Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Me Made May debrief

So today marks the last day of MMMay16 so it's time for me to have a quick muse on how it went and what I have learned.
My pledge for this was that I would wear at least one hand made item of clothing every day throughout May, with bonus points if either of the kids were also wearing a handmade item.  I was fairly confident that I'd manage it, but was interested to see if I'd end up wearing the same stuff over and over and where the gaps were in my handmade wardrobe.  I knew before I started that I have a serious dearth of handmade bottoms, so that was never going to be news, but I wanted to see if any other areas were lacking.
The first thing I realised was that I'd been planning MMMay in an April, which had been pretty rubbish weather-wise, but as soon as May rolled round Spring arrived in earnest.  All of a sudden quite a few items of clothing which had been staples of my wardrobe were being put away until Autumn.  It turns out that I have a lot of long sleeved dresses and tops and that I really do need to start working on some summer clothes.
The next thing was that I have even fewer bottoms than I realised as both of my Grainline Moss skirts are currently a bit on the tight side.  I'm not going to feel bad about that because I made them during the time that I was having issues with my gallbladder and was much thinner than I was really comfortable with.  I did realise that I really missed wearing them though so I'll be making up some more before too long in the next size up.  I also managed to rip 2 pairs of trousers during the month, one old pair and one brand new pair too so despite actually sewing trousers this month I actually ended up down a pair in the end.
However, I'm not feeling downhearted at all, I made it to day 19 before having to wear anything twice which just goes to show that I have lots of choice in my handmade wardrobe.  During the month I finished 5 new garments (mostly unblogged and pictured) so I'm feeling pretty productive too.  All in all it's been a fun and informative month and I now have a shopping list of useful items that I'd like to make over the coming weeks rather than just making spur of the moment choices each time I finish a project.  Big thanks to everyone else who joined in, it's been really inspiring to see what other people wear on a day to day basis and really interesting to see which of my projects have caught peoples eye too.
So that's that.  To save myself feeling aimless and lost I'm starting a new challenge tomorrow because it's Outfit Along time!  I have plans and I'll be back tomorrow to tell you all about them.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

FO: McCall's 7115

I've been having a small run of failed garments of late, one pair of trousers that ripped after several hours of wear and a pair of culottes which I shall probably never admit to having made, so I was really hoping for a win with my next garment.
I chose McCall's 7115 partly because I've been wanting to make it for ages and partly because it has an intentionally relaxed fit and I figured I couldn't go too far wrong.
While I really like the idea of View A with the shorts I thought I'd make things easy for myself and use the bodice from that view but use the skirt from Views C&D.  I'll definitely make it as a romper soon though.
The fabric I close has been sitting in my stash waiting for the right project for ages.  I love the little flamingos and I didn't want to use them for a garment that I wasn't that into.  I've got my eye on a few more flamingo fabrics right now though so it's not like it's a scarce kind of print to get old of!
Construction of this dress was really straightforward, I would completely recommend it for less confident sewers so it sewed up so fast.  I cut the pieces in my spare moments on Wednesday and sewed it up completely on Thursday.  Of course being the first project on my sewing machine helped speed things up because I was so excited to have a proper go on it.  I'm pleased to report that it all went smoothly and I was particularly tickled to see it actually completing buttonholes without any kind of drama at all.
Overall I'm really pleased with this.  Next time I make one I may make the next size down, the fit is meant to be relaxed and this one is really comfortable but I would like to make one that is a bit more fitted.  Particularly as I am in danger of flashing my underthings if I lift my arms!  That aside this is a definite win which is exactly what I needed after a couple of disappointments.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

My new BFF

Hi there, I've been AWOL for a few weeks, mostly because I've been working slowly on several projects with not much to report.  I'll have a catch up in a few days but today I'm just here to introduce you to my new friend.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram will not be surprised to learn that I' treated myself to a new sewing machine and it is very pretty indeed!
Now my old sewing machine was actually not that old at all, maybe a couple of years and despite never really loving it I wasn't really considering replacing it until a few months ago when Stu mentioned how loud it sounded from the girls bedroom.  I started halfheartedly researching quiet sewing machines and quickly started discovering new features that I all of a sudden couldn't live without!  I decided to slowly save up some money and take my time deciding which machine to buy when the time came.  To cut a long and boring story short, after considering many very good options I found that I had my heart set on getting a Pfaff with IDT because for me the built in walking foot type affair was exactly what I needed.  They are pretty pricey so I set about squirrelling away a bit of cash each month so I could get what I really wanted.  My machine was perfectly adequate so there was no problem waiting.
Of course, somehow my old Singer found out that I was plotting to replace it and decided to get it's own back by messing with me big time.  On a couple of occasions I was in the next room and heard it going  by itself for a few seconds.  Naturally I blamed the cat and thought no more about it until one day it just kept doing it and wouldn't stop.  After profusely apologising to the cat I decided that we obviously have a ghost.  A ghost that's totally into sewing!  Unplugging the foot pedal stopped old ghosty in his/her tracks but also stopped me sewing too (sad face).  Resisting the urge to just replace the stupid thing I ordered a new foot pedal and hoped that would solve the issue.  Ultimately it did but it wasn't terribly reliable, working perfectly one minute and refusing to do anything at all the next.  After a day of shouting at the foot pedal and then at the machine for being unwilling to do something as simple as sew a buttonhole Stu suggested that I should probably just buy a new machine before our children learnt any more new swear words.
So I did.  Recent events did colour my decision a little, I had been considering the Pfaff Ambition Essential but it doesn't have a start stop button and suddenly the ability to sew without actually needing a foot pedal seemed rather a good idea!  The Ambition 1.0 has that feature and is a rather fetching shade of pink and that was pretty much all I needed to plump for that one instead.  At this point I've only had it a day so I can't really draw many conclusions, but so far I LOVE it.  It is ridiculously quiet compared my old one, the amount of info on the screen is fantastic and I'm really very in love with the little storage compartments.  Simple things!
I'll report back when I've had a chance to sew some different types of projects and fabrics and let you know how we're getting on then.  For the moment it's Happy Hannah, over and out.

Monday, 9 May 2016

FO: Belladone

I was unsure if I was ever going to write a post about this dress, frankly it's a bit of a mess and I was just going to sweep it under the carpet. However, it is a garment that I've made and now worn and I've decided I should be proud of it. Also it is useful for me to get down all of my thoughts so that I don't end up making the same mistakes next time, so please bear with me!
Please note this is linen, don't judge my wrinkles!
Deer and Doe's Belladone dress is one I've been meaning to make for ages, it's so simple and smart from the front, but has the lovely cut out detail at the back. It's taken me a while to get round to making it, partly because I was looking for the right fabric and partly because I was wavering on what size to make. I made their Sureau dress last year in size 40 and find it a little large but I was a little worried that this more fitted style would be a bit tight if I made it in size 38. In the end I decided to just go for it with this inexpensive pink linen and prepared to write it off as a muslin if it didn't fit.
To begin with this project seemed to be going ok, the instructions were a little vague in places but I prepared the back pieces and stabilised the diagonals with bias tape with no trouble. Once I got to the armholes, however, I found myself having to use my own judgement, which I was completely betrayed by. I really should know better by now! Basically I had no idea whether I needed to sew the bias tape on using a 1.5cm seam allowance or whether I was meant to just sew it straight on at the edge. I went for the 1.5 cm and ended up with a weird situation where my upper back pieces were very pretty much bisected by the armholes. I haven't bothered to take a photo of that though and it's a bit difficult to explain, but next time I'll just stitch the bias tape on at the edge instead. At that point I considered completely remaking the bodice but because I was beginning to worry about the fit I decided to keep going so I'd not made 2 bodices of a dress that wasn't going to do up!
From that point on things weren't too bad, I did the neck binding without incident and the waistband and skirt came together nicely. Then came the zip. I started by finishing the allowances where the zip would go on my overlocker as usual, I did one side just fine and then at the end of the second side I somehow lost all control and ended up catching the upper back and sewing (and cutting!!) into it for an inch or so. Disaster! I did a bit of a half hearted repair job and ploughed on. I was feeling a bit slap dash by then so I knew I wasn't doing my best work anyway, but because the upper bodice is already joined at the neck I found the whole thing really fiddly and ended up having to unpick a couple of times. Next time I think I might consider sewing the neck hole up last so that the back is completely open at the time of zip insertion. By this time I was thoroughly sick of the whole thing, but I went ahead and stitched on the hem facing, which is a lovely finish and so much easier than straight hemming in my opinion, and that cheered me up a little.
What I'm left with is a mostly wearable dress, albeit with a cardigan over the top to hide the overlocker accident and weird bisected pieces at the back. The bust darts need moving a little next time and I might consider using a slightly smaller seam allowance around the waist to give myself a little more room for a big dinner. Or I could cut down on the big dinners of course and give myself a little more space that way! Despite all of this it was all totally worth it, I know that if I can make a few changes and avoid making stupid mistakes I will come out with a dress that I love. I'm completely in love with the shape of it and, while I'm usually not that bothered by pockets in dresses, these ones are a really lovely feature which I would never leave off. Although I was left feeling like this was a bit of a fail at first it's actually far from it. Even though it is a bit rubbish I found that I really loved wearing it and was happy to tell people that I made it myself. I'll call that a win.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

FO: Tauriel

It's not been a great week in the Smith household, I'd hoped that dropping my brand new iPhone down the loo was the low point but on Sunday our poor little Izzy cat had to have one of her eyes removed and that kind of put things in perspective a little.  We're not entirely sure what happened but she probably got into a fight with another animal where her eye was very badly damaged.  Stu spent most of the weekend travelling up and down the motorway to a specialist vet who was unfortunately unable to save the eye.  Izzy is home now, merrily crashing into everything with her cone of shame and enjoying the fact that no one has the heart to turf her off their lap in her condition.
However, to lighten things up a little, I have finished a pair of socks that I have been working on since February.  This has encouraged the weather here to perk up again so I can't imagine I'll be wearing them much for a while, a shame really because they are so pretty!  The pattern, Tauriel, is exactly what I'm into at the moment.  Cute little cables knitted through the back loop which look super complex and time consuming but are really pretty simple.  I've actually got an idea for a pair of socks along similar lines floating around in my brain right now, I've put pen to paper but it may be a little while before I put needles to yarn.  Watch this space.....
My favourite little touch on these socks is the ribbing on the gusset.  I think it makes them just a little extra fancy and the way it is knitted makes it very easy to keep track of your decreases without actually having to do counting.  Not that counting is a particular struggle or anything, I'm just lazy!
The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer, which has really subtle little glittery strands in it.  They are maybe a little too subtle for this magpie, but the effect is quite tasteful.  I had to get in really close to get the glittery bits to photograph at all, but they are in there.  I really like the way the cables really stand out in the light coloured yarn and I think it was a really great choice for this project.
All in all, I'm really pleased with these.  They felt like a little win after a rubbish week and I'm sort of glad to be done with them after knitting them for so long.  My next project is a breezy cotton sweater, so hopefully more seasonally appropriate.  Oh, and for anyone that was worried, my phone has been thoroughly dried out and appears to be fully functional at the moment.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.