Friday, 12 February 2016

Miniature Embroidery

Last weekend I had a very productive sewing spree - the most productive I've been for some time - but I haven't had a chance to photograph what I made yet.  I thought I'd share instead a small - and easily photographed - project I completed one evening this week.

It's a very cute miniature embroidery hoop necklace! 

I was given the kit for Christmas by one of my crafty friends (thank you Jo!), the kit is by a company called Dandelyne.  I'm not sure where Jo bought it, but you can get them on Etsy here as well as various other stockists. 

My kit is this one I think, it comes with a 4cm/1.6 inch wooden embroidery hoop, mount and backing piece and a necklace chain.  All you have to do is embroider yourself a tiny picture to put in the hoop.  I used a small piece of linen fabric and some variegated embroidery threads to create tiny flowers.  The flowers themselves are sewn with stem stitch with added French knots for the flower centres and a bit of extra interest.  It really is very cute.

The necklace sits at a perfect length given the size of the finished hoop.

Dandelyne do a couple of other kits with oval hoops, either vertical or horizontal and even a tiny, tiny one inch hoop.  I can't imagine how fiddly it would be to embroider something to fit in a one inch hoop.

Of course, you don't have to embroider a design, you could just mount a lovely piece of fabric, or make an abstract design from tiny buttons or beads, or do a free motion embroidery.  That's what I'm going to try next... I can see a few of these being made as gifts over the coming months. 

Tomorrow I'm off to the second part of my bodice block pattern drafting workshop and I can't wait.  Do you have any sewing or otherwise crafty plans for the weekend?

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Vintage Pledge 2016

Are you familiar with the Vintage Pledge challenge hosted by A Stitching Odyssey and Kestrel Makes?

It's now in it's third year and Marie of A Stitching Odyssey started it in 2014 when she realised that she was hoarding vintage patterns faster than she could sew them.  She invited the sewing community to start using vintage patterns more regularly and the rest is history!

I haven't joined in before, but have followed along with interest.  The reason I haven't followed along is that I don't really think I suit vintage clothing.  I know 1940's and 50's styles are popular with many people who sew vintage, but while I can admire them on others, I can never imagine myself wearing them.  1960's styles are a bit more me... I can do a shift dress or something similar and do actually own a few vintage patterns from that era (none of which I've ever made). 

However I recently saw a picture of this cape on Instagram and immediately fell in love. 

It's a Decades of Style pattern from the 1930's.  Isn't it gorgeous?  I can see it being perfect for Spring/Summer when you just need a little something to cover your arms, but don't require a full jacket or coat.  I think it looks great with jeans and is actually quite a modern looking style.  I love the velveteen fabric it's made in here, but think it would look equally good in a lightweight wool or tweed - maybe a light grey for Spring?

So, for the first year I've decided to join in with the Vintage Pattern Pledge, I'm taking it quite easy and have just pledged to make two garments from vintage or reproduction patterns.  This will definitely be one of them.  I'm not sure what the other will be yet.  There are a couple of other 1930's patterns on the Decades of Style website I like the look of, the Salon trousers and the Kitchenette pyjamas.

I'm not sure quite how flattering either garment would be though, and I do already have a jumpsuit pattern that I haven't made and had planned to this year.  (If I was to make the Kitchenette pyjamas they would be a solid colour and for daytime wear as a jumpsuit).  I'll have a look through my small stash of vintage patterns and see what else I can come up with before I splash my cash on any more.

Are you a fan of vintage patterns, or like me have you shied away from them until now?

Friday, 22 January 2016

Made by Me: Sew Over It Pussybow Blouse

Well, it's Friday again, and it's another wet one!  It's nowhere near as cold as it was earlier in the week, but it's wet and grey.  I'd rather have cold and bright any day.  I love a good frosty bright winter morning.

I'm back today with some actual dressmaking, something I haven't shared here in a while.  This is the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse, and I made it before Christmas. 

Apologies in advance for no modelled photos, it's too wet and grey to go outside for photos and too dark inside in any of the spots I would chose to take modelled photos. 

As I said, I made this before Christmas and I do have one photo of me wearing it, taken by my husband on a day he took me out to lunch to cheer me up.  It certainly worked, the place he took me was lovely and we had a delicious lunch.

I bought the pattern and fabric at the Knitting and Stitching Show last October, and the fabric was always destined to become a Pussy Bow blouse.  It's a polyester/viscose blend I think and is lovely and soft and drapy.  I bought it from Stitch Fabrics, and I seem to remember it was £6.00 a metre. Sadly it's not on their website, but it was several months ago I bought it.

Pattern wise I made a standard UK size 12 with no alterations, which would be my normal RTW size.   I was a bit worried about it being tight over the bust as there are no darts, but it's fine there.  However the upper arms are slightly restrictive and so is the upper back; not so much that it's unwearable, but I can feel it pulling slightly when I move my arms forwards.   Next time I think I'd keep the front as it is and add a little bit of width to the upper back and sleeves.

This was my second time using a Sew Over It pattern and I thought the instructions were very good.  I would change the construction order a little though, as once I'd attached the neckband/tie I found I had a little V of fabric at the base of the neckline that wasn't finished.  I would therefore attach the tie before I sewed the front seam as I think that would make it easier to finish this little gap nicely.  It wasn't impossible to do, and it's not too important as the bow covers it, but it's not the neatest finish ever. 

On the cuffs I used self covered buttons and rouleau loops as per the instructions, which I think give a nice professional finish. 

I also took my time matching the pattern across the centre front seam, as although the seam itself is largely hidden by the bow my fabric has such an obvious pattern that any mismatch would have looked awful.  I think if you were using a randomly patterned fabric with no obvious repeat you could get away without pattern matching here.

Despite the slight fit issues I'm really happy with this and have worn it several times, both with a skirt to work and casually with jeans.  Next on my list is a chambray one.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Free Motion on Friday

Hello there my lovelies.  It's Friday again, I can't believe how the weeks fly by.  And what a week it's been, I can't not mention the sad and untimely deaths this week of two men I greatly admired.  First the world was shocked on Monday morning by the announcement of the sad death of David Bowie, only a couple of days after his 69th birthday and the release of his latest, and now final, album Blackstar.

Bowie was one of those artists who has been there throughout my life.  One of my earliest vivid memories is of sitting on the lounge floor watching Space Oddity on Top of the Pops.  I think that must have been on it's re-release in 1975 - I would have been 5 years old.  I've loved his music ever since then. 

Then yesterday we heard the news that Alan Rickman had also passed away at the same age.  He was one of my favourite actors, versatile, believable and eminently watchable.  Who can forget his wonderful portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, where as far as I am concerned he acted Kevin Costner off the screen?  I really fell in love with Alan when he played Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, which is still one of my favourite films.  Of course to many younger people he will be best known as Professor Snape from Harry Potter, more brilliant, over the top yet restrained performances.

Both these wonderful men will be sadly missed.

I didn't actually intend to write that much about this weeks sad events, I intended to show you some free motion embroidery pieces I've made recently.  They're all little bits and pieces for myself, and a bit of an experiment. 

Firstly I made a little wallet to pop into my handbag and carry my herbal teabags around in.  So much prettier than the plastic pot I was using, and takes up far less space too. 

I used a tutorial I found on line for a business card wallet, I think it was this one.  I just had to make it a little bit wider to fit the teabags in.  Of course I had to embroider a cup and saucer on the front. 

Then I made a case for my new Kindle Fire.  This one I made up as I went along, and probably made things far more complicated than they needed to be.  I used some heavy-ish wool fabric for the outside and lined it with fleece and some quilting cotton.  Again, I couldn't resist doing some free motion embroidery on the front.

Finally I decided to try my hand at something slightly different with free motion embroidery and did a portrait. 

Here are the steps I went through to get to the end result. 

As you can see I traced the main elements onto thin tracing paper and stitched through the drawing onto the backing fabric.  Once I'd got an outline in place I tore away the paper and added more stitching and details by following a photograph and the outlines I'd already sewn. 

Here's the final result mounted on a canvas.

And here's the original photo I was working from.

Comparing the two now I can see I haven't got it quite right, the angle of the head is wrong.  I think my technique needs refining a bit, but for a first attempt I'm pretty pleased with it. 

I'm teaching a free motion embroidery class tomorrow morning at Fabric HQ and I can't wait!  It's my favourite class to teach, everyone always loves it and leaves with something amazing they've created.