Sunday, 27 June 2010

Recent junk finds and sewing update

Some recent charity shop finds
I took Little I to a small shoe shop in a village in the countryside. I couldn't get any shoes to fit her at the well known national UK retailers of children's shoes. After we purchased a pair of pink sandals that fitted her we found there was a charity shop opposite where we found this cardigan. I loved the sleeve shape - it is a wool and cashmere blend and too warm to wear at the moment. Little I displayed a typical three year old's taste and chose a Barbie doll dressed in a ball gown for 95p. She calls her Princess. (I feel there is a whole other post brewing about why she would choose a Barbie)

Next up this cardigan from Oxfam in Exeter - it has a hood, pockets (yay, I love pockets) and is lined in a really soft teddy-bear fur like fabric. It is just the kind of thing to wear in autumn for morning trip to school and to see the chickens.

Finally, this wicker suitcase/picnic basket which we are using as toy storage. I have a small collection of wicker suitcases. Partly because we don't have enough cupboards and shelves. The toys were stored in a pink plastic trug but I ran out of large plant pots so tipped toys into suitcase and the trug is now outside housing a bean plant.

And one last pic of the skirt I cut out last week - I know, I know, I said I had too many skirts but this is a plain dark denim one you see and a different shape. So I am puutting this into my Summer Essentials list of five instead of the green patterned A line skirt. Please note the genuine swirly 1950s or 1960s carpet - our house belonged to Mr Minnado's grandmother and we haven't redone every room. My sheath dress is coming along - the major seams are sewn up, the zip is in and I am adding the binding to the sleeves. It is a little odd trying on something much more fitted after a spell of making and wearing fairly loose clothing. I am searching for some kind of happy medium - a dress which is loose enough to be comfortable but not so huge that I look pregnant. Not sure I have found it yet.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cosy book corner

Hayley who has a very thoughtful and inspiring blog posted recently about her sewing space and creating small changes within the house which have a much bigger impact on how you feel. This picture shows one of my minor domestic changes - I made a reading corner a couple of months ago and haven't posted the pictures. The space between the end of the sofa and the wall was kind of being wasted - we had a toy box thing there. My lovely Polish friend (if you read this, Gosia I am missing you and your coffees!) was moving back to Poland in february and kindly gave us this set of shelves which had been a shoe store in her front hallway. There are two large floor cushions which I bought on ebay after finding the Ikea covers in the charity shop (still with labels on). I am tempted to paint these shelves bright red - I am having a yearning to paint a few things bits of furniture at the moment but haven't got any spare money to buy the paint this week.
It was great to move some picture books downstairs to free up some book shelf space for T's older boy books that he now has. The cushions seem to be a success (I have zipped that one in the picture shut now) and the kids do sit down there to read or Little I plays trains down there a lot. I almost fell asleep on the book cushions a few days ago - they are so comfortable. But was rudely woken by Little I yanking my eyelids open. Ahh, the joys of motherhood.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Japanese sewalong finished

Hurray - we have pictures again!

I have finished my Japanese top from Cecili's sewalong. I am not sure if I like the neckband in brown though. (I keep thinking it may look a bit like the shepherd's costume froma school nativity play in brown) Cecili made a very elegant black and white top in this sewalong and Zoe made a fab seventies tunic, with a lovely shaped neckband. Alison was very clever and used the japanese top pattern with an existing dress pattern to produce a lovely blue dress. Ali, if you are reading this, I am looking forward to seeing yours!
It is really comfy on and has fab sleeves. I will try and photo it on once I have figured out the self-timer on the new camera. I just cannot do that while looking after a three year old and seven year old both of whom love to fiddle with cameras (subsequently breaking the last camera I had). There is a lot of fabric in the body of the top but it doesn't look too huge on (I think/ I hope). I do like it but it is a different style to what I usually wear and I think it is going to take a bit of getting used to. I think it will be great on a hot day to keep cool but also keep my upper arms nicely covered from sunburn. (I have a bit of a thing about avoiding sunburn, having fair freckly skin). I think it was a bit of an error to try and sew the neck band at night when I was tired as I went wrong with it and lost the nice curved shape that it originally had. But I did enjoy the whole sewalong experience and Cecili posted some very helpful advice on her blog - I am certainly going to try another one of these patterns again in the future. I am going to try wearing this top next week and see whether I lose my nativity-related reservations.

The next picture really should have gone in my last post - these cushions are what I made out of the green patterned Ikea fabric that I had rejected as a skirt fabric. The sofa itself is brown not as dark as this photo suggest. Previously we had brownish coloured cushions (why? On a brown sofa? I just don't know) now re-covered they are soooo much better and I have used up some of my stash.

Finally a picture of what I was working on last night - a brown sheath dress from Built by Wendy dresses book with a falso placket on the front. The binding tape is from Liberty via Clothkits (another birthday present). And there on the right - my new attempt at sewing organisation - the zip up bag that I have been keeping pattern pieces and fabric for this dress in. I am trying to organise my projects in this way....

Monday, 14 June 2010

Skirtaholic epiphany

So in my list of summer essentials I had said I would make a green patterned skirt. The fabric was some Ikea fabric I bought before Christmas. But then I had a moment of thought last week and I counted my skirts and found I have 16! I was shocked as I had thought I had about 8. Five skirts are Me Made and these are all A line, with some kind of print or picture on. Hmmmm, I am scratching that green patterned skirt for sure as I cannot justify having another A line, pictorial/graphic print. I am trying to make myself learn new skills and improve my sewing knowledge so I am going either a plain dark skirt in a new pattern or something else entirely.

I have been trying to be less of a consumer and yet here I am the (not so proud) owner of 16 skirts. I conducted a highly unscientific poll (by text) of friends as to how many skirts they owned. The answers ranged from "Two, but I have a lot of trousers", "Four that are wearable, not counting the packed away clothes" to "Twenty but I only wear four" and "Twenty skirts, 19 dresses" - so this puts me in the middle. I have been reading this library book,
"Ms Harris' Book of Green Household Management" by Caroline Harris. In this she makes suggestions for a "Lifetime wardrobe" "We've somehow got used to purchasing almost a whole new wardrobe each season - and then we're encouraged to de-clutter and get rid of everything we don't wear, taking the rejects to the charity shop to assuage our guilt. At its worst, it's a kind of binge-purge cycle." She goes on to suggest this for what skirts you could own, "...a warm one for winter, one for spring and autumn and a light one for heatwaves, plus one for smart occasions..." Hang on, that's four! I love the idea of only owning four, but don't know if I can honestly do this in reality.

I still feel 16 is too many for me so I have taken two to the charity shop, I have put three aside to sell on ebay and one aside to cut up and refashion. But then I got down to ten and there is one that I am sentimentally attached to, one I am saving in case I have an office based job again, and a couple that are so lovely I just want to keep them. I have put one in the dressing up box. As a child I loved dressing up and we had a trunk of clothes including two 1950s cocktail dresses of my grandma's - how I regret letting those be given away once we were grown up. I have this idea that now I have a daughter she may like some of my clothes for dressing up in or even to wear (who knows when she is grown up some of my stuff may be desirable vintage??) So, I am wondering if anyone else out there has too many skirts or is saving clothes for their children?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Summer Sew Along and exciting news

So I had hoped to document my Japanese top sewalong with some photos but Little I broke the lens on my camera on saturday night. She gave it a hearty shove and it has refused to come out ever since, just makes a weak creaking noise. So I have to think about whether I can get this mended and where. In the meantime I have drafted the pattern and cut out the pieces. The pattern looks very complicated but once you start drawing it out - it becomes much simpler. I think it looked complicated because of the Japanese annotations. I am sewing it in some
Kaffe Fassett /Rowan shot cotton which is a dull sort of ochre (called "Tobacco"), I think in real ife, it is more yellowy than this image. I found the fabric while visiting my mum last week and found it was £3 cheaper per metre in Exeter than in my local fabric shop!
I have also joined Ali's (who seems to be a very clever person) Summer Essentials Sewalong (do you noticethe new widget?) There is a flickr group for this. I hav eplanned my five items to be:
1. Japanese top
2. Stripey T shirt
3. Brown shift dress from Built by Wendy dress book
4. Green patterned skirt (from stash fabric)
5. Some kind of trousers - I'm torn between wide legged or narrow....but as I have fabric and patterns for nos 1- 4 I am concentrating on them first.
My exciting (if you are a sewer) news is that a new shop has opened at the end of my road (yes about 4 minutes walk from my front door), and guess what? It's a haberdashery shop. It is a very small unit in a run down indoor market but it is a treasure trove and absolutely packed with buttons, trimmings, ribbons, zips etc, etc., and it is cheap and no extra packaging in items, like a zip encased in plastic wrapping. Lots of things are in see-through plastic drawers and you have to rummage through. I loves it. The lady who runs it says she has even more stock in her garage including wool and fabric, but she wants to stay in the very small unit so she won't have to put her prices up (don't you just love that?) She is bringing in the fabric and wool and customers will just have to squeeze in and rummage. There was a small pile of fabric offcuts on saturday but I restrained myself, may have to go back soon. But Sarah, if you are reading this, she has no rubber fringing!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

MMM reflection and planning

A lot of other MMM participants have written about their experiences so I shall keep this short and sweet. I really enjoyed taking part in Me-made May. The flickr group was great fun and had interesting discussions. Seeing everyone's photos was inspiring. I also realised that I do like a little of positve commentary and was always really happy to receive comments on my pics! I don't have any sewing friends living close to me at the moment so it was refreshing and enlightening to meet new sewers. I have a few new blogs to add to my favourites now. A big thank you goes out to Zoe for her organisation and dedication!

I am now taking part on Cecili's sewalong using Nani Iro patterns. The pattern notes are written in Japanese - and it looks like a fairly simple tunic top but I am not sure whether I have bitten off more than I can chew. But I have been admiring some of the japanese clothes I have seen fromother sewers and the Nano Iro webpage is a visual delight for me. I have restrained myself from joining any other sewalongs as I have to try and be realistic about what I can achieve. The illustrious Zoe has announced a new (bigger and shinier) challenge to be Self-stitched September and I am looking forward to taking part - check out the widget on the sidebar! These photos show my initial rough sketches and notes (they are very rough, drawn when Little I is nappign in the car or other such snatched moments)on what I am planning to make over the next few months. I am trying to take stock of my MM clothes and how I can fit in with these, also how I can use my shop bought clothes that I am fond of. I am clearing out a few RTW clothes and am selling the better quality ones to give myself some funds for fabric as money is tight here until I find a new job. My notes are also my attempt to work out how best to use up what I already have and I am still committed to trying to use recycled charity shop fabric as much as possible. And in this I give you two pics of my recent finds, I went to a small town a couple of weeks ago with a friend. This is a fairly well-off area and has fab charity shops! In the first one can you imagine my glee when there was a table of fabrics?? I have been wanting to make a stripy breton-type top for ages (I have one in pink and white but it's not the same as the classic nay/white). And there on the table was ....cotton jersey cream fabric with a narrow navy stripe. Two yards of it. For £1.50.

I also bought 3 yards of a Japanese fabric with a little feather print, just visible under the stripey in the photo. It feels like a kind of cotton sateen or may be a cotton/poly mix. It was also £1.50. I am thinking of a dress for this, but need to mullthings over for a bit longer.