Treasure hunting for the sewing addict....

Friday, 30 August 2013

There's a little green door in the market place in my  town which is the gateway to 'Tutankhamun's treasure' for the sewing addict...

For the last 30 years Mary has run a market stall, selling old china, crockery, bedlinen, furniture and more. And if you ask her nicely, she'll let you rummage around in her market place 'gloryhole,' or store cupboard. And, like Tutankhamun's tomb, it is a small space crammed with an impossible quantity.

Now, my prolific sewing over the last few months means I've started to think about where I source all my bits and pieces.   I've got so many  projects underway, some just forming in my mind - but if I'm really honest, my sewing spending is mounting (Oops! I really hope that my Other Half, isn't going to break his habit of vague disinterest and actually read this post!)

So my new policy is to buy lovely designer fabric when I REALLY, TRULY can't resist, but be 'crafty' and save elsewhere!

And Mary's stall  - and her amazing cupboard - is my saviour.

For three decades Mary has been gathering, storing and selling  laces and linen, buttons and blankets, sheets, curtains, threads and more.

So after stocking up on five different reels of thread, (10 pence each!)  Mary let me loose in her cupboard. Drawers, shelves and boxes are labeled floor to ceiling; 'single sheets', 'tray cloths', 'pillowcases', 'assorted lace',  and quirky items such as 'crystal pie flutes.'

I was after sheets. I have a vision underway which requires pure white cotton (Soon to be revealed, watch this space) and I also wanted delicate prints. A crisp white double sheet was £2, around $3 I guess, for so much fabric, bargain! I pulled a very delicate blue spotted sheet from the bottom of a pile (not as easy as it sounds - the stack was huge and heavy, think "princess and the pea") . Complete with frill and piping (hooray) at one hem, it's already inspiring me to sew.
And who could resist this vintage pattern? The picture alone was worth the 50 pence! So I now I need to add this adorable coat to my sewing 'to do' list!

 And of course then I got side-tracked, rummaging through Mary's cupboards. A walking stick anyone? Need some  forks for extra guests? A tea set? 

I love Mary's cupboard. It is full of things that remind me of a time lost, when tea was served in cups and saucers, and everyone had a drawer of traycloths and beds always had valences. And I also love the way it brings old sewing trinkets back to life, that thread that has sat in a drawer for a decade is perfect for Missy's latest outfit. And I love that I came away with a sewing haul for just a few pounds. Sheets, thread, a pattern and a pretty printed scarf. And yes... ok.... there's also a blackbird pie flute thing, couldn't resist,  my mum used to have one of these).
Now, I'd love to hear your thrifty sewing tips!


Spot the Hanami blouse...and still time for Echino fabric giveaway

Saturday, 24 August 2013

When the request to test a prototype pattern arrives, what is a girl to do? Especially when it's the newest  Straight Grain pattern, the Hanami blouse...

It might be holiday season, my son might be off school, I might be juggling work, and packing holiday gear for a camping trip (did I just use the word 'holiday' with 'camping?'  I'm not convinced they belong together, but that's another story), as well as other crazy sewing projects and a gorgeous fabric giveaway (see here or the end of this post for details)

But, who could resist sewing a Hanami?
With little time to sew, let alone nurture creative inspiration, I played fairly safe in using Nani Iro's double gauze fabric, pocho in cobalt blue.
Now, I'm not very good at buying fabric online. Sometimes I strike lucky, other times the packet arrives and I think, "woah, what was I thinking?"
And when this little packet from Japan landed having flown half way round the globe, my heart lept with excitement. I tore it open, and then thought, "hmmm..."
It's a real electric blue, and a bigger spot than I imagined.
Is this too blue? Too spotty? Too clown-like, I pondered?
Stick with the vision, an inner voice told me. 


A  couple of night's focussed sewing ensued, and voila, one Hanami. It's an easy pattern, and An's detailed instructions mean this would be a great beginner sewing project. This is now my third Straightgrain pattern, I've made the Tinny dress , see here, and the bubble dress, see here; I'm having a real 'Straightgrain Week' here at As it Seams!
For the Hanami, I chose the cross-backed version, partly because I love that v-back, and also because I didn't have time to nip to my local shop for a zipper! 

It's fully lined with very fine pink voile, and I love the little flashes of pink at the flutter sleeves. In fact I now love the whole thing! The  blue and the spots might be bright and bold, but it all kind of works, and Missy, with her summer tan and dark hair can carry it off...

It is a teeny bit big on her though. I made a size 5, and she's only three and a half. It's loose on the neck, and gapes at the back. But that's fine by me. I'm sewing for next summer now! And I'm also thinking this can be worn as a layering blouse in the colder months.

Now a reminder about that giveaway - there's still time to win the gorgeous Etsuko Furuya designed Echino fabric. One fat quarter - enough to make a lovely cushion. Or inspire all kinds of creativity! The giveaway closes on Friday. Full details are on the preceding post  '"Flipped Tinny in a spin ".
In a nutshell - all you need to do is follow this blog on blogger, bloglovin or by email, or like the facebook page and leave me a comment to let me know you'd like to be in the lucky draw! Happy to post anywhere.

In a spin with a 'flipped' Tinny dress... and an Echino giveaway!

Monday, 19 August 2013

The morning after a night of midnight sewing, this newest dress was unveiled to Missy.

But it was my son, Torin who had a 'love at first sight' moment.
"Missy, you have to dance!"  he said.
Within moments he  was swinging her around the living room presenting their own ballet of Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice (why, oh why, wasn't my camera to hand?)

Indeed, it's put us all in such a good mood that I'm launching my first giveaway! See end of this post for details!

This dress is of course based on Straight Grain's Tinny dress pattern. If I was properly organised I'd have created a "StraightGrain Week" logo, as she's clearly become the theme for this week.
The Birds and Bubbles dress showcases Straight Grain's first pattern, and this is based on her second, the Tinny dress (and watch this space for her third...)
Fool that I am,  I simply could not resist taking part in the Flip this Pattern August challenge to transform a Tinny dress, hosted by Frances and Suzanne .  
No matter that August is the worst time to take on extra sewing, (camping trips, work, children off school and more) I had sleepless nights dreaming of this flipped Tinny. I simply had to make it.
I had a vision of taking the circle skirt to extremes, of really emphasising its geometry and seeing just what happens if you make a circle bigger than a circle (is this mathematically possible?).

What I actually wanted to do was create a spectrum of 'close tone' wedge shapes in the circle skirt which would create a beautiful rainbow  shimmer. But I had the biggest nightmare trying to order exact colours online - sometimes I really struggle with online fabric shopping. I now have a little drawer of mismatched colours in my drawer awaiting some future project. Ho hum...
A quick rethink, and I thought, lets go for a real contrast! And voila. The wedge shaped extra panel is made of  kona cottons, and a sliver of Echino's wonderful cherry fabric. by designer Etsuko Furuya. I liked the idea of half-hiding this ever-so-precious fabric (it took me a couple of nights to contemplate cutting it) so that you simply catch glimpses of it.
I cut the circle skirt, but tweaked it. There's an extra quarter circle panel inserted. This meant the waistline became bigger, so I had to gather it. But I kept all the gathering at the back, to create extra fullness, and a slight bustle effect .
And I also wanted to keep the front of the skirt smooth, so the Echino wouldn't be completely hidden in the fullness. I created a box pleat around the Echino panel, doing my best to bring together the pink and green in a point at the waist. 
Phew... so in the end I made all three versions of the Tinny skirt! Circle, pleated and gathered!
The bodice and skirt are completely lined, but I didn't have enough of the fine pink voile for the skirt lining, so it's made in two different shades of pink, for alternate quarter circles. This is one of those accidents of sewing which  turned out for the best. The two shades create lovely flashes of pink when Missy twirls - which is A LOT. 

I used the Tinny's asymetrical collar but rounded the corners - because I can't pipe round a sharp corner, and placed the pieces so they overlap slightly, a sort of petal collar, I guess.  I cut the bodice shapes a little longer and it's a big on Missy (size 5 on a 3 year old) but that's fine.
Now Missy, Torin and I are all developing a love affair wit h this dress!
If my first Tinny transformed Missy into a princess, this has made her a ballerina...Give us another twirl Missy!


Now for that giveaway. I have a fat quarter of the Echino turquoise cherry print to giveaway!
To enter the draw simply follow this blog on blogger, bloglovin, or email, or 'like' and share the As it Seams facebook page. Then leave me a comment - either here, or on the facebook page, to let me know that you'd like to enter. If you're already a follower, you can enter too - but leave me a comment below too! (Or on facebook). I'll pick a random winner on Friday August 30. Happy to post anywhere, and I would love to see what the winner does with the fat quarter!

Bubbles and birds - THE dress of summer 2013

Thursday, 15 August 2013

This has definitely been the dress of the summerWashed and worn loads and every time Missy puts it on it makes me smile.

It is, of course, An of Straightgrain's bubble dress pattern. I confess I'm a Straightgrain groupie, and it was this dress that got me started with this whole blogging thing. My photo doesn't do justice to that bubble skirt - but  co-ordinating my photographic skills, Missy's good mood, and my ability with an iron, proved a challenge to far.

I love this dress so much that I can't believe I let my little girl eat an ice lolly wearing it. (But I also try to remind myself that clothes are for wearing and having fun in). And I'm not really letting my daughter play on a railway lines. We're at a very quirky art fair in our town.

The bubble skirt is just the sweetest silhouette  and so easy to achieve. An is about to release her third pattern, the ever-so-pretty Hanami top, but I hope that doesn't overshadow the charms of the bubble dress!


The fabric is Rashida Coleman Hales' 1000 Cranes from her Tsuru collection for Cloud 9 and bought from Laughing House. It's gorgeous organic cotton. And I'm so obsessed with this fabric, that I've got a half metre stashed away. I've got a crazy plan that next summer I may replace the skirt with a longer version! The pattern is  fully lined - and I used an old cot sheet. I added navy piping to the collar and waist, creating graphic lines.
There's something so lovely about the bubble skirt, it makes me smile, makes Missy smile, and has random passers-by smile...It's our happy dress...

Hat trick!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hurray.... Missy's sunhat has been found!
It's been washed up on the tide of a 'tidy-up' at our dear friend's home!

It's resurfaced just in time for another seaside holiday. We're all off to the coast again and a break from sewing and blogging. But with so many projects in the pipeline waiting for my return, I'll be posting back here soon

Secret Squirrel's July Mission Accomplished!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

If you haven't yet stumbled across the Secret Squirrel project  then, be warned.
Secret Squirrel can be addictive.

In a nutshell, (!) Secret Squirrel is spreading a sewing mission across blogs and continents. Each month squirrel passes on five different 'Acorns'  as the basis of a sewing project. For a fuller explanation see here. For July, Secret Squirrel's acorns, as 'planted' by Sewpony were; tangerine, patch, Anne of Green Gables, Australia and Something Old.

I'm not the official Secret Squirrel stop, (see Suburbia soup) but that didn't stop me from pondering the Acorns. So much so, that I couldn't resist sewing along.

Anne of Green Gables was my starting point.  I looked at old covers for the book and film images and thought I'd make something based on a 19th century girl's pinny. The kind of thing Anne would undoubtedly have worn. But I wanted to make something wearable and not a 'period costume', so decided I would make it tunic length for Missy.

I'm also trying to be thrifty with fabric buying (also very Anne of GG?) so used extra wide, excellent value linen stripe from my local shop. It made me think of old-style 'ticking' and seemed perfect for my Anne hybrid.

I drafted the pattern, using the square neckline of the Sunshine blouse as a basis, and added a square neckline at the back. The bodice is  fully lined in voile with three rows of top stitching around the neckline.

I loved the effect of the contrasting directions of stripes and added the sash to the yoke. 
The sash under the yoke and the ties are one continuous piece, with the ties lined in voile, and I fiddled for ages trying to work out how to make the side seams work without having any stitching on the top of the sash, so it remains an unbroken line! Managed it! And even got the stripes to just about run continuously round the back too. 
Self drafted flutter sleeves, and an extra full skirt at the back for added vintage style.

I have a thing about making clothes last  - so I cut the skirt extra long. I put two pintucks around the hem, so I can let down the extra fabric next year (More thrifty Anne of GG style sewing). I like the practicality of the pintucks, but also the way they add structure to the hem.

Now the tangerine. I went a bit literal here, and wasn't sure if I'd like the effect, but I took the plunge and appliqued some fruit shapes and leaves to the skirt.

The scraps are interfaced, stitched with a chain-stitch, so I can always unpick. As it turns out, I'm quite pleased. The orange colour seems to make the stripes sing, don't you think? 
Missy liked them a lot too. For added tangerine, and perhaps a reference to Anne's hair, the button hole is hand finished in orange embroidery thread. And, handily, that's also the patch acorn ticked off.

Now the trousers, I made an improved version of the cuffed cropped trousers featured here with the Common Blouse. I cut the legs wider, so to create a slightly more cuffed effect.

I also added 'bubble style' pockets, topped with a scrap of Cloud 9's One  Thousand Cranes from Rashida Coleman-Hale's Tsuru collection (my absolute favourite fabric ever, ever) and a little cream piping. The same Cloud 9 fabric was also used to make piping around the cuffs. Now, there are cranes in Australia, (yes... I know they're in lots of other places as well) but will you let me tick off another Acorn? 

And then I discovered that Secret Squirrel himself had also sneaked onto my Anne blouse. He'd emerged from a Kokka scrap remains from my Fat Quarter blouse. 


Four Acorns down... only Something Old left...Does using scraps count? 
Or perhaps the Something Old can be one tired sewing mummy after staying up way too late on a Secret Squirrel mission...Be warned!

Now where's he off to next? I wonder....

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