Saturday, 24 March 2012

Happy Christmas me!

I think I was remiss in that I didn't do a sewing-related Christmas pressie post in December. Well, now is the time to let you know that one of James' Christmas gifts was a trip to Brussels to include a visit to CREATIVA - an exhibition for crafters. 

How exciting, I thought!  We couldn't really make much out from the website so I wasn't sure what to expect - but since we were spending the weekend in Brussels, along with our friends Sarah, Russel and baby Izzy, we didn't think it would matter if the exhibition turned out to be a flop.

Anyway, we caught the Eurostar last Friday, and on Saturday morning, Sarah and I left our menfolk in charge of the babies and the snack pots (they were headed for Antwerp Zoo) and we negotiated the Brussels tube system.

The day started well when a lovely french speaking lady gave us her spare tickets for the exhibition, as we walked up towards the entrance (thank you, whoever you are!) and then got even better as we walked into an enormous hall, and were handed a free sewing pattern and reusable bag to put all our goodies in...and then we looked up and saw...this

 Craft shopping heaven!

All morning was spent browsing up and down the isles, making sure we didn't miss anything. We were very controlled and the purses didn't come out until after lunch when we started filling up our shopping bags.  I would estimate that the hall was a third filled with paper crafting, a third with jewellery making and the most astonishing array of beads, findings and embellishments...and a third filled with fabric (joy!)

Want to see what I got?

Here's the haul:
  • A large piece of french linen, printed with cream polka dots
  • A funky roll of vinyl, printed with glossy magazine covers (I'm thinking insides of make-up bags)
  • A metre of this "Big Daisy Dot" Michael Miller print

  • A metre of that abstract design cotton (top middle - not my normal colours but I thought I'd add it to the stash)
  • A large chunk of Echino
  • Two stamps, one with text on, to give stamping on fabric a go!
  •  Three fat quarters, including that gorgeous tape-measure fabric
  • Plus a length of opulent ribbon and some Liberty binding

  •  This fab vintage style fabric that I had to unfold before taking the picture, just so can see the fab-ness!

  • A whole host of little bits and bobs - including a jar of teeny buttons, an "F" button (guess who that's for!), three reels of sewing related sticky tape and a little wooden red-riding hood (for what purpose, I'm not sure!)  
All in all, a VERY pleasing day, and the babies apparently loved the zoo (and they even got some sex education when some Condors decided to get...errr friendly!)

To top it off we found a cool fabric shop when wandering round an arty part of Brussels the next day where I picked up this zingy vinyl, and two metres of cotton by "Petit pan"

Hmm....more fabric is entering this house than is going out at the moment...I need to get sewing!


Friday, 23 March 2012

Little girl's skirt tutorial - sew get started!

If you click here to pop over and see the lovely Sarah who blogs at Fairy Face designs, you will see she is featuring a tutorial for a little girl's skirt like these, written by little old me!

Thanks for the slot Sarah, and I hope a few little ladies get a new skirt as a result of this tutorial!


PS Back later with some fabric pictures :)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Am I mad?

I joked about it in my last post, but since then I have actually decided to make my own wedding dress...however, even whilst I am typing this I am questioning my sanity! Why is she doing this, oh why? why? I hear you ask...

a) I don't want a traditional dress, I want a fifies style below knee frock with big underskirts (like the picture above - oh how I would like my waist to look like that!), but in a bright print.  Somehow this feels a bit more achievable than a traditional wedding gown with all the embellishments!
b) I've hopefully found a 1950s specialist designer/dressmaker who is local and has agreed to give me some "in the moment" lessons and guidance
c) Wouldn't it be totally cool to wear a one-off, and say to everyone, "Oh this? I sewed it myself...(!)"

I'm meeting the designer on Thursday, but from our phone call last week she suggested I practice inserting invisible zips.  Not one to need any excuse to sew, I had a go yesterday...following a few You Tube videos I found.

First time round my zip was extremely visible! (forgot to get a picture of the sorry state though). I unpicked it and found some advice online to iron the reverse of the zip to flatten the rolled over teeth, enabling stitching much closer to the zip teeth.

It worked!  Here's a photo to prove it:

And what did I sew the zip to?  Well, a little dress for Felix of course!

(whilst I am pleased with the zip and the applique, I am really not pleased with my other dress-making skills, namely, not thinking to add a facing or a lining, making a right hash of binding the armholes, and the width across the shoulders which makes Felix look like she's wearing an overall - live and learn eh?)

So back to THE dress...I am told that half the battle will be finding the perfect fabric.  I am also told that quilting cottons will be too heavy, so I am shocked to find that despite the task being fabric shopping, I am seriously out of my depth!  I would not know a dupion silk if it smacked me in the face!

Therefore, can anyone recommend any good dressmaking fabric shops in London or the South East where the service is friendly, the fabric is excellent quality (I don't mind paying for quality in this instance) and the shop carries a good selection of prints?   We are heading up to London next week, to Libertys and The Cloth House.  But other shop recommendations would be very welcome indeed!


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Treating myself :)

I treated myself on Friday.   For those of you that know me, no, I did not consume an entire giant white Toblerone, nor did I have a fabric shopping spree.  This treat involved four uninterrupted hours sitting at the sewing machine, sewing something just for me!  It was bliss!  Little Felix was at the childminders (and I am happy to report that she now adores the place and cries when I make her leave) so I decided that rather than doing washing (surprise surprise) or even sewing something to sell, I'd just do something I wanted to do.
Modern Mini Challenge
I'd seen the Modern Mini quilt competition going on over at Ellison Lane Quilts and had been inspired by all the amazing ideas that had been posted in the blog hop that Jennifer had organised in the run up to this competition.  A few ideas were buzzing around in my head for my entry...and one of them was getting to grips with triangles, and I mean the tricky equilateral ones rather than the (also tricky) half-square ones I work with more often.  Lynne, over at Lilys quilts made a fabulous triangle mini-quilt, and Laura at Needles, Pins and Baking tins worked some magic with equilateral triangles on a large quilt recently too.

So, I started slicing some up, using any nice rainbow-y scraps that I had.  Rather than make a template, I used my 12" x 6" cutting ruler which has a 60 degree angle marked on it.  I used the edge of the ruler to determine my triangle size, so ended up cutting triangles that were 3" tall.

Once I had a few, I started playing with the layout, and liked the triangle shape so much I opted to stick with that and graduated the colours from one point to another, filling in any gaps by slicing into my stash. 

I ironed all the triangles to a large piece of interfacing and planned to piece them by folding each row over and stitching a seam into the interfacing (this technique) but my plan was foiled!  As soon as I seamed a couple of rows, I found that the diagonal rows became misaligned (see below), and therefore it wouldn't be possible to stitch them all in this way.  Don't ask me why, the maths is beyond me!

Not to be beaten, I had a cup of coffee and then sliced the big triangle back into little triangles (now handily interfaced!).  And then started pieced them into strips in the traditional way!

My four hours was over by this point, so the piecing and the quilting has been finished over the weekend.  I opted for a natural linen coloured furnishing weight fabric for the back, and a dark grey binding.  I quilting the triangles in the ditch in a dark grey thread.  This was a "should I, shouldn't I?" moment as the dark grey thread really shows up any inaccuracies in the piecing (and there are some I'm afraid!) but I wanted the triangles to pop, and thought the grey thread did this better than white.  Finished,  each side of my triangle measures about 23", and the height of the quilt is 19.5".

So, want to see it?  Here it is :)

This is my new favourite thing I've sewn!  

I keep popping by the sewing room and stroking it!

I love that looks cool whichever way up it is, so I added a fabric hanging corner on each point so I can rotate it whenever I feel like it, and have hung it next to my sewing machine...hoping that it'll inspire me to treat myself more often!