Friday, 31 January 2014

Plantain challenge!

I recently found a fabric shop (worrying close to work as far as my bank balance is concerned) with loads of fabric on sale for either £1 or £2 a metre.

I picked up loads of knits as my wardrobe is lacking in me-made long sleeved tees, with the plan to try out the Grainline Hemlock and see if i liked the looser silhouette.  And then Deer and Doe brought out the Plaintain tee which is another free download.

It's a loose-ish fitting casual tee with long and short sleeved options, elbow patches and a scoop neck.  And there's a competition!

The fabric I chose for was a navy and white striped heavyish weight knit with an interesting ribbed texture on the (plain navy) reverse side.  I wanted to play with the reverse side with some accents, so I drew a line on the pattern piece parallel to the shoulder seams, finishing at the front armhole notch.  On the back I went straight across to the lower back notch.  Of course you need to add seam allowances onto these so you can sew them together!  I cut the neckband and elbow patches as normal but used the reverse side.  At the last minute, I decided to add bands of navy around the cuffs.  I used the same method as the Renfrew cuffs with a folded band which also saved on hemming time!  The hem is twin-needled.

I sewed the whole thing on my overlocker, just using my sewing machine for topstitching.  I doubted my ability to get the neckband on correctly with the overlocker but it worked really well and was so fast!

Once I was almost finished I tried it on and felt the loose fit around the waist and hips wasn't especially right for me, so I took a wedge out at each side seam from waist to hip - it ended up being about 3" taken out at the hemline.  Apart from this, I sewed up a straight size 40.  I don't normally wear tunic length tops so I decided not to add to the length as I usually would to make things fit. 

The pattern lends itself really well to customisation -  Anna from Paunnet has made a really cute dress version, so I'm hoping to see some lovely versions popping up on the blogosphere this week.  Have you seen Rachel's deer and doe elbow patches?  Amazing!

Are you entering the competiion?  Link me up to your version if so - I'd love to see!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Wardrobe Architect - Week 2

Oh I am behind!  It's been a crazy week and I've only just got around to blogging last week's Wardrobe Architect and now the next one has just been posted!

The Husband has been away for work, throwing all of our precarious childcare arrangements into disarray, so I've been working through lunchtimes (when I usually blog) so I can leave early or come in late.  Thanks goodness he is back today!

So on to Wardrobe Architect week 2!

This week is about identifying words that describe how we feel about our style and ourselves and attach images to them.

When you are wearing your favourite clothing, how do you feel?

 Confident, slim, put together, stylish, quirky, attractive

When you are wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel?  What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?

 Uncomfortable, restricted, fidgity, exposed, judged

Who do you consider to be your style icons?  What is it about them that appeals to you?

 Jane Birkin - laid back, carefree but still glamorous
Daisy Lowe (and actually Pearl Lowe too!) - mixes vintage and modern with a bit of an edge
Alexa Chung - also mixes vitage and modern with lovely detailing and cute accessories
Lou Douillon - quirky and rebellious
Karen Gillan - vintage style with a bit of a modern edge

What are some words that describe things you like in theory, but are not quite you?

 Fashionable, loose, funky, urban, minimal

Under this, I also noted that I love Audrey Hepburn and the way she dressed, but it's just not me at all.  I wouldn't suit her style.  I thought about why this was and I think it is that she had a very clear style that was totally her, and she always stuck to it.  She was always beautifully chic (of course it helps if Givenchy dress you!), wearing plain coloured, slim fitting styles that really showed off her petite figure.  So a clear style seems to me to be really important.

Looking at answers from week 1, list 15 words that you associate with your answers

 Difference, confidence, ethical, practical, standing out, focus, clear, dual purpose, work, home, child-friendly, music, slow fashion, quality, balance

Are there any words you would add to this list? What other words describe your core style?

 Vintage, modern (since these 2 are a bit contradictory I am interpreting it as mixing vintage with modern), rebellion

If you had to narrow your list to 3-5 words to describe your style what would they be?

Modern Twist
Great accessories!

Here's my moodboard, broadly collated from my Happy Wardrobe Project Pinterest board (which you can find here if you like).  I skipped the pics of dresses on their own or on models in favour of real people or characters as I think it gives a better feel for how the looks might actually be worn.

Now onto the next task!

Monday, 27 January 2014

A "free" hat

When I finished my Hetty cardigan I had a skein of Malabrigo Worsted left over.  3 skeins would have given me just enough yarn according to the patterns and as I was planning to lengthen I bought 4 just in case.

I found this cute beret pattern by Andi Satterlund. It's a free pattern so I'm calling this a totally free project!

Love those decreases in the star shape!
 The beret knits up quickly and easily in the round- I think it only took me a couple of days. It's got a simple cable pattern around the band - this would be a great introduction to cables if you want to learn them.

I blocked it round a dinner plate which was the perfect size.

What is the weird stripe in my hair?  I swear that's not normally there!
 A nice quick wearable project and toasty warm as it's getting colder here.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wardrobe Architect - Week 1

The first task in the Wardrobe Architect project is to look at how different aspects of our lives and personalities have an influence on our personal style.  Read Sarai's full post here.

I thought I'd answer on a blog post as the ones I have read so far have been really interesting! Check out Helena and Becky's if you haven't seen them already.

Probably the two biggest things that have influenced my personal style were going to university and having a baby.

At school I didn't have a lot of confidence due to a bit of bullying (nothing serious but enough to make me keep my head down and not be noticed by being different). Looking back, the clothes I wore were mainly copycats of what my friends wore.  When I went to university I got into the indie music scene and started wearing clothes to look different and stand out.  It was around the time of grunge so think DMs with floral dresses, combat trousers, band tshirts, shorts/cutoffs with tights, parkas and checked flannel shirts (a la Bridget Fonda in Singles)

Source:  Projections
When I had a baby i seemed to lose my personal style all together. I suppose this started (pre-sewing) with a lack of interesting maternity clothes and ended up as a very blah wardrobe. I went back to work quite a bit heavier than before and dressed to blend in.


Probably the philosophy that has the most bearing on what I wear is a dislike of fast fashion. I hate the cheap and nastiness of the clothes and recent events in textile factories have really made me think about how the high street produces clothes (and not just the cheap places either). I used to just avoid the very cheapest places like supermarkets or Primark but when places like Gap or J Crew are involved with these places it's hard to know where to shop. The only low-paid sweat shop I want to wear clothes from is my own sewing space!

Source: (this really made me laugh - that statue always wears a traffic cone!)

I grew up in the west of Scotland not far from Glasgow where there was (and still is) a very strong culture of reverse snobbery - the "who does she think she is?" effect. As a result, some people look down on people who want to look different and so a lot of people look the same.

I also find that when i go back there (my mum still lives in the town where I grew up) I see far fewer people wearing "trends" or dressing to stand out.  Probably the exception is students.


Source: (look at these glamorous mummies!)

At this stage in my life, lots of friends have at least 1 child if not more. Several don't work (and therefore have financial constraints on clothes shopping) but jeans and tees are often the order of the day.

By contrast where I work is extremely trendy. The average age is about 25 and most of the women are very slim and look great in everything.  There's no dress code so anything (including jeans) goes. 

I ddon't want to look trendy but I do want to have my own style and look.  But balancing this idea of practicality and style is very important for me.



As I said above, I need a wardrobe that works both for home life with 5 year old and work life in a trendy but casual office.  My main non-work activity is sewing and through that I have met lots of lovely ladies (yaay Spoolettes!) who often have a clear look and style and I think that is so important when you sew. When you can make anything in any colour I think you need a style to narrow it down and focus.

I have a small child and a limited amount of time So for that reason I need to focus on clothes that are easy to care for (hand wash means not worn in my house), that can be worn with flat shoes, and are practical for everyday life. Separates and knits are important and I have done a pretty good job of filling out my wardrobe with these this year.

I live in the south East of England.  The weather doesn't require very specific clothing although it does rain a lot so things that can be worn with boots are good - sandals tend not to be worn much! Tights are essential probably from about September to May, so the skirts and dresses that get worn the most are ones that work with and without tights. A jacket or coat is usually necessary and I tend to layer with cardigans to deal with the range of temperatures from home to outside to train to air conditioned office.


This is a big one for me. One of the reasons my personal style fell by the wayside was weight gain. I have always gone up and down in weight. I lost 60lbs a couple of years ago and felt much better about myself. It's amazing how much more confident I feel, even speaking up in meetings etc. I have put a little bit back on which I am currently working to lose (that'll be a lifelong battle right there!).

I am coming to terms with my frame as something I can't change (obvious right?). I have a large frame with broad shoulders and hips. I am tall so it is relatively proportional.  My top half is not too bad. Since having N I carry a bit of extra weight on my stomach (I never had any extra weight there before).  If I gain it goes on my hips and thighs. My hips are fairly in proportion. My thighs are not. I definitely have what Tasia nicely calls strong thighs! My legs are ok. Wow, I managed to critique my body without being too negative - that's a first!

This has been interesting - looking forward to the next task!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Gasp! I made socks!

I know some knitters knit socks almost exclusively and I never expected to be one of them, but with pair 1 in the bag I can see how they become addictive. They are a great portable project.

I was looking for a knitting project for over Christmas (knitting in front of the TV when you have visitors is a bit more companionable than sewing on a noisy machine in another room!). By coincidence Kristen from K-line was running a knit along on her blog to knit a pair of socks in a week using a pattern she devised and made available for free.

I looked for a yarn without too high wool content due to itchiness issues.  After much debate on Twitter I went with Opal Rainforest which is super wash with nylon to make it hard wearing.  The colours are beautiful and I love the striping effect.

For some reason Blogger wants you to see this pic this way around.  Thanks Blogger!

 I ordered a few colours to get the hang of socks (and in case my first pair came out unwearable!). The colours I chose were Tom the BardLea the Drummer and Rudi the Saxophonist (odd names as apparently they are names after endangered rainforest species). After deciding to give the first pair to my mum she chose Tom the Bard which is a mix of greens, blues and turquoises.  I used Addi Lace needles as Kristen recommended and really liked them - the join between needle and cable (which is my pet hate with circulars) is so smooth and never catches.  As I'm a tight knitter, I went up a needle size to 2.5mm which worked fine.  To widen it a little round the leg as my mum hates tight socks, I added 8 additional stitches to get an extra 1".  I knitted the rest as per the pattern, adding a couple of extra decrease rows to lose the extra stitches during the toe shaping.

The pattern is really easy to follow with charts to keep count of the number of repeats you've done. Kristen uses magic loop on circulars as I did but she shows how to use the pattern on dpns too.

The only issue I had was in doing the Kitchener stitch for the toe. Sock 1 was terrible (unpicked and redone several times in different methods until I gave in and just sewed it up) but I found a clear tutorial for sock 2 and it worked really well. You can find it here.  Here's a pic of the good one - you're not getting a pic of the bad one!

So there are at least 2 more pairs in my future (and N wants a purple pair - I am hopeful I can get a small size pair out of the wool I have left after knitting a adult pair so I'll be trying a pair for her in this colour first.). 

Have a look at Kristen's tutorials and pattern if you'd like to give it a go. Did you knit along? Have you made socks before?

Friday, 17 January 2014

The scary sewing skill swap

Try saying that after a drink or two...

This frankly scary looking collection is for a long - promised jacket for the husband.

Earlier in the year he did a beautiful renovation on a vintage Elswick bike for me and in a fit of gratitude I promised to make him a jacket.

It has to be mentioned that hubby is a fussy bugger when it comes to clothes. Everything has to be perfect or he won't wear it so I'm under pressure on this one! Here's my brief:

The pattern we agreed on is the Fairbanks pullover anorak from Green Pepper (bought from Rocky Woods - a treasure trove for this sort of pattern, which is not easy to find elsewhere).  The jury is still out on the inclusion of extra pockets - he likes pockets.  I am making a few amends to the pattern. In addition to a possible sleeve pocket and maybe 2 lower pockets for hands, the main pocket will be a patch pocket on the outside and the flap will be squared off.

The fabric hubby chose is a navy Goretex (the real thing and if you have ever tried to buy this fabric you'll know what a great ebay find this was!). We also got swatches from Pennine Outdoor who are so helpful on understanding this type of waterproof performance fabric. You have to line Goretex as the inside is coated with waterproofing which will eventually rub off as it is worn if left unlined.  He wanted a breathable lining of course so he chose a navy cotton. He doesn't want padding or insulation as he prefers to layer underneath with a base layer rather than wear a bulky jacket.

Fairbanks is a very clear pattern with good instructions on how best to sew the seams (with straight stitch first then zigzag inside the seam allowance and trim) but not so much on sealing the seams other than you have to do it! If you don't, water will drip through the needle holes rendering your precious waterproof fabric next to useless.

I've gathered a few resources on this as they were pretty few and far between - maybe this might help someone else! The choice is pretty much between a liquid sealant or taping the seams.

A post on the Sewaholic blog about making a waterproof Minoru was very useful
This helpful lady tested various seam sealing options
KBenco has sewn with Goretex and various other outdoor fabrics and posted about how to work with it here
This Ebay guide is goodl for understanding the difference between fabrics and has some good tips

 Based on the above, I decided to go for seam tape purchased from Pennine Outdoor which states that it works well for Goretex type fabrics. It irons on fairly easily at a temperature that doesn't damage the fabric (from the test swatches I have done so far) but once it's on, it's not coming off so I'm going to have to be careful! Ripping back seams isn't going to be an option as it will leave obvious holes in the fabric. 

I'm using microtex needles (to make the smallest possible holes when sewing) and standard polyester thread. I also have a waterproof zip.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever done a skill swap where you swapped your sewing skills for something you couldn't do? Any tips for sewing with waterproof fabric?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Minerva Blogger Network - The Blackberry dress

For this month's Minerva make I decided to make a comfy knit dress. I have lived in knit dresses this autumn / winter as they are so cosy! When  I saw Rachel from House of Pinheiro in her Dakota and felt the lovely soft fabric for myself I know i had to use it.

The pattern is a really good one - the much made, loved and blogged about New Look 6000. You might recognise it as the pattern Winnie used for her polkadot frock fest. It's a great basic darted dress pattern with  cute collar and cuff variations and a version with side pleats. I've had the pattern a while and I used it as the basic bodice for my Mad Men dress.

 As I had already worked on the fit of this one, I didn't need to make a muslin. I just traced off the  bodice pieces and added the skirt.  All bodice fit alternations were written about in detail here if you are interested!  I decided to make the version with collar and cuffs.  I had originally intend to make the side pleated version, but it has no bust darts and I couldn't wrap my tiny brain around how to do an FBA on it.  Any advice/ links?  As I'd love to make that one - it looks so flattering.
The fabric is a ponte jersey in blackberry.  Its hard to describe and the picture on the site really doesn't do it justice.  It's a greyish, purplish marl.  The reverse is slightly darker and has a stripe to it so I decided to use it for the collar and cuffs (not that it's terribly obvious from the pictures!).  It is lovely and thick, easy to sew and handle and very soft.  There have been other lovely projects made from this jersey - Rachel's Dakota as mentioned above, and Jane's Lady Skater to name a few.

Vicki from Minerva helped me with my button choice as usual. She suggested these white buttons with a black rim around them.  I think the rim really helps the buttons stand out.
I really like this make, but I am thinking about shortening the sleeves. I'm not that happy with how I finished them and I tend to prefer either 3/4 length or short sleeves. I think short sleeves will work better under a cardigan.  But it's totally wearable and I'm going to wear it a few times and see how I feel about it!

The only changes I would make would be to leave out the zip (as I can get this on and off without it).  Typical since it is probably my best invisible zip insertion to date!  I think i would also interface the collar - you can see in the back view pic that it's a little bit floppy. The pattern calls for interfacing of the cuffs but not the collar.

If you want to make your own version, you can buy a kit from Minerva here.  It includes fabric, an invisible zip, 4 small buttons and 1 large one plus matching thread.

Monday, 13 January 2014

My winter cardigan - the Hetty

I finished my winter knitting project! Actually it was finished and blocked just before Christmas so I have worn it quite a bit already.

I wrote about my plans in this post.

The pattern is Andi Satterlund Hetty (Ravelry page here) and the wool is Malabrigo Worsted in Sweet Grape bought from Tangled Yarns.

I knitted the medium which gave a couple of inches of negative ease at the bust. I decided not to adjust the shoulder width following the advice of helpful Ravelry people (they are so helpful!). I skipped 2 decrease rows at the waistline to add 2" and added 2" in length to the body and 1" to the arms.

I think it worked out well - it's not tight across the shoulders and the waist is fine.


The wool was beautiful to knit with.  It's really soft and smooth and knits up so nicely. It's got a slight sheen which is gorgeous and shows off the stitch pattern well. And given that it's not itchy in the slightest I can barely believe it's 100% wool!

I found the  pattern to be slightly hard going as I'm not the greatest at counting stitches along the row - I prefer to understand the pattern so that I remember it. I had to take so many rows back (probably not helped by the fact I knitted the bulk of this when I was on flights and while jetlagged). But the shaping etc worked well and I found the short rows of the sleeve caps much easier than the first time I did this on my Deco cardigan.  And I love not having to seam at the end! 
I had my usual button indecision so decided to go for something inobtrusive. These clear buttons came from John lewis and were chosen by N. They are a little bit small so don't stay tightly done up, but I tend to wear cardigans open anyway so it's not a big problem. 

The colour took me a couple of weeks to work into rotation in my wardrobe but now that I have I have worn it loads.

I've done a couple of smaller projects (to be blogged soon) but I am trying to decide whether to take on another big knitting project. Maybe Miette or Owls (have you seen Lauren and Tasia's versions of this? So cute!).

Following a lot of discussion on KLine's blog about knitting styles I have been thinking about changing my knitting style. I'm a British knitter (as you might expect) and it's quite slow. I've also been suffering from carpal tunnel issues which I think would improve if I didn't "throw" the yarn. Perhaps eastern european style?

What knitting style do you use? Have you ever changed your style? Any cute patterns I should consider next?

Friday, 10 January 2014

Joining the Wardrobe Architect

Did you see the latest idea from Sarai at Colette - the Wardrobe Architect?

She introduced it in a blog post here.

I'm definitely going to join in as I think it fits really well with the Happy Wardrobe Project!

I'm working through my plan currently and finding it really interesting to reflect a bit more about the clothes I actually wear (rather than the clothes I sew!) and how they make me feel.  After only a week I think I'm getting a bit closer to an idea of my personal style.  I'll post some reflections in a week or so once I have considered them a bit more!

Seems like a popular time to be considering personal style and creating a wearable wardrobe. I've also seen blog posts recently from Rochelle at Lucky Lucille and Tasha at By Gum By Golly.

Will you be joining with the Colette plan?  Or are you doing the same yourself?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Goals for 2014

It's taken me a while to work out what my goals are and I think doing the other Top 5s first really helped me work things through in my head (which is probably the point - clever Gillian! )

1) The Happy Wardrobe Project - Getting a better idea of my personal style

I'm a bit of a schizophrenic dresser. There's no dress code at work so anything from jeans to dresses goes. I have a smallish child so unlikely to start wearing heels and smart clothes at the weekends. I love a vintage look (anywhere from 50s to 70s) but given my lack of interest in ironing I won't be wearing blouses everyday! But I want to look good and put together and to get back to a personal style. I used to have one before I had N and convenience/ low maintenance clothes become more important! 

So my plan is to snap a pic (probably a phone/mirror pic) each morning and consider how I felt and looked in the outfit. Was I happy to choose it or was it a desperation choice on an "I have no clothes" day?  I'm also going to note down if there's something I wanted to wear but had nothing to go with it - for example I know I have one navy tee and lots of bottoms I wear it with so if it's in the wash it stops me wearing other things.

I am planning to do this for a couple of months in colder weather (now) and again in the summer as I know I will find major differences.  I won't blog about it all the time, but will maybe do a monthly round up/ learnings.  I think it will really help plan my sewing which is another thing that worked well for me this year.

I really like my colour palettes so will continue to use those which will hopefully cut down the orphans. I am also intending to start some new pinboards with inspiration outfits - maybe I'll even make some copycat outfits!

As was writing this, I remembered a post that Tilly wrote about finding your personal style which I really liked and I guess some aspects of the plan above I have remembered and taken from this. If personal style is a consideration for you this year, you can read it here.

2) Find my TNTs

I love the speediness of sewing repeats - they really work for my time-strapped life!  I am hoping that the plan above will allow me to find what my happy clothes/ styles are and make more of them!  It will also allow me to evaluate new patterns and decide if they are right for me or destined to sit in the pattern box, and find fabrics that work for the sort of clothes I want to make and wear.  I made quite a few this year - loads of Cake (as documented on my hits post), 2 Kelly skirts (only 1 blogged so far!), and 2 Renfrews.

3) Learn new skills

Doesn't everyone have this on their list? I don't want to get stuck in a rut as an OK sewist who still makes loads of mistakes.  As I'm totally self/blog taught I'm sure I make loads of basic errors in sewing and fitting.   For example I can bind a seam but it just doesn't look as neat and pretty as it could (as you'll see if you look closely at the construction pics from my Blue Christmas dress!).  I really want to take an intermediate dressmaking class as I think it would really help me to improve. I'm going to look for a class and find the time to take it. If i can't I will take some Craftsy classes.

4) Use better fabrics

As a beginner sewist I was scared of spending money on fabric in case i messed it up, and as a result some earlier makes haven't stood the test of time - fabrics going bobbly, interfacing wrinkly, colours fading. I want to change this in 2014.

The Minerva Blogger Network allows me to try out fabrics that are perhaps more expensive than i would previously have chosen and I can really see the difference with these nicer fabrics (can't wait to show you my next few makes that I've just received my fabric picks for!). I'm never going to have an unlimited fabric budget but if I know a garment will be finished, will fit well and be worn, I can spend at least what a RTW garment would have cost.  So if a RTW high street dress costs £30-40 (not unreasonable) I could potentially spend £10-15 a metre on fabric plus notions (we all know factoring in a cost for our time spent making won't work!).  Also it's a hobby budget as well as a clothing budget.  Sounds like I can buy some more fabric then!

5) Make trousers

Source: Colette patterns, Butterick, Named

 If you have read my other top 5 posts this will come as no surprise at all. I planned to do it last year and am determined to conquer them this year! I'll be going back to my Juniper muslin and tracing out the bigger size probably in February.  I'd also like to make Named Jamie jeans and Gertie for Butterick capris.  Lena from the Sewing Space has been teasing us with sneak peeks of her new trouser pattern too and it looks great!  I'd really like to take the Seamless pledge but while there is still a big part of my wardrobe I don't make I don't see how it will work.

I do have a 6th thing (yes, I know it's supposed to be 5, but it's my blog, my rules, right?) and it's probably the most important thing of all. To be kind to myself.  I have a busy life, small child, full time job, long commute and a big hobby.  If I blog less often as a result, or take time off from sewing to do other things, I am not going to beat myself up about it.  As long as everyone is fed, wearing clean clothes and happy, the world won't end if I don't have anything to blog about for a week or two.  Or if I don't clean the kitchen floor (#sewdontclean).

Here's to 2014 and a great sewing, blogging and generally being healthy and having fun year for everyone, whether we fulfil all our goals or not!

Friday, 3 January 2014

My top 5 inspirations from 2013

And we're in the home stretch of Top 5s!  Just this and 2014 goals to go!

Inspirations is a toughie!  When I first bought a cheap sewing machine, my plan was to do machine embroidery and maybe make a few bits and pieces for N.  I had no plans to start sewing garments for myself.  However stumbling on the world of sewing blogs changed that!  I realised that you didn't have to have been sewing since you were a child to be able to make beautiful, great fitting clothes.

I've picked a few areas where I feel really inspired, by bloggers and others.

1) Pattern designers

By that I don't mean established pattern companies like Colette or Sewaholic.  But some of my favourite bloggers have released their own patterns this year, both free and paid for.  I can't get my head around the process of doing this and how complicated it must be, but how cool to see people making, wearing and loving something you have designed!

Source: House of Pinheiro
 Rachel's Brasilia dress

The lovely Katie from What Katie Sews also mentioned recently she was working on releasing a pattern she had designed - can't wait to see!

2) Refashioning

Source: Charity Shop Chic
When I arrived at the epic blogger meet up back in April, I almost squealed to see a dress I recognised and loved that I had just been reading about - Sally's fabulous Mad Men shirt dress!  And no post about refashioning would be complete without a mention for this talented lady.  She totally inspires me to have a go at refashioning.  I just need to find some time for scouring charity shops - I'm sure I don't have her vision of what the most unpromising items could become!

3) Sewcial media

 Some bloggers have such a skill for bringing people together.  From the top 5 posts you are reading now, started by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow, to the blogger meet ups and swaps organised by Rachel, Claire, Marie & Kat and many many more, and the Spoolettes spearheaded by Clare, sewing people love to get together and chat together!  Especially if there is fabric shopping involved.  Or drinking.  Or both!

Whether it is online or in real life, a lot of people spend a lot of time and effort coming up with great ideas to spread the sewing love and that is pretty inspiring.  A few mentions (I couldn't possibly cover everyone so please don't be offended if I have missed you off!):

the aforementioned Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow
Rachel from House of Pinheiro
Claire from Sew Incidentally
Kat from A Krafty Kat
Kerry from Kestrel Makes
Joost from Make my Pattern and creator of the Sewcialist logo and Firehose
Lady Katza from Peanut Butter Macrame
Heather from Handmade by Heather B
StephC from 3 Hours past and Cake Patterns
Clare from Sew Dixie Lou

4) Beautiful photography

I've seen some recent blog posts talking about sewing blogs turning into fashion blogs and being all about photography and less about sewing. These are not the blogs I read. I want to read about sewing but I don't see why you can't have clear pics and great interesting photography. OK, so all we really need is daylight and non blurry photos but it's hopefully more interesting when I manage to get pics somewhere other than my back garden being photobombed by a 5 year old and a grumpy cat! 

I know I appreciate it when bloggers work hard with pics (as long as i can see the clothes obviously!).

Some honourable mentions:
Rachel from House of Pinheiro (is there anything this girl can't do?)
Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy
Sally from Charity Shop Chic
Carolyn from Handmade by Carolyn
Janene from Ooobop
Clare from Sew Dixie Lou
Rochelle from Lucky Lucille

I still have work to do on my blog pics - the winter is hard when you can't incorporate an outdoor photo shoot into a family weekend! I'll never be able to take hundreds of pics to choose from (the 5 year old wouldn't stand for it!) but the ladies above and others inspire me to get better!

5) Dyeing fabric

I used to do a lot of fabric dying, tie dye etc as a student and thought those days were past! But I've become inspired to pick it up again for a few reasons.

On holiday in the summer we visited a beautiful shop where the owner created lovely batik scarves and sarongs. I wanted to buy fabric but at upwards of £40 a metre it wasn't going to happen. I really want to try making my own. Imagine the great border prints you could make?  I'd also like to try shibori and other natural dyes like Sally and screen printing like Carolyn.  Sadly these are summer projects unless i want dripping fabric everywhere so I'll need to wait a bit.  

So that's it - my inspirations! 

Only goals to go - just need to work out what they are!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Reflections on 2013

Happy New Year to you all!

I am really enjoying all of these top 5 posts but you guys are blogging too much!  My reader is overflowing!  I think I am all caught up now though, and seeing some great top 5s that have really made me think (and actually possibly re-evaluate a few items on my lists).

1) A pat on the back
Gratuitous pugs!

I think I did really well this year.  My sewing came on leaps and bounds.  I can now put on a Me Made garment most days with little effort, and I buy very little RTW any more (except for jeans - more to come on that!).  I worked hard on fitting and it really paid off - with a little help from my friends - which leads me on nicely to:

2) Sewing people really are the nicest people you could meet/ chat to

2013 was a tough year for me personally.  I lost a close family member and another was diagnosed with a serious illness (which is likely to make 2014 another difficult one).  But I really think sewing, sewcial media, bloggers and sewing friends helped me through it (without wishing to take away any credit from family and non-sewing friends of course!).  Sometimes it's just great to have an escape from reality and chat to other people who are as excited about the latest indie pattern release or fabric sale as me!

I joined Twitter (@jolittletime if you tweet too!) after resisting for a long time and found a fantastic sewing community on there.

I went to the epic blogger meet up and met some fabulous people and starting following lots of new blogs.

I started meeting the Spoolettes as regularly as I can (given family commitments that's not as often as I would like!).  What a great group of ladies that are excellent fun to spend time with, whether drinking, dancing, bowling or fabric shopping!

3) I sewed (mainly) for the life I have

Particpating in Me Made May showed me that my wardrobe needed plain separates and knits and I focused on sewing those.  I know a lot of people don't like to sew basics, but there's only so many party dresses and summer frocks my lifestyle calls for, especially in a country when the sun shines for about a month of the year.  I love (and wear) dresses quite a lot, but I'm likely to grab a comfy knit one to throw on for work and I have sewn a lot of those this year!  But we all need a bit of frosting from time to time - however I want to make what I wear most often.  I also sewed much more with plains (and I'm including spots and stripes in plains - they are practically neutrals) which I have enjoyed more than I expected.  It's good to be able to see nice design lines and focus on the fit rather than hiding behind a print as I did when I started (all those lovely printed cottons...)

4) I really need to conquer trousers

I wear jeans and trousers a lot, especially in winter and it's a huge gap in my me-made wardrobe.  As mentioned in my Hits & Misses post I traced Colette patterns Juniper in my usual size following Sunni's trouser sewalong, added extra seam allowances, thread traced every seam, and threw the muslin in the sewing box to think about what it had done when it didn't remotely fit. It hasn't come back out yet but it will this year! I also want some me made jeans.

5) Sewing with a plan works well for me

I'm quite a planner by nature, but I do have a tendency to get distracted by newer shinier things (squirrel!) like new pattern releases, sewalongs, sewing challenges, competitions etc.  I have made a conscious effort only to take part in these if I would have done it anyway!  If I have bought a new Cake pattern and there's a sewalong, then I will plan to join.  If the Sewcialists are doing Red October, I will join in as I love red.  Green December not so much.  I didn't love the Laurel pattern and realistically I don't think the shape will work for my shape, so I was proud of resisting the competition.

The sewalong that worked really well for me was the Fall Essentials sewalong.  I planned out the garments I wanted to make within a colour palette I love and so I could make sure I had all the notions, zips, thread, buttons etc that normally hold me up on finishing a project.  I mainly sew in the evenings so rushing to the shop for more thread isn't going to happen!  I made so many more projects in that 2 month period than I ever expected so a big thumbs up for planning sewing!

Inspirations and goals posts coming up soon!