Thursday, 4 November 2010

Quilt progress

All the machine sewing is now done on the quilt for my sister and nephew. Now there's *a lot* of hand sewing. I'm quickly building back up my hardened fingertips as I can't find my thimble and haven't had time to pop out and buy one.

The back of the quilt is effectively finished, as all the hand sewing now is appliqué on the front:

I'm currently sewing on the letters on the front of the quilt. There will also be two red hearts, and (possibly) two rectangles at the top and bottom to frame it. I think I should have bought some embroidery thread to do the appliquéing (is that a word?), but I just wanted to start it so used regular polyester sewing thread. And I'm not entirely pleased with the result, as it's not very smooth, and doesn't cover the edge particularly well so I'm worried the edges will shred. Hmm. I'm going to see how it looks when they're all done, and then I might go over the edge with maybe chainstitch in embroidery floss. Didn't really save myself much time there did I?!

I shall mull on it over the next week, as I'm off to the UK so won't be able to work on it...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Leopard dress finished and worn

I have to say, I really like this pattern - it's super fast to cut and sew, and pretty flattering and easy to wear too. And with a change in fabric, it's easy to make it dressy or casual. I think I forgot to mention in the previous post that this is made out of the fabric we used to decorate the hall where we had our wedding party, so it was actually quite appropriate for a weekend being whisked away on a surprise trip by my husband! The yoke is made from the same linen-look fabric that was used for the swing jacket a couple of posts ago - so I actually have a matching jacket if I feel like being extra refined. I interlined the sash with silk organza to help stop it crumpling and narrowing when it's being worn, and that works quite well.

So here's some pictures of the finished dress, being admirably modelled by Wilma on the balcony:

I took it on holiday, and actually wore it both evenings (we flew EasyJet so only had hand luggage, so I had to pack light). I was very pleased with it "in action" so to speak - It doesn't crease, isn't hot despite it being synthetic, and is super comfortable (apologies for the appalling photos, I need to train my husband in taking clearer and more flattering ones...):

And the mystery trip? We went to Budapest! It was beautiful and I had a wonderful time (I compartmentalised the horrifying issues surrounding Agnes Gereb...) - we found everyone very friendly, the food was delicious, and everything was very good value (although that might be a reflection of living in Geneva). And I can now say yes, no, hello, goodbye, please and thank you in Hungarian!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sewing clothes again at long last!

I decided to take a break from the quilt and make some clothes! Not least because it's suddenly got cold and I need to sort out some more appropriate clothing. So I decided to make a floaty going out dress. Sensible.

I did have some reasoning behind this - I'd planned to make it on Saturday and wear it that evening to a party, so I wanted something quick and well, party-ish. The pattern is Simplicity 3539, View B, which I've made before, so I knew it would fit me and what alterations I needed to make to improve on the first iteration: add a back seam and a swayback alteration, lower the bottom of the armscye a little, and take in a small tuck between the yoke and front to eliminate gapping at the front of the armhole (should ideally do an FBA, but the fit is very loose so I just fudged it...).

Unfortunately I was a bit ambitious to try and make it in a day (mainly because I didn't get up until midday...), so I'm now making it to wear this weekend (my husband is taking me away for a long weekend to a surprise location!). I cut everything out on Saturday, so today was sewing day (in between long Skype calls to my family in the UK).

The dress is now pretty much constructed, I just need to sew down the facings and hem it. The armholes are also currently unfinished, as I'm deciding whether to add some sleeves or sleevey frills. I also will be making a self belt/sash so it will be a bit less muumuu-ish on me.

Oh, I also need to unpick the bottom of the centre back seam and re-sew it in a rather less ripply manner...

Here's a close-up of the front yoke:

And I got to use my serger at long last! Not entirely sure this is the right stitch to be using for this purpose, and not entirely sure that the tensions are quite right, but hey, it's FUN.

And one final picture - the clouds cleared over the last couple of days, and there's snow on the mountains again! (and yes, I do need a camera with a better zoom (it's my hint for a Christmas pressie...)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Green swing jacket

This is something I made about two years ago, and is one of the things I wear most frequently, despite it not being perfect! It's made from a vintage mail order pattern, probably early 60s - sorry, I don't have the pattern number and am not going to look it out at the moment as my new sewing room is still a bit of a mess...

The fabric is a green linen blend, somewhere between olive and bottle green, nice and drapey, but I think there's a bit of synthetic in it too as it's surprisingly warm. The hot pink lining doesn't actually show through, it's just the camera flash picking it up! The sleeves are cut on kimono style and bracelet length. The shawl collar extends into small pockets at the front.

The jacket languished as a UFO for about a year before I finished it. I'm not entirely sure why. Possibly I'd just got frustrated with working with quite a slippery fabric, and I couldn't face doing the lining. It was interesting coming back to it as it was one of the first few things I made, and in that year it surprised me how much my sewing skills improved! I was very proud of how I'd sewn it when I first made it, but realised when I came back to it how I could sew it better. That was pretty satisfying proof that I was getting better!

The lining is sewn in by hand, and the jacket includes shoulder pads. I wasn't going to put them in originally as I have quite square shoulders, but they are actually really necessary to give some shape to the cut on sleeves. I plan to make a more polished version of this again at some point, and when I do I'll make it about an inch to two inches shorter so it hits at a slightly more flattering place. However, I still love this version, it's one of those items of clothing that always makes me feel happy when I wear it.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Alphabet quilt

I'm progressing on the quilt for my nephew. Fortunately for my quilting, but not so fortunately for her, my sister's due date was revised by the hospital to a week later that originally thought, so I now have until the end of this week to finish it before I fly to the UK on Monday. Not entirely sure I'll get it done in time, but nothing like a deadline to motivate yourself!

My inspiration for this quilt was this rug:

I should have completed all the machine sewing by the end of today so more photos then, but for now, here's the back of the quilt, which is pieced. The fabric is subtly striped, and the piecing makes use of this to provide some extra interest.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


In addition to clothing, I've discovered a love of quilting. I get to be creative and inventive, but without the sometimes frustrating fitting issues that come with making clothes. I can also indulge in incorporating more patterns and shapes than I might want to use in my clothing.

Quilting has (or at least used to in my mind) have an association with drab and ugly patchwork bedspreads, but having explored it there is so much more to it than that! (Not belittling of course the enormous amount of work that goes into making a "traditional" patchwork quilt). I made my first quilt about two years ago for a friend's daughter. It's not the most ambitious quilt, but I had a limited time to make it in (so all the hand-quilting wasn't really a good idea...), but in researching it I found huge amounts of inspiration on the internet, for example the photostream here.

The quilting is a combination of hand-quilted flowers, and machine-quilted trellis (there was an awful lot of tying off threads...). Unfortunately the only place you can really see the hand-quilted flowers is on the section where they overlap onto the plain yellow (the backing was the busy flower pattern too).

The large flowers are embroidered with wool, the ends show through slightly, but for a quilt to be used by a baby, I figured that didn't matter too much!

My second quilt was made about a year ago, originally intended for another child, but I ended up keeping it. I learnt from my first quilt, and this was extremely quick to put together once I'd done the planning - it's all rectangles (apart from the elephant of course!) with straight lines of quilting. The elephant is appliqued with machine zigzag stitch, with a short stitch length so it looks like satin stitch. The only hand stitching was to finish the binding.

The back is just a fairly plain fabric so it's easier to see the quilting pattern:

Shortly after I finished this, the V&A put on an exhibition about quilts, which was absolutely amazing. It was extremely thoughtful and thought provoking, exploring the links between quilts and wealth, poverty, women's issues, and societal reform, amongst others! I found it hugely inspirational, both on an intellectual level and for the beautiful range of designs and techniques. I would highly recommend buying the catalogue.

I've recently started thinking about quilts again, and I have so many ideas and so much inspiration - if only I had time to make them all! I'm currently working on a quilt for my soon-to-be-nephew (due in a couple of weeks), which will be mainly black and white and very graphic. It's a bit more subdued than my usual taste, but it suits my sister's aesthetic. It's quite a personal quilt, not necessarily in design, but definitely in the work that will go into it. I've had some difficulties in my relationship with my sister of late, and I'm hoping this quilt will say a few things from me, but using something better than my words...

Friday, 13 August 2010

A new start

There's been a few major changes in my life in the last year and a bit since I last posted - I got married, I left my job, and I moved from the UK to Switzerland! As you might imagine, this has meant I've been rather busy, so sadly haven't done much sewing. However... this will hopefully change shortly!

I'm currently not working in Geneva (it was my husband's job that moved) and so I'm planning to make the most of the spare time I now have by doing plenty of sewing. Our flat here has two bedrooms (rather than the one we had in London), so the second one is in the process of being transformed into my sewing room...

Erm, yeah, so it needs a little work. Unfortunately I can't put all the fabric away straight away, as my basement flat in London was damp, so it all smells a bit musty and needs washing. Yuk. This is what I've washed so far:

Hooray! Clean fabric!

It's been quite fun unpacking and sorting it all - I've discovered some ace fabrics I'd completely forgotten I had. I've also discovered at some point I decided I should buy vast quantities of pale blue lining fabric. Seriously, I have about 6 metres. Why?! I also have huge quantities of leopard-print fabric left over from the decorations at my wedding, so I may be channelling Bet Lynch for a while...

Whilst I'm sorting this all out, I'll post a few things I've sewn since I last posted, and share with you my plans for what I'll be doing once I can actually get to my sewing machine.