sewing

This Must be the Place

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I managed to write a thing. In the meantime, the usual amount of stuff has been happening. So I’ve been photographing, note-taking and generally procrastinating over the events of the last month or so. Get ready for a mismatched, cluttered, catch up style post. Let’s get this rudderless ship back on track!

Finished Projects

crochet cushion1

This month I made my friends a snuggly housewarming gift in the form of this stripy cushion cover. I crocheted it freehand and immediately started making another so that I could write a pattern to share with you. The #2 is in a brown/purple chunky yarn with some teal accents – noice.

catch up Jun153

The stripy blanket is complete. My magnificent octopus. Every day I see it on the sofa it brings me joy. I have already started the next one. I don’t want to come across as prescriptive, but everyone should crochet a blanket.

catch up Jun152

I also finished making a little vest top from some adorable fabric a friend brought me from Copenhagen. I say finished… it hasn’t had its final press yet, and it is a little too big. I have lots to learn about sewing clothes to fit!

Recorded a demo

Yeah, so.. I’m in a band now? If you follow me on other forms of social media you may already have gleaned this. We have been playing gigs around Sheffield for a few months and thought it would be a good idea to record some songs. We went to Old Pig Farm studios, near Oughtibridge.

recording1

The process isn’t complete yet, but we are well on the way to having some credible material. I hadn’t been in a recording studio for some time before this, but now recall that it is a singular experience (so…much…coffee). Credit to John at the Old Pig Farm for beautifying our folky stylings.

Went to Cumbria – Ate Meat

catch up Jun154

Bank holiday weekend? You bet your ass I went to Cumbria! And it was beautiful, despite a rather harrowing journey northwards, including 3 trains and a bus from Oxenholme (via Kirby Lonsdale. Seriously). My visit was the usual heady mix of being very well looked after, sitting in a range of comfy chairs and looking at the sea. Blissful. This time I didnt make it into Carlisle -sorry Carlisle – but I’ll be back before too long.

Bishops House

catch up Jun151

Things have been busy for me at the Museum of late, I’m now on the committee which runs the museum and have taken on some new responsibilities. We have welcomed a couple of different groups to the house for visits in the last month and I couldn’t be happier with the feedback. We have also had the pleasure of hosting a postgraduate intern who has been extremely helpful and positive – I’ll be sad to see her go!

So there you have it, now we are all up to date. Thanks for reading!

A Generous Gift

Last week I was lucky enough to be given a parcel of sewing stuff from my Aunt, who is a formidable seamstress and quilter. I thought I would share some pictures of the parcel I received, as it basically made my WEEK. 

Making an unboxing video did present itself as an idea, but as it transpires there were too many squeals of delight which may have alarmed some viewers. So, enjoy some lovely (quiet) pictures instead. There is so much useful stuff in here that I am already inwardly planning about half a dozen projects which can incorporate various bits.

All that remains to be said is a huge thank you to the sender – your generosity and wisdom are very much appreciated.

Sewing: bringing families together. 

A freezer bag full of embroidery cotton, silk fibres and yarn.

A freezer bag full of embroidery cotton, silk fibres and yarn.

Assortment of quilt patterns and sewing guides

Assortment of quilt patterns and sewing guides

Spotty and clowny (so cute)

Spotty and clowny (so cute)

Some Japanese inspired prints

Some Japanese inspired prints

Bundle of striped and floral fabric

Bundle of striped and floral fabric

Pink and blue strips

Pink and blue strips

Tiny Moda squares! (Have already bought another of these)

Tiny Moda squares! (Have already bought another of these)

lilac, white, floral fabrics

lilac, white, floral fabrics

a handful of quilt blocks and cut strips from beautiful batik fabrics

a handful of quilt blocks and cut strips from beautiful batik fabrics

neutral, earthy shades (earmarked for a quilt project)

neutral, earthy shades (earmarked for a quilt project)

Quilt pattern

Quilt pattern

Loads of dress patterns! That could be a hint to practice...

Loads of dress patterns! That could be a hint to practice…

Purple, lilac and pewter silk pieces. Sumptuous

Purple, lilac and pewter silk pieces. Sumptuous

 

Everybody Pants Now (pants. pants, pants pants…)

Twenty something posts in and I have not made reference to Parks and Recreation. Shame on me! But this quote was too good to pass up.

So, I made pants! Not the American ‘going outside’ kind, but the comfy, ‘hangin’ on the couch’, ‘practical yet sexy’ kind. Read on for tales of this.

When I was a young, sarcastic, semi-neurotic youth, I spent some time in New Zealand, where I accidentally stumbled upon the most comfortable pair of underwear I HAVE EVER OWNED. Made from the softest black jersey, they in no way emphasised my muffin tops or made me feel overly squished in. And, I am proud to report that after six years of use they are still in the regular rotation. Perhaps you can understand why I have neglected to photograph them…

I had been reading a couple of articles on making Eco Pants – underwear sewn up from unusable or ill-fitting T-Shirts. ‘What an idea!’ I thought, before tweeting about it a bit. Shockingly I even consider myself to have improved on my research, meaning less time spent sewing and more sweet, sweet wear time.

Taking the NZ Wonderpants as a template, I made a paper pattern to work from, consisting of front, back and gusset (cut from free magazine, Now Then. Thanks guys). Here is the clever part: Instead of cutting the pieces from the centre of my T-Shirts, I used the waist hem as the waist hem of my pants, cutting the front and back as one long piece! Genius! The success of this method will vary with the fit of your shirt, but you can always slip some skinny elastic into the hem to tighten things up  bit. Nevertheless, this made the whole progress much quicker than I anticipated – and you cannot say fairer than that.

pattern pieces alongside pair number 2

pattern pieces alongside pair number 2

Side seam hack in all of its glory

Side seam hack in all of its glory

Using this great tutorial on Supernaturale, I sewed in the gusset as directed, giving a neat, professional finish to the inside. Then I pinned the side seams and tried the pants on for fit. after that, it was just a case of finishing the leg holes, which I did by hand after zigzagging. The first pair turned out a bit bulky in the seams, but next time I’ll compensate for that by turning them in twice instead of three times.

I am crazy pleased with the result of this experiment, for recycling, comfort, thriftiness and sewing reasons. With a bit of fine tuning, these pants will be worthy replacements for the original NZ pair. I also have high hopes of getting another, skimpier pair out of each shirt I have cut into. Design suggestions welcome.

 

Would you make your own Eco Pants? Would you be brave enough to model them? Sadly I am not…

Business Time

Over a week since last post! Well I suppose that’s what happens when you stop staying in the house every day and start offering lots of people your time!

I think it has been one of the busiest weeks since I stopped working last November. Do not misapprehend – I am very excited about the new opportunities heading my way – but it does mean I need to plan my time really carefully in order to keep up with everything I have begun (and maybe consider drinking a bit less wine).

Between sessions at Bishop’s House and meeting my business mentor (eee!) I have been finalising my business plan so I can get to selling some of my handmade things. In the early stages some market research was necessary, which I like to call ‘window shopping’. Looking at online sellers and crafts-people more close to home, I was able to gauge the market and figure out where my products might fit in. There are lots of interesting independent art and craft retailers in Sheffield, links to a few will be at the bottom of this post if you are curious! Perhaps I’ll write on this in more detail soon. I didn’t have my camera with me first time round as I thought it might be a bit presumptuous, so no photos as yet.

My current and most arduous task, is putting together a few key designs to sell, while figuring out the cost and profit margins. Doing all of these at once is a bit of a battle and I’m not sure I would have chosen to do it this way, but because of the programme I am on I need to be ready to start trading within the next few weeks. Full details of this could be a whole post!

On to the actual making. I had an idea for a foundation pieced panel which could be repeated for a modern, angular look. Coincidentally, the colour and fabric choices were inspired by  pair of 1950s curtains I spotted on display at Weston Park Museum.

Simplified design. No printer = good old tracing paper

Simplified design. No printer = good old tracing paper

First block on the left. Less than perfect...

First block attempt on the left. Less than perfect…

Drawing the design was the easy part. Then came the process of making the three patchwork blocks, which involved drawing, sewing, re-drawing and re-sewing. I had to make them simpler and quicker to produce in greater numbers, as my initial design was far too complicated. My final method involves skipping the paper foundation and using fabric instead. This adds weight to the blocks and means cutting fewer fabric pieces. Does any one else remember this process from GCSE textiles? 

Much neater on the third attempt

Much neater on the third attempt

Finished test piece

Finished test piece

I think a common problem for makers of all kinds is just this – trying to reconcile the cost of your own time, the materials and trying to make a profit. It’s not something I have had to do much before and I will admit to it driving me a little bit crazy.

However, in the end I turned out a little sample product that illustrates the progress I made with the panel. I need to make a few more to get all of the details absolutely perfect, but the design is a good likeness of the thing in my head. A measure of success!

There are a few more designs in the pipeline, which it will be a pleasure to share in due course.  As ever, any tips, tricks or sage advice would be much appreciated! If I have omitted details you are curious about, just ask.

Links to lovely crafty places in Sheffield:

Moonko: http://moonko.co.uk/

A beautifully curated shop space with an incredible selection of stuff hand-made in the UK. Highlights include some very sexy haberdashery items and some textile based jewelry. Swoon!

Birds Yard: http://www.birdsyardsheffield.co.uk/

A large space on Chapel walk crammed with a huge range of inspiring clothing, accessories, prints, homeware, cosmetics (I could go on), very exciting for a thorough moocher like myself

Nichols Building: https://www.facebook.com/NicholsBuilding

Two floors of vintage loveliness, including fashion, vintage homeware, pimped out furniture, hand dyed fibres AND a nice cafe.

Bag Project – Fabrics and Pattern Pieces

Like a few things this week, the relatively simple bag project I have planned has become an evil, complex, never-ending swamp beast of a marathon thanks to by brain. In my brain, every task seems to become amplified beyond all productivity and I lie awake at nights worrying about the things I haven’t done. Of course, the longer you leave these things, the more swamp beast-y they get.

I do not wish to dwell on the negative for too long, suffice to say I have been hanging out at the job centre a fair bit, mostly obsessing over my future. JOBS: COMPLICATING YOUR EXISTENCE SINCE PUBERTY. On a lighter on note, I drank rum with excellent people and had a visit from my Mum, both of which more than made up for all the other stuff. Right then, on to the task in hand…

I have picked out some fabrics to use for this, pictured below. From right to left, a beautiful deep purple 100% wool felt (phwoar), an offcut of printed, grey-ish lilac velvet which i may use for some decoration, and a light, warmer lilac fabric to line the bag. Not pictured, the fusible interfacing needed to give the bag structure. Really screwed the pooch on that one.

fabrics laid out

fabrics laid out

lovely wool felt. Not sure the picture does it justice

lovely wool felt. Not sure the picture does it justice

After gathering the majority of my resources I decided to cut the pattern pieces. This is an evening bag, so a handy size for a responsible woman’s purse (right ladies?), keys and a diary.

Just the right size

Just the right size

I have cut a piece for the body of the bag which doubles as the pattern for the lining, a strap and a flap – lid? top? who knows. Then I had to stop, because, other than drawing endless doodles of what the  thing might look like, I can go no further without interfacing. And it’s pretty horrible outside, so back to the ooool’ hand piecing until a pilgrimage to Dunelm happens tomorrow.

Stay tuned for next time, when I accidentally stitch my sleeve to a tea towel or some such boobery. ^~^