Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bits and Bobs

Hello Everyone, happy Saturday! It is a lovely day here and i am in a cheerful mood. This morning i received two lovely deliveries. The first was a pair of lovely Suede flowers, which were very kindly sent to me by the wonderful Dibs after i admired those she used in her ballet pump refashion tutorial.

They are actually a bit pinker than they appear in the picture...lovely! I haven't quite decided what to do with them yet...maybe a shoe refashion like Dibs? Or to decorate a bag? Watch this space to see what they become!

The second delivery was a copy of Mollie Makes

I have seen a lot of divided opinions on this magazine, so i decided to check it out for myself. After failing to find a copy anywhere around Leicester, i decided to order one. There was a 3 issues for the price of 2 offer on at the time, so i decided to commit to that to check it out. So far i haven't had time to do much more than have a quick flick though, but I'll let you know what i think when I've had a chance to read it properly!

I'm sure some of you will be wondering what Ted and Bobble have been up to. Well, last night i hosted a dinner party and they were only too happy to help me out with the preparations...

I think this apron is a bit big for you Ted...

Ted helping me clean the wine glasses

I spent most of today in town with Rob (the boyfriend) doing shopping for our holiday (less that 3 weeks to go!). We were there for hours and i think the poor boy was getting a bit tired by the was i! The good news is that we managed to get everything on our list and so are all set now :) I also popped into Fenwicks, where i buy a lot of fabric...i was wearing my New Look 6557 dress and one of the shop assistants recognised i had bought the fabric from them and complemented me on my dress! So that was something else that made me smile. Today has been a generally happy day, and this evening i am off to a BBQ and to have a nosey round my friends new house...good times! 
I hope your Saturday has been as cheerful as mine!

K xx

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ted's Supermarket Sweep

Yesterday Ted came to the Supermarket to help me with my are a few pictures of our trip!

Off we go!

Wearing his seatbelt like a good bear

A seat perfectly sized for Ted :)

Ted thinks he is chocolate buttons...
Watch this space for more pictures of Ted and our adventures!

Knitted Square Count: Still 15, but Baby Cardigan #2 now has a back and almost one complete sleeve!

K xx

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bobble and Ted's Excellent Adventures #1

Hello Everyone! As i hinted at in my blog post yesterday, i am pleased to introduce a very special bear....this is Ted!

Ted is travelling around the blogosphere to help Jane, who blogs at Daisy Donut raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support. So far Jane has raised over £1000 for this fantastic cause, which is just brilliant...but I'm sure we can help her to get the total up even more! If you would like to host Ted for a week and/or make a donation, pop over to Jane's blog for all the details. I think Ted actually has a free slot coming up in 2 weeks time, so if you are quick he could be visiting your blog very shortly!

Ted's previous host Sarah had warned me that Ted was on his way, so when i got home today from my Mum's graduation to find a Royal Mail card on my doormat, i knew immediately that it would be Ted! To save him for a night at Royal Mail HQ i hopped on my bike and went to pick him up. He was very pleased to see me, as was his travelling companion Bobble the Owl. Regular readers of my blog will know that i have a bit of a thing for owls so i was delighted to welcome Bobble too.

Ted told me all about his exciting times with Sarah and showed me a sticker he got when he went to visit the sheep! Sadly it was looking a little worse for where from the travelling, so i suggested that he took it off for safekeeping. Ted had attended Sarah's PhD graduation this week and was now Dr Ted. I told him that not only had i attended my mum's graduation today, but i was also Dr Kat! I couldn't resist showing him my thesis...

However he seemed very relieved for an excuse to put it down when i suggested a cup of tea!

Afterwards i took Ted up to see my sewing space...

He asked what I'm working on at the moment and i told him all about the Lonsdale Dress Sew-Along which starts this week. I showed him the pattern and my fabric choice...i think he likes it!

I then took Ted to meet my bears, Bertie and Cocoa. I think they are going to really enjoy each other's company this week.

Ted and Bobble are now resting after their travels. However he is looking forward to our adventures! Check back all this week to see what we get up to...

K xx

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Foray into Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch is something that i used to do a lot of when i was younger, but then i stopped - i can't remember why. When i was back at my parents house recently, i was clearing through some bits and bobs and i found all my Cross Stitch goodies including these:

Sorry for the slightly blurred image...the light in my house is absolutely shocking for photographs, especially in the evening. Anyways. My Mum has this brilliant book by Jo Verso which is used to use a LOT. I really love all of Jo Verso's designs, and was very sad to learn recently that she died a few years ago in a car crash.. 

This book contains all sorts of pictures and motifs of animals, flowers, 'things' and people in all sorts of hobbies and professions and around the world. I cannot stress enough the awesomeness of this book, i really must get my hands on a copy of my own sometime. It is the perfect basis for designing a sampler or for taking little designs for cards etc. When i was last home i dug out this book and chose a little graduation motif to make my Mum a card for her PhD Graduation, which is tomorrow. And here is the finished card!

My Mum is graduating from Loughborough and although there was a list of robe colours on the website i could not find an actual photograph, so the colours are a bit of a guess! I will find out tomorrow how close i am. Also, you amy be thinking that the hat does not look like a traditional mortar board - well, you would be right! They wear floppy hats at Loughborough apparently. My PhD robes were relatively traditional, but i know that some universities have them in all crazy colours!! I'll find out tomorrow just what these ones look like in the flesh (or should that be, in the cloth??). 

I have also started work on baby cardigan number 2! The last one took me about 5 months to completes, but i am feeling more optimistic this is the progress in just under a week...

Not bad methinks! I am absolutely in love with this wool, it is actually a lot deeper blue than it appears in the photo, and is possibly the softest wool i have ever felt. I am meeting it's intended recipient for the first time in a few weeks and would love to have it completed by then...we shall see!

In other news, i am very excited to announce that i will very shortly be welcoming a very special guest to my blog! He is small and furry and has been making his way around the blogoshpere raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Can you guess who it is yet? All i will say is that i hope we have a most EXCELLENT time together...still nothing? Well, you'll just have to watch this space and all will be revealed very soon!

Knitted Square Count: 15

K xx

P.S - If you have a spare moment pop over to Ashley's blog at Jellybean's Odds and Ends...she is having a fantastic giveaway where one lucky winner can choose a pattern of their choice! What would you choose? I have my eye on Colette Patterns Crepe dress at the moment!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

New Look 6557 #2: Finished Dress

Here we go - my very first dress...finished :)

Apologies for the darkness and lack of head in the last photo - i spent ages with my timer trying to get the perfect shot but in the end i gave up. This is one drawback to living alone - nobody to help me photograph my garments!!

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Despite carrying out extensive alterations on my muslin, the dress was initially still too big. This was quite easy to fix though, i just extended the side seams by sewing an extra 1/2" inside of each seam, which did the job and i think now that the fit is pretty much spot on. As an aside, one of my friends took a dress into a dry cleaners/alterations shop last weekend for exactly this adjustment, and they charged her £18 for it! I think this is crazy money to pay for what is essentially such a small job. I would have done it for her myself but it was a nice dress and i was afraid i might ruin it. When I'm more confident perhaps! Alterations are obviously where the money's at!!

Overall the pattern and instructions were very easy to follow, the only difficulty i had was when it came to the facings, which i have not done before, however i think i managed to figure it out in the end. I also added a lining, and underlined the midriff (thanks to everyone for their advice regarding interfacing vs. underlining!).

There are a few things i would do differently next time (and there very possibly will be a next time!), but I'm going to ignore the perfectionist in my head and concentrate instead on the things i am pleased with. As for my Crescent Skirt, i masked the raw edges of the lining and hem with bias binding to give it a neat finish. I really like the effect here. I do love a bit of bias binding!!

I am also quite pleased with my zip best one yet i think :) You may not be able to see my zip in the picture below....this is a good thing, as that is kind of the point!!! Trust me though, it is there.

So that's one top (well, actually two!) and one dress down so far for my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge! One dress left to go....the Lonsdale Dress! The Sew-Along for this starts next week which i will be taking part in, and should be finished in time for my holiday. I just love it when a plan comes together!!

What is everyone else working on this weekend?

Knitted Square Count: 15 (I have stalled at the moment as I'm working on something else...more on this coming soon!)

K xx

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

New Look 6557 #1: Muslin

Last night i made up a muslin for the New Look 6557 dress.

After much deliberation i finally settled on view B for my first attempt. Partly because i like the way it looks on the model, and also because it seemed to have the simplest straps, and i wanted something nice and easy for my first attempt at a dress!

This pattern was actually really easy to sew...starting with the pieces cut out, i reckon it took me about 2 and a half hours, and that includes some faffing about on my part. I am really really pleased with the finished result...i love this dress!

The reason it looks like I'm holding my sides in is because i accidently ended up with my side seams on the outside...doh! I always seem to mix up the intended right and wrong sides of my muslin fabric (even when i write it on!) and end up with seams on both sides. Ah well. I am holding the seams in here so you can see the fit, but it really does look like this, honest!

I initially cut a size 16 according to my measurements, but the bodice ended up much to big so i think i probably could have got away with a 12. To account for this i took it in about 1.5 inches at each side seam, and probably more like 2 inches each side at the top of the seam as this was where there was most excess fabric. This seems to have done the job! I also took the hem up about 4 inches as it was much longer than i wanted.

I'm also pleased with my zip insertion - i think it's my neatest yet! This time i thought ahead and only basted it in, as it is my 'actual' zip, to make it easier to take out!

So overall I'm really pleased with how the muslin turned out. I think i may adjust the straps slightly... although they look alright, after running up and down the stairs a few times looking for my camera they were slipping off a bit. Also, I was thinking about adding interfacing to the bodice midriff to give it a bit more this a good idea do you think? If i did this, would i have to underline it too? I'm not sure about having interfacing-skin contact as it may feel quite rough, depending on which sort i use. Hmm. Other than that, i think i'm good to go with my fashion fabric! Here is my choice...

Look at me all organised with lining and bias and thread! I would love to get it finished in time to wear to my mum's PhD graduation next Tuesday. This may be a bit optimistic as these things always take longer than i think they will, but we shall see!

Knitted Square Count: Still 15...

K xx

Monday, 18 July 2011

An Exciting Delivery and an Update

So this evening i came home to find an exciting delivery on my doormat. As soon as i saw the airmail envelope i knew what it contained. I carefully maneuvered my dripping bike around the package to avoid getting it wet. Poor Storm (my bike is called Storm because she is a Falcon Storm. Yes i am that original!), this was her first experience of rain, and it's been raining most of the day here, on and off. Good old British summer! My poor Tomato plants were also casualties of the horrible weather...i came home to find two of them had been knocked may have partially snapped at the main stem as well! My poor little plants, just as the have started to flourish with tomatoes. I have stabilised them and am hoping for the best....

Anyways, i digress. The exciting envelope contained my new Sewaholic patterns! I blogged about my growing addiction a few weeks ago when i pre-ordered the Lonsdale Dress (along with the Pendrell Blouse) and ever since then i have been eagerly anticipating their arrival. And now they are here!!!

I am so excited to start on these patterns, but i think i am going to have to force myself to complete some of my UFOs first! Anyway, am planning to join the Lonsdale Dress Sewalong which starts next week, so i shouldn't have too long to wait!

So, what have i been working on recently? Over the weekend i have...

- Completed another Bucket Bag for a friend

- Designed and started a cross-stitch which will become a card (to be revealed shortly!)

- Cut out muslin fabric for the New Look 6557, first blogged about here, which is to be one of two dresses for my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge (the other will hopefully be the Lonsdale dress!)

I also went to see the final Harry Potter film, which was awesome :) I can't believe it's over, but what a way to end!! 

So i don't think i have been completely unproductive :) However, over the next 4 and a half weeks i would like to complete two dresses and two Sorbettos, finish my cross-stitch and a good chunk of my knitted squares....i best get cracking!!

What are you planning at the moment? Is anyone else planning on joining in with the Lonsdale Sewalong?

Knitted Square Count: 15 (my mum has finished hers!!!)

K xx

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cath Kidston Kit Bag

Thanks to everyone who shared their sewing weaknesses/nemeses in response to my previous was really interesting to see what everyone found challenging! And just to clarify, i did mean top stitching when i said i am incapable of sewing in a straight line...i realise a wonky seam is not so much of a disaster!! Hopefully practice will make perfect, so i will persevere...

Anyways. You may remember this book, which i was lucky enough to receive for my birthday last month, from my lovely friend Ella :)

I am a massive fan of Cath Kidston. Some of the stuff is a bit too twee for my personal taste, but overall i love the bright prints and vintage throwback style of the products. As well as a whole load of fantastic patterns, the book i was given contained everything needed to make the bag on the front cover, which i have finally got round to making. I think it turned out pretty well...

Another crafty friend of mine (Sirisha this is you!!) had been given the same book, so we have been sewing the bag at the same time and swapping tips. She started before me, and as a result i have been cheating a bit - i heard what she found were the most fiddly bits and adapted the method accordingly! For example, for the button loop the instructions say to sew a small seam around the loop fabric right sides together, and then pull it the right way out. However, this sounded too much like hard work so i used the method i have used for other belt loops and pressed the fabric bias-tape style before top-stitching to secure. Also, i liked the idea of lining the bag so i used some of my favouritie polka dot fabric (i think i now have this in about 4 different colours) in bright red to line. I cut out the lining using the bag fabric pieces as a guide, sewed it up and popped it inside. I also added a small pocket as i do love a good pocket! I love the contrast between the lining and outer fabric.

Overall i think this bag took between 3-4 hours to make, including time where i was faffing around or trying to decipher instructions (which overall were actually really easy to follow). This also includes a lot of time for practicing button a rule i try and avoid these if possible as i find them fiddly, however after a bit of practice to remind myself what to do i got the hang of it and i am really pleased with how they turned out! (You can just about see them in the picture below!).

As i said, i'm really pleased with how this bag turned out. I'm not sure how much day-to-day use i will get out of it, as i tend to prefer cross-body straps rather than shorter ones like this, but i really like the pattern and think with a slightly modified strap length this could be a winner :) I predict that i will be showing many more makes from patterns in this book in the near future.

In other news, i am excited to report that Tasia who blogs at Sewaholic has announced a Sew-Along for the Londsdale dress! Most excitingly, this is due to start at the end of July, and will be complete before i head off on my American travels - perfect timing for me to (hopefully) complete the dress as part of my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge. My dress pattern has been shipped so i am now just awaiting it's arrival!! Watch this space...!

Knitted Square Count: 14 and a half

K xx

Monday, 11 July 2011

Identifying Your Sewing Weaknesses

There has been some discussion recently in the blogosphere about how to improve as a sewist, and how to measure this progress, most notably Tilly's post on Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher. Last night, while stitching away, i got thinking about my sewing weaknesses. For example, i am not very good at sewing in a straight line. I do try, and i am always careful to use the foot and markings as a guide, yet somehow i always seem to vear off course. I am hoping that this will improve with practice, as i have always been taught that practice makes perfect! When i was younger i used to spend time every morning practicing my flute, sometimes under duress, going over the basics such as scales on the promise that it would improve my playing. And there is no doubt it did. However, sewing is a little different...the equivalent would be spending hours sewing straight lines on pieces of scrap fabric, and i am not convinced that this would be a good use of my time. There is a lot of focus these days on learning through doing, so i am hoping that if i persevere, and perhaps pay a little more attention and sew a little slower, my sewing will become straighter. Maybe. Other weaknesses of mine stem from the fact that i can be a little impatient, but i try to moderate this and be careful not to rush things!

However, i like to think that despite these weaknesses, i am improving as a stitcher. I have a lot of new techniques under my belt since i started, many of which i learnt through taking part in the Crescent Skirt Sewalong, for example French Seams which i have since included in other garments.

I love how neat French Seams look!

Also, in cases where i have made things in multiples, for example the Bucket Bag first shown here, i find that every time i make the pattern i identify things that i will do differently next time to improve the finished item, which is a sure sign of progress i feel as each subsequent bag turns out a little more 'polished'. It doesn't help that i am my own worst critic and a complete perfectionist, and that i notice small flaws in a finished make that nobody else would ever spot if they weren't looking for them. However, I'm not sure there is such thing as true perfection, and as my boyfriend once commented, they are handmade items - their flaws make them special.

So, i would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. What do you think are your sewing weaknesses, and how do you work to improve them?

Knitted Square Count: 13 and a half

K xx

Friday, 8 July 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I am VERY excited to report that i have produce in my garden, for the first time ever! Usually i am not particularly green fingered (I kill cacti...true story!) but now i somehow seem to have managed to have nurtured living plants which have produced fruit (well, vegetables, but you get my drift). 

At the moment they are only very small, but hopefully they will soon grow big and strong...

Tiny peppers

Equally tiny tomatoes

I won't pretend that i grew these plants from dad did this and then gave them to me...but they are definitely flourishing. I can't wait for my first harvest!

Is anyone else dabbling in gardening this year? I will be interested to hear what everyone else is growing!

K xx

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

One Sorbetto, two Sorbetto...

So it appears that i am joining the vast array of other bloggers who have fallen in love with the Sorbetto top. Last night i whipped up version two in a delightfully soft cotton i found at my favourite fabric stall in Leicester market over the weekend. I wasn't planning on making version two straight away, but i saw this fabric and it was just screaming "Sorbetto" at me! I bumped into Marie while i was there (caught in the act of fabric buying!) so she was lucky enough to get a sneak peak :) I think this fabric is much more me.

After making version one at the weekend i made a few minor adjustments to the pattern. I made it a tad longer again, and also i flared it out more over the hips. I think that this version is spot on, and perfect for the hot weather we are having at the moment!

I am especially proud of my french seams which make the inside look so neat...

I think that one of the reasons this pattern is so popular is that it is so easy to make. I literally made it last night, and was left with just the hemming to finish off this morning, which took all of 10 minutes. The basic pattern is also easily adaptable, for example i have seen a tunic version by Another Sewing Scientist which i just adore! 

I absolutely love the method shown in the pattern instructions for joining the ends of bias binding. Previously i have fiddled around with folding over and overlapping edges, which never gives a particularly neat finish. This pattern suggests sewing the two ends together across the tape (from top to bottom), trimming and pressing the seam and then sewing round across the join as for the rest of the tape. I hope this makes sense as i forgot to make pictures...the end result is a lovely neat join which is just fantastic. I will definitely be using this method in future every time i use bias binding!

Right i must get off to pack...i am off to a spa with my mummy for a few days which i am very much looking forward to...i could use the relaxation! 

Knitted Square Count: 10...i am taking my knitting to the spa though so hopefully this will increase over the next few days :)

K xx 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sorbetto Top

This weekend i finished my first Sorbetto top. The pattern is generously offered as a free download from Colette Patterns. There have been many many versions of this top seen around the blogosphere recently, most notably Marie has so far made three! Whenever i see the word 'sorbetto' i always want to sing the song from the cornetto advert....'Just one sorbetto....give it to me...'... Anyways, here is my first version of this pattern...i say first as i imagine there will be more!

(sorry for the lack of front-ways photos...i couldn't seem to get a well-lit one today, they all looked a bit odd!)

I made a few adjustments to my sorbetto muslin - i added an inch across the chest, graded down two sizes around the waist and added three inches to the length. The fit is good, although it is a little snug across the hips as when i extended the length i cut straight down rather than allowing for extra space. However this is easily fixed for next time, and it is not too much of a problem to make the top unwearable. The only problem is i'm not too sure about my fabric choice. I selected it mostly based on the feel, as it is wonderfully light and drapes really nicely. However, i usually tend towards darker colours and so i am not too sure about this. However i have already selected another beautifully soft cotton, this time black with a white print, so watch this space for my sorbetto version 2!

This is the first of three garments that i plan to make for my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge. I think it will be great in Vegas as it is very light, which hopefully means cool! The next two are dresses which i imagine will be much tricker...i best get a move on! However, this afternoon instead of starting a dress muslin....i made pants!

Remember this kit, which i was given for my birthday?


Well, this afternoon it became these!

I won't pretend that the sewing here is the neatest i've ever done, as it was a bit fiddly, but i am pleased with the end result! They were pretty quick to make too. I have long admired the beautiful creations from Ohhh Lulu so it was fun to dabble in this area of sewing! Now i really must get into a dress frame of mind...

Knitted Square Count: 10

K xx

Friday, 1 July 2011

Summing up 6 Months of Sewing

I can't believe it's July already...this year is going by so quickly! It was around 6 months ago, just after Christmas, that i first started sewing. Inspired by the "6 month review" i have seen a number of other bloggers do this week, i thought it would be a good chance for me to look back on my first 6 months of sewing!

So far i have made...

one chunky scarf


a couple of cushion covers


three bags (the third one was the same style as the second one shown here)


some little purses


some beaded jewellery


one Crescent skirt

and one baby cardigan

I'm pretty pleased with everything i have made so far. I think that the item i am most proud of is the Crescent skirt. As well as being my first garment, this is by far the most complicated make i have attempted to date, and i love it! 

So, what do the next 6 months hold? My aims for the rest of the year include...

- Three new makes for my Holiday Wardrobe Challenge

- Finish my share of the knitted squares for the blanket i am making with my mum

- Knit another baby cardigan

- Make some more small bags, purses and other small items with a view to attending my first craft fair

- Handmake at least a considerable portion of this year's Christmas presents (i know, i know, it's July, but forward planning is required here!)

These may be slightly ambitious, but we will see....!

In other news, i have almost finished my first sorbetto top, i just need to buy some more bias binding to complete one of the sleeves and then i'm done! I have a relatively free weekend so am looking forward to getting lots of sewing this space!

Knitted Square Count: 9 and a bit

K xx


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