Tag Archive | challenge

One Week, One Pattern 2017

I’ve always loved OWOP, and it seemed to be a two-yearly kind of thing, but this year, the very lovely Sheona of Sewisfaction kindly hosted it, running from 25th November to 1st December and it was an amazing week of seeing lots of brilliant makes and hacks on Instagram.

Of course I wanted to join in, but what pattern to choose? I’ve used the Belcarra collection and the McCalls straight skirt before, so that was out. I could have gone for my self-drafted straight skirt, but I’ve only got three of them. I also thought about my Shannon collection, but I’d only got four of them. So it had to be the Thrifty Stitcher’s Shell Top – with a massive five of the same! They were a bit summery for November/December, but they are very layerable with cardigans. So that was that decision made.

Here’s the photo collage of all seven days. Inevitably there were a couple of repetitons, but I tried to change the styling.

OWOP17 Collage

In other news, the sewjo is in hibernation, but I’m trying to keep making, with the 100 Day Dress100 Day Dress, with knitting and crochet, and I’ve also been working on a Simple Sew make, but getting through the pattern-futzing stage has been hard going! I think I’m ready to  sew my toile. Hopefully it will be about right and not need too much tweaking, and that will give me encouragement to get on with the “real” one.


Hurray, hurray for Me-Made May!

MMMay17 logoIt’s that time again! Zoe of ‘So, Zo… What do you know?’ has posted the Sign Up for Me-Made May 2017, in its eighth glorious year.

This will be my fourth year of taking part. My formal pledge remains the same as in the last two years:

I, Béa of Bea’s Sewing Adventures/@missbeacurtis, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I will endeavour to wear Me Made clothing (not including underwear, shoes and tights) each day for the duration of May 2017.

I already wear me-made almost every day anyway, so it’s a case of taking my RTW clothing out of the wardrobe for May and wearing only Me-Made. Beyond that, my personal challenges are:

a) to make sure I photograph my outfit every day and post it on Instagram (I’m @missbeacurtis there). I will post round-ups here. It’s tricky sometimes, as I don’t have a dedicated photography space at home, so be prepared for a load of office selfies.

b) to dress with a bit more care and thoughtfulness, particularly with regard to jewellery and accessories, because I can be very lazy about those.

c) to crack on with some making. Past experience tells me that MMM is a really useful catalyst for completing WIPs and getting on with planned makes, refashions and fix-ups/mending, in the April build-up and during May itself. It’s already started.

Having said all that, May is always a stressful time at work, and I don’t want to make getting dressed in the morning an additional source of stress. So I’m giving myself two Get Out of Jail Free cards (one from Chance, one from Community Chest!). I hope I won’t need them, but they will be there, in case I do.

Fancy taking part yourself? Want more information? Well head on over to Zoe’s sign-up post. It doesn’t need to be a Me-Made-only pledge, it’s entirely personal. That’s what is so great about it, it’s a challenge that works for you, that nudges you to wear and love your handmade clothing more. Everyone needs a different nudge, so you pick one that will be achievable and helpful for you.

I’m starting my preparation. I always need more tops, so I’m going to try and get two or three done as part of the prep, or part of MMM. I’ve tackled two of my WIPs, and an evening of hand-hemming tonight will see them both finished, I reckon. Watch this space!


I posted the sewing details for my Sew Dots Simple Sew Batwing Dress on the Simple Sew Blog, which went live a few days ago. You can read all the making details there.

This was going to be a toile for the Batwing dress, but as it became clear that a) it would be wearable b) it was going to be awesome (though I say so myself!) c) I wanted to get the dress posted on social media for Rosie DIY Couture’s Sew Dots challenge, it became my official version. I wore it pretty much as soon as I could, to go out with friends, on Saturday evening, but I’ve also worn it to work this week , and here it is, presented in daylight!

The office selfie is not going away


The Sew Dots Challenge is running for the rest of October, and it’s helping to raise funds for the RNIB, as part of their Wear Dots, Raise Lots campaign, to help raise awareness of the importance of Braille. I’m very happy to boost the signal. All you need to do is sew something dotty in October, share a picture of it somewhere on social media with the hashtag #sewdots and make a donation at Rosie’s Just Giving Page for the RNIB. Don’t forget, if you are a UK taxpayer, you can increase your donation at *no extra cost* to yourself, by clicking on the Gift Aid option, so that they can claim tax back on your donation. Go on, you know it makes sense!
And having finished this dress, I realised that I *have* got a spotty fabric in one of my UFOs, so I need to get on and finish it, so I’ve got two dotty makes for October.

Rosie of DIY Couture has rounded up some amazing prizes for the lucky winner of the Sew Dots draw. What more do you need to get going with some dotty sewing?


The Refashioners challenge

Source: www.makery.uk

I’m so very tempted to try this challenge. I’ve got at least 2 pairs of jeans that haven’t seen the light of day for a couple of years, so I have the basic materials. And it would really tie in with my stashwatch aims.

I’ve committed to another project just recently (of which more later) and I need to see how that will work out, before I go bonkers on this one, but I’ve definitely got ideas paddling around in the inspiration pool. Mostly involving embroidery, it has to be said. It’s not going to be anything prizewinning, but that’s not the point – the  point is to take something you don’t wear and turn it into something you do.

And I’m pretty sure I can do that!

Edited to add…
Holy moly! Have you seen the prizes?!

The You Mean I’m Wearing Orange? Skirt (AKA the Sew Weekly Reunion Skirt)

This is the official “finished” post, and I’m really happy with how this came out. It actually came out looking just like the picture I had in my head.

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle

At the Bandstand

At the Bandstand

I do have to thank my lovely boyfriend for suggesting the Castle Grounds for the photoshoot, and for being willing to troll around taking photos of me, and for being a proper artist who knows about composition and colour and light and stuff like that. And since it was quite hard to stop him taking photos once he got started, this is quite a picture-intensive post!

The Facts

Fabric: purple cotton drill- £6.00, patterned cotton from stash, I only used a tiny bit of it to cut out the appliqués, so I’m calling this free.

Notions: zip- 80p, cotton pearl embroidery thread- £4.05. hem binding- £1.50. Edited to add- a bit of interfacing from stash- I’m counting that as free.

Sadly, although I was using one of the notions (the purple tape measure) to help make this when I was cutting out, there’s nothing concrete from the pattern & notions swap in the fabric of this skirt.

Pantone Challenge colors: main colour: Acai, slightly pastelled down. Accent colours in the appliqués: Emerald, Koi, even a touch of Vivacious.

Pattern:McCalls 3830. I’ve used this twice before so I’m counting it as zero cost.

Year: 2002

Time to complete: A couple of hours for the basic skirt, what seemed like an eternity (but is actually more like 13 hours) for applying and embroidering the appliqués!

First worn: On Sunday. And again Tuesday.

Wear again?: Definitely! It fits so well in with my existing wardrobe.

Total Cost: £12.35

The pattern is my faithful McCalls straight skirt- it’s dead simple, it’s just a plain straight skirt.

McCalls 3830

I went for mid-way between views C & D, so it’s on the knee. I did start by trying to make it a bit more A-line, by angling the side seams out, but it didn’t look right, so I cut them back to straight again. So essentially, I stuck to the pattern. I suspect I didn’t start the angling of the sides high up enough, I’ll know better next time I try it.

Stuff I did that was new for me:
The whole appliqué business. I’d decided from the off that I wanted to have a plain skirt that was embellished in some way, and when I found the accent fabric in my pitifully small stash, and the colours were so damn perfect for the challenge palette, as well as for my base fabric colour, it was self-evident to me that it would be cut-out shapes from the accent fabric appliquéd to the plain skirt. I might use different techniques another time, but I like what I did with it here. Basically, I cut shapes out from the accent fabric, tacked them onto the skirt, then used a rough satin stitch with black cotton perlé embroidery thread to fix them in place more permanently. The black embroidery gives the shapes clear definition, and adds a bit of texture to the skirt.

Appliqué Detail

Appliqué Detail- that black line at the bottom of the skirt is shadow, not an edging!

I also did a bound hem for the first time, which I think is really pretty and I’ll be doing again. I used a lilac satin bias binding, and it feels lovely on my legs!



Stuff that stressed me at the time:
The zip just would not behave!* It took four goes, and its still not one of my better zip insertions, but khalas, it’s done.

Having got started on the appliqué embroidery, I was overwhelmed by panic that it would take forever to do, and that I wouldn’t have enough supplies of embroidery cotton. I had visions of having to photograph the skirt only from the front because that was the only bit that I’d finished! Here, have a back view photo, to prove that I did complete the embroidery all the way round!

The Back View

The Back View

What I don’t love so much about this skirt:
I did zig-zags to finish the seams, and it’s just not as nice as turning & sewing, or adding a proper binding. So it’s not as pretty on the inside as I’d like. Lesson learned for next time- finish the seams more nicely.

What I DO love about this skirt:
The colour! I love love love the purple, and I also love that I’m wearing a colour that I’ve avoided like the plague for years, albeit in homeopathically small quantities and well away from my face- I’m not stupid!

I also do love the appliqués with quite a passion, and I will definitely be doing something like this again.

And since I have lots of photos of me up by the Castle, here’s a few more.

DSCF2046  DSCF2053


It’s been fun sewing this skirt, and you can check back over my earlier posts about this skirt using the “the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?!” tag in the list over on the right there. I loved the colour challenge, and I’m SO looking forward to seeing everyone else’s creations all together.

But the main thing this Challenge has taught me is that all those Sew Weekly Contributors were INSANELY productive!!! This skirt (a measly straight skirt for heaven’s sake, it’s not exactly ambitious!) took me two pretty intense weeks** to make (and a third week to get photographed nicely), and I was getting all panicky and stressed over it. The Sew Weekly contributors were making far more complex and amazing outfits in just one week, routinely, and taking it in their stride. Kudos to you all, Sew Weekly people- I salute your work!

And finally, because there always has to be *one* goofy shot, here’s the Alice Through the Looking Glass statue, because Lewis Carroll died in Guildford, because he stayed with his sisters who lived here, when he wasn’t at Oxford.

Béa Through the Looking Glass

Béa Through the Looking Glass

* It was all my own fault, not the poor zip’s.

** Well, to be honest, more like one easy messing-about week and one intense, stressy, panicky week.

So it’s not a “Challenge” unless there’s a challenge, right?

I’m suffering from a massive dose of Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew. I’m on the last bit of the Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge Skirt. I’m embroidering the appliqués. This is going to take a LOT of time. There’s only ten more days to finish this garment off in, and it looks like I’m going to be embroidering every spare minute I’ve got, to get it all done in time. This is only one evening’s work- aaarrrggghhh!!!

Edging commences

Edging commences

I’m doing a sort of rough satin stitch to cover all the rough edges of the appliqués. I chose black cotton perlé, because I thought it would have a bit of shine, which would be texturally interesting, and because black would show up the appliqué edges in a slightly cartoonish way, and (hahaha!) I thought it would go quicker. It’s going to be fine when it’s all done, but having got started on this tonight I’m giving myself the heebyjeebies. Also, I only got two skeins of perlé, and I fear I’m going to need way more, and there was only one skein left in black in Pandora’s, and none of the other shops in town stock it. Eeep! I wonder how quickly I can get some on ebay…

On a more positive note, and in the full confidence that I *will* get all that embroidering done in plenty of time, while I was in Pandora’s getting the cotton perlé, I also found a pretty lilac satin binding for the hem.

I’ve got the September Fall For Cotton challenge in the back of my head. For now I’ve got no idea what I’m going to be sewing for that, but I’m going to be going fabric shopping in the next week or so, which will firm up what my plans are for that.


Edited two days later, to add:

I’ve stopped hyperventilating! I bought that last remaining skein of embroidery thread, and did a load of measuring and calculating, and I’m fairly sure that I can just about manage the remaining embroidery out of that third skein, if I’m frugal. Also, I’ve done a SHEDLOAD of embroidering, and I’m nearly done. I reckon I can finish the edging tonight. Which only leaves the hemming to worry about. So my fears about not having the right materials and not being finished in time are allayed.

However, I am still unsure of how I’m going to photograph this skirt to make it look nice. It may be a case of wandering around the park over the bank holiday weekend, asking random strangers to photograph me!

Progress on the TSWR skirt

The basic skirt is all done, bar the appliqué work and the hemming. I got started on the appliqué work tonight.

I had got some shapes cut out from the pattern fabric, but what I’d already cut seemed like it wasn’t going to be enough so I cut out a few more last bits. Then it was a case of sorting out placement. Of course, that’s when I found out that actually I had cut out enough bits… That’s just the way of the world, of course.

Once I’d sorted out the positioning, it was the mammoth task of tacking it all in place. I thought that was going to take aaaaaaaaaaaages, but actually, once I got going, it went pretty quickly. So it’s all tacked and I’m happy with how it looks. Now I need to work out exactly how I’m going to work the embroidery. That’s a job for tomorrow.

For now, here’s how part of it looks.

Appliqué progress

Appliqué progress

Fall For Cotton Sewalong

Having signed up for the Sew Weekly Reunion challenge (and enjoying that challenge so far), I’m embracing the whole challenge ethos and I now appear to have signed up for another one, the Fall For Cotton Sewalong. That’s another button to be added to the sidebar!

It’s a September Sewalong, starting on 1st and finishing on 30th. The rules are that you use 100% Cotton fabric, and that you make a garment from your favourite vintage decade. Thankfully you’re allowed to use retro patterns, as I’ve not actually got any genuinely vintage patterns at my current disposal.

I’m not yet 100% sure what I’ll be sewing- I usually have to find the fabric to inspire me! Part of me wants to go for a huge skirted 50s dress, but my rational head is reminding me I *need* some sensible office clothes, so I might end up going for a pencil skirt instead. Or *maybe* this is the time I challenge myself to conquer my fear of buttonholes and make a blouse… I’ll update once I’ve found the supplies that send me in a specific direction. Another trip to the shops is beckoning!

I’m not doing it for prizes*, I’m just doing it to challenge myself. Who knows where this one will go?

* Just as well, as I ain’t going to be winning any!

The Sew Weekly Reunion- Theme

The theme has been announced. It’s the The Pantone Challenge!

Pantone Autumn 2013 palette

Pantone Fashion Colour Report – Autumn 2013 palette

These are good colours, and I can certain get down with Emerald. Acai, Samba and Vivacious. I’m thinking Turbulence would be a good neutral, and I’m thinking already about how I could put all these colours together (well, not *all* of them in the same outfit!). These all fit beautifully into my own personal colour schemes.

It’s going to depend largely on what fabric I can find.  I don’t have a massive stash, and nothing in the little one I’ve got fits in this palette. Though heaven knows why not- some of those colours are screaming “Béa!”. So I’m going to have to wait till I get the fabric inspiration. Unfortunately, I’m off to dance Summer School tomorrow- one week of full-on bellydance goodness. So I can’t see myself getting anywhere near a fabric shop for the next ten days or so. Nothing like putting myself under pressure, eh? And until I choose fabric, I don’t really know what I’d like to make.

First thoughts, though, are:

– It’s the Autumn palette, so even though it’s August now, I should be working on the basis of this garment being an autumn item.

– I might not go all adventurous for this make, but I would really like it to be a decorated item. Whether that means some embroidery or appliqué, or some other embellishment technique, I won’t know till I get started, but there *will* be decoration.

– Also, it would be really cool if I could incorporate something I receive from the patterns & notions swap, and that probably won’t arrive for a good week or so, if it’s coming from overseas. And if I have to sign for it I won’t be around for next week, anyway.

In related news, I sent my parcel off yesterday- it’s going overseas, and I’ll be tracking it anxiously, like a mother whose child is on a gap year trip! So far tracking shows my parcel “has been passed to the overseas postal service for delivery in redacted foreign country” though I guess all that means is it’s been sent to Heathrow sorting office!


I’ve just committed to an online sewing challenge!

Over on the right there, you’ll see a button for The Sew Weekly Reunion. Sew Weekly was one of the first sewing blogs I got hooked on last year, and I miss seeing all those amazing weekly creations and reading all about their makers’ creative processes. So when Debi from My Happy Sewing Place posted about a Reunion, to which we were all invited, I headed right on over there. I thought about it for a moment, and thought to myself, “hey, it gives us a whole month, a thirty-one day month at that- what could possibly go wrong?”. I conveniently ignored that I’ll be away at Bellydance Summer School for a week of that month. Pfft, that’s only one week, right?

So I’ve signed up for it, and posted the button there on the right. I guess that’s a great big public “I’m in” declaration!