Tag Archive | accessories

Goals

One of my sewing goals for the foreseeable future was to make something with buttons, well buttonholes really, and I’m a firm believer in using courses, to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new in a controlled environment with an expert teacher on hand to rescue me if I cock things up. So when I saw that Sew Over It were running a course to make the Alex shirt/shirtdress from Lisa’s My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break e-book, I booked myself onto it without delay.

I was shopping my stash, and picked this chambray to work with.

Beautiful chambray with little red green and yellow dots woven in.

This had been hanging around in the stash for far too long. I’d won it in a giveaway three years ago, and in my head it was always going to be a shirt, so it finally had the chance to fulfil its destiny! I wasn’t sure there would be quite enough to make the shirt dress, but I reckoned I could cut it as long as my fabric would allow, and see how it went.

I was at the Clapham shop this time round, and it was a different teacher, Dominique. The course was over two Monday evenings, and as anticipated, the first class was mostly concerned with the preparation, choosing the right size pattern to use, and cutting out. We got going on the first bits of the sewing, and I managed to get as far as having the fronts and back sewn into the yoke, by the end of the first session. The second session whizzed through, with the collar, side seams, sleeves and sleeve insertion, and finally buttonholes. I was really happy that this class gave me the chance to practise using the buttonhole foot, and to work out how to space the buttonholes correctly. I do feel a lot more confident on this now.

The class was really good fun, and it’s always lovely to see how six people can make six very different garments, even though you’re all working on the same pattern.

The only thing I had to do to finish the shirt at home was to slip-stitch the collar down, hem the sleeves and the bottom, and sew on the buttons.

Before doing all that, I had to decide whether it was worth the candle. I had my doubts about the grading of the shoulders and/or sleeve head. Dominique had assured me that this is a drop shoulder shirt, and the yoke extension over my shoulder was right. But I wasn’t convinced. When I got home, I took a few pics to check, and whatever the pattern is *meant* to be, I personally feel like the sleeves bouffe out too much at bicep level, making me look like I’ve got massive man-shoulders. Or at least that I’m boyfriending the shirt of a man with massive man-shoulders.

It wasn’t so bad if I had my arms down, but as soon as I lifted my elbows, I looked like I had huge eighties shoulder pads.

I COULD have undone all my sleeve sewing and redone them, but as I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, it would have meant shaving only a tiny bit off to reduce the ease, which wasn’t going to help a great deal. I decided “stuff it!” and kept them as they are, with the proviso that this shirt wasn’t going to be something I wear outside the house. It is therefore now officially a nightshirt, which is good actually, because it’ll come in handy for my summer holiday. It also resolved the issue of whether I would need to shorten it to more of a shirt length, because it’s definitely too short to wear as a dress, but it’s the perfect length for a nightshirt.

Having decided that, I went ahead with the rest of the finishing off work. I had already decided that the buttons were going to be red, green and yellow to match the woven accents in the chambray. Rather than trying to find buttons that would match in style and come in the three different colours I decided to go random, and bought three bags of colour matched buttons in various sizes from Ebay. I picked out eight that were about 12mm across, and sewed them on.

Tada!!!

And since I’ve got three bagfuls of buttons left over, I decided to string the yellow ones together to make a bonus necklace.

I might do the same with the red and green ones now

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The Crisis Averted Scarf

Having made the Blanket Coat with the black and white wool bouclé, I found I had enough scraps to make myself another scarf. I went through my list of creative scarf ideas, and settled on edging it with bright pink pompoms. I measured, cut, pinned the pompom trim around the edge, realised there wouldn’t be quite enough, trimmed the scarf to make it narrower, repinned and started sewing the trim on. All was going well.

Or so I thought…

I got towards the end of the last edge, and this is what happened:

Disaster!

Disaster! Something of a miscalculation…

Somehow, I’d been sewing more tightly than I’d pinned. By this stage it was around 2am. What I should have done, is put it away and think about it in the morning. Unfortunately, precisely because it was 2am, I failed to make that sensible decision. Instead my 2am brain made a decision that in order to fix this, I would add a felt flower appliqué. However, I didn’t have any bright pink felt, which is what my 2am plan required. So I went straight onto Ebay and found some felt.

Of course  I could just have unpicked it, and made the scarf a bit narrower. But it was 2am.

Of course I could just have ordered more pompom trim. That thought didn’t occur to me at 2am. Although, at 2.30am, after having ordered the felt, that’s when it occurred to me.

Anyway, the felt arrived a few days later. I’d ordered some pink and some black, so that I’d have Options. In the end, it had to be the pink. I was going up to London yesterday evening, so I thought I could do the appliqué on the train. Unfortunately, because of Storm Doris, the trains were all delayed and cancelled, so I was standing up all the way to London, so there was no chance of sewing then. On the way home, I had a seat with a fold-down table, so I was all set to go.

I cut out a big Mary Quant style flower, in two layers. I added some stamens with French Knots on both layers, then put one layer on each side of the scarf, back to back, making sure I matched the two layers correctly, and that I fully covered the pompom gap. A careful running stitch joined the two layers and attached the appliqués to the scarf, and voilà!

Massive Flower

A massive flower – always a favourite

So all is now well and I have another scarf to add to my collection of me-made accessories.

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Not a Mistake – a Design Feature!

The Rainbow Scarf is finished

I finished the embroidered scarf last night.

It's looking quite subtle, isn't it?

It’s looking quite subtle, isn’t it?

One of the things I really love about sewing is that sometimes I’m creating something that’s only ever been in my head before. That’s what this project was like. I’m not saying that I’m the only person who’s ever done a running stitch scarf, because I’d already seen a couple of scarves that were an inspiration towards this one, but this particular scarf came out of my own head, inspired by the materials I had available.

It was a scrapbuster. I had about 50cm of black cotton jersey left over after my first #sewdots dress, and I’d bought some dirt cheap embroidery silks, from Ebay. I mean cheap – I think they cost under £4 for 20 colours.  They weren’t a brand I’ve ever heard of, but they were nice bright colours and it’s always handy to have some embroidery floss to hand, I reckon. So I had a full set of 20 colours, and I arranged them (or rather most of them) into a sort of spectrum.

My chosen technique was to cut the 50cms of jersey into two pieces of 25cm which was now the width of the scarf. The jersey was a good 150cm wide, so that was the length of my scarf. I put the two layers back to back, and starting in the middle, I drew a line along the length of my scarf with my tailor’s chalk wheel. The plan was to do a running stitch along the line, trying to stick to 5mm length stitches. I tried the old embroiderer’s trick of marking the stitch length on my thumb. It kinda sorta worked!

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I was using a totally plain running stitch. Having done one line, I then used that to draw the next line, parallel to it, 5mm away. I used my Janome clear ruler, which made the process very easy.

I was being vaguely influenced by the Sashiko embroidery I’ve seen on my Instagram feed. However, I wouldn’t presume to use the term “Sashiko” for what I’ve done! Mine doesn’t have that beautiful symmetry and perfection. I’ll be honest, my stitching was very far from being precise! But I kept going, and it was pretty much parallel, and I managed to get the same number of stitches in each line. It was a long job, but it wasn’t complicated. It was the sort of work I could do while watching tv of an evening.

I’ve left the sides with about 2.5cm of no embroidery. I haven’t hemmed the sides, I’m leaving the jersey to curl naturally, I didn’t want to put knots into this, so I left the thread ends loose at each end, to act as a fringe.

And this is how it’s ended up…

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It turned out quite colourful!

But I have to say it was not an easy process. Firstly there was the issue of having to thread my needle with a piece of embroidery floss of at least 180cm. My grandmother (and my maiden aunt, Tante Madeleine, who taught me embroidery) always insisted that you should sew with short threads, anything longer than about 30cms was an “aiguillée de paresseuse” – a lazy girl’s needleful. And they instilled this wisdom in me for a very good reason – sewing with long threads is a flipping nightmare! It twists and knots like nobody’s business.

And secondly, the embroidery floss I was using was really low quality. It had been dirt cheap for a reason. It was very “splitty”, and to make matters even worse, some of the colours only had five strands, instead of the usual six. The red only had four. If anyone reading this is moved to try embroidery, my advice is definitely, pay for the good stuff!

To end on a more positive note, I know I’ve complained about the embroidery floss I was using, but it does have a lovely shiny quality, which I think makes it really pretty.

I'm very happy with how it's turned out.

I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.

Some Selfless Sewing

You all know how rare it is for me to sew anything for anyone else. Tonight this was forced upon me by my lack of planning or organisation. Tomorrow morning at work it’s the last Curriculum Team Meeting of the year, and by tradition there’s a lucky dip Secret Santa. The budget limit is £2, so as to include even the grinches. I’ve done NO shopping for Christmas yet, and I was wondering how I was going to sort this one out, given that I’ve got to put it in the box tomorrow morning at 9.30am.

Inspiration came as a result of remembering a) a conversation I had a couple of weeks back with Claire of Sew, Incidentally about how practical infinity scarves are, and b) one of Claire-Louise Hardy’s Thrifty Stitcher emails linking to an infinity scarf tutorial video.

So this year I’ve gone down the handmade route. The fabric came from a fabric swap, so that’s free, right? All I’ve had to pay for is the pompom trim, which came to about £1.50, so I’m well within the designated budget.

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Things I feel I should point out, for the benefit of future generations:

  1. Pompoms get everywhere – they’re on little threads so that they dangle, which is delightful, but it does mean they need some serious wrangling!
  2. Don’t forget to turn the scarf half right side out in order to sew the short edges. I started off by failing to do this, and ended up with a rather weird object that bore no resemblance to a scarf. Fortunately, this is such a quick sew that even unpicking and re-doing that bit didn’t take long and I soon had it back under control.

I sneakily tried it on, because I had to check it would work.

Yes, it does indeed work, hooray!

Yes, it does indeed work, hooray!

But it’s now all wrapped up, ready for tomorrow morning. I’m banking on the cutesey heart wrapping paper putting off either of the two men on the team from picking it.

I’ve got enough fabric and pompoms left to make another one. In fact I’ve already attached the pompoms in readiness for the sewing. I don’t know yet whether I’ll have to give it away (I’m seriously not organised for Christmas this year). I’m hoping not, because I quite fancy keeping it. Although I wouldn’t be able to wear it at work, on account of outing myself as the Secret Santa!