Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sew Grateful Week - Day 4: Project

Hello again :) Yesterday's post (share a tutorial, pattern etc...) didn't quite happen, I'm afraid, so here's a bit of a token effort:

Onto the Sew Grateful Project:

Thursday the 27th February: Sew Grateful Sewing Project Day.  Showcase your latest sewing project. Whether it's a project using up that pattern that was a present from someone or that you won in a giveaway or using a tutorial someone has prepared, or even a project inspired by someone in the sewing community... the possibilities are nearly endless!

My project is made using fabric I won in a giveaway by Fabric Tragic last year. It's a drapey wine-coloured knit with a bit of a crushed finish to it. I almost made it up as a top, then a skirt, then another top, but wasn't quite sold on any of the patterns I'd planned so it's been sitting on the desk since September. A week ago I was wearing my kimono/jacket/shruggy thing and it struck me that it could work in a knit. This one, while drapey and reasonably light-weight, is pretty stable, so it ended up working pretty well:

The indoor photos make it look quite purple, but the outdoor ones are a pretty good match. The construction was the same as last time (link is above if you're interested), except that since the last one was chiffon I used french seams. This time I did the whole thing on my overlocker, which is a first for me. I usually just use the overlocker for finishing.

Some very quick photos before we lost the light - just remembered in time!

 This one is little bit warmer than my chiffon one, so I'm hoping it'll work well during winter, given a few long-sleeved layers underneath :)

The only change I made to the pattern this time around was to sew bands onto the end of the sleeves. Last time I folded the raw edge under twice and sewed it down, but I like this as a finish for knit garments. They look quite nice folded up (half the width below) too. (Is that the way the Renfrew top is finished? I really must buy that this year.) You can see the crumpled look of the fabric here - it's not just my ironing aversion... ;)

Judging by the amount of wear my last version has has, I think this is going to be a very useful addition to my me-made wardrobe. Expect to see it in May quite a bit! 

Thanks, Sarah, for a fantastic giveaway! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sew Grateful Week 2014 - Day Two: Reflections

I think this is actually my favourite topic of the Sew Grateful Week. I mean, giveaways are great (have you seen some of them??), and projects are always wonderful, but I just love hearing people's stories and being allowed a little glimpse into other sewists' worlds. I'll let the Hostess explain:

Tuesday the 25th February: Reflections Day. This is the day to reflect on the role sewing has played in our lives, reflecting on those who have been supportive in our journey and reflecting on what the online community means to us!  What are you sew grateful for? 

When I started musing over this a week or two ago, a rant by one of my favourite comedians, Dylan Moran, on his Yeah, Yeah DVD came to mind:

"Now I'm not a feminist - I don't qualify. And neither do most women. If you women were serious about feminism you could have everything that feminists want you to have. Equal pay? You could have that tomorrow....IF women would stop bitching about each other for FIVE MINUTES. Which doesn't seem to be possible..."

That may not be verbatim (I have too many Sew Grateful posts to visit and read to spend time transcribing right now...), but that was the gist of it. And it's one of those laugh-and-wince-in-recognition things, isn't it? I can't imagine there'd be a woman alive and breathing who hasn't experienced the painful end of female cattiness.

And yet... In the hundreds of blog posts and thousands of comments I've read over the last year-and-a-bit, I've yet to read a single comment that's snide, belittling or snarky.

Posting photos for the world to see of your created work is a vulnerable thing. Actually wearing your created work is even more so. But this community understands that. Even more importantly, this community respects that.

Women championing women is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and empowering sights imaginable. And as women we have the capacity to do that so naturally and so very, very well. THAT'S what I see every time I click on a blogger's post, and that's what keeps me coming back for more of this amazing community.

This community brings out the best in women. That's what I'm Sew Grateful for :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sew Grateful Week 2014 - Day One: Giveaway

It's that time of year again, folks! Debi from My Happy Sewing Place is hosting the Sew Grateful Week, as an opportunity to give back to the online sewing community. Last year's Week was the first bloggy "event" I ever participated in as a brand new sewing blogger and I loved it. I met some wonderful people through taking part, and I was thrilled to see it was going to happen again.

Day One is Giveaway Day:
Monday the 24th February: Giveaway Day.  Host a giveaway on your blog or other social media platform to give something back to the sewing community.

Alrighty then!

I actually have two giveaways on offer, a sewing one and a knitting one. I had planned to buy something sewing-related, but since this year I'm really trying to cut down on consumption I hope you won't mind that it's actually out of my stash instead - I promise it's completely unused!

Sewing Giveaway:

The By Hand London Victoria Blazer pattern. I really love this pattern. But as I've been musing over the Wardrobe Architect series I've realised it's a style/silhouette I really love on other people. So rather than hoard it, I've decided that it can contribute to some other sewist's general fabulousness. :)

Knitting Giveaway:

A set of six Swarovski crystal stitch markers. I have a dear friend who makes beautiful crystal, pearl and beaded jewellery, and she's fashioned up these little lovelies for me, or rather, for you! I adore my set; bling really doesn't get more glorious than Swarovski! These comfortably fit on needles up to about 6.5mm or US 10 1/2.

If you're interested in either of these, leave a comment below specifying which. Both giveaways are open until Sunday 2nd March 2014. Good luck!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Overcompensatory Muslin

Hello again :) You might recall that in my last (garment-based) post I confessed how I can often be slack or lazy when it comes to muslin/toile making. That thought must have been floating around in my consciousness ever since, because this time I've pretty much swung around to the opposite direction...

As part of my Make Goals this year I wanted to sew a collared shirt or blouse - particularly one that would challenge my finishing skills. I tend to be a little disappointed with my efforts on this front, but never really make the time to practise. Now I'd planned on making Style Arc's Safari Sam Overshirt for ages (bought the pattern just before I came across the Archer shirt...) So I thought - and I'm still not entirely sure I thought this through properly - I'd make up the pattern from start to finish without making any modifications as a practical exercise in shirt-making. An Overcompensatory Muslin, if you will! I used the chambray I'd bought with this in mind, and tried to focus on the "journey" rather than the "destination". And actually, it came out alright!

I'm going to go back and make a few adjustments - nip in the side seams a touch, reset the sleeves in (they're a bit long when unfolded) and make the shoulders just a little narrower - because it's almost exactly what I wanted. Although I'd wear it as is, for sure. Aren't Wearable Muslins such a bonus! But....can you pick the big mistake I made though in the photos above?? I'll get to it in a sec... ;)

As an exercise in finishing skills, I'm really proud of myself! It feels a bit funny or immodest to say that - but all you sewists know what I mean! Besides, we all spend plenty of energy pointing out every little flaw and failing - I'm going to take this moment to celebrate a little :)

CONFESSION: Generally I would rather eat my own hair than sink-stitch / stitch in the ditch. I loathe doing it - and it never, ever looks "good enough" to me. Mind you, I'm not very conscientious when it comes to basting, so I'm probably setting myself up for failure on that score. This time though I was scrupulous - see?

Apparently meticulous basting is a good thing - who knew?!

So, so happy with the finishing :)

I did run into a bit of a roadblock when I got to the sleeve placket however. I've never sewn one of these before, and didn't quite know how to do it. Here's the thing about Style Arc patterns: the designs are amazing, and the drafting is fantastic, but the instructions take a, er, "minimalist" approach. From memory, this step was "sew sleeves". This included pleat, placket, cuff, everything. And the placket was in two pieces.

I tried to look up tutorials on two-piece sleeve plackets, and found no joy there. ("Make a 'house' with the triangular upper piece..." - what??) Then I remembered there had been an Archer Sewalong. Ten minutes later I'd ditched the two pieces, cut a new single length, and thanks to the wonderful Jen, had me a pretty fine placket!

Wish I'd read her section on getting perfect collar points beforehand.... They're not too bad, but are a little bit rounded.

The only thing I'd do differently if I could go back in time would be to use a lighter weight of interfacing on the collar and pocket flaps. I used tailor's interfacing, which I love, but I accidentally used my medium weight one, and so they feel just a little stiffer than I'd like. They may soften up a bit with washing though. Hope so.

Did you pick my big mistake? I honestly didn't notice I'd done this until I started photographing the details:

 Look at that lovely back pleat....on the inside! Grrrr.... Mind you, the sink-stitching is pretty nice ;)

But, niggles aside, I have sewn a button down shirt!

So of the Make Goals, just a Ziggi jacket, blazer, trousers/jeans and underwear to go for this year! Piece of cake... ;)

How are your sewing goals coming along?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Liebster Time :)

Last week I had the lovely surprise of being nominated for another Liebster award by Siri of the Pinhouse Playmate. She makes and knits absolutely beautiful vintage-inspired garments; if you haven't come across her blog before, go and check it out immediately. I'll wait...

Welcome back! Now the Liebster award rules seem to vary a bit from blogger to blogger, and from what I've seen, people adapt their responses pretty freely too. So the "guidelines" this time around are as follows:

You must answer the 11 questions set by the blogger who nominated you.
You yourself then pick 11 blogs who in turn have under 200 followers.
You must then think of 11 questions for the blogs you have picked and also tell them.
You must link back to the blog that nominated you.
Write 11 facts about yourself.

So - on to the questions!

What do you find most challenging about blogging?
Without a doubt - being photographed. I far prefer being behind the camera. 

If you could choose any super-power, what would it be?
Invisibility. (Which strikes me as a definite introvert's answer...) 

What is the most important thing in your life?
Family and faith. That's a sneaky two things, but for me they go hand in hand. :)

Which object/tool could you not do without on a daily basis?
Sewing tool? Quick-unpick (seam ripper), sadly. Otherwise, a toothbrush. That's an unglamorous but honest answer!

What is your favorite movie of all time?
Oh, that's hard to narrow down! Love Actually, all three Lord of the Rings films and Shaun of the Dead. But it feels rude not to mention the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and North and South also.

What is your dream destination for travel?
Definitely the UK. I was there 5 years ago and loved it. 

Which wild animal do you find most fascinating? 
Kangaroos. We moved out to the country nearly three years ago and often see them on our property at dusk or dawn. Natural suburbanite that I am, I still find it amazing that such enormous animals can just wander around freely. And they really are beautiful animals.

What is the most romantic thing anyone's ever done for you?
My husband put together a tribute photo album for me with lots of beautiful notes from him, family and friends. That was pretty wonderful!

Who do you admire the most, and why?
It's a tie between my husband and my mum. He's fearless, loving, funny and loyal. And he makes me popcorn without being asked :) She's gentle, perceptive, serene, and always sees the funny side of things.

If you could make a living doing anything, which profession would you choose?
In a perfect world, reading would be a profession. 

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Calm, content, creative, daydreamer, homebody. 

After going through my bloglist I've only got six new blogs to nominate, sorry. But they're all lovely and very worth becoming better acquainted with! 

And my questions for them are:

What was your best holiday ever?
What is something that comes easily to you?
What is your favourite thing about your home?
Early bird or night owl?
Who was your first crush?
What two things do you want to do before you die?
What makes you laugh?
What was the best decision you ever made?
What are you most afraid of?
What three wishes would you request from a genie?
What is the most essential thing you've learned so far?

Looking forward to reading your answers!

And lastly, eleven random facts about me:

1.  I love rainy days and thunderstorms
2.  The bravest thing I've ever done is skydiving.
3.  When I was 10 I had arthritis and couldn't walk.
4.  I loathe the feeling of nailpolish.
5.  I generally have at least two books on the go. Apparently I'm noticeably irritable when I don't have a new one to go on with.
6.  I can't do blood. I once fainted in a first aid course when the instructor started talking about wounds.
7.  The only trophy I've ever won was for a performance in a play. But I did once get a ribbon saying "I Ran In A Race". ;)
8. I can't go to a gym willingly.
9. I love cooking dishes from scratch.
10.  I once accidently broke my little sister's finger.
11.  I'd love to take painting classes and violin lessons. 

Until next time, then :)

Danielle oxo