A Sewing Personal Best

I’ve been meaning to make a new beach bag since last summer and finally with the impending school break and a holiday booked, I got round to it.

Our old bag (shown below) was bought in a French supermarket many moons ago so definitely time for an upgrade.

I thought about buying a beach bag pattern I’d seen doing the rounds but with a long list of dressmaking patterns I’d like to buy, I decided I could manage without.

I used the old bag as my size guide and dug out this lovely ikea bird fabric, which is a nice home decor weight.

The handles were the ones from my Supertote which I made too short and I used Lisa Lam’s very nice clear zip pocket tutorial.

This was a super-fast make I think I started late morning and it was all done by school pick up (I’m not the speediest sewist!) and more amazing than anything I didn’t pick up my seam ripper once! That really is a first.

It’s huge with plenty of room for all our beach clobber. I’m looking forward to trying it out very soon as we are counting down the days until the end of term now!

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the sun has got his hat on….

We are having a pretty nice summer in England so far, so more summer wardrobe sewing has been happening.

A little update on my first sugar pop top…I made another! This time I was brave and used some of the fabric my husband brought back from the USA. This fabric is Flea Market Fancy, posie in grey. It’s a lovely retro print and I do love grey (though my wardrobe is becoming all kinds of colourful at the moment).

After not being happy with the bust darts last time, I traced the ones from the Josephine top pattern, this worked a treat. I cut a small size this time but scooped out a bit more round the arm holes. I’ve worn it loads. I do see why people avoid using quilting cottons for dress making, it is quite heavy compared with some of the other fabrics I’ve used.

Here it is still in need of hemming.

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My next make, hot off the press, is a Washi dress. Another fab pattern by Made by Rae. It’s a dream to wear and should cover up my French bread excess in a few weeks. I was inspired by seeing Joanne’s version and hearing her rave about it . I decided right away that my bright green Chinese Lantern fabric would he perfect.  To be honest there are so many amazing versions of this dress all over the sewing-web, its not hard to feel inspired.

A few things to remember for next time…

  • The shiring at the back was a of a test of patience as my machine really didn’t like having elastic in it’s bobbin! .
  • I decided to ditch the pockets in favour of a more streamlined skirt.
  • I’m not over the moon with the U shape at the front. It’s a bit stiff and sticks out. I may go for the scoop neck next time (which I see Joanne has done too!)
  • The top half is a bit roomier than I’d like, but as this will be a summer dress, that’s probably not a bad thing.  I went for a conservative half way house between small and medium – but I think a small would be fine, there is quite a bit of give across the shoulders (which is the bit that’s always tight on me) thanks to the shiring and the arm holes are generous.

So here I am swishing about in the garden. Thanks to my husband for tearing himself away from work to take the photos (I did make him lunch as a bribe!)

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Zip-topia

For ages I’ve been meaning to try out the Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch (it’s a free tutorial!). I spent the end of last year making it my mission to get to grips with zips. While installing a zip is now pretty straight forward, I never really got the zip ends quite as good as I’d like. Sometimes they were great, other times terrible. This brilliant pouch means no tricky zip ends – hooray!!

I made the first one for a birthday party we were going to, then proceeded to make a whole bunch for end of term teacher presents. Then (as I was on a roll) made a couple for some friends I did a charity bike ride with. Hence the fabulous bike fabric. If you struggle with zips I do encourage you to have a go they really are a lovely easy make!

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Sugar Pop!

As usual all my blog posts and sewing activity seem to all be happening at once!

True to my word I got straight on with making a Sugar Pop Top. I haven’t dug into my new stash of precious fabric yet, as I thought a test version might be a good idea.

I’ve had this blue floral lawn fabric for a long time. I bought it to cover a breastfeeding pillow when my son (who is now 9) was born.  Its very pretty and I had no idea I had so much of it left.

So, the making of the top,  here’s a quick run down as I have precisely 5 minutes until I need to take youngest child to school!

Things I like:

  • Simple to sew
  • pretty shaped collar and capped sleeves
  • minimal fabric usage
  • The binding on neck and arms gives a really nice finish.

Things I’ll change next time:

  • I was a bit between sizes. I cut a medium but there was a lot of spare fabric round my middle, so I did some creative cutting and made it go in a lot more in the middle.
  • The bust darts went a bit wrong. For some reason when I went to sew them they were a rather funny angle and the pointy bits (technical!) along the edge didn’t meet – not sure if this is my pattern printing/sticking together, or if is how they were supposed to be. I adjusted them so that they lined up but this meant creating a new end point.  Generally I think they need to be longer and lower down as they are  a bit up under my arm pits!!
  • My arm holes ended up rather tight, probably due to me taking in the side seams. They were fine until I did the binding, so I will make some adjustment for this next time.
  • binding is a fiddle! I will use bought binding next time as it’s stiffer and has a folded edge already. I ended up finishing my binding by hand stitching as it was the only way to get it sewn on neatly without loosing my mind. All that said I really like the bound neck and arm finish, it looks really nice.
  • I used binding on the bottom hem as it was already quite short and I didn’t want to shorten it any more by turning it up. It looks nice with binding but I think i will add on a bit to the length and do a blind hem next time.

Time to go – son is nagging me from downstairs – I will leave you with some pictures!

 

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The Whole 15 Yards

My husband travels to the good old U.S of A at least twice a year, which for me is a great chance to stock up on fabric!

The first few times I let him choose for me. This had mixed success and mostly he’s too busy to go fabric shopping while he’s away, so the process has become more refined over time.

In February he was in New York and I placed an order for him to go and collect from a local store, which had an etsy store too. This worked brilliantly until he mentioned the cab fare there was over $20. I figured I may as well just get stuff shipped straight to his hotel!

So this time I did just that. The only problem was the overwhelming choice of online fabric shops in the U.S. Where to start!?

I wanted yardage for dressmaking but quilting cottons rather than anything too specialised. I went for an etsy store again as i find them easy to browse and clear to see what you are playing for. Rock Paper Scissors in New Jersey had a really nice selection of prints and they were really helpful with my odd request to ship to a hotel address.

Choosing was very hard. I had a list of garments on my sewing to do list, so I tried to choose yardage and prints to match this list. I got a whopping 15 yards at only $12 shipping. A few half yards may have snuck in there too – just to fill up the box of course!

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My choices are were pretty good in real life – the bottom one – green Chinese lanterns  at the bottom is VERY green, not sure about that for a top now, it may become a skirt instead. The blue floral is a lawn. I can’t wait to get sewing. First on my list is the Sugar Pop top by Sew Caroline. I must get on with it while the sun is still shining.

Troublesome Tote

I’ve just finished making the Super Tote bag by Anna at Noodlehead. I’ve made a number of her bags in the past (The Go Anywhere bag and a couple of Sidekick Totes here and here). I bought the Supertote pattern AGES ago when there was a bit of a sale on and not having made a bag for nearly a year I thought I’d finally give it a go. I spent a while browsing other peoples efforts and read a few reviews, which gave me some helpful pointers about inside pockets and fabric choices.

As a lot of people say, it’s not a quick make, there are some fiddly bits like getting the gusset pinned and stitched in on both the outer and lining. If you have a bit of bag making experience under your belt it’s a pretty straight forward make.

…Except…. I had a few of my own troubles with this bag.  Some were my own doing – like miscalculating the handle length (remember they don’t start at the top of the bag!). Other problems….well, who knows….

My first irritation was that the front pocket didn’t quite cover the green lining fabric underneath (see photo below). This is because I opted to make the lined pocket and sewing outer and lining together means you loose a little length on the pocket. This just bugged me. So I unpicked the binding (which I did instead of piping) interfaced it and stitched it so it sat higher up.  There was no way I was unpicking all that curved gusset again! Fixed ( or so I thought).

 

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Secondly…I was rather disappointed that the recessed zip pieces were left with raw edges on the inside of the bag. I would like to have seen these with a double fold, so at least they didn’t look so scruffy. They are inside but actually you see then quite a lot when the zip section flops about., next time I would cut these pieces a bit longer so that I can fold them neatly under

So onto my next point and I only realised this when I was finished. The zip part (which I made from heavy denim – so could have been part of the problem) is all very loose and floppy. The zip tab ends fall down inside the bag making it a real fiddle to open and close the bag. I really wasn’t happy with the final finish and after wrangling over it for nearly a week (on and off) I was a bit miffed to say the least. Not one to admit defeat, after sleeping on it I came up with a solution…..

I put an extra line of stitches along the recessed zipper (see photos below)  this made everything much more secure and helped the zip sit much higher in the bag. I thought it might stop the top section of the bag from being so floppy (another irritation after all that interfacing!)

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I also hand stitched my zip tabs into the bag lining, so they didn’t keep disappearing, this worked really well and I’m quite happy with the whole zip arrangement now.  A shorter zip might help this problem too.

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Do you remember me mentioning that front pocket binding and how I spent ages getting it to cover the green lining?  Well low and behold when you put stuff in your bag it all goes a bit pear shaped and all that hard work counts for nothing!  The photo below shows it in action -( it actually doesn’t look too bad in this photo but rest assured it is) –  can you see how the handles are pulling the green lining up and distorting it all?

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So what lesson can I take from this bag making adventure?  Don’t over cook the details on a bag you’ve not made before – it may all be for nothing if you don’t like the finished result!

All that said – I think I do like it, I LOVE the fabric and it’s really comfortable to carry and will be great for the summer holidays to lob stuff in. I’m just mightily disappointed at the loss of form and shape once it’s full of stuff. I certainly don’t remember seeing any photos on my search of flikr and pinterst that looked like my bag…so maybe I’m the only one.

I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s found this with their Super Tote.

Additional info November 2014: I realised after speaking to a friend who had also made a super tote, that I hadn’t attached my handles properly! They need to be stitched onto the top of the bag.

Somehow I missed this in the instructions.

Now I’ve done this the bag doesn’t flop around so much at the top and the zip section sits better without the need for the extra line of stitching I added.

Even with all mistakes I made with the pattern, I used it all summer and I will definitely be making another (following the inductions better this time!)

Sewing Over-Drive

My sewing mojo has gone slightly through the roof this week. After my initial attempt at garment sewing a few weeks back I was itching to try more. I had fabric and patterns waiting in the wings so last weekend I made another Tova – this one wasn’t out of a vintage curtain but some nice cotton with a fine stripe. It all turned out beautifully with only a few lumpy bits and puckers. I made a small this time and it was nearly TOO small across the chest. I’ve pretty much been wearing it all week, it’s so comfortable and flattering.

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My other clothing make of the week (get me!) is the Josephine top by Made by Rae. I’ve had the fabric for this for a while – I bought it with a voucher I won for my local sewing machine and fabric shop.  This was fun to make and actually less tricky than the Tova in a lot of ways. I had plans for dinner with friends last night and had really hoped to get the top finished in time. On getting in at 3pm I had a top with no cuffs, no neckline or hem. I threw some dinner on for the kids and the set to it. I finished it with half an hour left to bung on some make up.  It’s a great pattern because there is elastic at the back to adjust the fit. I made the small – though the elastic measurements for this were a bit tight to I had to add on a bit more so I could breathe!

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I’ve also been sewing for my daughters birthday on Monday – but that will have to stay a secret for now.  So, a VERY productive week! My husband says I am displaying addictive behaviour. It’s true! – I am totally hooked on the idea of making clothes for my self, it’s so exciting!  I need to step away from the sewing machine as we have an 11th birthday sleepover to organise.

It’s Giveaway Time!

******THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO SEE WHO WON!*****

I’m taking part again in the fantastic Sew Mama Sew give away.

Hello!!! if you’ve come to visit for the first time. I won’t take up your time with lots of info as I know you have lots of blogs to visit.

This time there will be TWO WINNERS!

PRIZE NUMBER 1: A very pretty and summery (come on summer!) charm pack –  Billet-Doux by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics.  There are 30 5 x 5 inch charms in the pack.

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PRIZE NUMBER 2: A mixed pack of 5 x 5 inch charms – there are approx 37 hand cut squares in a range of designs

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Enter via the Raffle-copter link below. There are two chances to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This give-away is open internationally until Friday 16th May 1am GMT (5pm PST).  The two winners will be drawn at random on Saturday 17th. Winners will be emailed, so make sure you are easily contactable. Good luck and thanks for visiting – I may not have time to reply to all comments this time!

 

Chosen by Rafflcopter (couldn’t get it to dispolay on their page!) the winners are!!

Cindy who said: floral Pack is my first choice. Thanks for the chance to win. I’m from Canada.

Kat who said: Mixed, definitely. Thanks 🙂

Well done ladies, I’ve emailed both of you to find out where to post your prizes.

Thanks everyone who entered. It’s been great to read all your comments, can’t wait for the next one and I hope you enjoy my sewing ramblings in the meantime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Blocks

A few weeks back I saw on Instgram that Kerry was having a bit of a clear out and selling some fabric and past sewing projects. Amoungst this were 40 of the blocks she made for the ‘500 quilt blocks’ book. I jumped at the chance at buying them and instantly thought they would make a beautiful quilt.

When I started to arrange them I have to say I felt slightly daunted at the thought of making something with someone else’s (amazing) sewing and hoped I could do them justice. It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get all the blocks to fit. I managed to use all but two. 

There is a big mix of colours and at first I felt it was all a bit busy putting together lots of blocks that were designed to have such individual style. A quickly finished quilt was my goal so I tried to ignore the purist in me.

Now that it’s all finished I love the mix of different blocks, it’s one of those quilts with so much to look at.

I used Lynne’s (who happens to be co-author of afore mentioned book) fast machine binding tutorial, it’s totally brilliant and works way better than anything i’ve tried in the past.

I made and had my binding sewn on front and back in 2 hours (that may not be fast for you but it was for me!)

So this quit is being donated to the fantastic siblings together charity, which you’ve probably heard about by now. There’s are photos here of some of the quilts that have been made and donated so far. It’s lovely to think about this quilt going to such a special owner, I’m sure it will be much loved. I’m struggling to think about parting with it now!

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Tova

I’ve had my first go at solo garment sewing and it amazingly it was a success!

I bought the Tova pattern as it looked nice and easy. My friend Mary had made one and mentioned on her blog a very useful sew-a-long that Kerry ran last year.

For a my first try I wanted something in expensive which didn’t matter if it was rubbish at the end. I decided on a 1970’s habitat curtain, which had been lingering in my vintage sheet cupboard. It’s quite a stiff cotton, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be making my life more difficult with that.

Kerry kindly provided email support when I couldn’t work out the collar and explained an alternative way of sewing on the placket. The online sewing world is just fab!

The pattern suggests trying the top and making any adjustments once you have the placket sewn in. I took it in at the waist quite a lot but kept a nice a-line tunic shape. I also took it up on the shoulders as there was rather a lot of baggy fabric at the front. These are the kind of things that I would have found daunting but I remembered a surprising amount from my dressmaking course before Christmas.

Ok so the fabric is a bit odd but I’m so pleased with the fit. I can’t wait to make another. That said, I am still going to wear it to the pub tonight !

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