counting progress

OK, one Christmas present down, several more to go. The apron, with the time consuming velcro scrabble tiles, has been finished. Unfortunately my carefully written (with aid of stencil) letters have smudged slightly after a quick wash. I guess it was bound to happen anyway, but rather annoying all the same.

I have also finished two hat visors, a start on the three berets I intend to make. Plus the back section of my coat lining is done – there are quite a few seams. Neither of which are very interesting to view on their own. But I’m going to mention them as otherwise it looks like like I not doing much at the moment.

No idea how this present will score (pun intended) but hope it creates a happy moment.

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cooking up a feast of projects

Today I finally got to do some actual sewing. As my housemate accurately pointed out, I do have several projects on the go at the moment which is why its taking so long to get to this stage. I’m trying to make a coat, three hats, some baby booties and then spontaneously decided to make a gift for an and uncle after getting some inspiration whilst surfing online.

Its the last project which has actually got finished first. I have tried to merge two hobbies into one, and have made a scrabble apron. I happened to actually have the perfect striped fabric already in my stash. After finding this free tutorial: I got started. The most time consuming bit was making the hand sewn fabric scrabble tiles to spell out my aunt and uncle’s names. Trying to stitch through velcro is hard work! I just need to add some finishing touches, but would like to share the nearly finished project.

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tied up in (festive) knots

As I am constantly reminded by all possible sources, we are indeed approaching Christmas. I like to make presents for close friends and family, where time, motivation, and inspiration allow. We’ll see how much I get done this time round! I have had one small success so far, in making a bow tie from the lovely fabric I had left over when I made the seaside quilt. It was just enough fabric, and I used this crafts pattern:

It’s for my uncle, who lives near the seaside. The houses look very similar to the area there and I hope he will really like it. It was something of a challenge to work out how to tie the knot, and took about 3 sets of instructions before I finally “got it”.

Given that I don’t have any starched collars to wear this with, I’ve used my knee as a prop…

finally managed to tie it up properly

finally managed to tie it up properly

the "bow"

the “bow”

neck band, love those beach huts!

neck band, love those beach huts!

I have also made (slow) progress cutting out my coat. I still need to make another toile sleeve to ensure I have room in the head, and I need to cut out the lining. The ever so helpful cat acted as pattern piece paper weight and straight of grain inspector.

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alas, this skirt has more flare than fit

Being a firm believer in the benefits of second opinions when it comes to mid progress reports (well, in this case may not quite half way) I’ve been kindly advice my skirt needs a little taming. In short, its got a bit too much fabric at the top near the waist. Taking in all those lovely seams (this coat sure does have a few) has taken a little concentration, but it is looking a bit more controlled now. Still haven’t figured out how to change the sleeve fit yet but I’ll get there…and yes, that’s me taking my own photos with the help of my computer. It’s why I am standing on a chair as there’s no housemate to help me out. Enjoy!

Photo on 18-11-2014 at 19.14 #3 Photo on 18-11-2014 at 19.14 #4 Photo on 18-11-2014 at 19.14 Photo on 18-11-2014 at 19.16

toil(e) to avoid trouble

I’m not one for making toiles usually, but occasionally if the project is going to require significant investment of either time and/money I reluctantly buckle down to making one. To be honest, despite there being risks, I prefer to spend as much time sewing wearable projects. Which leads me to Mccalls 6800. Yes, the coat where I have bought three lots of fabric for it already. but I degrees.

So, this time round I helped convince myself this would not only be worthwhile in terms of checking the fit, but could also act as an interlining. Even better, I would not “waste” fabric or money, and it would make for a warmer coat. So, has it been worth doing? well, I guess the simple answer has been yes. Apart from my frequently required scoop at the lower back, it appears the sleeves are a little on the snug side. Which was a surprise as this isn’t normally a problem. So I think I will need to add a little more ease, especially to the upper sleeve head area. I want room for more than just a cardigan, and at the moment rather doubt I could wear anything bulky.

Hopefully you can make out the details from the lovely black fabric (it was just over £4 a meter) cotton I’ve made the toile from.

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I’m also trying to work out if I should colour block the collar and bound button holes with a contrasting black wool (the main fabric is going to be pink wool/viscose). We’ll see. Next, I have all the cutting out to enjoy!

hats off, this is one cute project

I decided to take a mini corset break, as my housemate has been away (need help to fit it on) and I needed to muster some further will power and perseverance to tackle the boning. In short, its maturing on my to do pile (which includes a jacket where all I need to do is attach the lining and complete the dreaded bound buttonholes). Happily, this pile is small, and I intend to keep it that way!

So, I was in need of a sewing fix, without the frustration of the past weeks. Step forward the pattern stash and thought of a no fitting problems  project.

I have made a matching coat and hat outfit out of Burda 9422 and Mccalls 8489 for a friend who is due to have her baby in the Spring. When sewing for 3 month old babies you require delightfully little fabric (only 1 meter in total for both lining and main fabric for both!). Easy on the fitting and the purse, if only I could get away with so little effort. Sigh.

Mccalls had a very cute selection of hats to choose from (the pattern is from the 60’s) but unfortunately it was sized for 3 to 6 year olds. After working out the hat size for a 3 month old I scaled the whole thing down by 25% and its worked a treat.

As usual the Burda instructions were lacking a bit but I just added where required (like interfacing the mid front) and its turned out very nicely. So, here we are, sewing fix achieved.

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As usual the

getting tangled up

It’s a good job I have a stubborn mule like tendency to finish off a project, otherwise I fear this project would have been abandoned some time ago as lacking a satisfactory “happiness inducing” factor. I have, thank goodness, finally got through the last of the grommets. Not before one of them took a bite out of my lining when the fabric shifted during insertion. Its now been patched up with the help of a little interfacing.

After overcoming the little metal fiends I got stuck in to adding the boning to the casing. Slide metal into channel. How hard could this be? well, given the nearly zero ease you have to work with the twill tape width its not very forgiving if you have not, to the mm, stitched a straight line. I had thought by using a zipper foot I would be pretty accurate. I literally got stuck several times and had to restitch several channels to get it to work.

Then the existing and long awaited finale – how did it fit? one final further problem, the laces I had purchased were too short. At this point you can imagine, after an evening of acquiring sore fingers manhandling spiral boning I was not in the best of humours. I was on the verge of retiring the sewing (battle) field when my housemate returns home.

Bearing in mind this was at midnight, the fact that I agreed to her kind offer to borrow the laces from one of her corsets and help me put it on shows just how obsessed I am with getting this to work. Which means, dear readers, you finally get to see some pictures of me wearing it after several posts. Given my state of tiredness I please beg forgiveness for lack of artistry or pose in the following images. To finish off the catalogue of errors one of the grommets popped during the lacing up, so its not quite as tight as otherwise it would be.

Its going to need some fitting adjustments at the top, but I think (to my inexperienced eye) the bottom doesn’t look too bad. Also the large boning channels are currently unfinished so I could make any required changes.

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not quite a hole in one

It was time to approach (with trepidation) one of my least relished tasks of the current corset project. Grommets. I’d bought a pack which had promised me they were easier to insert – including special instructions and a gadget. A good 48 hours later, after having purchased an awl, loaned a friend’s grommet setting machine and spent more time than I care to consider I was beginning to despair. The blasted things would not be set. Thankfully I was at least using practice fabric.

After appealing for help some more experienced souls advised me of some tips (careful to apply central force, not too much strength, on a flat strong surface etc) and I decided to try again. Which is why, on a cold October evening I was to be found on my knees outside my back door in the half dark. Yes, truly I am dedicated to my craft…..

Let me share the reason why (yes, there is an explanation!). Outside there is some nice sturdy flat concrete. Which appears to have helped greatly. Its not perfect, some of the dratted things are still buckling. But I have (tadaaa) managed to set one side this evening. I proudly showed them off to my corset wearing house mate. What did she think? apparently they are the wrong way round. Quite how you are supposed to know this in advance, when the instructions don’t show WHICH way up the sample fabric is I don’t know. I’m calling it a design feature. So there.

Wish me luck with the rest tomorrow.


line up, line up! progress report time

So, for the last few evenings I have been working out which way to line up my (very difficult to guess which way) corset pattern pieces, and then sew the seams and channels for the boning.

Despite carefully numbering them all up with slips of paper my careful plans were clearly not thorough enough, as I discovered this evening I had sewn on the back panel on the wrong way upt. Fortunately, one benefit of using green thread on black coutil is that its very easy to unpick.

Compared to the normal “in progress” reports this feels some what less than exciting. Instead of several green pieces, I now have two. Don’t all fall over in excitement now. But, I can see its starting to take its final shape. I have also (even less interesting to take a photo of) sewn up the black polished cotton lining. Lovely fabric, and am really pleased I found it.

So, here’s a picture of lots of (hopefully neat) lines. Need to add the front busk and holes to the back for lacing before I can really see if it fits.


One final p.s. for this evening. Remember the fabric I mentioned in my previous post? I’ve decided on advice of several other more knowledgeable sewers its not going to work with that pattern. I have found a replacement pattern which I like. The only catch? its got 102 (I kid you not) steps. This may be going on the stash pile for a while….

stepping back in time (a short summary of the last weeks)

so, what have I been up to of late, given my reassurances about returning to my corset project? well, I cracked and bought a new version of Simplicity 9769. Luckily it was during a sale but it was annoying all the same. One day I will be reunited with the original and will finally have the answer as to its hiding place.

But I haven’t just been working on the corset. Given my tendency to get distracted and fall for new projects it will not surprise you to learn I decided to also make the chemise of the same pattern. Now, I am more a PJ person myself, but I liked the idea of making something historically accurate and learn some new techniques. So I decided to make it for a friend. As she’s half way through her pregnancy I added some extra gathering to the centre front and back, but otherwise its exactly created as instructed, hand stitching and all. This “simple” looking project has nearly 20 (!) pieces to cut out and stitch together. the instructions said for true authenticity you could hand stitch everything. Umm…..forget it.

I really like the underarm guests, despite them being a pain to insert. Pivoting at the corners is rather tricky, and cotton lawn likes to pleat when it shouldn’t. `It does require a fair bit of fabric (over 3 meters) but the result is very pretty. I even found some cotton lace to go with it which didn’t have any (unauthentic looking) bling attached. In these pictures it still requires hemming. Unfortunately daylight quality wasn’t great today so will take more photos later. P1050362 P1050363 P1050364 But, I mentioned corset making. Apart from grading the pattern to fit me all over again (sigh) it also took a while to cut all the pieces out three times. I self inflicted this as I am using a coutil middle layer, a silk/cotton blend outer layer, and a polished cotton lining. Trying to keep all these pattern pieces straight has been a pain. I carefully numbered the pieces with bits of paper, but found its still easy to get muddled up (which way is up or down?). Here’s what we have so far: P1050366 Moving on to my final piece of news to share – because of course today is Saturday and an opportunity to visit my favourite fabric shop – I have some new fabric to show off. I intend to make view C of Mccalls M6800. I spent a long time trying to work out which fabric to get and finally settled on the large piece of fabric in the bag below (ignore the other small pieces, they are samples for someone else). P1050365


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