Tuesday, April 30, 2013

FO: Electric Blue Kimono Tee

A friend of mine asked me recently if it wasn't time I made something other than kimono tees. (Cheeky she is that one!) Well, yes it probably is. But then again...when these are so quick and easy to whip up; and I'm mindful of how rapidly MMM'13 is approaching...well...you had to know more of these were going to pop up! I'm really feeling the electric blue thing recently. Not a colour I've really worn much before but aside from this make, I've recently acquired a couple of jumpers in this colour. Totally subconsciously. Do you ever find that? A colour just starts creeping it's way into your wardrobe/fabric stash and it takes you a while to notice?

This fabric came from a "craft jumble". An annual event held at our local village hall in aid of Essex Air Ambulance. It really is a thing to behold. People queuing at the door, trestle tables piled high with fabrics, wools, and all manner of haberdashery and craft items at amazing prices. The fabulous ladies who organise this event spend all year taking in donations and meticulously measuring, bagging, and pricing everything up for the sale, held every March. I went along with a (lovely and hilarious) friend from my dressmaking course and we both came away with metres and metres of fabric. This cotton cost me £1.50 for a little under 3m of fabric. (I have enough left for another make...maybe a maxi skirt...I'm not sure yet). With prices like that, it won't surprise anyone to hear that it's a bit of a scrum when you get in there! But hey, for fabric bargains like this a few elbows in the ribs is a small price to pay! (Not me of course...I would never indulge in that kind of behaviour..I'm far too polite ;)

I've never come across an event like this before. Sure, jumble sales are ten a penny. But one aimed at stitchers and knitters specifically?  I'd love to hear from you if you have an event like this near you? Surely this can't be a phenomenon unique to our village hall? Can it?

DIY Planner: (Part 1) The Leather Binder



Materials:

  • A piece of leather (I cut mine from a pair of leather trousers)
  • Lining fabric (mine is a scrap of cotton/linen curtain)
  • Leather thong (Approx 1m depending on how many times you want it to wrap round)
  • A large button
  • Wonder Under/ Bondaweb
  • Stiff Interfacing
  • Machine needles specifically for leather
  • A walking foot (recommended because the leather can slip under a standard foot)
  • A ring binder attatchment
  • Strong machine thread


The first thing you need to do is draw out a template for the shape of your binder. This will of course depend on the individual dimensions of your planner. Mine's A5 and quite thick; yours might be A4 and alot thicker or even thinner. (The pages I'm gonna share with you later in the week can be printed A4 or A5) So I'd advise spending some time putting your planner pages together  (that's all of your pages together and inserted into the ring binder fixing. One like this that comes in a little kit) so you know what dimensions you're working with, before you attempt to make a binder to fit it. However, that part is quite tedious so I thought I'd show you the fun and satisfying part first...then you can decide whether or not it's worth the effort to print, guillotine and punch all those planner pages like I have below!

Essentially it has to be big enough to wrap around your planner, with however much overlap you require on the front, and an extra 2-3mm top and bottom to allow for trimming and to make sure your pages are protected around the exposed edges. I rounded off the corners on mine just because I thought it looked nice...
This can take a bit of trial and error. I cut a couple of templates out of old wallpaper and tested the fit around my planner (with all the pages inserted into the ring binder fixing) before I was happy with the fit. IMPORTANT: Make sure you mark the "spine" of your binder on your template, so when it comes to fixing the ring binder mechanism, you know where to fix it. Then once your'e happy with your template......

1) Cut one from Wonder Under and affix to the reverse side of your leather; and one from stiff (ish) interfacing and affix to the reverse of your lining fabric
2) Trim away the excess
3) Peel away the paper backing from the Wonder Under on your leather piece, then place wrong sides together with your lining fabric (the thong should be inserted between the 2 layers at this stage. See Step 4). Then press under a cloth, until evenly adhered together. (The Wonder Under adheres everything together temporarily. So no need for pins, which would damage the leather. Along with the interfacing it also acts to stiffen and stabilise the binder). Don't worry if there's a bit of excess lining poking out along the edges as you can see in the far right pic. We'll trim this later

3) Edge stitch all the way around the outside. I'd advise practicing on some scraps first. I had to use quite a high tension setting on mine to get the bobbin thread to sit flush on the underside. I also used a walking foot as the surface of the leather is quite slippery for a standard foot.
4) When you get to the tip of the envelope part, this is where the thong should be. I SHOULD have inserted this between the leather and the lining fabric before I adhered them together. But I'm a numpty sometimes. So I had to peel the 2 layers apart slightly (Wonder Under is not a permanent adhesive), insert them between the two layers, and carry on stitching all the way round.
5) Trim close to the stitching all the way around for a nice clean edge

6) Then it's just a question of attaching your ring binder (I got mine from Amazon but they're available on Ebay too) according to the manufacturers instructions. Use your template to line it up where it needs to go and mark where the holes are; punch out the holes, fix in the rivets/screws and you're almost done....

All that remains is to add a button to the front and fill it with your customised planner pages!

So if all of that doesn't sound like too much hassle...then stay tuned for a Free Download of the planner pages themselves :)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Refashion: Dodgy Trousers to Handmade Leather Planner!

I've been in organising mode recently. It happens every now and then when I feel I'm losing my grip on some of the things I'm juggling. I have to stop, take stock, reorganise everything and then start afresh. The only way I've found that I can do that is with an old fashioned diary/planner. I've tried Outlook, calendars on my phone, calendars on the wall....to no avail. I have resigned myself to the fact that I am a jotter...a list maker...and that the only way I will get stuff done is if I plan it or make a list. Because the list then just taunts me until I can get through it and tick everything off! That's the most satisfying part of a list don't you think? Smugly putting a line through a task once it's done. Then looking back at the end of the day at a whole page of scribbled out tasks and feeling just a teeny bit self congratulatory ;)

I thrifted this "well dodge" pair of leather trousers off the £1 rail. Just check out those press studs! 90's in a bad way I think we can all agree ;) The Italian leather however, was soft, supple and a beautiful buttery colour. I'd been hankering after a new leather organiser (er, pricey isn't the word!) but buying what I wanted wasn't an option financially. So, well I made one.....

 The leather thong (I love that word...is "thonging" a verb? It should be.) wraps twice around the envelope style binder then a couple of times around a vintage button to secure it.....

Now your gonna think I'm REALLY sad...I even designed and printed my own planner pages (Weekly, Monthly and Yearly plus Notes and Ideas pages) and attached a ring binder fixing to hold them all in....

So it actually looks (and functions) just like a proper shop bought planner....except it's handmade!
(For a little under £15 including printer paper and ink!).....

What's more, it's actually working. I'm way ahead on planning and preparing my blog posts, which in turn is freeing up my time for more making (oh and some housework and gardening occasionally gets done too;) which in turn means I'm a calmer and happier puppy :) Being organised officially rocks; and because I like my new planner so much AND the layout of the pages really fits with how I work,  I'm more likely to keep it up! I've had 3 different diaries/planners this year already; but haven't stuck with them because the layouts have just been all wrong for how I work. You know...daft stuff like the lines are too narrow for my writing...there's no section for notes...or there's not enough space to write more than one thing under each day...just niggly stuff that means I gradually stop using it.  Do you find that? A planner or diary has to really fit with how YOU work.....and it has to be pleasant to look at and use in order for you to keep on using it?

If that describes you too, then stay tuned for step by step photos and details of how you can make one of your own, PLUS a Free (editable) Download for the planner pages themselves so you can get them just how you want them :)



Thursday, April 25, 2013

10 Super Quick Tops - Just in Time for Me Made May!

Are you ready for MMM'13? I kind of am. But then again....if you're anything like me then you're possibly starting to think that maybe (just maybe) you could do with a couple more "you made" items to get you through a whole month of wearing (possibly exclusively) handmade items. You'll probably want them to be super quick to knock up too? Because maybe then you could knock up 2 or 3 new little tops? Well, just in case you're running short of ideas and time, here's a selection of tops that you could whip up in under 3 hours....

Top Row: How about Colette's Sencha or (free!) Sorbetto patterns? Available in PDF or, in the case of Sencha, paper pattern too. Simple designs with only a few steps! Yay for that! Or how about grabbing a black fabric pen and getting all "arty farty" on a plain tee?

Middle Row: Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank & Scout Woven Tee patterns make fabulous simple wardrobe staples. Yes PDF's can be a pain, but you can download them immediately (no waiting for the postie) and once you've got the pdf assembled and cut, the actual making part is super quick and straightforward. Or how about taking inspiration from Zoe herself and refashion a plain sweatshirt into something a bit more "ta-dah"!

Bottom Row: Dixie's summer concert tee anyone? Available to download now in PDF. You could whizz through a couple of these in an afternoon with an overlocker! Sadly I don't have one yet :(  Or how about following Cotton & Curls' tutorials for transforming a men's tee or shirt?

Number 10: Did you notice I said "10" Super quick tops and there are only 9 pictures? Well, that's because my innate need to have everything neat and symmetrical, means I could only get my photo collage to sit nicely with 9 images, lol! I am a total saddo sometimes I know. Anyway, my number 10 of super quick tops to sew, is my kimono tee. I cannot overstate how quick and easy this top is to make. (btw, if you've made one, let me know! I'd love to do a little Kimono Tee Gallery on here with links to your posts!) I'll be whipping up a handful of these in time for MMM'13. Click here to see my various incarnations of this top so far....


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Refashion: Nautical Outfit Refashion

Sometimes all you need to do to give oversized and shapeless clothes a bit more "ta dah!".....

....is take them in a bit and/or change the length....!!  So if you're panicking that you haven't got enough handmade/refashioned items for MMM'13, why not raid your local charity shop or thrift store (or, shhhhh, the OTHER side of your wardrobe. You know who's side I mean right?  ;) and give it a try. This outfit took me under 2 hours to reshape. Small changes make a dramatic difference! The trousers fit me already in the waist; so I just had to take them in at the hips and down the outside of each leg. I also took them in the entire length of the inseam, then cropped and hemmed. The tee was a simple taking in along the side seams and sleeves, then chopping some of the sleeve off to a length that was comfy. Peasy!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Inspiration: Dusen Dusen

I love browsing fashion sites for inspiration. I recently stumbled upon this collection by Dusen Dusen and really loved their aesthetic...

I love the simple top that showcases that fab graphic print and I've just thrifted an almost identical pair of trousers....

I really like shirts. Slimmish fitting, but drapey shirts. The two below and the one above are my cup of tea for sure. Which begs the questions, why don't I have any in my wardrobe at all AND what's holding me back from having a go at Grainline's Archer? The answer to the latter is, fear! I've just never made a shirt before. As is usually the case, until I make one, I'll be convinced it's super complicated. Then once I make one, I'll realise it's totally doable! Go figure! I also keep wanting to try out a pencil skirt. Now whilst I know that's totally doable (and I have the perfect pattern cued up) I'm just not sure how to style it yet.  Pencil skirts are all about the waistline and I haven't tucked anything in for years due to being self conscious about my weight in the past. It's weird because even though I've lost all that weight (I've dropped from a size 14-16 to a size 10-12 ) and could probably get away with a waist cinching look now; psychologically, subconsciously, I'm still migrating to loose fitting styles that disguise my waistline rather than accentuate it....

...or maybe it's just a style I'm comfortable with, and that will never change! This one on the left is cute. I like the slightly dropped waist. I'm plotting ways to create this from thrifted shirts. LOVING the painterly influence on the print on the right; and doesn't it remind you of a certain sewing pattern...

This is a silhouette that crops up in my outfits time and time again. Skinnies and a loose fitting top is kinda my uniform. 95% of the time, that's what you'll find me in! These tops (cute!) are kind of an oversized version of my cuffed kimono tee.  I definitely deed to find me some gorgeous prints like these in a nice silk crepe....

How about you? Where do you look for inspiration? Are there looks that you love but have never tried for some reason? Do you have a "uniform" that you stick to?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

DIY: Deconstructed Sweatshirt Refashion

If you follow my facebook page you'll know that I found this thrifted (£1.50) sweatshirt a while ago. I'd been looking for a suitable specimen for ages so when I came across this little minty green number (don't ask me what happened in the photo on the left. It's definately not turquoise) I thought it would make the perfect piece for a chilly Spring (which let's face it, we're stuck with!); and the other day I finally got around to giving it a new look...
One of the things that appealed to me about trying out a sweatshirt refashion was that the fabric doesn't fray. No need for seam finishes or any of that hemming malarkey. Yay for that! So I decided to take full advantage of this fabric's properties, and see how little sewing it would take to transform it (Lazy? Moi? Occasionally ;). I went for a slightly "de-constructed" look and let me tell you...it took under 10 minutes of actual sewing....kaBOOOM! So if that complete lack of effort appeals to you and you want to give this a go...here's what I did:

1) Cut off the neckband ribbing
2) Cut off the hemline ribbing
3) Cut off the sleeves, then put on inside out and pin to fit on both sides.
4) Stitch new side seams and cut away excess close to the stitching line

I cut a slightly scooped hem too:

1) Establish the centre front line and use a pin to mark where you want the highest point of your hem to be
2) Fold the sweatshirt in half along the centre front, matching up the side seams (if you have them, but mine didn't) and the hem line.
3) Using a curve if you need to, mark your new scooped hemline and cut. Make sure the first and last 3-4mm at least, are at right angles to the Centre Front and Centre Back respectively. This makes for a smooth curve with no peaks or indents on the centre lines.

When I tried it on at this stage I didn't like the sleeve length. The original garment had a dropped shoulder (ie where the armhole extends past the shoulder slightly). Looking at the original shoulder seam, it occurred to me, that it was kinda where I like my shorter kimono style sleeves to sit anyway. So I literally just cut along that seamline to remove the excess sleeve...

That left me with enough fabric to add a little patch pocket detail to the front. Leaving the edges unfinished tied it in with the overall finish....

So...5-10 minutes of cutting, 5 minutes of fitting, under 10 minutes of sewing makes.....YEP!!!....a 30 minute project! Whip one of these up while the dinners cooking OR while your other half is hogging the bathroom/you are on hold with some crappy call centre/your little one is deciding which DVD he wants on/ (Delete as appropriate/relevant. Does that give you an insight into my day. lol? Yep, ALL of these things took 30 mins! And we wonder where the day goes! ;)


Friday, April 19, 2013

Excited About... Colette Patterns' Laurel!

This plopped onto my doormat the other day....

Whilst I adore from afar, all of Colette Patterns' creations....sadly they don't really fit my aesthetic usually. But THIS? This is RIGHT up my strata! A simple shift with endless tweaking possibilities? Yes please Sarai you clever, CLEVER lady...!

(Yep, I splashed out and treated myself to the printed version. Yes, it is deliciously packaged isn't it?!)


Thursday, April 18, 2013

DIY: Applique Cushions (Part 2)

Ok, so now for the easy part :) Assembling a simple envelope cushion. Envelope cushions are super simple and there are countless tutorials out there, and if you have any experience of home sewing you probably know how to do this already. But just in case you don't, and because hey, I  had the pictures, and like to feel that I've covered everything in my tutes....here it is....

The first thing you need to do is measure your cushion pad. Mine was 16" x 16". Now, for purists; draw a 16" x 16" square on some paper, then add your desired seam allowance all the way around that. Then draw a rectangle 16" x 11", and add your desired seam allowance around that too. However, I'm not a purist. I kinda like to play around with the rules a bit (much to the frustration of numerous past employers ;) I wanted my cushion to be really firm and puffy and for the pad to completely "stuff" the cushion cover. So I opted to cut my template WITHOUT seam allowance and sew a very narrow seam. This worked fine for me and I know that over time and use the cover's never going to get "baggy" as the cushion pad inside becomes less puffy.....

Cut 1 front section (and applique as in Part 1 or embellish as you see fit) and cut 2 of the back section from your fabric...

Finish  raw edges of all 3 pieces as you see fit. I opted for a simple zig zag right on the edges...

On both back pieces, turn and sew a 5/8" hem on one of the long edges. Make sure you turn it under to the wrong side of the fabric...obvs I know....but just in case!)...

With cushion front right side up, lay the fir back piece right side down/wrong side up on top of the front piece; lining up all edges....

Lay the second back piece right side down along the opposite edge. Pin and sew all the way around. I sewed a really narrow (approx 4/8") hem....

It's pretty much as simple as that EXCEPT where your 2 back pieces overlap. This is going to be a point of strain when taking the cushion pad in and out for washing. I'd recommend back stitching across this area on both sides (ie between the 2 arrows in the pic which in this case is approx 2")....

Then turn right side out and stuff with your cushion pad!

Now, I forgot to take a pic of the back before I sent them off to the shop to be sold....(sorry!) so if you're unfamiliar with how an envelope cushion works (I'm pretty sure you do, but just in case) check out the end of this video!





DIY: Applique Cushions - Part 1

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Excited About... Me Made May 2013!

It's that time of year again. The time when sewists the world over celebrate their acievements by proudly wearing their handmade garments every day in a bid to meet the challenge of....

Have you signed up yet? What do you mean no?! What are you playing at?! Get yourself over to Zoe's blog right now and take the pledge!

Of course, if you're anything like me, then by about week 3, you'll be resorting to increasingly bizarre outfit combos in a bid to meet your self imposed criteria. And by about week 2 (for me anyway) the bigger challenge becomes actually photographing yourself daily. BUT, it's a great challenge in so many ways.....

  •  It shows you where the gaps in your handmade wardrobe are. 
  • It kinda forces you to dig out everything handmade that you have in your arsenal, and re-evaluate it. Does it even work for you? Why on earth did you make THAT. 
  • When you look at older handmade items, it can remind you how much you've improved since. (I think we all need to remind ourselves of that once in a while...since us sewists gravitate more naturally to self criticism than congratulations.)
  • It can help you to refine your choice of silhouttes. I don't know about you, but looking back at photos of past challenges REALLY helped me to work out what suited me and more importantly....what absolutely DID NOT! Do you ever look at an outfit photo and thing "I'm sure that looked better in the mirror!" Me? All the time! 
  •  I also tend to make more during a Me Made challenge than I otherwise would. At the start of the month I tend to think "yeah, piece of cake" then half way through I tend to whip up a few pieces to give me more options in the morning...right about the time a kind of low level panic sets in because I'm running out of outfit ideas!
  • I put alot more effort and thought into how I look during a Me Made month. Not only my outfits, but I'll do my hair and make up every day. Whereas most weeks there'll be a few days that see me doing the school run sans make up (sunglasses are an essential disguise to stop me scaring the other children), in a questionable outfit, and with slightly unruly orange hair. You'd think a simple bob would be simple to maintain wouldn't you? Nope! My hair, when left to dry naturally is seriously scary. So a Me Made month just gives me the extra kick up the arse I need to put the effort in, which is no bad thing!
So with all that in mind, here goes me......

'I, Portia of Miss P, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear only handmade or refashioned clothes each day (excluding underwear, knitwear and coats)for the duration of May 2013. (So essentially, all my tops and trousers/skirts will be handmade)With no individual outfit repeated'

So I'm upping the anti a bit this year. No repeated outfits; which will hopefully push me into trying new combinations of the handmade pieces I have.

What about you? You taking part? Are you a first timer or a "veteran"? What have you learnt from past challenges and what does a Me Made challenge force you to do that you wouldn't ordinarily do? 


Monday, April 15, 2013

DIY: Applique Cushions (Part 1)

Recently, the owner of the gallery/gift shop where I sold my handmade jewelry mentioned that she was short of a maker to supply her with textiles for her shop. (Er, hello? Did I mention I sew?) Not being one to overlook an opportunity, I whipped these up for her....I've split the how to for this into 2 parts because I didn't want to make it too long (there are lot's of photos!) So part 1 concerns creating the applique front. Part 2 (to follow) will concern the actual construction of the cushion cover itself...

I made 3 cushions with different slogans in a simple envelope style using pure wool or the main fabric and cotton for the appliques....

I used fabrics that I already had in my stash. Because this was kind of a product testing excercise (basically to see if she liked them and if they would sell. BTW when she saw them, she said "Oooh, the girl can stitch alright!" Which made me just a teeny bit proud! It's nice sometimes to have an objective endorsement of your skills don't you think? :) I didn't want to fork out any extra cash for this project when I already had a bulging stash (don't be smutty!). The most expensive fabric here is the seersucker which cost me £3 from a charity shop. Applique is such a good way to use up little scraps too. The yellow fabrics are leftovers from a baby quilt project...

Aside from fabrics and the usual sewing equipment, you'll need some backing for the appliques. I used Vliesofix/Wonder Under. I bought it at £3.20 a metre from Dunelm Mill at Thurrock. but I can't find it on their website. I did however find this online supplier...(actually it's quite an interesting looking independent supplier whose wares I shall be perusing at length when I get a chance...hmmmmm). Essentially it is paper backed iron on interfacing. When you peal the backing off it reveals a second adhesive layer that allows you to fix your applique to your main fabric....brilliant stuff...

Begin by finding a font you like (I chose Berlin Sans FB) and print off the individual letters you need for your design. You'll need to measure your cushion to decide what size you want your letters to be. My cushion is 16" x 16" and I opted to fit 4 letters on each front. So each letter for my cushions needed to fit WITHIN an 8" x 8" square. I wanted my letters to pretty much fill the whole cushion front so my letters are quite large. But if you want your appliques more centred, then think about seam allowances etc...

Trace the letters onto the PAPER side of the Wonder Under. Make sure you print/trace non symmetrical letters back to front as the paper side will become the underside of your applique...

Roughly cut out your letters leaving a small border...

With paper side UP (so sticky side DOWN) lay your letters on the WRONG side of your applique fabric. Press with a dry medium iron...

Here are all my pressed letters ready to cut out...

Once they have cooled, cut them out accurately, following the lines on the paper side...

Check you are happy that they all fit how you want them to on your cushion front. I did it at this stage because, if you need to trim a bit off here and there to make them fit how you want, then it's easier to do that with the paper backing still in place...

Once you're happy, peel off the paper backing to reveal the adhesive underneath...

TIP: It's tricky to find an edge to start peeling. So carefully insert a pin inbetween the paper backing and the fabric. Use the pin to lift and tear the paper backing slightly to get you started...

Arrange appliques back on cushion front, cover with a cloth and press all over in 8-10 second bursts. The manufacturers instructions say to do this with steam. Since I was working with pure wool, I used a dry iron and it worked fine. Just sayin...;)

The adhesive will temporarily secure your appliques to the backing fabric....

Then you need to topstitch/edgestitch them down in order to secure them permanently....

I'd recommend not back stitching at the start or finish, as the stitching line is a decorative detail. So stop stitching as soon as you meet the start of your stitching line, overlapping by one stitch only and leaving a long thread tail...

Pull threads through to the underside. Tie off with a tailors knot, burying the thread tails between the backing fabric and applique....

And there you have your finished cushion front, with all appliques neatly secured....

Check back on Wednesday for how to construct a simple envelope cushion  :)