Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Winter time and hand sewing

Hang on, you mean it's the end of January already? When did that happen?! I've been quiet as I've just been getting on with teaching stuff (arranging exams at the moment), moving stuff (boring paperwork, exciting planning, frightening realisations of how much moving costs!) aaand hand-sewing the cushion cover from Patch! I'd never realised how enjoyable hand sewing could be - perhaps because when I used to do it, it was because I HAD to as I didn't have a machine yet. Now, though, I'm doing it because I want to and in an area that will be visible, so I can take pride in my stitches. It's funny that trying out a different area of sewing has taught me something about myself as a stitcher and has given me a taste for something that will help me in all area of sewing. I can't wait to try out some couture techniques in my garment sewing now! Pictures of the cushion cover when it's finished!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Made With Love for the Home - Patchwork

Patchwork always used to fill my mind with images of slightly ugly, old-fashioned colour-combinations stitched together in, well, a much too traditional style for me.  My aunt is a patchworker and produces some gorgeous work for her lovely old cottage home, but while I've always appreciated her skill and taste and the finished product, it still wasn't me.  And the final nail in the patchwork coffin for me: as a garment-stitcher, I find it plain frustrating to visit fabric and sewing shops and find that they're quilting-focused.  Annoying!

So I've always written patchwork and quilting off (sorry!) ... until now!

I've recently seen some gorgeous examples of quilting through various blogs - things that are brighter, more fun, more graphic and more 'me'.  And with the move, I'm going to try out some patchworking and quilting to help make our new house a home.  

This 'scrap vomit' (hahaha!) quilt-along was one of the first I spotted that I instantly loved:

Scrap Vomit, from Monkey Do.
And I love the applique on this quilt, which has a PDF tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew:

Butterfly Silhouette Quilt, from Sew, Mama, Sew.
It's really inspired me - I can picture a quite simple quilt with bird silhouettes flying across in a brighter, solid colour.  Yum!

And Monkey Do has come up trumps again with Hexy MF.  Just go and look at it - amazing.  Again, I think it's down to the simple design and when you put that against a grey background, it makes it fresh and new.  The quilting is rather beyond me (it's pretty amazing), but the patching I like the look of.

So, I recently got Patch! by Cath Kidston.  I'm not a Kidston fanatic, but I liked that it came with a kit to make a cushion cover, which is a good way of trying out a new craft.  It's also the closest I've found to the kind of book I'm looking for - modern, simple patchworking for beginners.  It's not perfect, but it's giving me a taster.  Has anyone got any recommendation for patchwork/quilting books that match that description??

I'm part-way through making the cover design and I'm quite enjoying having a hand-sewing project to do while watching films. The thing I'm not loving is the 'English patchworking' with paper - it's just quite annoying to tack through and handle, plus I'm not entirely convinced that it's necessary.  But what do I know?!

So that's what I'm working on at the moment.  Have you ever tried patchwork?  Any tips, techniques, tutorials you'd recommend?

Monday, 16 January 2012

A New Year and a New Home

Small, but perfectly formed.
You might have noticed the presence of quite a few home-related things on my 12 for 2012 list ...  Well, yes, they're there and I've been rather quiet this week because my gent and I have been house-hunting!  There is something in the pipeline, but I don't want to talk about anything until it's all definite, so fingers crossed I'll have more to report soon!

You might wonder what relevance this has to the blog, but the gent has agreed that I'm getting a good sewing space (wewt!) that won't be a cupboard.  Much as I love (and am very lucky) having somewhere I can work and store all my stuff, there's rather too much stuff for the space - as you can see in the pictures, I have to share with tents, sleeping bags, guest bedding, DIY bits, the mop, the Christmas tree and assorted other things, which makes it all rather cramped.

Small and, well, imperfect!

The other reason I don't use the space as much as I would like is that there's absolutely no natural light, which is not great fun to sew in and definitely is not ideal for working out if thread matches fabric (luckily I learnt that one without having to unpick a whole garment!!!).  The room is either boiling hot or freezing cold (and I don't cope well with extremes of temperature at the moment with this stupid illness) and while everything I've got (or had when I put this room together back in the summer) has its own place, there isn't room/storage space to get anything else - I wouldn't have space for a serger (not that I could afford to get one of those for a long while) or any other bits and pieces.

So, thank you Mr Magpie ... Little did he know what he was letting himself in for: I've been raiding the internet for storage and layout ideas and inspirational sewing spaces.  There have been 'squees' and excited pointing out of pretty pieces of storage furniture and storage boxes.  Poor bloke, he doesn't get it.

But you do!

So over the next couple of months you'll be seeing plenty of ideas for sewing rooms.  I'm not going to have loads of space - it'll either be a corner in the living room or part of a spare room, which will be a smallish room shared with a sofa bed - but I'm going to concentrate on making it practical and pretty so I'll get the maximum use out of it.

At the moment I'm thinking about colour schemes - although I won't be able to paint the walls as we'll be renting, I want the space to look unified and neat, which having a pre-decided scheme will help with.  And I'm inspired by that image at the top (which is actually a colour combo I was thinking about trying out - turquoise and warm pink, two of my favourite colours) and Liz's carefully considered decor (coral, teal and turquoise) - both these rooms look so lovely, which I think is thanks to a combination of well-thought out use of colour (advocated by Singer!) and a place for everything and everything in its place.

If you have any sewing space/room tips, ideas or links, please do let me know!  Thank you :)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Whatever Happened to the 18th Century?

Readers who have followed me over here from Jane of All Trades might well wonder what happened to my first sewing love, the 18th century?  And well you might!

I actually began sewing because of a love of things like this:

(I'm actually drooling, just looking at these outfits.)

It's my dream to go to the Venice Carnival (for my 30th birthday would be ace!) and make myself a crazily over the top masquerade-type outfit, based on this famous portrait of Madame de Pompadour:

So where is all my 18th century sewing love?  Well, I do still adore these gowns, but, really, I have no opportunity to wear them - I don't do re-enactments and I'm too self-conscious to wander around Nottingham in stays and full on 18th century gown/jacket, petticoat and hat.  So I have to make do with dreaming and writing about such things.

But, it should be no surprise that 1950s appeal to me:

(Image from the Vintage Patterns Wiki.)

Fitted bodice, BIG skirt.  Oh, and lush use of colour.

So, I still carry my 18th century love with me in some respects and, more importantly, I'm looking for ways I can incorporate little touches of 18th century style in my home and clothing.  I'd love to buy a pair of the good Duchess's leather Devonshire's to wear as normal shoes:

Just picture them dyed grey ... or blue ... or black ... or red ... under trousers or with tights and a dress - they wouldn't look so crazy.  (Right?)  But I really can't justify buying bespoke shoes, nevermind shipping them from the US - alas!  So I have to make do with sighing after them.

And do the cuffs on New Look 6000 look familiar?

No?  Just me then :/  But they do remind me of mid 18th century cuffs, and the buttons remind me of those on 17th and 18th century men's coats (piratical justaucorps):

Anyway, it's a ongoing little project of mine to think about how I can inject the 18th century into the 21st century (via the 1950s-60s!) - am I bonkers?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Dream Sewing Space

Argh - I'm drooling!  Just check out this ab-so-luuuuuuute-ly gorgeous sewing space over at Allsorts*.  I love the mix of bright colours and patterns, the paint on the walls and the shades on the ceiling, the light pouring through those windows (Although the lady in question apologises for it being 'uncooperative'!  I don't have any windows in my space, d'oh.), the space and the clever storage (boxes neatly tucked under tables, shelves in what would otherwise be wasted space and embroidery hoops dangling from the ceiling).

I've got sewing space envy, but also something to one day aspire to.  Le swoon!  <3

* Funny little factoid - when I was little I had a pair of gerbils, one black and one speckled in all different shades of brown.  The first was called Liquorice and the second was Allsorts.

Monday, 2 January 2012

12 in 2012

Su Sews So-So has had a wonderful idea: instead of resolutions for 2012, she's making SMART goals in lists of 12.  12 seems quite manageable - that's one per month - and, of course, it relates to the year (clever, eh?).  Being a project manager, she explains very well what SMART goals are, if you haven't heard of them before, so I'll let you check out her explanation.

Funnily enough, when teaching my team tends to encourage learners to make SMART targets - the system helps you avoid making vague, unattainable goals that you lose momentum with because they will be done 'some day'.

So, I'm thinking about my goals, my plans ... What do I want to do in 2012?  I've already mentioned that I want to sort my wardrobe out in a coordinated way, rather than my usual, magpie kind of clothes shopping and making.  I've also been thinking about the fact that I didn't make any Yule presents this year (and I still owe my little sister a Kindle cover from her birthday - sorry, sis), so I'd like to make some gifts this year (and not have to rush to make loads of Yule presents in December).  Mr Magpie is still waiting for his waistcoat, which I've been too frightened to make, thanks to the fact that it's tailoring (which I have no idea how to do) and it involves some lush wool he chose, which is the most expensive fabric I've ever bought.  Oh, and it's a completely self-drafted pattern.  Scary stuff.  What was I thinking?

As for attainable, Suzie has 3 lists of 12 things (though she's made her list in a way that allows her to cover multiple goals with more than one item - sneaky!), but if to be realistic (and perhaps a little conservative) for myself, I was planning to stick to one or two lists ... but then I started writing them and found I could be sneaky and kill two birds with one stone, too!

Clothes to Make:

  1. Skirt 1 (Simplicity 2413, paper bag waist).
  2. Skirt 2 (slim skirt from a vintage pattern with inverted pleat at back).
  3. Skirt 3 (high-waisted skirt from Simplicity 2654)
  4. Blouse 1 (anchors fabric, vintage pattern).
  5. Blouse 2.
  6. Cropped jacket (vintage pattern, silver-grey dupion).
  7. Dress 1 (New Look 6000).
  8. Dress 2 (Macaron).
  9. Dress 3.
  10. Men's waistcoat.
  11. High-waisted trousers.
  12. Coat (McCall's 6442 - the hood, the hood!!).
Not Clothes to Make:
  1. House thing 1 - throw (possibly involving patchwork?).
  2. House thing 2 - doorstop(s)?
  3. House thing 3.
  4. Pattern weights.
  5. Apron 1 - for that giveaway I mentioned aaaages ago!
  6. Apron 2 - giveaway!
  7. Apron 3 - giveaway!
  8. Yule present 1.
  9. Yule present 2.
  10. Yule present 3.
  11. Yule present 4.
  12. Something pretty!

New Things to Try Making:
  1. Men's clothing.
  2. Trousers.
  3. Piping.
  4. Actually completing an item from one of my vintage patterns!
  5. Actually completing an embroidery item!
  6. Doing some more advanced fitting/pattern altering techniques as needed (eg, grading up one of my vintage patterns that is quite a bit too small).
  7. Knit a garment (so far I've made a scarf and a snood).
  8. Outerwear.
  9. Patchwork.
  10. Making a lining.
  11. Underlining.
  12. Hand-picked zip (they look so lovely and seem like a relatively simple technique to use for a bit of couture luxe).
As you can see, those 'new things to try' can be covered by items in the first two lists.  The clothing and non-clothing lists include things that are relatively quick and simple to make, as well as some more challenging and time-consuming pieces.  So let's see how this goes!

These are my 12 in 2012, what are yours?