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 ūüôā

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!)



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?

Craftsy Sale

Unwrap the Savings! Click to see all classes on sale!

I think we all deserve a nice gift to ourselves. Maybe a good time to snap up that course you were looking at? Click on the picture to go straight to their site.

P.S. I have been making things but it is for gifts so I will reveal what I have been doing on Boxing Day.


Islander Jacket Express – Finished!

Hurrah I hear you cry! About time – Hood has finished her jacket. Yes, this has taken far longer than it should have – but I am pretty happy with the result. It would be good to know how long it took to actually sew it, rather than how long it has taken because of life getting in the way.

The finished article

The finished article 

Topstitching and pocket detail

Topstitching and pocket detail

Now that the jacket has buttons on, and the total impression is given, I am not too concerned about the ‘correctional facility’ orange. It is pretty bright – no escaping that – but it will be fine if it is worn with a more subdued colour. The buttons (not studs as I had intended) look very good, and the buttonholes were beautifully worked by the old Singer hand crank machine with buttonhole attachment. Beautifully. Better than my computerized Pfaff would have managed despite costing¬†way more than the old Singer.

As I had the Singer out I decided to try the top stitching (with the upholstery thread I used) with the old girl. I did the jackets topstitching on the spare Janome machine I keep as I couldn’t get a really good tension on the Pfaff and needed to adjust the bottom tension to get a good(ish) finish. Even having spent a fairly significant time messing with the tensions on the Janome to get the result I wanted I really wasn’t 100% happy. As a result I am afraid I did get a little slapdash, so the topstitching doesn’t stand up to really close examination. Step up the old Singer. Without doing anything to the tensions (and I only changed the needle because I couldn’t physically get the thread through the eye!) the result was amazing. Truly amazing. I am never going to topstitch on another machine again. I know that Melissa had made a comment about the quality of topstitch she got from her old hand crank machine in her jeans post. So what did they know about building machines then that seems to have got lost?

Singer on left  Modern machine  on the right.

Singer on left Modern machine on the right.

So, what did I get out of this Craftsy course?

  • I don’t need to pin the bejaysus out of everything. I now have the confidence to use many fewer pins, even if not going ‘pinless’.
  • Rotary cutters are much more useful than I thought. And a gift to sore joints.
  • Frixion pens are wonderful. Really, really wonderful. A great new tool in my armory.
  • My vision is worse than I thought! Thank ¬†you Janet Pray for bringing the magnifying¬†visor¬†to my attention. I have used these on a number of jobs since I had them delivered, and I can’t imagine being without them now. I no longer care about walking the house looking like an alien.

If I hadn’t learned anything from the sewing side the new knowledge about the Rolson magnifyer, and the Frixion pens alone would justify the cost of the course for me. I have sewn since childhood, but always ‘domestic’ methods, so it was good to see the way that Janet batched the processes so that you worked more efficiently. The booklet with the pattern gave most of the information needed to work in this fashion, but the video lessons were great. For anyone who is fairly new to sewing (though I think a certain amount of knowledge would be helpful) this is a great course. Even dinosaurs like me learned new tricks from it.




Islander Jacket Express – 2

I have managed to make a start on sewing the jacket today – the Management was going to be home from work a little late so I decided to press on for a little while. Whilst I had decided which interlining I was going to use (an iron on cotton from stash) I hadn’t cut it out, so I made a start on the body and sleeve seams.

One of the main time saving elements that Janet is teaching in this course is the sewing of seams¬†without using pins to anchor them. It took quite a leap of faith to try this but as I am using ridiculously cheap, and very forgiving, cotton twill I jumped right in. What a revelation! The main thing you need for this is confidence so making this particular jacket is going to help lots. I, like many dressmakers, have grown to rely on pinning things into place – all of which slows things down in Janets opinion, and I have to say after today I would be inclined to agree. The seams went together easily, and without my finishing up with an excess on one or other layer. I would say that you are shown a very simple but effective way of holding the fabric on the Craftsy course which helps anchor the fabric well. It will take more practice before I would be prepared to ‘go pinless’ on an important or expensive fabric, but I could see how it might happen. I will almost certainly be using fewer pins in future.

All pressed ready for topstitching

All pressed ready for top-stitching

I managed to sew the sleeves and body pieces together, overlock (serge), and press them in what seamed like a very short time. I have deviated a little from Janet Prays instructions, but having cut and fused all of the pieces that needed to be interlined ready for tomorrow, I will back track when I start again and get to the point in the instructions ready to start top-stitching.

All interlined ready to get going

All interlined ready to get going tomorrow

So far, so good!

Islander Jacket Express -1

A little while ago I enrolled on Janet Prays ‘Sew better, Sew faster: Garment Industry Secrets course on Craftsy. It took me a little while to make a ¬†start on this as I was a bit peeved to have to pay VAT+Post Office charge on the imported pattern. I should have known that I would have to at some point – but it was galling that the Post Office handling charge was more than the tax to pay. As I bought the course while it was on sale I really have no cause for complaint.

Sew Better, Sew Faster


Anyway, I have been threatening to make something for myself for a little while but someone else always seems to jump ahead. I justified this as research.  I traced off the size I wanted to use rather than cutting the pattern as I may want to make a different size later. Rather than using the size I thought I should, from my body measurements, I have cut according to the amount of ease I wanted using the finished garment measurement. The size I thought I needed would have ended up with a massive amount of ease!

I have been spending tea breaks and such watching the online classes, and have bought a couple of things that I think may be useful. The first was a Rolson Magnifying head torch thingy from Amazon. Janet uses a professional standard tool called an Optivisor, but this was a fraction of the cost and included a torch on the visor. I have used mine today to unpick some tiny stitches on a linen garment for a client РI think I am converted. This has already proved its worth.

The other thing I bought was a pack of FRIXION erasable pens. Janet uses these frequently to fine line mark points on the garment. They can be erased with a hot iron, but obviously I will need to test them on my fabric before I go wild.

You may remember I recently bought a pair of Gingher shears which I have been very happy with. I was intending to use these to cut out the jacket – but Janet uses a roller cutter with mat. I have used mine just for cutting strips for bias binding and such but never thought they would be very good for an entire garment. Well, some things you just have to try. WOW! I was amazed at how quickly I got used to the pressure needed to cut both layers of cotton twill, and how to work my way around curves. I can’t say I am never going to use shears again but I am seriously impressed with how easy this job was. Like many dressmakers of many years experience (NO, not OLD dressmakers!) my wrist and hand does ache after cutting out and this really did seem to help.

Cutting out with the roller thingy!

Cutting out with the roller thingy!

I decided I had done enough tonight so I will cut the interfacings out tomorrow and see how far I get then. I still have reservations about the colour of this jacket but it is a way of trying out this system without being in the least concerned about cost . Or making a cattywompus (which after hearing Janet use the word today is one I will be adopting and making as much use of as I can!)


I meant to sew today……

….. but I got completely engrossed in other things.

Yesterday I met a very warm and generous lady who replied to an appeal I made on the Freecycle network  for a sour dough starter. Several people,including Tanya at Chica Andaluza and Nothing But Knit (clearly not just knitting!) have been making sour dough bread,  and I was terribly envious. My own efforts at making a sour dough starter ended in dismal failure Рhence the appeal on Freecycle.

Janice Bell lives in Bewdley and runs Bread at Home courses, and very kindly gave me starters for both white and rye bread. Needless to say I started the ‘sponge’ as soon as I had cleared away tea last night and have continued the bread today. My house smells fabulous – and I am now stuffed full of samples from both loaves which I ate at tea time. Yummy.

Sour dough loaves - no longer this big!

Sour dough loaves – no longer this big!

In addition to making these loaves I have been gathering what I need for my next project. I am going to allocate an hour per day before I start work on client jobs to make this jacket. I bought the course from the Craftsy website to see what could be learned from someone who has sewn in industry, rather than just domestic sewing. I have made a start watching some of the lessons, and have already gained some new ideas (Fluxion pens are new to me – I can’t wait to try them out!). The cotton twill was bought a little while ago for peanuts from Birmingham Rag Market so if I don’t like the eventual outcome it won’t have cost a lot and hopefully I will have learned some new skills.

All I need to start?

All I need to start?

I will show you how I am getting along through the week. If I eat much more bread I may need to cut a larger size!