I’m always admiring the beautifully organised sewing spaces people share online and get major envy at the idea of a sewing room of my own. But for most of us–especially those on lower incomes or who share a house with young children–having a dedicated sewing room is a dream for the far off future (or possibly September, in my case, but who knows how long it will take Andy to convert the garage into another habitable room…)
But that shouldn’t stop anyone creating, and in the hopes it might give someone else inspiration on how you can sew a lot in a small space and on a budget, I thought I’d share my little sewing corner. It’s not the most photogenic space, but I’m giving you the unvarnished, no-filters, look at what it’s really like in my sewing nook!
So, here’s a relatively tidy pic:
My sewing corner is a table and a tall cupboard at... [read more]
Sometimes whatever I do just turns into a fail. They tend to run in packs, these failures, and it gets pretty demoralizing. "Who the hell am I, what do I think I'm doing writing about sewing when I can't even: blah blah blah.
And then there's the actual item itself. Do I consider making it into something else, and consign it to the UFO tub or do I just recycle it? And is this a scrap pile recycle, or a hard 'send it in the bag to the thrift' expulsion?
No, I didn't forget the seam allowances. I graded up 7 friggin inches for my spacious behind. And no, just no.
Or could I burn it in some ritual sacrifice? Sigh. No. I'd have to pull the nylon zipper out so I wouldn't be making some toxic stuff to accidentally breathe in; because when you burn a failure, you are always downwind. Always. This is when I turn to mending. Generally, if it's in the mending... [read more]
I don’t have a coverstitch machine (yet…), so my favourite way to hem knitted garments is with a twin needle on my regular sewing machine. I’ve been sewing lots of knits over the last year (children’s clothes 1, 2 and 3 as well as things for me 1, 2 and 3). And I’m not very happy with my twin needle hems so I thought I’d scout around the blogosphere for some tips, test them, and share the results with you all.
So here’s my control example: some sweatshirting fabric scraps sewn with a twin needle, using Gutermann sew-all thread on top and bottom, medium presser foot pressure and the ordinary tension settings.
As you can see, the two lines of stitching on the top are fine, but there’s not much zig and zag in the black bobbin thread meaning them hem won’t stretch much. Fine in a loose fitting sweatshirt, maybe,... [read more]
The new Sakura collection from Papercut Patterns had me weak at the knees when it was released earlier this month. I was seriously resenting the fact that a very busy month at work was going to give me limited to no sewing time! Knowing that I wasn't going to be getting around to making much any time soon I restrained myself to just the one purchase, the Aomori Twist Top. The concept of this design is similar to their Bowline Sweater which I made in a linen knit last year and absolutely adore. It's a relaxed fitting top/sweater that thanks to some interesting construction has a unique detail in the twist at the centre front. These kind of simple designs, with clean lines but a striking and unusual feature somewhere in them really appeal to me. They fit my wardrobe needs being infinitely wearable dressed up or down and suit a wide range of fabric... [read more]
After finishing two time consuming projects in a row, a winter coat and a French jacket, I felt the need to change my sewing pace. I wanted to make something quick and easy. Around this time of year the garden is seriously eating up my spare time so it was not just a matter of looking for instant gratification. When there is little time even simple projects can take ages so I steered away from my usual habit of overthinking and overcomplicating things and went straight into the sewing room to look for inspiration.
I found a piece of jersey in my stash that was just waiting to become a Cashmerette Concord tee. Number six, or seven, I lost count.
As you can see the Concord Tee is an essential part of my gardener's uniform. I've already made all views: high neck, scoop neck, v-neck, short, medium and long sleeves, cropped length, mid length and long curved... [read more]
Since last I wrote, life has sure changed dramatically. The rest of my pregnancy went by fairly smoothly, though it was certainly challenging. Our sweet little guy arrived in early February, and we can’t imagine life without him. Shortly after his arrival, I became ill with preeclampsia (expectant mamas, be sure you know the warning signs, as it’s a dangerous condition that can occur even several weeks postpartum). Since then, we’ve been finding our new normal as a family of three (really five–can’t forget our kitties!) and love watching our son grow and learn.
I’m still knitting and sewing, though of course not nearly so much as a year ago. I’ve felt a pull to return to this space because I love chatting about making things and having a reason to take nice photos of my work. However, time with my hands free to type is limited, and right now that time... [read more]
My latest post is up over at Minerva Crafts* – read all about it here.
This month I have made a light and breezy summer skirt – a Sewaholic Hollyburn (I miss Sewaholic!) skirt in a lovely red wine coloured viscose challis fabric. I haven’t used this type of fabric before – it was really lightweight so lots of interfacing was required and quite a lot of trimming the hem after leaving it to drop for a day or so!
I’m wearing the Hollyburn with the Ogden cami that I posted about last week.
Here is a final picture with bonus cat bombing!
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer sewing – I am about to cut out a few new projects!
*I received the fabric and other supplies free of charge from Minerva Crafts in return for providing a blog post. All opinions are my own.
Well, it has been rather a long time since I last wrote a post here. I must stop leaving such gaps!
So what have I been up to since I last posted? Lots of things! Although I haven't done as much sewing as I would have liked I have battled some sewing demons (mostly fit issues and procrastination!) and have managed to sew up a couple of successes. I am aiming to write a separate post with regards to those pesky demons so more to come on that one.
A niece was getting married and as soon as the invitation arrived I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use!
Her theme colours were navy blue and hot pink.
I had purchased this floaty, diaphanous fabric from a small shop on Sydney Road in Melbourne for under AU$5 a metre. I was planning to combine two different patterns, one for the bodice and one for the skirt until I saw this pattern on McCall's instagram account: M7537. Of course the model photo is very difficult to make out the pattern lines but at least the illustrated dresses explain what the final dress will look like.
I was going to lengthen the skirt but instead ended up using a different skirt pattern: the maxi skirt from B5987.
A few other reviews of this McCall's pattern have commented that the bodice is very low. IT IS. I really wasn't comfortable exposing cleavage at a wedding so I attempted to cut the... [read more]
Life last weekend moved a little bit slower. My husband and I headed up to his family's cottage for a long weekend to spend fishing, boating, and enjoying the sunshine. The weather was a balance of rain and shine each day. We were able to spend the days on a little bit a slower pace, sans the early mornings, traffic, and busy schedules that come with our typical workdays. Since I knew that we were headed up north Michigan and that the activities that I can participate in at this point in my pregnancy are becoming limited, I opted to bring my sewing machine and some supplies along with a goal to sew at least one baby item.
Using free patterns found through blogs, I spent a few hours sewing up two new diaper covers, one with a floral print on a gray background and one with a fun pink and blue rocketship print. The rocketship printed fabric was... [read more]
I feel like to be a proper British person I need to start this post off by mentioning the weather.... I mean haven't we just had it all?! The blazing sun followed by pouring rain! High humidity and then this morning it was actually chilly!
Anyways I made this skirt a lil while ago but I've gotten out of the habit of posting regularly, what can I say after a day of trying not to melt I'm
Well-I am a little flustered with my progress! The fabric I am using is very similar to the inspirational top, the fabric content is probably not the same at all.
I am using a semi sheer rayon that was a pain to cut out as it was a little slippery. Not difficult to sew, just more fiddly than I prefer to sew.
I was going to use the sleeves with elastic at the hem but that was frustrating for me and after two attempts to get the elastic just right using a casing, I gave up.😒 I had enough fabric to cut out the sleeves with the ties and there is where I stopped for now. It should not be that difficult to insert elastic into a casing but trying to then stitch down the remaining edge was frustrating and turned out to be unkind to the fabric.
I think it’s important to talk about things that are hard. By sharing struggles we gain strength from knowing we’re not alone, that others have the same struggles and that we can make it through them. When I was struggling in graduate school, I gathered the stories of other sewists who had made it through and found strength in sharing their struggles and successes. Now I’m at the start of a new challenge/adventure – motherhood – and I’ve joined with some sewist friends to talk about our experiences. We’ll be sharing our stories throughout the month of July and we’d love to have you join us.
Ease In to Motherhood is a sewists’ celebration of motherhood and the changes it brings to our lives. During the month of July, we invite you to share your experiences of the physical and mental changes of pregnancy, childbirth and/or any other way a child comes to your life. We invite you... [read more]
The number one thing people ask me about for furniture make-overs is how to paint furniture. Over the years, I have fine-tuned how I approach painting furniture. Just about every big piece of furniture in my house has met my paint brush, and for good reason: it's the cheapest/easiest way to achieve my makeshift modern farmhouse-esque stucco'd home in good ol' El Paso, TX.
My techniques have changed over the years, slightly. I have painted everything from decrepit and water damaged barnwood to laminate furniture. Now that I've worked out the kinks, the technique remains the same, and I'm amazed at how well it has worn over the years.
If there is one thing I hope to accomplish with this blog (that I pay the domain for annually with great intentions but little follow through...) it is: I hope to inspire everyone to just paint "that old whatever" that is on the... [read more]
The twenty patterns included in the sew-along are evening-wear themed, with lots of dresses, but also separates, outerwear, and accessories. After liberal umming and ahhing, I decided to sew Vogue 1428.
Vogue 1428 is designed as a dress in three parts – a skirt, vest under-bodice, and lace bodice – which are joined together at the waist. I decided that they would get more wear as separates, so constructed the skirt and bodice in that way, skipping the vest altogether in favour of a RTW one.
A golden prom dress — made from plastic garbage bags!
A tie-dyed denim pantsuit worthy of Prince himself!
A bomber jacket covered in multicoloured Andy Warhol-style portraits!
If you know Michelle Morris of That Black Chic, you’ll know that I could only be talking about her amazing makes. On the latest episode of the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast, I chat with Michelle about her creative sense of style, how she sews on a budget, and her plans to launch a new, more inclusive sewing magazine. This is the most fun you’ll have all weekend! Check it out.
This week I gave up a couple of hours to help out the Buddy Bag Foundation. They pack backpacks for children who have had to leave their homes for refuges all over the UK, usually as a result of domestic violence in their home. The bags have around twelve items inside to help the children transition into their new lives, often without any of their own possessions.
We’ve supported our local women’s refuge since Eleanor was small, donating all sorts from clothes to our buggy, but what I loved about these bags is that everything is brand new. It’s a small thing for those children, but it can really help them feel valued and loved. The first thing they see when they open the bag is a teddy, which is so nice!
The Buddy Bag Foundation are always looking for help, so if you can donate time, money or items for bags, please contact them here.
I picked up a new (old) vintage machine today and boy does it have a story! As well as some beautiful provenance to match it’s beautiful cabinet. I haven’t even really had a chance to look at the actual machine but if the outside is anything to go by…
It’s still in the boot of my car because I need a second person to help me get it upstairs and that will have to wait until tomorrow….which reminded me that I was going to try and catch up on blogging about my (apparently ever expanding) machine collection.
That’s going well isn’t it?
So here’s my lucky find from November 2015 (see, I told you guys I seriously needed to catch up!)
Obviously no vintage sewing machine collection is complete without a Singer Featherweight…actually no vintage sewing machine collection is ever complete…but now my little collection includes one.
The lace overlay bodice was the part of my wedding dress that worried me the most as it was the part that could so easily go wrong! In addition, we didn't have a plan for it until we got the lace. The reason for this is because we wanted to check the character of the fabric and also work out how to show it off to its full potential.
The Shelley lace is a wonderful ivory lace comprised of a tulle base, which has been embroidered with a rich, lustrous thread to form the floral design and is finished with a light dusting of sequins. The edges of the flowers and leaves are subtly edged with a silver thread and the lace has matching scalloped edges on both sides. The tulle base makes it delicate to work with and very easy to distort the shape.
To answer some of our questions about how to cut the lace, I spent an hour in front of the mirror in my partially... [read more]
I had a great chat with Laurie part of the "Clothes Making Mavens' Team" about the clothes I make, Mori ,the magazine I will be publishing and everything in between. Shout out to Helena for the cool intro for the Podcast. Stop by and listen, it's pretty funny if I do say so myself!
[Mori was not a part of the interview but I do talk about her]
It’s that time again – maxi dress sewalong! I’m always super excited for these because I love maxi dresses and sewalongs! Happy Summer!
Ashley from Sewn By Ashley and I are hosting the sewalong this year and everyone is invited (and encouraged) to participate! You don’t need a blog and it doesn’t matter your sewing expertise. We also have some great sponsors:
LA Finch Fabrics has offered a $50 gift card to one of drawing winners. I’m super jealous I can’t win this myself! I’m loving their selection and fabrics.
By Hand London has offered up a free pattern to a random drawing winner. Free patterns are the best and these girls know how to draft a cute dress!
If you’d like to display a badge on your blog, use the above image. Look for inspiration ideas from Ashley and I in the coming weeks. Below are some rules and information, please feel free to reach... [read more]
Learning how to use a French curve in your pattern drafting is important.
So important, that I would wager to say that besides my straight edge grided ruler and mechanical pencil, I would honestly flip my sh*t if my French curve went missing. Ever since I learned about it at university, its super high on my list for top sewing tools; there is not a single project that my French curve is not integral to success.
The types of French curves on the market are numerous.
If you’re searching Amazon, I can definitely see how they might be intimidating to even think about!
The two in their listings that I would recommend are:
One of the bags on the introduction page is leather, as is Kirsten's, and I really loved them, so decided to give it a go myself.
Much googling finally brought me to Leather4Craft on ebay, where I bought some veg-tan goat skin leather for £22.00. It came as a rectangle of leather, which I stupidly forgot to measure, and is lovely and soft. There was more than enough for this little bag.