Thursday, 25 December 2014

All the things I've sewn this year ~ 2014 roundup

In the process of tidying up all my downloaded patterns whilst uploading them to my new dropbox cloud storage I decided I wanted to make a  list of all the patterns I have bought and especially downloaded that I still wanted to make. Downloaded patterns are like credit cards, they are not entirely real and often I buy them, download em, store em and that's it. I usually print off the first page and file this but it's only been recently that all this has been sorted by women's, kids, knitting and crochet, bags and quilt patterns. That finally made me realise how many patterns I own and how I could safely never buy another pattern! I'm sure I will though as the lure of the new etc...

Anyway that is another blog post because I also realised how many things I've sewn this year! Lots of lots. I haven't got any decent pictures of almost any of them though. I did actually finally buy a tripod and self timer for my DSLR only to then give the camera to a friend in need. Oops. I'm back to mainly using my iphone and sometimes my fab Lumix LX3. I did take delivery of a cheap second hand bridge camera today which has a huge zoom so maybe I will use that more often. Anyway I always drool jealously over people who have the time and inclination to take beautiful shots of they new creations, and wonder how they find the time to sew that much let alone take all those photos and write those lovely long, detailed blog posts, often with tutorials... Bets not beat myself up over this as after all I teach a lot of classes, run my business single handedly and have three boy children to look after (as well as my 6 kitties). I'm no longer a single parent but that upshot of that is that I also try to spend as much time with my partner Sean as possible. There, I'll stop feeling guilty now. So I mostly finish sewing something and then just instantly put it on!

Let's make a  little list of what I've made this year:

* I discovered Lekala on Etsy. For just a few quid she emails you a pattern of your choice in your own size, according to your measurements. Lovely! I even got a kiddy culotte pattern scaled up to my size and I'm wearing them as we speak, made out of silver denim!

* I also made a cute Lekala knit dress with hood and massive kangaroo pockets.  

*I (late to the party) discovered the April Rhodes Staple Dress and have made three for myself plus one for a friend. They are the bees knees! A super comfy, easy to stitch and easy to wear dress AND IT HAS POCKETS! I love pockets. No matter how many bags of haribo you've put away, this dress always fits. Hurrah!



*I fell in love with the Liesl + Co Cappuccino dress. And unlike me, I bought the paper pattern and made it as soon as it arrived. Out of some funky red, pink and gold japanese style print from Ikea of all places. Super cool dress, I want to make more!


















* I made the Colette Parfait dress out of some fun vintage style circus fabric to wear to a wedding. It was a tony bit too naked and dressy for me so I haven't worn it since although I got many compliments and loved it. It had about a million pieces and wasn't an easy sew although I liked the challenge. A lot.




* I helped Jill from Made with Moxie test run her Prefontayne shorts for women, so I made a simple version without the pockets out of a vintage sheet. They are my bedtime shorts for when it's too warm for full PJS.

* Colette's Ginger skirt is the pattern I use to teach dress making classes with. And in the process I've made myself three versions now. It's a pattern that literally looks good on every shape and size and even on the chap who did the course earlier this year. Go-to-skirt pattern!

*I finally made the bombshell swimsuit. I downloaded the pattern and even bought the fabric in 2013. And then it just sat there. However when I started I LOVED sewing it up, it came together really quickly, and it looks bloody awesome even on my lumpy 44 year old body. Seriously that is a fucking miracle! I may even show you a picture.






*I've made two bra's but we're not there yet, the bra and me. We are just starting out together. I'm loving the ultra fitting it needs and the tiny tweeks that make a huge difference. I don't liek how you can't make a muslin and the fabric (as with all fabrics but more so) is bloody expensive in the UK. So I've put it all to one side (in a tiny huff I must admit) and I will rekindle that relationship in 2015. I'm really really excited about making my own bras. I know it's possible now.

*I made a Poppy tunic. And hated it. It doesn't work on ladies with boobs. The neck is too high too. It feels like a hospital gown but with added modisty. So it just hangs there lookign all guiltily at me. Actually I've been using it as a painting smock hahaha because it is very airy due to the ridiculously large armholes and it being sleeveless n all that. So it's usefull after all.

*I made a Victory patterns Lola dress. Which I hate even more. What was I thinking? All the pictures clearly show it to be a bulky dress which would look good only if you are small, small breasted and don't have A STOMACH. I'm none of those things and do have a belly so it is the most unflatering thing I have ever worn. Luckily I made it all out of £2/m sweater material from the market and it came together super quickly. I wore it in bed last night as a VERY warm nighty (I only lasted an hour in it until nightmares of being boiled alive made me tear it off and throw it a long way away). Lesson learnt. Remember your body shape and only buy flattering patterns. *Remember you don't have a waist!*


* I made a Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt just two weeks ago. It was super easy and I used the fabbest fabric, crazy leopard print/ roses/ hearts and musical notes, extra wide, for £3/m from the local shop. I'm wearing this dress right now (on xmas day), it's super comfy and stylish. Next time I will add the staple dress' pockets as I do miss a pocket.

* I made Max a great blazer (the study hall jacket) which was ace to sew and looks fab on. Bizarrely he more often wears it inside out, and with its blue and yellow lining it looks like a  jockey jacket :-(









* I also made him a golden ninja suit out of fleece. He REALLY wanted onebut I could only find one person selling them on Etsy and they were a good price. Hence I made it. And became his hero!
















*I made lots of bags, zippy pouches, PJ trousers for me (wearing them right now they are fab!) and for Max, curtains for the studio and a whole heap of quilts too. And a gazillion cushions. Not to mention tons of stuff I was commisioned to make by others inc a christening dress out out of a wedding dress (terrifying cutting into that!), curtains, window seat covers, and endless zippy pouches, and much more.

Not too shabby huh?
quilt for Sarah
dress for Ariella
bag for Leo

yes it really does have sweets on it!

dress for Ariella
I knitted some fab socks!





lovely pouch

quilt for Simon
Sarah's staple dress

christening dress for Naimph
Max's PJs

241 tote

241 tote 2

 


quilt for studio

PJs for me
Ginger skirt 3 in action!

Sean and his new cushion

Funky crochet poncho








Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My love hate relationship with my Husqvarna 875Q...

I've had this baby for just over two years now and I'm still ambivalent over her.

I bought this because I really wanted a machine with a larger throat than most machines could give me, so I could quilt bigger quilts.

In addition the large space (11") it has many cool stitches, an automatic threader, needle up: down function, it automatically stitches in place and cuts your threads and it also adjusts everything according to the fabric you are using, something that works brilliantly.

It was really bloody expensive. Like a MacBook Pro expensive. It weighs a ton. It's huge. It feels solid and it's easy to use. The menus are a doddle to navigate.

But. There's some huge buts. Because it's so massively complicated and computerised it's super sensitive. It is supposed to sense when the bobbin is nearly empty and warn you. So mine went through a phase of telling me the bobbin was empty when it totally wasn't and also not telling me at other times that it had in fact ran out. So back to the shop she went. Turns out the sensor was blocked by fluff. Now I service and repair sewing machines but this lady refuses to be looked at. You can take the stitch plate off and the bobbin case out but that's it. Anything further down into the body cannot be reached. I did try to open her plastic bowels but after an hour of gentle wrenching and pulling I had to give up. So she can't be cleaned by anyone other than a dealer which is very very annoying. I bought her from the fabulously helpful and lovely Coles Sewing centre in Nottingham so she has to be shipped there whenever she needs grooming. Which is therefor expensive and I lose her for a few days.

Anyway she got her deep clean and was happy for a while. Then she got all difficult about cutting threads. Which is one of the things I love most about her. So back to the shop she went again. Especially as she also suddenly completely lost tension and therefor wouldn't sew. She had her tension system replaced as well as her cutting motor. Considering she is by then just 18 months old I'm not happy.

She came back but still will only cut intermittently :-(. IT was the summer holidays by now and I just didn't get round to emailing the shop to let them know it still wasn't working well. When I did in October the chap from the repair shop sent me a new knife. So now it cuts maybe 75% of the time. Which is still not good enough for an expensive machine.

But not having used the machine for about a month and having switched my attention to a donated New Home machine which is great but has tension problems, when the new knife turned up and I put it in and turned the Husqvarna back on, well I just fell in love again. When you tell her what material you use she adjusts the tension and pressure foot pressure and stitch length. Her stitches are beautiful. Her spare bobbins and feet are store on board which is super handy. She handles everything from leather to jersey without missing a beat. She is heavy and has piercing power. She doesn't let herself be dragged on to the floor.

So all in all I love her but she's a tricky lady. I feel still that a machine that cost that much should not play up as often as it does. She's unpredictable and a bit of a prima donna. But when she works she is the best.










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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Free motion machine embroidery fun

In early December I ran a free motion machine embroidery class at the lovely Regents Fabrics in Ilford. It was a special session to celebrate Ilford, put on by artist Lucy Harrison who has been researching and has written a book about Ilford.

Regent Fabrics is a fantastic shop which runs over two floors, it stocks patterns, fabrics, haberdashery, yarn, thread, as well as selling and servicing sewing machines. It was a real pleasure working with them.

Here are some pictures of what the students created. Free motion is such a cool class to run as it only takes ten minutes to teach anyone to do it and then students go off and create. And create they did!

If you want to take a free motion class too please have a look at the schedule: http://bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades






















































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