Thursday, 31 May 2012

Neat ideas for finishing off seams

Unfortunately I don't have an overlocker/serger (yet!) so deciding how to finish off my seams can be tricky sometimes. Do I go for the quick pinking shear option, but then risk rough slightly frayed edges? Or spend a little more time and bind them or do a french seam and get a really neat finish?

I've done all of the above, with mixed success. A lot of the time it can come down to the type and weight of your fabric. Even when you use the pinking shears, some fabrics can still fray a little once you wear and wash them, but going to the trouble of binding seams can sometimes create extra bulk which isn't great, especially when you have a light delicate fabric. I think my favourite is defiantly the french seam. It makes the edges on the inside of the seam quite narrow and as there are no raw edges it looks really slick and neat.

Here is an example of using the simple pinking shear method. All you have to do is stitch your seam and make sure your happy with it before trimming the edges with the shears. It's tricky to unpick and redo a seam once you have timed the edges (voice of experience!). What you end up with is a zig zag edge that helps to minimise the fraying of the edges.

The more time consuming, but much neater options are french seams and bound seams. I combined the two techniques on this dress I made last week and I'm really pleased with the results. Check out the Coletterie blog for this great tutorial on french seams  and this one on bound seams. For my dress I used a light colour bias binding for the edge of the zip and main garment seams and a contrasting pink bias binding for the edge of the facing.

The overall effect of neat seams makes the dress much nicer to wear, even though no one else can see the seams - I know they are good on the inside!

I also added a little finishing touch to the end of the zipper. Quite often zippers are a little too long and need a bit of trimming - but this can cause the edge to be a bit sharp and jaggy. To end this one off I cut out two small squares of fabric (contrasting one - just for fun!), then with right sides facing, stitched 3 sides of the square together, turned it the right way out, folded down the top edges, slipped the end of the zipper in and top stitched the final edge of the square.

Of course of you have an overlocker/serger then you can blitz your seams off quickly, but don't rule out the alternatives, it can be a really lovely way to add a bit of colour or contrast to your garment and make it even more extra special. 

Don't limit your french and bound seam to clothing, I've used both techniques on the inside bags and cushion covers before as well. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Crochet Coasters

Did you see the post on the Mollie Makes blog for the gorgeous crochet coasters by Yvonne Eijkenduijn back at the beginning of May? If so then your know how lovely they look and if not then your in for a treat!

They have been photographed on the Yvestown blog in a rainbow of really beautiful colours which always catches my eye...I love a good rainbow of colours!

They are pretty quick to hook up and I already had some light weight cotton from my vintage jumper project.

It's not quite a rainbow of colours but they go really well together and I'm still trying to use up some of my yarn hoard before I buy new stuff...difficult as that is!

I decided to frame them in a 3D type frame that I picked up at a car boot sale. I covered the back board of the frame in some unbleached calico and then stitched them on. Its pretty simple but gives a nice effect, and I have way to many coasters already anyway.

I've been wanting to make a collage of different framed bit and pieces for a while now and I've collected lots of little I just need to work on filling them here is the first bit of the collection.  I'm thinking some little paintings...a black and white photo form my wedding...maybe an embroidery sampler and some of my favourite fabric and ribbon swatches.  Here is a really lovely example form The DDeckor blog.

How do you show off or share your little bits and pieces? Have you got your own framed collage? If so, leave me a link...I'd love to see them! 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The dream lives on - I will get there!

I like things to be done quickly, sometimes probably too quickly, I’ve been known to rush in the past, make quick decisions just to get something done and ticked off the list, only later to regret it as something better comes along or the idea develops in my head and I think of something better. Despite this, I still find it infuriating when things take a long time to get done.

Almost 10 months ago I had an idea. A pretty big one, that was pretty life changing and realistically couldn’t be actioned over night…not even over a few weeks. I did know it was going to take months…but 10? No way!

All throughout my life I have been around fabric and sewing, making stuff and generally being creative. My Mum used to be a full time dressmaker and she even ran the local craft club, each week doing a different craft until there was no craft left unturned. So I’ve always dabbled in making stuff. When I was 6 years old I finished my first stitch sampler and I still have it up on my wall today!  A few years ago one of my aunts said to me that when I was a kid you could have just given me some old toilet rolls and boxes, paper and glue and I would be entertained for hours making something up. I even used to sew lots of buttons onto scrap bits of fabric just for fun.

When I got to the age of exams and picking subjects and being academic I sort of got ushered into subjects like chemistry and biology and maths. And although I still liked sewing up little handbags and purses for myself and went to drama club every week the academia soon took over and by the time I got to university I didn’t have time, or at least didn’t prioritise being creative over my studies.

The thing with me is that whatever I do, I do it whole heartedly. I don’t like not being good at something or not knowing what I’m doing so I’ll really work on it until I feel in control again. So when I was studying Physiotherapy at uni and then working in the NHS I really let it take over my life. When I left uni I edited a physiotherapy book, which then got published, all at the while going to work full time. Then I started going on lots of courses to get more qualifications including learning acupuncture and it got to a boiling point and started to feel like I was missing something and that I didn’t really love it enough to warrant dedicating every waking minute to it and feeling as stressed as I did.

So I took a lifestyle choice to work part-time and spend more time getting back into the things that I used to love. I did an online e-course called ‘Do what you love’ and I started to realise what I really valued in life and what was important to me.

Then in July last year (2011) a few things seemed to happen together and I had an idea. My husband has owned a beautiful, if a bit shabby, building that used to be a social club in a lovely little suburb in Birmingham called Moseley Village for some time now and it got to a point that we needed to figure out what to do with it. It’s been empty for quite a few years and the elements are taking their tool on the old girl.  

Then a life that I dreamed of flashed before my eyes and I suggested that we open it up as a haberdashery and fabric shop and inspire and teach other people to be creative. Being creative again had made me feel so different, and really changed my perspective on life and I wanted other people to get the same happiness and enjoyment as I did out of learning how to make something for yourself.

We then started making the necessary actions to get the wheels in motion of this dream. Get the architect to design us a scheme, apply for planning permission, commission the tradesmen to do the work, get all the renovations done, buy the stock, plan the workshop classes and open the doors! It really does sound so easy and simple when you say it in one sentence like that.

You’ve all seen Grand Designs on the TV right? They visit these people over, sometimes several years, and they are still messing around with different things, all the hiccups along the way and you think…what is taking them so long? Can’t the just get on with it? It would never take me that long…I’m way more organised than that! Of course its easy to see a situation from after and make judgement, I’ve done it many times myself but I am now learning the hard way that sometimes no matter what you do, things don’t quite come together as you’d hoped.

From the architect designing the scheme to getting the council to approve the planning application, it took 6 months! So you get to 6 months and you finally have the answer you wanted and you get excited, but it lasts about 2 weeks. Then you realise you have to get building regulation approval and you have to make sure your neighbours are ok with what you want to do and you need to actually find someone to do the building work for you and suddenly another 4 months pass and you still haven’t started work.

It feels like I’m treading water, stuck in the mud, climbing up a hill but the ground is loose and I keep slipping back down again. I’m trying, I really am but I’m just not getting anywhere fast, that’s what it feels like.

But in the distance I can see it. I can see what I’m dreaming of. Entering this amazing old building with all its history and seeing and the gorgeous, colourful and bright fabric, yarn, buttons, ribbons, trims, threads and notions. All sitting pretty and organised, neatly stacked on the shelves. I’ve got the biggest smile on my face thinking about being surrounding by all this amazing stuff and people coming in to my shop and getting excited about all the treasures and being inspired to make something or do something.

I will get there, because I love fabric and yarn and all the bits and pieces that go with it and. I am so passionate that by bringing it all to other people and inspiring them will make a difference to their well-being. I suppose it’s the physio in me, I really want to help and make a difference to people. Now I’ll just be doing it in a different way. And also I don’t like to let things lie…I’ve started so I’ll finish! Its just taking longer that I thought it would, but I know that when it all comes together I’ll be amazing and I’m really so excited about that!

Our time scale keeps changing but we hope to be open by September 2012 and in the meantime I’m going to open an online shop (planned for launch in July 2012) where you can all get a taster for the special collection of products I’ll curate to be the stock in my bricks and mortar shop. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Second hand shop finds and reupholstery

I love a good browse round a second hand shop. Looking for gems among the tat, and the more you have to hunt, the more exciting it is when you find something good. The little second hand furniture shop around the corner from my house is perfect for that. They have quite a lot of big pieces, and its often piled high on top of each other, but every so often you find a little something special - even if it needs a bit of tender loving care. 

My most recent pick ups were this cute little vintage icing set, in its original box and with all the original bits and bobs inside. 

I also spotted this really funky retro biscuit barrel, yet to be filled with biscuits and the inside needs a bit of attention before its safe for food stuffs. Its now looking pretty on my kitchen window sill. 

If you've browsed my blog before you'll know I have a love of reupholstering and revamping old scraggy bits of furniture. My latest project was this bedside cabinet that I decoupaged with old stamps form my childhood collection. Read about it here

So when I spotted this cute but very old and tatty stool I could't resist the urge to spruce it up a little. 
It folds down into a compact little thing...just the right size to fit it into a little old suitcase and take it on your travels. 

 It also has this lovely Made in Yugoslavia stamp on it which I love. 

I used a natural wax and some fine wire wool to clean it up then replaced the old, worn out fabric on the top with this stripped remnant I had in my stash. 

 I didn't want to put anything too modern on it even though I love bright patterns but I thought the muted colour palate of the stripes when well with it. 

 As my little house is just about bursting at the seams with reupholstered furniture I'm using this little stool to rest my alarm clock on as I don't have space for a proper bedside cabinet - which is great as I get to see it every day! 

Business update: My new website is getting ready for the world wide web as I type so I'm really excited about blogging on there in the very near future! Once I have my bricks and mortar premises up and running I plan to run upholstery workshops so you can learn the skills to spruce up your junk shop finds! 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My wardrobe of Colette patterns grows

Since discovering the Sobretto top free download from Colette Patterns a few months ago I been hooked on stitching up their lovely range of patterns. They are all really easy to follow with clear pictures and top tips. They tend to have a more fitted look which I really like too. So far I have made the Hazel dress, Parfait dress and a Sorbetto top.

After a busy and stressful week last week I decide to get a good few hours in front of my sewing machine this weekend to take my mind of things.  I had started off another Sobretto top last week in a gorgeous Liberty silk so I got that finished off. I also finished another Hazel dress, this time in a light weight floral print.

This is the Liberty silk Sobretto top. I decided not to include the front pleat in this version. I love how using different fabrics can totally change the look of a top. The silk is pretty 'flowy' so although it isn't a tight fit it does't feel baggie at all.

This is a Hazel dress in a lightweight cotton floral print. As its still a bit chilly here in Birmingham I think I'll stick to wearing it with tights for the time being. When the sun is out it I think it'll look great with a little pair of sandals too! 

This last picture is of another Sobretto top that I made quite a few weeks ago now with fabric I've had for ages. Its a light weight cotton too. I decided to miss out the pleat on this version as well as I didn't want to interrupt the pattern repeat. When cutting it out I made sure I considered the pattern to make sure I got one of the little Dears in the middle.
I recently bought the Colette Sewing Handbook ( a signed version from Sarai!) which I'm really enjoying so I'm sure my wardrobe will be expanding even more over the next few months!