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Hi All

Just wanted to share a pic of my new sewing book

Pattern Making book

Pattern Making book

Its Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum. I took her Patter Drafting from Ready to Wear class on Craftsy (once I worked out how to turn the HD off) and loved the class. She mentioned her book during the first episode and as our connection to the internet is flakey I decided to order the book. The class online covered using your favourite item of clothing and creating a paper pattern from it.

I have a shirt which I love and wear lots but fashions change so fast that there isn’t anything quite like it around and getting something to fit is so tricky I would love to make a copy of this shirt. Its got to be almost 20 years old so no chance of getting a replacement. In the book Steff covers making patterns from; a skirt, a dress, a blouse and a handbag. I’d like to copy some trousers but the online class assured me that once you have your head around the technique the same principles apply to any garment.

I attempted to copy a t-shirt which, I thought would be a simple place to start but I’ve managed to get the shoulder pieces different widths for front and back so I’ll have a good read of the book to see where I’ve gone wrong. I used the jigsaw together type of play mat that I bought for blocking knitting stuff on to pin the shirt too and pin through to the paper, found a spiky tracing wheel in my late Mother’s sewing box. The concept went well, just need more practice.

The book also makes mention of how to approximate how much fabric your pattern will need and some assembly tips too. I’ll do a full review once I’ve had chance to have a proper read. In the mean time if you want a copy for yourself the ISBN number is; 978-0-8230-2666-1

Still trying to work out how to pad the dressform I bagged on Ebay last winter. She’s got as far as a bra on her padded to size but I’m struggling how to get the rest of her to size no wonder I can’t buy clothes that fit eh! I’d love to drape on her but being an adjustable one the gaps are a problem. Being 5′ 3″ the top section is going to be ok with the form closed, some padding in the bra sorts out the bust. There is quite a gap in the lower section so I’m considering closing the form and mummifying her to the lower proportions. It would be nice if Crafsty did a class on how to transfer your body measurements to a dress form and how to pad one, it sure explains why there are so many forms on the auction sites, sounds like others get overwhelmed and just sell them on too.

What are you sewing at the moment? If you have a well loved item that you would love to recreate check out

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Welcome Back

Chinelo Bally, who is one of the lovely lady’s in The Great British Sewing Bee has kindly given this interview to become this months Featured Artist. Read on to find out more about her and her work.

Chinelo Bally

Chinelo Bally

I discovered her work thanks to The Sewing Bee on BBC 2.  I loved how she was making her own patterns to her own designs. For those of you who haven’t yet found Chinelo, here is a little more about her an her work.

Who you are:

Chinelo: I am a passionate lady who believes in going for her dream and making it reality.

Where you are (which country you are based in)?

Chinelo: I live in Essex in the UK

What you do:

Chinelo: I am currently setting up my bespoke fashion label “Olivia Kabani” I am currently taking orders for bespoke garment and also working on my website.

What got you started in your creative journey?

Chinelo: I have always Loved fashion and I have always been interested in putting my own signature on clothes. Like you I was never fully satisfied with shop bought clothes so I decided to get a sewing machine and started learning.

What inspires you:

Chinelo: I draw inspiration from any and everything, I love colours, texture, shapes, so I’m constantly being drawn to the unique beauty of something. I have designed a dress that was inspired by red velvet cake; the rich red against the cream and the velvet name given to the cake just made me imagine this dress.

If money, time and obligations were no object, what you would most like to do?

Chinelo: I would love to have a boutique where people come to buy my ready made lines and also have bespoke garments made, but not solely for major occasions.

What do you enjoy most about your creative work/life?

Chinelo: What I love most about my creative work is the fact that I can see a fabric and transform the 2d cloth into an amazing garment. When I were, or when I see someone wear something I have made, it just fills me with so much fulfilment. I have a strong support network in my family and friends, they all know and support my future plans, emotionally mentally and physically.

Links

To find out more about Chinelo and her work, please visit her blog and website, details below.

www.chinelobally.com

Thanks to Chinelo Bally for being our Featured Artist of the Month for April 2014

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Threads;Teach Yourself to sew Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Threads/ Taunton Press
  • Item number: 978-1-60085-370-8
  • RRP at time of writing: $24.99  (from Taunton press) Around £13 on Amazon UK but price varies
  • Run Time: 150 minutes

Reason For Buying

I have sewing books but being dyslexic I am a very visual learner, I found Threads online magazine and website thanks to a sewing forum and when I saw this series it looked brilliant. The postage to buy them individually from their own site was very high but I found them on Amazon UK. More about that later in the article.

I wanted to learn basic sewing skills and to help learn techniques that will help me make my own clothes. I tell you all this as often reviews are based on how well a product lives up to the expectations of the person buying it.

Contents

The DVD covers the following topics

  • Equipment
  • Notions
  • Patterns
  • Stitches
  • Fabric
  • Seams
  • Darts
  • Edges
  • Hems
  • Bias Binding
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Buttonholes
  • Snaps and Hooks
  • Sleeves
  • Pressing

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Clear easy to understand presentation, no background music to distract you
  • Does what it says on the tin.! No frills, no overkill but superb instruction that you will refer to time and again
  • There are some projects along the way, weren’t exactly to my taste but they did demonstrate techniques and processes which was still helpful.
  • A great help to anyone wanting to try dressmaking and bewildered by all the products they see on the shelves of sewing departments.
  • Find out what items you need to get started, and what things you might want to put on a wish list for later in your sewing career.
  • A very inspiring, empowering DVD, after watching this, I felt I could give dressmaking a go.

Cons

I don’t have any

Build Quality

Good, sound is clear, lighting is fine, some camera work moves a bit quick but not so often as to be an issue. No background music makes it easy to hear what the presenter is saying. There is a full menu system so although the DVD works find to play all the way through, you can also go directly to a chapter when you want to review a particular technique.

Value for Money

Excellent. Covers a lot and is a good investment.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes and highly recommend this title and the series to anyone learning to sew without access to other classes or sewing buddies.

Summing up

This series is superb, I have loved every minute of this DVD and have since acquired  Season 2 and 3 as well, but I will review those separately.

Being a visual learner it was so much easier to have techniques demonstrated as they were explained. I have books on sewing and will get more use of them now after seeing the concepts demonstrated. If you can’t get to a sewing/dressmaking class in person, this is the next best thing, with the advantage you can watch it as many times as you like. It is also ideal if your internet connection isn’t up to online classes! A superb series and I highly recommend it to everyone wanting to make their own clothes.

Compatibility in the UK

At first I was put off from buying this DVD from Amazon UK, as they are currently listed on there as Region 1, which I cannot play in the UK. On further investigation, the publishers Taunton list the DVD as Region 0 and playable in all regions.

I took a chance and ordered it from Amazon UK and it  has worked perfectly on our TV/DVD set up. Our set up will play NTSC as well as PAL format DVDs so do bear that one in mind and check your machines before you order if you are based in the UK.

Links

Here’s where you can find the DVD Learn to Sew Season 1.

Have you tried this Teach Yourself to Sew series? What did you think of it? Has it inspired you to sew more and try more adventurous projects? Do leave me a comment and let me know how you get on.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing the following book; Dressmaking by Alison Smith

Dressmaking by Alison Smith

Dressmaking by Alison Smith

  • Title: Dressmaking The Complete step by step
  • Author:Alison Smith
  • Publisher: DK
  • ISBN: 978-1-4093-8463-2

My Reason for Buying

Having enjoyed Alison’s Sewing Book, I wanted to learn more about dressmaking and had heard there were also patterns in the back of this book. I was delighted when DH gave me this for Christmas and want to share with you how I got on with the book.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

  • Tools and Materials
  • Fabrics
  • Patterns and Cutting out
  • General Techniques
  • Garments; The Skirts, The Dresses, The Trousers, The Tops, The Jackets
  • Mending and repairs
  • Customising
  • Patterns
  • Glossary

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • I went for the full size version of the book and it gives nice size print in this format.
  • Clear, easy to navigate layout
  • If you have no prior knowledge of dressmaking/sewing the helpful picture of the items alongside their descriptions help you identify the array of tools and materials available
  • Hard backed book makes it easier to use as with a little added weight to hold pages down, its easy to have the book open next to you as you work
  • The fabric section is brilliant, it lists a range of materials the pros and cons of each them,  gives you tips for cutting out, what type of seams work best, what thread to sew the fabric with. Needle size for your machine, pressing advice and common garments its used on. Ideal if you are looking to use a fabric for the first time and want to know if it would be suitable for the project you have in mind.
  • The pattern reading section helps you understand the information printed on the backs of patterns, all those symbols on the patterns themselves and how to measure your body to choose the correct size garment to create. Read this BEFORE you buy your commercial patterns as pattern sizes are different to shop bought clothes.
  • There is a superb selection of classic garments for you to make at the back of the book, once you have made these you could customise the pattern to your own taste so there is plenty of scope for a whole wardrobe.
  • I like the fact that the book walks you through what to do with each garment in step by step form, if a technique has been explained elsewhere in the book, it tells you which page to find that technique.

Cons

  • Just a niggle but Making a toile section which tells you what to do if your test garment (tiole) is too big or too small, would have been better placed before the pattern alterations, instead of after them. I skimmed through the alterations thinking – ‘That’s great but how would you know what alteration you needed?’ Only to find the information on the toile page at the end of the section?!
  • One thing to bear in mind is that to create the garments in the book you need to print or draw your own patterns from the instructions. Included in the book, there is a picture for each pattern that you can photocopy and enlarge, this has a grid is printed behind the pieces and you are told the dimensions to scale to, so you can re-draw your pattern from that or if you have internet access you can download a PDF of the patterns to print out a page at a time and then stick them together ‘jigsaw style’. So there is what you call ‘Pattern development’ needed. No full size pre printed patterns are included in the book itself. The patterns in the book aren’t to size, you will need gridded paper or need to print LOTS of pages from a PDF.

Value for Money

Excellent, this is a great sewing companion and if you are venturing into garment making for the first time, this and Alison’s other book The Sewing Book are great companions. A lot of valuable information in an easy to find format.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, highly recommended for anyone starting to make their own clothes.

Summing up

Since I already had Alison’s ‘The Sewing Book’, I had wondered if this book would be a waste, with too much duplication of information but it’s not and they work well together. Alison’s ‘The Sewing Book’ is a great reference book if you have a pattern in front of you and you know what technique you need to use and just want to be told how to do it but it doesn’t tell you what order to do things for constructing a complete garment, that is where this Dressmaking book comes into its own.

Even if the thought of the extra work needed to create the patterns from the book overwhelms you, still buy this book as the information about how to construct garments and what order to do things is invaluable. It is a great book when you are new and need some hand holding while you get through the early stages of dressmaking for the first time. A very valuable companion to new dressmakers, I highly recommend this title.

Links

Dressmaking on Amazon Watch out for the book size though it varies on Amazon and on high street. My copy is 28.5 x 23.5 cm

The Sewing Book, here is my review of Alison’s; The Sewing Book which I mentioned in this review.

Alison Smith has her own sewing school and also writes for the Sew magazine

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Firstly I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Regular readers will know that I don’t go in for New Years resolutions but instead for goals, things I’d like to try in the New Year. Stuff that will make me happy, rather than resolutions that always seem more about giving yourself a hard time.

So here we go, in 2014 I’d like to try the following

Dressmaking

Well making my own clothes. I’d like to make trousers that fit me as I can’t find them in shops, so if I make my own then I can get the fit I’m after, in fabrics I like. It would also be nice to try to make a few skirts as I seem to have reached the age/shape that can’t get away with wearing shorts anymore :( Bit of a dilemma, as I don’t have the feet that go with skirts but that is a whole different story.

This goal has started well, as I was very lucky to bag a dressmakers dummy on Ebay before Christmas so fingers crossed, that will help me sort out a fit for my clothes. I’ve also been collecting dressmaking books and later on last year discovered Threads DVDs, which are wonderful. Craftsy is superb but our internet connection isn’t strong enough to stream the video, so the DVDs from Threads and from Palmer/Pletsch have covered shirts, trousers and now upper body fitting too. Being a visual learner they have been fantastic.

Bring back Art

Doodling

On the art front, because I haven’t turned my back on that, just that my hands let me down last year, I’m having a go at doodling. Years ago I used to doodle quite a lot, but after seeing Zen doodling and Zen Tangle its renewed my interest. I’d like to find out a bit more about Tangling but it makes my eyes go funny, they remind me of optical illusions. That said, doodling shapes and patterns appeals and I fancy giving it a go. It seems to be a nice peaceful way of letting your mind wander and helps you relax. I still couldn’t quite get to grips with art journalling, either because I put too much pressure on myself, in the quest for the ‘perfect page’ or ended up with pieces I didn’t want to share online as they were too personal. So doodling it is, here’s to chilling out with art supplies. :) :) :)

Gelli Arts

The most burning ambition I have on the art front, is to try a Gelli plate. Other things kept coming up and taking the budget and I never quite got round to getting one last year. I had it in my head that I ‘needed’ the 8 x 10″ one, so I could make book covers and that the 6x 6″ plate would be too small. The price of the 8 x10″ one put me off, so round and round I went. I haven’t resolved those issues so when budget allows I hope to get a 6 x 6″ one and give it a go. In all honesty, I haven’t really the space to store a larger one anyway but it would have been nice to have more space on the plate to play on. There I go again DOH!!! Better a small space to Gelli rather than no Gelli at all.

In the meantime, until the light and my dexterity improves, I have my Christmas books n DVDs to read/watch so that will keep me busy. How about you, do you have creative goals for 2014? Do let me know what you would love to create in 2014.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Would you like a more personal Christmas? Less commercial, not so much battling shops n crowds at the last-minute? There is another way, a couple of years ago I started shopping earlier and hand-making gifts. You get to stay in the warm, maybe have your fave movie on in the background and create a gift that the recipient will treasure because you put into it something you just can’t buy..your love and your time.

Today I’d like to share some links to projects and ideas that would make great Christmas gifts created with fabrics, some will take more time than others but most will be achievable to everyone, even those very new to sewing.

Sew your way to a Happier Christmas

Easy Fleece hats.

These take very little fabric and would be great extra gifts and ideal for little uns too.

Fleece hat with Ear Flaps DIY tutorial by Craft Gemini. Includes free pattern

Easy to sew Pyjama trousers.

If you are new to sewing these are ideal, can be made to create pj trousers of any size

Whitney sews PJ Trousers.

If you have a pattern but are confused by construction this is the video for you

Handmade Pajama Trousers

Sneak a pair of your recipients fave pj trousers and recreate them in the new fabric.

Wrap Vest

A great gift for women of all ages, I’d overcast the edges for a more long-lasting result but a handy stash busting last-minute gift.

Christmas Tree Skirt by Debbie Shore

Are you fed up with the nylon and velour tree skirts available in the shops? Why not create your own to match your decor in quality fabrics. Love up your tree with this great project.

Zipped Make up Bag by Debbie Shore

This is a great project for the girls but alter the fabric and colours to make a wash kit bag for the boys or the size to make a pencil-case for the kids.

Laptop Bag by Debbie Shore

Ahh kids (of all ages) today are so in love with technology aren’t they. How about creating a little softness in their world with some amazing fabrics you can make this laptop cover. Alter the size and it could also work for a tablet or e-reader too.

If you want to include your own designs or images in your projects, you can buy printable fabric from Crafty Computer Paper. How about making T-shirts with your fave pics on, or tote bags with your kids or pet pictures on.

Opps got a bit carried away again, but hopefully there is something for everyone on your list. I would love to know if you make something handmade this Christmas and do share a picture if you do.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Last month I started a sew along to create an advent calendar, did you make one too? I’d love to see your pictures. Here’s how mine turned out.

Finished advent calendar project 2013

Finished advent calendar project 2013

I started by ironing on lightweight interfacing onto the back of the panel (well DH ironed it on for me) We did this as there was so little fabric on the turn ins that I was worried it would fray.

Makower Advent calendar Panel.

Makower Advent calendar Panel.

Advent calendar panel: Backed with interfacing

Advent calendar panel: Backed with interfacing

DH had the idea of putting a thin strip of iron on interfacing on to the top and bottom edges again resisting any fraying and to stop things catching on the edges of the pockets. Thanks to my crocked hands DH put this on for me too. Turned into a joint project ;)

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on. (Backs of the pockets)

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on. (Backs of the pockets)

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on.

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on.

Any pockets that spread over more than one square had box pleats. First I placed the pockets in place and sewed along the dotted line between the pockets. Next I pinned the two side edges in place and sewed the other edges in place. This has made for a nice secure pocket that should stand up to a few years use.

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on. Match them with the squares on the panel.

Advent calendar panel: Pockets ironed into shape and ready to sew on. Match them with the squares on the panel.

Advent calendar panel: Pockets with box pleats pinned in place and sewn along dotted line to form center of pleat first, this makes them secure.

Advent calendar panel: Pockets with box pleats pinned in place and sewn along dotted line to form center of pleat first, this makes them secure.

To hang the panel I made some tabs using the same fabric that was going on the back and I sewed those across the top inside the seam allowance and pointing down towards the bottom of the panel, so that when it’s turned through they will point up.

Advent calendar panel: Tabs to hang panel, pockets sewn in place and top stitched the edges to firm up the result.

Advent calendar panel: Tabs to hang panel, pockets sewn in place and top stitched the edges to firm up the result.

Not convinced that sewing into wadding would be a good plan without getting LOTS of fluff into the machine. I pinned the tabs in place so they didn’t get in the way, pinned the backing fabric on to the panel, right sides together and sewed around three and a half edges. I clipped the corners and turned everything right side out. Next I put the wadding into the ‘envelope’ of fabric and DH pinned it in place using curved safety pins. Then I sewed around the inner side of the decorative edge and finally it was finished.

I sewed around the fireplace area of the design and around the clock to highlight that. If I’d thought in advance I’d have sewed some blue ribbon under the pocket but I didn’t think of that till the pockets were already in place. DH pinned the bottom edge in and I top stitched around all the edges. This looks nice and holds things firmer.

Can’t say I loved the process, it took ages coz I over thought the whole thing made worse by never having quilted anything before and I was scared of getting wadding jammed in my machine. Change your needle as you go through the project it helps a lot. I am very pleased that I went with the interfacing, it has given a nice sturdy result and having now seen a few of these made up in a shop, I like the result the interfacing gave and would do it that way again.

Did you make an advent calendar for the sew along? I’d love to see your results.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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