Thursday, 20 November 2014

Share Your Sewing Space: Charlie from This Blog is Not For You

 Being the Nosy Parker that I am, I'm starting a new series taking a peek at other sewists sewing spaces. Each month I'll be chatting with other bloggers about what makes there space special to them and how they went about putting it all together.  In part, this is going to help inspire me as I create my own creative space in my new home.  I hope you all find this as interesting as me, I do love looking around other peoples homes.

Today I'm chatting with Charlie from This Blog is Not For You.  Charlie shares her home with her Mr and doesn't have a dedicated sewing room, so I've asked her to share her tips for working in a shared space.  Let's have a look around!

When I started thinking about taking pictures for this article, I found myself (again!) drooling over all these beautiful Pinterest boards of sewing spaces in a desperate attempt to get some last-minute inspiration. Unfortunately, there is no way I can turn my messy sewing flat (no, it's not just a 'space' anymore) into anything only remotely similar. Let's face the facts. Only a very small minority of us sewers is probably blessed to have one of these super gorgeous, perfectly tidy and decorated sewing spaces, sewing rooms (!) or even garden sheds (!!!). Most of us probably struggle to find any space at all and often have to share it with significant others, kids or flat mates who expects the creative mess to be gone by dinner time. But you know what? In the end it doesn't matter how pretty your sewing space is. As long as you can find a power socket near you to plug in your sewing machine, everyone can make beautiful stuff.  That's why I'm sharing my sewing space with you as it is. 

That's what it looks like during the project planning phase and it gets gradually worse from there!

Q1- what factors do you have to consider when setting up your sewing space? 

I share I very tiny flat with the Mr, so I do not have a dedicated sewing space. I basically use our living room table (which also functions as our kitchen table) to set up my machine. Luckily, since we have the bad habit of eating while sitting on the sofa, I do not have to tidy up every day and sometimes can park my projects there for quite a while. It's also very lucky that the Mr never complains. I can cover the whole flat in fabric scraps and he won't say anything  as long as his desk stays sewing-free. Recently he has accepted my overlock machine to share a corner of his desk with his play station and I am very grateful for that. Since the Mr is so immune towards my creative mess, I only get into trouble when we have guests coming over to our house or even staying for a couple of days. It's no sewing for me on these days. 

Q2- do you have any tips for people who have to share their space with housemates?  

If they (unlike the Mr) are bothered by your stuff lying around everywhere - keep it as tidy as possible. If you have to use a communal area, for example the dining room table, make sure you keep everything organised, because it's then much easier to put away in time for meals. Depending on your machine, you might also have to consider noise levels. With my former flat mate I made an agreement about not sewing after 11pm on week days, because my machine was super noisy.

Q3- what's your favourite element of your space? 

Since my sewing mess is accepted all over the flat now, I do not have to sit in a tiny dark corner somewhere, but can sit in front of a huge window. As the Mr's desk is right next to mine, I always have company when sewing - it's nice to chat and have someone around when things sometimes get really frustrating. Whenever he is not around I use his huge monitor screen to watch movies while sewing. 

However, it can be really annoying not to have a nicely organised sewing room. I have to do all the tracing and drafting and cutting on our living room floor, which sometimes is hardly big enough. There is no room for an extra shelf to put all notions and tools away, so they are all over the place. There is no piece of furniture that does not have something sewing-related on, in or under it.

I keep most stuff in various boxes, to make it look as tidy as possible. These boxes can be found everywhere in the flat and sometimes even I get confused when I look for something in particular. 

To be honest, this sometimes can be really frustrating and the sewing process could be way more efficient if everything was a bit more organised, but I love my sewing mess anyway. Maybe I will have a Pinterest-worthy sewing room some day, but for now it's what we sewers do best: make do and mend.

Happy sewing!

Charlie xx

Monday, 10 November 2014

What I'm Working On

I have not had much time for sewing these last couple of weeks, And I'm not sure that I'll have much time before Christmas to do a lot either.  This is not really a bad thing though, because the reason for my radio absence, and the lack of time for fun sewing adventures, is that David and I have bought a house!!!

We completed and got the keys two Fridays ago, then promptly flew to visit friends in Prague for a week, because, you know, pre booked tickets and awesome people- you can read a little more about that in my last life lately post.

So we've been really busy painting and planning and moving and DIYing and generally enjoying making the new house ours.  As we're still in our rented house until late December we're doing all those jobs before we actually move, which has been really nice.  No living amongst too much mess.  Of course some mess can't be avoided.

So, here are some sneaky peaks at out new place, in the process of being put together, and I be giving a proper tour of my new sewing space at some point as part of my sewing space tour too!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Life Lately #4

I've been planning out some more projects for the next couple of months- however, what needs to top my list is my Christmas dress!  I've not even started on designing it, never mind drafting, muslining and, you know, actually making it yet.  I couldn't resist the new Deer and Doe pattern though- its really cute, plus I wear shirts a lot so it's nice to mix up styles.  The other fabric in the picture is for *secret* Christmas presents!

Among the other things I've made this last month, this quilt that I made for Dave is by far, my favourite thing!  I'm so proud of it.  Also, as you can see, Nala was quite taken with it too! 

yes, my cat usually looks at me like that, especially when I'm shoo-ing her so I can take photos, or sew.

Earlier in the month I was part of a local fashion show.  The Just Shop is a local run fair trade shop in Leicester City Centre, which sells the most beautiful clothes and home wears.  I was really excited to be a part of the team again this year- the last show (which I was also in) was 2.5 years ago.  The whole thing was so much fun, and was a great success.  

We finally got our new house keys! It was a long wait for the solicitors to do their thing, but its totally worth it.  We've got some time before we have to move out of our rented home, so we're painting all the main rooms first, and then aiming to be completely in by the first weekend in December.  I can't wait!

Six months ago Dave and I ordered tickets to watch an American Football game at Wembley Stadium, and the time had finally come!  We stopped over at my Brother-in-Laws house and took the train down to London for the day.  We really did have an awesome time- getting there at 1130 for the 1330 kick off meant we got to enjoy all the festivities before.  WE did a lot of people watching, enjoyed some nice food, browsed the program and picked a team.  We supported the Detroit Lions, who spent most of the game losing quite badly, only to win the game in the last few seconds- such fun (Miranda...)

And this week, we flew to Prague to visit our best friends, Emma and Chris (who's wedding was featured in August Life Lately Post).  They are both teaching out here in an international school.  It's been really lovely to catch up, having not seen them since the wedding, and visit a new city with some very good tour guides.  Also, I've managed to persuaded them to take me to a fabric shop today, so I'm looking forward to seeing whats on offer :D

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Share Your Sewing Space: Courtney from Makesphere

Being the Nosy Parker that I am, I'm starting a new series taking a peek at other sewists sewing spaces. Each month I'll be chatting with other bloggers about what makes there space special to them and how they went about putting it all together.  In part, this is going to help inspire me as I create my own creative space in my new home.  I hope you all find this as interesting as me, I do love looking around other peoples homes.

Today I'm chatting with Courtney, from  Makesphere.  She's lucky and has a whole room of her own to sew in, which she shares with her pet rats.  Let's have a look around!

My favourite element [of my sewing room] is definitely the fact that it's my little space.  I love that I can have everything set up and ready to go- I would definitely lose the sewing buzz if I had to pull everything out and put it away every time! (I'm not a good tidier!)

I also really enjoy having my rats up here. They used to live in the living room but they took up so much space (we got rid of our dining table for them!) and they made a lot of noise when I was giving flute lessons! I made the decision to move them upstairs, which I thought I would hate after having them in the main room of the house, until I realised that I actually spend most of my time in my sewing room anyway! Now I get to combine all my favourite things in one room. Sometimes, when something just isn't working right I can just pause, have a rat cuddle and come back feeling refreshed. 

I was definitely limited by space here. This is the tiniest room in the house (which isn't saying much anyway- the whole house is tiny!) As I mentioned, the rats weren't always here so in theory I should have had a lot more space but actually it wasn't used very well. Now, the rats take up a very large proportion of the space so I've had to think very carefully about my storage options and in turn it's made the space more useful and I seem to have more of it! 

It's important for me to have things on show- remember how I'm not a good tidier? If I had to get things out to get to my stuff I would either never sew or live in a massive pile of fabric and yarn! (I think we know which one!) The bookcases are perfect for this and allow me to sort my fabric- novelty cottons, plain cottons dressmaking fabrics with a plan, dressmaking fabrics without a plan, linings, fun fur/fleece and WIPs

My yarn is arranged by colour. I'm the type of person who remembers everything they buy. Give me enough time and I could probably tell you every ball of yarn in this bookcase- therefore I don't feel the need to arrange by fibre/weight- arranging by colour looks nice and makes me happy.

This shelving unit is my absolute fave. I spotted it outside a charity shop in Orpington when I was visiting a friend. We didn't have a car with us so I made my husband and her boyfriend carry it up the hill home for me! Totally worth it though- this thing was £6.50 and holds all the 'extras'. Patterns are in the boxes at the bottom- books (sewing on the bottom, other crafts on top), the printer to immediately print my PDF patterns, my spare sewing machine and lots of other bits.

Oh, and it also contains this beautiful sewing box that my friend made me for my birthday. Isn't it amazing?! 

And then there's my window sill, fondly named 'Stitch Street' due to my ever-growing number of house sewing boxes! Everything I would need to grab whilst sewing is contained in these boxes or on the sill-threads, bobbins, scissors, pins etc.

And then we have the naughty drawer. WIPs that have taken a (very long) break, things I've made I'm not happy with- they all live in this drawer, away from the light of day! 

I'm generally a happy person anyway but when I'm in my sewing room I just feel content. I have everything around me I need, everything around me I love and at the end of the day once I've made a mess I can just shut the door and not have to look at it! 

I see lots of beautiful sewing rooms on the interwebs- big, airy, light spaces with beautiful decor and awesome tailor-made furniture. We rent- we can't paint, decorate or even put shelves up so I don't have that opportunity. However, I still love my room. There are lots of removable options out there for wall art if you're so inclined- my memo board is hung by picture strips, pictures hung up with blu-tac and colour added with furnishings. My main tip for a small room would be storage, storage, storage. It seems counter-intuitive to add more furniture to an already cramped space but seriously, it creates many more options and means things aren't left out to add to the clutter. Floor to ceiling furniture works really well in small rooms as it gives you plenty of space as well as making the room look larger (I'm sure there's some science behind this but I don't know it- trust me that it does!) 

These tall bookcases can be expensive but my fabric one is actually two small bookcases stacked on top of each other! (FYI- they were £12 each from Argos!)

The one thing I wish I had is a large desk for pattern cutting. I didn't think about it when we bought the desk so if you're just putting a space together now then go for a large desk or table so you don't have to cut patterns on the floor like me!


Thanks so much for sharing, Courtney.  I love that you share your sewing rooms with your rats!  I had rats once too and they make such lovely companions- as long as you can stop them nibbling your fabric stash!  

If you'd like to share you're sewing space with us too, just drop me an email at freyamgilbert(@)gmail(.)com for he details, I'd love to feature you too! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Hepburn Skirt From Audrey and Me Patterns

Charlie asked me to try out her latest pattern before she released it back in August, but I was a bad tester and didn't manage to in the time frame needed- Bad Freya! 

Charlie started Audrey and Me patterns this year, and this is her second (and third, including the Hepburn Dress) pattern, the first, The Fairy Tail Cape, I also got to test.  

I finally managed to get round to making this skirt this last week- it took me so long for a couple of reasons, one of which was that it took me ages to decide the fabric.  I didn't really have a clear idea what I wanted, but I kept searching for inspiration.  I found the perfect fabric on the Minerva crafts website, a stretch cotton which simply struck a cord.  

The pattern is a beautiful panelled skirt, which is really simple to put together and comes in two lengths.  Charlie has made some lovely versions with colour blocking, which it lends itself nicely to.  I cut a straight size 16, based on my waist measurements, which fits perfectly.  I also cit the shorter length due to my petit stature, is the mini version, and falls just a couple of inches above me knee.  The longer length would fall further past my knee than would suit, so if I'd ever make the longer version at knee length I'll need to make a small adjustment.

I bought some fuse and fold waistband interfacing to try, which I really liked using because it saves cutting regular interfacing in to long stripes, which always end up wonky when I do it.  Although using the fuse and fold made interfacing the waist a lot easier, after just one wear i can feel the interfacing coming away from the waistband.  I'm going to try ironing in on again, and see how it lasts.  

The stretch cotton is perfect for this make, it's so comfortable to wear.  And dark florals are so in this season! 

This pattern is available to buy as a PDF download for just €7, and will prove to be a valuable inclusion in to your handmade wardrobe!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

After A Little Tweaking...

I have a dress which fits me perfectly- or it would if I hadn't made a small mistake. I'll tell you how later. OK, so this dress fits me almost perfectly!

Last week in my dressmaking class I sewed together my second muslin of the Ruby Dress, and got it approved by my teacher, and on my day of this Friday I sat down to make it properly out of my fashion fabric!

I wasn't sure what fabric I wanted to use, so I went with grey and white polkadots, because,well, you can't go wrong with a good old polkadot! 

For the first time I can talk you you about my standard alterations- I'm so excited! We took in an inch of the front bodice, along the fold line, tapering to 0" towards the waist to remove the excess fabric where it hung oddly at my neck. We cut a size 16, base on my waist measurements and then took in a 1/2 inch off the front and back seams under each arm.  We shortened the bust dart by 1/2" and took up the back hem by another 1/2inch, tapering down to meet the front bodice hem at either side.

You can see that I haven't got proportions completely different from the 'standard' that pattern designers use, which is why it's taken me so long to really get round to looking at fitting issues.  Everything I've made is close enough that it hasn't been a priority until now. My next plan in the six week course is to try the same alterations on a different style of dress/bodice- and see how they differ.  I'm able to cut out and sew up the next muslin before the class, so when I get there I can just use the time to pick my teachers brain and just get the most out of it all as possible.

So, where I went wrong- i made a mistake cutting out the skirt pieces, making them an inch to small around the waist, either side! To work with this, I trimmed the same amount from the back bodice, effectively removing the majority of the ease.  It still just fits, thank God, but it certainly isn't a dress to eat a big lunch in.  You can also see it pulling a little around my waist at the front.  I'll obviously learn from this little error for next time, doh!

I'm wearing my finished dress to class this week, and I have worn it once already!  I was in a fashion show this Saturday, modelling Fairly Traded clothes from lines such as Braintree and other fair trade brands for the Just Shop, here in Leicester. I find model this dress, but I wore it through rehursals. I'm really happy with how it turned out and am excited to practice using what I've leant on my next project.

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