Tag: sewing

New beginnings 2019

So my poor site has been languishing for a very long time now. I don’t blame you if this isn’t the blog you thought it was. We no longer do ‘formal’ homeschool, although given the adapted timetable that Smol has, we have to continue things like French, maths revision and of course, music. Currently she plays piano and recorder although she is aiming for flute in the next year. So far, she is still at the local RC primary school. Scotland has a tradition of denominational education but only, in practice, provision for Roman Catholic children. While we are Eastern Orthodox, this suits us well – she understands that her teachers are church-goers, believers in the same God, that we have the same Bible and same standards, so she feels there is less pressure on her to try and contain her thoughts around feast days and other religious times of year.

To try and re-engage with the blog, I decided we need a spring clean. She is almost 11 and the days of playing with dolls and lace and pinkness are fading in the backview mirror. I downloaded the *gorgeous* and easy to use ‘Weta’ Theme from Elma Studios

but so far I’m finding the new block editor a bit of faff – so back to the old ‘Document’ editor of wordpress it goes. What will I be doing on the blog then, now it’s not exclusively home-ed based? well…

  • Gardening: documenting the blossom, bird and bounty of our garden, which is a huge blessing as well as a LOT of work.
  • Making: I’m making some adorable dolls of different kinds (and price points) to sell over at Katherine & Kitty as well as little plushy toys, *genuinely squee worthy* doll clothes using repurposed silk, satin, wool, linen and leather scraps.
  • Baking: a bit more of this, although obviously we are still dealing with the sensory challenges of ASD for both of the women in the house.
  • Nature: I love walking the dog and will share our little finds when we are out and about.
  • Knitting and Sewing: Knitting has become a real passion of mine – I’m attending Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the second time next week so there will be a LOT of pictures of colour, shawls, fun and more projects. I still have things I bought last year that have not been knitted yet but we all know, whoever dies with the most yarn wins! Sewing is a challenge: I’m overweight and accepting my new/old body is an ongoing dilemma. Health-wise I’d like to be fitter but I’m 47 and let’s face it, my job and hobbies are sedentary. So understanding what to sew, how to fit myself and as she grows, to adapt things to Smol, while maintaining our ideas of modesty and appropriateness will be here too.

Now, after a thoroughly boring bit of housekeeping and the obligatory updating post, I’d love to hear if there are any topics in sewing, gardening, teaching, learning, whatever that you’d like to hear more about. I realised that I’ve learned quite a lot in the last almost 50 years and I want to keep a record of it here, for Smol and for anyone else who, like me, finds that “doing small things with love” is a revolutionary way to live. I’ve added the Prayer of St Ephraim, our additional daily prayer for Lent, at the top of the post. It really does sum up the way we have to live so perfectly and I wish I could use it all round but keeping it for Lent does make it more special. I’d also recommend “Tending the Garden of Our Hearts” by Elissa Bjeletich and Kristina Wenger for families during Lent – short, daily meditations to help us focus on the themes of Lent and make sure the young – and older ones – are engaged in the readings.

Pattern Review: Ruby Jean’s Closet “Fashion Play Take-Along”

 

This Post is full of photographs which are upside down: viz –20140804-192602-69962683.jpg

This is a pattern by Ruby Jean’s Closet, a digital download, for a folder that is designed to allow young and not so young fashion and sewing fans to keep their tools, projects and inspirations all in one place. I have to confess that I made it a year ago for Wee Bear’s 6th birthday present – a brand new Janome 9020 sewing machine. You can use a UK lever arch file, easily bought in a stationary shop (go for something plain and light colour if you are using a light colour fabric print!) without too much fiddling, in spite of US folders being a different shape.20140804-192604-69964299.jpgAbove you can see the little pockets that are there for (left to right) pencils, glue stick and scissors – I didn’t bother buying special fabric scissors. Below, you can see the clear plastic fronted fabric zip pockets – these are GENIUS and so easy to make. I bought the ‘plastic fabric’ on ebay, and used normal quilting weight cotton and zips from John Lewis. I know, I am so frustrated at the lack of decent patchwork fabric in Edinburgh it’s crazy.20140804-192605-69965885.jpg

Here is Wee Bear concentrating VERY HARD on her first sewing lesson – we are in the amazing David Drummond Sewing Machine shop at Haymarket, Edinburgh. His staff are very kind and knowledgeable about the machines. She was shown how to thread the machine, do stitches in a straight line and stop at the beginning and end of the lines.20140804-192641-70001848.jpg

20140804-192639-69999510.jpg

I used my new embroidery machine (also from David Drummond!) a Brother V3, to edit and make a little patch for her front pocket, so that it meant i could use my new toy too.20140804-192637-69997888.jpgI’m tempted to make another for myself – they are incredibly handy for small projects and great to keep bits and pieces together – I can imagine that if you were taking a patchwork or similar technique class then they would make life easy AND have tons of scope for customisation. I liked the techniques and didn’t have any false starts, as I would expect from Ruby Jean’s Closet, whose patterns are clearly written and easy to follow. Recommended.

Craft fair insanity: buying fabric just to cut it up & sell it

There are times when my fabric addiction takes over. Usually when confronted with a gorgeous range from Michael Miller or Makower. When I saw this project from the Sewing Directory I decided it would be perfect for selling at my next craft fair.

I used this bundle from Plush Addict and kept one of the FQs for making bias binding.
20130717-183119.jpg

but first a test run. I bought this on impulse from a local fabric shop: 4 pieces for £8 but a) they weren’t full FQ & b) two had quite bad sun bleaching so I’m unimpressed.
20130717-183133.jpg

The main issue was working out which pieces to put next to each other, as all the prints coordinate.
20130717-183150.jpg

However, the actual pieces are soft, strong, clearly printed & have a lovely effect when combined. I have no idea what to charge for them but aren’t they cute!20130717-183211.jpg

Vintage pattern sites: blurry eyes

A really, really super brief post: I’ve been looking high and low for what I think of as a ‘bog standard’ day dress pattern. I’m suspecting that something later 40s or 50s would work for me, as I like longer and fuller skirts. Let’s say “alice, rabbit hole, down” and leave it at that? Anyway, a morning when I should have been working has left me with a big old pile of links that I want to share and at a future point add into a very helpful ‘widget box’ for vintage pattern sources. In the meantime, for your enjoyment and perusal.

And now I have to run and paint, quickly. Another house bound afternoon with grumpy five year old darling beckons.

A Proper Party Dress. Part 4 – and dolly came too.

On the morning of her 5th birthday, Wee Bear woke to sun & clouds, as usual for June in Scotland. The party dress looked amazing – for the ten minutes it stayed on!

20130705-094154.jpg

Alas, some little girls arrived & announced they weren’t wearing party dresses – after her big entrance. Peer pressure starts early, so the party dress came off & another, normal frock went on. I tried not to want to throttle anyone too much… even though my eyes were still bleary from the late nights of sewing. I’m happy it fits her so well.

20130705-094519.jpg

Apart from a frantic time tracking down a bouncy castle (ordering the first one for July wasn’t a great move!) it all went as well as I had expected. Too many girls in a state of high emotion and after the same fancy dress and balloon caused a bit of friction. Who knew that being five was so stressful?

The big presents came on her actual birthday, including her doll: Lily Sugar, as she was immediately renamed.

I had spent a while the night before making a little party frock for her doll – I used a plain lined bodice pattern from the All Dolled Up book, then gathered scraps of tulle and net all together – using them as one layer was much faster and made the skirt a lot neater at the waist. Finally, I attached the soft Velcro strips – a normal width strip cut in half. It is only made from the soft loops but seems to stick together nicely and doesn’t scratch.

20130705-095521.jpg

I’ve never seen her so happy to get a present: she hugged her close, decided she had a new little sister but – best of all – immediately wanted to wear their matching clothes. I can see many happy hours of play in our future (and sewing in mine!).

20130705-095736.jpg

A Proper Party Dress. Part 2: modifying the pattern & cutting

Once the fabric arrived and we had plenty of fun rolling the net and tulle onto long cardboard tubes, I had a serious look at the Chloe pattern.

The two main pieces, bodice front and back, are very simple and taper slightly in at the waist. My child doesn’t. She has a tummy that is perfectly normal, from looking around her ballet class, and her sensory issues mean that she can’t stand to wear things sitting at certain points on her body.

Getting out our trusty ‘Swedish tracing paper’ from Gloriarty we copied the pieces out & pinned – carefully – onto her body.

20130624-140055.jpg
Obviously it doesn’t have the same handle as fabric but there are a few obvious issues: length, tummy, armholes.

20130624-140158.jpg
Even taking off the seam allowances, it was going to be uncomfortable (and go unworn, no matter how pretty).

20130624-140303.jpg
You can see how much I have taken off the armholes front and back here – even with our dodgy floor as background! (I promise to get nice white matboard soon).

20130624-140435.jpg
And in comparison to the ‘standard’ pattern (which is beautifully drawn & clearly marked) – her shoulders are narrow and delicate while she broadens out in the middle. As for an adult pattern, I added length to the centre front but blended it back in to match the side seam length.

20130624-140741.jpg
Finally, I used the transparency of the pinable, sewable tracing paper to centre the design on a flower. This is an incredibly wasteful way to use fabric & the opposite of my usual “squeeze ’em in” technique, but for special occasions & large print, it’s worth doing. I did the same across the back and sash, so that when buttoned up the back flower would look unbroken too. This was mostly by eye & I pretended I was putting a zip in to get it right.

20130624-141037.jpg
Finally, I cut the same pieces from a smooth & soft lining (once we had confirmed it was smooth enough), and the huge pieces of net and tulle: each layer is made from two panels roughly 16 inches by 2 & 1/2 yards, joined at the sides and gathered into a tiny waist…

20130624-141313.jpg

Next part: assembling the dress or ‘how I learned to love tulle’.

A proper party dress. Part 1: the ‘Chloe’ dress by Violette Fields Threads

Quite unable to believe how beautiful my daughter is (really) I decided that we needed a party dress to match. The ‘Chloe’ by Violette Fields was a natural. Their photography is jaw-droppingly beautiful: haunting, evocative, adorable, classic, I can’t find enough words to describe how much I admire their work. Sometimes I just look at the site for some eye-happy-time. (This image courtesy of the incredibly kind team at Violette Fields Threads).

Chloe PDF pattern

The Chloe is simple in concept: yards of tulle, net and nylon chiffon (more on that in a minute) are gathered lovingly onto a straight forward lined bodice with buttons, topped off with a sash to tie in a large bow at the back. The execution takes a bit more patience and care if it is to look as stunning as the images on their site. I mean come on: look at this one – you just want to sew, right?

Fiona bustled dress & top

First choosing the fabric. Wee Bear is remarkably literal at the moment. Things are, largely, black and white. So when she saw the large rose print on the tea-length dress model on the pattern front, that was what we had to have. The *incredibly* helpful ladies at Violette Fields replied to my desperate email trying to source the original: it was a Heather Bailey print, from her Garden District collection of a few years ago. Of course, it is no longer available. However, I found ‘Hello Roses’ which is similar enough for a happy nearly-five year old and her mother.

Hello-Roses-in-Cream-by-Heather-Bailey

The cream looked best and so then we tried tracking down the tulle and net. I wanted something fresh and pretty, so a pale green rather than pink (which can often make the Wee Bear look washed out) was on my search list. Most net greens are, frankly, hideous. I was delighted to find Harrington Fabric and Lace down in Nottingham (where British lace was produced in great quantities last century and a rare surviving remnant of our home cloth production). Their website needs a redesign but again, helpful and speedy service – although the pale green tulle was out of stock. We compromised on green net and ivory tulle, exactly like the original on the cover.