Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Thurlows of meh

I had been wanting to make a pair of denim Thurlows for a while after seeing some lovely versions on the blogs, but I'm not in love with mine.  It turned out that I wanted denim jeans, not denim Thurlows - but you win some, you lose some.


Let's talk about the good bits first.  I love the fly zip.  I got the metal zip on ebay, and am delighted with how well it turned out.

I also love the welt pockets, and lengthened the insides of the pockets as I did on my first pair.

I am much happier with the belt loops, as I shortened them a bit;

and the fit at the waist is perfect.

The fabric was easy to work with, it's the denim from Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus that I mentioned a few weeks' ago.  The facing and pockets are leftovers from this Anna dress.  Sewing them was easy too, again I followed the sewalong by Lauren at Lladybird

Now for the bad bits.  As mentioned above - they aren't jeans.  I love my jeans, I have two pairs that fit beautifully.  They are from New Look (the shop - nothing to do with the patterns), but they have seen better days.  Naturally, when I looked on the New Look website, they don't have them anymore; so I have done the sensible thing and bought Kenneth D King's Craftsy class called Jean-ius which teaches you how to reverse engineer a pair of well fitting jeans.  So far I have only watched it, but it's great (and Kenneth is a hoot!).  What I need to do is source some denim fabric that is suitable for jeans, and available in the UK.  If anybody knows where I can get some, please let me know, as the denim I used for these trousers is a bit lighter weight than jeans denim. 

I started these during the Christmas holidays, then fell out of love with them, and finished them in the middle of January.  The problem with them is that there is too much fabric around the top of the legs.  I had to take them in at the hips twice, and they are baggy under the bum - although, when I looked at these photos, it's not as bad as I thought it was.


In fairness, I had to take in my first pair at the hips too, and I even remembered to make the changes on the pattern.  But the first pair are a lot lighter weight fabric, so they seem like wide leg trousers and the bagginess doesn't show; also this denim has a little bit of stretch to it.  Anyway, they aren't a complete disaster, and are comfy, so I will wear them.  It just goes to show how the same pattern can be so different with different fabrics!

Have a great week,


Monday, 9 February 2015

Baby Star Quilt

As I mentioned in my last post, I did what I said I wouldn't do again and made another quilt.  As with my last quilt, this one was made for Friend's Baby. 

This quilt was actually Plan B.  Plan A was a knitted blanket using the double knitting technique, whereby the blanket would have a front and a back which are knitted together at the same time.  It was going to have the Hogwarts crest on it (I mentioned it in this post), but it turned out my tension was all over the place and I was also the world's slowest double knitter - Baby would have been about nine by the time I'd finished it!  So I went with a quilt instead, because I'd been feeling the urge to quilt again.

And there's nothing quite like a deadline to add to the mix - my deadline being last Thursday afternoon when my sister and I were getting on a plane from Belfast to London to go and visit Friend and Baby.  So, no pressure... 

I didn't use a pattern for this quilt, which makes it sound a lot more impressive than it was - that's not actually true.  I used the instructions from the first quilt, and cut the same width of border and binding.  The idea came from this quilt on Megan Nielsen's blog.  I loved the triangles, they looked easy to put together and are a lovely design; I knew I wanted stars on it, and thought they'd look good together.

I struggled a bit with deciding on the colours.  I had initially wanted dark blues for the background, but then thought it would be too dark, so went with sea green and blue.  I also struggled with picking the fabric, but stumbled upon a flash sale at The Village Haberdashery in the middle of January.  I was very taken with this quilt in the photo below on the website.  I liked that the fabric pattern is the same, but the fabric colours are different - also the circular quilting is amazing.  I had a look at the fabric used in it; but the yellow was too bright for what I wanted, so I ended up with a fabric called  Pearl Bracelets, and the colours I used are Juniper, Basil and Citron.
Source - The Village Haberdashery

Cutting was a breeze, I used my rotary cutter (which now really needs a new blade!), and it was cut out in no time.  Sewing the triangles was also a breeze, after I had the sense to google it.  I found this great tutorial on sewing triangles which basically tells you to put two squares right sides together, draw a diagonal line down the middle, and sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line.  Cut down the line, and dah-dah - two sets of two triangles sewn together!

I attached the stars using fusible web.  I had cut out an extra star to practice on, and was glad that I did; because, as the yellow is so pale in colour, the green and blue showed through underneath it.  I ended up fusing two layers of white cotton lawn under the stars to stop the colours showing though.


I am very pleased with the yellow stitching around the stars.  I attached them using a narrow zig-zag stitch and a satin stitch foot.  My stitch width was 2.0, and stitch length was 0.2, and I narrowed the stitch width slightly when sewing to the point of the stars.  I learnt to do this from a quilting book called Quilting For Dummies, and can definately recommend it.

Sewing the squares together was fine, as there were only 25 squares; but it was after this that it got a bit tedious.  Hand-basting the backing, batting and quilt top was slow going, and the quilting seemed to take forever!  I stitched a 1/4 of an inch from the seam lines, and found myself marvelling at how I ever managed to get the bigger quilt under my machine!  I forgot to measure this one, but I think it's about 30 inches square.  I told Andrew that if I took the notion to quilt again, he was to take my machine off me - but I might amend this to saying that I'll only make cushion covers! 

After a bit of panic sewing, I got it finished and washed in time, and only remembered to take some photos of it on Thursday morning before I left.  Hence the fold creases, as I had to take it out of my suitcase!  The most important thing is that Friend and Baby loved it, and Baby is absolutely gorgeous.  I hadn't seen her, except for photos, but my sister had already visited them before.


Another reason for our trip was that Friend's Mum and I are on christening dress making duty.  It turns out that the patterns for christening dresses are completely underwhelming, and after a lot of emailing, we decided to use New Look 6115, which turned out to be out of print!  Some frantic internetting later, Friend's Mum and I both ended up with a copy each (thank goodness for ebay!), but we were better to have two patterns than none.

Source - Simplicity

Friend wanted to have a dress with sleeves; so I completely winged it, drafted raglan sleeves and made a toile.  I brought it with me, we tried it on Baby, and the sleeves fitted!  The dress was a bit too big, but the christening is at the end of March, so it was grand.  The only other mods we did were to raise the neckline by 1 1/4 inches and lengthen the skirt.  Friend's Mum had already made the skirt and skirt lining, and I made the bodice and sleeves.  We then sewed lace ribbon to the centre front and back panels, and it's just gorgeous!  We didn't hem the skirt because we ran out of time and bias tape, but Friend's Mum can do that.  And I have to show you what we sewed it on - this is Friend's Mum's fancy new machine that she got last year.

Not very good phone photo...
It was just a dream to sew with, and it even has a button that cuts the threads for you!  Naturally Friend's Mum had to take me to the local sewing shop, where she is on first name terms with the ladies who work there.  We went on Friday morning, and we were all chatting about The Great British Sewing Bee that started on Thursday night.  Sister and Friend had no choice but to watch it.  Anyway, here's what I bought.  The top one is called Fuschia Tree by Amy Butler; at £7 per metre reduced from £12.99 it would have been criminal not to buy it.  And the bottom one is called Asian Blossoms by Alfred Shaheen, and it was £8.50 per metre.  They are both going to be summer dresses.

Another rubbish phone photo!
We had a lovely weekend, and get to do it all again at the end of March when we go back for the christening.   Although next time, when we are coming home, my sister and I will try not to have to be called by name on the tanoy in order to get us onto the plane, as we were mooching around the shops in Heathrow...

Have a great week,


Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Anna Lou Dress - Sewcialists #polkadotjanuary

I'm sliding this dress in under the wire for the Sewcialists #polkadotjanuary.  I finished this  in the second week of January when I was off on leave, but then I got a cold and had to take the next week off sick!  I was only fit for lying on the sofa with a box a tissues and a bottle of Irn Bru, and alternately watching Craftsy classes and knitting.  On the plus side, I finished a scarf/shawl thingy that I started before christmas, but it still needs blocked.


Anyway, this post was mostly written about two weeks' ago, but I only got to take some photos today.  It's bright and sunny here in Belfast today, hence the sun flare in my modelled photos; but don't let that fool you, it is also blowing a hooley - which is Belfast for it's really windy.  There was nearly an embarassing incident this afternoon when I was coming into the house.  The wind caught the back of the skirt, but luckily my sister was right behind me, and grabbed it.   So, onto the dress!  This is the second of my three planned dresses using the Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress skirt, and this time the bodice is the good old By Hand London Anna dress bodice. 

It's a bit breezy!
It was pretty easy to mash the two patterns together, all I had to do was to move the  front and back bodice darts a few millimetres to line up with the pleats.


My fabric is some cotton sateen that I bought in Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus last November.  Some of our local sewists adviced me to make the trip, and I can't believe that I left it so long to go to this shop, because it's fantastic.  The thing that put me off was the distance, about 40 minutes drive from my house (although some of that was being stuck in road works).  Now, I fully appreciate that that is nothing to most folks, but after about 20 minutes of driving I get really bored, and also I have absolutely no sense of direction.  Thank goodness for the sat nav on my phone!  Here's what I bought:

Rubbish phone photo!
Top left: Blue denim for a pair of Sewaholic Thurlow trousers.  These  were mostly made during the Christmas holidays, but I fell out of love for them, and only finished them just over a week ago.  But that's for another post.

Top right: Black ponte roma that has already been made into a Tilly And The Buttons Coco Top.  I didn't blog it, but you can see it here on Instagram.

Middle left: Flowery cotton poplin which is going to be another pair of Tilly And The Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms.

Middle right:  Black and light brown ponte roma which is going to be a Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top.

Bottom left: Cotton sateen for this post's dress.

Bottom right: Purple flowery cotton poplin for another pair of Tilly And The Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms.  These have been made, and you can see them here on Instagram.

This is the first time that I have used cotton sateen, and it's lovely.  It's heavier that poplin, and has a slight stretch.  I bought two metres at 58" wide, and it cost £8.95 per metre.

This went together with no problems, and I added some pockets from Simplicity 2444.  I'm very pleased with my pattern matching on the front at the waist,

sadly the pattern matching part of my brain must have went for it's tea break when I cut out the back...

As mentioned above, this was made when I was off work two weeks' ago.  I had to get my car fixed after one of my neighbour's reversed into it, (neighbour was very apologetic, but these things happen, and I'm not going to fall out with someone over a car). I got a courtesy car, but I didn't like driving it, so it sat on my driveway until I got my own car back.  This was a good thing, because it meant that I couldn't go faffing about anywhere, and I could tackle my list of sewing jobs.

I made most of this dress in one day, which impressed me mightily, and then left it to hang to see if the hem would drop and hemmed it the next day.  I made this dress a bit shorter than my other dresses, and whilst it feels short, I really like this length.   I also made this shopping bag, which was trickier that it should have been, and my machine did not appreciate the many layers of thick fabric.  Then I finished the above mentioned trousers and shawl, and traced and toiled my Deer and Doe Sureau dress pattern, but the sleeves still need a bit of work.

I have also started another quilt (after I said I wouldn't!).  This one isn't as big as the last one I made, and is also for my friend's baby.  Oh, and I have cast on the Chuck jumper, and it's going well.  But they are all for other posts.

Have a great week,


Monday, 5 January 2015

The Darling Lou Dress

This is the very seasonally inappropriate Darling Lou dress.  It's a mash-up of Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges dress, and Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress

This dress has been in the planning for a while now.  Since last May to be exact, when I saw Lizzie's Darling Ranges dress with a gathered skirt.  I really loved this, (especially the birdies fabric!) and thought the gathered skirt looked great.  Also, it has a faux placket (so no faffing about with buttonholes) and a zip in the side seam.

And this is what I had planned to make until about three weeks' ago when I saw Jo's shirt dress.  How gorgeous is this?!  I love this dress for several reasons.  1 - It's purple, and I have some very similar purple fabric which I had already planned to make a shirt dress with.  2. I love the details of the pleats on the skirt and the sleeves. The skirt pleats reminded me of the Lilou dress, so this is what I decided to use instead of a gathered dirdnl skirt.

I used the sleeve cuffs from Tilly And The Buttons Mathilde blouse
I drafted the bodice and sleeves using my block, but instead of following Lizzie's example and using a faux placket, I gave myself extra work by making a proper placket.  I'm glad I did though, because I wanted to practice plackets, and I love how it turn out.  Also, it helps to be able to unbutton the placket to get it on and off.  

Placket innards
Which leads me onto the side zip.  I like pockets in my dresses (these pockets are from good old Simplicity 2444), which meant that I had to end the zip above the top of the pocket on one side seam.  As I'm small, the distance between the underarm and pocket top was 10.5", so allowing for 1" below the underarm and 1/2" above the pocket, I ended up using a 9" zip.  I was hoping that this would be long enough, and it just about is (I'll just have to be careful when putting on/taking off), but it would be better to have a longer zip.  Which lead me onto thinking about how to sew an invisible zip into a side seam with a pocket.  I have googled it, but haven't had much luck.  There has to be a way around this, so if anybody knows, I'd be very grateful if you'd let me know!  I'm going to have a play about with some fabric scraps and a zip to see if I can work it out.


I'm so glad that I went with the Lilou skirt, it is lovely and flouncy, even in this light weight fabric.  I just folded in the seam allowance on the centre back and cut the skirt back on the fold.  Expect to see this skirt featuring in other makes; I have fabric for two more dresses that I plan to use it with (one being the purple shirt dress), and have ideas for another two.


The seasonally inappropriate fabric is some random viscose fabric from Sew N Sew in Belfast.  It was £3 per metre and 60" wide, so I bought 3 metres, and have about a metre left.  I soaked it in gelatine to stiffen it up a bit using the tutorials here and here, which I have done before with success.  It is then washed out when the garment is finished.  I recently read a tip about laying slippery fabric out on the carpet before cutting it to stop it shifting so much.  I wish I'd tried this, as I cut it on the wooden floor, and it still shifted a bit even with the gelatin.  But I'll know for next time, as I have some more of this fabric in a different print.

And because my fabric is so light, I thought a rolled hem might look nice on it.  Ages ago, I had got a Craftsy class called Beginners Serging, and learnt how to do a rolled hem on it.  This is a 4-thread rolled hem, and I thought it looked a bit sturdier than how my 3-thread rolled hem turned out.   My overlocker is a Brother 1034D which seems to be a popular model, so for anybody that is interested in trying this out, here are the settings that I used.

Remove the stitch finger - see page 42 of the instruction book for how to do this.

Left needle tension - 4
Right needle tension - 4
Upper looper tension - 4
Lower looper tension - 6

Stitch width - R
Stitch length - R


This is the first rolled hem that I've done, and I love how it turned out.  I would definately advice practising on a fabric scrap first though!

I'm delighted with my dress, even if it's too cold to wear such a light weight fabric just now; and because I didn't have any instructions to follow, I wrote some out as I went along on this notepad that my Dad gave me.  How great is this?  It has buttons on it, and ric rac! 


Have a great week!


Friday, 26 December 2014

Megan Dress

This is the Megan dress from Tilly's book, Love At First Stitch.  

My fabric is some random knit fabric that came from the sale rail outside Sew N Sew in Belfast.  I think the pattern calls for a woven fabric, but my fabric is a knit.  It doesn't have much stretch at all, so I thought I'd give it a go.  At £5 for 2 metres, it was a total bargain, so I wasn't too worried about wasting the fabric if it was a disaster.  The fabric turned out to be terribly off grain, but as it has a herringbone design, I pinned down the centre of the one the V shapes, and used that as my centre front.

I drafted the bodice using my sloper from the Craftsy bodice sloper class, and used the skirt from the pattern.  I just had to fiddle about with the skirt darts to make them line up with the darts on the bodice.  The sleeves are drafted from the Craftsy sleeves sloper class.  These short sleeves fit perfectly, but I need to do a bit more work on my longer sleeves as they are tight at the top.

I drafted the Peter Pan collar using the method in Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing.  I copied the shape of the collar from the collar of a top my sister was wearing recently, but I think I will make the V shape a bit wider.  Because my fabric is slightly stretchy, I used black cotton poplin for the under collar; but when I attached the collar it refused to lie flat, so I ended up hand-stitching it down.

I would have had this finished in the middle of last week if it hadn't taken a whole week for the zips that I ordered on ebay to arrive.  Naturally, I had every type of zip except the one I wanted in my zip tin.  So I sucked it up, and got the bus into town on Saturday morning to buy a zip.  I was home about half an hour when the postman delivered zips that I'd ordered...

When I was in The Spinning Wheel buying the zip, I also bought a new stitch ripper to replace one that I lost months ago.  I thought it had fallen into the pile of stuff under my machine table, but I didn't find it when I moved everything up into the attic a few weeks ago, so I decided it must  have been lost forever down the side of the sofa.  Aaand I found it on Saturday night in a bag that I keep nail polishes in!

But if I hadn't gone to The Spinning Wheel, then I wouldn't have got 2 metres of this lovely wool mix suiting from the sale table for £5.99 per metre.  There's always a bright side!

This would also have been blogged sooner had I got the photos taken at the weekend, but the remote control on my camera threw a wobbly, then the camera battery died!  Then there were two nightmare days in work on Monday and Tuesday when some of the mains electric failed, and no computers were working.  This was my problem because I work in the building admin office.  It was all very sigh inducing as it was one disaster after another when the generator then wouldn't work; but it's all fixed, and all the electricians who helped us were every bit as kind as crafters.

Naturally I asked Santa for some crafting goodies, and he didn't disappoint.  Unfortunately I forgot to ask for a drafting book that I wanted, but that's what Christmas money is for!

Anyway, I pleased with how my dress turned out, and even more pleased with my drafting!  I've spent most of today drafting another dress, and whilst drafting is time consuming, it's very satisfying.  Tomorrow I will cut it out, but now I'm off to light the fire and do some knitting.   I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas, and that Santa was good to you.


Monday, 8 December 2014

My new sewing room

As mentioned in my last post, and after much more work than I expected, here is my new sewing room which is in the attic.


I have to give you a bit of background on this.  When we moved into our house, the attic had a window and was floored, but had pull-down ladders instead of proper stairs (and still does - I was not going down the road of building a new staircase!).  It's your average three bedroom semi, and a lady who lives across the street told me that there used to be a family with seven children in my house, so I'm guessing some of them used the attic as a bedroom.  

We've always just used the attic to store the usual attic rubbish, which I've tried to be quite strict about keeping under control, but in May I hurt my foot.  What's that got to do with the price of fish I hear you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  One of the things in the attic is my exercise bike (which I do use), and when I hurt my foot, I was under doctor's orders not to do any weight-bearing exercise, because there was chat that I might have a stress fracture.  Turns out I didn't, and I still don't know how I hurt my foot, but I'm blaming it on some new trainers which I have since given to the charity shop.  

Anyway, I'm getting very off the point!  While I was cycling away on my exercise bike during the summer, it hit me that the attic would make a great sewing room, because I was getting pretty tired of having to move about five things to get to my sewing machine in it's little corner in the back bedroom.  There wasn't a square inch of room under the bed in the back bedroom, because that's where all my sewing stuff was stored, and one end of the dining room table has recently become a permanent place for pattern drafting stuff.

So I thought it wouldn't take me too long to sort the attic out.  Turns out I was wrong, and it wasn't because there was too much rubbish - one dump run/charity shop run sorted that out.  It was the wooden panels on the slopey parts of the roof.  The attic is insulated in the walls and floor, so gets cold in the winter, and hot in the summer.  I'm not worried about any of my sewing things though, because in the twelve years that I've lived here, nothing that has been stored in the attic has been damaged by heat or cold.

The heat had made the varnish on the wood peel off, as you can see in this photo below.  Great flakes of varnish were lying all over the floor.  So I thought that it would take no time at all to remove the varnish from the wood.  Well, Lynne in December laughs manically at poor, naive Lynne in September!  I took two days off work, and expected to get the wood stripped and painted, but all I managed to do was about two square metres!  I tried paint thinner, but it was useless, and the sander we had was rubbish.  So eventually a new sander was purchased, and it took me a whole weekend to get all that blinking varnish off!  Then it was another whole weekend to undercoat and paint it and the walls.  Oh, and working above your head is not fun!

There was some very groovy 1970s wallpaper on the wall between my house and next door.  I would have loved to have kept it because of my weakness for a big mad 70s print, but it was too dark.  Here's a photo of it, which is a bit blurry because I took it on my phone.  It was vinyl wallpaper, so I peeled off the front, and painted the backing paper.

Andrew built some storage cupboards in the eaves, which also took about two weekends.  Oh, and then I had a bit of a disaster when painting them.  They're made from MDF, and I painted them with undercoat, then satin wood paint - and they were a streaky mess.  Andrew ended up having to sand them down, and I then re-painted them with ordinary wall emulsion.

I brought up my table that my sewing machine lives on, and got some new things in Ikea.  There is this little table for my overlocker, which cost less than £11!  And the chair at my overlocker was left in my house when we moved in.  The blue wheely trolley, which seems to be popular in sewing rooms according to Pinterest,

and this kitchen island to use as a cutting/work table (another popular thing on Pinterest).  Andrew put wheels on the bottom of it so it's really easy to move about.

You can see where I skillfully managed to walk some paint onto the carpet below the mirror!  Doh!
There was a bit of a disaster with this table too!  My sister and I had gone to Ikea to get everything, and I'm so glad she was with me.  I don't know how I thought I could manage it by myself.  We'd put everything in the garage until the painting was finished, which was about two weeks.  Then when I opened the box with the table top in it, the top had bowed by 1cm because of the cold.  There was an instruction leaflet inside the box saying to store it at least 20 degrees.  Might have been handy if Ikea had printed that on the front of the box!  

So we brought the top into the house, thinking that the heat would help.  I was giving off about it in work, and my boss suggested putting the top on the floor, and putting the dining table upside-down on top of it.  We did this, and it was a great idea, because the dining table is really heavy.  But the downside was that we couldn't use the table.  After two days, it was down to a 5mm bow, and Andrew got two containers from the garage that we keep logs in, put them on the top and filled them with water - and it did the trick! 


I was very pleased to get rid of the manky old net curtain (including various dead insects), and it had been replaced with a snazzy blind. 

Here are some before and after photos.  Please bear in mind that the before photos were taken after I had started to clear out the attic, I'm not that untidy!  That hideous brown and yellow chair (which was in the attic when we moved in) will pop up in another photo by the way.

I took off the shelves because I didn't want them, and then strategically placed the mirror and pictures to cover up the worst of the screw holes from the shelve brackets!  For the Potterheads amongst us, the two pictures on the left are from a website called Society 6, and I think it only took about a week for delivery.   Twilfitt and Tatting's is mentioned in chapter 6 in The Half-Blood Prince.  I happen to know this because I finished re-reading it on Friday, and I thought that picture was appropriate for a sewing room.

The Joey Dunlop poster and little photos on the brown beam are Andrew's.  They are staying because Joey Dunlop.  Maybe you have to be from Northern Ireland or be into motorbikes to even have heard of him, but he was a total legend.  This is my storage area for patterns, fabric, a box of yarn, and PDF patterns.  And there's that horrible yellow and brown chair again.  The stupid thing wouldn't fit down the ladders!  I've no idea how it got there in the first place.

So that's it.  It was definately worth all the work, I can't tell you how great it is to have everything in the one room, and not all over the house!  So far, I have been using my sewing room to finish my apron, make another Coco top and a christmas stocking for Friend's baby, and at the minute I am up to my eyes in sleeve drafting - as the mess on the table proves! 

Have a great week,