Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Me....

Bloomsbury Bouquet Skirt

Well, it's over already - wonder why its only been 4 episodes.    Glad to see the lovely Anne won.  Anyway my title was really relating to my own sewing efforts which were definitely boosted by watching the show.  I had admired a skirt on Cath Kidson's website, and when in the shop a couple of weeks ago  tried it on, but it didn't look right; too short  on meand a bit puffy around the waist (not to mention £35).

I had watched this little video (and it looks so easy!), so I thought this weekend I would have a go.  I have been a good girl this time and because the fabric was cheap I actually washed it first incase of shrinkage.  The material is stretchy from Ebay  and only cost £3.15 a metre which is plenty for the skirt.  I worked out the size needed, in my case a large rectangle   29" long by 53" to include seams.  Then I joined the rectangle to make the back seam  (using a french seam for neatness; wrong sides together first, then right sides together).  Because the material was stretchy seams had to be zig-zag.

I measured the hem and pinned the turning line (easier now than when gathered).  I wanted to just reach the bottom of my knee.  Then I measured a thin piece of elastic about 1   inch shorter than my wait and stitch it about half an inch below the top of the waist.  You have to stretch the elastic really tight and this ensures a more even gather then gathering by hand.

Then I cut a wide piece of elastic, again a little smaller than my waist so that it fits snugly, and stitched the ends together

 Pin to the top of the skirt just above the narrow elastic

and then machine  (again you have to pull the elastic while sewing).

I thought I would be neat by turning over the spare waist material and stitching it down

If you are thinking that doesn't look like a good idea you would be right!  What I clearly ended up with was a bulge in the waistband, so I had to take that back and just trim it.

Then I machine-neatened the hem (which stretched appallingly) and then hand-stitched the hem with help from Meg.

It took a little over 2 hours to make, so very easy really!

It fits well at the waist and I quite like it.  I would have liked different fabric (more like the Cath Kidson pattern) and I will have another go.So what have I learnt?  It is not easier to use stretchy fabric, why did I ever think it would be?  You have to use a zigzag stitch, it goes out of shape like mad and is just hard to work with.  Unfortuntunately the 2 large quantities of stretch spotty material bought to make dresses with at the same time will have to return to the cupboard until I am more experienced!  Indeed watching the GBSB this is something which I have really picked up on; never get material which frays (as my trouser material did), too fine, too slippy or stretchy!  For now I think I should stick to good old cotton.  I think the skirt would have been better with a little more fabric but the elastic wouldn't stretch any more so I need to work out how to do that.

Before I leave the GBSB I just have to say how much I loved Anne's mohair jumper and scarf on week 4 and even more her crochet scarf on week 3  I definitely want one! 

So the question clearly is how do you make it!  I like a bit of a challenge and this proved to be quite easy to track down!  The lovely Anne has a ravelry page and in her projects (you wll recognise more of her woolies here) was the jacket and scarf. The scarf is a kit from France and a little expensive, but I love it.  Watch this space to see a) if I succumb b) if it is still available (giving the number of comments I found) c)  if I'm then capable of making it (apparently it is very fine wool).  Whilst enjoying Annes other projects I also found that her cardigan was knitted from left over wool from this goreous wrap
and it's a free pattern.  My only worry with this one is would it be itchy against your kneck.  Have any of you knitted with Rowan Kid Haze.  Don't you just love the internet - being able to find out so much.  Shame it's also easy to spend so much too.

Well enough for now and I suspect some more sewing news next week end - I have a box pleat skirt in mind.  Have lots of fun.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Georgia on my mind

I said it wasn't going to be a normal week at work and it wasn't.  I have been to Columbus in Georgia with a couple of colleagues to set up international opportunities for our students.    Apart from work meetings there was plenty of opportunities to get out and about, sightseeing and enjoying lots of iconic American buildings and vehicles.


I attended an American Rotary luncheon .... very Southern and unlike anything I had done before (Here we are with our badges).  Obviously the events in Boston had a great impact and where on everyone's mind.  We experienced great hospitality and even though many of the phrases were almost stereotypical they were said in a very genuine way ... great to hear "You all come back now you all".

In Columbus there was an old town which looked like a film set for Gone with the Wind, beautiful wooden houses with porches, and rocking chairs.

We visited the house where FDR lived and died ... The Little White House ... which was great.  Very simple and I doubt our own primeministers would ever build and live somewhere so basic. 


This is his desk and it's amazing to think of the decisions he must have made here during WWII

And this is the bed he died in

There were many things to look at, his wheelchair (as I'm sure you know he had polio), cars,

breakfast tray

We had fabulous weather except for this day, when the rain really came - as you can see by the drainpipe.
We had 4 nights in Columbus then a night in Atlanta.  A white-knuckle drive on the interstate (reminding us of Whacky Races) and a fantastic modern sky line.
We visited a festival (very sixties!)
Here we are at the Olympic Park (this is my work colleague Robert)
And just in case you were wondering there was quite a lot of eating - the pinacle of which was this brioche french toast with cream cheese filling, maple syrup and a peach soda in the hot sunshine!  I only managed half of this and I could hardly walk.
 There was, of course, a bit of shopping ... an absolutely gorgeous branch of Anthropologie
So much lovely stuff I didn't know what to pick ... but I had a good go and can't believe I karted all these home (without breaking any)
I've been eyeing up that camelion plate on line for ages.  There was some antiquing- difficult to find much American as the better shops come over to England to buy their antiques and then charge a fortune.  I managed to find a coupple of 1920s American Children's books and a lovely valentine card.

So does this mean there has been no time for crafting.  Well clearly taking 18 colours of wook for my fair isle wasn't possible so I started a new jumper from the Spring Debbie Bliss magazine and managed quite a bit of knitting (strangely I was allowed to knit on the plane going over, but not on coming back!).  This is a grey and white striped jumper which I'm is going to go with a skirt I've yet to make.  More later.
What a lucky girl I am ... a great week ... but completely jet lagged now and hope I can cope with back to work tomorrow!  Hope you have had some great times too!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Easter happiness

It's the last night of a lovely Easter week off.  The weather was gorgeous and there was plenty of rest and relaxation.  Good progress on the fair-isle with the back completed.  I've been stopped in my tracks at the moment though as I have run out of pale pink and when I went to buy another ball have found that the new dyelot is completely different!  I'm looking in lots of shops to try and find an old ball.

I'm also pretty proud of myself because I've made a pair of trousers!  They are vintage vogue ,  high waisted and very baggy (hope I have the guts to wear them!).   I love the fit on the waist which is usually difficult for me to buy.


And if you watched The Great British Sewing Bee you will recognise this .....


.... Yes it a zip fly!  .... and actually I think mine is better than many of theirs were!  Now before I sound too smug I have to admit that it took me a lot longer than 4 hours to make them (it took me ages to figure out how to do the zip!).   I am enjoying the series, but can't actually believe that these are actually the best sewers in the country - presumably they have been picked to make good TV (and I love Stewart and Anne!) but you would think really good sewers would have put in many zips, put on many pockets etc  than these competitors have.  Still if you can ignore that aspect it is very enjoyable!

I took Dan and Gemma back to University for their last term (where has the time gone!) and managed a quick bit of shopping.

 Yesterday I went to a massive vintage clothes auction at Barnard Castle, County Durham.   It was heaving with over 1,000 garments.

I had been quite excited about the opportunity to buy clothes from the 20s - 80's.  However, although the lots had been catalogued about £30-£40 for 3 garments  - the ones I went to bid for went for over £100!  I don't know whether it was auction fever but eventually my hand went up and I bought 3 jackets for £55.  One will be straight to Oxfam (80s check) but I do like the other two which believe it or not are from the 40s!

This is an aubergine colour and fits me perfectly

I also like this pale green one but it does need taking in (won't be doing that myself).

I do love imaging who might have worn them - they are older than I am and may well have been worn during the war years.  I will get Dan to take some photos when he is next back of them being worn, because I do intend to wear them.

Just have to tell you about this wonderful cook book - I'm in love with the photos - unlike most food photos the style is quite dark - reminds me of Dutch paintings -


To get a free taste of the lovely recipes and photos you can go to Katie's wonderful blog. (Gilly this link will take you straight to the lemon madelaine recipe which was really easy and can be made in advance).  I bet you add this to your list of favourites!

Well all for now.  Back to work tomorrow, though it isn't for a normal week - more of this in my next blog!