Monday, 31 December 2012

Farewell 2012, you've been good to me!

With just the last few hours of 2012 remaining, I wanted to share some December goodies I received. I use the term 'received' loosely, as the first lot of goodies was a gift to myself.

Ohhh Lulu was having a sale and as a long-time fan of Sarah's delectable creations - my first ever purchase was back in 2011 - there was no way I could resist. These luxurious undies certainly got me into the festive spirit half way through December.

I then received a really thoughtful package from my Secret Santa, as organised by Kat. Whoever you are, thanks so much and I hope the recipient of my gift was equally pleased!


Aside from my awesomely early Christmas present – sewing room makeover – I only received one other stitching-related Christmas gift this year. But what a beauty she is...I want to take her everywhere with me!

Although you've already seen my stitching year in review, with 2012 rapidly slipping away I wanted to reminisce about some of the other cool things I was lucky enough to experience this year. There's no denying that 2012 has been very good to me indeed!

DISCOVERIES

I discovered the larger-than-life Fleetville Vintage Emporium, which I can't wait to explore again. And I struck gold in a local vintage shop, a rare occurrence.

LARGE-SCALE FUN

I admired the incredible Lionheart Project up close and personal during it's time in Leicester and I took part in a delightful spot of yarn bombing too.

MEETING YOU!

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting many of you in the flesh this year, which was such a treat! Meeting like-minded stitching fanatics is a truly wonderful experience and one I hope you all manage to take part in during 2013. There was the awesome Walthamstow meet-up in April (organised by the impressively efficient Claire), a more intimate affair in Birmingham in May (organised by the fun loving Winnie) and of course the November meet-up in Birmingham that was mine and Kat's first, and thankfully successful, organisational attempt.


I was also fortunate enough to take part in a couple of fun, yet educational gatherings. The first was at mine and saw larger-than-life Dibs teaching a number of us some cool millinery skills and the second was a fantastic session on bound buttonholes hosted by the talented and very patient Karen.

ONLINE COMMUNITY SPIRIT

Nothing quite compares to a blogger meet-up, but my second favourite 2012 experience has got to be the heart-warming online community spirit that comes with participating in a 'challenge'. The support and encouragement is so moving and I thoroughly enjoyed every single one I took part in - Debi's February Sew Grateful Week, Julia's March Mad Men Challenge, Tilly's March One Week, One Pattern and Zoe's Me-Made-May. 

I can only hope that 2013 will be as productive and as rewarding as 2012. I will do my best by kick-starting it with my most cherished make to date and the introduction of an exciting 8-week 'project' that I've been cooking up for a while. I hope you stay tuned for it, your ongoing support is the reason this blog still exists!

I hope you're all planning to welcome the New Year in style and surrounded by loved ones. See you on the other side!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas giveaway winners announced

Merry Christmas one and all - I hope whoever and wherever you are, you're enjoying the festive season in style!

Without further ado, I have some lucky vintage pattern winners to announce...thus making me feel just like Santa ;o) Basically, I took all the comments, divided them into the three corresponding categories (40s, 50s or 60s) and then drew a winner. So it's super fair I hope!

The winner of the beautiful 1940s pattern is Dixie from Dixie DIY...yay!!! Please can you let me have your email address, can't seem to find it on your blog...sorry if it's really obvious!



The winner of the sexy 1950s pattern is Jenny from rennous oh glennus...congratulations! I'll need your email address too please!



The winner of the unusual 1960s pattern is Charity Shop Chic...how exciting! I'll get in touch soon about your mailing details!



Saturday, 22 December 2012

2012: My me-made year in review

I love this time of the year and I'm not just talking about the holidays. I find it so interesting reading people's yearly reflections - it's fascinating seeing how productive they've been and their sheer talent and creativity is always a source of inspiration. So as 2012 draws to a close I thought I'd share my own reflections and aspirations for 2013.

First up, some 2012 stats:
  • I made a total 24 items, averaging 2 a month. It might not sound like many, but it's way more than I had hoped for.
  • If 2011 was the year of the skirt, 2012 has definitely been the year of the top! I made a whopping 16 of them, or 67% of my overall makes.
  • 2012 has also been the year of the jersey / stretchy fabric – equalling 15 of my makes or 62.5% of them.
  • 2012 was also the year of the Sewaholic Renfrew – I somehow obsessively managed to make 9 of them.
  • Finally, only 2 were knitted.
THE KNITTED ONES (both gifts)

THE BOTTOMS

THE DRESSES (two in jersey)

THE WOVEN TOPS

THE JERSEY TOPS

MORE JERSEY TOPS - THE RENFREWS 

THE LAST LOT OF JERSEY / STRETCHY TOPS

2012 me-made reality:

Lessons learned and aspirations for 2013:
  • I'm glad I fearlessly got stuck in with jersey experimentation this year - I feel confident sewing with it and look forward to testing my skills out on some dresses.
  • I made a lot of cake in 2012, which is great because what I do wear is in constant rotation. But I want to have some fun with frosting in 2013 - think pretty dresses a la Roisin. If you have no idea what on earth I'm talking about on the cake / frosting front, check out Sewaholic's clever analogy.
  • Part of my desire to make more frosting stems from my desire to focus on quality rather than quantity. I feel that this year I made some things just for the sake of it, whereas in 2013 I'd like to slow down and enjoy the whole sewing process.
  • As well as pretty dresses I'd also like to make some practical ones too, more smart blouses and maybe try my hand at a jacket or coat.
  • I would love to find a go-to skirt pattern. I have a real gap in my wardrobe that desperately needs filling, but I've not yet found a style of skirt that suits my 'interesting' body type.
  • Finally, I'd like to knit more.

And that's my 2012 in a nutshell. Can't wait to read about yours!

P.S. There's still time to enter my vintage sewing pattern giveaway!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas giveaway - vintage sewing patterns

**So sorry, but I accidentally just deleted two comments instead of publishing them! Please do have a look below and if your comment is missing just drop me another! The lesson here is not to blog and watch TV at the same time...sorry!**

Following on from yesterday's post, three lucky readers are now in with a chance of winning one of three stunning sewing patterns...call it my Christmas gift to you ;o)

As always, the rules are simple. This giveaway is open to anyone in the world - just leave me a comment saying which pattern you'd most like to win, by midnight (GMT) on Sunday 23 December. Please don't forget to include your email address if it's not already featured on your blog / you don't have a blog. And just because I want to fancy myself as a bit of a Santa, I'll announce the winners on Christmas Day!!! Of course I'm aware that you might be otherwise engaged on that day and not obsessively reading blogs like me, but if you include your email address in your comment there won't be a problem.

So, what's up for grabs?!?


This sweet 1940s pattern in a Size 16 - Bust 34, Waist 28, Hip 37. I adore the white version and I imagine the bodice in a very delicate broderie anglaise.



This sexy 1957 wiggle dress, which is oh so very Mad Men! In a Size 18 - Bust 38, Waist 30, Hip 40. I love the neckline detail and it looks like the bodice has flattering princess seams.



This chic 1960s pattern with really unique bodice details - Bust 36, Waist 28, Hip 38. It's an unprinted pattern and the pieces haven't been treated with much love, but it's totally usable and the tears can easily be mended with some cellotape.



Sooooo, which is your favourite?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

One for the vintage sewing pattern lovers

Vintage sewing pattern lovers, you're in luck my friends! If you tune back in tomorrow, I'll be hosting a Christmas giveaway to give three of you the chance to win a pattern of your choice either from the 1940s, the 1950s or the 1960s.

Why am I doing this?

  1. It's almost Christmas and I'm feeling festive!
  2. I recently and gobsmackingly broke the 500 mark in terms of followers!!!
  3. I've had some pretty good luck with giveaways myself, so I want to share the love!

Since I started blogging almost three years ago, I've been the recipient of some totally awesome stuff. And very recently, I felt like I hit the jackpot when I won an unbelievably generous giveaway celebrating Megan Nielsen's one year anniversary. I can't thank you enough Megan!

The goodies came beautifully packaged in one of Megan Nielsen's specially designed shoppers.


Megan carefully picked out fabric from her own clothes line to match the patterns she sent me. I got some beautiful linen to match the Kelly Skirt, along with some branded bias binding and some handy fabric note cards! 


It doesn't end there! I also got some super-soft voile to match the Banksia Top, as well as some cute buttons, branded stickers and cool sew-in labels!


And as if I wasn't feeling lucky enough, within a few weeks I also received my Pay It Forward gift from the very talented Kat of Petticoats and Peplums. If you're unfamiliar with Kat's blog you must pop over and check out this lady's multiple talents - she bakes, she knits, she crochets and she sews...all perfectly too! And she takes beautiful pictures to boot! Thank you for my thoughtful gift Kat!

A handmade project bag for my knitting - just look at that tape measure fabric and cool pink lining - as well as a Knitter's Gauge and some Yarn Ball Point Protectors!

I realise that there are a hell of a lot of exclamation marks in this post, but what can I say...I'm excited and grateful! Have you received anything that's moved you lately?

Don't forget to tune in for my giveaway tomorrow...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

How to...appliqué

After this post, I had a handful of emails from readers asking me about appliqué, so I figured a quick tutorial was in order. I'm not an appliqué expert by any stretch of the imagination, so this is just me showing you how I did it. I also apologise in advance for the quality of my pictures. I took photos as I went along and the lighting wasn't great...I blame these darned winter days!

Anyway, other than a sewing machine and thread, you'll also need:
  • Item to appliqué (I used my Raspberry Hot Cocoa Sweater)
  • Fabric for appliqué
  • Double-sided fusible web (I used Vilene Bondaweb)
  • An iron
  • Damp cloth

Start by cutting out your fabric shapes - you can also use your fusible web to trace shapes out instead if you need to (good tutorial for that here).


Pin your fabric shapes to your item, to make sure you're happy with the placement, proportions and so on. Because my arrangement is made up of overlapping layers, I deemed it safer to lightly sketch around the outline with some chalk.
With the shiny / grainy side of your fusible web facing up, cut it out a touch smaller than your fabric shapes. I found it easier to do this by holding my fabric shapes against the fusible web, instead of pinning them down.


With your fabric shapes wrong side up and the fusible web shiny / grainy side down, fuse the two together by ironing them. Set your iron to a lighter heat (I had mine on the wool setting) and press it down on the shapes for about 10 seconds. You can't go wrong as long as you just make sure that you're applying the heat to the smooth / papery side of the fusible web.

Once the fabric and fusible web are firmly fused together, peel off the papery back.


Grab a damp cloth, place it on top of your fabric shape and iron it onto your item of choice by pressing it down for about 10 seconds again. I found my chalk outline really helpful at this point!


Once everything is nicely fused, zig-zag stitch around the outline of your appliqué design to ensure everything stays firmly together...forever!?! 


At this point, even though your fabric pieces are fused to your item, I would recommend pinning them down whilst stitching. I didn't do it myself and I do regret it, because some of my pieces ended up moving around a little.


Erm...and that's it! Now you can show off your awesome appliqué and make everyone green with envy ;o)
That was easy peasy right?!? If I've missed any crucial steps out or people have some top tips to share, please do leave a comment below...

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sewing room makeover...done!

At the end of October I got busy taking my sewing room apart in lieu of some new furniture / storage my boyfriend kindly offered to buy me. He had finally had enough of the constant mess I was creating, so luckily he decided to help me rather than kick me out! 

Anyway, on the weekend I finally found some time to finish converting this... 


...into this!



I'm still housing my patterns on the old bookcase - which has worked well for me so far - and having got rid of the small bookcase, I've also relocated all my sewing and knitting books. I like having everything close together like this, it's really handy.


We also replaced my old desk, which has surprisingly made a world of difference! This one is wider which allows me much more movement when sewing and the lack of shelves is actually liberating and a whole lot less claustrophobic! Sadly, we're not allowed to hang / pin stuff on our rented walls, so it looks rather sparse on that front. However, I 'd like to make some mood boards, or something, to at least blu tack to the wall...


The piece de resistance, however, has to be the wall unit! The cupboards and drawers allow me to hide all my messy notions / tools and the cubicles are perfect for storing fabric. I've anally sorted all my fabric into types - it took forever to refold and sort, but it was so worth it just to feel this organised!



There was even room left to display a very special (and quite early) 30th Birthday present from some very special friends...this early 1930s tea set is literally to die for. I'm so happy I finally have somewhere to keep it where I can openly admire it!


Obviously this is a long way from my dream sewing room - I'd have a huge room, wooden floors, way more colour on the walls, inspiration boards / photos hanging from everywhere, double aspect windows for more light, more surfaces to cut out / work on...the list is endless - but I think we've done really well with the space we have and considering our renting restrictions. And, I totally know I'm lucky to even have a dedicated sewing room in the first place! 

So, are you happy with where you sew? What does your ideal sewing space look like?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Raspberry sweater...with floral appliqué

Another month, another Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa Sweater for me! After my first animal print one I knew I'd be making more and this softer than soft, raspberry wool blend was the perfect candidate. It really is buttery soft and feels divine on bare skin.


I literally have nothing to add about the construction - it was as easy peasy to make as before and like last time I added 3 inches to both front and back pieces. I would just say that when working with similar fabric, be aware that it's easy to over stretch it, so stay-stitching your neckline is a must.


As much as I'd like to be chic and demure, I can't seem to cope with plain very well. So I decided to spruce this basic sweater up by trying out a new-to-me technique...appliqué. Unsurprisingly, I went for flowers and attempted to create a flower chain / necklace effect.


The result is a rather 'handmade' one, but you know what...it is handmade! So I'm embracing it for what it is. If anyone else wants to know how to add such a 'unique' twist to their makes, I'm happy to post a 'how to' - just let me know in the comments so I can judge the level of disinterest interest.