Tuesday, 24 February 2015

This post is brought to you by corporate partners

Not really. But you may have gathered from my last post that I'm struggling to tell you interesting things about some recent projects. As much as I'd like to tell you about the profound thought processes and problem solving that took place while I was making these, or wax* poetic about the inspiration behind them, there's not much to actually tell you. Both of the projects below were Christmas presents (on time, thank you very much), both feature branding, both for lovely people. They seemed like good ideas at the time. That's pretty much the important stuff!

 *can you wax things other than poetic or lyrical?

How great is the print on this fabric?

4649 Scarf - Japan all over
Guys, this scarf was for TapTapTap: the lady just oozes cool. She just debuted her company Old Kent Road at The Place.

TapTapTap had a proper 4649 scarf. Had. Apprently it went walkabout on the train and the brand's remaining supplies were long gone. Sad times. Naturally, we thought we could manage a broadly similar thing by buying a t-shirt and refashioning appropriately. (We - B was in on this as well)

Evidence it once was a t-shirt

The pattern is Two Way Stole from Natsuno Hiraiwa's Shape Shape. Once again,the pattern behaves very differently depending on which fabric you use. That might be a running theme at the moment, don't you think?

Shape Shape two-way stole

EDF Plushie
You know this guy actually has a name?! It's called Zingy - and it somehow has a merch shop, a pattern on Ravelry and a whole selection of bootleg replicas floating around eBay and Etsy. Do you find it a bit odd that there's a whole handmade economy growing around the cute mascot of a corporate energy firm?

EDF Zingy Plushie
Anyway, you remember my highland cow from July? Turns out it was a big hit with the grandparents. Anything cute, they will adore. I have it on grandfather's athority that the cow is only allowed to cosy the teapot on special occasions. Otherwise it's got its own place on one of those mantelpieces that all grandparents reserve for special things.

Zingy getting stuffed

The grandparents have a soft spot for Zingy. EDF flyers can be spotted about the house. I had this idea a while ago but dismissed it so I could avoid giving people too many me-made things as Christmas gift. But as mid-December came along, and the deadline was drawing closer, I knew that this was the only good thing to get for grandparents. I mean come on.

Pattern pieces
 So Amazon ond Plush Addict came to the rescue with fast delivery and an insane selection of orange fabric. The colours are a bit off in these photos but please trust me that a lot of thought went into finding the right shade of orange. I borrowed a machine, drafted a shape with B and sculpted/improvised the point on top.

This guy is bigger than expected, but I think he's a success.

That's it for now, more for you soon!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ever heard of zig-zag pinstripes?

At the same time I made the green trousers, I also made up a pair of actual office-appropriate trousers using some reversible zig-zag pintripe. Seen below post-commute in my scummy Converse. I used the more subtle side for the outer, it's a little scratchy to wear but I'm hoping that'll soften up (or I'll stop caring).

The pattern is still Burda 10/2013 #126A Bootcut Trousers. The pattern is still not bootcut.

The fit is slightly different to the green trousers and seems a little looser/drapier, allowing for a little extra space "out back", which thankfully makes them wearable.

The quest for a repeatable trouser/jeans pattern continues but I've been using these recent projects as a means of experimenting with construction methods, details and finishing. Dear patient reader I won't bore you with a discussion of 'when in the process to sew a fly', but I want to tell you about one of my favourite details:  buttonhole elastic in the waistband.


Mammafairy kindly gave me a big reel of the stuff a while ago and I've want to properly crack this over my next few pairs of trousers. In high-waisted trousers it helps mitigate slightly against a swayback; in low-rise trousers, it's pretty important in not letting them slide down my hips as I wiggle throughout the day. Y'know? Of course you do.

Anyway, for anyone interested in adding buttonhole elastic to their waistbands, here'a a quick explanation and some photos:
  1. Construct and interface your waistband as you like. Mark the facing (or inside bit) for two slits. I choose approx 1-inch backwards from the side seam.
  2. Stitch and cut open two buttonholes for the buttonhole elastic to pass through
  3. Secture one end of elastic beside the buttonhole. Add a button.
  4. Feed elastic through one hole and pass through the inside of the waistband
  5. Bring elastic out through other hole, sew in place and attach a button
  6. Attach waistband to rest of garment and do any necessary finishing

Done. Clear as mud.

I'm sure there are better or prettier ways, but will get back to you once I have a new idea.

Right now, I'm off for some pinot grigio and tinned pears.

Catch you soon!


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Money Saving Tips for the Frugal Stitcher (7/7) - Some closing thoughts

Hey guys, 

It looks like we've come to the end of this series. Either I've run out of ideas, strung it on more than long enough or perhaps realised that you can never totally opt out of being a consumer.

I am certain you can save money if you sew. You save money on clothing, homewares and gifts. On the other hand, it can become a very expensive pursuit and that's a big risk if you're generally short on dough. 

If you want to get your sewing budget under control, you need to think and act carefully.
+ Who are you? What do you sew? What are your spending priorities? Can you combine costs and benefits?
+ Look after your tools, repair and repurpose
+ Stop spending too much on patterns
+ Treat your stash like a pantry: things will expire.
+ If you can get it discounted or free, do it!

I wrote all of these posts in one go on a snowy day in January 2014 in Berlin. Seems like I'm a bit guilty of dishing out advice and not following it one single jot.

After a binge at the start of October 2014, I've decided to start tracking how much I spend on sewing. Why didn't I do this in January? Beats me.

Stay safe,

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ohh Lurgy...

Before I begin, I'd like to pass a quick message on to whichever one of the 12.1m people I have apparently been in contact with over the last few weeks has given me the lurgy: Not cool, bro. Not cool.


The trouser pattern is Burda 10/2013 #126A Bootcut Trousers. The pattern is definitely not bootcut.

I'm hoping that 2015 will yield some trousers/jeans for me. The first thing I need to find is a suitable pattern: Self-drafted? Printed? Traced/RTW copy? Right now I think it's just a case of testing what I can find against what is "good enough" and what sort of sizes and mobility work well for what I expect of  my trousers. Obviously they need to keep my ankles warm.

The trousers are bottle green, stretch drill from John Lewis. There is a metal-tooth zip in the fly, a jeans button in the waistband and the facings/pocket linings are made with some vintage William Morris floral I'd inherited. French seams throughout, I'm pretty proud of the finishing in here!

I made a size 34, and must admit these green trousers are tight. I'm showing you blurry photos because there is nowhere near enough room for my whole derriere (which is painfully visible in anything less blurry). I have popped the jeans button off twice already.

Green pants can't handle my booty.

I'm also showing you blurry photos because this case of "super long leg" showed up too:

(Which I, admittedly, find absolutely hillarious)

The t-shirt is a raglan tee I'd traced of a basic Fruit of the Loom crew t-shirt. Made from scraps, I had to do a bit of fiddling and piecing up the back to work with the pieces available. Let's call it a yoke. It seems to work well enough.

In this outfit I feel a bit like a character from The Prisoner. Anyone for a game of giant chess?


Friday, 16 January 2015

Pyjama attack

Pyjamas are by far my favourite thing to make (except for dinner and messes)

For Christmas 2014, I was a bit stumped about what to get for my brother P. P is in his twenties, a real absolute hipster. So I've made him some cartoon pyjamas with sharks and monsters on them. You know, so he can wear them ironically.

Shark fabric: 'Shark Attack' by Momshoo on Spoonflower
Monster fabric: 'Oh no, Tokyo!' by ceanirminger on Spoonflower
This was the first time I'd ordered fabric from Spoonflower. While I love the colours and the quality of the jersey, I'm a bit disappointed in the non-continuous printing if you order more than one yard of a given print. It did make the pyjamas a bit too short for my grand plans/long and skinny brother.

It also got picked up for customs duty. But that's another story.

I've probably made 10 pairs of these pyjamas now, and at least as many t-shirts. They came together pretty easily and are Size M Butterick B5432 (the t-shirts are traced off a standard RTW).

Forgot to get a picture of the sharks. They came with a plain white raglan tee.

The monsters, I definitely remembered to photograph. There's a dark green patch pocket on the back of the trousers. Partly for phones, partly for continuity.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Money Saving Tips for the Frugal Stitcher (6/7) - Freebies

Okay, this is the one we've all been waiting for. Where to get free stuff when you sew?

Here are a few good options you should never overlook when trying to get something for nothing in the sewing world.

Swaps: As showcased by the many excellent meetups and virtual events that take place, there's great opportunity to pocket a lot of free stuff at a pattern and fabric swap. Particularly if you're feeling greedy. Remember that whatever you want, someone probably already has and is looking to get rid of.

Giveaways: the sewing blogosphere wouldn't be complete without giveaways. Sponsored, anniversaries, frivolous, just because, competitions and random draws. Enter whatever takes your fancy and you might just get a bundle of free stuff!

Gifts: Of course, an easy one here. Use any sort of gift occasion to justify that fancy Nani Iro double gauze.

Swaps: Not so much a freebie but still sensible. Seen something you like? Work out a way to swap until you get it!

Network (friends, family, co-workers...): Here you guys will need to get a little sneaky, a little cheeky. Once people know you sew, you can inherit lots of scrap/spare fabric  from friends and family. Relatives and elderly acquaintances may pass their legacy stash on to you, kids may grow out of old clothes, people may lose an awful lot of weight, they may even have spares from their own projects. Ask and ye never know what ye might receive...

Salvage: Peter found it in bins, I liberate from event decorations, you may salvage from theatre, school or costume spares. The possibilities are endless.

Commercial Opportunities for vendors: This counts for bloggers as much as for non-bloggers. Think about sponsors (who can also offer discounts to your readers), think about becoming a pattern tester, think about reviewing books/courses and classes. Think about applying to one of the blogger networks.

Not only is this a good way of having access to new resources, but if you plan to turn your sewing into something more then this is a good stepping stone. 

Commercial opportunities for you: Smple. Work out how to make money from sewing. Melissa has mentioned several times how Adsense pays some of her sewing bills, and now she's going even further by releasing her own pattern line. You could just take commissions from friends and family, but it will definitely make things easier on your bank balance too!

Anything I've missed?

K x

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Plan B

B had a birthday recently. B-day, if you like. Like a good girlfriend, I had thoughtfully planned and chosen his gifts well in advance and was smug in thinking I'd have plenty of time to prepare them.

Red linen Jedediah shorts, perfectly fitted, as requested in April (oops), and a copy of Ted Gioia's book on Jazz Standards. 
On an impromptu trip to Foyles, B cheerily walks out with his new copy of The Jazz Standards. Hmph.

Red linen Jedediah shorts and a perfectly fitted copy of the pattern on lovely manilla card ready for him to use.
Getting pretty close to the deadline I realise that a perfectly fitted and hand adjusted pattern might take much longer than expected.

Adjusted and cut out

Sod it, just make two pairs of Jedediahs.
Wait until B is out of town to diligently trawl London fabric shops for the perfect shade of purple for a pair of trousers.
Apparently nowhere stocks a purple trouser-weight fabric. Seek comfort in cake instead of working on birthday present.

Snazzy pockets and belt loops

Make another pair of red Jedediahs! 
Discover the otherwise perfect red cotton drill is hideously wonky. Spend rest of your day crawling around the floor trying to correct it.

Construct first pair of Jeds as directed. Watch House of Cards.
Realise that the shorts are ending up dreadfully (and unexpectedly) skinny. Try shorts on self. Decide B needs an emergency (secret) fitting session.

Snazzy pocket topstitching

Hold emergency (secret) fitting session, discover everything is actually okay. Put the kettle on.

This bit actually went okay.

Expect to finish second pair Jeds in a series of weeknight late-night sewing sessions. Decide to add a tasteful soppy monogram to the inside of the waistband.
Attempt buttonhole on first pair of Jeds at 0030 in the morning. Finally succeed on attempt 5.

Slowly getting there

With 2 nights to go shun all cleaning, cooking and correspondence responsibilities until second pair of Jeds is done.

Explain to housemates why you're making a second pair of red trousers. Assume "Because he knows about those ones, but not about these ones" is a rational explanation.

Attempt to flat-fell both the inseam and the sideseam of trouser legs. Realise this is a near-impossible, time-sink task. Beautiful level of detail on both pairs of trousers has put you badly,  but not impossibly behind schedule.

1am, the night before. Go to bed. Admit that you're not finished, but the only remaining things are a hem, a buttonhole and the two buttons for the front of the trousers. That's about an hour's work in the morning.
Fine. Sod the monogram.

Snazzy Pair 1

Snazzy Pair 2

8.30am, B-day. Hem? Done. Buttonhole? Done. Buttons? Buttons?

*WHAM* Button not gone in.
*WHAM* f***, cut bigger hole for rivet.

F***, f***, f***. Panic. Now late for work. Trousers need a button and I've just cut a massive hole in the front of one of them. I can't do this myself, and I definitely can't fix it. Oooooh dear.


Arrive at dry cleaner 2 mins before the Same Day Service deadline. Tip trousers, buttons, rivets, hammer, wallet, phone, keys and bags all over the countertop. 

"Pleeeease fix this and add some jeans buttons"
"You know that requires a special machine, right?"
"Yes. Pleeeeease fix it!"

4.30pm, B-day. You beautiful, fabulous, glorious dry cleaner. Thank you.
Realise you might need to wait until spring before B wears the linen shorts.

Snazzy finished Pair 1

Snazzy finished Pair 2

I think B's pretty happy with them...