Sewing Goodies for Christmas

Well, today is 12th night, time to put all that Christmas stuff away. The Man and the Girl sorted out all the decorations on Sunday, but we still have piles of everyones booty in the living room and it really is time to put those away! (Hmm, I’m worried that that use of booty, as in bounty/treasure won’t read so well to anyone from the US). Most of the stuff is the kids of course, but I have a small pile and I realised I didn’t tell you about the amazing stuffed padda bag on it.

Back in December I signed up for the Curvy sewing collective holiday sewing swap (which has a cute little blog button that I’m darned if I can get to work). This was my first time doing something like this and I didn’t realise until I went to pick the present how nerve wrecking shopping for a total stranger would be. Also, I was paired with Katrin, which meant I had slightly less time (as my parcel had to reach Germany) and she doesn’t have a blog (yet) so I don’t even know what she looks like. Neither of these were a problem but it did make chosing slightly more nerve wracking.

Luckily we had a really helpful email exchange and I found out that she likes sewing retro style skirts and dresses. Which threw me, as I don’t think I’ve ever made anything retro and I don’t tend to wear or make skirts and dresses (I’m not counting my moss mini skirts, which I really use as a top extension so I can get away with wearing leggings outside, likewise my tunic dresses which are really long t shirts 😉 ). After a bit of pondering I decided to get her the Jenna cardigan from Muse patterns which has a retro feel and would surely go well with some retro dresses and skirts. It has a wide size range (upto 48″ bust) and it got a good review from Sophie Lee. The only down side is that the pattern is pdf, so I emailed Kat at Muse and checked she was happy for me to download it and then send it to someone else and she was fine with that, so I bought it, burned it onto a CD and printed out a little cover with the cardy illustration front.

My gift

My gift

The pattern used up nearly all of my $15USD budget, so I got a little creative to make it more interesting. (Admission time, I did buy a twin needle to go in the parcel, but I had relatives staying and it got lost somewhere in the chaos and I didn’t want to miss the last posting date for EU parcels). I dug out some retro style buttons that had come from my grandmother-in-law’s stash. There are some green rectangular ones (at the top) that I thought might work well on a cardy (but don’t tell the Boy, he’s had his eye on those) and a larger amount of grey one’s (at the bottom, they look pink in this photo but they aren’t) with a petal pattern carved (?) into them that I thought might look nice on a shirt dress (it’s so hard to pick when you don’t even know what colours someone wears). I also put 3 shiny cream (fake ivory style?) square ones with truncated corners and some groves in them, I’ve no idea what they could be used for but they were cool. Then I rudely sewed in front of my relatives and knocked up a quick bag out of scraps and using a retro ribbon from the same stash as a strap (lines with some satin binding as it had lots of floaty bits on the back).

I posted it on the last possible day, phew and then waited for my parcel. Which didn’t come. I was slightly disappointed but figured it had got delayed in the post. Then I discovered it had come and my husband had put it on one side as a surprise. So on Christmas day I got to open a parcel full of amazing stuff…

Wonderous goodies

Wonderous goodies

Katrin’s clearly been reading my blog as she got me a t shirt pattern: Jaille 3132. I haven’t used any Jaille patterns before so that will be interesting and it’s nice to have another t shirt pattern to try -I don’t think I could justify paying for one when the Birgitte fits so well, but this was a gift. Plus it has a hood. (It also has nursing options but I don’t need those).

Then there was chocolate (why oh why did it not occur to me to include non sewing gifts) and some really cool steam punk postcards. Plus a beautiful zippered pouch with 3 zips, some rainbow cord and some really fun buttons that I’m sure the kids will love (but I may keep the red stars for me). I was bowled over by the amount of stuff and felt a little guilty as I think this is much more inventive that my present. I just hope Jallie patterns are cheap (don’t tell me, I’d rather not know).

So thanks to Tanya for organising this and thanks to Katrin for the amazing gift.

New holiday fabric shopping hobby

Whilst on holiday back at Easter time I ended up in a fabric shop in Edinburgh with my husband and brother in tow and I came back with some turquoise ponte knit and black and green stripey knit. I would just like to point out these are all made up now, I have posted about the black and green stripes yet but the turquoise ponte ended up in not one, but two Coco’s and a self drafted raglan top for the boy.

So, when I went away at the weekend I decided it was ok to buy some more fabric. Especially as I don’t have much dressmaking fabric in my stash. Maybe I should’ve specified how much more fabric I intended to buy.

On Friday I was in Brighton, and before I went I just so happened to take a look at a review of fabric shops there on the Fehr Trade blog, so armed with that fore knowledge and with a little help from a local friend I ended up at Ditto Fabrics in the North Lanes. I found the organisation of the fabric in the shop a bit confusing, I couldn’t get my head around the logic of what stuff was together, which made it slightly harder to look, but the staff were happy to let me browse and left me in peace.

cityscape wool blend knit and sooo soft indigo/black needle cord

cityscape wool blend knit and sooo soft indigo/black needle cord hiding beneath

I came away with 4 lovely pieces of fabric. An indigo/black needle cord which is sooo soft it’s amazing. I looked for some needle cord locally the other day and the local choice in cord was a bit lacking, there was some, with a floral print on (the same stuff in my two main shops), which is a bit limiting (I am not a floral person). So I bought 3m of this as I figured that would give me something to play with and it’s fairly versatile in what I could make with it. Currently I think this would make a lovely shirt dress for me, maybe a Bluet and if there is any left I’m sure the boy would like a shirt in it. I’m not sure it’s strong enough for trousers though.

shot corduroy heaven

shot corduroy heaven

I was also pleased to find some shot corduroy, I didn’t know this existed. I found some burgundy shot with green (the photo shows it as purple, which it isn’t) and was expressing my delight at the till, so one of the assistants found me out some of the same stuff in green (although the photo has come out more grey) shot with orange (from a completely different part of the shop). I was in corduroy heaven (clearly harking back to my days in academia). I’m thinking of something steampunky in a skirt for the green cord to wear when out with Countess Isabella’s Automata (time travelling victorian automata explorers who just happen to Molly dance).

Finally, I got some knit fabric with a bit of wool in it. The main print is rectangles in lovely autumnal colours that remind me of a city skyline at night with all the skyscrapers with lights on. This is out of my comfort zone a bit but it was half price (making it £4 a metre) so I decided to go for it. I’m hoping not to have to use the border, which looks fine on it’s own, but doesn’t go with the main print, not helped by a slight white gap in between. I was thinking of making a shift dress type thing, with capped sleeves, that I could wear with tights/leggins and boots or over jeans and a long sleeved t shirt. My friend showed me a similar one she has in a similar kind of fabric, which had a cowl neck (which I don’t want) and big side pockets, which made me think of the Lola dress by Victory patterns, hmm….

Oh and I didn’t buy a dark teal ponte that was lovely, so I was a bit restrained.

The shop was well worth a trip and they have an online shop too. I haven’t really bought fabric online as I don’t feel I understand the descriptions enough to know what I’m getting, but now I’ve been in maybe I’ll try it, they do have a fab range of corduroy. And I’ve just seen a navy cotton sateen with a white zig zag that varies in width on their inspiration page that is fabulous, know idea what I’d do with it though.

So, the next day, despite not really having time, I squeezed in a trip to fabric land on Western Road. I rushed around pretty quickly, it’s a big shop. There were a lot of assistants, some were more helpful than others (I could be jumping to conculusions but I suspect some were Saturday Assistants and still had some confidence to build and customer service skills to learn). They had a wide range of things, including swimsuit fabric which I’d only seen online before. I got 3 colours of ribbing (black, navy and grey – the only other colour was white, which is just asking for trouble) as I can’t get it locally and was pleased that they would sell me 1/4 m of each (my local shop wont sell less than 1/2m of anything).

knit tastic

knit tastic

I also got 3 knit fabrics. I got 1m of each hoping that is enough to make a top for me (I really haven’t got the hang of figuring out how much fabric is needed for stuff yet, I’m always overestimating what I can get out of a piece of fabric and being disappointed, so on Friday I bought 2 and 3m lenths, which were feeling heavy in my backpack at this point). Then maybe there’ll be enough for a kiddie item too if I’m lucky and if I’m really unlucky I can always get a kiddie item out of each (surely, 1m is enough for that – my reserve back up plan is an adult t shirt pattern made from piecing different fabrics together that I have). There was a lovely grey and tealy-blue stripe, a blue with 70’s vibe cloud and star pattern and a denim effect one which is really soft (and for some reason I have decided to make a t shirt with a colour out of this, to replace the ancient one I cut up to make a witches dress for the girl.

Finally, I couldn’t resist a metre of garish pvc table cloth type fabric (oh and some flanged piping).

VW heaven (or maybe that should read nightmare)

VW heaven (or maybe that should read nightmare)

I also found out that they have a branch in Bristol, which is an easy shopping day trip away for me. This could be dangerous knowledge.

Then I just caught my train to go and meet up with an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years who just happens to be a sewing blogger too. Luckily we were in a small London commuter belt village with no access to sewing shops. In theory this meant no more aquisitions but she gave me a piece of her stash, a beautiful coloured soft plaid. Not sure I know what I’m going to do with it yet, it makes me think of an Archer shirt, but I think it might be too sheer to be decent. It was very kind of her, especially as I didn’t finish the skirt I’m making for her in time to bring up. (I did bring up the pieces to show but we were bereft of pins for her to try on).

lucky me

lucky me

So, I now have a much larger stash. I have done some sewing too, but it has slowed down a bit as light hot evenings make settling kiddo’s difficult which has really squeezed my child free evening time when I tend to sew.

Currently I’m working on something with this lot (which I bought locally).

errm,  yes, more fabric, most of them are only 1/2 m pieces though.

errm, yes, more fabric, most of them are only 1/2 m pieces though.

If any Fabric First (as opposed to Pattern First) fabric buyers out there have any top tips on how to decide how much of something to buy, I’m all ears.