Sunday, 29 March 2015

First Bristol 'Siblings Together' Quilt Bee Gathering

Just thought I'd share a few pictures from our little get together today. Six ladies, some sweet treats and a bit of foundation piecing for our 'Siblings Together' group quilt.






We've got two rows ready to go so far and several more blocks in progress. If you'd like to make one up I whipped up a quick tutorial here. Any block contributions can be posted to the following address and will be included in the final quilt destined for a little one in care.

Stokes Croft Stitching
c/o Make & Do
83 Sandy Park Road
Brislington
BS4 3PG

Huge thanks to Emma, Carrie, Jane, Helen and Steph for coming along and to Kirsten for the kind use of the space. We've also had a super generous contribution of quilt backing fabric from 'Little Fabric Bazaar' -Thank you!!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Anchors Aweigh! Printed Jersey Dress

I posted a sneak peak of this dress on my facebook page yesterday. I got up, decided it was going to be a dressmaking day, and this fabric which has been sat in my stash for some time finally decided what it wanted to be!



It's a 'franken-dress' which started life as a 'Lady Skater' but with numerous chops and changes became something more akin to a 'Moneta' by Colette Patterns. Incidentally the 'Moneta' is pattern of the month over there so if you SUPER quick, it's currently on offer.

So changes:

  • I redrafted the neckline into a wider almost boat neck scoop.


  • I omitted the sleeves and, cutting two of each bodice piece, used the clever 'Datura' construction method for a completely clean internal finish.


  • I changed the skirt shape from a half circle to a gathered rectangle base using clear elastic.



Now as usual this 'make-it-up-as-I-go' dress wasn't entirely plain sailing (get it?). Firstly I used woven elastic to gather the skirt panels. It stretched out due to elastic fatigue and added too much weight and sag when I attached it to the bodice.

Luckily I found that, having not accounted for the lighter weight jersey and the weight of the skirt pulling on the bodice, I had enough extra length to simply cut it off with my rotary cutter for round two.

Next also due to said extra weight, I ended up having to ruin my beautiful neat innards by taking the bodice up at the shoulder seams. I simply stitched them across cutting off the excess and finishing the raw edge with my overlocker.


I should have gone with my gut and not topstitched the armholes and neckline as they're slightly stretched out -I'm hoping this will shrink back a little in the wash.

There was a little tunneling at the twin needle hem, but as usual this pressed out ok. I'm not 100% sold on it's finish but it's perfectly acceptable and wearable.


I was hoping that today could be the first 'no tights' day of spring but alas, the weather has gone from beautiful at 8.30am to horrid at 11am, so this one will have to wait till tomorrow for it's first outing when I shall be wearing it sans tights regardless!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Watson Handmade Longline Bra

A few days ago I shared my first ever handmade pants, and whilst I'm ridiculously proud of today's little share, in terms of energy input vs satisfaction output the pants still win! Even so it's pretty exciting...

So without further ado allow me to introduce my very first handmade bra!



It's a 'Watson' (Longline, version A) by Amy over at Cloth Habit, and I love it. I used some seriously cheap 6 inch stretch lace and stretch mesh bought locally just to try it out (fully anticipating a fail!) but I have to say I'm pretty darn proud of myself. It looks like a bra and works like a bra!

The lace was a little too sheer so I lined the cup pieces with stretch mesh, and the cradle with proper cradle lining (from the Sewing Chest) to stabilise the front.


There are loads of tips on Amy's blog, one of which being altering the cup piece to allow for keeping the scalloped edge. I followed the directions and stabilised the edge with clear elastic to stop it stretching out over time.



Powernet is recommended for the wings but as it's a first trial I thought I'd carry on with my cheap stretch mesh, doubling it up to create the appropriate degree of stretch and it worked like a charm!


It actually came together surprisingly easily! The only hiccup I encountered was me having a funny five minutes and ending up basting one of the pieces wrong side out. D'oh (I was lazy and cut another rather than unpick!!).

A few people had trouble negotiating the bulk at the centre front. The cup to cradle seams meet and need to be overlapped and topstitching into place. I had extra bulk due to the cup lining but I have to say, fiddly though it was it still didn't pose much of a problem.



You can see that I've overlocked all of the innards so it's nice and clean looking inside and out.


It's not quite right for Mabel as she's bigger in the shoulders and rib cage area, but the internet really doesn't need pictures of me in my smalls -so you get the idea!

Onto the little niggles (and there are ALWAYS niggles)...

  1. Fit wise I was slap bang between and 30 and 32 but I'd rather risk it being snug and stretching out than too large and unwearable so went with the 30. It's a little snug and the side seams are creeping forward so next time I may try the 32 depending upon the stretch of my materials.
  2. The cups are pretty bang on. I think a slight further stretching of the side elastic is in order for next time, and I may even omit the clear elastic stabilising the scalloped front as altering the pattern piece shortens this edge so it 'squishes' a little, flattening me just a tiny bit in the front.
  3. There is a small amount of wrinking on the cradle when worn due to only the outer layer being stretchy. I think others used spray adhesive to baste the layers for construction which may help alleviate this -alternatively cutting the outer layer a fraction smaller perhaps?
  4. The pre-cut hook and eye closures from the Sewing Chest are the tiniest bit rough on the heat sealed corners so I may need to bind the edge with a zig-zag or something similar if it continues to irritate.

That's it really. For my very first ever handmade bra I don't think I could have hoped for a better result. The longline version is has a really pleasing vintage look and provides a little more support than 'View B' for slightly bustier ladies, but the combo with cheap shiny lace in white looks a little 'dowdy' perhaps?

I might look into dying the whole set when the bikini is finished later... Not sure if this would be possible after making it up though.

So a good start to my 2015 resolution. I'm going to stick with perfecting one or two more of these little beauts before moving on to non-stretch / underwire territory!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Lingerie Resolution - Watson Bikini

Hurrah for the arrival of goodies in the post! Unfortunately they arrived just after I popped out of the house so I had to wait a whole day to pick them up from the depot -very upsetting!

As stated in this previous post, (on top of mustering some toile making motivation) I've decided to push my skills a little and try my hand at lingerie making as my resolution this year.


I had no luck looking in local shops for lace edged / plush back lingerie elastic so placed an order over at 'Sewing Chest'. I ordered some metal rings and sliders, cradle lining, stretch mesh and a few different elastics to play with.

I chose the 'Watson' bra by Amy over at Cloth Habit as a starting point -an introduction to bra making techniques with no pesky underwires to worry about (just yet...). There was a great sewalong which I fully intended to join in with but dropped the ball with ordering! Still a brilliant resource for fitting tips etc. if you fancy giving it a try.


So I printed and cut my pattern pieces and whipped up my first pair of bikini pants this afternoon. They're a little ropey as they're really a wearable toile. I wanted to check the sizing and try out the elastic insertion as it's eased in by hand with no pins.

I rarely use pins these days, I got used to easing in by hand during my stint making hot air balloons about 10 years ago (yikes 10!) so it was pretty straightforward.



Really happy with them for a first run, they're a good fit. Next time I'll ease up on the elastic a tiny bit at the waist, and stretch it a little more around the leg openings.


Next up the longline bra. I anticipate needing to make a few to perfect the fit so I have some cheap stretch lace and mesh which I bought locally, and some jersey I may try with some mesh lining. Here goes!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

'Siblings Together' Quilt Block Tutorial

...Apologies for taking my sweet time with this (I know a few people are raring to go already!).

My last post laid out my plan for our first collaborative quilt for 'Siblings Together' but knowing a few people won't be available to come along on Sunday 29th March I thought I'd whip up a quick how to (also enabling people to contribute a few blocks via the post!).

I've thrown it together pretty swiftly this morning to get it out there so it's not the best, but hopefully it's clear enough to give you a good idea of what we're after. This brilliant tutorial by Ashley at 'Film in the Fridge' was my initial reference point so do have a little look over there too.


You will need...

Four 5" squares of standard paper
I reused some off cuts from a pdf pattern -gotta love a little recycling, only note here is not too thick as we'll be tearing it from our finished block later.

Glue stick
Check first that it's a fully washable one like 'Pritt', though I think most are.

Fabric scraps cut into strips of varying widths
I'd recommend sticking between 3/4" and 1 3/4" for the size of our block, and we're looking for one consistent main colour (albeit different shades and prints) across the 4 squares making up one larger block.

Start with one of the four 5" paper bases. To ensure that the strips are pieced at a 45 degree angle draw a line corner to corner. This is where our first strip will be placed.


Grab a glue stick and using just a tiny amount, secure your first strip along whichever preferred side of the marked line.

In order to easily remove the paper later, shorten your stitch length to around 1.5. You may have to play with the tension a little. Seam allowance doesn't matter too much at this point but in the interest of consistency and accuracy when we come to assemble I'd stick with 1/4".


This is a bit of an 'improv' technique as the width and placement of each piece is totally up to you! Just be sure that whichever strip you use is long enough to fully cover the paper at that point. So moving on to whichever you'd like to place next, lay it right sides together on top of the central glued strip and sew from one end to the other.


With a dry iron, press this out flat and repeat, placing the next strip right sides facing. Continue working in the same way, outwards from the centre until the whole 5" square is filled. Easy peasy!



*Tip - Don't go too narrow with your corner strips as when the 1/4" seam allowance is taken later the impact of these will be lost*

This is the satisfying part! Flip your square so that the paper is facing upwards and using a rotary cutter and mat (or simply shears if you don't have one at hand) trim away all of the excess fabric using the edge of the paper as your guide. This leaves you with a nice accurate 5" square.


Ok phew, one down -now for the other three!

Make them up in the same way. The beauty of this 'improv' style is the diagonal seams don't have to match up at all, so don't worry! Get creative and have some fun with it.


So onwards...

When you have your set of 4 squares ready to go, carefully tear off the paper backing. I've found a good way to do this is to fold the paper back at the stitch line and run your nail over the crease to help perforate the paper then hold the end of the seam whilst you tear it away to avoid undoing all of your stitches.


When you're happy with your arrangement take two squares and place them right sides together. Stitch, then press both 1/4" (important!) seam allowances to one side.


Repeat with the remaining two squares only this time be sure to press the seam allowances to the opposite side. This will help with the next seam.

Ok, last step! Place one pair of two right sides together onto the remaining pair and stitch (again, 1/4"). If you've pressed your seam allowances in opposing directions they will butt up against each other giving you a good sharp point at the centre of your finished block.


Give it a last little press et voila!


If you'd like to post a contribution I'd suggest leaving your paper intact and posting them prior to assembly for a little extra protection in transit. The address is as follows:

Stokes Croft Stitching
c/o Make & Do
83 Sandy Park Road
Brislington
BS4 3PG

Thanks again for everyone's support! I can't wait to see them all come together. x

Friday, 20 February 2015

'Siblings Together' Quilt Bee - Foundation Pieced Block

I'm getting quite excited about this, you could say I have a (Quilt) bee in my bonnet... No? ok.

For anyone who didn't catch my previous post on the matter, I'm rousing a few local quilt enthusiasts to help me create some quilts to donate to the lovely people at 'Siblings Together' a UK based charity aiming to reunite brothers and sisters living in separate care placements through days out and residential retreats.

So the date has been set for Sunday 29th March, the location 'Make & Do' in Brislington, Bristol and I've been wracking my brains as to what we could work on...

It needed to be something suitable for individuals to work on independently (post friendly too) and I thought a scrap busting element would be perfect for getting people donating fabric. So here it is then -a foundation pieced 'String' block. It looks impressive but it's a surprisingly simple method.


This phenomenal example above is by Ashley over at 'Film in the Fridge' and there's a fantastic piecing tutorial as well. Instead of going for a kaleidoscope effect I thought we'd work on a single colour theme for each 4 square block keeping it gender neutral as I'm told that there tends be a lean towards girly quilts -so lot's of brights! Let's leave out the pink and try to reign in those florals people!

So to round up, if you'd like to come along it's completely free (though small change donations towards the wadding and backing would be very gratefully received!) and as well as step by step piecing instructions I'll be providing tea and coffee -there has also been talk of cake!

All you need do is turn up though if you're able to bring along as many small scraps of fabric as possible and perhaps a sewing machine (we have 3 available at the store) that will definitely ease the process.

If you're not able to come along then feel free to pop a block or two in the post (ideally to arrive before the 29th so we can factor them in). My own project specific tutorial and postal address will follow shortly.

Huge thanks to Kirsten for letting us utilise the shop and thank you all for your support! See you there x

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Siblings Together - Bristol Quilt Bee

A few days ago I read a post over at 'Lily's Quilts' regarding a charity 'Siblings Together'. It's a UK based charity aiming to reunite children separated from their siblings in foster care (as of course finding placements for several children together must be extremely difficult!) -be that for occasional days out or in some cases week long retreats.

Lynne has spearheaded a bit of a campaign to donate quilts in order for the children have a little token to take home and cherish as a reminder of their (sometimes rare) time spent with brothers and sisters at these retreats.

So time for a bit of back story. I was taken into care at 18 months old alongside my brother who is 3 years older. I was raised by my foster family and became completely estranged from my birth relatives at about 10 years old. Around this time my elder brother made the decision to return to our birth parents resulting in our separation.

My brother and I circa 1988.
Happily many years later we are now back in touch but I can vouch for this experience being extremely painful. I think it's vitally important for looked after children to feel valued and supported by society -which is often far too quick to focus on and widely publicise their statistical probability of failure. Needless to say this a cause close to my heart so I am appealing for a little help.

Despite being a bit of a quilting novice I'm organising a Bristol get together and 'Quilting Bee'. We'll be settling on a colour scheme in advance so that people can raid their stash and contribute a few set blocks to a group quilt over the course of the afternoon / evening.

Kirsten has kindly allowed me to use the space at Make & Do so if you're local to the Bristol area and would like to come along please get in touch for further details (dates to be confirmed!). If you're not local then not to worry! We'll be sure to post details of our plans in advance so that anyone wanting to pop a block or too in the post can still join in!

Do head to the 'Siblings together' website for a little further info as there are many other ways to volunteer and help out.