Monday, 28 September 2015

The raid on Mandors

Well, I promised a post about my recent visit to Mandors in Glasgow so here it is. I'll also mix in some rough ideas about what I'm going to sew with the fabrics I bought. Yes, it's fabric with an 's' at the end. Plural. Lots of fabrics! So many they gave me a free reusable fabric bag plus a big carrier bag with all my purchases. Maybe I bought too much? Too much fabric...*does not understand the concept*

 The top fabric is a green polyester fabric with a little bit of lycra in it. I'm sure I've used the merlot version of it in one of my many versions of Ultimate trousers. It's cheap fabric at £3.99 a metre and it's polyester...but they're so comfy! It's also a lovely forest green colour. Me and green, eh? This fabric is destined to be another pair of Ultimate trousers.

I also made the mistake of rummaging in the jersey remnants bin and found this wildly patterned tropical jersey fabric. It was £7 for 2 metres which also had three holes cut out of it when presumably it was used on a display mannequin. I can cope with that. I think the fabric is a viscose with a little bit of lycra. It has a slubby surface texture.

The top fabric is another rescue from the jersey remnants bin again at £7 for the piece. This is a nicer quality and again I'd say it's a viscose. The background is black and the bluey spots are more of a teal colour in real life.

The bottom fabric is a taupe/grey version of the forest green polyester fabric above and is also destined to be a pair of Ultimate trousers.

  This rather nice fabric was in their sale area, which had lots of jersey fabrics so I was right in there! I think its sale price was about £4.99 a metre so I took 2 metres. I'd like to make a jersey top for work with this but I haven't decided on a pattern yet. Again I think it's a viscose jersey.

Now we're getting to the really nice, not in the sale or remnants bin stuff! The top fabric is a 50% wool 48% polyester 2% lycra and it's a lovely weight. Destined for trousers I've not decided on a pattern yet but obviously Ultimate trousers are a good fall-back if I don't find anything else I like.

The bottom fabric is gorgeous! It's a thicker viscose twill. Maybe there's something else in it as it has quite a bit of stretch to it but I can't remember. This is destined for a top of some sort but again I don't know which pattern to use. I've seen some lovely patterns recently so I might have to try a new one.

And last but not least, the most expensive fabric purchased in this raid. The top fabric is just the tropical jersey again, so you can see the full range of colours it has!

The fabric on the bottom is a lovely 100% wool (twill?) which is destined to be a jacket. More forest green, yay! I bought Vogue pattern 9136 when their patterns were recently half price. I've already made a muslin and yesterday I pre-shrunk the fabric. That's an afternoon of my life gone! I also cut out the fabric so I'm ready to start cutting out and applying the interfacings.

You can also see the glorious green buttons I found in Mandors too. Not cheap at 99p each and I bought 6 or 7 but I think the jacket is plain so it needs statement buttons. I also know that if I didn't buy them I'd seriously be kicking myself when I got home to Edinburgh. They're the perfect colour for the fabric and I love the shape and design of them. I might even challenge myself to make bound button holes. *Gulp*. Anyone else planning to make a jacket or coat for the cooler weather?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Fall Essentials Sew Along #FESA2015 - cosy pyjamas

At the end of last winter I threw out all 3 pairs of my winter pyjamas. They were done and I'd certainly got my money's worth out of them. So as August came to a close and the 5th annual Fall Essentials Sew Along was announced by Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones, I knew what my first 'make' would be!

I found and bought some lovely brushed cotton from Minerva fabrics in Black Watch tartan and another checked fabric for a soon-to-be-started second pair of pyjamas.

I used Kwik Sew 2811 which I've used before here. I also used buttons from my button tin, which is very satisfying! I love piping in pyjamas so I had to do it for these and also I felt it would lighten up the tartan, which can be a bit dark. Anyway, I used No.1 piping cord and some green satin bias binding and used the piping foot on my sewing machine. It definitely takes longer to do piping but it's well worth the effort. I used the overlocker for as many of the inside seams as I could.

I cut the cuff sleeve cuffs on the bias, I love the contrast! I needed to add a good few inches onto the pyjamas as the pattern states the finished inside leg length is 29" which is way too short for me. I just  cut more cuffs on the bias to add the length, as you can see in the photo above. It just seemed to be a neat way to add the length I need using the bias cut cuffs I love. And of course it's another opportunity to add more satin piping!

The trousers are lovely and roomy and finished with a gathered elastic waistband. These are a real classic pair of PJs, there's nothing revolutionary about them but then again, I don't want them to be. They just have to be cosy and comfy.

One pair down, two more to go!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Stan Laurel, Glasgow Doors Open Day and a little bit of handicrafts

Bet that got your attention but they're all connected! We've just got back from a cheeky weekend over-nighter in Glasgow. We just thought why not? And in a stroke of genius we found out it was also Glasgow Doors Open weekend. For those of you who don't know what the 'Doors Open' events are, they do just exactly what they say and the doors of institutions and interesting places are thrown open to the public to come and have a look. There can be some very surprising places that are runaway successes, I remember the first time Mortonhall Crematorium participated in Doors Open Day and it was very popular.

So, the hitlist this weekend was all in the central Glasgow area and all within easy walking distance of each other, although my leg muscles are aching today because we did so much walking yesterday.

There are lots of photos in this post and I can't say they're the best quality either but I hope you'll enjoy hearing about the places we visited. There's fabric at the end for those who aren't interested in buildings. Here goes....

Glasgow School of Art, the Reid Building Visitors Centre. This is an ultra-modern newly opened in 2014 just before the beloved Mackintosh building went up in flames last year. This modern building faces 'the Mac' (designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh) and surprisingly the two sit very well together. There was a Visitors Centre you could look around and
I really enjoyed this. the displays were well laid out and even though it's a small space we stayed there for a good half hour. You can't get into The Mac as it's half covered in scaffolding for repair works.

There was also this lovely tea cosy displayed in a glass case. Can't imagine how long it took to sew that! I loved the stylised flowers, they seem full of life and movement. In another case was a hand printed skirt sewn during the Second World War. The noted beside it said that art supplies were difficult to get hold of in wartime so artists had to get by as best they could. Not a great photo but you get the idea!

Next on the list was St Vincents Street Church. This is on the World Monuments Watch as being in danger of falling into ruin but the Glasgow Doors Open Day brochure said you would be amazed at the interior. They were right! This was designed by Alexander'Greek'Thomson and it's a corker! It has a very exotic feel to the decoration inside but has been damaged due to water ingress. The building is now water-tight but the water damage hasn't been repaired. It's very interesting seeing a building that's been preserved rather than renovated.

After this, it was The Lighthouse which is now an arts venue but started life as The Glasgow Herald building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. No photos, you'll be pleased to hear!

The we went to my favourite building of the whole weekend. The Britannia Music Hall (also known as the Britannia Panopticon or the Panopticon). I absolutely loved this! It's not a big venue and it's on the first floor. It's also gloriously shabby inside! There were great exhibits on display and I learnt that Stan Laurel had his stage debut at the Panopticon. Cary Grant also danced on stage in tights in this theatre before he became super-smooth and cool. There were various programmes on display showing you the variety of weird and wonderful acts you could see. No telly!

 Music of the era was playing and there were some costumes on display too. You may be able to see the peeling paint in this photo! The stage has recently been restored as they do performances of the period. A wonderfully atmospheric place and the 1200 people who visited yesterday probably thought so too!

 Today it was the Synagogue. I have been to a synagogue before, the Florence Synagogue so I was interested in seeing how it compared. Florence seemed much older and this one was built in the nineteenth century so there's lots of beautiful stained glass. There were lovely helpers from the congregation who answered our questions and explained lots of things to us about the Jewish faith and how they worship.

We also went downstairs to the Scottish Jewish Archive. As we entered the building C was asked to cover his head and given a cap (sorry I don't know what the correct name is). There were lots of other people visiting and I think opening their doors was a big hit. There were people visiting from other faiths too, some you might not expect would enter a synagogue but it was good to see.

After the synagogue it was the Glasgow Art Club. The entrance doors, fireplaces and ventilation duct covers have recently been proved to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Yes, it's that man again! But he was a world class architect and designer. You can see one of the fireplaces in the photo below. We were able to wander around the floors of this beautiful building.

Our last building was the Glasgow Film Theatre, a lovely Art Deco cinema. We missed the last tour so didn't get to go into a projection room but we went to three auditoriums and the cafe.
So, back home in Auld Reekie now and thinking of the amazing places we've seen. Such a variety of purposes and states of preservation. Have you been to any similar event? Maybe you also went to see some buildings in Glasgow this weekend. If so, which one was your favourite?

The next post will be about trip to Glasgow is compete without a raid on Mandors!


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Ultimate trousers in a natural habitat

Well, I've steeled myself to take the tripod outside and take photos for my blog. This is the September challenge for the 'Better Pictures Project' by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. This post is really more about the taking better photos outside than about the latest pair of Ultimate trousers I've just made. However, the trousers were a work in progress that I abandoned in July/early August and ignored, then picked up yesterday, tried them on and decided they were worth finishing. Worth blogging about but dark trousers don't make interesting photographs!

The fabric is cotton with a small percentage of lycra in it. I bought it from Mandors in Glasgow when we were there in April. It has a dark denim finish to it but isn't as thick as denim. In hindsight (isn't it a wonderful thing?!) this fabric would be much better as a blouse or dress rather than trousers. They're summer trousers and I hope I'll get a couple of weeks to wear them before autumn really takes hold and I have to put them away till next year.

I did a really stupid thing when making these trousers. I basted one of the side seams and the crotch seam with white tacking thread, tried them on and then overlocked the seams. Yes, I overlocked over the white tacking thread. This was the point I abandoned them!

For some reason, I tried them on again yesterday. It was make or break time! So it was out the seam ripper and unpicking the white tacking thread. There's a lesson I've learnt!

So that's the trousers. Now for the September challenge of the Better Pictures Project. Find a new location less than 5 minutes from your home to take your blog photos. Good challenge. I took these in the communal garden near the flat and upped the stress levels by doing this beside a main road and busy bus route. I then wimped out a bit by doing this on a Sunday morning so only a few people were walking along the pavement. They didn't seem to bother about me and my tripod!

The first few photos I took I used a lovely stone wall as a background. I don't think they were very interesting and I posed quite awkwardly but that could be because they were the first photos I'd taken outdoors by myself. These were also in full daylight, albeit cloudy. What do you think?

The photos I like are the ones I did underneath a sycamore tree. You can see the leaves on the ground. Autumn is coming! I think being under the tree seems to have given a better light. Hey I'm no expert photographer! I also like the 'action shots' but I think it was luck that made this a good freeze-frame photo. It could have gone either way!

I used the self-timer on my ipad and set it to 10 seconds. I tried the 3 second one but that's too little and those photos were deleted.
Here's a back view of the dark trousers and black jersey top. Recognise the snood? The light has highlighted the wrinkles on the back legs, they're not that bad in reality. I haven't used any filters or photo editing software or apps. I'll be interested when we get to that month! The photos against the wall seem a bit bleached out, while the other photos have a good level of colour in them.

So, to round up. This has been a good challenge and made me think about how I take photos in the future. One thing though, Saturday was pouring with rain here so it'll be interesting to see how the weather affects the limited time I have free to take photos during the winter months. We'll see how that goes. I really enjoyed doing this challenge and it's given me the kick up the b******* to go and do something about improving my blog photos! I'm looking forward to learning more in the next few months.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

High-low hem shirt

This is a shirt I made just in the short bursts of time I had after work last week, and also on Sunday afternoon. It just proves how productive you can be with small amounts of time. I think this is a relatively new pattern, New Look 6374. I've recently thrown out a RTW shirt in a similar design although it didn't have the high-low hem. I wasn't sure about high-low hems on me but I'm becoming a convert with this shirt and the recent jersey top I made.

Gathers at the back yoke
Marvel at the intricate placket and topstitching!
Nope, you can't see anything at all of the structure of this shirt because of the patterned fabric, but it's the structure that makes it sit and hang nicely. There is a single layered front and back yoke, joined with a shoulder seam. there are gathered sections where the front yokes join the front shirt pieces. Same at the back.

There's a small grand-dad type collar and a placket at the front. This placket was probably the trickiest thing about this blouse and I made sure I'd sewn it carefully before clipping to any dots. Doing that sort of thing before sewing just makes me come out in a cold sweat so I tend to do things my way! Don't you sometimes think, with pattern instructions, that they sound good on paper, perfectly logical to follow, but in reality you just know there's a minefield waiting for you if you go down their route? It's easy to create a perfect drawing but that's just not what happens in real life.

Anyway, enough with the words and on with the sewing. The sleeves are meant to be worn rolled up and there's a button tab to hold them up. The sleeves have a 1.5cm hem turned up twice and machined. Nothing fancy there but I made sure I made them long enough so I could also wear them rolled down if the weather was cooler. I think I added an inch to the sleeve hem.

Very satisfyingly I also found the perfect buttons from my button tin. They're a sort of caramel coloured wood. Black ones just disappeared in this pattern. What doesn't disappear against this pattern! Speaking of pattern, I'd say it a cross between very large fingerprints and a kind-of animal print, in a sort of cream, beige, black and caramel. So there you go! Very me.

It's a 100% polyester, nothing fancy! I bought it in John Lewis when lurking the sales fabrics a month or so ago. This wasn't in the sale but I couldn't give a monkeys! This is a shirt to wash and wear is intended for work for autumn/winter and let's face it, probably spring too. I didn't prewash it before cutting and frankly if it does shrink I'm not sure I'd notice as it's quite roomy. Well, all except one place, the back yolk seam. That's probably because there's a seam joining the yolk and back piece, then I top-stitched it so the seam is very firm. What do you mean you can't see the top-stitching?!

With the sleeves unrolled it's almost got a bit of a seventies-vibe going on as the sleeves don't come in towards the cuff, creating a bit of a bell shaped sleeve. Here's a side view of the all-important high-low hem.

All in all, I really like this shirt. As a note to anyone out there who's thinking of making this shirt, I'd like to point out that I did not add any extra length to the body. I'm 5'9" tall just so you can get an idea of how the pattern sews up.

I've bought a tripod so I can take photos without bothering C all the time. This was my first time using it and it took me a bit of time to get it set up right but I'm pleased with these photos. Just need to get started with Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow's six month-long The Better Pictures Project. Just so you know, I took these last Sunday so that was before this project started. A better background would be good and the first challenge is to find a nearby location 5 minutes from your house. Shouldn't be too difficult...famous last words!