Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Taking a short sewing sabbatical

Friends, apart from a delightfully easy project I'm hoping to finish imminently – Dixie DIY's new Hot CocoaSweater download - I have to hold my hands up and admit that there won't be much sewing on my part for a little while.

'Why on earth not?', I hear you ask. Well, put simply, my shit's in serious disarray. Just 14 months after an overhaul of my sewing space, I've found myself in an even worse position. It's no secret, and certainly, no joke that my stash of sewing stuff (so much stuff) is out of control.

This time it took a one-man intervention to tackle the issue. When my boyfriend told me we needed to have a serious talk last week, I was ready for the ultimatum I've been expecting – to choose between him or my beloved hobby. Luckily, he's not a drama queen, so he suggested instead that he replaces our furniture with pieces that are more fit for purpose...as an early Christmas present for me! Isn't that the nicest thing ever!?! Sssh, don't tell him...but I do wonder if he's merely enabling me by being so accommodating. To be fair though, seeing it all laid out bare is pretty embarrassing. No one needs this much stuff, ever! But I've already posted about my stash-busting plans, which will be an ongoing adventure.

Jane, avert your eyes! Sadly, this isn't even the worst of it...there's more stuff squirrelled away in every nook and bloody cranny!

For now we'll be spending most of our free time re-organising, collapsing and moving old furniture, ordering new furniture and eventually building it. As you can imagine, I've also been busy de-stashing by listing things on eBay, taking things to the charity shop and by setting things aside for the lovely ladies joining Kat and I at the Birmingham Rag Market this Saturday. To my beautiful blog friends who aren't coming along, don't worry, you can expect a number of delicious giveaways coming your way soon!

Anyway, just wanted to fill you in on my short sewing sabbatical. I sincerely hope I get my sewing space sorted once and for all - it will be much more inviting and conducive to creativity and productivity.

How do you keep your stash under control? Do you even have one?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Flamingo Renfrew to cast away the sewing blues

It’s that time of year again when the evenings start to draw in, the temperatures plummet and I get the sewing blues. I have extravagant plans and fantastic resources at my fingertips, but I’d rather curl up on the sofa with a big bowl of cheesy mash, watching episodes of Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, Homeland, New Girl, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy...you name it. It seems like I’ll do anything not to sew, but I don’t want to get stuck in this seasonal rut again! I always regret it come Spring, especially when I realise I don’t have enough clothes to fully take part in Me-Made-May.

So to ease myself in, I made an easy-peasy, tried-and-tested Renfrew (previous five versions here, here, and here), which also ticks the stash-busting box. Yipeee!


When I saw the Flamingo-print jersey at my local market, I knew exactly (for once) that it was destined to be a Renfrew with a round neck and three-quarter length sleeves. Being on a thrifty streak though, I was determined to squeeze it out of just 1.5m, which meant piecing the back. Been there, done that before with my floral version, doesn’t bother me.


The construction was as straight-forward as ever and super quick. As usual I cut a size 6 for the neck, shoulders and sleeves and a size 8 for the rest. This seems to work pretty well for me - I like that my Renfrews aren’t too tight or too loose, they’re just right for my liking!

Six Renfrews later, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things about the pattern and about sewing with jersey:

  • The cowl-neck Renfrew doesn’t work for me. I’ve given away both of mine, because they make me too hot and bothered.
  • I’m not entirely convinced the waistband suits my body shape, but it does provide a really professional finish that I don’t want to compromise.
  • All jersey is NOT created equal! No matter how much you spend and what quality you get, jersey can be a little unpredictable. For example, this flamingo print is a little ‘flimsy’, so the neck band doesn’t lie as flat as I would like it to. Yet, my stripy Renfrew (link) is also flimsy, but the neckband lies totally flat. So sewing Renfrews is a bit ‘trial and error’, which I’ve come to accept. In fact, I like how they all fit a little differently as it keeps my wardrobe looking more varied than it possibly is.
  • Don’t over-think sewing with jersey. Yes, it behaves differently to woven fabrics, but don't let it scare you. All you really need is the right needle. For this particular Renfrew I used a needle suitable for 'stretch' fabrics, but you can use a 'jersey' needle too of course. Everything else I did exactly the same for woven fabrics – I kept my tension on 4 and I used a straight stitch instead of a zigzag stitch. See, not scary at all really!



Saturday, 6 October 2012

What do you do with your fabric scraps?

I've been thinking about the age-old question of fabric scraps lately. There are so many clever and creative things people do with theirs – I've heard of using them to stuff cushions and pressing hams, to make gorgeous accessories like necklaces and brooches, to decorate household items and to create all sorts of patchwork!

In fact, if you're stuck for ideas a quick Google threw up this awesome Pinterest board, 25 Free Scrap-Busting DIY Tutorials and Sewing projects for fabric scraps.

These are all genius ideas, but what if like me you have a lot of scraps that are also quite sizeable? It would be a shame to cut them up and use as facings and whatnot, but you don't quite fancy making another garment from them.


Well, in the spirit of being thrifty I tried something new last week. I gathered up a few of my best, photographed them and stuck them on eBay. And guess what!?! They bloody sold and I'm totally planning on doing it again! It felt so good to get something back, as it often feels like all I do is spend and accumulate more than I can handle.

So, what do you do with your fabric scraps? Have you had any luck selling them or are you tempted to give it a go?

And just because I can't believe how fast it's growing, here's another update on my Sirdar Raglan Cardigan...


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Birmingham Rag Market – who's in?

Hello friends, I have an indecent proposal for you today!

Fancy joining me and fellow Leicester blogger, Kat, for a day of unimaginable fun at the Birmingham Rag Market on Saturday 3 November? I know a lot of you are starting to plan your autumn/winter sewing and some of you are even hoping to sew Christmas gifts, so it'll be a chance to snap up some supplies cheaply.

For those of you already contemplating travel logistics, you just need to get to Birmingham New Street where we'd all meet and the market is just a short walk away.

Kat and I will happily organise the outing in full, so for now it would be really helpful to get an idea of who would like to come. So please leave a comment below and don't forget to include an email address if it's not listed on your blog.

If you need convincing, look no further! Have you ever seen two happier bloggers than Winnie and Catherine? The picture was taken on our little trip to said market back in May and if you check out my post about the day, you'll understand exactly why we were all so giddy!


P.S. I realise the irony of organising a trip like this after my stash busting post, but I'm not going for the fabric! I'm just going for the pleasure of your company of course ;o)