Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Q and A with Minerva Crafts

As you know, I'm a member of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  Recently they've been re-vamping their website and as part of this they're putting some questions to each of the Network Bloggers.  Mine have just been posted on Minerva's website, but I thought it would be fun to share them here as well.





When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start?

I've been making things for as long as I can remember.  My mum and Granny both knitted and my mum also made clothes for herself and me and my sister, so I was always used to seeing people doing those crafts.  I think I must just have asked if I could try them myself!  We also used to do a small amount of sewing at school.
 

What is your favourite craft?

Sewing, mainly dressmaking but when I'm in the mood I love to do some free motion embroidery.
 

What was your first sewing project?

My first memory of sewing is stitching curtain fabric samples together that my mum's friend gave me.  I don't know if they ever became anything, so I'm not sure you could really call them a project.  I also have memories of a blue sweatshirt dress I attempted to make in my early teens - without a pattern.  It didn't turn out particularly well!
 

What do you love most about sewing?

I enjoy the actual process of sewing, but what I really love is that I can make myself something that no one else has - and that fits me better than anything I could buy.
 

What made you decide to start blog about your sewing and crafting?

I'd been reading sewing blogs for a year or so before I started my own.  I realised that I was doing the same things, and having the same issues, as these bloggers and thought that starting my own would be a good way to connect with like minded people.  At that time I didn't know anyone in my "real life" that liked to sew or craft.

 
How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?

I'm really enjoying it.  Everyone at Minerva is lovely and so helpful and again, it’s a great way to connect with others.  It's also allowed me to discover bloggers I might not have done otherwise.


 
 
 

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

My seam ripper, my iron (much as I hate ironing, it make such a difference to a project) and my recently discovered Chaco chalk pen.  It's a revelation!
 

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

I like to sew with knits if I fancy a quick project and I find that they fit well into my everyday wardrobe.  If I want to take my time over a project I like to use a nice drapy crepe de chine or viscose fabric.
 

What are your favourite yarns to knit and crochet with and why?

Probably a wool/cotton blend of some sort.  I like something soft that doesn't itch for clothing, but I also like it to be reasonably easy care.  I'm not a fan of handwashing knitted items.
 

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start sewing and crafting?

All kinds of places!  Sometimes I look for gaps in my wardrobe that I need to fill (I'm currently lacking in trousers, so I need to work on getting a well fitting trouser pattern sorted out), although the missing item has to be something I actually want to sew as well.  I probably wouldn't make plain t-shirts etc, as they are so easy to buy.

I also look to fashion magazines and designers for inspiration, as well as other bloggers.  Sometimes I'll just see a sewing pattern and decide that's what I really want to make next.  Other times I'll fall in love with some fabric and have to find a pattern for it.
 




Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?

I enjoy knitting, particularly in front of an open fire on winter evenings and occasionally I crochet.
 

Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?

I would love to learn silversmithing/jewellery making and fashion illustration, although the latter isn't really a craft.
 

As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing and crafting through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?

Just go for it.  As someone said to me recently - it's only fabric!
 

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Attention to detail.
 
 
~~~~~
 
 
Many thanks to Vicki at Minerva Crafts for allowing me to share my answers here.

 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Long Overdue Dress

I have a long overdue project to share with you today.  This is a dress I made with fabrics provided by White Tree Fabrics, for their blog team.  I actually made it about 2 months ago, but for some reason never got round to blogging about it.



I think the reason why I haven't blogged about it is that although I love the fabrics White Tree kindly provided and in theory I like the pattern, I just don't like the finished dress on me.  This is also why you're now seeing it modelled by headless Rosie, rather than me.  It looks so much better on Rosie.

The pattern I used is the Zsalya dress by Kate & Rose Patterns. It's the kind of dress I used to love for Autumn/Winter with thick tights and boots and a cardi when it's really cold.  But I think my style has changed somewhat and it's not really "me" now.  It is a lovely pattern though, and well written.  It gives 2 options for finishing the yoke - a "thorough" finish that leaves you with no raw edges and a quick finish that does leave exposed edges.  True to form, I didn't use either, as I made my yoke from a single layer of fabric, rather than self line it as the pattern instructs.  I did this because I wanted to use the remains of the embroidered lawn I used for my Victoria blazer back in the summer.  To finish the neck edge I took a leaf out of Carolyn's book and used a bias cut strip of fabric.  This highlights the crossover really nicely.





The main body of the dress is made from this ditsy print chiffon.   It's really unusual fabric.  The base is a crinkle chiffon, which has strips of lace applied across it, then the ditsy print has been added on top.   It's available in several colours, and I had a hard time choosing the one I wanted.   The pink and the green would both be lovely for Spring, if your thoughts are turning in that direction.





The photo above shows the lace overlay on the fabric pretty well. 

In all honesty I'm not sure how much I'll wear this dress.  I do have some of the chiffon left over, so I'm thinking I might use the leftovers and recut the dress into something I am more likely to wear, as I love the fabric. 

Thanks must therefore go to White Tree Fabrics for providing me with the materials for this dress.  Care must be taken by myself to ensure I'm making something I really want to wear when provided with such lovely fabric. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

Happy 2015!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (assuming you celebrate it!) and New Year.  We spent Christmas entertaining my family, and last night went to a small party at a friends house to see in the New Year.  I'm feeling very lazy today, and in fact didn't get out of bed until 10.30 this morning. 

I've read a lot of blog posts over the last week with reviews of 2014 and goals for 2015.  I thought about doing my own, but decided against it.  

I do have a few thoughts about my "creating" in 2014, which I'll share with you briefly.

The thing I enjoyed most was teaching free motion embroidery.  I did one one-to-one workshop at my home and then a taught a class of 6 at Fabric HQ.  It was such fun!  All my students picked up the technique straight away and they created some gorgeous pieces.  I'm teaching 2 more classes at Fabric HQ over the next couple of months, and I'm really looking forward to them.

 
 
 
 
 
The thing I've enjoyed least this year has been my procrastination. I've often felt like I wanted to sew, but didn't know what I wanted to make.   I think this has been partly to do with my stash - although I have a fairly small stash compared to many people, I seem to have lots of fabric that I don't really like, or don't know what to do with.  I think I need to get out of the habit of buying fabric without a proper idea of what I'm going to do with it.
 
My indecision is also partly because my style appears to have changed.  You may remember I followed Colette Patterns Wardrobe Architect series last year, and although I identified the types of things I would like to wear, I haven't really been sewing them.  And since I cut my hair short a couple of months ago, the fact that I'm not sewing (or buying) things I really want to wear has seemed even more apparent.  I seem to be much more drawn to darker, plainer items than I was previously, and separates rather than dresses. 
 
I've been trying to find some new patterns that appeal to my new style, and have come across OkiStyle, in particular the Salt jacket
 
 
 
 
 
I'm really keen to try this one, it has an almost Vivienne Westwood style to it that I love, and I have a couple of pieces of fabric in my stash that I think would work well for it.
 
I desperately need to work on getting a well fitting trouser pattern sorted out so I can fill some gaps in my wardrobe.   I've identified that my problem is with excess fabric in the back thigh, but I'm unsure how to solve it. 
 
First I have to finish the coat I started about 6 weeks ago.  I'm procrastinating again... it's time for the bound button holes and I'm putting them off. 
 
Wow, this post has turned out completely differently to how I thought it would when I started writing it!
 
Do you have any tips on fitting trousers, or can recommend a good slim legged trouser pattern I could try?  Or any tips on overcoming procrastination?  

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Made by Me: Lekala 5972 Dress


 
I made this dress over a month ago, but due to various reasons I won't bother you with, I haven't found the time or the inclination to blog about it until now.
 
 
 
The pattern is Lekala 5972
 


 
 
For those of you not familiar with Lekala patterns, they are downloadable PDF patterns, customisable to your own size.  You can choose to enter only 4 "standard" measurements; bust, waist, hips and height, or go for a more customised fit by adding certain adjustments such as leg length comparative to torso and height, waist height, shoulder width, and a number of other options.
 
You can also choose to have the pattern with or without seam allowances - I think they charge a few pence extra for seam allowances.  The basic patterns start at $2.49, although they are currently on sale at $1.99 each.
 
When I bought this pattern I chose to use the additional adjustments and the pattern fit me pretty well.  The only change I had to make was to raise the waist about 1/2 an inch, and do a sway back adjustment of another 3/4 inch.
 
I had actually cut the bodice side panels and skirt side seams wider, as the fabric I used was a woven rather than a knit as the pattern called for.  However during fitting I ended up taking out almost all the extra I'd added in.  The only place I kept additional width was the sleeves, and in truth I could have done with a little bit more, as they are on the snug side.
 
I did change the back slightly, as I wasn't keen on the fact that the skirt darts didn't match up with the princess seams on the back.  I cut the skirt section a little wider and gathered it onto the bodice side panels, the same as the front.
 
 
 
The fabric is a wool/viscose/poly blend remnant I bought from Truro Fabrics when I was in Cornwall on holiday earlier this year.  It is lined with another remnant of satin from Ditto Fabrics, which I picked up whilst in Brighton for work last month. 
 
I finished the back with an invisible zip, inserted a couple of inches down from the neckline, then added a little loop and button closure at the top.  I sometimes find it hard to get a neat finish at the top of an invisible zip, and this solved the problem perfectly, as well as looking pretty.
 
 
 
I wore the dress out to lunch with some friends - I actually finished it about an hour before we were due to go out.  This is the second Lekala pattern I've used, and I wouldn't hesitate to try some more.  The instructions are a little brief, but if you are relatively experienced with sewing patterns they are not too hard to understand. 
 
 
 
 
 
Have you ever used a Lekala pattern?  Do you think you would?