Monday, 9 April 2018

Selfish sewing

After spending weeks sewing costumes, I finally decided it was time to do some selfish sewing. I’d bought some lovely jersey knit from Girl Charlee and wanted to see how it made up.

 I'm  not a big tee shirt fan having completely the wrong figure type. Most off the peg tee shirts either fit at the top and are too baggy around my hips or fit well at the hips and much too snug over the bust.
Anyway I found a free pattern in Dressmaker magazine for some wardrobe basics. Three tops and some draw string trousers that looked both practical and comfy.

I’d only bought a metre of each of the fabrics I had chosen, just to check their suitability for me, i.e. not clingy, see through etc. so I started with the sleeveless version shown on the model. I checked the size recommended for my measurements, and then the finished garment size. I don't like my tops too fitted, neither do I like them baggy and as there was quite a good amount of ease I opted to make a size smaller and I'm so glad I did.

I'm really pleased with how they turned out. Comfortable, just skimming the body and not clinging at all. The fabric feels so nice, I cant wait to choose some more!

Having said all that, the same cannot be said for the trousers on the same pattern. I wear a commercial UK12, but according to the pattern sizing I should make a 14/16. I decided to do a wearable toile, cutting out the size 14 and guess what! Awful!! The silhouette was nothing like the picture. Enormous wide legs and the top wouldn't have gone amiss as a clown costume.
But I would not be defeated and set about recutting and fitting and in the end landed up making an 8/10. Believe me when I say that is definitely not me. The legs are still more straight than slim, but I think this is the style and they now work. I just need to find some medium weight cotton stretch fabric in bright colours and I'll be all set for when the sun eventually shines.

Do you have any good recommendations for fabric for these casual pants. I would like something that I can roll up when its warmer, so it doesn't need to be too thick.

Have you found any give away patterns that have become your favourites? I know this will be one of mine. I might try the sleeved one next.

have a lovely week whatever you are up to.

Jenny xx

Monday, 12 February 2018

Vintage hunting near Skipton and a giveaway

A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely weekend break near Skipton. The weather was rubbish but we were determined to shake off the flat post Christmas blues and enjoy ourselves.

We stopped off en route at Saltaire where we found a small but busy vintage fair at the Victoria Hall. Loads of great vintage clothes and collectibles. I almost bought a jacket ready for Twinwood later in the year, but it wasn't quite the right style. It would have been super to wear for every day, but I really didn't need another coat.

As you can see by their flier they do several shows a year, so if you are in the area it's really worth a visit.

We spent our first evening meeting up with a cousin of DH who we haven't seen for several years. It was lovely to catch up and we had a great meal at the Hopper Lane Hotel. Lovely atmosphere and great hosts.

On the Sunday we went to a large car boot sale near Chorley, where we met Danny Sebastien.  As flamboyant and jolly in real life as on TV.
From there we went to Bygone Times a vintage and Antique Emporium covering 6 Floors.
Vintage Heaven!

I was very good though as we are in the middle of completely overhauling Olive and Edna. We have all our stock at half price at the moment (extended to end of February), but I was tempted!

And finally the bargain of the month! I have been looking for a new pair of red/purple long boots. I've had my eye on some Fly London boots for a while and DH gave me some money for my birthday towards them. The best price I have found was on the Internet at £94. On the way home from our weekend we popped into Wetherby as we often do when in the area and as usual we had to check out the CS. And yes, you've guessed it. A brand new pair of red Fly London boots, my size, that fit my skinny calves for just £15. I almost fainted. They are perfect. So I've used the rest of my birthday money to purchase a lovely silver mounted red jade pendant I've had my eye on. Lucky girl or what!

Well I have a busy week ahead, WI committee meeting Wednesday, manning a stand in our local museum on Saturday and having a stall at the Lincoln vintage flea market on Sunday, so I'm off to put my feet up and read for a little while. May not get another chance.

Talking of books the lovely Lisa from Jumble and Jelly introduced me to the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. She initially sent me the first two, Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, then followed up this kindness with a third, Pardonable Lies. I said I would read them and then pass them on and so if anyone fancies a bit of pure light reading in the form of some female detective novels which start at the beginning of the 20th century, just leave a comment here. I will draw a name from a hat if more than one person replies. I have really enjoyed them and as there are 13 now and another due I will be able to follow Maisie for a bit longer still.

Jenny xx

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

And Its done!

The Butterick B5281 dress in spotted swifts is finished.

Having had no luck finding any more of the fabric to replace the front section I had cocked  messed up, I rifled through the bag of scraps that I had collected to go to the local sewing group and managed to find a couple of larger pieces of the right fabric, and having pressed them, I held them against the wrongly cut piece to see if I could in any way patch them together. It took a little while but finally I was able to choose two pieces which when all joined together gave me enough fabric to cut out the missing front piece correctly this time.

The matching isn't absolutely perfect but as near as, and since this is for a 'costume' I am happy enough with the result.

Of course whenever I have a potential disaster making something you can guarantee that as soon as one thing is solved something else goes wrong. So having spent all afternoon trying to get this as perfect as possible, I make up the dress, try it on and the zip broke.

Blizzards!! again.

Put it down, go get a glass of wine and just leave it!

I am not meant to wear this dress am I?

Later on I returned though determined not to be defeated. I put in a new zip, finished the skirt, added some vintage buttons and voila. Just the hem to finish now and then its done!

I don't think you will be able to see the 'repair' when I wear it

Unless the wind blows that is!

The inside patchwork seams

What a relief. I would be lying if I were to say this has been an enjoyable sew. And even my favourite vintage pattern isn't so appealing at the mo. However I do believe that I have truly embraced the 1940s ethos of 'make do and mend' quite literally!

Have you tossed many disasters in the bin, or are you like me and won't admit defeat?

But for now I think I'll step away from the machine. I have a floor length 'Scottish Widow' type cloak to tackle next with a large cowl hood. I think I need to have my sensible head on for that.

Wish me luck
Jenny xx

Monday, 22 January 2018

Sewing Accessories...the big rip off!

Well my call for help with fabric fell on deaf ears! I did have someone kindly contact me but their suggestion did not produce the goods....however in the spirit of make do and mend  I have made progress but will keep that for next time.

I was prompted to write this post, because for some time now I have been looking for a Teflon foot for my sewing machine. Now I have a Husqvarna Platinum 950E ( about 14 years old ) and a Huskystar C20. I bought the latter from the knitting, stitching and hobby craft show at the NEC, to save me keep taking the embroidery unit off the 950E.

Don't get me wrong I love both machines. The 950E when used just as a sewing machine is a dream, and the embroidery unit has been a real pleasure to learn on and use.  The Huskystar is very portable has a good range of stitches, and for a pretty basic machine has done me well for some time.
However my biggest gripe is that all the lovely machine feet I have bought for the 950E do not fit the Huskystar and vice verse. 
I even bought a load of Husquvarna machine feet in a sale when our local studio closed and none of them fit the  Huskystar. Now I know someone out there is going to tell me that Huskystar are not actually produced by Husqvarna but by Janome, but either way they are sold and demonstrated by Husquvarna reps at every sewing show I visit, so for my money they still come under the husqvarna banner.
 Now when the average price of one foot for the 950E is anything from £6.99 to £59.99, having to buy a second lot for your 'spare' machine is no joke!
Read on line about the various sewing machine feet and you will find plenty of information relating to a long or short shank. what you don't usually find is the information, and this relates in particular to my Huskystar, is that the bar on some feet that your 

Introducing Austin sewing machines...... Amazing service,  amazing products and currently my hero! At an average price of around £4 per foot I have now equipped myself with a roller foot, a Teflon foot, a narrow zipper foot, an invisible zipper foot, a double gathering foot, an edge stitch in the ditch foot and a 1/4 inch foot. In the blurb it states that all of these feet will fit several machines including the  Husqvarna husky series... And guess what they do!! I am in seventh heaven, as anyone who does any amount of sewing knows that although we can get round things, life is so much easier if you have the correct tool ( for that read foot ) to do the job.

So well done Austin, you have finally saved me from regretting my second husqvarna purchase and I am enjoying sewing all over again.

And while we're  talking about the items that make sewing your own clothes easier and therefore to me more enjoyable, I must mention my latest purchase from Lidl no less. Never thought I would have any need for a table top ironing board, but I have to say this has been a little gem. Hung on the back of the door when not needed and so quick and easy to set up when all you want to do is press darts etc. Saves all the hassle of getting out the main ironing board and whats more takes up so little space.
At just £4.99 it was money well spent!

So this happy bunny is now off to tackle the last steps in her latest project, and take some pictures.

Back soon
Jenny xx

Monday, 15 January 2018

Desperately Seeking.......

Makower spotted swifts in dark salmon

For some years now DD and her crew have bought us tickets for the Twinwood Festival in August. A real celebration of music, dancing and vintage fashion from the 40s through to the 60s. Each year my SIL and I decide what we're going to wear and start researching patterns and fabrics, I'm afraid that there's not many actual vintage dresses out there that would fit us now so we choose vintage patterns and retro fabric to create our hopefully authentic look.

However since we are real converts now and would buy the tickets anyway, this year we have been given tickets for a similar new festival at Newark in June. So now we have two outfits to find (actually that's four as our other halves are now very happy to join in the fun!)

Well last year I decided to get a bit more organised and started making a a vintage dress which I have made before.

Butterick B5281

 A completely different fabric this time. My first version I cheated a bit and made in a jersey to try and avoid the side zip called for, but this time I was using a woven cotton fabric Makower spotted swifts in dark salmon and intended to make it up exactly as shown in the pattern instructions.
So far so good. I must have cut the dress out last  September, and I got as far as making the bodice before other commitments meant it got shelved. This has been on my tailors dummy ever since.

Yesterday I decided I would finish it ready for the Newark festival........

I made up and attached the sleeves, exactly as instructed to do, even though I was itching to just use the overlocker! And then I came to the skirt.......Blizzards!!!!!! and even more blizzards.....

The front skirt is made of two separate pieces cut out singly and how I've done it I have no idea, but I have managed to cut one of them with my fabric reversed! I can only think that I must have been having trouble fitting the pieces in and have turned the pattern piece over. Fine if you're cutting something on folded fabric but absolutely useless when it's only supposed to be cut on a single layer .

So here's my call of desperation

If anyone has even a metre of this fabric in the dark salmon stashed away, would you please....pretty please.... let me know if I may purchase it from you.......

I really don't want to start again, I do love the dress so far. but I cant find any on the Internet so I am in your hands.

Hope your latest projects are going a bit better than mine.

Jenny xx

Monday, 8 January 2018

And a New Chapter begins.......

First though a bit late, a very happy New Year to you all.

I was always rubbish at keeping a diary and it seems I've not improved with the digital type!

Every morning I spend a few minutes in bed reading my emails and a few blogs but somehow I never seem to find the time to actually sit and update mine. I used to love doing it, but it does take time. I am always in awe of those who manage a post almost every day.

Well I'm not making any rash promises to improve in the New Year but I would like to get back to  recording some of the lovely things we have planned.

My most exciting news since I last wrote in July!!! is that DD has completely changed her business, is doing very well and is so much happier. She and her husband now have more time to spend with their darling boys and actually enjoy life.
One of her cards was featured on Dragons Den over the holidays when the CEO of Thoughtful, one of the sites she sells from, was on the show!!!!

You'll also find her here GiddyKipper

For myself, I think I have found my dream job!

No I haven't returned to work at my age, but I have become involved in making costumes for a professional contemporary dance company. I am in my element at the moment creating and making anything and everything from simple slip dresses to velvet tail coats, corsets and steam punk helmets and goggles. Most of what we do is created from what we can find. I am getting very adept at deconstructing curtains for fabric and my sewing room looks more like Santa's workshop. At times it's a bit hectic getting things done to a certain time frame but brilliant to think they will be seen by hundreds of people all around the country when the next show takes to the road!
And I'm having great fun. That's what a hobby is really about isn't it?

Pretty underskirts 

The toile for a tail coat ready to fit

Anyway at the moment we have a break, and a bit more time to complete the costumes for the rest of the cast. The show will not open until the Autumn, but I am looking forward to seeing it all come together. I have a lovely partner in crime and we hit it off straight away. On top of that the directors are not only amazingly talented but are the nicest people I have ever worked with.

How lucky am I.  Want to see more, go take a look at the Chantry Dance Company website

Well Olive & Edna  are busy with a sale at the moment so I'm off to add a few more vintage pieces to our site.

Hope you are keeping busy and well

Jenny xx

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Do I miss travelling abroad....not at all

Last August DH and I together with our daughter, son in law and two very excited grandsons, took a cottage in Wales for a week. We had all sorts of plans to explore this beautiful place (for me reliving holidays from my teens) and guess what! The sun came out and sea and sand won over castles and water falls and so we had to file away our 'to do' list for another time.

Well that other time came a couple of months ago. Renting a converted barn near to Bala, we set off with our sister and brother in law and apart from choosing the worst day of our week to do Snowdon, we had an amazing time.
It doesn't matter how many times I visit this beautiful area there is always something to take your breath away.
We managed to fit in so much we needed another holiday to recover, but it was all worth it.
We visited beautiful Chirk Castle, Erdigg House,

 spent a lovely day exploring Bodnant gardens again and meandered through the lanes at Portmeirion,

stunned to realise that it is 50 years since 'the Prisoner' was filmed here. I can see it quite clearly and know that we watched it regularly, though I never did understand it!!

Our non event of walking up Snowdon was our only disappointment. We set off in a bit of drizzle, but by the time we got to the PYG track it was raining and blowing up a real storm.

 The road we drove up on had almost disappeared in the mist and you couldn't see more than a few feet up. Well we are wrinklies and do have a modicum of common sense and so apart from walking up the track a few feet to be able to say 'I was there', we abandoned our plans and headed for stunning Bettws y Coed instead. 
To say this was a fortunate detour is an understatement as the mornings rain had turned a lovely tourist attraction into a phenomenal sight. I can truly say I have not seen such a stunning waterfall ever! ( Never having seen the delights of either Niagara or the Victoria falls) Just awesome, and my pictures do it no justice at all.

We finished off our week with a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway, from Porthmadog to Caernafon and back. It was a beautiful day and we got to spend a couple of hours stretching our legs before the return journey. Caernafon Castle was most impressive, but to be honest apart from that and the harbour the town was very much the same sad site as so many of our towns in the UK. Empty shops, crumbling buildings or cheap bargain basement retailers. Such a shame!

Altogether it was a brilliant break and although we got to see so much, we still want to return to explore other parts around Conwy and Anglesey, but before that we have a lovely holiday booked for later in the year in glorious Somerset......can't wait........

Enjoy the summer break, wherever you are.
Jenny xx