs but I really hadn’t appreciated what I had let myself in for with a full bed size quilt!

A sneaky peek

Hopefully a bit more to show next time I manage to remember where the dashboard is!

Kim


Minor progress

I would love to tell you all that I had made seven shirts, multiple pairs of trousers, and three coats since I last reported but it would be a lie. I’m slowing down into autumn and enjoying every minute (apart from those spent sweeping up the leaves in my garden. Grrr) but that isn’t helping with progress. I have been working – but not too much for me – so read on McDuff.

Nell Leftovers

Nell Leftovers

My last post was almost three weeks ago, and I finished by saying I hoped to make quick progress with Nell. Erm…… no. I have cut the main fabric out and overlocked the edges to ensure that when I do eventually get round to any sewing I should still have seam allowances available to work with. As I said previously there was really not enough fabric in this piece to make Nell but I was determined to get it from this fabric. The pieces leftover are really small – no space for any mistakes here. I think that may have made me back off for a little while, but truthfully I can’t explain why I’m not further on. I have

decided that I would like this cape lined rather than just binding all the seams and have even managed to find a fabric from my seemingly bottomless stash that will do the job. I’m still pithering about a binding for the outsides. I have a fabric that wont fray so I may go with strips from that if I can’t find anything I like better.

Style Arc Toni

Style Arc Toni

I did cut out the Toni at the same time and decided to sew that together quickly (there really isn’t much to this project). I’m not entirely certain that I like my dress, although that may be down to my not wearing dresses very often rather than the style itself. I love Toni on other people so I suspect that my uncertainty is down to just not wearing dresses often enough. Perhaps I need to change that. Photographs at a later date with me wearing it but at the minute I am post insomia night and look like death so no chance.

Fabric I didn't need

Fabric I didn’t need

In the gap between posts I had a wonderful day shopping in Birmingham with Naomi from a Facebook ‘Stashbusting’ group. Yes, I can see the problem there too – and as we both left Birmingham with a significant amount of fabric the stash was definitely blown not busted that day. Oh but look at what I bought!

Brilliant brooch

Brilliant brooch

The greeny yellow is a beautiful felted wool which I intend to make into a coat. As it was the end of the roll I got a very good deal on it. I was hesitating about buying such a distinctive colour, and more than a little concerned that it might not ‘go’ with my wardrobe. Can you believe that the colour works with just about everything I have put next to it? Far from not going with some things this colour works with everything! Naomi was searching for fabric to make an outfit for a costume party – that included sparkly stuff and I couldn’t help myself when I saw this brooch. Just look at how nice it looks on the grey fabric – and that ‘goes with everything’ green!

The brown fabric is a lovely single knit jersey which is a great weight for autumn/winter t-shirts and was a mere 50p a metre. Well, you couldn’t turn it down at that price could you? The stripe was the same but is a finer fabric. I haven’t got round to pre-washing these yet – and the stripe may well be simply tucked away for later use – but that brown needs to be used. Now. Well, after I make Nell and that coat….

 


I could just be the luckiest girl in the world

Just in case anyone wondered why I took so long to answer comments on the last two posts I can now confess that they were scheduled to publish whilst I was away in New York and Chicago. I know – how lucky am I! But it gets even better!

I had visited New York in 2001 with my daughter but The Management wasn’t able to come with us which was sad. He really wanted to visit New York, but we also wanted to visit Chicago because several people had said it was their favourite city – after comments like that you have to find out what its all about don’t you?

Anyway, just in case I have offended anyone by not declaring I would be in New York I knew I was going to have very little free time (The Management had pre-planned lots to do!) and I had to campaign fairly hard to get to visit the garment district and fabric shops at all. Because time was going to be short I took lots of notes from the very useful information Shams posted about her recent trip. Thanks Shams, it was incredibly helpful! We did spend a couple of hours wandering (and buying lunch, coffees and such) and I had decided to be very disciplined and only go to Mood, and if I couldn’t find anything I wanted there (as if!) we would go to Spandex House. Can I mention here that I had run in Central Park first thing (at 25°C, and humid) so I probably wasn’t on top shopping form.

It was lovely to see the iconic ‘button’ on top of the information bureau (closed when we visited) and the sculpture of the garment district worker. I hadn’t realised that there was a fashion ‘Walk of Fame’ and was delighted to see one of my own favourites almost first off. Claire McCardell is just a genius in my opinion.

We arrived in Mood Fabrics (Squeak!) and navigated our way round the stacks – and can you believe The Management found some fabric he rather liked for a shirt! He is fabric shopping ahead of me! (It was rather lovely). I caught up soon enough and added a nice pin striped denim to the order. I could have bought any number of more opulent fabrics (check out those zebras!) but I wanted to buy something I would make up quickly and wear lots – and I probably wear jeans more than anything else so this was perfect. Sadly Swatch was nowhere to be seen (perhaps they allow him to take Saturdays off). I was able to have a quick look in the Mood ‘schoolroom’ and rather wished I would have been able to take a sewing course there. It really wouldn’t have mattered what!

We both came away very tired, but very happy with our purchases. I wonder whose will be made up first?

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On Sunday we transferred to Chicago by train, his choice rather than mine but I loved it! Being able to cross the USA at a fairly stately pace whilst letting someone else deal with the driving was lovely. We were in the sleeping coach, so had beds rather than a reclining seat in the main carriage, so it was actually quite relaxing.  I was looking forward to Chicago not only because of the fabulous architecture we were told to expect (and it is gorgeous), or the museums and galleries which could fill weeks rather than the few days we had, but because I have been nursing a wonderful secret. I was going to meet Rhonda Buss!

I can’t remember how long I have been tossing comments and e-mails with Rhonda but it’s a long time. I have made up some of her patterns, enjoyed her recipes, and follow closely if she recommends a book or designer as she has so many great suggestions. Her inspiration posts are magnificent – I’m very much looking forward to being able to incorporate some of the ideas into my work once I retire from client sewing. Anyway, if you aren’t already familiar with Rhondas blog I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

I contacted Rhonda way back at the beginning of the year to say I was going to be visiting, and if she had time would it be possible for her to give us a couple of hours for a locals tour of the city. She was so nice, and came back with an immediate ‘yes!’. When the time came she did that, but so much more than I had anticipated.

Yes, we got to see the city – but from her Cessna aeroplane! The Management has been interested in planes since he was a little boy and was thrilled to have been taken to the airport that the plane is kept at – I don’t think he would have been upset if we hadn’t even got off the ground. Far from that, Rhonda gave us a lovely flight along Lake Michigan with fabulous views of the city. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in another airport before putting the plane to bed.

After that we were taken to a fabulous temple that TM had admired from the air – it was truly beautiful and very peaceful. Rhonda did recommend the gardens as being very pretty, which they were. We were then fortunate enough to be taken back to her home and introduced to Mr Buss and the dogs. Gracie welcomed us by charging round the garden at high speed whilst Little Bit was more restrained but no less delightful. It was a real privilege to meet the whole Buss family, and not one I had expected when I made my initial request. We enjoyed a drink and a chat before a real Chicago deep pan pizza. If you thought you had eaten one of these in the UK I have to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. This was absolutely wonderful! It’s probably just as well I don’t live in Chicago otherwise I would be twice the size.

Rhonda was featured in the latest issue of Sew News with her Ginger jeans,which she also did a blog post about. If I hadn’t made the Jeanius pattern that now serves me so well I would be trying that pattern for my Mood fabric.

We are home now with wonderful memories of a trip that would have been a good one, but turned out to be a great one as a result of meeting two wonderful people – whom I sincerely hope to meet again. Thank you again Rhonda and Mr Buss for giving myself and The Management such a day to remember!


Penguins ahoy!(and other stuff)

I had a lovely day in Birmingham a little while ago when I met Naomi from the Facebook Stashbusting group. She really wanted to see the pattern for Vogue 1258 which is now out of print but has become very popular. Naomi intended to draw the pattern out herself but by seeing the original was able to get a much better idea of how this dress went together. Since we were there it seemed rude not to go look at the fabric, wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, despite both being ‘stashbusters’ we both came away with more fabric.

Not quite 'Stashbusting'

Not quite ‘Stashbusting’

I bought the extra ‘penguin fabric I needed to make The Managements shirt, some striped green single knit jersey (not sure of the fibre composition), and some grey jersey with some stitch detail that makes ‘waves’ over the width of the fabric. I didn’t intend to buy any fabric (again) but this just whispered ‘Style Arc Toni’ from knee level and I had to buy it. Do you agree? I think it is perfect for a Toni.

Penguins!

Penguins!

Anyway, I have been pretty busy with other stuff and had little time to sew for myself but The Managements shirt is finished and declared a winner. He hasn’t tried it on yet but since the pattern is now looking a little shabby through the use it has had I know it will fit just fine.

I have a project for me on the table, all ready to go in the morning. I’m not going to tell you what it is yet but can you guess from this teaser picture?

Any ideas?

Any ideas?


Stashbusting in July

Yes, I know it is now August 4th but I have been waiting for the weather to improve to take photographs somewhere other than my cream wall. It was quite nice before the kids broke up from school but has been a bit spotty since then.

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Wrap pants

While dredging in a not oft used drawer I rediscovered these leopard print wrap pants. I mainly use them on holiday but on a warm day they were perfect. It got me wondering how the pattern would be as shorts.

Pattern shape

Pattern shape

You can see the ties on the back

You can see the ties on the back

Wrap shorts

Wrap shorts

As it turns out I’m not sure I like them. I suspect the problem is that in shortening the whole thing they have lost some of their appeal. They catch the breeze more easily when long, and don’t look quite so ‘tubular’. I think I may try again but add a bit of fullness to the pattern pieces so that they look a bit more like a wrap skirt. The pattern is very simple – just two pieces cut from the width of a fabric piece with a U shape cut out to give the crotch space. I added the darts from my skirt block to the waist to give a little shape and used the full width of the 150cm  wide fabric for the pink. I cut them a bit longer than necessary so lost a bit of fabric when I shortened them. The ties are just strips made long enough to tie in a bow front and back. The style does mean that loo visits are a bit of a fandangle but I like them regardless. The long ones. These were made from some polyester crepe which I know washes and dries quickly making it perfect for hot climates – if a bit sticky. I’m happy to have this used now, even if I don’t wear them very often.

 

You may remember the odd shaped pants from the last Patrones I reviewed. Well, the leapfrogged the Thai Fishermans pants that I cut the pattern for at the same time. They took no time to make up and I love them!

Sarrouel Trousers front

Sarrouel Trousers front

Sarrouel Trousers - back

Sarrouel Trousers – back

That much fabric!

That much fabric!

I made these in some rayon that had been in the stash forever. I liked the colour but never really knew what I wanted from the fabric so was quite happy to risk it with a project I wasn’t sure I would like. How wrong could I be? These are very comfortable to wear – breezy as you like for warm days – and despite expecting The Management to choke when he saw them he has declared them ‘very smart’. Wonders never cease! He also decided that they were ‘skrousers’ as they didn’t quite fit either category.

Sarrouel Trousers - She Wears the PantsThe seams made me think that it would have been useful to have included some in seam pockets, and also that I might prefer them a little shorter. I remembered that a shorter, much more involved, version was included in the ‘She Wears the Pants’ book I bought some time ago. I recall sniggering a bit when I saw them but I now think they would be well worth a try. Summer suit weight perhaps? This book is another of the wonderfully odd Japanese pattern books (the patterns are supplied) which would never fit me but I can crib ideas from them. Despite the title there are few ‘pants’.

Anyway, that makes three garments made for me (along with the Jasper Hoodie) in July and the PJ’s for The Management using 10 metres in total. Not quite as much as I bought this month but a small dent in the stash 🙂

 


Stash busting – and blown.

I have been settling into the idea of being more able to do things for me by …. doing very little. Oops. Not nothing, just not a great deal.

I have been sorting stash (always a bad idea – I get lost down a rabbit hole once I start stroking all the fabric) and decided on a few organised things I want to do. So what did I start with? Something completely off plan and totally unsuited to the weather at the time.

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Spot the hoodie! (Front)

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Spot the hoodie! (Front)

I made another Paprika Jasper hoodie.The fabric was a rich cream cotton and viscose mix (80/20) in a ribbed weave. I have had this for an age and am pleased to say that this is the last of this piece so is a proper bit of stash busting. I know that I will wear this loads once the weather cools down as I have almost killed off the navy version I made a while back. I know this is a pretty bland garment but that means I can mix it with a number of things in my wardrobe. I did try a number of more exciting buttons on the fabric but kept coming back to this thoroughly boring cream ones (which were also from stash – hurrah!).

Thoroughly pleased at the start of my stash busting quest I met Elaine (The Demented Fairy) and Glenda in Birmingham for a spin round the Rag Market and surrounding area on Tuesday. I should have known that despite my protestations that I wasn’t there to buy any more fabric that I would find something that begged to come home with me.

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Jacket fabric and button

Actually inside the market – our first stop after a reviving cup of tea – Elaine and I started to shake our purses out. She found a fabulous long curled hairpiece which matched her own hair beautifully, and will be perfect for her Steampunking  and anything else mad she wants to do. Then I found a fabulous leopard print canvas on a furnishing stall. I just called ‘jacket Kim’ to me and I was fumbling for my purse. At £5 pm it was a steal – and I found a gorgeous feature button just round the corner. No Anne, you can’t have it.

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Shirt fabric for The Management

Then, after Elaine had been seduced by a fabulous taffeta I saw this magnificent poly cotton which I knew The Management would like as a shirt (it was later approved). Aren’t those penguins cute! I was convinced as soon as I saw the baby penguins in grey. So cute. And can you spot the dancing penguins? (I went back into the Market later and Elaine had me buy a piece for her too).

I actually bought the elastic I intended to buy (yes ladies, that was really all I wanted) next along with two cream overlocker cops. I could have run away at that point – but no, I had to carry on didn’t I?

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Knitted leopard this time.

 

Glenda wanted to go to the jersey fabric stall which is outside and while she was rummaging I found this. It is synthetic but I wouldn’t like to guess at the composition, and quite a stable knit. It was the last piece so I got it at a very good price (I think about £8 for 2m) and I had initially thought it would make a great twist top from Pattern Magic I now have another idea. Watch this space as I want to try this soon. Still no Anne.

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The lovely Fairy (Elaine) and Glenda

 

We decided we needed to re fuel after this excitement despite Glenda not having bought anything so far and decided on another visit to Mount Fuji. Excellent nosh all round and a great opportunity to gossip for a while.

We did carry on to the Fancy Silk Store and Barrys  but I escaped without buying any more fabric. I did spot a nice twill weave with Snoopy and Woodstock printed on it but there wasn’t enough for jeans, which was my plan, and as it was polyester rather than cotton I decided to decline their offer of checking the Manchester store for me.

So, another great day out. But on balance I used just over 2m for the hoodie and have bought 5.5m . and I wonder why my stash is massive. There is some serious sewing planned over the next few weeks so I hope to knock a hole in it. Even a small hole would be a good start.


No sewing – but Punks!

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My fabrics – for me.

I have had a really good time of late – but very little sewing has been done. I had a lovely day in Birmingham at a meet organised by the magnificent Demented Fairy which she talked about in her post here . She is a great encourager of fabric purchases (as if I need the encouragement), and I came home with all of this despite not really intending to buy anything. The fabric from Barrys for me was really not necessary but it begged me to bring it home – I am still deciding what to do with it. The blue patterned fabric was from the ‘Liberty’ man in the outside market on a previous visit  and I was delighted to see how well it went with this lot.

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PJ fabric for The Management – except now he wants a shirt from one

The Management is in need of a couple of new pairs of PJ’s so I was happy to buy these lengths with that in mind. I really hadn’t considered that when I made the first pair in silly fabric it would mean he wants all his PJ’s made to order in future. At least this lot would be OK if he ever needed to go into hospital – I’m not sure what would be made of the tractors or helicopter pairs! The ‘bird box’ stripe and the fine black and red stripe were both from Barrys, but the other stripe was from a new fabric store which was new to all of us – EU Fabrics – still unpacking fabric but happy to take our money. They appear to be mainly wholesale but didn’t object to selling me 4 meters. There was some interesting stuff in here, maybe factory surplus? Anyway, we spotted neoprene and waxed cotton among other goodies and I will certainly be adding this to my shopping circuit.

I spent another few days in London last week. The Management had work based in central London and I bummed in on the trip. He seemed to enjoy the company but it must have been a bit galling to be told about my daily adventures when he had been working!

Tuesday was spent at the V&A, I love that place. I wandered through the underwear exhibition again and have to say I enjoyed it more this time. The photographs of Paul Strand were wonderful, I spent a good while in that exhibition. If you want to see this you will have to hurry as it closes early in July.

Wednesdays treat was a visit to the V&A’s sister site – The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. There were toys going bag to before my childhood and coming up to date. It was amusing and thought provoking to see how ‘safety’ has become much more of an issue recently. I’m sure we all remember having sewing sets and knitting Nancy’s like those pictured – child services would probably get involved if you gave a child needles now. Sad.

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Childrens goodies

On Thursday I had a swim at the magnificent Kings Cross Pond Club. The weather certainly helped but it was wonderful to swim in a ‘natural’ environment rather than a chlorinated pool. Kings Cross has changed immensely since my days living in Watford and traveling into London. There was an exhibition of punk, which was current at around the time I lived in Watford. It was a very enjoyable time in my life but I was never a punk. I probably wasn’t brave enough, and I’m not convinced that the bank which employed me would have approved 😉. This closed on Saturday so if you didn’t get there enjoy my pictures. Sorry that the quality isn’t great.

The Sex Pistols t-shirts relate to a single and album the are in our collection. I really enjoyed looking at this exhibition, and contemplating how the look was diluted and ended up in mainstream. I know that many people didn’t like punk but I think it was just the ‘disruptive influence’ of that particular time and there always needs to be one. And it gave us some great designers – Westwood being the obvious one (and very visible in this exhibition) but not the only one.

I spent some time around Soho in the fabric and haberdashery shops which I thoroughly enjoyed. Since I was sans Fairy I got away without buying fabric – and incidentally the prices make Birmingham shops look positively bargainous – but also without the zips I had hoped to buy for my ziggi jacket. Back to internet sources for those I think.

It will be good to get back to sewing this week. Strangely I have started to feel the creative itch – I just need to get active before it goes away again!

Whatever you are doing I hope it’s going well. 😃