Thursday, 22 December 2011

I'm still here!

Hi folks all

I'm still here after a slightly enforced absence.

We've finally sold our house and the international removals have taken 99% of our belongings (including my sewing machine!) I've plenty to keep me out of mischief without using the sewing machine, but am certainly missing it. I've kept back a couple of projects to see if I can finish off at Mum's when we go up at the end of the week. Hopefully I'll be able to post about those after Christmas.

In the meantime we're in rented accommodation temporarily relying on dongles for Internet access. So not much Internet gets used at home now! I've resorted to doing things on my laptop tapping into our free wi-fi at work!

I did, however, get a lovely parcel through the post...

It even came with a Christmas card!

At the end of November I commented on a free giveaway on Finally Waking Up's blog and won. Poor Anna has been unwell and the parcel didn't arrive until last week. However, it did mean I got a lovely parcel for Christmas. I hope you're feeling better Anna? I've got a lovely brand new copy of Onion 2031. I can't wait to give the pattern a go once I'm 12,000 miles away from where I am now and my sewing machine is connected up once more!

Also included was a poster with all the other Onion patterns. There are some fantastic patterns on there. I think I might have to learn Danish very quickly! The Onion site has an introduction in English, but everything else in in Danish. It certainly is a site to go in my favourites...

So in the meantime, I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and I'll be back in the New Year!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The great November Goldhawk Road meet-up

Last Saturday seven intrepid sewing bloggers met up at Goldhawk Road tube station to discuss fabrics, patterns, books and generally get frustrated with so much lovely fabric and not enough cash to buy it with!

Organised by Stevie, I finally got to meet her, Dibs, Santie, Alana, Steph and Claire (who came as adviser to all, making sure we spent our cash wisely, encouraging us on our purchases!)

Strangely, I didn't take a group photo, apart from this one...

Cocktail anyone??

We started along one side, Santie being so organised as to bring a shopping list! After a couple of shops, bump Dibs was asking for food, so out came the chocolate to tie Mum and bump over until lunch. Lots of lovely fabrics, so many ideas and thoughts, but what to buy. I went with only a little cash and a determination no to buy much.

Lunch in Vesbar, cocktails and lots of chips! So far so good, I've still not bought anything, although I've seen plenty!

Mm, lunch over and back along the other side and perhaps the cocktail wasn't the best idea... In the first shop we go and downstairs while Dibs buys some gorgeous jersey, I see some lovely fluorescent orange vest fabric, oops, plaid/tartan. There's only one a half metres, but I have to have it (no of course I don't mind paying the cost for a metre!) Not sure what I'll get from it yet, what do you think?

After drooling over silk galore we head on down towards the tube again. I thought I'd made my singular purchase, but no, while browsing materials with Claire in one shop, while she hunted for something specific, I spied this...

I don't think the photo has come out very well, but it's a lovely soft denim, a grey colour with the applique already applied. It's slightly stretchy too. I'm itching to get it cut out and made up, but it must wait for now, I've enough to be getting on with! I've got two metres, originally planning to make a skirt with a basque, but I'm wondering if I might be able to get a half circle???

So finally, we reach the dizzy heights of Shepherd's Bush market. No I won't buy anything here, although I was sorely tempted by the green polycotton at a bargain price which the others bought. No I'll be good... That is, until we find the stall with loads of haberdashery... The big buttons were brilliant (did you get any Claire?), then I got carried away... After seeing Karen's post about the snood, I felt I had to start knitting again. It possibly didn't help with Dibs wearing her snood... I saw this wool and had to have it, convincing Dibs to buy her own, I only wish I'd got the green too. Oh well, I'll have a lovely pink snood once I've bought some needles (yep, I've decided that I need needles to actually knit something!)

What a day, my poor purse felt decidedly depleted (OK, not really, since I think my lunch cost as much as the fabric!)

I'm so glad I went along, I managed to meet some of the UK bloggers before escaping the country for pastures green. I met a blogger from the country I'm heading to as well! Saying goodbye was sad, but reminded me of a nursery rhyme, as to me it felt like we were losing a person one by one on the tube until I got to King's Cross!

To finish, I felt I had to investigate the lego tree at St Pancras, mainly to check they'd built it properly and also to go back to where we'd sung the Beethoven at the beginning of the month.

Yep, OK, I reckon it'll pass!

So thanks Stevie for organising the meet up last Saturday. I'll get my fabrics made up once I've unpacked the sewing machine!! :-)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Sewing and little singing...

Very little sewing has got done in the past few weeks, but I've been busy in other ways...

I've been wanting to learn about pattern drafting having been encouraged by drafting Sew Country Chick's pencil skirt and how that seems to be working. I've drafted the pieces and have put together a muslin. I know it's meant to be made in similar fabric to the finished version, but... The first muslin was decidedly too big around the waist at the front. Not sure why, I've checked, double-checked and triple-checked my measurements and the instructions and still can't work it out. So I've taken in the front darts more and now have a workable muslin which fits.

Mm, methinks my mirror needs a clean!!

I've even managed to cut out the fabric and lining. This lovely woven fabric and lining I found at Goldhawk Road when I went in September.

I've also been trying to finish off Colette Patterns Voilet blouse. I'll hopefully be able to post about this soon. I daren't start too many projects, they'll never get finished, plus I have a tight timescale at the moment (it's a big secret which hopefully I can let you know about soon!) No you won't convince me to tell...

So to help me with pattern drafting, I've been into London today. I treated myself to a trip to MacCulloch and Wallis. I really didn't know what to expect. It was like an Aladdin's Cave with basic shelving and boxes crammed full of haberdashery, materials, ribbons, buttons, etc. So what did I buy... A Patternmaster and a set of French curves! I'll be well away now!!

However, the main reason for going into London... Well I described it as a little singing, it was quite a big sing really! The BBC is doing a series on BBC4 on the Symphony and to launch the series, they put together what they described as a Pop-up choir. So this lunch-time at St Pancras International in London I was part of a choir singing the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Choral). For those who know the piece, it's quite a hard sing for about 20 minutes. We had the BBC Symphony Orchestra downstairs and the choir upstairs.

St Pancras International is not known for holding concerts, but with the numbers standing watching, I'd love to know how many missed their trains and what those getting off the Eurostar thought of their welcome to London!

Sorry, no photos of me, but here are a couple of the general event.

The orchestra taking their seats

 The soloists grand entrance down the escalator!!

An edited video is here on YouTube. No pictures of me, the glass screen was too high!! 

Any readers who happened to be in St Pancras this lunch time, I hope you enjoyed the impromtu concert. It was quite an experience I have to say and quite different to our normal concerts in the Barbican, etc!!

Time for some reading...

Drafting the pencil skirt with Sew Country Chick, I've been interested whether I may be able to draft more.

I can't really afford to go on any courses, plus because of the big secret I can't commit long term. So I've made use of being a librarian and have sourced lots of books to have a look through with a view to getting my own copy. I think there's still two or three on their way, currently I have...

Pattern-drafting for fashion:  the basics by Teresa Gilewska. I quite like this book. The images and instructions are clear and simple and easy to read and as far as I'm concerned, perfect for a beginner. I've also requested the advanced version to have a look at too. I have to say, I'm sorely tempted.

Make your own patterns by Rene Bergh. Another book which is perfect for a beginner. It also has different patterns and images to the Gilewska book and compliments it well. I almost think it's worth getting both!!

Metric pattern cutting by Winifred Aldrich. I think this is quite a technical book and ideally suited for those doing a pattern drafting course. For me, however, I think it's really far too technical and far too advanced for me.

Sorry, I've not posted photos of the insides, I didn't want to be caught with copyright issues...

I've also been going through a book I got last Christmas, which has been a god-send.


The sewing book by Alison Smith. This basically shows tips for sewing, such as how to insert zips, putting in pockets, etc, etc. There's loads of information in it with really clear images. Alison Smith runs a sewing school in Leicestershire in the UK (Alison Victoria School of Sewing), where they run a number of different courses, covering pattern drafting, boning, simple day-to-day sewing, etc. If I had the money, I'd be there tomorrow, but...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Thrift success!

Well I'm way behind on my pencil skirt which I'm supposed to have drafted and made following Sew Country Chick's draft-a-long. I've had tonsillitis and a chest infection, followed by a stomach bug, so all in all, my sewing has taken a back seat over the past few weeks.

So to cheer myself up, I thought I'd check out the one secondhand shop I know which has fabric, patterns, an enormous tin of buttons and see what I could find...

First up, two lots of fabric, a check fabric, which I think possibly has wool in it. Not sure, but I've got about 2 metres of 60 wide, so it might even make a shift dress! It only cost £2!

Next, a navy textured material. There's loads of this. Now I've got it home, I think it might actually be curtain material. It's quite think and heavy. Not really sure what it is at all. It's got a crepe-y feel, but it certainly isn't crepe! At the time, it seemed useful and a bargain at £3. I'm not good at turning down bargains like that!!

There were some lovely other fabrics there, but not really enough to do anything with, or that I could use. A bright shot orange lining material for one, but how can I use about 30 cm of it??

Next up these buttons. Not much really, but I thought the colour was so pretty and they looked quite delicate on the card. One has been removed, but I'm sure I can use the others, or just leave them on the card to look pretty!!

Finally, I found this... It's a Simplicity Simply the Best Guide to Fit

Everything is still in there, the guides to measuring and adjusting patterns, as well at the tissue to make the adjustments. I'm not sure when it dates back to, possibly the 80s? Does anyone have any idea? I've tried looking it up on t'Interweb, without much success. I doubt it'll ever get used, but it just seemed like a nice thing to buy and at 25p, who can argue??

So back to drafting my pencil skirt...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Me, just me...

OK, having seen this on about half a dozen blogs, I thought I'd share this A-Z of me. Join in if you like. I'm just nosy!

A - Age - A-hem 40 Shh, don't say it too loud, I'm still getting used to it!

B- Bed size - Lovely King size with room to sprawl, oh and toss and turn!

C - Chore you hate - Dusting. It's just continuous. I hate it, hate it.

D - Dogs - nope, never been good with them since one jumped up and licked my nose when I was about four! OK, ages ago, but I still don't like them jumping up. I've got a big anti-social cat instead...

E - Essential start to your day - Cup of tea.

F - Favourite colour - Tough question, possibly burgundy, but then purple is pretty high on the list too!

G - Gold or Silver - Silver, or white gold. I look awful in yellow gold.

H - Height - about 5'5.5 ish!

I - Instruments you play - A few... Recorder (still), 'cello (I've got grade 7), and a couple of others sort of. I also sing in a choir which says it's one of the best in the south-east... We do stuff on the radio and TV, so... (Does singing count as an instrument?)

J - Job title - Librarian ('nuff said, but my official title is Information Services Librarian.) Yes I went to university to learn how to count, how to use a date stamp and how to put my hair in a bun and wear a twin set and two piece...

K - Kids - Yes, please.

L - Live - Hertfordshire, UK, but can't wait to escape to EnZed...

M - Mother's name - Jill (with a "J" not a "G")

N - Nicknames - Sis, Right-foot-'eavy 'erriott

O - Overnight hospital stays - Once to have my wisdom teeth out :-(

P - Pet Peeves - just a few! Text speak when it's perfectly possibly to use natural language. The lack of use of indicators by drivers. Yes, I know you wondered what that stalk on the steering wheel column was for... It lets me know where you're going.

Q: Quote from a movie - "I'm a good girl I am" - from My Fair Lady. I love Audrey Hepburn.
R - Right or left-handed - Right-handed.

S - Siblings - an older brother, who likes to father me a bit...

T - Time you wake up - About 6.30, so I can leave for work at 7.30am.

U - Underwear - Of course.

V - Vegetable you hate - Erm, not sure... Oh celery - yuk!

W - What makes you run late? - Traffic and spending time deciding what to wear!

X - X-Rays you have had - Lost count, probably about ten, if you include those at the dentist?

Y - Yummy food that you make - Fruit cake, homemade bread, lasagne, mostly sweet things. Mr N is the savoury chef!

Z - Zoo animal - elephants, elephants and more elephants, everytime.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Inspiration... and help!

I've seen this dress and love the shape so much I've got to have it!! I'd much rather be able to tell people I've made it, not bought it. I'm sure I can make it to last too, not to fall apart in 10 minutes...

Has anyone any ideas where I might find a pattern similar? The dress is a simple shift

It has a pleated neck with lovely short pleated sleeves...

The waist is really lovely, it's not just the four soft pleats echoing the neck at the top of the skirt. Look at that lovely detail around each side...

The back is just simple and beautifully elegant...

Please, can anyone suggest a similar pattern? I think I can find a sleeve, back and at a pinch the skirt, but the neck?? My pattern drafting skills are NOT up to drafting this!

You know what it's like when you see something which just has to be bought...

Any ideas?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pencil skirt draft-a-long: parts 1 & 2

Well so far so good... I'm following Sew Country Chick's pencil skirt pattern draft-a-long. I got this beautiful fabric when I went to Goldhawk Road, which is just crying out for a pencil skirt. I also got some lining, so I'm hoping to be clever and line mine...

So far we've measured ourselves (ouch, I need to lose some weight!) And now I've drafted the front pattern piece. I think I'll make a muslin/toile, it's the first pattern I've drafted and am just a tad apprehensive! I'm going doo-lally, I NEVER make a toile!!

The top of the front section, all drawn by hand (I've no French curves).

It looks enormous! I know my bum is big, but...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

That exciting feeling...

Does anyone else get that exciting feeling when they do their first stitches with a new project or new piece of fabric??

My first tentative stitches with the lovely crepe I bought on holiday in Thailand... All I was doing was stay-stitching the neck on Colette Patterns Voilet!

Oh and if anyone can suggest the best way to press the seams with crepe? Damp cloth and warm iron??

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Old faithful - the original photo!

I've found it, one of the first photos with me wearing Style 2721!! Don't you just love that hat!! The hair looks a bit blond too, wonder if I was using Sun-In? :-)

Don't I look young?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

My old faithful - Style 2721

Well I'm not really up to sewing at the moment. Full of a chesty cough, feeling quite yukky to be honest. As much as I'd love to get on with all my projects, I just know I'd make a mess of anything I start, so they must all wait for now.

In the meantime, I thought I would post about a very old favourite dress of mine. Many of you have commented on this dress during Self-Stitiched September '11, saying how much you loved the print, etc. So here's my old faithful. Quite a short post, as I'm casting my mind back about eight/nine years!

The pattern:  Style 2721

Does anyone know what happened to Style patterns? I remember they used to fit me like a dream.

I made view C, which was the longer version. There is an option of a small 'v' shape on the front neck, but I stuck with basic boat neck. The bodice is fitted with a seam running down from the armhole to the waist. The skirt is actually in three pieces with one seam in the centre back, it's then simply pleated onto the bodice. It has a lapped zip which looking at now, I made a very good job of! I doubt if I would have followed the pleats on the pattern, if I remember they didn't fit as well as I wanted them too.

 I'm quite impressed how I inserted this lapped zip!

The fabric is a Rose and Hubble fabric. I'm not sure where I bought it, possibly John Lewis (one of my favourite places to buy fabric!) If I remember rightly, I even made it on a borrowed machine. I didn't have a machine at the time and I think a friend lent me the machine!

I still have a swatch of the fabric left with the Rose & Hubble name!

I made the dress for a friends' wedding and although I swear I've one of the original photos, I can't find it anywhere. I have managed to work out that I made the dress in 1997!! Ouch, that's 14 years ago. I think the dress has definitely stood the test of time. The fabric has hardly faded and it washes like a dream. There was a point about eight years ago when I was about to take it to the charity shop because my other half at the time hated it. Boy, I'm glad I didn't! It's a staple in my wardrobe now and best of all, it still fits, even if I do weat it with a belt now!

Here are a couple of photos from Self-Stitched September...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

So Nikki, what's next on the list to sew?

This is a tough question! I've so many projects planned now, I'm really unsure where to start. I haven't helped the situation by buying some more fabric from the town market where I work. What do you think of this?

It's viscose and cost me £10 for about 2 and a half metres of 60" wide! Loads of fabric!! The colour hasn't come out brilliantly, it's actually a cream colour, not white. The seams will certainly be a mess, I may have to actually use French seams for this. But what shall I make?

I'd like a dress with 3/4 sleeves so I can wear it in the cooler months. I've three that I'm thinking of...

Vogue 8413 - it's got 3/4 sleeves. The cowl neck would work well with the material because it's heavy and drapes really well. Not sure the straight skirt will be the best.

Simplicity 2145 - cowl neck or V-neck. Flared skirt to drape around my legs! Lots of different sleeves. Ooh, I do like these Project Runway patterns!

Vogue 8511 - simple, elegant and understated.

Or perhaps the new Colette Patterns Peony?? Simple, flared skirt, 3/4 sleeves...

However, this is not all I have to make for the autumn/winter...

I've got the beautiful fabric I bought on holiday in Thailand.

This is going to be made into Colette Patterns Violet and the remainder I'm going to team up with plain black to make Vogue 1178, the beautiful floaty Anna Sui dress.

I've also got all the fabric I bought when I went down to Goldhawk Road. The aqua and black woven fabric is at the top of the list to make into a pencil skirt.

Sew much to do, sew little time! I really must get doing something! But which pattern should I make from the viscose at the top of this post?

SSS'11 Days 26 to 30

I can't believe it, I've got through a month wearing something which I've made every day! Phew! Good job I managed to make some during the month, else it would have been a bit boring with the same old things coming out day after day.

Here are the last few days...

Day 26
 My favourite dress again. Down in the basement in one of our libraries, checking through a bound newspaper.
Dress:  Made about eight years ago.
Cardigan:  RTW, bought this year, but with replaced buttons (blogged about here on day 18)

Day 27
Recently finished in time for SSS'11!

Skirt:  self-stitiched, finished on day 23, first worn on day 25!
T-shirt and shurg:  RTW from M&S

Day 28
Holding a little librarian toy going "Shhhh"!

Dress:  Made last year, worn on day 3.
Cardigan:  RTW from Monsoon. It was hot outside, but I was in an air-conditioned library and needed the extra layer!

Day 29
Oh, it's exactly the same outfit as day 2!!

RTW blouse from Monsoon
Skirt:  self-stitched about four years ago from a Prima pattern.

Day 30
The girls thought it would be funny if I posed with some of the slightly different stock we have in the library...

Here's another photo taken at home later...

Blouse:  self-stitched in June from Simplicity dress pattern 2360
Skirt:  RTW from Next

Phew! That's it! I've made it! Well it's 1st October and I'm actually wearing everything RTW today. It's lazy, but I'm feeling decidedly full of cold and horrible stuff, so just couldn't think much this morning. I have got some RTW clothes which I've missed wearing, so they will now have an airing. However, there are quite a lot of RTW things in the wardrobe which I really haven't missed and I think they will now either go to the charity shop or be sold at a boot sale. We need to have a clear out anyway, so it comes at an opportune time.

I've really enjoyed the month, so thanks So, Zo for organising. Here's to the next one in May?, only I'd best get sewing, or it'll all be the same clothes as you've just seen for this month! :-)