My gift criteria = The Ida Clutch

My friend is having a birthday and a present is required! I think I have made a rod for my own back with this present giving business.  About 90% of the time, I make something.  My friends and family don’t expect a homemade gift but I do think that if I can make it, then I will.  I think a homemade gift sings of love and the precious commodity of ‘my time’.

Lately, I have made enough Sashiko zip wallets to sink a battleship, so a change was needed (for my sanity alone).

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I stumbled across this cute clutch bag pattern by Kylie and the Machine on Instagram. The Ida clutch was exactly what I was looking for.

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Image from @kylieandthemachine

I have been thinking about the gifts I make and have drawn up a simple criteria:

  • an easy make
  • only use fabrics/notions/patterns from my stash
Of course, this is not always possible but I wanted to give it a go here.
I started off this project by checking out Kylie’s website.  The Ida clutch pattern is free and easy to download from her site.  That’s one massive tick in the’ gift giving’ criteria box. So I printed it out and off I went.
There are fantastic instructions on her blog, the photography is great and the written instructions are very clear.  It’s an easy make (another tick). You will also find a whole section about interfacing the clutch, interfacing is key to the structure of this make.

The final part to my criteria is using fabric and notions from my stash.  I found it, the perfect fabric! The leftover fabric from a raglan sleeve top I made back in August last year.

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Check out my blog post “A synthetic dream!

It’s a Tessuti Fabric that I discovered on the remnant table.  It’s a monochrome nylon mesh fabric so it’s very textured as you can see here. A lovely tactical fabric for this clutch, it’s the perfect combo.

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(It also makes your eyes go a bit squiffy!)

As my criteria states that I needed to use what’s on hand, I had to be creative with the interfacing.  This is Kylie’s recommendation, a lighter interfacing to cover the outer fabric then a stiffer interfacing to cover the main body of the clutch.

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Image from: Kylie and the Machine
 I didn’t have this I used a medium interfacing to cover the outer pieces, then I sandwiched some heavy wadding and interfacing together for the body piece. This seemed to give it the structure it needed.  I also (possibly overcompensated) by using fairly heavy fabrics.  The Nylon mesh fabric has a synthetic textured structure (i.e. no drape or stretch) and for the lining I used a heavy dark denim.

I wouldn’t normally top stitch near the zip but I followed instructions and I am glad I did.  The mesh is really ‘bouncy’ and it is not a friend to the iron, so pressing is redundant.  The top stitching really helped it to sit flat next to the zip.

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Top stitching

I am always apprehensive of using a snap which was a requirement here.  I think the ones I have (of unknown source) are fairly poor quality, but I tested them out a couple of times. The fact that I was using such heavy fabric really helped me here. The snaps seemed to worked well and I have to say, they aren’t going anywhere!

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Zip: Who Says Sew

Finally for the zip, this is a new addition to the collection at Who Says Sew.  It’s a lovely YKK metal teeth zip with ring pull. The colour choice here was my only big decision; yellow, red or wine.  I think if it was a clutch for me then I would have gone yellow but as I kept reminding myself, it wasn’t! I went for the wine colour, it still gives it the ‘pop’ I was looking for.

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You can see how well the structure holds up here

I did have to alter the length of the zip slightly and because it’s a metal zip, a pair of pliers and a little tutorial by Makery was required. I will no longer be afraid of altering a metal zip, it was super easy.

So here it is…

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So yummy!
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Running away…

I see many more of these in my future, I may even resort to type and make a Sashiko version. Problem is, I don’t want to give this one away.  Let’s hope she really doesn’t like it!

x

The saga of some giant ruffles and a summer shirt!

My nerves are shot to bits… I keep catching something in the corner of my eye and it’s…. a GIGANTIC ruffle!

What am I talking about? Well, I have been lusting over this pattern for ages.  It’s the Suzon Shirt from Republique du Chiffon.  I like their patterns, understated with a twist, my kinda thing.  So I put in an order with Stitch56 and bought the paper pattern.  I don’t often buy paper patterns, I am a ‘PDF-er’ so it was lovely to receive this sweet package, a cool kraft envelope, some lovely photography and basic instruction manual.  Nothing fancy, but that’s OK, I don’t need fancy, I just need a good pattern. Mmmmm…

OK, so where to start.  I made a toile.  I thought I should as I am short in the body and narrow across the shoulders so a few things could go wrong.  I chose the size 38 and graded out slightly to a 40 for the hips.

I am glad I toiled, there were problems.

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It was way too long.  So I went back to the pattern to find the shorten/lengthen line but there isn’t one.  I took a punt and reduced it by 6cm at the waist.

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The second issue was the bust dart.  It was way too low for me, sitting right under my boob. Thought I should nudge that up by 1.5cm.  Also the bust dart is very long.  It went way past my nipple point.  It was at least 2.5cm too long.  So I reduced the length and moved the dart.

The other issue I encountered, which isn’t shown in these photos is the ruffle.  As there are no notches on the ruffle to match to the yoke or the body it left me feeling kinda lost, I had about 4cm left over at one end.

So, the toile sat there on my dummy for weeks. I knew the answer, I just couldn’t bare to tackle it.

The answer was notches. Surely notches are necessary to ensure the right amount of gathering in each section.  I did what I had to do,  I decided to notch the ruffle, front yoke, back yoke, the front body and the back body.  Overkill?  No, I don’t think so.  It took me AGES to work it all out.  Time I would assume the pattern maker should have spent.  Am I asking too much?

With the pattern altered and notched I was finally away.  The fabric I had chosen is a joy to me.  It’s a lovely piece of brushed cotton from Fabworks in Dewsbury.  My Mum bought if for me when I dragged my parents there on my recent visit to the UK.  I say recent, that was back in June. I haven’t seen fabric like this before.  There are tiny threads of colour, like a thread splatter, on an off white cotton base. I just love it,  it is subtle but interesting.  Am I finally growing up?

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I decided to take the time to mark tailors tacks everywhere, with all the pulling of the gathers I thought that the chalk marks would be lost. Tailors tacks were a better option.  I used some floro orange thread just for fun. You can just see them sticking out here.

It came together fairly quickly after that.  The collar and plackets were relatively straightforward to add.  I should say though, if you like detailed illustrations at every stage, you don’t get them here.  There’s just enough to get the idea.

I was keen to try my buttonhole function on my Bernina 350.  I have made the odd buttonhole here and there but not a row of identical buttonholes.  It’s pretty awesome in that once it has made one it goes into auto and makes all the other exactly the same.  All you have to do is move it to it’s next position.  I am sure all you lovely sewers with great machines have had this function for years.  It’s a revelation to me.  I see many more buttonholes in my future.

The only issue with the pattern here was that there were no buttonhole markings supplied on the pattern.  It tells you in the instructions where they should go, but I like to see it marked on the pattern.

It worked out well in the end, even with all the work I put into it.  It’s not a beginners pattern that’s for sure.  It’s categorised as 2/4, so is that advanced beginners or intermediate?  But it’s the design that I love so I am willing to forget the effort involved.  Because I finished it a few weeks ago, like giving birth, you forget the pain fairly quickly because you have something quite beautiful to show at the end!

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Excuse the creases, I had been wearing it all day!
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It’s so soft that it’s like wearing my pj top
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It’s not a fitted shirt, it quite boxy in shape which works well to cover my tum
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The ruffles are a bit flat here, clearly been sitting down too long.
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The finger?  Well that’s another story….

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new silhouette (aka does my bum look big in this?)

It seems like an age since my last blog post, how did that happen?

I haven’t sewn much lately, work is crazy busy and fun sewing projects seem to get put on the back burner.  So I decided to take a stand.  I put the hoovering, cooking and taxi driving to one side and thought about myself for once.

I have been wanting to make a skirt for ages but could never find the right pattern. We are also hitting autumn here and even though the humidity is unbelievable, I can feel a change a coming.  I need a transeasonal skirt and I found one in the form of a free sewing pattern from a Peppermint Magazine and In the Folds collaboration.

 

How cute is this?  It’s a pleated skirt with lovely big pockets.  I love it, but does it love me?

I am often unsure about this shape on me.  I am a pear with a tum, was this going to just exaggerate the bits I’m not keen on?  I took a gamble and gave it a go.

I usually make a toile but in this instance I didn’t.  It’s a forgiving pattern so I followed the pattern sizing and opted for a C, which is a size 10.  Normally I would grade out one size for my hips but with the pleating and volume in the skirt I just went for it and cut the straight C.  I am thrilled to say, it’s a really great fit.  I can’t remember the last time I made something without some serious alterations.  The only tweek I made was, unsurprisingly, to the length.  I reduced the length by 6cm and it sits perfectly on the knee.

I didn’t buy new fabric for this pattern, I raided my stash.  I love the patterned fabric in the magazine but I wanted something plain.  I KNOW… plain!  Sometimes you just have to put the patterned fabric aside.

This stash fabric was found at my local charity shop. I think it cost me the princely sum of $3.  Always hard to know exactly what it is, but I would say it’s some kind of brushed cotton mix with a very subtle herringbone texture running through it.  And it’s purple. Yes, that surprised me too. I am generally not a lover of purple.

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The fabric was a bugger to work with.  It was quite drapey and moved around a lot.  It also kept collecting ironing marks, so pressing was an issue throughout the whole process. I think the pleats could do with sharpening up with the iron but I was too eager to wear it to be bothered with that!

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The pattern itself was pretty awesome.  I haven’t done much pleating before, I have never really fancied them.  The pleating was a bit fiddly but with some proper chalking up it was easy to follow.  The top stitching down was a great idea as it flattens the pleats and takes out the volume round your tum. Top marks for instructions and design as always!

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But the big question is, does my bum look big in this?

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note: crazy kids making me laugh here!

Answer: Yes, probably, maybe, not sure… but really who cares?

I like it. I like the colour and I like the fact that I swish around in it. I love the fact that it has giant pockets. Time to embrace a new silhouette I think!

 

 

A sneaky bit of Sashiko stitching!

I find the summer holidays a challenge when it comes to sewing time. I am sure I am not alone.  But I do find that I can grab the odd half hour here and there of hand sewing time.  Sashiko and Boro are perfect for such moments.

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Here I am watching ‘the middle one’ at soccer training with some stitching in hand. Of course, I could be watching him train for an hour but what’s the fun in that?

I have been working on this particular piece for a couple of weeks.  I used some scrap pieces from other projects, like black denim and grey linen which I added to some beautiful pieces of Japanese fabric from Indigo Niche and some Kogin fabric from Bebe Bold.  I also used traditional Sashiko thread in denim blue, orange and white, again from Bebe Bold. Of course you can use embroidery floss but the Sashiko thread doesn’t split like embroidery floss tends to do.

I used some traditional techniques and then improvised using ideas from the slow sewing workshop I attended last year, run by Craft School Oz.  A happy marriage I would say.  I am thrilled with the result, although it was hard to stop stitching!

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Sad for me, but this piece is something I am parting with.  Yes, a present for my lovely friend.  A birthday present, a very belated birthday present.  I am hoping it’s loveliness will excuse my tardiness.

Of course I could gift this piece as it stands, she’s a creative sole, she would find a purpose for it but I wanted to send something useful. I thought that a purse of some kind would work, something big enough for makeup perhaps.  It’s a simple process making this into a purse but I though I would do a quick tutorial in my next blog post about how to do this.

In the meantime, here is the finished purse.

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I love these metal antique-style brass zips, I bought this one from Who Says Sew. I also used some grey cotton to line the inside, these pieces were from my scrap box.
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I used this Japanese fabric from Indigo Niche for the back

Lets hope this piece doesn’t go missing in the post (as some of my homemade Christmas presents did!)  Happy birthday to Bev x

 

 

I made a Christmas dress! (no santas or snowmen were harmed)

I rarely make myself anything for Christmas but this year I just fancied a little dress that would allow me to eat an extra mince pie.

I know, I know, I have made the same pattern again.  I just can’t help myself.  I have chosen to make The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern Book “Stylish Party Dresses” by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

These are my versions of this pattern so far, a top hack, a long sleeve top hack and a black crepe dress. I love it, it’s an easy one to make and sometimes easy is just what I need.  It’s also extremely useful when I am very time poor, which of course, I always am at this time of year.

I spotted this fantastic fabric on Pitt Trading‘s Instagram page.  It was love at first sight.  The fabric is just amazing, it had to be mine.  It’s rare that I make impulse fabric purchases but this is one of those rare occasions.  I am sure you can see why I just went for it.

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The description was polyester, large digital print, 150cm wide.  I had visions of a floaty rayon type fabric but it wasn’t that at all.  It was almost like a lightweight scuba.  Not unhappy with this turn of events I have to say.  It has body and I like a bit of body in my fabrics.   It also had a bit of stretch so I thought I would treat it as a stretch fabric.

I decided to use my walking foot throughout this process, but use a standard needle and not a ballpoint.  I also decided to finish the seams with a 3 strand overlocked edge to help the seams sit flatter.

The dress itself is an easy one, made before many times so the only things to contend with was managing the fabric.  The walking foot and the overlocking worked a treat but pressing was an issue.  The fabric has bounce.  I remembered an excellent video blog post by Did You Make That? about such issues, using a clapper and some simple ironing techniques so I followed her lead.

I don’t own a clapper and I am sure many sewers don’t so I had to find an alternative.  What I did end up using was our sleeve pressing ham.  It’s long and heavy (perhaps not as flat as it could be) but it did help reduce the fabric’s bounce.

I was super careful when pressing, using a piece of fabric as a pressing cloth just incase I scorched the fabric.  I have burnt fabric so many times, often at the end of a make, like here.  It often results in tears and a lot of swearing.  You would think that I had learnt my lesson but it seems not. I slipped, missed the pressing cloth and burnt the shoulder of the dress in it’s final press.  If it had been on a black piece of the pattern I think I could have lived with it but no it was on the peach panel, right on the shoulder for all to see.  There was no option but to remove the sleeve and recut it.

Sometimes these things prove to be happy accidents.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the neckline.  It is faced and with this slightly thicker and bouncer fabric it just wasn’t sitting as flat as I like.

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I had under stitched the neckline but when I clipped the curve (as per instructions) it started to look quite jagged and bulky.  You could also see the clipping after I pressed and topstitched.

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Pre-burn shot: I burnt the peach piece on the right shoulder.

So when removing the right sleeve, I removed the top stitching, under stitching and facing from the neckline.  Due to the clipping I also had to cut the neckline back a little, which was fine. I decided to use some bias binding to finish the neckline.  I am much happier with the result.

I decided against any kind of pattern matching but did want the neckline to be predominately black so to hide the top stitching.  I was also super anal with the hemming and changed the thread from black to peach and back again when finishing.  Has anyone done that before or is it just me?

Lessons were learnt with this make. I have since made a pressing cloth with a tag which now hangs next to my iron as a constant reminder.  I think the other lesson was to sew more instinctively.  I thought to myself that binding would be better than facing on the neckline but dismissed it.  Go with your instincts.

So here it is.  I love it and have already worn it a couple of times.

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New sleeve in place…
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Notice the machine hemming – it’s invisible as I changed the thread
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Love the green panel around the neckline here
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Much happier with the neckline (even though I don’t look it!)

I am really loving this fabric, I also have enough left to make something else.  I am thinking a little self drafted skirt??  I just can’t leave this fabric in my stash!

 

Round up – 2016!

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It’s that time of year again.  It’s my sewing oscars.  A time to mull over my makes from 2016 and reflect on my sewing resolutions.  I started this little idea last year and I quite enjoyed the process so here we are again.

The resolutions I set for myself are quite interesting and I am pleased to say I have moved a little closer to achieving them.  I have set them out here.

Resolution 1: What I would like is to be a more conscious shopper. Seriously considering what I am buying, do I need it and what are the ethical implications of the item. I plan on buying second hand or vintage and wearing homemade as much as possible.

I can say that, yes, I am achieving this.  I think the only items of clothing I have bought this year are underwear, a pair of jeans and the odd vintage piece.  I am sure that these items could easily be made, but I am just not that keen on making jeans or underwear.  Convert me! Happy to hear your experiences.

Resolution 2: I would like to try my hand at menswear. I am the only woman in our house, I don’t even have a girl pet! I think I should perhaps embrace this concept once in a while, maybe I will start with something for the hubbie. I bought the Colette Negroni shirt pattern today, maybe this is a good place to start.   I would also like to make some more interesting pieces, something that my pre-teen boys would happily wear.

Mmm… not quite made the leap into menswear.  I now have 2 shirt patterns that I am interested in making for my husband but so far, nothing.  Although I should say I have made a t-shirt for my 11 year old and numerous tees and shorts for the little one.  Not that interesting but at least I made them something.

Resolution 3: I want to slow down! I get so excited about fabric and patterns that I sew at break-neck speed. Time for reflection I think.

Yes, this has definitely happened.  Mainly due to time restrains more than a conscious decision though.  I have made far fewer pieces this year than last.

Resolution 4: Last but not least, I want to reduce the fabric stash! No new fabric. Yes I know, that’s on every sewers list but I would really like to try… (Well, I will, once I have spent my Christmas Tessuti voucher!)

Yeah, right…

THE SEWING OSCARS 2016

So here they are, nothing controversial I hope!

MAKE OF THE YEAR

I think to be considered ‘Make of the Year’ it should be something that I am proud of and also a very wearable piece.  If that’s the criteria then my self drafted denim kimono wins hands down. I lived in this throughout autumn, winter and into spring.  It goes with everything!  I also love the punk-ish tartan lining and the gigantic comedy sleeves .  It’s just my most versatile make to date.

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DRESS OF THE YEAR

Way too easy, it’s the Acton.  No doubt in my mind.  I wear this dress to every occasion.  It’s been back to the UK for a wedding, it has been to every dinner date, birthday party and even the occasional art exhibition.  It could easily have been my ‘refashion of the year’, ‘fabric of the year’ or ‘make of the year’ but then that would be a bit singular.  I have big love for this dress (and the pattern designer as you know!)

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GIFT OF THE YEAR (aka. unselfish sewing)

It’s a tough one this year because I have actually been quite selfish.  I have made a few little Christmas gifts this year which I am rather in love with (lets hope the recipients are too!)

But I think this one is my favourite, Margie’s kimono.  I totally loved making this for Margie and just look how well she wears it!

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REFASHION OF THE YEAR

Of course my Acton dress was a big contender for this, making a dress and a jacket (yet to be blogged) out of a kimono was really a huge challenge.  But, just to mix it up a bit I have chosen my “The Refashioners 2016” entry.  It’s a great refashion out of some scraps and a pair of jeans making an all time favourite sweatshirt.

 

FABRIC OF THE YEAR

Always a tough one, here are the runners up which include my own hand painted fabric (top right), some gifted fishy-ness, an old tablecloth (bottom right) and some rockin’ rayon (bottom left).

I finally settled on this rather wonderful piece from Faberwood. The quality of the knit is outstanding, it was a pleasure to sew.  But it’s the pattern that stands out.  It’s such a beautiful bold himmeli pattern and large in scale.  (A bugger to shoot though!)

 

SECOND HAND SCORE 2016

Rolling ‘charity shop score’ and ‘vintage score’ into one category this year, mainly due to lack of shopping (see: resolutions!)  I found this marvellous 90’s shirt in a cool vintage store in Sheffield in the summer.  It holds happy memories as I was shopping with one of my oldest and most treasured friends at the time, the sun was shining and it was hot.  I know, hot in Sheffield!

It feels a bit odd buying clothing that I had probably given away myself, but still, its fantastic and the colours really blow my mind.

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PATTERN OF THE YEAR

Mmmm…. tough one. I have really enjoyed a number of patterns this year, the contenders are;

The Acton Dress for its magic and interesting construction.

The Frankie Dress for it’s sheer ease and wearability.

The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses for it’s endless hack-ability, I have used this for a few makes this year.

But for me, the winner is a much simpler make and of course it’s a knit.  It’s the Sweater Dress from In the Folds/Peppermint Magazine.  I know it’s an easy one, but I have made it a few times and I love it for it’s simplicity, clear instructions, price-tag (it’s free) AND of course the pockets!!

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DUD OF THE YEAR

No doubt in my mind about this one.  It has to be this horror.  I look like I should be shovelling chips at the school canteen circa. 1985.  The photoshoot was also bad so I even get this ‘vaseline smeared lens’ look just to top it off. The top is too big, one size fits all is nonsense and not particularly flattering.  I am also not sure the colour is me, which is sad because the fabric is so soft and lovely.

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It is currently in pieces, mid refashion.  It may prove fruitless but I think it deserves my time.

That’s it for this years sewing oscars. Do you agree with my choices? I am pleased with my makes this year but I think there is plenty of room for improvement.

My resolutions this year are unchanged.  I think they are relevant and I want to work hard to maintain them in 2017.  Who’s with me?

The Christmas countdown… only 3 weeks to go!

Just a gentle reminder that Christmas is only 3 weeks away.

This, infact, sends me into a flat panic as I have to make and post all my presents to the UK, so my deadline is sooner than most.  So far I have managed to make 3 items which I am super pleased about.  There’s nothing like making sweatshirts for a UK winter in 30 degree heat!

Sweatshirts aren’t exactly what’s needed for our Sydney summer, but if you are looking for a present then a ‘Sewing with Kate’ gift certificate could be the answer.  Has your favourite person always wanted to sew?  Is your partner always looking for the perfect gift for you? A new years resolution perhaps? If so, this could be the perfect gift.

Learn how to use a sewing machine or make your own clothes or even learn some mending techniques.  Sewing is lifelong skill, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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The gift certificate doubles as this cute sewing kit with some cotton, pins, needles and a button, there is also space to write a little message.  It is wrapped in a festive felt envelope and tied together with a sewing charm.  There are lots of colours and charms to choose from.

Just drop me a message through the contact page or Facebook and I will get back to you ‘tout suite’.

How can you resist it? x

There’s no ‘walk of shame’ with a Boomerang Bag!

A few weeks ago I met a lovely lady called Jude Furniss.  She is someone who I have wanted to meet for a while.  She is a local, she is president of the Surfriders Foundation (Manly branch) and she is also the community leader of Boomerang Bags here in Manly.  She is passionate about protecting Australia’s waves and beaches through conservation and activism and her enthusiasm is infectious.

Did you know an estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in our waterways and marine environment in Australia every year? Plastic pollution is killing our marine life. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris. (source: Greenpeace)

After our meeting, it became apparent to me that Boomerang Bags was something that I could help with. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in making shopping bags. They use recycled and second hand materials donated by individuals and businesses. So far they have made over 48,000 bags nationally.

Locally, a campaign called Plastic Free Manly is aiming to to make our community plastic bag free by sighting Boomerang Bags as one of it’s possible solutions.  That’s my kinda gig! I can’t begin to tell you how many times I pop into the shops only to forget my shopping bags and then resort to a plastic bag.  I scurry out of the shop carrying it (the walk of shame), pledging to do better next time!

The initiative is trying to persuade local businesses to have a box of Boomerang Bags available for ‘the forgetful’ which can then be dropped back when next shopping.  There are already a few businesses on board, notably The Butcher & The Chef inside Harris Farm Food.  They have been huge supporters of Boomerang Bags.  Within the next 2 weeks, the aim is to sign up at least 20 more local businesses.

I bumped into Jude in the playground last week where she was asking the parents if they could make the shopping bags from the kits she had prepared.  I grabbed a bundle off her.  I was given a pre-cut front, back, handle & pocket along with the instruction sheet.  I spent a rainy day sewing seven of these beauties, here is the result.

Looking like a dork and wearing my fish dress just for this occasion!

Boomerang Bags Manly are launching at the Ocean Care Day Festival on the Beachfront on Sunday 4th December.  If you are local, pop along and meet Jude (she’s awesome). There are some great activities happening too; a Seaside scavenge, live music, roving artists, eco talks, a “touchable” Ocean Lab and lots of great eco exhibitions and stalls celebrating our oceans.

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I would love to get as many Manly locals involved in making as I can. If anyone has use of a large space that they are willing to share for a day, I would love to hear from you.  I would really like to get a large group together, sewing in a group is so much more fun!

Boomerang Bag Manly at 63 Alexander St (Cnr Balgowlah Rd) is open on Monday’s from 9.30-2.30pm, so drop in if you have a spare hour or two, there is always space to sew.

 

Christmas is only 4 weeks away….

Just a gentle reminder that Christmas is only 4 weeks away.  This, infact, sends me into a flat panic as I have to make and post all my presents to the UK and I have barely started.  Oh well, ‘daughter/sister/aunty/niece of the year’ award goes to me again!

But if (unlike me) you like to get things organised, then a ‘Sewing with Kate’ gift certificate could be the answer.  Has your favourite person always wanted to sew?  Is your partner always looking for the perfect gift for you? A new years resolution perhaps? If so, this could be the perfect gift.

Learn how to use a sewing machine or make your own clothes or even learn some mending techniques.  Sewing is lifelong skill, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The gift certificate doubles as this cute sewing kit with some cotton, pin and needles and buttons, there is also space to write a little message.  It is wrapped in this festive felt envelope and tied together with a sewing charm.

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Just drop me a message through the contact page or Facebook and I will get back to you ‘tout suite’.

How can you resist it? x

The Acton Dress: part 2 – a refashion

In July I decided it was time to address my fit issues with the Acton dress.  My decision was spurred on by the wedding of my lovely friend Katie, back in Sheffield.  A solo trip to the UK too, whoop whoop!  Hanging with the girls, lots of laughter, a few tears, commiserating about middle age and discovering we can’t handle the booze like we used to.

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Here’s the bride on the no.52 bus on the way down to the registry office!  Gotta love that!

So onto my dress.

I made up another bodice toile, this time using some calico.  I had initially made up a size A  (see previous post) but I went back to the size B and reduced from there.  The issue was the depth from the neckline to the boob so I altered the pieces, see below.

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The fit was good, I didn’t feel that I was shoehorning myself into it. A thrilling moment as I really didn’t want to mess up this Acton.  I had chosen something very special to work with, nothing straightforward, this was a refashion!
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I bought this gorgeous kimono in Byron Bay on our 10 year wedding anniversary. I had been wanting to refashion it from the moment I saw it.  I know you will think. Why?  Why cut up something so beautiful?

Yes, I did momentarily grapple with it myself, but it was a cheap cotton kimono, so nothing valuable or vintage but the fabric was TDF (that’s ‘to die for’, Mum)!  I think I was drawn to the ‘pins and needles’ pattern subconsciously.  I didn’t notice the pattern until it was pointed out to me some months later. The main point is I wouldn’t wear it as it is, I wanted something I could wear that was more special than a simple dressing gown that I would spill my cereal down.

The Acton and my kimono were a match made in sewing heaven.  I was pleased I had made this dress before I attempted this refashion, as cutting into the kimono was the scariest thing I have ever done.

I had decided that I would use a plain black fabric for the front of the dress as this part is hidden by the wrap.  This meant I only needed to cut the back skirt and front & back bodice pieces from the kimono fabric.  PLUS, I wanted to save the top of the kimono to make into a bolero jacket.*  Not asking much eh?

*I will write about this in my next blog post

The placement and cutting went well.  I was careful to adhere to grain, using the back seam as a guide.   The kimono is the thing of hand stitched beauty.  I decided not to unpick every seam (which would have given me more fabric) but to leave the existing seams intact and use them as a design feature.

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I made one small error when cutting the bodice. I really didn’t want a red dot on my nipple, which is exactly what I got!  I had enough fabric to recut this one panel.

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‘red dot’ nipple disaster averted!

So here it is (I gatecrashed the In the Folds photoshoot to get these shots, thanks Emily, Sam & Felicity!)

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There was no pattern matching, the randomness of the pattern is a highlight for me.  As you can see the re-cut bodice piece works so much better.

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The fit is also so much better.  I was glad I went back to the size B and worked from there.  Reducing the bodice really did work well and now I have a wrap that actually meets in the middle!

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No back splurge this time!

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The skirt is by far the best part as the kimono seams are visible and quite lovely. Here you can see the skirt in more detail and you can catch a glimpse of those kimono seams.  I think it looks great, it gives the dress a real story.

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A more relaxed low waist tie option here. You can also see the plain black fabric I bought for the front of the dress. The black was a perfect match (as you know its not always easy to match black). I also used it to line the bodice. I bought this piece from Tessuti Fabric.

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I think this is the best invisible zip I have ever inserted.  I left the dress open here, I like the way it hangs from the back.

I have worn this dress loads already.  Pretty much every time I go out I wear it.  It was such a great dress for the wedding but I have also worn it to dinner many times.  It’s cotton so I never feel overdressed.  My party trick is opening the wrap to show the square shape to anyone who complements my dress (which happens often).  It never gets old (well not for me anyway!)

I hope you like it x

NB: I was given a pre-release copy of the pattern for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All links to the Acton dress are affiliate links.