Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Circle Skirt. And More Lazy Sewing

I made this circle skirt using the By Hand London Circle Skirt App, which is quite simply the best app that's ever been made. It's certainly more useful than Angry Birds (does that count as an App??). Either way, this app is fantastic and it's free! Even better!
So, I'd been to the January sales at John Lewis with my friend and bought some gorgeous fabric that I realised later was just perfect for this project. I decided to make the full circle skirt at mini length so made a pattern according to the measurements. Now, I'm ridiculously proud of myself here but I don't have a compass, especially not one that's big enough for this. So I took some string, stuck it to a pencil, measured the string to the correct length, held it in the corner of the paper et voila, a perfect curve.

Two seams and a zip later and my skirt was sewn, another seam and the waist band was on (although I later took it off to put some interfacing on - it was pretty flimsy). Then it was just the hem.
Then I worked out how long the hem was. Five metres. Hmm. So I bought some bias binding from Beyond Fabrics and spent the whole of an old episode of Mr Selfridge pinning it to the skirt hem.

I love this skirt. And I wore it to work today and got lots of lovely comments - it was described as both "cute" and "fun" but I was too embarrassed to admit to making it myself so I blushed but not in the nice Austen way and scurried off. I am too lame. Anyway, it was great fun to wear. Please excuse the terrible photographs. Believe me when I said these were the best of a bad lot - after a long day at work, this was the best there was.  

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A New Weekend Bag

My last post was all about the ExCel fair and I shamelessly showed off my new fabrics. I came down with an almighty cold the day after so apart from a rather limp bit of cross stitch from my sick bed, very little actually got done.
So I was doubly excited by the prospect of FOUR days off over Easter. FOUR! I've worked a 24/7 shift pattern for the last eight and a half years. In that time, I worked nearly every Christmas and/or Boxing Day, every New Year's Eve and at least some of Easter. If I got Good Friday off, I'd be in all weekend and the Monday too; if I was working at the weekend, I'd probably have worked the Monday. Basically, Easter was a non-event for me. But this year is a whole different story. I took Wednesday and Thursday off to write the penultimate essay of my degree, which I sort of did alongside plotting crafty projects for the weekend and googling sewing and rhubarb recipes.
I started my sewing on Friday by trying to make head or tail of the instructions of my weekend bag. They didn't make a whole lot of sense so I powered on regardless.
WARNING: This weekend bag is DEFINITELY not a beginner project - it looks like it is, but it really isn't. Mostly because the sewing instructions make very little sense, the handle length they say to cut is miniscule and there is NOWHERE for the 15cm zip it specifies you get to go. There were also elements of the bag that were a massive clat and didn't really work particularly well.
BUT, I am very pleased with my lovely new Weekend bag. The lining is this super cool Rowan Documents that is basically photos of 1950s travel documents. I think it goes really well with the weathered Atlas face fabric:

I managed to get the handles to match up underneath, so that's something, and I love these brass O rings I found at U-Handbag.
I even managed to get these heavy duty snaps in all by myself! OK, so there was a lot of banging with the hammer, the dog was so frightened he had to go outside and the Mister kept drawing breath and warning me to "be careful".
So now I just need to go on holiday. Love this bag!

Monday, 7 April 2014

London's ExCel and Female Solidarity

Well, things are looking up since my last post - we've got a new laptop, which I've spent much of today using because I had to work from home. I have a cold and am definitely not fit for public consumption.
So, I suppose cold aside things are looking up. Mostly because my craft cupboard is now positively bulging with possibility and delight after my trip to the ExCel centre this Saturday. It's somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for me, my mum, and her mum. It sounds really twee but going to creative things with the people who taught me to sew and make things is really rather lovely. Granma's 87 now, so mum bought a folding stool for her to have regular sit downs, and we got to use the lift - score! My bag was really heavy by the end of the day.
As always, I went with a budget but this time I actually stuck to it. Due to perpetual brokeness (and a very expensive day on Friday buying tickets for gigs!) sticking to it was more a necessity than a challenge and I actually really enjoyed it: having to think about each purchase rather than being seduced my colours and textures and general prettiness.
So here's the fabric

There wasn't a lot in terms of new stands this time, but the usual traders were there and better than ever. Of course, I made not one but two trips to the wonderful Fabrics Galore. My weekend bag has been on the way out for ages so I'm going to make one from the map fabric. I later bought a really cool lining from John Lewis that I'll reveal when I've made the bag.

There was also Lili Fabrics who I'll admit to not having seen before, or at least not making a purchase from. I got the heart fabric and the wonderful white fabric with vintage ladies on from them. I was going to make this 1940s pattern with it but then thought it would look much better as a 1950s halterneck; what do you think?
Speaking of Sew La Di Da, the wonderful Caroline was there with her gorgeous and simple patterns AND she's got fabric now in her shop and she bought some with her. She is very honest about your choices and helped me find something that didn't make me look washed out (yellow is not my colour...) and I ended up with the green paisley and rose that will be used to make her beautiful Gypsy Dress.
The Parisian scene fabric from Fabrics Galore was shown as a lovely skirt with green Gingham pockets and piping round the yoke. It's a medium weight canvassy cotton so I'm thinking maybe a shirt dress? Perhaps something like this from Sew Over It (new website looking lovely, Lisa!). Short sleeves would work best I think for this fabric.
So, along with the cross stitch (I love cross stitch but am aware that it is the lamest of all my sewing endeavours - but it's Little Red Riding Hood! My favourite fairy tale and who doesn't love a woodland scene?!) and the mini sampler kit, I should be well entertained until the Knitting and Stitching Fair in October.
It was also great to see that the fair was both bigger and busier, but not just with the usual suspects: there were many young women there and teenagers as well. From eavesdropping (I can't help it) it was clear that some of them hadn't sewn much before and they were angsting with their companions about whether or not they could make the skirt pattern they held lustily in their hands. It was wonderful to see their friends offering genuine encouragement and support, offers of help and compliments on choices of pattern and fabric.
It was great, and does make me slightly ashamed that I spent today thinking bad thoughts about Miley Cyrus (I can't understand why she can't keep her tongue in her mouth). So it was good to see other women actually supporting each other rather than the seemingly endless sniping and bitching at each other.
There's much more to crafting than a pretty wardrobe.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Things come in threes

After my last blog ended with the promise of new fabric arriving for a new frock, life did take a rather more difficult turn. No one died or anything - well, the laptop did - but things were just a little bit fraught.
So, the fabric didn't arrive. But the company were very good about it and Royal Mail did eventually deign to deliver my parcel. I have finished the dress, but it is not hemmed and, even if it was, I've not been photogenic because I just haven't had time to make much effort.
And the third thing...? Well, we're selling the house, which is just causing more stress than it needs to. When you're busy at work, the last thing you need is an estate agent ringing you to arrange viewings when you've explicitly said not until after work so you then worry the dog will a) become stressed at people coming in that he doesn't know b) make such a racket that he's a nuisance.
But...doom and gloom aside - it's the Creative Stitches event this weekend, which I'll be going to, and I'll also hem my dress and take photos - particularly now that the evenings are lighter and that can be done when I get home. Let's just reflect on light evenings shall we? How glorious to not turn on the headlights on the way back from the train station each night! And on days like today, there's just a sniff of real spring in the air.
So stand by then for finished dresses, photographs, fair reviews and sunny pictures. Just as soon as I've worked out how to use this new laptop...