Queue jumper

Repeat after me “I am not doing sewing this weekend, I have guests staying. I am not doing sewing this weekend, I have guests staying. I am not doing sewing this weekend, I have guests staying.

Look at me not trace out a pattern. Or cut fabric. Or just get the machine out to do some mending.

I am doing so well. Honestly, I did not realise there would be someone spinning at the street market we went to. A little peak won’t hurt will it? And I have to hang around to stop my kids breaking things whilst my son asks his usual barrage of questions, that’s my job as a parent, right? And it won’t hurt to just fondle some of the pretty colours while I’m here.

Lovely tones

Lovely tones of hand dyed hand spun wool from Spindle and Skein

Whoops, I accidentally bought some. But it would be rude not too, we were there a while and she was so patient with the boy.

Anyway, I will not be rude and start knitting in front of guests. I will not be rude and … hey, one of my guests is knitting. Right, that’s it….

testing, testing, 1, 2, 3, 4

testing, testing, 1, 2, 3, 4

Test piece done. I may be knitting another hat. Not sure who for yet, other than for someone who knows how to hand wash.

A day off using hairdryers

Today, despite the kids being on holiday, I had a day off while hubby looked after them. And what did i do? Why I went on a screenprinting workshop of course!

I found out about it a little while ago and immediately wanted to go. So many options for printing my own fabric! Then once I’d booked the pressure was on and I couldn’t think of what to do. A large statement design, a print to repeat and cover some fabric, a border print? And what of?

In the end, me, the person who despairs of the lack of non floral fabric available, chose to print dandelions. I did a larger design of a flower head that could also be repeated and a border print of various stages of a dandelion. Both my designs were within A5 size because I didn’t listen properly and thought I had an A4 worth of screen to fill, when actually it was A3 that was a good flexible size.

work in progress

work in progress

The workshop was fun and I got lots done. Much of it hastily prepared the night before. What I didn’t expect was to spend large parts of my day using a hairdryer! (Drying both screens and fabric.)

everyone's hard work

everyone’s hard work at the end of the day

The designs that I had submitted in advance were put onto a screen using light sensitive coating and a UV light (I’m a bit vague about this bit). Before we used this “exposed screen” we got to practice by making our own screens. Most of us started with an acetate of our submitted design that we could cut bits out of to make a screen that would compliment our more detailed exposed design. I made yellow splodges to go behind my final design.

my totes

my totes

Getting the designs to register (line up) was a bit hit and miss. Some worked better than others. But I kind of like the misaligned look, can we call it rustic artistic charm? I printed quite a few bits of fabric, which will hopefully get made up and shown soon. Also these 4 tote bags, which have one of each of the two designs on each size. (Spot the deliberate mistake, my small yellow splodge on the “border” design was accidently flipped upside down and printed in a mirror image so there was Absoutely No Way I could get it to match my detailed print). These totes are made with another bit of fabric from the mystery bundle, a kind of natural coloured cotton that is feels very strong, perfect for bags and isn’t lined, but I have slightly mitred the corners to give them a base. Like the birdy bag they are smaller than a normal carrier bag but big enough for a couple of bottles of wine. The fabric made exactly 4 so I used some ribbon I inherited for the handles.

experimenting on my complimentary tote

experimenting on my complimentary tote

At the end I also printed on my complimentary tote that came with the workshop. I used a mix of orange and black dye at the same time to get this effect.

So, now I have a huge pile of ironing to do to set all my hard work (the ink manufacturers recommend 10 mins hot iron!).

Right, have to go and cook now, being pestered by small children. Have a great evening everyone!

chugging along

So, I have been plugging away, sewing some rectangles and using up some of my mystery fabric. I have 2 things to show you today, made with some natural beige coloured looking linen, fairly loose weave (I think) and covered with small printed white birds and the random coarse muslin stuff that I could only initially envisage using when making marmalade.

I actually l like this photo, a shame you can't really see the bag or the scarf in it!

I actually l like this photo of me for a change. It’s just a shame you can’t really see either thing I’m modelling in it!

I got a new camera recently and it has a setting that takes several random “arty” photo’s of it’s choosing at once. Not always that useful but quite fun. Luckily my photographer volunteered to turn model.

scart

scarf

There wasn’t really enough linen to do much with, so I lopped a bit of one side (see below), then cut the remaining bit down the middle, retaining the width and halving the height, hemmed it to make a long piece, did the same with some muslin to match, sewed them togther, bagged them out, hand stitched up the hole and hey presto a lined scarf. Which I think I’m going to wash and see how it looks unironed with the muslin all wrinkled. (I can always iron it again).

bag

bag

The other bit I made a very simple bag with, which is lined with some white stuff from a remnants bin to add strength. It’s essentially a long rectangle, folded in half and seamed up the sides. The seams are french, I mitred the corners at the bottom to give it a little depth and attached the handles to the main bag before attaching it to the lining. It’s quite small but husband assures me it’s the perfect size for carrying 2 bottles of wine. My only nag is the small amount of green stuff I found in my box of ribbons that I used for the handles. No idea where it’s from but it’s running slightly and staining my lining. Oh well.

Both of these are intended as presents (as I don’t wear beige and I like my bags with more storage space).

More makes from the parcel coming soon, but I have an exciting course to go on tomorrow before they will be finished. Watch this space…

Half way house

So, how to sate the creative urge to Do Things With Fabric (and thereby stop myself Buying More) but without the hassle of Measuring, Cutting, Sewing etc.

Why, dye some fabric you already have of course!

The once white now blue fabric hanging on the line with some not quite so in your face any more green linen

The once white now blue fabric hanging on the line with some not quite so in your face any more green linen

I don’t wear white, but I like the wavy fabric I got in my mystery package so I decided to dye it blue (seemed appropriate with the waves). I couldn’t find the shade I wanted locally, so I went darker. (I used is dylon handwash dye in denim blue.) I wasn’t planning it coming out this dark, but hey ho, it’s even and I will wear it now. I also dyed some plain white from the same parcel at the same time as I managed to face up to the fact that the wavy stuff alone was not going to make me a top big enough for me! It has come out a not dissimilar shade to some plain blue fabric from the same parcel so maybe I should have saved the white for something else. Oh the benefit of hindsight!

the one on the left is off white an unsurprisingly took the dye a bit differently from the white fabric on the right.

the one on the left is off white an unsurprisingly took the dye a bit differently from the white fabric on the right.

Then I still had a bucket of dye left and it seemed a shame to waste it so I quickly found a couple of pieces of fabric from my scrap pile and folded and tied them and stuck them in to see what happened (too much of hurry to take photo’s). I also threw in the bright green linen from the same mystery parcel, doing it all completely wrong as the linen wasn’t washed (so was still probably covered in sizing which will inhabit the dye) and it wasn’t even wet. Still, I didn’t want to radically change the colour of the linen, just calm down the green a bit.

I’m pretty pleased with my results. All the non-tied stuff came out even. My waves are slightly darker blue than the rest of the fabric. The plain fabric will go nicely with it to make a top (once I get over my fear of sewing a woven top). The green is definitely mellower and more usable now. And I quite like my tie dye efforts, alhthough I’m not sure yet what to do with them as they’re quite small. They didn’t come out as dark, presumably as the water had cooled down a bit as well as the mixture having already been used for dying and possibly the sizing from the linen dissolving in the water (my dyeing knowledge is very limited).

All in all a fun afternoon, feeling creative, but without having to concentrate too much. Just what I needed today!

New Pajama’s

I gave up on the idea of 2 pairs of pajama’s from the knits in the mystery bundle, there simply wasn’t enough. Once I’d done that I could concentrate on getting one good pair.

Pleased as Popeye

Pleased as Popeye

I think I managed that.

Pretty pleased with my seal placement

Pretty pleased with my seal placement

There’s not much to say about these. The shorts are the Ottobre sweatpant pattern, again. But shortened (by the oh so scientific method of fold pattern piece up so hemline meets bottom of pocket). Oh yeah, I left the pockets off. But I’d already traced one pocket (in washable pen) first before deciding. So he noticed. And has sulked. Don’t look too closely at the waistband, I used seal fabric and cut it far too narrow and as a result have an ugly bodged wasitband.

ouch!

ouch!

However, I did this after sewing the left front side of the raglan to the right front side (rather than the left back). And unpicking was not pleasant. So I decided to live with bodged waistbands. I resewed the raglan with larger seam allowance and then trimmed the ugliness off.

No, I hadn't sent him to the naughty corner

No, I hadn’t sent him to the naughty corner

The top is a self drafted raglan I had in my pattern folder, not sure when from (this superhero t shirt?), but it seemed wide enough and I added a bit of length (he only ever seems to grow up). I also added a pocket, because the first thing he said when he saw these two fabrics together was “you could have a pocket in this on that”. And cos, you know, pockets.

IMG_0367

The fabric is beautiful, lovely and soft and they compliment each other really well. The blue print is quite pale and subtle and doesn’t show up well in these photo’s, sorry about that, still getting used to my new camera. I still think they would make excellent baby clothes, but I’m in no need of those. I have about enough left to make a toddler t shirt, but can’t help thinking this is the most unpractical colour ever for a toddler t shirt! Anyway, if this jersey is your kind of thing, I can wholeheartedly recommend them, check out the Organic Textile Company website. They have loads of other stuff too and their ethics are clearly in the right place. (I don’t know them, they don’t know I’m writing this, my order last week was my first dealing with them and I’m impressed so I’m spreading the word as I only stumbled across them by accident.)

IMG_0358

I would never have chosen to buy these but I love the pajama’s and I’m really glad they came in the parcel. I think the vertical stripes on the shorts make them kind of old fashioned somehow. If the rest of the projects from this parcel come out this well I’ll be stoked!

Twin needle

Breaking news. I have actually done some sewing. I made something with two of the pieces in my remnants surprise parcel. No photo’s yet, but I am very pleased.

I have also resisted buying morefabric. Just. But I still have tabs open with it in. Sigh.

But really, I wanted to let you know about some twin needle tips I just stumbled across. I did swear at mine last night, but then again it could’ve been the thread. Anyway, next time this jersey-a-holic breaks out the twin needle I will re-read this first as well as doing my usual increase stitch length, loosen tension slightly. Thanks to Sweet Alchemy for the link.

Anyone else got any favourite sewing tips they’d love to share?

Fabric Shopping versus Sewing

Have you have read Kestrel Makes recent post on fabric consumption. When I read her paragraph

Personally, I’ve found that decreasing time to sew has led to an increase in my stash. Online shopping takes much less time than sewing and provides some of the same excitement, allowing you to make a connection with sewing and with your creative side, planning projects and talking to fellow sewers on Instagram.

I must admit I have to put my hand up and say Guilty as Charged. Recently I’ve been struggling to start projects. I wash the fabric, adjust the pattern pieces, maybe cut it out and then I stop. Ideas a plenty but no action. And my fabric buying has definitley increased!

I don’t sew to “be sustainable”, I sew because I enjoy it. Now, that doesn’t mean that sustainability and the impact of my lifestyle isn’t important to me, because it is. But while my views impact on my sewing (for instance I make things like t-shirts that I wear and then wear them, rather than one off fancy dresses that then sit in the back of my wardrobe, I try and use up all my scraps, which is where small people come in handy), the sewing is the primary motivator.

I have come to terms with this. There are more wasteful hobbies to have. But whilst I know my homemade clothes haven’t been made in sweatshops, I usually know nothing about the production of the fabric I’ve bought. And I’m painfully aware that I can never be as efficient as mass produced clothes. All those odd left over bits of fabric that are kept to a bare minimum with clever cutting layouts in mass production. The muslins and mistakes that I make as I improve my skills. The garments that didn’t turn out as I hoped and don’t get worn. On the plus side, I’m learning new skills, rediscovering what my grandparents new. But if my primary goal was sustainability, would this be the best way of going about it?

For instance, I know someone who doesn’t sew, who is on a low income and buys himself a clothes from places like People Tree. How does he afford that? Well, he doesn’t buy very much, for instance 1 pair of trousers a year, he shops the sales and he makes clothes last (he’s the only person I know who darns socks).

I know someone else who has decided not to buy any more clothes. She is using up the ones she’s got. She told me that the downside is that she has worn out many of her favourites beyond repair and is now having to wear less favourite things.

These two people make wardrobe choices based on primarily on sustainability. I sew, because I enjoy learning new things, the challenge, the creative side, being able to make things that fit, that I want to wear, without being restricted to what’s in the shops, the online connections. I am happy with that. But I don’t want to be complacent and tell myself that all handmade clothes are “good”, regardless, and turn my conscious off.

Woah, this post has gone slightly off track. I don’t mean to preach and I certainly don’t mean to judge.

But for me, I need to find a way to stop buying and start making again!

Pass the Parcel

So, do you like surprises? I decided to be surprised this week, I was ordering online from the Organic Textile Company and I spied that they did mystery bundles of remnants (under clearance) and decided to go for it. Well, my parcel arrived today (less than 48 hours after ordering, pretty speedy) and I’m pretty pleased, although I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of it.

sweatshirts

sweatshirts

First up some sweatshirt fabric, which wasn’t part of the bundle. I needed some fabric that isn’t “too dark” for an upcoming project and had decided on their grey marl fleece backed sweatshirt fabric (on the website under fleece). However, when I went to order it was sold out. I have a deadline for this project, so I dithered between getting some green instead or some latte. So I got both. And some black (well, I’ve had a black sweatshirt project in the back of my mind for a while and I find this stuff hard to come by). The fabric is 180cm wide, I expect some shrinkage but that’s pretty wide all the same. I got the carbonised black, which isn’t fleece backed. I am very happy with all the sweatshirt fabric. The “natural green” I would describe as sage, it’s a grey green. The latte I would describe as camel. It’s not a colour I would usually choose, but I wasn’t sure if the green would be light enough for my purposes and I didn’t think I had time to order swatches (considering how speedy they were I probably did). The fabric is lovely, my only complaint is that they only sell black ribbing (which I already have), matching colours would be nice!

Next up, the mystery fabric bundle…

knits

knits

I got three knits in there. The stripes and the seals are amazingly soft, they would make excellent baby clothes. Not quite sure what I’m going to do with them as we’re not really a pastels family (far too messy), but I’m wondering if I can squeeze some summer pajama’s out for the kids. There is less than 70cm of each, but they are 140cm wide according to the website (however I measured them at 1m60). There’s also about 60cm of the navy, which is only 135cm wide. I’m pretty sure this is their single jersey, which I also ordered samples of. The colours of the samples are excellent, really vivid, but (presumably as it’s 100% cotton with no lycra or other stretchy synthetic in the mix) this is not as stretchy as I’m used to (although the seals/stripes are and they are also listed as 100% cotton?) so I don’t think I’ll be ordering more.

prints and brights

prints and brights

I got two prints in there. Approx 70cm of (fairly loose weave I think) linen with a bird print, hmm, what to do with that. And 90cm of a wonderful tree print with mad red birds on cotton that I have absolutely no idea what to do with – I think it’s blouse weight. Also a 1m50 square of really bright green linen. Think I’m going to have to dye that to tone it down. Likewise the lilac corduroy, of which there’s enough to make “something” for the girl, or maybe a bag.

plains

plains

Mostly I got plain farbic, as per their bundle desciption. My favourites are the double shot red/black cotton (only 65cm, maybe I can squeeze a shirt out for the boy) and 1m15 square of goldey yellow bamboo cotton mix whihch has a lovely drape to it. I would never have picked this but I think I might actually make me a top from it, rather than a dress for the girl. The teal is a favourite colour of mine, the white is very soft, the beige is a thicker weight, could be childs shorts in a different family.

see through things

see through things

Finally I got various bits of see through stuff. A small amount of broderie anglaise – sleeves and trim for a girls dress? (except she has plenty of dresses). Something with a slightly textured wave design, that’s not as sheer as the others, I may try dying this blue. A pretty net curtain fabric, sorry, that’s all I can possibly think it could be used for. And a quite coarse/stiff natural coloured muslin, that surely could only be used for straining marmalade etc.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased. Obviously if I’d been braver and got the bundle of larger lengths I would have more options for making things, but then I might have large amounts of fabric I didn’t like (not to mention an even smaller bank balance). Now it just remains to see how much of it I manage to sew up.

Have you ever taken pot luck on fabrics? And do you have any genius suggestions of what I can make with my tiny bts if faric (9 out of 16 are less than a metre long).

And the third time’s the charm(?)

Can I tell you a secret? My main reason for buying the Birgitte T shirt pattern was because I wanted to make a drape top (which the Birgitte isn’t). A drape top with sleeves. But all the patterns I could find were for sleeveless ones and my drafting skills aren’t up to adding a sleeve. However, Maria Denmark’s Day to Night drape top said it would fit the Birgitte sleeves. So I bought both.

I have never regretted buying the Birgitte, I’ve made some great t shirts with it (like this one). However, I had fitting issues with my first 2 Day to Night tops and was about ready to give up on it, but I decided to have one last try and this time I’m finally happy with the result!

ta da

ta da

What do you think? (Big props to little sister who took all these photo’s by the way. She actually got all of me in all but one shot, so with a little bit of cropping they were usual).

adjustments

adjustments

The first time I blended between sizes, and it was too tight and had drag lines accross my bust. Last time I started again with an FBA (the black lines above) and still got drag lines. This time, I traced the Birgitte t shirt from armpit downwards (the pink lines) and then blended into the lines of the Day to Night (red lines) above the armpit.

close up of wrinkles (not sure how she knew this would be useful)

close up of drag lines (not sure how she knew this shot would be useful)

I initially tried it on wearing a mega strong sports bra and there were no drag lines at all, hooray. But when I changed into a normal bra they came back. However, I think they are less pronouned, or maybe they’re just hidden by the pattern on the fabric. Or maybe I’m just past caring.

The top is definitely also looser around my middle and longer than the Day to Night pattern.

jaunty

jaunty

Anyway, I now have another top to wear during Me Made May. Yay for me.

"he he, I put the cross on your bottom when I took the photo" my photographer (age 7)

“he he, I put the cross on your bottom when I took the photo” my photographer (age 7)

As a bonus, this is definitely Stashbusting, as per my pledge (i.e. bought before Christmas last year), so counts towards my total. Off the top of my head that’s now at nearly 4 out of 12, so a bit behind schedule, but getting there.