Letting go

What do you do with things you have made that no longer serve a purpose?

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You may recall that I made a dress back in March this year. Its the first real garment that I’ve made from scratch using my sewing machine and as such, it has a certain amount of sentimental value. Its a great reminder of a project I worked hard on, and pushed myself to overcome my ‘perfection paralysis’ and felt proud of what I managed to achieve.

That said, it was made as a costume for a show. Its not a style I would choose to wear on an every day basis and I cant really imagine an occasion for which it would be particularly useful. (Chances of someone I know throwing a 60’s party are slim!) In fact, it doesnt even really fit me any more. Thanks Slimming World!

But still it hangs on the outside of my wardrobe where I can see it from my bed and I’ve reached the point of wondering what to do with it.

The wardrobe mistress expressed an interest in having it at the time of the show, so I guess I could pass it on to her for future costume use. I just dont want to regret letting it go.

What would you do? Do you keep things after they’ve served their purpose or are you good at letting things go?

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Sew busy

Today was a sewing day. Pumpkin went to his grandparents and Pickle was happily occupied with some new colouring pens and a few episodes of Paw Patrol. I felt the need to do something productive and spotted a T shirt of Pickles that has been put to one side for ages in need of a little mending, and so decided that this was a day for sewing.

I fixed the T shirt first, reattaching a piece of fabric across the inside of the front which covers the back of the embroidered picture to stop it tickling the tummy when worn.

Next up was a pair of Pumpkin’s school trousers that had sustained a knee injury on the playground a few weeks ago.

It was quite a big hole, so I patched it from behind with some iron-on mending fabric that I must have had for years as it was from Woolworths! It stuck pretty well, but I stitched it all the way round the edge for security too. It was a bit obvious on the outside so I folded some of the remaining loose fibres over the hole and darned them into place. Its not the best patch job, but hopefully its not too noticeable when worn at knee level and the trousers will last a bit longer at least!

Then I remembered a T shirt of mine that I never wear because the stitching had come undone and left a hole in the armpit (not a great look!) so I fixed that too.

Then, since I had all my sewing stuff out, I thought I may as well make a start on the great nametag sew-in marathon of the year. Pickle is starting reception in September so this week has seen a fortune dropped on new uniform for him. Pumpkin is also starting a new school in September, though as yet theres still a little uncertainty as to which one, so his uniform buying spree will happen closer to the start of term. Spreading out the sewing seemed like a good plan too.

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Now, lots of other mums think I’m nuts for using the sew-in type of name label. Just today I’ve seen rave reviews for both the iron-on stickers and the ink stamp type nametags and also a recommendation for the sharpie ‘write-it-on-yourself’ approach, but I dunno, I think I’ll always be a sew-in fan. Yes, its a faff and time-consuming, it makes my fingers hurt and I can’t believe how many I still have to do, but once they’re done, I know they’re not going to fade or fall off, they’ll last as long as the item of clothing does and once that item is outgrown or worn out, I can remove the label without a trace and I guess, even reuse it if I want to! They’re the same type of label that my mum used for me and my siblings when we were at school too, so it feels like a familiar and a sort of generational link. I even doubled up the initials so the same ones do for either child depending which way you fold it! Thanks mum! Its a labour of love and I’ll keep doing it for as long as my boys need nametags in their clothes!

What’s in your mending pile? Which type of nametag do you use?

Dagenham Dress

This was going to be a series of work in progress posts, but since it all progressed rather quickly and to a deadline, and injuring my wrist at rehearsal a couple of weeks ago made typing difficult, it’s ended up as a fait-accompli post instead!

I’ve been rehearsing over the last few months for a production of Made in Dagenham. It’s set in the 1960’s and is based on the true story of the women workers of the Ford factory in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay. It’s a fun show with great music and of course it requires lots of great costumes in keeping with the 60s era. My character in particular needs several different outfits and since the wardrobe mistress has her hands full costuming everyone else, I offered to have a crack at making a dress for myself.

I’ve never really sewn a garment on my own from scratch before. I did a bit of dressmaking as a teenager, though only simple skirts, and always under the tutelage of my mum. My mum and I also worked together to make my wedding dress several years ago. I’ve wanted to have a go at something a bit more ambitious ever since I got a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, but until now had only ever done simple mending jobs, or basic projects like my crochet hook roll and Pumpkin’s pencil case.

So, after a little bit of procrastinatory research, I decided the only this to do was to bite the bullet and throw myself into it. A trip to the local fabric store and I was equipped with pattern, fabric, lining material and a zip.

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I was a good girl and put the fabric straight into the washing machine when I got home. Then read the pattern properly and realised I would need a few other things. Cue another hasty trip to a different haberdashery shop for interfacing, carbon paper, tracing wheel and a rotary cutter.

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Since I was between sizes, I had a go at grading the pattern out at the waist and further at the hips. I made a toile out of the lining fabric to begin with to check the fit and ended up adjusting the grading a fair bit. The red line above shows my first attempt.

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Tin cans make excellent pattern weights!

 

I spent a long time laying the pattern out and tracing it using the carbon paper and wheel. I still took a big deep breath before I started cutting it. (Rotary cutting wheels are awesome by the way!) There were quite a lot of moments throughout the project where I found myself starting to question each new step and whether I was doing it right or was going to risk messing up what I’d already done. I just told myself to suck it up and get on with it. I’m not always very good at doing that. Often projects sit and linger when I can’t quite bring myself to do the next step for fear of messing up.

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Once I was happy with the toile I moved onto the main fabric. I thought it could be a big challenge having to do all the pattern matching, but in fact having the lines to keep me on track really helped.

Sewing the shoulder seams would have been easier if I’d fully unpicked the lining after using it as a toile. I did have to unpick it all eventually, otherwise the construction wouldn’t have worked. Pulling the whole thing right side out through the shoulder straps required some mental gymnastics, but was easy enough. I would need to think through the seams allowances better if I was doing it again, in terms of which way they lie and trimming them better before flipping it through, as they ended up being a little bulky, but that’s just how you learn, right!?

Inserting the zip was a similar story. I’ve only done a zip once before – on Pumpkins pencil case – and never an invisible zip. The first side went in fine. The second side took me a couple of attempts and then when I flipped it round I discovered it was twisted anyway, so I had to unpick that side again and reposition it before stitching again. Fortunately it went in right first time after that and I was very pleased with the pattern matching.

This was the point at which I fell over at rehearsal and sprained my wrist, so the dress rested for a week before I could get back to it. But with the show looming I had to push on. I basted the sides together and my wardrobe mistress kindly helped to check the fit and mark the hemline and it was fairly straightforward after that, just a little slow.

The hem was the bit that I procrastinate over the most I think. With everything having gone together so well up to that point, I really didn’t want to mess it up at the final hurdle. I pinned and repinned and basted and pressed and eventually took a deep breath before chopping off the excess length. I hand sewed the outer fashion fabric for a neater finish on the outside and machine stitched the lining.

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I’m incredibly proud of the finished garment especially given it’s the first time I’ve made something like this, and to wear it onstage and pretend it’s a designer outfit is a fantastic feeling. I’m absolutely loving doing the show too. I got my nails done last week to help me get into character as well. So unlike me, but they complement the dress perfectly! Here’s to more successful sewing!

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Knitting and Stitching show

We had a great day at the Knitting and Stitching Show, once we’d successfully navigated past the queue of people that definitely didn’t fit the crafting demographic! They were there for Walker Stalker which I believe is a convention for fans of the Walking Dead.

Here’s a few snapshots of our day.

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Lauren Guthrie BBC Sewing Bee finalist 2013

 

 

 

We watched Lauren Guthrie give a very good demo of working with knit fabrics. We perused the many many stands and finally made our considered purchases.

I’m hoping to have a go at making a top out of knit fabric, so I bought a set from Guthrie and Ghani which includes ball point needles and twin needles and some helpful info for working with knits. Lauren recommended the Sewaholic Renfrew top pattern as a starting point and helped me choose some fabric. I went for the Art Gallery Tomahawke striped cotton jersey.

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I also bought thread to match the jersey and some more black thread for my current project along with some new dressmaking scissors. My old pair has been used for a lot of different purposes over the years and are less than sharp these days so a new pair was definitely called for.

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Tilly also featured in the 2013 BBC Sewing Bee

My friend bought the Tilly and the Buttons book as well as her Cleo dress pattern and some other bits and bobs.

It was a great day out!

 

 

Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

I had something else in the pipeline to post about, but I fell off my shoes at a rehearsal the other day and injured my wrist, which has put both crafting and typing about it slightly out of the picture for a few days. It’s nearly better now, so I’m just popping in to say I’m off to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia this weekend, and having just perused the website, I’m now rather excited about it. I hope I’ll remember to take a few photos while I’m there this time. Is anyone else going? Do say hi.

In the meantime I’ll just drop this little teaser of what I’ve been up to recently. The stripes have been temporarily abandoned!

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ALL the crafts.

Why is it that when there is stuff you really *should* be doing, like, y’know, packing and cleaning your entire house, sorting, sifting and culling vast amounts of junk and generally getting ready to move house, THAT’s when you most want to just do ALL the crafting?

I’m slowly working on my Stripes Gone Crazy. I’m almost down to the first colour change, which is exciting stuff. I’m not 100% convinced my sizing is quite right – it seems like it might come out a little narrow at the shoulders, but I’m not quite sure, so of course I’m just ploughing on regardless. I haven’t quite figured out the problem of not having quite enough yarn yet either, but I think I can contact the seller I bought it from at some point when I’m more sure what I need.

I had a great conversation over lunch with a friend the other day, who is just getting started on crochet. I think she’s already a perfectly competent knitter, but she wanted a bit of advice on a new project which I was only too happy to help her with. I ended up coming home and immediately casting on (would you say casting on for crochet? Looping on?) a hat for her little man. She actually wanted booties for him, but they can be part of a set, right!?

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I’m also hankering after a sewing project or two now. I cracked my sewing machine out briefly in the summer to do a couple of mending jobs. Firstly I searched high and low to find a new backpack for a trip I was taking and couldn’t find anything that was quite what I was looking for, so I fixed up the tear in the top of my old one. Good as new!  Then I repaired a couple of worn patches in some jeans. I used iron on patches for one area, but got a little more creative on a hole in the pocket.

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I placed a small patch behind the fabric and did some long stitches in zigzags to hold it together. It’s not the neatest thing ever, but I quite like the look of it.

I’m not sure how much longer this pair of jeans will hold up for though, and honestly, trying to find some new trousers or jeans that I like and actually fit me well is proving to be a tough and tedious job. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried on around 20 pairs of trousers in various shops in the last week. Which has got me keen on the idea of attempting to sew myself a pair.

I’ve ordered some fabric online (I’m never quite sure how wise it is ordering something like that online when you can’t accurately judge either colour or texture) and am scouting out patterns. I think the Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers pattern is top of the picks at the moment. I’ve never sewn a garment before, so it’ll be a whole new voyage of discovery for me, but I’m up for the challenge. Well, I will be, once I’ve moved house and unpacked and done all the things that need doing to get the new place shipshape…

And then there’s cake. Pumpkins birthday approaches, so he’ll no doubt request some crazy cake creation once again. I’m definitely not doing Toothless again!

 

Mr Incredible

I thought I’d show you another quick make I did for Christmas.

Pumpkin has never really been interested in the idea of dressing up. A pirate costume cobbled together out of clothes he already had in his wardrobe was about his limit. But when he watched ‘The Incredibles’ a month or two ago, he swiftly started talking about being Mr Incredible and telling me he wanted a Mr Incredible costume.

For those of you who need a reminder, or simply have no idea, this is Mr Incredible.

Incredibles picture taken from imdb.com

There are plenty of tutorials around on other blogs for making an Incredibles costume, but I thought the quickest and easiest way to do it would be to gather a few items of clothes and chop them around a bit.

Good ol’ Primark came up trumps for pretty much everything I needed.

A red T shirt

A pair of red leggings

A pair of black leggings

A pair of black gloves

I also bought black, orange, yellow and white felt from a craft shop to make the logo.

It’s a very simple make, really. First, I chopped the black leggings just below the crotch to make the top part into the ‘pants’ that are worn super-hero style on the outside. The legs of the leggings became long sleeves which I hand-stitched into the existing sleeves of the T-shirt.

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I used a template for the logo which I found on this blog, and cut the pieces out of the coloured felt. Annoyingly (given that I ended up doing the majority of the work on Christmas Eve, having been wiped out by a sickness bug in the run up to Christmas) I found it really tricky to machine sew the logo – I think because the felt was very soft and the angles were too much to manouver round – so I had to handstitch the whole thing onto the T shirt.

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I ran out of time to do a mask and a belt, though I hope to get round to doing both at some point soon. But the look on Pumkin’s face when he opened the present on Christmas Day was just priceless. He was absolutely over the moon, and pretty much insisted on wearing the costume for about 3 days straight! Definitely worth the effort!