Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat–Zip Purses

tuesday tutorial treat button

I’m taking a couple of days off at the end of this week to do some serious bag sewing for my Etsy store which I hope to have up and running soon (I’ll of course keep you all updated), so my mind is currently on all types of bags. Therefore let’s have a zip purse Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat extravaganza:

The first is from the fabulous blog Flossie Teacakes. If you don’t follow this blog you are missing out. Florence has the most wonderful way with words and her blog is filled with endless crafty inspiration. Here she shows us how to make a lined zipped purse, with lovely end ‘bits’ (hmmm…can’t think of what they should be called!) on the zip:

28 finished



Next we have a two versions of what must be one of the easiest zip purses to make. The first is from Tiffany Harvey, using the cutest Owl fabric ever:



And the second version is from Cara from Me? A Mom?. This version includes batting so it has more structure, but the edges inside are raw (Tiffany Harvey’s are not). So perhaps a hybrid of the two might be good?




Finally, here is a very cute little tetrahedron (!!) zip purse for something a little different:



Monday, 30 January 2012

The problem with learning to sew…

…is that you start noticing things that perhaps a ‘non-sew-er’ would overlook! I was just browsing through Pinterest (feel free to follow me…I’m a bit addicted though!) the other day when my eyes glanced over a rather nice spotty coat. And then the horror struck! The glaringly bad (diabolical perhaps?) pattern matching:


I clicked through and discovered that this coat is from Modcloth (click for source of photos) and costs $124.99!! Now, if I were to spend that much on a RTW coat then the least I would expect is for the pattern to match…especially in such a glaringly obvious place. They were even kind enough to provide a close up of the mis-match…


…just in case you weren’t sure about the unmatched pattern!

Before I started to sew I probably wouldn’t even have noticed this…and now it’s all I can see. I am constantly noticing little things (good and bad) on RTW clothes.

Q. I can’t decide if this is a good skill to have or would it be better to be blissfully ignorant?! What do you think?

On the plus side…perhaps I should stop sweating so much when my own makes are a couple of millimetres off line!!


P.S. I do realise that there are a few seams on this coat which may make pattern matching more difficult and also that it’s a cost saving mechanism to not bother with matching. But still!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I made it AND I wore it - 4

Whoops! I meant to post this up yesterday but time got away from me (or perhaps I got distracted watching the latest lessons from Craftsy!).

Anyway, I’m absolutely delighted to say that my new overlocker has saved my Pendrell top from the ‘repair/wadder’ pile. You may remember me lamenting about the seams from my Pendrell fraying. Well a quick run through the overlocker and all the seams are now as good as new (actually better!) and the top is back in the wardrobe!

imiawi 002imiawi 003


Look, Sexy Seams!!!

imiawi 014

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Twitter and Instagram

Do you Tweet? I have a Twitter account and I try to tweet regularly, but I often forget! But a few months ago I downloaded the Instagram app for my iPhone and I’m starting to become slightly addicted. Here are a few pics that I have been snapping and sharing on Twitter:

the latest giveaway  some of my clutches  the kits2012 sewing planning  yum!  Latest purchase2012 sewing planning  next project  bedtime readingnearly finished the skirt  Overlocker has arrived  pattern box

My iphone is quite an old model so the photos aren’t as sharp as some that I see on Instagram, but I’ve been wondering – can you upload photos to Instagram that you took on a ‘real’ camera? Some of the photos look amazing and I doubt they have been taken on a phone. But then I wonder what’s the point of doing that?!

Q. Do you have an Instagram profile? If so, please let me know because I’d love to follow more people. If you would like to follow me I’m @susewssoso, or you can just follow me on Twitter because I upload all my photos there as well. It’s a good way of documenting what I’m currently working on without having to do a whole blog post.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat–Upcycled Shirt to Dress

tuesday tutorial treat button

I’ve had my fair share of up-cycling old men’s shirts (not necessarily from old men btw!) (see these tutorials), but the tutorial today takes up-cycling to a whole other level! The lovely Joy from How Joyful shares how she revamped a (very) large man’s shirt into a really cute summer dress. I’d love to give this a go, however, I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a shirt large enough for this project, but I’m keeping my eye’s peel!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

I made it…AND I wore it! 3

blue skirt 031

Necklace - present, Cardigan - Primark, Vest - Zara, Skirt - Me, Shoes - Clarks, Cute Kitty Canvas - c/o my lovely man as a Christmas pressie!

This week for my IMIAIWI (catchy no? Ha) challenge I decided to wear one of the first things I ever made - my navy blue skirt with a red trim. Being Winter, I had to pair the skirt with thick tights and since this skirt is made out of basic cotton I wore a half slip underneath to stop the dreaded skirt-riding-up-on-tights look. Sigh. It didn't work. Any time spent walking I also spent pulling down the skirt while acting like nothing was wrong and I wasn't secretly hoping that no one could see my knickers! And another bad thing about wearing clothes made of pure cotton - wrinkles! This skirt is wrinkled beyond belief the moment you sit down in it once.

So I have decided that I'm getting rid of this skirt. I'm probably going to salvage the button and the zip, and then I'm just going to chuck it! And I'm not sad at all. I do think that the skirt looks very nice in all the photos I have of it, but in real life it just doesn't work. It served a very important purpose at the time, a stepping stone along the way to learning how to sew, but there really is little point in keeping it now - it's just taking up space in my wardrobe where something more useful could be hanging!

The great thing about this challenge is that, as well as forcing me to wear my handmade clothes, I'm finally getting a feeling of what's good and what's not - and that's the whole point of doing this. The other thing I'm noticing is that I have a definite 'style', which I actually wasn't aware of - quarter-length sleeve fitted cardi anyone??!! I can't believe I have noticed this after only 3 outfits! Oh dear...I think I need to experiment a little!

blue skirt 026
 And here's a shot in my 'sewing room' (aka loft conversion/storage room/boyfriends laundry room!). No, I didn't bother tidying up (this shot is actually quite tidy)...I'm keeping it real man, keeping it real!

Q. Have you ever got rid of your handmade things? Did you feel sad to see them go, or did you find it liberating?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Threading the Brother 1034d Overlocker

...Yes, I only got my new overlocker on Monday and already I’m professing to be an expert at threading it. No, the reality is that I sat myself down on Monday evening in front of the overlocker with a cup of tea, and read through the entire manual (almost) before even turning it on. I had heard such horror stories about threading overlockers that I was terrified of not understanding this machine and getting myself terribly confused. So I went through each nob, hook, switch and latch on the machine, making sure I knew what they did. I twisted a little here and pushed a little there until I thought I was ready to try the baby out. The beauty of this machine, is that it comes pre-threaded, so I was able to just turn it on, get some fabric out and start overlocking. Which I did. And it started out well…for about 2 inches, and then started making funny sounds and not stitching properly and then about 18inches later I realised there was actually no overlocking going on at all!! What?!!! How? Why? Looking inside the machine I saw to my horror that one of the threads had broken*. NOOoooooOOO! The one thing I was dreading doing with this machine was re-threading it and, after only being in my possession for less than half an hour, I was faced with having to tackle just that!
After watching the very dated and diabolical DVD that comes with the machine (has anyone watched that? It is helpful to a degree, but that woman is so stilted and it is just so dated, with such unclear images!!!), and referring to the manual a LOT, I managed to thread my machine and get it serging again. There were just a couple of things which I thought were a little confusing after both watching the DVD and reading the manual, so I thought I’d point these out on the blog in case they might help anyone else trying to thread this machine for the first time.
overlocker 005
The first thing I will say is – people, don’t sweat it! I actually wish I had never heard/read all the reviews and comments about how scared people were of threading overlockers. It is not hard! It just takes longer than a regular sewing machine – but still only takes a minute or so, if even. So stop stressing about it and just do it!
The second thing I will say is watch this Youtube video. It was really really helpful and pointed out the exact issues I had with the official DVD. So just to supplement that video, here are a few shots with further explanation:
overlocker 007-001
The image above is just to point out the components of the overlocker that are different from a regular sewing machine. The Upper Looper (which controls the thread from the second spool in on the right – spools obviously not shown in this photo!), the Lower Looper (controlling the thread from the spool on the very right) and the Lower Looper (LL) Threading Needle (A).
A – Make sure when you are threading the Lower Looper that the thread just sits in the notch on the LL Threading Needle. The DVD makes it looks like you have to get the thread into a little channel (which it can do…because I did it!), but that will cause your thread to break. It just hooks onto the notch that arrow A is pointing at, and then you thread it through the Lower Looper.
B – Make sure that you keep the thread from the Lower Looper underneath the Upper Looper (see where B is pointing).
overlocker 008-001
C - Once you are all threaded up, push the LL Threading Needle in and then turn the handwheel towards you until the UL and LL are back in the same position. You will now see that the thread from the LL is above the thread from the UL (C).
Then you are good to go with threading the needles (dead easy – easier than threading your needle on your sewing machine!) and starting to serge!
overlocker 009
This is what chaining off looks like (above). I couldn’t make it out in the video and was worried that mine was looking wrong. It actually does look like a mess, don’t worry!
overlocker 020
Two more helpful things:
1. Do play around with the tension of the threads. I was making a skirt from a curtain remnant (all finished now – I’ll post up photos next week. Sneak peak was on Twitter last night though!) and because it was slightly heavier fabric, I wasn’t happy with the serging until I increased the tension on the UL and LL both to 4.5. Very small change that made a big difference.
2. Here is a link to the Brother 1034d manual online. You can download the whole thing for free, or view specific pages online. May or may not be helpful.

And there you go, I’ve had an overlocker for a grand total of 3.5 days and I’ve already re-threaded it a million times! That’s what I get for deciding I was going to just use the accompanying thread on all my projects until it ran out (regardless if I was serging white onto a black outfit!). But, you know what, it was a blessing in disguise because now I’m more than happy to change the thread.
P.S. I still have a LOT to learn…

*By the way, I think the thread broke through me not pulling up the Thread Tree before starting. Nothing to do with the machine – just the operator! Doh!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tuesday’s Tutorial Treat–Handmade buttons

tuesday tutorial treat button

Have you ever heard of shrink plastic? I hadn’t until I saw this amazing tutorial. Kimanh from Paper.Scissors.Wok shows us how to make our own buttons, with our own designs, out of shrink plastic. I’m in love! OK, perhaps they might not look quite so impressive if I were drawing the designs…but I guess you could trace clip art images? Or do know what would look great? Chevrons – and those would be easy to draw. Right…off to buy some shrink plastic!

P.S. These would make very cute personalised cufflinks (just don’t punch out the middle holes and then attached to cufflink thinga-mabobs!)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Christmas Trimmings (in January)

fabric 021

Christmas was almost a month ago now, and hopefully everyone has their decorations down for another year, but I wanted to quickly share a little sewing a I did for the big day (and I mean a little sewing!). I always like to wear something special for Christmas day - and it tends to end up being red, or green. It's just all part of the tradition for me. I was thinking it would be lovely to make a dress for the day, but I didn't have time. So I went out and eventually found a lovely green dress from H&M. I decided it needed a little extra something~something and remembered that I had the most gorgeous sequin trim that I picked up on a work trip to Zagreb about a year a go. After a bit of hand stitching, I had a whole new dress!

fabric 027

I bought a meter of this trim along with 2.5m of gorgeous red dupion silk when I was in Zagreb, and they are the perfect match, so I plan one day to turn them into a fabulous dress. So for now I just hand stitched the trim onto the green dress without cutting it - so it tucks around the slit at the back a bit, and I can un-pick it, save the trim for another time, and wear the dress to work. I'm also wondering about making the trim into a belt somehow, maybe with a silk tie/ribbon, so that I can mix and match it with other outfits.

And this little guy is a brooch I made, after being inspired by the lovely Casey (I'm looking for the exact link and will attach if I can find it! Found it). It's a Christmas decoration with a couple of brooch fastenings glued to the back. I made a really lovely one last year, from a decoration I bought in Past Times, with a 'prancing' reindeer...but I got it caught in a door (sigh...don't ask!) and it broke. So this is my replacement, and although he's cute, he's just not quite the same.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

I made it...AND I wore it! 2

On to the second edition of "I made it...AND I wore it". This time it's a bit of a dark picture, so apologies for that - but at least it's an 'action' shot - proof that the outfit definitely was worn out of the house! I wore my Autumn Fireworks Skirt  for travelling to London last Friday and the meet-up with the girls. Here I am  relaxing in the Duke of Cumberland, admiring my recent Goldhawk Rd purchases over a glass of red (keeping the red a safe distance of course, especially from the white cotton silk!).

Necklace - Dorothy Perkins, Vest - Zara, Cardi - Primark, Skinny belt - New Look, Skirt - Me, Tights - Primark. Cheesy Smile - courtesy of exposure to an extreme amount of fabric!

Friday, 13 January 2012

We interrupt our scheduled service to make an important announcement:

…I’ve only just gone and ordered this:

A Brother 1034D!!!!! CANNOT wait for this to arrive. £24 shipping to Northern Ireland mind you, humph!

Sexy seams, here I come!

(P.S. I know it seams like I have been rather excessive with the purchasing lately, but this was actually a belated Birthday present from last October!)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Someone take my wallet please!!!

So, I mentioned in a previous post, that I might have had a little fabric shopping splurge the day before heading to Goldhawk rd. We don't have a lot of fabric shopping options in Belfast (er - one small shop!) and, although it's literally around the corner from my work and I pop in most lunchtimes, I very rarely buy any fabric there as it's just too pricey. Well last Thursday I happened to pop in and nearly had a heart attack - a long table had been erected in the middle of the shop and it was PILED HIGH with fabric!!! All reduced to £2.99/£3.99/4.99 per m (and nothing was less than £10/m before)! I was honestly having to control my excitement while I searched through all the fabric, piling it high on my arm when I spotted something I liked, for fear that someone else might snatch it up!

Anyway, here are the goods - not quite as 'pretty' as my purchases from Goldhawk, but perhaps more practical! Unfortunately I'm not 100% of the fibre content of these fabrics because they were all off their bolts and not labelled...and I forgot to ask in all the 'excitement'. I would say most have poly in it tho, which I tend to avoid - but do you know what...who cares, they were reduced!!!

tartan dress 025
2m of this black/grey/white tartan with a little red line through it. £3.99/m. I have plans for this, but I haven't checked that I definitely have enough yardage....so won't reveal the plans just yet! 

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2m navy blue/white tartan. £3.99/m. I'm hoping to jump on the New Look 6000 bandwagon and use this fabric as it would be great for work. Hopefully I have enough...perhaps it will have to be a short sleeved version.

tartan dress 027
 1.5m of this lovely slinky navy blue snakeskin patterned fabric. £3.99/m. My plan is to make version B of New Look 6969. Nervous of working with this slippery fabric though, but I know it would drape beautifully at the front of the skirt.

tartan dress 028
 2m of this lovely black and white floral fabric with a spotty border print. Plan to make a basic shift dress with this. It has a bit of stretch in it so should be pretty comfortable. £3.99/m

fabric 037
2m (or 2.5m) of this gorgeous tomato red (you will have to trust me on the colour - my camera couldn't capture the true colour of this) crepe fabric. £4.99/m. Plan to make some sort of floaty dress perhaps along the lines of Casey's Swing Dress.

fabric 038
 2m tie-die jersey. I haven't really worked with jersey...it scares me for some reason - which I'm sure is totally unnecessary and I'm making it worse in my head than it really is! This will eventually be a simply maxi dress for Summer. £2.99/m

fabric 039
 2m navy blue & white stripe jersey - another maxi dress I think. Really like the quality of this jersey...should be really comfy to wear. £3.99/m

 2m of a very heavy black and white patterned fabric - may be wool, or at least have wool in it. Not sure yet what to make from this - but just loved it so had to get it! £4.99/m

 Right - no more fabric shopping for a while for me!!!!! Eek!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A very restrained Goldhawk Rd shopping experience

 Gail, Jane, Alana, Me - Happy sew-ers in their element!

Reporting back from my trip to Goldhawk Road last week. I had the best morning meeting up with fellow sewing bloggers Alana (from Lazy Stitching), Jane (from Handmade Jane) and Gail (from My Fabrication) and perusing the endless line of fabric shops - absolute Heaven!!!

I wasn't armed with a shopping list so I approached each shop with an open mind, willing inspiration to hit me. It was great having Jane and Alana there, as they knew the shops well and were able to point me in the direction of fabrics which might tempt me...and tempt me they did!

Here are the fabrics that I happily brought home with me:

1m of the finest, softest cotton silk in a lovely shade of pink (not as neon or as bright as this picture suggests). At £4/m perhaps I should have bought more, but without knowing what I wanted to make, I thought I shouldn't go too crazy. At the moment I plan this to be a summer top of some sort.

2m. Also cotton silk. This is pure white with a shiny spot on it. I plan on making gorgeously luxurious pj bottoms with this. Also £4/m

Oh my GOD, I nearly DIED when I spotted this fabric!! I have been coveting this exact Liberty Silk (yes, Liberty Silk!!!) on-line for at least half a year, but at £15/m plus postage to N.I. I had never brought myself to buy it. When I saw the exact same fabric, for £12/m I snapped up a meter tout suite!! The plan is to make a cowl neck top based on one I have in my wardrobe...but I think it will be awhile before I cut into this beautiful fabric!

I spotted Alana buying this satin fabric in a lovely muted blue shade and when she told me it was for a Ruby slip I was inspired and also bought 2m, except in a very dramatic fuchsia pink (again, it's not nearly as gaudy or neon as the photo suggests). I think this was a whopping £1.99/m....or £2.99. Either way, dirt cheap!

Another Liberty print, this time a soft, buttery cotton. I fell in love with this print and colour way as soon as I saw it, and at £9.99/m I had to have it. 1m became mine super fast. This is also going to be a summery top.

And this was a sneaky buy. Or should I say, I was again inspired by Alana's purchasing. She bought this lovely gingham (it has a really interesting texture on the white squares) (it's navy and white by the way - sorry the photos are so deceptive!) in one of the shops we were at, and on my way to the tube after I had said my goodbyes, I saw it peaking at me through the window and decided to run in and get myself some as well! This will hopefully turn into a summery dress. I got 2.5m at £3/m.

So I was quite restrained with my fabric shopping - I even had space left over in my hand luggage (so no need for the turban unfortunately!)! But time was limited. I think if I had of had the whole day to dedicate to Goldhawk Rd I would have come away with a lot more. Perhaps the fact that I discovered on Thursday (the day before my trip) that my local fabric shop was having a crazy sale, and I bought up half the shop, might have made me spend a little less than usual - it is January after all...and it's a looooong time until payday! I'll share my haul from that shopping trip next.

I have to say, probably one of the nicest things about meeting up with these three lovely ladies was the opportunity to sit and natter on about sewing. I don't have any 'real life'  friends who have any interest in crafty things so it was just so nice to actually be able to talk about my hobby with people who share the same interest. Thanks so much to Jane, Alana and Gail for meeting with me.

And I shall leave you with a little present that I bought for myself in Whitstable:
I couldn't resist!
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