Saturday, July 23, 2011

Apologies for Absence

Source article - interesting!
Well, time to fess up. I think it's fair to say (and probably quite apparent!) I've kinda lost my sewing and blogging mojo lately. So I just wanted to offer some form of explanation, and apologies, for my limited interaction to all you lovely peeps who have commented recently, and to anyone awaiting the next instalment of the draftalong. I'm sorry! My sewing and blogging time tends to be snatched in little bursts during Elliott's sleep times. But recently I've been so darn tired by the time we hit that point in the afternoon, or that point in the evening, that I've had no energy to be creative or productive. Beyond just about staying on top of household and garden chores (sheesh, the weeds and the grass seem to love all this rain we're having! Er, just to clarify, that's weeds and grass, not weed and grass...) I've been pretty useless. When I say tired, I mean dog tired. Slammed into a brick wall tired. Surviving on caffeine and lucozade tired. Since parenthood hit this has become a bit of a cycle. I'll have a few weeks at a time where I madly juggle everything relatively successfully. Then I'll have to drop a few of those balls for a little while in order to keep juggling the others.(The ones I'm not allowed to put down!)  That's where I am right now. I'll be back very soon, and I have a VERY exciting project to share with you for the Autumn too. But right now, I'm just a bit knackered....and I figured if I wasn't going to give me a break, who else would!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherished Collections Blog Tour - Thrifted Homewares

 It's no secret that I love a good thrift. In that sense I'm a total Magpie. If you asked me if I'm a collector though, I'd say no. I don't collect anything in particular. At least I didn't think so until I read Casey's post and realised I had any number of different groups of objects, that I guess you could term "collections".  So much so in fact, it took me a while to decide which group of favourite things to share as part of this tour. My collections have subconsciously "emerged" from several years worth of thrifting, rather than been consciously collected. They are the things that I am drawn to time and time again. The types of things that set my thrifting "radar" off at forty paces across a packed charity shop or boot fayre.  I realised our home is full of them...our kitchen in particular. Mostly vintage, like these pasta storage jars....

Actually I have a bit of a thing for vintage storage jars in the kitchen. (I won't mention the ones in the bathroom, sewing room...)Le Parfait and other kilner style jars, sweetie jars...J considers this particular area a bit of a weird obsession...but loooook at all the pretty jars....and soooo practical because you can see at a glance what you have left......

I seem to have a little collection of soup parephernalia emerging too. The 60's/70's soup mugs were gifted to me by my neighbour (methinks she's got me sussed!) and the two soup sets (Rayware and of a similar vintage) were thrifted a few years back. I love  them because you can pop your bread on the little plates, your soup in the bowl and you're all set. The kidney shaped plates even have a little indentation where a miniature salt/pepper pot can sit. (still on the lookout for a suitable set!) Total genius in my opinion...

Ah, casseroles! I do love one pot cooking and casseroling is the ultimate. Perfect if you're in a rush and just want to "bung" something in the oven and forget about it. There's something special about the flavours in a dish that has spent hours in the oven. Real depth of flavour and meat that just falls apart. Yum! The vintage green enamel one was bought last week for £1.50 simply because I loved it and it was the perfect match for our kitchen. (The dish and our kitchen walls are a more cheery apple/pea green than these photos show). In the foreground is a 70's Pyrosil dish thrifted a few months back for £2. If you can get hold of some Pyrosil, then do! It's the easiest ever to clean. Nothing seems to stick to it.....miraculous stuff...

This baby pink Pyrex, circa 1950's to early 60's at a guess,  you may have seen on here before....when I found it in the charity shop it was still in it's original packaging...I swooned a bit!

If I were to ever consciously collect something it would be these two collections here. My 1930's Poole pottery soup/ice cream bowls on the left have never actually been used yet, but I just adore Poole Twintone and I could just imagine a whole cabinet full of the stuff in it's array of ice cream colours. Gorgeous! Then there's the two larger pasta bowls circa 1980's. They're from the Wedgewood Midwinter range (Confetti) and I shall most likely be adding to this pair. They feel really substantial and are dishwasher proof too. Could they be more perfect!

We have real butter as a treat now and then (low fat spread the rest of the time!) but real butter deserves a buttercup yellow vintage butter dish...:)

I get alot of comments from guests on this  set. I love it.  I'm amazed I haven't chipped the lid on the bread crock yet (I'm pretty clumsy first thing in the morning!) I guess Staffordshire pottery is pretty sturdy stuff. I thrifted this about 4 years ago for £8. More than I normally pay for things when thrifting, but I fell in love with this on sight and it's still a total bargain at that price...

Last but not least, I found these just this past week. I'm guessing the pitcher is 50's and the glasses of a similar age....possibly 60's.  They're just crying out for a hot sunny day and some homemade lemonade....although this is the perhaps I'll just settle for the homemade lemonade....

I am so looking forward to seeing all the other stops on Casey's Cherished Collections blog tour. I hope you enjoyed this little peak into another area of my vintage and thrifting obsessions and if you're new to me, then thanks for stopping by!

Top Draftalong # 27 - Sloping or Squared Shoulders

The penultimate mini post of the tutorials the book gives on pattern adustments. This one deals with sloping or square shoulders. Here's what it says in the book...

" Sloping shoulders will make the toile fall into folds over the shoulder by the sleeve head. It will look as if the toile needs enormous shoulder pads to fill out the shoulders. Lift the shoulder until it fits correctly and pin out the excess wedge of fabric. Remove this wedge in an equal amount from the front and back of the paper pattern, giving a new shoulder line. Lower the underarm curve, removing the same anount as you have taken from the shoulder. This keeps the armhole to it's original size....

Square shoulders form pressure creases on the toile and it looks as if they want to burst through the shoulder seam. Open the sleeve end of the shoulder seams and lay another piece of fabric over your shoulder.  Spread open the seam to the required amount and pin to the piece of fabric. Draw half of the extra wedge needed on the front, and half on the back of the paper pattern, then raise the underarm the same amount to keep the armhole it's original size."

Sounds pretty straightforward. Although how necessary it would be to add an extra strip of fabric in for square shoulders, I don't know....I suspect simply unpicking and re-pinning the shoulders with the extra needed being borrowed from the seam allowance, would be a pretty simple alternative. Important to take the seam allowance into account when making and transferring these adjustments. My pattern for instance is without seam allowance. I drew the seam allowance directly onto the muslin.   So when I mark my adjustments on my toile, I need to do this within the stitching line for it to translate accurately to my paper pattern. Does that make sense?
Interesting that this adjustment mentions the armhole. There is no seperate instruction in the book for enlarging/decreasing the size of the armhole/armscye. But I guess the technique would be very similar to this post.

Also pertinent to the adjusting the armscye, neckline and shoulders:  Sherry very kindly reminded me in the comments section of this post "I would add this - once you have done this alteration lay the F and B together with shoulder seam (stitching lines) together, and check the armhole curve."

Thanks Sherry!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Woo Hooooooo!!!!!

Ok, this may go some way to explaining my absence over the past week! Yep, that's right, you can see a car key in that picture. Yep, it's mine! (The sparkly "P" gave it away, right?!) After 6 months of having my wings clipped and being without transport, Elliott and I now have our own little adventure wagon. So we've kinda been busy, well, adventuring....!

It's nothing flash. Not fast, not cool, not particularly new. It's just a little green car. But it's our little green car. Happy days!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 27 - Something for nothing!

Yep that's right. This job lot of fabric cost me zilch, nada, diddly squat! I scored all of these fine pieces of fabric from a very kind and lovely lady via my local Freecycle group. I seriously couldn't believe my luck!
The picture doesn't quite show it I don't think, but there is a serious amount of (very high quality) fabric here...
From top to bottom: 2m Raspberry coloured suiting fabric, 1.5m brushed cotton/flannel in gorgeous berry coloured autumnal print, 2.5m Navy suiting fabric, 3m pure wool in a stunning teal colour, 1.5m grey wool flannel, 3.5m stunning crepe de chine (??Tilly can I borrow your book?!), 4m creamy linen (synthetic??) with grey fleck.
I think conservatively there has to be at least £75-£100 of fabric here. Happy days!

Top Draftalong # 26 - Adjusting the Shoulder Length

I'll be honest, this is not an alteration I've explored before,so there's very little I feel I can add to the explanation in the book. (I don't believe in pretending to know about something when I don't!) So if anyone has any knowledge or experience of this particular adjustment then please, please please do feel free to chime in with your hints,tips and experiences. Here's the book's take on the subject:

"Broad shoulders will pull the toile very tight across the shoulders making the sleeve heads extremely uncomfortable. Draw, then cut out an L shape from mid shoulder to the middle of the armhole leaving a 3mm (1/8in) hinge by the armhole. Spread out the opening the required amount for extra shoulder length, then re-shape the shoulder line. This must be done to both the back and the front.
Narrow shoulders will give excess folds of fabric along the shoulders of the toile and drooping sleeve-head seams. Cut the front and back patterns as before, then overlap the opening to reduce the shoulder length. Re-shape the shoulder and armhole seams."

My first question having read this was... how would I know how much to spread/overlap the cutout piece by? Personally, I would measure this one. On the pattern first, then compare with the shoulder measurement we took at the start when we did our body measurements, calculate the difference and then spread/overlap by that amount. It seems to me to be the quickest and most straightforward route, although I am fully prepared to stand corrected, since I have not had to carry out this particular adjustment before. We don't really have enough active participants to offer up any examples from the Flickr group either I'm afraid. If anyone has any input, please feel free to add your comments here or in the Flickr group.

A quick DIY....

For some time now, I've wanted to share a post about my sewing space. It's my haven and I totally love it. Myself and J's brother built it last summer. A cabin style summerhouse in the back garden. (J's not lazy btw! He has chronic arthritis so any heavy physical work is out of the question, and he was in a cast at the time anyway). There it is on the right midway through construction.  I'm particularly proud that I dug out, pegged, and built the framework for the foundations all by myself. (Lady GaGa on my iPod saw me through some pretty back breaking digging, and skip filling I can tell you). Anyway, all that can wait for another post. Suffice to say, my "PortiaCabin" as J calls it, has been in dire need of tidying and re-organising for some time. It was becoming quite oppressive. Thing is, I had to work in it for a while(a little over a year now) before I could work out what I needed it to do for me, and therefore, how I needed to organise everything in it. Well, that's what I've been spending time doing this past week.I'm not quite ready to reveal all yet, but thought I'd share this cute DIY in the meantime...

I cannot take credit for the genius behind this idea (scroll towards the bottom of this post for that!) but when I saw this gorgeous vintage tray for 50p at our local charity shop, I knew instantly.....
I fixed the tray to the wall and glued some magnets to oversized vintage buttons for a sewing room appropriate mini magnetic noticeboard...

Does anyone else find a chaotic workspace oppressive, or do you thrive on a creative "mess" when you're in the zone?? I seem to flit between one and the other. Right now I totally need the calm of an organized space...

Friday, July 08, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 26 - General loveliness.....

I have lots and lots of thrifting to share. A real backlog of it in fact. Since this is what I have photos of I'll start with my little rummage through the button tin at my local charity shop...
The green buttons have already been put to use on one of my Sorbettos. My Magpie sensebilities were sent crazy by the vintage (bakelite I think) belt buckle with mother of pearl inlay. The "black" button is actually a very dark purple glass. The nappy pins?? I don't know why!!! I couldn't help it! Anyway, the whole lot cost me £1...

I really liked the bottom right view on the first pattern. I can see this with a nautical theme. Bought from Abby (her Etsy shop) who very naughtily and sweetly included the second pattern as a gift....she'd spotted I'd been looking at it on Etsy and happened to have a copy....
and I was blown away to find these vintage notions included in the package too. Such thoughtfulness (and insight into my tastes!) from someone whom I've never actually met is just so lovely. It's an aspect of blogging that didn't even occur to me at the start. I've "e-met" so many brilliant ladies and I only wish transatlantic and cross hemisphere blogger meet ups were as feasible as London ones...
Of course these buttons have been put to use already....thanks Abby! (btw keep an eye on your mailbox;)

In other news, I won a blogger giveaway for the first time ever! Thankyou Kestrel! These little lovelies dropped through my letterbox a couple of days ago in the sweetest little box...

Top Draftalong # 25 - Neckline too large/too small

This is not something I need to do with my own toile although I know a couple of you have issues with the neckline.  Here's what the book has to say:

"This is an important alteration as it ensures your collar has a well fitted neckline on which to sit. If the neckline of the toile is too small it will feel very tight and form creases around the neck. Using the point of your scissors,cut small notches dowmward around the neck until it feels comfortable, then, using tailor's chalk, draw the new, lower neckline with a smooth curve on the calico. Transfer this to the paper pattern.
When a neckline is too large, it will gape and stand away from the neck. Pin a curved strip of fabric to the neckline and build the neck up to it's correct position with a smooth curve. Transfer this to the paper pattern."

So here we're being told to make the adjustment first on the toile by notching or building up the neckline. We covered notching the neckline briefly in this post and the building up technique mentioned essentially the same technique I've used for the CB seam. I'd personally use the paper pattern to trace off an additional neckline piece, on the grain, to add to the toile so the curves are the same and the new piece doesn't jar with the old neckline where it joins and distort it in any way.
When it comes to making the adjustment to the paper pattern, I would add that any new curve drawn should start at right angles to the CB and CF seam to avoid "peaking" or "dipping" in the centre of the neckline once it's cut on the fold. Lining up the shoulder seams when drawing in the curve helps to ensure a smooth and balanced neckline curve. I'm rubbish at drawing curves freehand however, so I would most likely employ similar techniques to those I use to add seam allowances to raise or lower the existing neckline curve.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

This should be good....

I'm afraid this may only be accessible for my fellow Brits (I'd be interested to hear if you can access this from the US or Oz??) but this really caught my attention. On tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 9pm. Should be good.
Actually it seems BBC Four has a cracking cultural series underway right now including this, this and this...
Hmmm, I can feel an evening with the iPlayer coming on.....
Hope you enjoy!

Top Draftalong # 23 - Adjusting the waistline position

This is the first of several "mini posts" I shall be posting this week showing the various alterations detailed in the book. All of the instructions for alterations given in the book are for altering the paper pattern not the toile, and there is nothing in the book to help identify which alterations are neccessary and to what degree. So I've added a few thoughts of my own here and there where I feel something is a little unclear.

To establish whether you need to carry out this alteration we can employ the elastic trick we used in this post to establish where the natural waistline actually is. Put the elastic on over the toile, let it settle at the natural waistline, and measure the distance between it and the waistline that is marked on the toile. This will tell you whether you need to lengthen/shorten the toile and by how much.

"If you are short waisted you will need to shorten the pattern above the waist. Draw a line from the centre back to the side seam, 5cm (2in) above the waist. Fold along this line and make a pleat to remove the excess body length; pin and then stick in place. Re-shape the seams and then repeat the process on the front pattern"

The image on the right is the one from the book that corresponds to the text above.
I'd personally be inclined to cut and overlap the pieces at the waistline rather than fold out the excess as I find it a bit fiddly to fold with as much neatness and accuracy as I can cut.

I would add that any shortening above the waistline will of course shorten the final length too so it may be necessary to add back on at the hemline, the amount removed above the waist.
To reshape the seams simply trim off any resulting "jutty out" bits using the original side/CB/CF lines as a guide.

" A long waisted woman will need to draw a similar line 5cm (2in) above the waist and cut along this line. Place a piece of paper underneath the pattern then spread both sections of the pattern equally to obtain the required body length. Pin and stick to the underpaper, re-shape the seams and then repeat with the front pattern."

I'd be inclined to mark the "underpaper" first with two parallell lines the required distance apart, and stick the pattern pieces down along theses lines. This will ensure that the length is being added in evenly and accurately across the waistline and that the side seams will line up again afterwards.
As with shortening, lengthening above the waist will  ultimately make the top longer at the hem too so you may need to remove from the hem, the amout you add in at the waist.

Monday, July 04, 2011

My Me Made Month....

I'll be up front from the start and tell you my Me Made June when seen as a challenge, would absolutely be categorised as a fail. There were several days when I failed to wear a MM garment and/or photograph my efforts in order to document them.  However, to make lemonade out of my lemons, I prefer to view it as an Experiment...

The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as follows:


  • a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact:
  • a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the outcome


  • perform a scientific procedure, especially in a laboratory, to determine something
  • try out new ideas or methods
L to R: Sorbetto, Simplicty, Sorbetto, Skirt to top Refashion
All of my MM outfits were either repetitions or combinations of what you see here. But only one of these items (Simplicity 2418) appeared in Me Made March. Everything else has been sewn since then...which makes me realise how much I've sewn!
L to R: Sorbetto, Sorbetto, Sorbetto, Skirt to top Refashion
My conclusion from Me Made March was the need for more MM tops. Hence the Top Draftalong currently underway. But the emergence of the Sorbetto from Colette patterns really stopped my MMJ being a colossal failure. I am in love with this pattern, it is no secret!
L to R: Dress to top Refashion, Sorbetto, Reworked Vintage Trousers, Reworked skirt & skirt to top Refashion

Refashions continue to be a fun part of my MM repertoire too (do you like my scary vintage tribal print trousers?! I get some odd looks from some of the Mums when I rock up to Elliott's pre-school wearing those, lol!) However, I have a number of "made from scratch" projects planned in time for Self Stitched September.

The Me Made challenge experiment continues to inspire me not only to sew more, but to experiment with new outfit combinations. Some of which work, some of which don't. But then that's the point of an experiment and I am still learning. So my conclusions thus far?
  • Sorbettos are going to become a wardrobe staple for me. I have several more planned
  • The emergence of colour in my wardrobe has happened slowly and subtly since I started sewing and I have to say I like it! (Annabelle will be pleased;) I suppose when I look for fabric, my eye isn't drawn as much by neutrals but more by colours/prints. Yet when I shop RTW I tend to be more conservative. I've yet to work out the psychology behind that one...anyone??
  • I need to plan my sewing a little more to fulfill the needs of my wardrobe so that things actually go together. Gina's Closing the Gaps project is beckoning now MMJ is over
How was your MMJ? Did you take part? If so what did you learn, if not, are you perhaps planning on joining the next challenge in September? know you want to....;)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 25 - Talking of Enid...

Sometimes things are just meant to be. Sometimes we need to pay attention to the little "coincidences" that occur in life and just go with them. I mean, surely, having been thinking about Enid Blyton in this post, then the very next day finding these for 20p each in my local charity shop...

I had to buy them right? Just look at those whimsical and gorgeous illustrations...only Enid would call a charater Mr Pink-Whistle! The little blonde boy could almost be an Enid version of Elliott too...I have oh so cute images of reading these to Elliott in a couple of years...(He'll be wearing perfectly ironed striped pyjamas,have perfectly parted and freshly washed hair, and go to sleep at 7 o'clock on the dot....ok I've gone too far down the Enid Blyton road now....;)

Anyhow, check out the inside cover. The "Golliwog" has long since been outlawed...

I worked out from this inscription and the age of the books that Angela would now be 52....

Presumably since these were donated to my local charity shop, Angela may still live locally to me. I'm taken by the urge to try and track her down....ask her about these books...maybe in a kind of cosmic universe way I'm meant to do that because I have something I can learn from her, or indeed something I can do for her.
That's a little something you may not know about me.  I believe that people can sometimes come into eachothers lives for a specific purpose. Sometimes for a fleeting moment, sometimes for a lifetime. Sometimes we have to remain alert to recognise these opportunities to connect, because they can be gone in the blink of an eye or dismissed because we tell ourselves not to be "so silly". I this one of those times? Something keeps niggling me...of course it could just be my inner Poirot being trying to get out....;)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Top Draftalong # 22 - More on darts

Life is conspiring against my blog at the moment. Sick toddlers, broken sleep, birthdays, thunderstorms, badly timed phonecalls, broadband woes, blogger outages (grrrr) to name but a few roadblocks to my recent blogging matter that these pictures have been sat on my hardrive for almost a week!! Anyhow.....apart from the aforementioned issues..I have another..namely with the instructions given in the book for moving the dart. It's just a little issue, but worth mentioning before I go any further with the dart stuff. Just to recap on the instructions in the book...

"(Bust Darts) must lie exactly at bust level in order to throw the extra fullness exactly where it is needed. If you have a lower than average bustline, the extra fullness will form folds above your bust, but if yours is a high bustline the excess fullness will fall below. Mark the position of your bust point on the toile; then, on the paper pattern, trace the original bust dart and re-draw it in it's required position keeping it parallel with the original dart. Re-shape the side seam"
My issue is this: I have always been told (and indeed have read in other resources) that a bust dart should be angled upwards towards the bustpoint (apparently more flattering) AND should taper to nothing and stop about an inch short of the actual bust point to a) not draw the eye to the bust point and b) avoid the conical bust look. This has also been borne out by my own experiences of darts that are too long!  Essentially the dart point should be an inch away from the bust point.  They are two seperate things but the book seems to state that the bust point and the dart point are one and the same.  (unless I'm reading it wrong??)

The example below is from the Winifred Aldrich book that we use at college. The dotted line is the equivalent to what I've done following the instructions in the draftalong book. The solid line within that is the actual dart to be sewn.  Using the Aldrich method, you draw in a dart from the bust point as stated in the Musgrave book. But it doesn't stop there, as it seems to in the Musgrave book. You then mark a point at least an inch away from the bust point, down the centre of the dart. This is the dart point, The tip of the final/actual dart, and you draw in the actual dart from there. (See my post on moving a dart from a few months back) You can see the result of following the Musgrave method in the picture above. Definate pointy bust points! Suffice to say, when I make the "official" alteration on the pattern, the dart will be a little shorter as per the Aldrich method. But I thought this would be an interesting detail to share ....

Leaving aside the length of the dart, lowering it to the correct(ish) position (Along with the CB adjustment in the previous post) seems to have further eliminated the flattening across the bust that I had.  If I keep going like this I may not need the FBA after all!! There are still some drag lines though, as shown in the first photo. Notice how they vanish on the side where I've pinned out the excess bagging around the armhole??

I can't in all honesty say I have quite got my head around why this works...but this is an adjustment I've had to make on my Sorbetto pattern and my Go To Dress toile too. (Notice the "here we go again" look on my face below..?)! Basically the dart isn't wide enough for my D cup. I'm learning that since most patterns are drafted around a C cup, this is an adjustment I'll have to carry out often on commercial patterns (but only once on my self drafted block!Yay!) The excess I've taken out at the armhole (about an inch) needs to be "rotated" and added into the bust dart to make the bust dart wider. (See here for a previous post on this) This should eliminate the remaining drag lines at the bust and sort out the gaping at the theory! (That and I may have lowered the dart marginally tooooo much)
There's still the back to deal with, and the side seam is still pulling forward a wee bit at the bust area,but for now, for the front, progress is detailed below from right to left...
1)The original toile
2)With the CB seam extended and a zip added so I could do it up
3)With the dart lowered and side seams let out 1/4"
4)With the excess pinned out on the armhole

So my list of planned alterations now looks like this:
  • Extending the centre back seam allowance done - need to revisit though
  • Letting out the side seams a little done
  • Moving the dart down a bit done, but maybe a bit too low
  • Carrying out an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) - hmmm, wait and see I think
Next up for me:
  • Raise the dart a teensy bit, shorten it, and widen it to incorporate the excess pinned out at the armhole
  • Take out a little of what I've added to the CB seam
  • Tuck out the excess fabric from the back at the neckline
In the meantime I shall be sharing what the draftalong book has to say on other adjustments, in a series of mini posts this week. Since it will thankfully not be necessary for me to carry out each and every possible alteration on my own toile, if anyone requires a more detailed post on any of the alterations detailed in the mini posts, let me know and I'll be happy to do a more detailed follow up...