Monday, 31 March 2014

Sunshine and a Fabric Haul

What a lovely weekend with sunshine on Saturday for all it seems like Spring has finally arrived!

Even better, Mr P and I took a trip to Leicester to visit friends and I managed a rummage around one of my old shopping grounds - Leicester market, and turned up some beautiful fabrics. With all this sunshine a new piece of fabric for a spring garment was definitely on the cards.

Stuart's Fabrics

Leicester Market is one of the UK's largest permanent markets and has some great stalls for all but, hey, let's stick to what we're about here.  After a quick shifty around I decided to investigate Stuart's Fabrics and wow, does he have some nice stock. 

Oooh, love this chartreuse shade

 My first choice was a lovely navy, cream and chartreuse jersey, quickly followed by a navy, dark violet and cream print jersey - excellent quality and a bargain at £4 per metre.

A little mixing up here 

Next up was 3 metres of heavy cobalt blue satin which will become something similar to this Valentin Yudashkin number.  I purchased enough to cut it on the bias and at £6 per metre for 3 metres that's a fair bit of fabric.  The printed cotton satin was £8 per metre and the turquoise raw silk £10 per metre.

And finally a lovely wool remnant - enough for a fitted dress which I would love to enter into Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge but I'm about a year too late.  However, I'm still inspired so I'm going to construct my Mad Men dress anyway.  I just need to have a good rummage through my pattern stash.

Phew, that should keep me going for a while.

Don't forget to check out Stuart's Fabrics if you're in Leicester - or let me in on any of your Fabric Find secrets.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lyndsey's Spaghetti Dress

Well, after our successful rampage through the Brighton fabric stores in March it took me a while to get cracking on this navy creation for my daughter in law.  This dark blue wool fabric was from Fabricland and cost £3.99 a metre.  The dress was sewed in 1.5 metres but the fabric came before the pattern so we had to source our design accordingly.  The pattern was one from my stash of Patrones magazines which I will try to remember to post if I can ever find it again!!!

Why, I hear you asking, did I name my post spaghetti dress? Due to the loose weave the fraying was very unforgiving and each seam had to be oversewn after pressing (not that I wouldn't do that anyway) so it was a bit like working with spaghetti, but hey, it's got a lovely self pattern.

Lyndsey decided to go with an embellishment at the neck a la Karen Millen style.  I managed to source some buttons from a Dogs Trust charity shop that fitted the bill perfectly - Little Moo was happy I was able to help his friends too..    Here's before and after buttons.

I decided not to make the skirt as fitted as the pattern due to the loose weave and danger of seams splitting apart (a lesson learned from a past mistake!).  The dress was lined with a navy lining  to give a sumptuous weight and make it comfortable.

As the thickness of the fabric and oversewing were creating bulky seams I also decided against embellishment at the waist and went for a belt instead. This was very satisfying creatively speaking as I hunted through my now nearly defunct bead stash to put together this belt closure which also doubles up as a brooch on its own, thanks to a catch on the reverse.

And here's the overall finished effect, complete with accessories - very pretty.

Thank you Lyndsey for being such a lovely model.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

My Version of the Lampshade Dress - Burda January 2003

It's probably not quite what you're thinking, although I have to say, this is rather lovely and may inspire a future make.
1966 - High-Bumped Hair with Pigtails & Vintage Lamp-Shade Style Pink, Green, & Purple Dress

 As you can see, my creation is nothing like that!!!

That's it - a dress with a lampshade pattern in the fabric!!
I just loved this fabric from one of my favourite fabric boutiques Ditto Fabrics in Brighton's North Laines.

Here's the full picture - stretch jersey is so comfortable to wear and it sewed up beautifully into this slash-neck, gathered round the middle dress.

There's even a sofa in there too!!!

The pattern is an oldie from Burda January 2003 - with tea stains on the cover as testament to much usage (I'm not usually so messy, but can't work without a good cup of tea!)

The Burda pattern shows the sides as being gathered with rouleau ties but I omitted the splits and gathered the sides with half inch wide elastic.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Indian Summer Clothes

Whilst March is not really the right time to be writing about summer clothes, I thought I'd follow on from my recent post regarding ad hoc sewing machine usage in Panama with another travel related theme.  Now that Polythene Pam has got her legs firmly ensconced under the sewing table I thought it might be good to showcase some more travel related makes,  this time heading East to India.

Varanasi is famous for silks and it's hard, even if you don't have a sewing penchant, to avoid the constant implorings of local salesmen to "come into my shop - you want to buy silk?"  Of course, for me, this was an added bonus to a visit to one of the most interesting cities on earth and I had to take the opportunity to take a few memories of this place home.

Silk Factories line the Ghats
In the end I decided to buy from the hotel where we were staying and purchased various lengths which stayed stored in my stash for some time before picking them out and making them up into their final designs. 

The first was a very simple loose sleeveless top which I picked because I thought a simple pattern wouldn't detract from the beautiful pattern (if you see what I mean) of the fabric.  It's ditzy enough to add some accessories, but has enough colours to wear with other garments, one of my favourite being a turquoise jacket. 

The second silk make was a little more diverse - my first attempt at a bubble dress!  I just love it and it's really multi-functional.  I have worn it in winter with a long sleeved base layer underneath, in spring with leggings and in summer on the beach.  It took me a while to figure out how to sew the "bubble" but once I'd figured out the instructions it seemed easy-peasy.   For reference, the pattern is from Burda September 2011.

Here's the dress unbelted so you can see the "bubble" better - particularly comfortable if you're having an "I'm not feeling slim today" day!  I can't remember if the hem was supposed to be staggered but I like it anyway.

Finally, here's another piccy of Varanasi, this time making friends in the market, with me wearing a homemade floral dress which you can't really see, but it is one of mine.  Long dresses and trousers are handy in India.  I thought the statue was cute and purchased one which now resides in the sewing room.....

Happy sewing

Linda x

Monday, 10 March 2014

Alternative Use for the Sewing Machine

Due to the fact that redecorating the sewing room has taken precendence this weekend, I haven't been able to get busy with my recent fabric finds and so I thought I'd make this a post combining two of favourite things - travel and sewing.

In the not too dim and distant past Mr P and I took a trip to Panama and visited some wonderfully wacky gardens called El Explorador in Boquete.  Mr P's description was "West Chiltington on acid" - West Chiltington is a picture perfect English village near the South Downs in Sussex!  The owners of El Explorador have taken everyday objects and given them a new lease of life in the form faces and quotes, all of which are in Spanish.  Shown below is their take on sewing machines:-

Well, now I know what to do in the garden when my old sewing machine expires from overwork!

Also on the same trip we visited the old town of Panama Viejo and outside a restaurant called Las Bovedas was a young lady on a treadle machine - although I have to say she looked in need of a little machine oil.

Now I have another remit on my travels - to find sewing related curiosities.

Happy sewing.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Soft Furnishing Diversion

A very welcome day off on Friday heralded the start of the revamp of the craft room.   Whilst Mr P got busy with the paintbrush I set up camp in the dining room to start on new curtains to match the walls.  My choice of fabric was a pretty lilac grey satin purchased for the princely sum of £2.00 per metre on a recent trip to Barry's Fabrics in Birmgham.  In between providing minimal decorating assistance (and copious cups of tea!) I had the curtains lined and finished in good time.

Now, curtains are not my favourite item to sew, there being little room for creativity in their make up, but they were a necessary project.  I'm not attaching a picture here but will showcase them once the craft room is complete - a before and after gallery.......

Day 2 arrived with a new project, craft room unrelated.  Our new sofa required a further plump cushion for added comfort and I decided a little embellishment would be nice to add after yesterday's minimal curtains, so I decided on grey squares on a  mauve background.  Below is a step by step of my make:-

The pre-sewn design

This is the design I wished to make - picture shows the cut pieces.

The cut embellishment

The second picture shows the shapes as cut.  I folded a piece of square fabric twice (in half then in half again) and then cut a curve around the outside and a curve in the middle.
I ended up with this shape.  After cutting another six shapes I pressed them flat and then arranged and pinned them onto the front piece of the cushion.  I then zig-zagged stitched around the outside and inside of each shape. 

The end result was:-

Happy sewing.

And here's a bolster I made with some taffeta flowers too:-

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Purple Boucle

Well, today's post is not sewing related as such, but it is about fabric and is something I thought would 
be nice to share.

Whilst out in town yesterday I was coming out of a shop at the same time as a lady, perhaps in her 70s.  She was wearing a purple boucle coat and it suited her so much I did a double take.  I wondered if I should tell her how nice she looked and how much the colour suited her. I hesitated for a second before she was gone but then felt compelled to say something.

She was surprised but delighted to receive an unexpected comment and it turns out she had been thinking of getting rid of the coat.  I told her she definitely should not as the colour was so her.  She replied that I'd made her day and that she would keep the coat.  

It just goes to show, a few words don't cost anything but can make the giver and receiver feel ten feet tall. 

Now, where can I get some purple boucle?

Happy sewing

Linda x