Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 30 - Winter Preparations!

I know, I know, I know. It's too early to be talking Winter right? (Well unless you're in "the other hemisphere").
But to be honest, I think that's our lot when it comes to summer, such as it was! But not to be downhearted, I've been trying to think of all the good stuff the change of seasons brings. Christmas (sharp intake of breath!), my birthday (another sharp intake of breath!) Autumn leaves crunching underfoot, bonfires, fireworks, hot chocolate, mulled wine, less work to do in the garden....and of course, the excuse for new additions to the wardrobe!
Today I've been busy sorting through some of the Winter coats I've thrifted throughout the year and photographing them for my Etsy shop. I'm a great believer in buying things out of season to up the bargain factor. So I've had some of these coats for several months. Here's a few....
I've also been working on some refashioning in preparation for a little announcement next week...in relation to this post. Excited? Moi? Absoflippinlutely!!
Px

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rainy Days and (Bank Holiday) Mondays....

Allegedly the "Tillage" (not quite a town not quite a village IMO) where I live is having a Regatta style week this week. Short of a few strands of bunting, a banner and some charity tombola stalls, there wasn't much of an event in evidence when we took a wander along the waterfront today. However we did get a total drenching whilst sheltering under a 4" wide overhang during a sudden torrential downpour....which was nice...(?)
So we headed back home. Half an hour later it was blazing sunshine outside. But do you think we noticed? Nope we were too absorbed in this....
A vintage puzzle circa 1950's that I've had in the cupboard for about a year...cute huh?
Notice anything wrong with this picture?
Ha, ha!! Yep. 2 hours of painstaking concentration later, and we discovered that there are only 499 pieces to this 500 piece jigsaw.
Still, if I make it to 60 with every single piece of me intact, I shall be a happy gal! Anyway, it was kind of fitting for a UK bank holiday, lol!
Did you do anything fun this weekend?
Px

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Love....Design Sponge

Oh my gosh you guys! You HAVE to check out this blog. Before I knew it I had spent 2 hours browsing through page after page of inspiring DIY projects and makeovers, and literally covered my desktop in photos to go in my inspiration file for future reference. Am I last to the party for this one? Have you seen it before?
http://www.designsponge.com/
It should really come with a public health warning. You will lose hours within it's pages. In particular the DIY and Before and After pages. This is seriously inspiring and apart from anything else, a totally gorgeous blog design to boot. Sigh....more projects to add to the list!
Px

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top Draftalong # 29 - Bust Dart Enlargement

Ok so here goes. This is a LONG post peops. I racked my brains trying to seperate this into more bitesize individual posts but each stage of this is so interlinked with the next that I decided to just keep it all together in one place. Recommend sorting yourself out a glass of wine/coffee/tea/beer (delete as appropriate) and put your feet up. Ready?
Okey dokey. Firstly I should mention that I have decided to ditch the block pattern from the book. (Eeeep! Yes the one that I've spent all that time on!) in favour of the Sorbetto from Colette patterns. The issue I'm addressing in this post was exactly the same on both patterns, but the Sorbetto just seems to suit me better overall and I just think for me it would make a better block/sloper pattern in the long run. You may recall the stage I was at here.  I had pinned out some excess fabric at the armhole and needed to transfer those markings on the toile to the paper pattern so that I could rotate this unsightly dart in the armhole and add it into the bust dart instead...(the first few photos were taken at night so apologies for the poor lighting)

Here's my toile (I used no sew interfacing to make it. Top tip. It works brilliantly!) with the armhole dart marked out where I'd had it pinned...
I layed my tissue pattern on top...

and traced the armhole dart onto it...here's the toile and the tissue pattern side by side...
I then extended a line through the centre of each dart until they crossed....
I cut along the lines at the centre of each dart, stopping just short of the crossover point to creat a hinge/pivot point...
I closed off the armhole dart by lining up the bottom dart leg on top of the top dart leg. This results in the bust dart enlarging by the exact same amount....
I then secured with masking tape (easier to reposition than sellotape and you can iron and draw over it too. Win win win!) I called it a night at this point and spent the night tossing and turning and muttering about armholes and bust darts in my sleep...apparently!
Next day (!) I secured a slip of paper with masking tape on the underside of the new dart...
This was a tricky one to do (and photograph) but I eventually managed to fold out the dart with the side seams above and below the dart lined up as they would be if I were constructing the dart on the garment (they are lined up honestly! It's the camera angle in this photo that makes it look wonky)...
Then cut along the side seam...
and open the dart out again...ta dah!! New "boobalicious" bust dart...
Of course, now the armhole is all wonky! Closing up the armhole dart has raised the bottom of the armhole too high and at a funny angle. Place a piece of paper behind the armhole and tape in place as before...
I held the pattern piece against myself to get a rough idea of where the new armhole curve should start on the side seam and marked it on the pattern. Back on the cutting table I drew in the new armhole shape starting at the point I had marked on the side seam,(make sure the first 2-3mm of the armscye is at a right angle to the side seam or you'll get a "peak" when the side seams are sewn together) drawing a smooth curve and blending it into the upper part of the armhole curve. You can use a French curve (visible in picture) but in the end I printed off a copy of the front armhole section of the original PDF pattern and used this as a template to get the curve just right
A quick snip later...armhole curve sorted. That looks better! 
Here's my new pattern piece. Unsightly armhole dart rotated into bust dart and the armhole curve reshaped. So we're done right?
Nope! One final adjustment. This is the original pattern lined up at the armhole. See how the front piece is marginally longer than the back? Well this is where my pattern cutting classes kicked in. Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my befuddled brain, I remembered....
The width of the dart...
Is directly proportional to the "extra" length at the hem of the front pattern piece...because of course, when the dart is closed, this extra length is taken up...
Applying the same principle to my newly adjusted pattern....
I measured the width of the new dart...
and worked out how much extra to add to the hem to compensate for the extra length that would be taken up by the wider dart...(does this make any sense??)
So here is my new pattern....

I'm happy to report that everything lined up perfectly when I made my toile (that post to follow) so I was super chuffed with myself and this process has marked a bit of a Eureka moment for me. Both in fitting and the pattern manipulation process. It's a case in point that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction".  Each alteration will impact on another part of the pattern and generally require a compensatory alteration elsewhere to get everything to line up again. It's this emerging awareness of the "bigger picture" that feeds the slight addiction I have to pattern drafting. It's a bit of a love hate relationship because it has me swearing and tearing my hair out as much as it has  me jumping for joy at a new principle understood!

I tell you what though...I never thought I'd be referencing Newton and Archimedes to in a blog post about how to make a top that fits me!! Hilarious! Hmmm. Professor P...has a nice ring to it...;)
Px

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top Draftalong # 28 - Bust Adjustments

Ahhh, finally! I am soooooo sorry if I've kept anyone waiting with these posts. But I have managed to squeeze some time out of the last few days to make some progress on the Top Draftalong. I have lot's to share with you, but first things first. This is the last of the "mini posts" detailing the fitting issues covered in the book. Bust Adjustments. (Bleurgh!!) As luck would have it though,  there are a number of decent tutorials out there to reference for this particular area of fitting.; a roundup of which can be found at the end of this post.  Here's what the book has to say on the subject of bust adjustments:

"With a larger than average bustline, your toile will appear very stretched across the bust and the darts will not be providing enough fullness. Mark your bust point with a dot on the toile then transfer this position to the paper pattern. Draw a line through the centre of the dart to the bust point. Draw another line beginning at the middle of the shoulder, down through the bust point to the hem, passing through the middle point of the waist. Cut through the dart, leaving a 3mm hinge at the bust point, then cut from the shoulder to the hem, leaving a hinge at each end. Place a piece of paper underneath the pattern, then spread out the vertical opening by the required amount at the bust point. The dart will automatically be enlarged. Pin in place and then reshape the side seam. (diagram far right of image)"

"A smaller than average bust forms folds of excess fabric over the bust which must be dispensed with. draw the lines and cut your pattern as before, but this time overlap the vertical opening at the bust point to remove the excess fabric. This of course, decreases the bust dart. Reshape the side seam"

Gertie has a roundup of great tutorials here. There's an example of the FBA  in action here and here and a well illustrated example of the SBA here (in fact the first stages are applicable to the FBA too).
Px

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 29 - Cosy Cosy

How lovely is this vintage blanket......
 The colours and design remind me simultaneously of the 50's Atomic trend and Native American styles. I can't decide which....

I love it and if we had the space to store it (it's pretty large and we have NO storage in our house!),  I would  possibly be keeping it. (I still might!) Alas, J hates it and it doesn't go with our interior decor or our picnicware. So it's Etsy bound, although I may change my mind and take it back off again, lol!
Had any good thrift finds recently?
Px

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Seven Deadly Sins of Sewing......

When pondering recently, just what I have learnt since I began my sewing adventures a couple of years ago, it occurred to me that there are certain things that I do now, that I was clueless of at the start,  but have now become my sewing fundamentals.  They are the steps that I wouldn't dream of skipping or the situations that I will avoid like the plague. Because I know in all certainty, that if I do (or if I don't), I have sounded the death knell on my project's success. As I become aware of the little details that combine to make a professionally finished garment, these are my unwritten (until now!) rules, that I would be committing sewing sacrilage if I failed to adhere to. These are my Seven Deadly Sins of Sewing...

Skimping on the Pressing - I hadn't a clue as a beginner that my iron would be just as important as my sewing machine.

Skipping the Toile - In my eagerness to sew a finished garment, in the past I have dived straight in and cut straight from my fashion fabric and regretted it every single time. It's good to have a practice run when you're using a pattern for the first time

Rushing - This is a big one for me! I can be an impatient sort. I've taught myself to enjoy the process of making a garment as much as the finished article, and take time over the little details, done well,  that I know will make me smile each time I look at them

Neglecting needles - Using a new needle each time I start a new project has become a bit of a ritual for me. And using the right needle for the type of fabric was a lesson learnt the hard way too!

Sewing on Empty - Sewing when I'm tired is also a big no no for me.  My  patience is low, I get easily frustrated  and I make stupid mistakes. (Hence the lack of sewing on this blog of late!) Some things are best left for another day when you're in the right frame of mind

Fabric Faux Pas' - If something is worth my time sewing, then it's worth sewing with a decent quality fabric and decent quality notions. I've learnt to be patient in sourcing my fabrics because I can't afford to buy metres and metres of fabric from High Street retailers. My stash is comprised almost entirely of thrifted supplies and I've had some great scores from Freecycle and fabric swaps too.

Thinking you can't - This one, out of all of them has held me back the most in the past. Here's what I've learnt - Don't be afraid to tackle a project because you think it's beyond you. Ok you may have to tackle it bit by bit. Break it down into smaller parts, surf the net for tutorials. read blogs. Practice on a scrap of fabric. But you'll get there, and you'll learn so much on the way

This list is by no means set in stone and there are many other things that I could add. I'm sure as I continue my sewing adventures I'll find still more. But because of my heavily illiterated title, I've limited myself to just 7 for the purposes of this post! I'm interested though....what are your big no no's when it comes to sewing? What are the massive faux pas'that you would simply never commit?
Px

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 28 - More homewares!!

Friends, I still haven't managed to find any "stitching time". I'm convinced this is affecting my mood and shortening my fuse. Like if I don't get in my summer house and start sewing again soon I may just explode. Alas, there are still no childcare options on the horizon and Elliott's naps seem to be getting shorter and shorter. It just hadn't occurred to me that the summer hols would have such a massive impact on my sewing. i should have really anticipated this in the Draftalong schedule. I can only apologise if I'm keeping anyone waiting! So my focus really has to be keeping the Little Tornado tamed and entertained.  Our local charity shops are a good way to distract Elliott for short periods during these long summer days. All the ladies coo over him (he can really turn on the charm when he wants to!) and he seems to relish "the hunt" just as much as his Mummy does. (That's my boy!) The only difference being that he squeals with excitement outwardly when he finds something fun, whereas I tend to contain my squeals inwardly. Well, most of the time....;) We had a good haul today.....
Left to Right:
Childs Miniature Mug - 50p White Breakfast Bowl - 50p Vintage Juice Extractor - £1 Pair of Pastel Green Stoneware Condiment Bowls - 50p Vintage Glass 1/2 litre jug/carafe - 50p Toast Rack - 50p Pink Milk Jug - £1

How could I resist the little mug with the duckling driving a tractor ....
I totally adore vintage Thermos flasks. But until now have never found one in good condition. Invariably they're stained, or the seal has gone or something. This one though is immACulate and will be great for picnics (you  pump the button in the top and your drink is dipensed through the spout. Neat!) along with this cute vintage basket. Both cost £1. I think Elliott and I may be heading down the play park for the morning with a picnic and maybe I can get some sketching/planning done...
Have a lovely day all :)
Px

Monday, August 08, 2011

Boys will be boys.....

I figured out, that when you have little ones, you will be permanently tired for one reason or another. When they get out of the baby phase, they let you have more sleep. Which is nice. But that's only because they spend the whole day running around at full speed and creating little "toy explosions" as they go....

So if you didn't have the "extra" sleep, you wouldn't be able to play giddy up horseys (I'll give you two guesses who the horsey is..) or football, or Thomas the Tank, or tickles, or hide and seek, or  puzzles, or building blocks, or painting, or running, or jumping.....or.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz .......(did  mention it's the summer hols so he has no pre-schoool?) ........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A bit of sunshine.....

Amazing what a few hours of sunshine can do. We have hanging baskets of Tumbler tomatoes either side of our front door. Yep, I know most normal people have flowers in their hanging baskets, but the front of our house is south facing and so is the best place to ripen tomatoes. So that's where they live for the summer....
Such as the summer here in the UK is! The baskets have been heavy with green tomatoes for a couple of weeks but all we've had is rain and overcast days. Until this week. Purely from having the sun on them for a few hours, our tomatoes have turned from green to gorgeous hues of red and orange within a day. As beautifully colourful as any Pansy or Busy Lizzie, wouldn't you agree? It reminds me just how the sunshine instantly makes everything brighter and more cheerful.  We now have a glut of beautiful ripe tomatoes. Now all I have to do is decide what to turn them into.....pasta sauce...passata...chutney...anyone have any favourite tomato recipes?
Px

Monday, August 01, 2011

Sneaky peek......

Hello friends! Long time no speak. I have followed your sage advice and spent a week or so resting or snatching naps when I would normally be sewing or blogging. I am happy to report that I am starting to feel much brighter and "the fog" is lifting and I hope to resume normal service shortly. In the meantime though, I haven't been totally resting on my blog laurels. I've been working on a little something behind the scenes with a few of my favourite fellow bloggers and sewists, that involves these little packages winging there way to various addresses in the UK and America....
Suffice to say, for now, I'm pretty excited about sharing this with you all, and about the talented people that have consented to be part of this little "challenge". Enough, enough! I must stop myself now before I give too much away. But watch this space in the coming weeks when I'll be able to reveal more!! I shallalso be picking back up with the Top Draftalong and have some fab thrifting finds to share....
Px