Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A short break....

I don't like leaving this blog without new content for too long. But sometimes other areas of life have to take priority, right? Right now, I have some rather exciting stuff going on (some of which you may be able to guess at based on recent posts ;) that requires my full attention. Apart from the day to day responsibilities of being Mummy to the Little Tornado; I'm finding myself doing a fair bit of writing and research and I have a couple of meetings I need to prepare for. All really exciting stuff; but in the meantime, I have to let myself off the hook a bit when it comes to this blog. Yes, stop press, my other half is actually right (it's alright, he's not reading this, so he'll never know I said that). I can't do it all! So, I'll be "away" for a week or so. Still getting some sewing projects underway and, cringe, starting to think about Christmas (aarggh! Just over 8 weeks peops!). So hopefully have plenty of stuff to share very soon.
Back shortly.......

Monday, October 15, 2012

FO - Denim Cynthia Rowley 2512

Further to my previous incarnation of this make, I thought I'd have another stab at it. I cut the previous one to a 14 at the waistband, and whilst it fit, it felt a little too generous. So I opted to cut this one at a 12 at the waistband. Apart from the size, there were a few tweaks that I wanted to make to this pattern. Whilst I liked the gathered element of this skirt, the "poofiness" around the abdomen and backside was a little too exaggerated for me to be entirely happy with it for everyday, practical wear. I wanted to tone it down a bit. So I tapered the side seams on both the front and back skirt pieces. Starting at a 16 at the hem and tapering to a 12 at the waist...

Anyone who has made this pattern will recognise the trapeze shape of the front skirt piece once it's been cut out. All of that with along the top is converted to gathers (or pleats if you're me!) and that translates to volume. Around the abdomen ladies! Not a place most of us want to add volume! At least not to the extremes of this pattern, and certainly not with my mummy tummy! Essentially, all I did was tone the angle down a bit. The red lines/arrows mark where I cut so you get an idea of what I removed from the original pattern.  You can see that this has the effect of removing width  at the waist; width that would otherwise have been gathered and translated into "poofiness".....

I made this adjustment to both the front and back pattern pieces. So when all told, it added up to around 4" of overall gathering removed from around the abdomen area. Which feels so much more flattering (and I'm told looks so too :). This new version still retains that "tulip" shape that originally drew me to the design, but in a much more subtle, and hopefully more flattering way.
On the downside, despite being prewashed and seeming really good; this denim actually creases like hell during proper wear. But I'm hoping a few more washes will soften it up some!
Overall though, pretty pleased :)
Have you tried this pattern and found it too "poofy" for your liking? Is "poofiness" even a word?!

Friday, October 12, 2012


He everybody peops! I wanted to round off this week by saying a big thankyou to everyone who took the time to leave comments on this post. A great many of you did, and not only that, you took the time to write LOTS! What was so exciting for me, was to see that the comments being left were echoing almost to the letter, what I've felt all along. Both in terms of what you DID want to see, and in terms of what you absolutely DIDN'T want to see! (Ahem, knitted pea pods anyone?!) The response from you guys has given me renewed confidence in my original ideas and provided me with even more still. If I could give you all a big virtual hug then I would. Hey, this is my blog! I can do whatever I want, so consider yourself hugged :) At this point, I can't really see how those TV Peops could even consider saying no to us!
I'd like to say a special thanks to Karen, Zoe, Winnie and Kerry for helping me to spread the word; AND to the "Anonymous" commenter (I'm presuming male??) who was emphatic that "stitchcrafts should not be sexist" towards including men; PLEASE would you get in touch? I'd love to talk to you in more detail!
Anyway, you lot are amazing! Thankyou so much, and have a fabulous weekend; each and every one of you.
I will keep you posted!

Friday, October 05, 2012

I'm Guesting over at So Zo....

As you may or may not know, the ever clever, stylish and talented Zoe of So Zo... has recently got married. While she and Mr So Zo are off honeymooning in NYC she has a bunch of guest posts lined up. (Sheesh, to be so organized ahead of your wedding!) Anyhow today is my turn (How chuffed was I to be asked? Very!)
So if you fancy finding out how I managed to get this size 8 vintage blouse to fit my size 12 bod, then hop on over....

You won't be expecting this one, I promise, lol!

BTW, if you haven't already left your thoughts on this post, then if you have the time, please do! I need as much feedback as possible!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Are Television executives missing a trick?

If Maslow is to be believed, (and all conventional wisdom suggests that he is), then three of our most basic human needs are to feed, house and clothe ourselves. No-one could argue that British TV has it pretty much covered when it comes to food and property. Anyone you stop on the street would have no problem reeling off a list of TV chefs; Nigella, Jamie, Gordon, Marco Pierre, Delia, Ainsley, et al are just the tip of a very large iceberg (notable is the fact that no surnames are even necessary to know exactly who I am referring to!) The inevitable surge of cookery books on the shelves of WH Smith in time for Christmas is further evidence of this. Much the same can be said of property and DIY related programming. The public are on first name terms with Phil and Kirstie. They are awed by Sarah Beany's ability to simultaneously renovate a dilapidated mansion AND rescue hapless homeowners from property disaster, ALL whilst apparently being permanently pregnant. Such is the eternal popularity of  DIY and home makeover shows, that they have made household names not just of the presenters, but even the minor players and sidekicks have become celebrities in their own right. (Charlie Dimmock and Handy Andy anyone?). Crikey, DIY SOS even has us covertly sobbing into our sofa cushions in case anyone should catch us crying at an interior design programme! (That's not just me is it?)

Surely at the heart of the eternal popularity of such shows is their universal appeal. They tap into two of our most basic needs. Everybody needs to eat, right? Everybody needs a place to lay their head at night, right? Over the years British TV has catered admirably for our needs in these two areas. TV programmes have taught us how to cook everything from a basic omelette to catering for a 5 course gourmet dinner party. TV has shown us that food can be sexy (Nigella?), cool (Jamie?), traditional (Delia?) and has inspired us to go back to basics and encouraged us to grow our own (River Cottage anyone?).
We've learnt from TV, how we can turn a semi in Birmingham into boutique hotel with just a few sheets of MDF, some paint and a staple gun. Programmes like Grand Designs have inspired us even further, not just to Do It Yourself but to Build it Yourself too. Over the years TV has showed us that   "doing it" ourselves, is not rocket science. All it takes is a little know how and the will to try. It's inspired us to have a go. Helped us rediscover skills that, a generation ago, were commonplace. But in a culture of fast fix consumerism, had been in danger of being lost altogether. As a nation we are slowly rediscovering the satisfaction we can get from saying "I made that" as opposed to the emotionally bereft alternative of "I bought that". We are re-engaging with our ability to meet our own needs, rather than paying someone to meet them for us.

So what then of the overlooked middle child? Our ability to clothe ourselves? Whilst we can all name TV chefs and property types in abundance; can you name me one TV stitcher? One person who has taught and inspired us that when it comes to clothing ourselves, we CAN do it ourselves? In TV's crusade to inspire, inform and equip us with the skills we need to do it ourselves, sewing is screamingly conspicuous in it's virtual absence from our programming schedules. Whilst a huge, dynamic and vibrant online sewing community has emerged in the past few years, TV chiefs seem to remain blissfully unaware of it's existence. So the question is, are they missing a trick by failing to cater for such a diverse and growing market?

In the real world of course, it's numbers that matter; and central to any programming decision must be viewing figures. So what kind of appetite is there for sewing related programming in the UK today? This is a difficult one to answer since to date, TV has not produced a sewing related show to illustrate through hard figures, what we in the online sewing community already know. That sewing is indeed, more popular and thriving than it has been for generations.

Let's talk numbers...

So what proof is there that the UK has a sewing revival on it's hands and is it just a flash in the pan? Back in 2009 when the recession had hit, talk was widespread that this would create a resurgence in the "make do and mend" mentality. This article from the Mail Online sums up nicely what was happening back in 2009. To quote:

"Sewing machines make a comeback as sales soar 500%"

"If more proof were needed that we are living in a brave new world since the recession, consider the success of the humble sewing machine. For years, sales to grandmothers and home economics teachers were steady, but unspectacular. Cue the credit crunch and the sewing machine has become a must-have accessory.
Tesco reported a 198% increase in sales since this time last year - selling two every minute. Sales of Argos' cheapest model, at £69.99, have risen by 500%, while Singer and Brother models are up by 50%."

So what happened? Were they right?  Has the UK experienced a sewing and handmade revival in the past few years or are all those newly purchased sewing machines gathering dust in a cupboard?? Fast forward to the beginning of last year and it seems sales in sewing machines show no sign of abating. Market analyst GIA Inc, released the results of a comprehensive study into the global sewing machine market with some headline worthy results. To quote:

"Global Sewing Machines Market to Reach 25.8 Million Units by 2015"

What's interesting about these results is that what  growth there is in this market is driven, not by industry, but by us. You and I. The humble home sewer. It seems that whilst the recession has bitten textile and garment production hard on their mass producing butts, it has had the opposite effect on the sale of home sewing machines. According to the study, a decline in sales and the mounting financial burdens on textiles manufacturers has resulted in major cutbacks across the industry. This in turn has "pushed sales of industrial sewing machines into the red"

However, it seems the reverse is true of home sewing machines:

"consumer behavioral patterns such as, rise in self-mending of clothes, and do-it-yourself craft work, have helped counterbalance partially the lull in the business environment. Hypothetically, tight budgetary conditions and a call for careful purchase decisions,  ironically presents a favorable scenario for increased adoption of home sewing machines, as people vigorously adopt a Sew-it-Yourself (SIY) approach, opting to prepare, repair or customize their own clothes in an effort to save money."

So is this set to last? Well this particular report seems to think it will; and I for one can't disagree with what they have to say here:

"A recessionary backlash is additionally expected with consumers who have switched to value shopping, due to the current economic situation, most likely to persist with the newly acquired frugality for a long time into the foreseeable future. Reduced acceptance of throwaway convenience, and fast fashion will continue to characterize the consumer even into the post recession marking the emergence of the most important change in retail spending. Changing perceptions of luxury, waning popularity of high-street fashion and a new found fondness for hand-made clothes augur well for the home sewing machines market."

So, sewing machines continue to sell like hotcakes. Did I mention the thriving market in secondhand sewing machines? In the past 30 days alone, over 1400 secondhand sewing machines have been sold in the UK on Ebay auction listings. Yep, I counted 'em! (1416 at the time of writing, to be precise).A bit of  simplistic extrapolation and that equates to almost 17,000 people buying secondhand sewing machines over a 12 month period JUST on Ebay. (BTW, that doesn't include machines sold on a "Buy it Now" format. I was SOOOO not counting all those up as well!)

Considering a good sewing machine can last a lifetime, would it then be fair to assume that all those of us who were sewing already were not the ones buying these machines? Would it be fair to assume then, that a significant proportion of this surge in sewing machine sales, can be attributed to people who didn't already own one? Dare I say it.....newbies to the sewing world? Sounds suspiciously like a sewing revival to me!

Another sign of the growing interest in sewing, is the constant flow of new sewing titles springing up all over the place. Not all are "available in your local newsagents" and anyone not acquainted with the online sewing community may never even get to know of the existence of some titles....but the sheer fact that publishers have seen fit to increase their output of sewing related titles so dramatically over the past few years (the number of available titles has doubled in the past 5 years alone) is recognition of the public appetite for sewing related publications....

Perhaps the reason this resurgence in sewing/handmade (and I mean proper sewing/handmade. Not Kirstie, bless her socks, cross stitching an initial on a handkerchief) is going largely unnoticed by TV execs, is that until TV gets involved and engages with what's already going on online, this "movement" is largely an underground one. The thing about the internet is, it's great for finding what you're looking for; but unless you're actually looking for it, you're unlikely to find it. Whereas TV sticks it to you, right under your nose, while you're supping your cocoa.
Right now it feels as though we are this huge underground community, that can't quite believe that mainstream media hasn't yet tripped right over us. We're like a huge mound underneath a rug; and instead of lifting the rug and finding out what's under there, TV execs just keep stepping around us on their way out the door to a meeting about another cooking or DIY offering.

The fact is, millions of people either already sew, want to learn how to sew, or could be inspired to sew given the right kind of inspiration.

Sewing is almost entirely unexplored when it comes to TV programmimg. It's brand new territory that handled well, will make for brand new and original programming that will inspire, inform, and equip a whole new generation of sewers. As well as catering for thousands upon thousands of those of us who already sew; and are just waiting for some programming that reflects our interests.  In an increasingly competitive market, with budgets squeezed, and any number of production companies fighting for a finite number of prime time slots, surely it's going to take something a little different to turn the heads of programme commissioners. Something that's never been done before. Surely, a brand new, but ready made market, is a TV execs dream?

What say you? Would you like to see sewing better represented in TV programming schedules here in the UK? (Is it better represented elsewhere in the world? I'd love to know!) If so, what would you like to see a show format include?
I'd really love to know your thoughts on this, and indeed get as much feedback as possible! I may have the opportunity soon to put this argument and your thoughts to people that could actually make this happen. So re-blog- facebook and tweet this post. Do whatever you think will spread the word, and let's find out what this sewing community of ours thinks! It can't just be me that thinks this is a no brainer, surely?!

Monday, October 01, 2012

FO - The Plum Pudding Tunic

Friends, we are skint at the moment! I have no shame in saying this. It is a simple statement of financial fact at the moment, not a reflection on our "value" as individuals! It is, without doubt, a situation that countless families are facing right now. J has yet to secure another job almost 3 months after being made redundant, and while we're scraping by financially at the moment, there really isn't room in our budget for me to go fabric shopping right now. Not being one to let a small detail like cash get in the way, I've been stash bustin' instead....
I had this smallish piece of brushed cotton fabric in my stash. A little over a metre long and 45" wide. I loved the snuggly texture and the plum shades seemed to me, to be perfect for Autumn and Winter. Just one question...what to make with it? The piece was too small to allow room for the placement of multiple pattern pieces. So I opted keep it simple and reached for my trusty self drafted "kimono" sleeve top; with a few variations....

I really squeeeezed this out of the yardage. I managed to cut the 2 main pattern pieces side by side across the width; as opposed to on the fold. I literally had a mm to spare, but I managed it by shortening the sleeves and keeping any ease to a minimum, until everything fit in across the width. I extended my original pattern to more of a tunic length and flared it slightly from the waist to accommodate hips/bum etc.

Construction is obviously really simple. The main change I made here, is that I flipped the facing to the outside to create a little interest around the neckline. I bound the outer edge of the facing before applying it to the neckline in reverse; so that it flipped through to the outside instead; a bit like you would a collar I guess. I then topstitched the facing down through the bias bound edge; so it's a fixed detail rather than a collar flapping around.

The sleeve hems are bias bound to tie in with the neckline detail; and if you were to look really closely at the sleeve hems, you would see those teeny tiny holes you get along the selvedge. That's how close a cut this one was peops! Barely enough fabric left from this to make a pincushion!