This week...

I thought I'd try something a bit different today and share some things that I've been doing or have caught my eye this week.

First up, on Saturday just gone I completed the second part of my skirt block pattern cutting class at Fabric HQ.

It was a brilliant class, run by a lovely lady called Lydia.  There were 4 of us on the class, the perfect number I think, and we all managed to make not only a basic skirt block but also an A-line skirt block. 

Here's my basic block (slightly curly as the card was on a roll - it should flatten out!)

Lydia also showed us how to add panels to the basic block and basic dart manipulation so I also have a pattern for a dartless straight skirt.  That looks a bit strange, and to me doesn't look as if it will fit that well, but I'll reserve judgement until I've made it up in muslin.

Hopefully Lydia will be running another class in a few months time so we can learn how to properly design my own skirt.  I have an idea of one I'd like to do - a RTW skirt I'd like to recreate - so I'm very excited.

I received some gorgeous fabric through the post this week.  It's embroidered organza I spotted in the window at Ditto Fabrics a couple of weeks ago when I was in Brighton for work. 

How gorgeous is this?!

It's very unlike anything I normally buy, but it was so pretty I went in and enquired about it.  It was the last piece they had, so they reserved it for me for when the window display got changed.  I now have three metres of it, and have no idea what I'm going to do with it... but it is gorgeous!

My husband and I are always saying we should do different things, so today I've booked tickets for a show for my birthday, which is in a few weeks time.  It's called "What's It All About?", features the songs of Burt Bacharach and is on at a tiny theatre in London.

I hope the show is as good as the reviews lead me to believe it will be!  I found out about it via a Tweet from Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs (who I have to say I have a slightly inappropriate crush on!) so if it's rubbish I will know who to blame!  In all seriousness though, the reviews are fantastic, and we have front row seats - that's slightly scary!

This week I discovered The Cutting Class website and I can see that I'll be spending far too much time going back and reading the articles. 

This article about bust shaping with panel lines at Dior caught my eye straight away.   I just need to learn how to draft myself a bodice block first!

Finally, I'm lusting after this Alexander McQueen leather jacket, worn here by Cate Blanchett. 

Sadly I don't have a spare £7,500 nor is it likely to come in my size even if I did!

Made by Me: Sewaholic Gabriola maxi skirt

Do you ever fall in love with a pattern the first time you see it, then take forever to make it? 

That's what happened to me with the Sewaholic Gabriola maxi skirt, and now I've finally got round to making it I can't understand why I didn't do so sooner. 

I think I've loved every version I've ever seen online, and I love maxi skirts in general.  Why did it take me so long?

Anyway, I've made it now, and I love the finished skirt. 

I'm even going to attempt a proper review, rather than my usual random ramblings!

Pattern Description:

Dramatic and elegant, the Gabriola Skirt is a flared maxi skirt that sits at the waist and falls to the floor.

Many maxi skirts are shaped like a tube, straight up and down with no curves, but not this pattern. The Gabriola Skirt is flared to create a curvy A-line silhouette, narrowing the waist and elongating the body. Angled panels around the waist flatter the figure and look especially good in striped fabrics. Sew the yoke panels in a contrast fabric, or choose one fabric for the entire skirt. Looks great in printed fabrics as well as solids. A centre back zipper makes this skirt easy to construct with a very sophisticated result.

I'm pretty pleased with my pattern matching!


Pattern Sizing:

0 - 16 (Hip 36 - 47).  I made a size 8 which had a finished waist measurement of 30" and hip of 48.5".

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yes, definitely.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes. No problems at all, even though I made a couple of (small) changes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Nothing to dislike, other than taping 44 pages of the pdf together! 

It was quite windy when I was photographing this!

Fabric Used:

Polyester Chiramin from Fabric HQ.  Unfortunately I can't find it on their website.  It's lovely and flowy, perfect for this style of skirt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I changed the centre back zip to a side zip.  The reason for this was that I didn't want to try and match the fabric pattern down the centre back seam of the skirt.

I narrowed the waistband considerably - by about half I would say.  It was just too wide for me.

Check out that pattern matching!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes, and yes.


Love it, why did I wait so long?!

More Crafty Bits and Bobs

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about a fused glass workshop I'd been on, and showed you some work in progress pictures of the piece I made.

Well, last week I was finally able to collect the panel after it had been fired and mounted, so I thought you might like to see what it looks like now it is complete.

This is what it looked like in progress:

And here's the finished panel, mounted and ready to hang.  Not sure where it's going to go yet.

As you can see, firing didn't change it by much.  Some of the pieces just below the sky that are very dark blue before firing became silver, and with the other pieces the edges just softened a little.  You would get more dramatic changes I think if you had several layers of glass on top of each other, but mine was all single layer on the base.

I loved doing this and have already booked on another workshop in September. 

I thought I'd also show you another free motion embroidery I'm working on.  I did this in a couple of hours at Fabric HQ's Sewcial last week, stitching through a traced drawing on tissue paper which I then peeled off afterwards.  The white pieces are remains of the tissue.  I might leave them, I quite like the effect.

Minerva Blogger Network - Reverse Applique T-shirt

My Minerva project this month is something a little bit different.  I decided to make a t-shirt, but not just any old t-shirt.  One using the Alabama Chanin reverse appliqué technique. 

I bought an Alabama Chanin book a year or so ago after seeing several projects on various blogs and was immediately taken with the ideas.  Some of the projects in the books really are gorgeous, and take hours and hours to complete.  I decided to go for something a little simpler.

The basic technique uses two layers of cotton jersey fabric, stencilled or somehow marked out with a design on the top layer.  You then stitch around the edge of the stencilled design and cut away the centre of the top layer only.  This leaves you with a three dimensional design on your fabric/garment. 
I decided to use white for both layers and white thread, but this technique looks equally good using different colours for each layer.  I picked some plain white cotton jersey and some skeins of Anchor Stranded embroidery thread, along with a disappearing pen to mark out my design. 
I already had a stencil I’d cut for a previous project, so I was able to re-use that for this top.  I used the Angie’s Fall stencil which can be downloaded from the Alabama Chanin website.  It was free when I downloaded it, but sadly isn’t now.
I wasn’t quite sure how much of the appliqué I wanted on my completed top, so instead of stencilling the whole garment at once I did one motif at a time, stopping when I felt happy with the way it looked.  As you can see, I’ve concentrated the design around the neckline. 
The pattern I used for the t-shirt itself is the Deer and Doe Plantain.  It’s the second time I’ve made it and the swingy A-line shape fits me well. 
The “true” Alabama Chanin technique has you hand stitch all the garment pieces together, but in the interests of time and strength I used my overlocker.  The neckline is finished with a folded strip of jersey hand stitched in place using Feather Stitch, and the hems are all left raw.  I’ll be interested to see how much they curl over time and I may end up finishing them in the same way as the neckline.  For now though I like them as they are.
This was a fun project to complete and I liked the fact that it was quite portable.  You appliqué each piece before you sew them all together, so it’s easy to work on one piece at a time in front of the television.



Crafty Bits and Pieces

Hi there, happy Friday every one. 

Once again, it's been too long since my last post and I don't really have an excuse!

I haven't actually done too much sewing since I showed you my Style Arc Gabby jacket, for a while it was too hot to even think about going and sitting at the sewing machine.

I thought I'd therefore share with you some photos of a few other crafty bits and pieces I've been doing.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a fused glass workshop at Niko Brown Glass in Hertford.  I heard about the workshops through Jo, who I was paired with last December in a Christmas decoration swap - she made me a lovely glass hanging ornament as part of my swap gift. 

The workshop was great fun, if rather warm, due to the fact that Niko had been firing pieces in her kiln before we arrived.  We had various options as to what we could create - I chose to go with a picture panel using odd bits and pieces of offcuts from other projects.  I was given a long narrow piece of clear glass and had access to lots of offcuts to play with.  I didn't really have a plan as to what I was going to create, but when I started searching through the colours I found pieces that would make the perfect abstract beach scene.  Here it is before firing.

Hopefully it has now been fired and I'm just waiting to go and collect it.  The finished piece will also be mounted for me on a white canvas.  I can't wait to see it.

I enjoyed myself so much that I've already booked another workshop.

I've also been playing with a bit more free motion embroidery.  I taught a class at Fabric HQ on Wednesday this week and decided before hand that I'd try something a bit different to take along as an example.

I started off with a sketch of this lady, and instead of filling the entire picture with fabrics I chose to just highlight her dress and clutch bag.  I cut those pieces from some scraps of Liberty Tana Lawn and fixed them onto the backing fabric with Bondaweb, as I would normally do. 

Then I traced the entire picture onto tissue paper and pinned that in place over the fabric pieces, using my tracing lines as stitching guides.  When I'd finished stitching I carefully tore the tissue paper away.

Here's the finished picture, she's now found a home with Rae at Fabric HQ who fell in love with the picture as soon as I showed it to her!

I think I'm going to have to do another for myself!

Finally, here's a collage of the free motion pictures that my students created on Wednesday evening.  Aren't they amazing?  You can see one of them was brave enough to have a go at the picture above, I was pretty impressed with the result as it was her first time doing free motion embroidery.

I've been posting more on Instagram recently than I have here - although I will try and blog more regularly, I really will.  If you don't already follow me on Instagram, pop over and say hello!  You'll find sewing, food and all kinds of other randomness.