distress call from a drowning sewing machine

Mayday, mayday, can anyone hear me? I am a three quarter size minimatic sewing machine and am in severe distress. I am currently labouring under over 5 square meters of fabric, destination unknown. Conditions are fierce, I was never built for these kind of yardages and am battling to move forwards.

My mistress at the helm has taken the bizarre notion to quilt a king size monster and the weight is killing me! I am steadily ploughing in a straight line but every time the end appears in sight there is another line to follow. According to the latest calculations there are over 50 of these wretched paths to complete before the all clear can be given.

As soon as i can get a signal to the society for the prevention of sewing machine cruelty I will be filing a report with immediate effect. I need to return to my designated role of clothing specialist instead of this quilting nonsense. Leave that to the long arms, that’s what they are designed for, not poor mini me.

I’ve not even been given a walking foot to help tackle the different streams of fabric, which toss and turn my stitches and needle. I guess I’m out of date, those new fangled feet weren’t meant for the likes of my good self and won’t meld as one.

I have been a devoted servant to the dreams and ambitions of she who commands me, but this is truly undeserved. I will battle on to the bitter end but enough is enough. Never again shall I be made to work on a King. A regular double is good enough and more suited to my talents.I shall rest my weary cogs tonight, and gather my electric spark for the coming days ahead. Keep me in your thoughts and wish me good luck. I shall need it……….

Signing off, model 707 (returning to radio silence)

maxing out the sewing machine whilst having a mini panic

You may have noticed a ringing silence echoing within the confines of this blog. My last news was about rushing through my ridiculously self imposed list of projects in time for my friend’s wedding. Having literally just made it with 5 minutes to spare to get dressed for the actual event (my eyes swept over the necklace selection without any time to even choose anything) I can safely say I couldn’t have cut it any closer.

My dress (vogue 2902) was just about done, but was worn with tailor tacks still inside the bodice lining and my attention throughout the day was snagged on bits of thread I hadn’t spotted earlier which needed trimming. In the end I made it in 4 and a bit days. Not bad! I have since subsequently tidied things up a bit by lowering the bodice darts by 1.5cm and I still need to add the waist stay and a hook and eye at the underarm by the zip. But I am very happy with my border print creation.

The fabric was so cute I have even made a mini version with the scraps to create a halter neck dress for my friend’s little girl (Newlook 6387) which was a nice therapeutic experience after wrestling with 2 circle skirts and the quilt.

Ah yes, that quilt…it remains un quilted as there was no way on earth that I was going to finish both the dress and the quilting at the same time. My friend did get to see it and I plan to start quilting it shortly. Given that she’s about to embark on her honey moon I have some time fortunately.

Its safe to say I have now got the vogue dress pattern out of my system and would recommend finding another way to make the bodice contrast band as the stitching by hand recommended dosnt sound very strong. I machine stitched the facing on the inside of then bodice and did my best to slip stitch the outside as neatly as possible. I was up until 2am on the day of the wedding to make sure this got finished.

So, here are the pictures of the dress, and the mini version to go with it.

IMG_0139 IMG_0148 IMG_0154 IMG_0156 P1050707 P1050708

sew where next? hopefully common sense and logic…

The realisation that I may have bitten off rather more then is comfortable to chew dawned on me today. Much as I have enjoyed making the quilt (binding, batting and backing now added) its taken a LOT of my time. I have finally started on the vogue dress I planned to make, but hadn’t got to as I was so busy with the quilt project.

We will see if I manage to get both finished in time for the wedding on Saturday. Fingers crossed! in the mean time, here are some photos of what has been taking up my bank holiday weekend…

Toile/lining of dress bodice. This has been rather hastily pinned together as its late and I wanted to see what it looked like. I also need to find the instructions – so have just sewn the darts and pinned on the straps. I think the neck line is looking good and the bust darts don’t look too bad either. Of course, once the circle skirt is added it will pull the whole thing downwards, which is not happening at the moment, especially at the back.

Photo on 25-05-2015 at 23.25 Photo on 25-05-2015 at 23.26

Then there is the quilt. At least it won’t be quite so messy to work with now the backing is on. I used a stitch in the ditch method to attach the binding to the back. Much easier then hand stitching nearly 10  meters worth of fabric.

P1050705 P1050706

Still got to sew those corners by hand, but otherwise looking fairly neat.

after adding up, its time to count down

After too many pieces to count, my larger then life (well, at least bigger than I ever originally envisaged) quilt is reaching fruition. It still need its binding, but that will only add a little bit to the edges. So the following photo is nearly its full size. It’s so big I’ve had to balance it on the coffee table. There is no way I have any floor space big enough to display this on.

Tomorrow will involve adding the binding, and getting a friend to help with the lovely task of sandwiching the batting and backing. There is no way I am doing this bit by myself! I’m also borrowing the same friend’s long arm machine for the quilting as my poor little Bernina (3/4 size) will most likely have heart failure if I tried to get it to cope with that much fabric.

The good news is that normal dress making will resume after this has been finished – I still need to make the dress I plan to wear to the wedding. The carpet everywhere round the house will breathe a sigh of relief at being spared the daily shower of fluff which has spread like confetti everywhere.


the numbers are adding up

I did a quick mental calculation today, after totting up the pieces in my quilt. There are over 300! I am feeling pretty pleased with how they are all finally coming together. There are still quite a few strips to sew in-between the block chains I have been making but you can see the final design. Unfortunately its so big it doesn’t all fit on the carpet!

Other numbers are coming together for me as well. After more than 6 months of spending 5 days a week exercising the tummy is finally beginning to knuckle under and it feels like all those hours are paying off. Credit to anyone trying to get fitter. Its really hard work! it has taken me away from my beloved sewing machine though, which can be a bit frustrating at times.

Anyway, here is a photo of what the quilt looks now (its missing another two strips at the side as I can’t fit them in) and I hope to get the final missing blocks added soon.


will I measure up?

So, having previously launched myself in to the latest new project of a king size quilt I am now busily counting up the cost of doing so. Thankfully the main fabric came gratis courtesy of a friend’s donation. but as it shrank after pre washing and I wanted a contrast fabric some further shopping was required.

It has snowballed from there. Due to the size of the (already pre cut when donated) fabric I’m having to piece together smaller bits to create enough 20cm blocks. But that has meant extra cutting out. Having nearly finished measuring up all the fabric I have bought (just got some last pieces to pre wash) it is apparent I am a little short of the plain cream calico I am using for the latticework. So, another trip back to the shop (the third!) is in order.

My nice and simple project (who am I deluding here?) has morphed in to over 230 pieces. I really need to stop thinking I can make a plain quilt. It just doesn’t appear to be in my nature…hopefully I have worked out the measurements ok and cut everything out accurately.

Anyway, here is a sneak peak at the design. It is going to have some blue squares for contrast added later but I still to cut that out. Suffice to say tomorrow will include a fair bit of sewing. I hope to also finish the shift dress as I have finally got the darts sorted.


it was bound to happen….

So I was on the home stretch for finishing the latest (little) dress. The large version still awaits the attentions of my housemate (need to pin her down….pun intended!). Somewhere in this house there is a bag, one of many, with the scraps left from cutting everything out. Where its got to I have no idea. So I had to go and buy some commercial bias binding to finish off the armholes instead of making my own as originally intended. But it still looks cute right? Its nearly even the exact shade….

P1050697 P1050698 P1050699

but this leaves a dangerous vacuum – because of course this is the sew where next blog right? and the next thing on the list is making a dress to attend a friend’s wedding. But that’s not ambitious enough in terms of keeping me busy. I am (am I a bit mad?) considering making a king size quilt as a wedding present. Nothing complicated, just squares. It’s going to be a whole lot of yardage. Note to sewing machine, holiday time is over.

darting to the finish line

Having had some able assistant from my pin wielding housemate I was able to confirm that adding some waist darts to my shift dress was going to help overcome the excess fabric ripples at the side and add some definition to the waist. Its one thing not to emphasise one’s tummy. Its another to add a significant expansion to it through lack of fit alone. What’s the point of working so hard to make customised clothing otherwise?

Given I had no photographer today (aforementioned housemate is not yet back) and wanting to make use of some natural daylight, here of some quick photos of the darts. I still need to adjust them a bit (with me wearing the dress (just wait tiil that housemate comes back!) but you can see a big improvement. It still retains the triangle pear shape I am looking for but with more shaping.

P1050691 P1050694

and yes, they still need pressing. Am off to one of my unfortunately regular exercise classes tonight so haven’t got much time.

saving the pennies, but not the hours

So, having discovered my current dress in progress requires some fitting work, I of course head straight towards another project I had already cut out (from leftovers from the same fabric) as after several long days at work (and no fitting buddy to hand) I just wanted something simple to work on.

Long term readers of this blog may recognise the pattern, New look 6879. Upon seeing how much of the border printer was left over (my dress required only one side to be used and not the full width) I could not resist finding another project. After some careful piecing together, not quite as the pattern pieces instruct for the skirt, it’s shaping up nicely. This is very much a work in progress photo, but it will give you an idea. Hemming the scalloped edge was a pain but it looks very pretty now.


piling on the pounds

So, in my last post I mentioned fabric shopping. The following occurred right at the end of my trip, which I knew was a risk having spent three weeks travelling round China. It’s not like I could go back anywhere and have another look! But, according to my trusty guide book, Shanghai was the place to shop, and their fabric market did no disappoint. Imagine three whole floors of fabric stalls. Bliss.

But also strangely hell. Because I only had a few hours in one afternoon and there was just SO MUCH. Think kid in a sweet shop with a blank cheque. So I was very focused and worked on getting different fabric types and being practical about what to do with it. Nothing quite like finding something beautiful, then without a pattern to hand, deciding how many meters you need. I managed to increase my backpack by 50% on the return journey home compared to the weight on the outbound flight!

Due to a flight cancellation I ended up with an extra shopping day (might as well make the most of it) and picked up some extra silk at the Beijing pearl market. They only had a few fabric stalls there but it was still nice stuff. But, what you no doubt wish to see by now is some actual pictures. So let me share the delights I found…

P1050681 P1050682

These are two cottons


Lightweight silk

P1050684                                                               Double sided cashmere and a very thick silk

The cottons will most likely be used for dresses, likewise the silks. I plan to use the cashmere in a reversible jacket.

Lastly, some fabric/costume related photos of my trip to give you a little feel of China.

this is what the local people wore in the mountains

this is what the local people wore in the mountains

I found this really funny, a lady in a beautiful wedding dress getting out of a transit van

I found this really funny, a lady in a beautiful wedding dress getting out of a transit van

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk (took 10 years to make)

embroidered silk (took 10 years to make)

silk worms

silk worms

traditional dress

traditional dress


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.