Thursday, 31 December 2015

Roll On 2016!

Hey friends, it's time for the ubiquitous 'New Year' post! SO! How did I do with all those resolutions from last year...

"Take more time to properly fit garments (yes -that means toile making!!)something I often skip then later regret. 

Get a handle on my outrageous sweet tooth and get back into good cooking habits."

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my outrageous sweet tooth is still in existence, so scratch #2. As for #1 I haven't really done as much garment making as I'd like to have, but I can honestly say that I have made a more concerted effort to check and improve the fit of the one's I have made, so a small win there -I'll take it!

I didn't do particularly well with lingerie this year -namely due to the faff of finding and ordering supplies. I loved my first Watson bra so shame on me for not cracking on with several more! Back on the list for this year.

So that's enough of 2015. Looking ahead to 2016 I have some VERY exciting news. I am moving (virtual) home and would LOVE you all to join me over at 'SEWN' where I will be blogging as of the new year.

I'm launching an online sewing pattern store which I am beyond excited about. More details on that post launch but I can say that I have a hoard of authentic vintage patterns and some pretty fantastic indie designers lined up to boot!

If you'd like to stay in the loop then head over to the Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. I'll see you there! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Gold Scout Tee // Hand Knitted Hat

My goodness it's been a hectic few weeks in the run up to our birthday trip to Vienna. We leave tomorrow afternoon. The bonus of having birthdays in the same calendar week is that my other half and I often get to spend both of them on holiday together.

Unfortunately illness has struck and I've spent the last fortnight in a fairly useless germ-ridden state! I've managed very little sewing whatsoever (the sewing I attempted on my second 'Bruyere' shirt was a disaster so saving it for when my brain is more up to the task!).

I do however have a second 'Scout Tee' (by Grainline Studio) to share, this time in golden yellow poly crepe.

This fabric was not nearly as forgiving as the monochrome viscose used in number one and so whilst I'm really happy with the overall fit -the finish could certainly be improved. At some point I'll unpick the narrow hems and adjust the stitch length/feed to reduce the puckering (truth is I'll probably be lazy and leave it).

Knitting requiring less energy / brain power has been firmly on the agenda of late. You can see from the pictures (taken by my pal Hannah of Donuts & Bolts -delicious vegan food!) that I've finished a second hat complete with bobble and am very nearly done with another pair of fingerless mitts to match. Not bad for a knitting newb!

Packing time, hurrah! See you on the other side...

Friday, 20 November 2015

Quilted Christmas Stocking

...Or 'Sock-ing' if you will!

After putting together some new Christmas themed 'Hexie' English Paper Piecing (EPP) packs and totally falling in love with the small scale festive prints by Riley Blake I decided to whip up a new Christmas Stocking to show them off with a bit of a traditional sock design.

The base is a solid red with fusible fleece onto which I quilted a grid. I think the hexie embellishment adds an extra special touch to an otherwise pretty simple make. I simply topstitched them into place before assembling.

I decided to utilise some scraps and instead of adding a contrast cuff chose some sweet scrappy binding instead which I hand stitched in place. Above you can see the ladder stitch which is then pulled taut for an invisible finish.

It's so jolly looking! Gloomy day pictures don't really do it justice.

I had intended to place it on sale alongside the kits at 'Make & Do' but my other half has taken a liking to it so it may be gifted instead! Not long now till the 'big C', I'd better get back to stitching!!

Want to give English Paper Piecing a try? Check out the tutorial here.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Ravelry / Knitting Update

Howdy folks! I'm mid-cutting my second 'Bruyere' blouse at the mo. I'm taking my time with it as I'm making it with a snuggly warm plaid which requires quite a lot of thought regarding placement and pattern matching so I thought in the meantime I'd share a quick knitting progress report! The images are all pulled from my Instagram feed.

I've recently discovered the website / online community 'Ravelry'. If you knit / crochet maybe this is old news but Ravelry is bloomin' great for yarn based projects! If you're buying a pattern you can see other people's reviews, finished projects and get construction tips etc. There's also a project search function including thousands of free online patterns.

So I've now completed two proper projects and have a third in progress! The first was a ribbed hat using a cheap acrylic yarn I've had hanging about the house for some time.

The next project I tackled was slightly fiddlier. I used double pointed needles to make some wrist warmers for Kirsten's birthday. The yarn used is Wendy 'Celeste' and has tiny sparkly sequins interspersed purchased from 'Get Knitted' in Brislington, Bristol.

Neither of these are perfect but as a recent 'non-knitter' I'm feeling rather pleased with myself!!

...Now back to good ol' 'Bernie' and some pattern matching!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Handmade Hand Warmers -Very First Knit Project

'Look Ma, I can knit! ...a little'

No really, this is photographic evidence for my mother to show that the hours spent painstakingly trying to teach me to knit as a youth were not in vain (eventually!).

I really did try several times but never had the patience to practise and persevere with knitting. I ended up with miscellaneous holes, accidental increases / decreases and it never quite grew quickly enough to keep me inspired.

We had a couple of days away in Lyme Regis on the south coast last week to recuperate after a particularly grueling few weeks so I thought I'd make the most of some down time to finally get to grips with knitting with the help of several videos on 'Creativebug'.

If you've not come across it before it's a subscription based website full of video tutorials for all sorts of crafts -yarn based, sewing, paper, cake decorating, you name it. There's currently a free trial offer! I'd recommend it if you're looking to dip your toe into a new craft but I personally found many of the sewing based options quite basic.

I watched several videos by Debbie Stoller of Stitch Nation including 'Knitting and Purling' and 'Knitting Cast Ons' to remind me of the basics then I set to practising. I love Debbie's warm and fun manner in her videos which are really clear and helpful. She's not at all stuffy!

' put on your big girl panties and get ready for some purl on purl action!'

My hand warmers are just a basic 40 stitch square swatch started with 6 rows of knit / purl ribbing, followed by striped stockinette rows then 9 rows of knit 2 / purl 2 ribbing to finish.

I say hand warmers, strictly speaking it's just the one... can you spot the rookie error?

Noooo! I counted 4 rows instead of 6 so one's too short darnit! Whether I'll get around to unraveling or knitting up a fresh one I'm not sure but I'm super pleased with the first! It's the furthest I've got to date!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Monochrome Grainline 'Scout' Tee

Hello! I'm on the tail end of a grueling few weeks. It's been totally non-stop so I'm extremely thankful to have finally had a little down time to get back to some sewing and generally recharge the batteries!

Enter the Grainline Studios 'Scout' tee. It's a woven t-shirt pattern by Chicago based indie designer Jen and it's been on my sewing agenda for, goodness, forever! I've finally made number one and number two is already in progress!

(Excuse the rubbish pre-work early morning photos. With my current track record better to just get it done than wait for better light).

I wanted a few more 'Non-Knits' in my wardrobe for teaching when I want to feel a little more put together. This one was made using a monochrome viscose from Fabricland. It's really soft and drapey and even better it was only £3.99 for a metre which is all I purchased (the envelope suggests more but for fabric economy I tend to cut flat rather than on the fold).

The pattern is super simple -no darts or fastenings, just 3 pieces with a bias bound neckline so it came together really swiftly. I opted for a size 2 and didn't make a single alteration as I was feeling lazy and in desperate need of something straightforward to get stuck in to. Double thumbs up! It's a little wide in the shoulders as the seam sits slightly off the shoulder (less noticeable here with the print) but totally wearable. Super pleased.

The fabric is a little shifty but handles ok and presses like a dream. I applied the neckline binding at super speed with barely any pins and it lays totally flat and smooth. I'm trying to take more care with the internal finish of garments so used french seams (aside from the armholes which are overlocked).

I can see many more of these in my future not least of all as they're so quick and satisfying to make (much like pants!!). Definitely recommend it... Now back to Scout number 2! Watch this space.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

'Chemise Bruyere' by Deer & Doe

This post has been a long time coming! In fact I've washed and worn this garment about 5 times over now but I finally got around to taking some pictures to share.

The fabric was purchased for an absolute bargain £4 per metre at the Birmingham 'International Festival of Quilts'. I stupidly went along to a quilt show with a view to finding some great garment appropriate fabrics but I did in fact come away with some great finds. I can't remember much about it aside from being sure that although it has an open linen like weave it's 100% cotton.

Beautiful placket detail, but already a little worn. :(
The button stand is 5 x thickness so there's a little bulging at the buttonholes.
It's so soft and lovely, and has a nice body to it -I'm super happy with it's purpose here. The only snag is that due to the very open weave the sleeve plackets (stitched very close to the edge of the fabric) are already starting to wear. I'm a sleeves rolled up kinda gal a lot of the time though -and even when not I think with the overall casual nature of the fabric and shell buttons I can get away with it looking intentional... maybe?? I reinforced the edge with an extra row of topstitching just in case.

French seamed interior (aside from the overlocked armhole).
So it's the 'Bruyere' by Deer & Doe patterns which is marked as an advanced project. It's not easy but no aspect of the construction was terribly difficult. The fitting was an absolute mare though.

Due to my petite frame I blended from a size 36 to a 34 at the shoulders and sleeve. I narrowed the shoulders a touch more but when making up my toile the sleeves were shapeless and enormous on me. I slashed and overlapped the pattern piece to narrow the sleeve, which in turn raised the sleeve cap. I adjusted the balance point and despite still being not quite right, after a lot of faffing I'm much happier with the fit.

Unfortunately after all of this hard work it accidentally ended up in the tumble drier so it's now a touch snug in the bodice. I still love it though and as I mentioned at the beginning of the post it's in pretty constant rotation (along with my much loved 'Datura' blouse).

Thankfully having traced and kept my altered pattern pieces, should I want to whip up another it will be a much more straight forward affair!!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Siblings Together Quilt - It's Finished!!

So firstly my apologies to all of the wonderful people who have helped me out with making this charity quilt -due to a buegroning load of commitments it's taken me a little longer than I'd have hoped to finally polish it off, but ...IT'S DONE! ...HURRAH!

The last few hand stitches in the Dashwood 'Flurry' binding.
The quilt patch was applied with bondaweb then running stitched over the printed dash lines.
The finished size is approx 51" square.
I won't go into the ins and outs of who the finished quilt is for or how we constructed it as those details can be found in the following posts:

I just wanted to share a few finished snaps and send huge virtual thank you hugs to everyone who made it possible.
  • The Perchard clan who donated a massive 13 blocks between them!
  • Kirsten at Make&Do for the kind use of the space (and letting us raid the scrap bin whilst we were there!).
  • 'Little Fabric Bazaar' for the generous donation of the backing fabric.
  • Andie for sending us beautiful blocks in the post (in the most adorable little washi packages!).
  • Helen and Steph for coming along and suffering the madness contributing more blocks.

Thanks again folks. I'm really proud to have put this together for such a great cause. It'll be displayed in the shop for a few weeks so that everyone can have a nose, then it's off in the post ahead of the October camps to finally meet it's recipient!

I'm embarking upon a second quilt myself and will happily organise another 'Quilt Bee' social so there will be more to come.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

'Snippets' Divided Basket by Noodlehead

This Saturday was the lovely Steph's birthday (my colleague at Make and Do) so the ladies and I were plotting a gift from the 3 of us.

I decided to marry two of her favourite pastimes, sewing and organising stuff, to make up this 'Divided Basket' by Anna Graham of the bloomin' brilliant blog 'Noodlehead' (Do check it out if you haven't already -great patterns and Anna has just released a GORGEOUS fabric line for Cloud9).

I picked up the PDF pattern when she was having a sale last year and it has sat printed and cut just begging to be used ever since. As ever, life gets in the way but at last I found a excuse to use it! A word of caution -HEED THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.

Yes you'd think this goes without saying but in my infinite wisdom I cut the pieces and then freestyled the construction which resulted in the lining not fitting. I had to adjust and restitch it twice. Yes.... twice (overcorrected!).

We were pondering fabric choices, Retro Orchard' by Dashwood Studios is a firm favourite but I changed my mind last minute and decided that a sewing caddy would look much better in the very appropriate 'Snippets' collection by Windham Fabrics (we have both in stock at the shop FYI).

In a most brilliant turn of events it transpired that Steph had  in the last few days, made up a pin cushion and thread catcher set in the very same collection! Happy days!

The rest of the set and filled with all of Steph's sewing goodies! Perfect size for sewing patterns.

It went down rather well, so much so that I think I may be churning them out for every birthday gift going forward ...Jemma is plotting her own for December as we speak!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Design Your Own EPP Hexie Cushion

After a few enquiries I've put together some packs of pre-cut hexie templates and fun modern fabric combos allowing people to dive straight in without the prep and give 'EPP' (English Paper Piecing) a try so I thought I'd better share a few ideas for using them.

Enter idea #1 your own hexie cushion front. I hesitate to call it a tutorial as it's laughably simple.
  1. Download and print some hexagon grid paper (doesn't need to be to scale it's just a guide). I found mine here at 'Printable Paper'.
  2. Grab some colouring pencils and get creative!
I started by measuring my templates (not the fabric as these have seam allowance!) and drawing an outline using the number needed horizontally and vertically to yield a square 1" bigger than my cushion pad. The rest is up to you! I went for a simple modern geometric style design picking out colours from our bedroom.

Once the front has been pieced (hexie piecing tutorial here) the fabric templates can be removed. I like to carefully slide the arm of my paper scissors behind the template and wiggle it free leaving the basting stitches in place to help control the many tiny seam allowances.

 I layered my cushion front with wadding and fabric backing and quilted the outline of the gold and blush shapes using a coordinating thread. It creates a great texture.

If you want to keep it simple you can make it up with an envelope back but my preference is a zip so I made it up to match my 'Bark and Branch' cushion with a clean covered zip.

I've said it before but the main draw for me with EPP is it's portability (if that's a word?). I've been stitching away in front of the TV, on the train, at 'The Duchess' and most recently in the back of Steph's car on the way home from the NEC Quilt Show.

Hand sewing on the train.
Last few stitches returning from Birmingham.
I thoroughly enjoy it and the bug seems to be catching! There are a few kits available via the facebook page, and  Make & Do for locals if you fancy giving it a try. I'm already planning my next one!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Appliqué Peg Bucket

If you follow the 'Stokes Croft Stitching' Facebook page you'll know that I've been playing around with a bit of raw edge appliqué. I was a little tight lipped about the specifics of what I was working on as it was a birthday gift but as it's now with it's recipient I can divulge the details!

I promised OH's mum a peg bag a long time ago and have never quite gotten around to actually making it so when her birthday rolled around I thought it was about time!

I'm not a big fan of hanger based peg bags as the opening is generally quite flat making access to it's innards unnecessarily awkward. Enter 'make-it-up-as-I-go' #372 ...the 'Peg Bucket'.

I was faffing with fabric options for ages when inspiration struck in the form of a gorgeous 'Dolly What Not' embroidered card (Sarah -it's all your fault!) so I delved into my scraps and, using a little bondaweb, spent the next few hours embroidering some little appliqué pegs. It looks like free motion, but not having the appropriate foot I simply straight stitched around the edge in the usual fashion.

I think this technique looks best when you don't over think it. As I mentioned, it's a great lesson in letting go of perfection (not something that comes naturally to me!) as the slightly wobbly lines give a lovely illustrative quality.

Coincidentally the 'Dolly What Not' shop has just opened in St James' Arcade in Bristol so pop in and take a look; more on that later!

It was a little last minute so construction wise it's not perfect -for one I'd rather have hand stitched the binding down but simply didn't have enough time. I'd also cut the drawstring band a little deeper for version 2 so that it meets in the middle but it's a good first effort.

I'll keep you posted with a usage report as to whether or not bucket beats bag...

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Local Independents - The Duchess of Totterdown

Another little gem to share in my little 'Local Independents' feature; The Duchess of Totterdown.

Ok so once again this little place is not strictly craft / sewing related, but it does regularly harbor a bunch of crazy crafting ladies so that's a close enough link for me!

I popped down this morning to have a cuppa with a few pals expecting to find myself in a pub. I was greeted instead by a quaint little tea room complete with bunting and vintage china.

I sat and enjoyed a great coffee whilst beavering away with my latest EPP project (to be unveiled soon!) and treated myself to a 'High Tea' only with coffee.... naturally!

It includes cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, a freshly baked (delicious!) scone with jam and cream AND a cake of your choice from that days selection all for a little over £6!

The proprietors are lovely and very accepting of the gals taking over with various craft projects / crochet etc. I'm told there was even a machine set up in the corner one week! The perfect spot for a bit of 'sew-cialising'!

The previous 'Local Independents' posts are listed below for your perusal...

I love finding new places (especially if cake is involved) so send suggestions my way!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Housewarming Cushion & Sewing In-Seam Ric Rac Trim

Last month we took a trip to East Devon and Dorset. Whilst we were there we stopped by to visit friends and needed a little housewarming treat so I set to making a cushion especially for Charlie.

Most of the supplies came from my stash but I bought a 'Frida's Garden' fat quarter from the lovely ladies over at Flo-Jo's on Gloucester Road who have a stunning selection of fabrics. No pictures I'm afraid as it was a quick in-and-out rush job! Next time though.

I took a couple of pictures as I went to show how I use ric rac as in-seam trim. It's my favourite way of sewing with it as it produces a lovely little scalloped effect which, yes I could have omitted for speed but I think really finishes it off.

So below you can see that I apply it to the right side of the fabric first stitching closer to the outside edge. If  your ric rac is very large you can line one wavy edge up against the raw edge of the fabric but in my case I drew a line around 1/4" from the edge to leave a larger seam allowance.

Now when you sandwich it between your layers it doesn't slip at all and you have a clear line of stitching as a guide for sewing your seam. I stitch just to the inside of this (furthest from the raw edge).

Top-stitching after a press is optional but keeps the seam allowances nice and flat. (Tip: Keep your hot iron plate away from synthetic trims by pressing through the fabric from the reverse -ask me how I know!)

Again for speed I could have opted for a simple envelope backed cushion cover but I prefer the plumpness of a zipped cushion so I folded the fabric to create a little zip cover whilst keeping, if I must say, a pretty reasonable pattern match.

Due to the placement and curvature of the cushion pad I should have made this just a fraction longer as you can see the zip tape just peeks out; hindsight is a marvelous thing!

I was quite taken with it on our grey sofa, so Charlie if you're reading this -you're lucky it made it out of our house!! What's your preference for jazzing up scatter cushions?