Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sew Brum 2015

On the 31st October I took an early train to Birmingham to meet up with a lovely bunch of sewing ladies for the second Sew Brum organised by the awesome Charlotte at English Girl at Home.

I had also arranged to meet my good friend Hayley (also a sewing enthusiast) and we went for a lovely brunch at Yorks Bakery next to New Street station. We pottered around Birmingham including the very shiny new shopping centre and John Lewis store.

I skipped the allotted fabric shopping section of the Sew Brum gathering as I honestly do not need any more fabric until I sew some more things for myself (and others). I was happy to meet up at Guthrie and Ghani at 2pm where Lauren (owner of G&G and GBSB contestant) had put on a lovely spread of cakes and other goodies.

Here is an example of one of the lovely Liberty bags that had some little free things such as discount codes a few sweets and haberdashery items. Very thoughtful and fun!

Lots of sewing chatter and fabric fondling went on and it was great to meet new Instagram and blogger friends such as the lovely crew below:

Left to right: Craftysooze, Elle (Laura loves Pugs), Gabby (Gabby Young Official) and Buuny Pumpkin Boutique
So there was a teaching demonstration about pattern drafting that I missed because I was just chatting to loads of people. After that there was an awesome raffle - the proceeds of which went to Karen's Made-Up initiative from the blog Did You Make That?
I am not usually a raffle winner, but on this occasion I ended up with one of the top prizes of 10 metres of Girl Charlee UK knit fabric! Amazing. Here is a picture of the massive win:

As you can see, this win was huuuuge and considering I am a total novice with knit fabrics decided to share the love:
  • Sarah C got the stripy pink, orange and grey knit who has since made it into a lovely top
  • Deborah (of GBSB fame) got a black and white moustache print
  • Gabby got a lovely floral / aztec knit and has already made a top for her sis with it!
  • Rhiannon got the aqua and white aztec print
  • Ben went for the plain aqua knit
  • I don't recall who got the red patterned print (somebody nice!)

After the excitement of the raffle came the event lots of people had come prepared for - a massive pattern and fabric swap. I brought 15 un-used paper patterns to throw in the mix but others had brought loads of fabric, scrap-bags, vintage patterns and knit stuff for a swap-to-end-all-swaps! I kept to the sidelines as my intentions for the day was to return home with NO fabric but after winning all the Girl Charlee knit knew that if I even peaked too long at the FREE fabric or patterns I would see something I would like. I managed to get these shots of the carnage:

The calm before the storm. Raffle prize announcements!
Every sewer for herself!
Overall a lovely day was had by all. I got to meet a gaggle of sewing enthusiasts. Had a great catch-up with my friend Hayley and met some lovely new mates too.

A big shout out to Charlotte at English Girl at Home for the organisation of the event and Lauren for hosting at Guthrie and Ghani.
Roll on Sew Brum 2016!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Liberty in Fashion at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

I enjoyed a wonderful evening with friends (Alex and Kris) admiring the vast collection of Liberty at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. Displayed in chronological order and in themes such as smocking, tea-dresses or shift dresses.

For the classic Liberty print fan there is lots here to enjoy. What I found more interesting were some of the collaborations with other designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Bernard Nevill. My favourite prints are in the collage above and here is a great collection of the rest of the exhibition.

Liberty print silk Kimono - circa 1920's
1920's and 1930's delicate floral printed dresses
'Art Nouveau Revival' 1960's dresses in bright bold prints
Beautiful printed silk 1960's shirt dress
Silk gowns printed using original 1890's Liberty wood blocks re-printed in modern 1960's colours 
1960's dresses
My favourite detailing on all the things I saw in the show - such a pretty button placket on the right of the 1970's dress
Velvet and cotton printed 1970's dress
Pretty asymmetrical waist detailing on this 1970's dress
Delicate ruffles on the bodice of this 1970's dress designed in collaboration with Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell
I loved the pin-tucked bodice of this cute little dress from the 1990's
Vivienne Westwood dress in this fresh floral Liberty print
 It is a real gem of a show.  It is open until the end of February 2016 and I would recommend spending a hour enjoying the history of Liberty in Fashion.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Marimekko Unikko Cushions

After two years of major house renovations cushion making has been on the back-burner in terms of priorities. Enough time for me to collect a decent amount of fabric stash in the form of my all-time favourite print the Unikko from Marimekko.

A bit of good fortune and good timing meant that all the variations of Marimekko fabrics were purchased on sale (this hardly ever happens with Marimekko fabric). The big red / green print was a limited 50th anniversary edition from the Marimekko store at St. Christopher's Place in Marylebone purchased at 50% off during their closing down sale : (

The large yellow and blue print came from Skandium in Marylebone at 30% discount and finally all other versions were from the John Lewis sale earlier in the year at 50% discount!
Overall some pretty epic savings over the course of a year..... 

Onto cushion-making. After a little bit of internet research and studying cushions I already own I came up with the following process:

First I measured the fabric I bought and split it into equal sections to accommodate as big a cushion as possible including the usual 1.5cm seam allowance.

Wrong sides together, sew one seam allowance on a basting stitch (which will be for the zip). Iron the seam allowance open and measure where the zip will be. Sew using your regular stitch length either side of the zip including securing stitches at the start and end point.

Pin and baste the zip into the required position.

Turn the  cushion wrong sides together and secure the zip into position using the basting stitches as a guide. After looking at some shop-bought cushions rather than sew 'around' the zip I sewed straight across the width of the cushion on both sides of the zip.

You effectively now have a continuous loop of fabric. The bonus here is depending on where you want the placement of the zip on the back of your cushion you can change the placement of the print depending how the pattern looks. With this bold design, just a few centimetres made a big difference to the aesthetics of the front of the cushion.

After securing the zip in position, use scissors or an un-picker to remove the basting stitches so you can open the zip. Open the zip a little, turn the cushion cover right sides together again and then sew up the side seams.

After completing the final seams use the small zip opening to turn the cushion the correct way around and steam iron to fix the seams in position.

Here are the final cushions below without the cushion pads. I used an online company for the cushion pads called Cushion Warehouse. They sell an excellent range of cushions pads of all sizes and filling types at very reasonable prices.
I would highly recommend the products but the delivery time was long (10 days) and the customer service not so brilliant.  I used the 27" pads with luxury cluster fibre for £10 each. Cushion Warehouse advised to use the next size up for a cushion pad (ie. if your cushion cover measures 26" then go for the 27" cushion pad) for a better look and fill. 

I was so happy to finally use my precious Marimekko fabric and totally chuffed to bits with the end result.

Have you made anything for your home that you are particularly proud of?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

First Baby Quilt Project

Two very good friends of mine are due a little baby in November and back in September I hatched a plan to sew them a quilt. Rather than a cutesy pastel-type baby quilt, I decided to base the palette upon their favourite colours of green and purple.

As it was my first quilting project I chose to use pre-cut Moda solid colour charm packs which I purchased from Ray Stitch in Islington alongside a metre and a half of lovely 100% organic and Fairtrade cotton for extra patches and the backing fabric. I also got just over a metre of organic cotton quilting batting too (£7.50).

I selected two sizes the Moda Solid Colour charm pack 5" and the 2.5" (£10 and £3.50). I used two and a half packs of the 5" and three packs of the 2.5" patches for my final design.

Selecting the colour palette. The charm-pack comes with the full rainbow spectrum so I omitted the reds, oranges and whites
Here are the many variants of design process I went through and I will show you the final result at the end.
First variation with a colour blend from Purple to green. I didn't think it had balance
This next version appears to be a random selection with greens, purples and all shades in-between placed with dark, mid and lighter shades distributed more evenly
Without the little patches I felt it looked a bit too plain!
Patchwork stacks. After establishing my chosen order I stacked them ready to sew together. I labelled them so I wouldn't forget the placement of the patches. You may notice the little patches have a log-cabin-esque border. I forgot about the seam allowances so when the four patches were sewn together they were too small to tesselate with the 5" patches. I had to buy a third 5" charm pack so I could create the borders for these little patches. I actually think made the quilt look better! 
Final order safety pinned ready for quilting.
Quilted with vertical lines running alongside the patches and a line in the centre (that runs through the middle of the little patches too). Green bias-binding has been pinned ready for sewing - think I am going to hand stitch it in place?
Close up of the patches and my slightly wonky quilting!
The final quilt. I am hand-sewing the binding. It may take some time!

What have you been sewing recently?
Have you started any Christmas gifts?
Or some super selfish sewing?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Tropical Fifi

My second Tilly and the Buttons post within the week! When the new patterns were released from T&tB HQ there was a £20 offer for both the Bettine and Fifi.

The Fifi is a cute little camisole and shorts pattern - a summer PJ set!

My friend Sophie gifted me a beautiful metre of this tropical cotton voile from Hong Kong when she came to stay in London in July. As soon as I saw the Fifi pattern I knew it would be a perfect match!
I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut the camisole on the bias so had to stick with the stright-grain
Lovely pleat detailing on the camisole bust area 
The finished camisole set with self-made bias straps and along the hem of the camisole
I am really happy with the final garments but I have to say these are very teeny tiny shorts and definitely only to be worn inside the house! If I had the time to do some unselfish sewing these would make a great present to make for special female friends or family members.

I would like to try a second set but cut the camisole on the bias this time because it would fit so much nicer than on the straight-grain as it's a little snug when getting it on and off.

Overall it was a quite satisfying project with lots of French Seams and carefully considered detailing. Despite the large amount of bias binding you have to make I found it an enjoyable experience. It did make me consider buying one of those bias-binding makers - have you ever used one of those before?