Friday, 5 December 2014

Baby boy gift

What do you give as a gift to welcome a newborn into the world?

The excited and well prepared first time parents, not to mention first time grandparents and uncles seem to have already got everything baby Harry could possibly need other than a few blankets?  

After much thought this is what I came up with.  A crochet blanket and an embroidered naming picture to go with the blue sky and clouds on the nursey walls.

I should mention that Harry is named after Harry Potter - his mum is the biggest fan of the books and movies and has visited Harry Potter World more than once in the last year.   I'm happy to say she loved the present.

Monday, 1 December 2014

November Garment finished

It was the last day of the month yesterday and I finished my November make a garment a month in the nick of time.  I love it.

The theme was to make a garment for the November nights.

I made a long sleeved t shirt following the Craftsy course 'the ultimate t shirt' and used the accompanying pattern Vogue 8793. 

I used a light weight printed knit fabric for the main body.  This meant being careful at the cutting stage and I cut the fabric as a single layer.  It also meant having to make the decision to follow the line of the print fabric rather than the grain line when they varied.  In retrospect for a first attempt when the focus was more on getting the fit right it would have been better not to have used a stripped print but I could not resist.

Variations from the pattern - The course suggests for your first t shirt adding a neckband rather than using the two collars with zipper that is given with the pattern.  I added a neckband in a contrasting black knit.  The course does not use the cuffs in the pattern but I added them in the black knit  As the top is quite short and I prefer tops to finish nearer my hips than my waist I also ended up adding a band across the hem in the contrasting fabric. The only other alterations were to make a full bust adjustment and use a sleeve pattern which I know fits me to adjust the sleeve head.

The course demonstrates two methods for adding a neckband. I went with the first option of a basic bound neckband simply because it was first.  It came together first time although you are warned that it can take a few attempts to get it right. I'm very happy with the results.

I really enjoyed the course.  I found it easy to follow with lots of inspiration for future variations.  It was particularly useful to get two for the price of one with presenters, sisters Katherine and Marcy Tilton showing how they have different approaches to tackling various stages.  The course shows how to sew the top using a conventional sewing machine.

I will definitely be making this top again and would like to use contrasting fabrics like the pattern.  Although the challenge I think will be in finding the fabrics. I'm not sure about the collar version that comes with the pattern and think for the next few attempts I'm happy to add a neck band.

Friday, 14 November 2014

November make

The theme for November's make a garment a month challenge is to make a garment for the November nights.

I brought this fabric at the Abakhan store when in Hanley, Stoke on Trent recently. I think the print is perfect for these November nights as we head towards Christmas.  Its a lightweight knit, so perhaps a little thin as the nights get colder but we are having unseasonally warm weather and I can always layer it up as it gets colder.  I'm going to contrast the print with a plain black knit for the cuffs and neckband.

The pattern,Vogue V8792, is a Katherine Tilton design, which came as part of the Craftsy class Ultimate T Shirt with Katherine and Marcy Tilton.  As with many Craftsy classes, although I have watched the course and picked up a few pointers that I have used on other projects I have not yet made up the pattern that came with the class.

The class uses the pattern to make a basic t shirt with a neckband rather than the two collars with zip trim which is part of the pattern.  I think I may go with the neckband rather than collar for this first make from the pattern and concentrate on getting the fit right.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

October make - finally completed

Here is my October make for the make a garment a month challenge - dress pattern McCalls 5706.  The theme for  October was sew and shine, which I took to mean colour.

The neckband isn't wonking it's just the way I am standing - honest.

I picked the pattern, because I have made it twice before (2009 and 2012) and being short of time thought this would be a quick and easy make - needless to say it wasn't that straight forward.

The pattern had already been adjusted to reduce the length.  I made a further adjustment to add 2 cms at the centre front, below the neckband tapering to nothing at the sides so that the hem would hang straight. 

Cutting layout
Usually when purchasing fabric I round it up to the nearest metre which gives a little wriggle room if needed.  This time I brought the exact amount so it was first time I found difficulty in following the pattern layout.  When I folded the fabric in half to 30 cms it was impossible to layout patten piece 11, which was to be cut on the fold, and is 45 cms.

This is the layout I used 


I had left a note for myself after the last time I made it suggesting that the neckband should be interfaced on both sides but decided instead to follow the instructions and this is what happened.

Believe me it's impossible to unpick very small stretch stitches so I cut the band off.  I then cut out new pieces and interfaced all of them, including the front and back centre pieces. Unfortunately this made the centre piece too thick to lie flat when sewn in so I had to recut the centre pieces for the third time.  This time i interface the back piece only.

Following the instructions I prepared the sleeves to the point they were ready to be fitted into the dress.  That's when I realised that the two sleeves were the same rather than mirror images. I made a dash into town to get more fabric.  I was  luck - there was 90 cms left on the bolt.

 2012 version 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Teaching young children to sew

Last Saturday was the first chance this year for my family to get together for sew and stitch for a while. 

I'm blessed with a fairly large family many of whom live within 5 miles.  Sew and stitch is an opportunity for us to meet up, (my girls and grandchildren, my sisters, nieces and nephews and of course my mum) for a catch up and sew, knit or crochet.  A big part of the meet up is teaching the youngest ones. 

Last Saturday there were 11 of us.  We got the younger girls knitting for the first time, while my 5 year old grandson continued with his Father Christmas tree decoration.  The girls also spent ages drawing, cutting fabric and pinning the designs on my dress form using scrap fabric and cutting up old clothes.

It all started a couple of years ago when mum and I wanted to share our enthusiasm for making.  Neither of my two sisters and none of our children sewed and were unlikely to unless we acted.  We also realised that although many of us live close we did not meet up often - with growing families and busy lives we were growing apart. So we invited family members - The only rule being that everyone should make something - either bring a project with them or take part in what is being made with the little ones on the day.  

At the time it surprised me, although thinking about it - it shouldn't have, that the teenagers in the family only attend occasionaly being too busy with their social lives at the weekend to get involved.  Those in their early 20s and older and the under 10s love it.

We started meeting every month, when the youngest was only 3.  We took things slowly.  On the first occasion they learnt to tie a knot and made a Pom Pom, choosing the wool and ribbon for the tie. In the beginning I made up a sample before they arrived so they could see what they were going to make and I could make sure it was possible for them to make it.   We always discuss what is to be made, the children draw pictures of their design and pick the fabrics (it's a lovely way to use up  my dressmaking fabric scraps).  We also have a little practise, going over the previous skill learnt and the new skill then make something.  In the early days it was always important that they had something made to take away with them.  Now they are happy to have ongoing projects and decide for themselves what they are going to make.  

It has taken my grandson 4 sessions to complete the Father Christmas below, including one session drawing what he wanted to make, deciding on what fabrics he wanted to use.  He came up last night to finish it off.

The children learnt to hand see first, moving on to using the sewing machine last year (they prefer using the machine because it is faster and move fun).  This year the girls who are aged 7 and 8 are learning to knit.  They struggled with crochet but picking up knitting fairly easily.

Unfortunately I was not writing a blog when sew and stitch started and in hindsight wished I had included writing about it in this blog when I started it at the beginning of the year.  It would have been lovely to record the progress they have made.  Oh well better late than never.

  Below is a list of some of the things they have learnt and made with a few pictures. Unfortunately most of the time I was so involved in the day I forget to take photos.

- Tying a knot, using wool - Pom Pom.

- Running stitch - Thread card pictures, finger puppets, drawstring bags.

- Using scissors - decoupage covered pot.

- Running, over stitch and stuffing - Sock monsters, little mice, felt birds.

- Appliqué - Embellished t shirts, needle cases, hearts.

- Sewing machine - Apron, Designed and made handbags from old clothes
Christmas decorations.

Happy sewing

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wedding dress alterations

Following on from the last post, which explains the alterations made to bodice and hem of J's wedding dress here are the before and after shots

 Before - with hem pinned up indicating how much to turn up.   Bride felt bodice was falling down so was not confident in going strapless and was concerned that people would notice and talk to her bust rather than her.

After - at final fitting - hem layers turned up and rebeaded, waist stay added, elastic added to bust line and straps  added.  Bride feels happy and back in love with dress.  


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Wedding dress alterations

I'm so pleased to say that the wedding dress alterations are complete and the bride to be loves what I have done.

The plan was for me to shorten the hem - a challenge in itself with several layers involving horsebraid, lace and beading.  However, when I asked the girls to come back in the underwear they would be wearing on the day as well as the shoes, it was clear that more work was wanted.

Being well blessed J was clearly uncomfortable with so much on show and being strapless, she had brought a bra with straps because she couldn't find a strapless bra in her size and the band showed, and of most concern, she felt it was falling down and kept pulling the bodice up - accidentally pulling off beads in the process.  The train was also fairly long and heavy - great for the walk down the aisle but difficult to walk in for any length of time let alone dance.

Clearly just turning up the hem was not going to make her feel like a princess on the big day, so we agreed some alterations to the bodice and adding a bustle to hold up the train after the walk down the aisle.  This is what I did.

The hem - I tackled this first as I had already planned what I was going to do - turning up the hems of the skirt layers across the front taping into the sides.  I had done some prep. after the girls had first come round with their dresses - taking the lace and beading off, opening up the side seam of the satin layer and unpicked the horsehair braid on the hem side to make it easier to pin up the hem. On J's second visit - in the underwear and shoes she will be wearing on the day I pinned up the hem across the front lace panel, taping the hem at the sides and did the same for the satin layer.   I did the machine sewing first before tackling the hand sewing. I marked and cut the tolle layers.  Then measured, marked and cut the excess hem lining (using the amount cut from the top layer as I guide) and sewed a narrow hem on the bottom lining.  I finished unpicking the horsehair  braid, measured, marked and cut the hem of the satin layer, leaving 1 cm seam allowance, repositioned the horsehair braid and sewed it in place. Moving on to the hand sewing I repositioned the chantilly lace on the top tolle layer, hand sewing it in place before sewing on the beads.   
Hem Before alteration - pinned up indicating how much needs to be taken off

Hem - after alteration

Hem - after alteration

Hem After Alteration - showing lace and beading sewn back on

The bodice - my main concern was that J felt the dress was falling down and kept pulling it up.  So I added a waist stay to take the weight of the skirt.  I added a hook and eye to the top of the bodice back and added elastic across the bustline, which was sewn on using three step zig zag. I had measured the length of elastic needed at the second fitting to ensure a snug fit.  At the second visit we had discussed and tried J wearing the dress without a bra.  J had asked if straps could be added and brought some lace with her to the second fitting/ third visit. I used the lace to cover some lace bra straps that my daughter had (which is the something borrowed), adding a bit of beading to keep the lace in place and made some loops out of ribbon to join the straps to the bodice.

Bodice inside after alterations - elastic at bust line, hook and eye at top of centre back, waist stay, straps

The bustle - for the third visit and final fitting the focus was on checking J was happy with what had been done so far and working out the best way of adding a bustle, so that the bride will be able to dance in her dress, my daughter (as her bridesmaid) will find it fairly easy to put up the train on the day and of course the dress with the bustle will still look good. 


We had discussed adding a bustle at the second visit and I had taken the opportunity to pin where a loop would be needed to lift the lace top layer up to the button at the bottom of the back buttons.  So I had been able to sew a thread loop in place before the final fitting.  The thread look was made by sewing buttonhole stitch over several threads anchored in two places on the fabric. 

With such a heavy train and with so many layers more fixings were needed to distribute the weight more evenly and keep the pretty lace on show.  The third visit/second fitting was need to sort this out with J in her dress.

Bustle - thread loop - almost invisible unless you look really close

The satin layer was lifted by adding a thread loop and higher up a clear button.  Both were sew on the centre back seam line making easier for the bridesmaids to find them by following the centre back seam line up.  Then to keep the lace on top looking good I added two small buttons to the inside of the satin side panels and added corresponding thread loops made of thread chain.
Bustle - thread loop and button - added to ensure lace falls attractively 

I'm really pleased with how the final fitting went J felt great and was really pleased with the final fit.  The big day is next weekend and I am looking forward to seeing the wedding pictures.  This have been a challenging project but it was worthwhile to see J's reaction to how the dress made her feel at the final fitting.  Its lovely to have made a small contribute to J's special day.

Just got to take in the sides of my daughter's bridesmaid dress today then I can relax.