Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sewaholic Hollyburn: Take 2

Having been so pleased with the results of my first attempt of a Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt, I couldn't wait to make a second version of the skirt, and I'm happy to report that I still love the pattern second time around. Here's take 2...

I wanted it to be a bit different from my first attempt, so this time I made view C (the shortest option) with the belt loops from view A, and I used a very fine baby cord fabric with the intention that it would be ready to wear with tights and boots once autumn appears. Of course, I was excited about finishing the skirt so I had to wear it right away on a lovely, warm August day...

Not quite what I was envisaging when I chose the fabric, but if you ask me this just makes the skirt even better because it means it's nice and versatile and I'll get lots of wear out of it. The baby cord is navy but has a tiny white, rusty and green floral print on it so doesn't look too dreary on a sunny day, but equally it won't look too summery once the colder months arrive.

All in all, I'm just as pleased with this version as I was with the first one, and it proves that the first one wasn't a fluke! If anyone out there is thinking about giving dressmaking a try, I'd definitely recommend this pattern - you only really need the waistband to fit so there aren't any complicated fitting issues, the instructions are really easy to follow and you end up with a great result.

I'm excited about trying out some other patterns now, but I think there'll be more versions of the Hollyburn in the future - you can't go wrong with a pretty full skirt really can you?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Rainbow colours

I've been working on a couple of simple small things this week, and both have been inspired by lovely cheerful rainbow colours - I love colour in general so it's hardly surprising that rainbows creep into my crafting every now and then.

The first rainbow gem that I've made this week is actually the first step towards a bigger goal, my first independent crochet project since I finished my beginners' course. Here it is...

Nothing fancy, just a rainbow coloured Granny square. My original plan was to make loads of these and make a whole rainbow coloured blanket, but I've seen some lovely blankets where the squares all have white borders and a whole variety of colours in the middle, so I'm tempted to make the rainbow squares into a cushion instead and then start a blanket with white-edged squares instead. Opinions on what would be best are most welcome!

And my second rainbow themed make is this...

A pretty little card for my Auntie - quite a simple idea but I'm pleased with how it's turned out.

I've also started work on my second Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt as well, so hopefully that'll be ready to share with you soon - watch this space!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Hollyburn skirt

Yesterday I wrote about Denman College and the dressmaking course that I went on, today I'm back to talk about what I made. We were asked to take a pattern for a simple dress or skirt and, after much consideration and reading of various blogs, I opted for a Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt - partly because it's the kind of skirt I wear a lot in the summer, partly because it's for beginners so I thought there shouldn't be too much danger of me not being able to cope and partly because Sewaholic patterns are specifically designed for pear-shaped women - a group which I definitely fall into!

The material choice had the potential to be more difficult because there always seem to be too many pretty fabrics around, but a trip to a local material shop provided the answer, and here it is...

It's Moda Recipe for Friendship. I'd already bought a fat quarter of this to use for small projects and loved it, and this time when I went back it was 50% off - decision made!

Making the skirt was great fun, and surprisingly simple. Admittedly I did have the benefit of having the talented eyes of May Martin watching over me, but I'm pretty confident that even without that advantage it would have been easy to sew up this skirt as the instructions are so clear and easy to follow.

I chose to make up view B of the pattern - a knee-length skirt with button tabs on the waistband.

The bits that I was most concerned about were the pockets and making sure I had a nice finish on the outside so that it didn't look too handmade. I needn't have worried as the pockets were a breeze, here's a little close-up of one of them...

And I think I did a pretty good job with the finishing too. Here's the back zip...

And here's one of the button tabs...

I quite fancied having cherry buttons on the tabs, but I couldn't find any that I liked and I thought these flowers were jolly and would pick up the red of the cherries well, so they were what I went with - and I'm pleased with how they look. 

And the final result? I love this skirt! Partly because it's my first successful dressmaking project, but mainly because it's colourful and fun and I know I'll get loads of wear out of it (as long as the sun stays out anyway!). Here's a picture of me modelling it (note to self: must have better pictures of myself in any future dressmaking projects)...

I'm already plotting a more autumnal version of the skirt, possibly view C this time. Watch this space!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Dressmaking at Denman

This week just gone I went on a little trip to Denman, the WI's college. For those of your who aren't familiar with it, Denman has a wide range of courses on offer which cover just about anything you could possibly be interested in - in the few days that I was there alone, there were courses as diverse as Italian cookery, tambour beading, making willow creatures, discovering Oxfordshire and learning how to use ebay. All the action is based in the lovely grounds at Marcham Park in Oxfordshire, in the beautiful main house (seen below from Denman's herb garden) and the more modern additional teaching and accommodation blocks.

All the rooms are neutrally decorated with individual touches handcrafted by WI members added by different federations of the WI, here's mine - one of the modern rooms which was the work of the Avon Federation...

And an amazing wall hanging from the Worcestershire room which we saw as part of a guided tour of the main house...

As you would imagine from the WI, we were well fed with some delicious food throughout the course. The day starts with a range of breakfast options, in the middle of the morning everything stops for tea and some of the most delicious shortbread I've ever tasted, lunch sees a well-stocked salad bar, soup and hot meal options, there's tea and cake mid-afternoon and in the evening there are a choice of options for a three-course meal. 

A couple of courses caught my eye when I was looking through the course brochure, but there was one in particular that I knew I would really enjoy - Dressmaking Simplified. Being as I do so much sewing, I've been thinking for a while that I should start trying to make some of my own clothes but have always been slightly put off by the memory of the sack-like dress I attempted to make when I was about 15 and worries that anything that I made wouldn't be good enough to wear in public. Surely this course would help be conquer those fears. Add to that the fact that it was being taught by May Martin of Great British Sewing Bee fame, and the decision to book was a no-brainer!

I was joined on the course by 7 other women - some who like me are keen sewers just starting out in dressmaking and others who used to make their own clothes in the past and now felt in need of a bit of a refresher. We'd all chosen a pattern for a simple skirt or dress and selected our fabrics before the course, so once we arrived, after introducing ourselves to each other, there was nothing left to do but to get down to the business of dressmaking. 

We measured each other, worked out what pattern sizes we needed (usually not the same clothes size that you would buy on the high street), cut out the patterns, pressed the pieces and then the fitting started. Pattern pieces were pinned to clothes and any adjustments were made, then we got to work cutting out fabric and finally getting on with our sewing. We were a productive bunch, working hard (but enjoying it!) throughout the course and May was a great teacher, patiently solving all of the many fitting issues and guiding us through the various dressmaking processes, so we were all proud of the results at the end. Here's our little fashion parade...

I'll be back to talk about my project tomorrow, but in the mean time have a look at the courses on offer at Denman - there's bound to be something you're interested in (it doesn't matter if you're not a WI member) and if my experience is anything to go by, you'll meet some lovely people and have a great time!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Camera bag

Like most bloggers, I love taking photos and so try to have my camera with me whenever I can. In the last couple of months this has resulted in various solutions of how to take a camera around whilst still having the essentials that I need for a day out, ranging from cutting down the essentials to the absolute bare minimum that I need and stuffing that in every spare bit of space in my camera bag to lugging around a massive bag with my camera bag and the rest of my contents of a normal handbag inside it. Sometimes these options are fine, but there's times when I just want a more simple solution that still looks good, so for a while now I've been coveting a Jo Totes camera bag. They look fantastic - just like a normal handbag but with padding for your camera and lots of convenient pockets for all the other bits and pieces you might want to have with you. Sadly they're a bit out of my price range for a bag at the moment, but one of them is definitely on the birthday/Christmas list (I just need to decide which one...) so my camera was going to stay in its current practical but not very pretty bag, but then I spotted this month's Sewing World magazine which caught my eye because it has a camera bag on it's cover. The solution! So I snapped it up and got to work.

There were quite a lot of pieces to cut out, interface and line with fusible fleecing so the preparation took quite a while but it was all fairly simple and easy to put the pieces together - helped by very clear instructions with photos of some of the slightly more complicated (still not very complicated!) steps which meant it was easy to know what you were meant to be doing. Here's my finished result...

And here's the back and inside - plenty of pockets:

The one change I did make was that I lengthened the strap - the one in the pattern seems to be for a shoulder bag but I prefer cross-body bags. I just measured the strap of a bag that I already own and used that for the length measurement, easy peasy!

Possibly the trickiest bit was attaching the press fasteners - it was the first time I'd used them and it took me a while to realise how useless the instructions that came with mine were. A quick google search sorted things out though!

In the middle of construction I was wishing that I'd chosen a print with a more random pattern for the outer pockets or that I'd deliberately constructed it so that the checked print intentionally didn't match up (or that I was the kind of person who didn't care if it matched), but I'm pleased that I persevered and made sure that it all lined up.

It was a great way to use up some of my stash too, and all of the materials I used were either left over from other projects or bargain remnant bin/ebay finds, and the stripey lining was the back of a men's shirt that I bought for £1 in a charity shop! 

If anyone else is having similar camera bag dilemmas, get out and buy Sewing World magazine now - this issue is still in the shops at the moment, and there are lots of other pretty projects in there too!