Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Queue-jumper!

When I bought this fabric I just knew it wouldn't hang around among others in the queue pile. I say queue, but really it's a pile of fabric that I'll just pull something out of when inspiration strikes/the prefect pattern suddenly blips on my radar.

It also called out screamed at me to make Simplicity 1364 which by now must be a classic in my wardrobe. I've made so many versions but my favourite is the blue flowered version, it never fails to get a compliment every time I wear it too.

So, here's my latest version in another lovely, flowery fabric that I bought a week or so ago. This shows the front of the top.

I love it! It's a cotton sateen and lovely to work with. The flowers are big, lots of blues, maroon, pinks and some grey and brown, unusual for this style of print. This pattern is lovely to sew too, there are elbow darts, slits in the side seams and a 18" zip at the back. I scooped out the neck by about half an inch as this sits better on me.

Its a lovely patterned fabric but that means...pattern matching the back seam with the zip. It took a while but boy did I make a good job of it (obviously, modesty is my middle name!). I think I'm just relieved as it would have stuck out like a sore thumb if I hadn't done it right. Have a look and see what you think.

I'm one of those weird people that likes putting zips in. Quite a bit of basting is needed but it really pays off in the finished result. Can't resist adding a close-up photo too!

The background of the fabric looks white but in reality it's cream.

C (AKA The Photographer) is still working while I'm off so there will probably be more photos of clothes hanging on the wall rather than on me!

Monday, 27 July 2015

A simple top

Well, how is everyone today? If you're anywhere in Scotland I expect you'll be rusting by now as it's rained all day and been quite chilly. But....I've just started two weeks of annual leave so you know what that means....yes! expect lots more sewing posts. Here's a quick make I cut out last Monday. I also have another unclogged finished piece I need to blog. This week, I promise!

So, this is the third top I've made from a free pattern I got when I bought an issue of Sew magazine. It's New Look 6217 I've made here and here. It's probably worked better in a woven fabric than the jersey of the plain cream top! You never stop learning!

So, this fabric is one I bought on holiday in Portugal. There was about 1 metre and there's still a bit left. There would have been more if I hadn't made bias binding for the neckline but the finish is on the neckline is worth it. I think I'll need to wear a camisole underneath as the fabric is quite thin but that's fine. With the sun behind it, it would be too see through for my comfort and probably that of onlookers too!

So here's a close up of the neck. There's really not much to this top, front and back cut on the fold, self made binding on the neckline, sleeve and body hems turned up twice and machined. Nothing fancy here! But I like the colours and I'm sure it'll be a good wardrobe staple....if summer comes back at all *stares wistfully across the Firth of Forth*....

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

I've bought more fabric

Yes folks, I have done two sweeps of the fabric department John Lewis. They had a sale on and there were some rather good fabrics. Want to see what I bought? Here it is and also what I'm thinking of making (subject to change, of course, if a better/new pattern catches my eye!).

This one's quite a 'different' choice for me but then again the colours are good on me and it's a big, bold pattern! I bought 2 metres.

This is a cotton with 3% lycra, 150cm wide and £8 a metre. I was thinking of a skirt, but that seems the obvious choice, or my old favourite Simplicity 1364.

Next, there were some lovely wool fabrics at good prices. The first is dark charcoal grey with a dusty pale grey pinstripe. This is a 70% wool 30% polyester, 150cm wide and I think it was £11 a metre.

It's a lot darker in real life! This is a lovely weight and I'm thinking of a pair of lined Ultimate trousers, unless I see a better pattern. I bought 2 metres so I have a bit of length to play with, which is always good for a tall person!

The next wool fabric is a 100% wool, a good weight for another pair of lined Ultimate trousers. It's a grey small herringbone patterned fabric. It's more a mid-grey colour, again it's difficult to see in the photo.

This is a metre of black lace. Sorry, couldn't resist that! It's funny what comes into my mind sometimes. Back to the fabric...I think this was £7 or £8 a metre. I fancy trying out the Sutton top or perhaps making an entirely lace top with an underlayer. Or...I could completely plagiarise Dandelion Drift and Caroline Amanda's version on Sewaholic's blog  Seriously like those!

And then there's this. It was a remnant of 60cm x 150cm 100% polyester. I figure I can squeeze something wearable out of this if I cut it width-wise instead of lengthwise. I think it was about £3 or £4. If I can get a top out of it...bargain! And I love the huge ivory dots on it just because they're so huge.

Then we come to the black sheep of the bunch. Or flock. This wasn't in the sale. It's a 100% polyester 150cm wide and...well, what is it really? Animal print and what looks like large finger prints all in various shades of cream, black, grey and tan. Perfect for autumn and winter. Let's face it, the temperature in Edinburgh has been abysmal so no wonder I'm thinking of winter! Again I think I bought 2 metres and I'll make a blouse/shirt out of it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour around my latest purchases. Bought anything recently?

Friday, 17 July 2015

And now for something plain

Hi everyone and how's your day going? I thought I'd show you a top I made the weekend before going on holiday. Packed it and took it away...and brought it back home unworn. It travels well!

This is another fabric I bought in Mandors when we had our weekend in Glasgow in April. It's a reasonable weight cream jersey, and probably a viscose or cotton with a little bit of lycra thrown in for good measure too! It's a lovely fabric to work with.

I decided to use New Look 6217 that I've used before here because I like the curved hem, kimono sleeves and wanted a more slouchy top rather than a close-fitting jersey top. And I got what I wanted! The only changes I made were to cut the back on the fold and eliminate the back neck slit, button and loop closure. The hem doesn't look great in this photo but it's fine in real life.

But...and you can't tell from the photo as my hand is conveniently in the way...I guess-timated the neck band and it's rubbish on the finished top. I also used my twin needle which doesn't cover up the fact the neck band isn't right!

I took a close-up so you can see in all its glory, no hiding from my mistakes here! But then again, I only ever wear cream as a base and wear a scarf with it, I'm too pale otherwise, or at least that's what I feel.

So here it is with a scarf and a much happier Joyce, see, I'm smiling in this photo!

I think this is a good lesson though. Do we take for granted how easy it is sewing up essential wardrobe basics in patterns we've used before? Get a little bit 'yawn' about it all and forget that the slightly different characteristics of each fabric we choose influence the finished garment, sometimes in surprising ways? Make a few changes to a pattern we've used before and yikes! Oh well, I live and learn!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fabric and blue skies

Hi everyone and how is your week going? I feel I'm getting back to normal again, back to my old self with the routines of work and home life. This is good! It also means I'm thinking of sewing again, last Sunday I just didn't have the notion for it at all.

I thought I'd start by showing you some of the fabric I bought in Lisbon. The bright pink (or is it magenta?) paisley pattern was just calling my name! So I bought 3 metres of it. It's a 100% woven viscose fabric bought off the roll for about 9 euros a metre. Oh, and it's 150cm wide. I don't know what I'll make with it yet, perhaps a shirt and a top as there's enough fabric for both. I just can't seem to get dresses to fit properly on me and I suspect I'd need to do some serious muslin-ing!

Here's a gratuitous blue sky photo of Lisbon where I bought the fabric. See how scorched the grass is? In Edinburgh the grass is lush and green....three guesses why that is!

I just loved the whole experience of buying the fabric! I went to a shop called 'Feira dos Tecidos' in Rossio square. According to their plastic bag there are other branches around Portugal. Picture it...a tall, pale tourist wanders into a fabric shop full of portuguese ladies who take pity on her as she must have mistakenly walked into the wrong shop! All eyes were on me. Somehow, despite me not speaking a word of Poruguese, and the shop assistants not speaking a word of English, the cutting was done, the cash paid and I walked out the shop with two pieces of fabric.

Yes, TWO pieces of fabric. The other piece was in a box full of other fabric pieces, all at 4 euros each piece. I reckon it's 150cm wide by a metre long. It's also a 100% woven viscose.

Those are genuine-straight-from-the-suitcase creases. no fancy messing around with ironing and all that! After these photos both fabrics went straight into the washing machine to be pre-washed.

I did think about making an infinity scarf with this piece but now I'm thinking of a simple tshirt? There's enough fabric and it always seems a waste to make a scarf when you could make 'proper clothes' instead.

Belem Tower, Lisbon

More gratuitous blue sky. It really was that blue! And hot. Scroll down if you want to see some more blue sky, because let's face it, you're not going to see sky that blue in Scotland this summer!

Pena Palace, Sintra
I think Pena Palace in Sintra was where the Portuguese royal family lived in the summer, escaping the heat of Lisbon. It reminded me a bit of Port Meirion in Wales with its coloured buildings.

I've wandered off the sewing! But I wanted to show you the fabrics I bought and who doesn't love photos of blue skies?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Ultimate trousers and a bat-wing sleeved top

Hello there! I'm still blogging some items I finished and took on my holidays. There's even more to come. This is a 'doubler post', showing you a pair of Ultimate trousers I've made before, and also a top I've made before here and here.'s another holiday photo of me, complete with C's thumb in the frame, this time outside the Pousada at Cascais on the last day of our holiday. What a beautiful place! Full of palm trees which I like very much as it makes me feel I'm in another country. We ate some very good fish here.

I'm wearing my second pair of Ultimate trousers, this time in a beige stretch cotton fabric I pre-washed before cutting out. I think there's about 2% or 3% lycra content. It was good to work with. I did the same alterations when cutting out as I had done for the black pair. This is definitely a pattern I'll be making again and again and again....

Now for the top which for me is, quite frankly, the star of the show here! Quite bright, isn't it? Very 'me'! I bought this fabric from Mandors in Glasgow when we were there for a weekend break in April. Well, we went to Glasgow for the break, not Mandors....but then again, if Mandors did holidays...! The fabric is a 100% viscose fabric and quite fine. I've got a camisole top underneath this as I think it would be a bit transparent in the sunshine. I pre-washed the fabric before cutting out.

It took ages for me to decide which pattern or what garment to make. I love this fabric so I really didn't want to mess it up. It was such a cheap fabric, £3.99 a metre and 150cm wide, but I love the pattern and colours. I wanted to keep the cutting and the number of seams to a minimum so eventually I decided on view D from the vintage Style 3982 from 1982.

I keep coming back to this pattern and I've made it before for my Vintage Pattern Sewing Pledge here and here. Must be a good one!

This is one of those times you feel you've made the right choice of pattern for the fabric. I stabilised the shoulder seams with some cotton tape as the fabric's very fine. Apart from that, it was a relatively simple sew. I turned over the neck edge twice and machine stitched it so it won't stretch out with wearing and washing. Oh, and of course, I had to start cutting it out and sewing it up 2 days before the holiday departure. And I worked the day before we left. Is this typical of sewists?

I love both of these garments and know I'll wear them a lot. Definitely worth the time spent sewing them!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Flying birds cotton top

How are you all? I've decided to have a lazy sunday afternoon and not do any sewing at all! There's just been so much happening recently that after doing lots of holiday washing, cleaning the downstairs and doing some food shopping, I feel like I'd probably make lots of mistakes if I started sewing. Best not to, then!

So, I thought I'd write a blog post instead as I've got a bit of a backlog of unblogged items. This top is one I made the weekend before going on holiday. I thought I needed a few more cotton tops, and I wasn't wrong about that. The weather was really hot, 38 degrees so natural fibres was the way to go. Here's a photo of me in Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on my recent holiday in Portugal. What a lovely place Coimbra is, and still a working university. We peered in the Examination Hall where PhD students were undergoing their viva. I wonder if they passed? We also went in the beautiful, stunning Library.

Anyway, back to the sewing! The fabric is a 100% medium weight cotton in a dark navy/indigo with printed stylised flying birds. I pre-washed the fabric before cutting out the pattern.

I used New Look 6225 that I've used before. It's a loose fitting raglan short sleeved top with darts at the bust. I made bias binding with the fabric and used it to finish the neckline. the sleeve hems and body hem are simply turned up twice and machined. I understitched the bias binding then top stitched it so it's made a very neat finish and reinforced the neck so it doesn't stretch. I'm pleased with how this has turned out. I seem to have varying results with self-made bias binding.

So this has turned out well and I wore it on holiday. I think it'll go very well with the magenta Julia cardigan I made a month or so ago. Wow, a co-ordinating wardrobe! Who'd have thought it...:)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Feathers and silk

Well, first of all I have to say sorry for not posting for a month. There has been such a lot happening, life has just taken over. I was doing a lot of sewing for my holiday when everything stopped as we heard the bad news that my uncle had been taken ill very suddenly and was in hospital. Sadly he died that evening and the family has been stunned, to say the least. His mum is 97 so everyone has been worried about her too. My uncle's funeral is tomorrow and I'm dreading the next few days.

On a happier note, we did go on holiday and it was good to get away for a week. I also decided that I'd take photos of me wearing my new-makes in sunshine and blue skies, something we haven't seen much this summer in Edinburgh. So, expect a few posts of me squinting!

So, the feathers are printed on a cotton sateen fabric which has a little bit of lycra in it so there's some stretch. I knew I wanted to take this on holiday so I bought some habotai silk to make the lining, just to keep everything breathable in the hot temperatures. I pre-washed the silk using soap for silks and woollen fabrics and remembering to select the delicate silk setting on the washing machine. It came out absolutely fine. Just have to remember to do this when I need to wash the whole skirt!

I used a pattern I've made before, Simplicity 1559 and view D with a back split.

We went on holiday to Portugal and I'm standing in the square of the town of Sintra, a World Heritage site. It was absolutely beautiful and so were the other buildings we went to in this area.

And here is a closer view of the feathers! I did quite a good job of aligning them.

The skirt has a waist facing which I prefer to a waistband. I never seem to get waistbands right! The skirt pattern is unlined so I kind of winged it for the lining. I cut the silk very generously because of the stretch in the cotton. I didn't want any stressed seams and ripped silk! I just added a pleat instead of darts at the waist.

I was running out of time to do anything fancy with cutting the waist facing and silk lining and sewing it together so no edges would show. Do you know, I just don't care?! There are more important things to worry about. I hand stitched the silk lining to the waist, underneath the facing. If I throw it into the washing machine and forget to treat it nicely, I can stitch up another lining and sew it to the skirt without too much hassle.

I hand stitched the silk lining around the zip too but machined the hem. I used bias binding for the skirt hem and hand sewed the final hem. I'm just full of contradictions, aren't I?

This skirt was lovely and cool, well as cool as you can be in 38 degrees. I'm really glad I spent the money on the expensive silk to line the skirt with as I'm sure I'd have keeled over if I'd gone for polyester lining! Natural fibres are great in that heat.

I also removed the polyester lining on this skirt I made last year, using the same pattern. I bought some black silk fabric and made a lining. I hand stitched the lining into the skirt and took it on holiday too. It was also lovely and cool and I think I've now developed a serious silk lining obsession! Have you used silk linings in your dresses or skirts? Do you think it's worth it?

I'll be back with some more squinty photos've been warned!