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.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

So Today I Made A Quilt

It's true, today, in fact, before lunch I made David a quilt I've been promising him for a little while (well, two years, but who's counting).

I was gifted around 12-15 lengths of fabric by a family friend back when I started sewing a lot.  Some where fat quarters, some half meters, all in different patterns of tartan/plaid/flannel.  I wish I knew where they were from originally, as I would be there in a flash and stocking up on enough to make all the shirts.  I knew immediately that they would be destined for a 'Man Quilt' for David and began cutting out stripes of some of the lengths with a Log Cabin design in mind.  Except, I was brand shiny new to sewing and quilting, and it took ages, and I wasn't very good at cutting accurately (Still not that good, but totally improved).  All this meant that I got distracted and left the pieces and the uncut lengths aside until today.  I stand by the statement that this quilt has been waiting around to be finished for the longest time, but this one is pretty close.

It took such little time to turn those cut out pieces and fat quarters in to a quilt in just a morning because I did take some short cuts.  The piecing together all the pre cut pieces took the longest, stitching 6 together to make a rough square then trimming those into equal sizes.  I knew I wasn't going to bother cutting out any more, so the rest of the quilt had to be large squares, equal in size to the patched ones.  Easy.  

I wanted some to add some further interest, so changed the direction of the patched squares on each row.

Then I was lucky.  I only have one piece of wadding in my stash, as I don't exactly quilt a lot, (she said, having made 5 quilt tops in the last month, unblogged, naturally) which was exactly the right size.  I'm talking a quick trim of the rough edges and it was meant to be.

It wasn't until that point that I realised that this could be a project I would actually finish the same day I had started it.  I was a little worried that I would have to put it on hold while I found the right backing fabric, but low and behold, in my fabric stash, I had the perfect vintage bedding set.  The colours were ideal, the size was larger than needed and it wasn't floral, like the majority of my collection.  Paisley is totally a guy friendly pattern.

So I used my kimble gun to secure the layers together, bound the edges with the backing fabric, and bound it off under my machine.  To do the actual quilting, I used a tried, true and easy technique, sewing little knots at the centre of each block square.  And that's it.  I know it might totally be called cheating, but I love it.  I'm so pleased with the result, and so is Dave!  I debated saving it for a Christmas present, but he wanted it today and I was too pleased with my self to argue.   

Truly, a fantastic way to spend a morning.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sewing Classes and Muslin Making

I am very lucky, because I live right around the corner from a lovely lady who teaches sewing classes.      Julia runs Bobbins and Buttons, so I emailed her about a month ago, to ask if there she was running a class that looked at more advanced dressmaking skills, and particularly at fit.  I've joined her Thursday evening class, which is aimed at sewers of all abilities.  

In the first lesson the four of us cut out and began working on our first muslin of the patterns.  I took along the free pattern from Love Sewing magazine- the Simple Sew Ruby Dress.  The dress is exactly up my street, style wise, but it's nice to try out different patterns now and again.  

I whipped up the muslin in calico fabric, and Julia helped me make the necessary adjustments.  Next week we'll look at translating them to pattern alternations, so I can make up the dress and so it'll will fit perfectly.  I'm so excited!

It's a six week course, so over that time I hope to figure out the fit on a range of different patterns features, like princess seams, and improve the fit on some of my previous makes, like my Doctor Who dress.  

I'm really glad to have this opportunity to learn from someone so much more skilled than I am, and I'm going to make the most of the classes and take a lot away from it to use in all my future makes :D

(Now, I don't pride my self on my amazing photography skills, but really, I'm sorry for this one, the lighting was terrible and I ran out of time to take photos)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Blog Love #2

Hey guys,  can I ask you a question?  Is it just me or does everyone who has long left school still get New Year Fever in September?  I don't have any need for new stationary, diaries or whatnot, but I will browse the relevant section in any shop I'm in, nonetheless.  Maybe it's the promise of new starts that September brings.  Maybe its the changes in the weather making me nostalgic.  Maybe I've just always been a geek and somethings will never change.  Dave is back at work, in a new job this year- he's teaching younger kids (age 9-13) science, and is finding that the change takes some getting used to.  New starts are always hard, but we can only preserver until the new becomes routine and we start feeling like we know what we are doing.  Fake it 'till you make it, eh?

Blog Love posts are my way of sharing with you some of my recent favourite blogs, with the hope I can maybe introduce you to some new faces and share some of the work of seamstresses that I find really inspirational and encouraging.

Shannon is only 17, but has been sewing since she was 6!  Her experience show through in her gorgeous makes, and she really encourages me to work on my finishing of garments.  Just check out her graduation dress- it's to totally stunning.  As well as dressmaking, Shannon knits and has a 'thing' for vintage style.

2. Mary at Idle Fancy

Idle Fancy is one of the newer blogs that I've started to follow- and it's one of the few I've spent time digging through the archives of.  Mary also has a thing for vintage style, and makes so, so many beautiful dresses.  I find this blog inspiring because Mary knows what she likes and is puts a lot of care in to make beautiful dresses which always look amazing.  

3. Dixie at Dixie DIY

Dixie is a independent pattern maker, historical seamstress and brilliant blogger- I always enjoy reading  her posts, whether they be about her regency era dress or the latest Cynthia Rowley pattern.  In terms of her modern style, I really take a lot of inspiration from Dixie's makes, and I'm also inspired to have a go at some costuming at some point too.

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