Favourites – Autumn/Winter 15/16

Back again so soon just to let you know that I have a new video on my YouTube Channel. It’s a favourites video covering the months since my last one way back when. It got a bit long, even with me cutting out my non-sewing ones that I’d tacked on the end. Sorry. If you don’t want to watch it I’ve written a bit about what’s in it underneath.

Pattern

I have a selfish favourite and and unselfish favourite. My favourite selfish pattern over the Autumn and Winter has to be the Dixie DIY Ballet dress. It’s a quick, easy sew that meets my style perfectly. I love it.

My unselfish pattern is one that I’ve only made once but I just really enjoyed the process of sewing it. It’s the Paxson sweater from Colette Seamwork magazine. I like that you can sew it all on the overlocker and I like the finishes of the cuff and hem bands.

Thing I’ve made

Definitely my dinosaur print Ballet dress because, well, dinosaurs. Not a lot else to say. Dinosaurs PJs you can wear to work!

IMG_7859

Tool

The best sewing investment I’ve made for a while is my stitch in the ditch foot. It’s been so great for neat edge stitching and top stitching. Mine looks like this:

janome-stitch-in-the-ditch-quilting-foot-9mm-cat-d-202087003

And you line the black blade up with the edge of the fabric and move the needle position over how ever far you want to stitch and away you go. It’s great for understitching too. Just put the blade in the seam and move the needle position over slightly. I don’t think I’ve actually used mine for stitching in the ditch yet but I’m sure it’s great for that too.

Technique

When I did my Christmas crafting marathon a lot of the patterns I used were PDFs so I had a lot of putting together to do. I’d seen a few people online say that it was so much easier using a glue stick than sellotape so I gave it a go and my god, I’m glad I did. It really is so much easier than using tape, you can wiggle things to reposition them and somehow it feels quicker even though it’s the same process just a different sticking method.

Fabric

Mermaaaaids!

alexander henry sea sirens fabric

I had new fabric to show so I added a fabric category. This is Alexander Henry Fabrics Sea Sirens in blue. I love it! It’s now a skirt that I also love and still need to get some decent photos of so I can blog about it.

Non-sewing

Invisibilia PodcastThese didn’t make it into the video because it was creeping up to being 15 minutes long but when I filmed it I talked about a podcast and an audiobook I liked. The Podcast is Invisibilia, which I found out about from Jo of Stuff Jo has Made. There is only one series so far, but series two is due next month and I’m very excited about it. It is about invisible forces that affect human behaviour. So there are episodes on fear, our thoughts, computers, expectations and more. It’s so good. I listened to a lot of the episodes while I was walking my mum’s dog and a couple of them made me cry and one made me dance in the woods.

Youre Never Weird on the Internet almostThe Audiobook is You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. I mainly knew Felicia Day from playing Holly in A Town Called Eureka and not her internet stuff but I liked the title and the blurb so I used one of my Audible credits and I am so glad I did. It’s hands down one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to. I’m a big fan of books read by the author (I’ve also enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s books and Modern Love by Aziz Ansari) because I think it just makes them more fun than reading them yourself. Felicia Day sort of acts the book rather than just reading it. If you’re a fan of the internet and nerdy things at all I think you’ll really enjoy her book.

I also waffled on about Parks and Rec but having bombarded you with Parks and Rec gifs the other day I won’t go on about that again. (I totally could though.)

And I think that’s it, minus the waffle and bizarre facial expressions. If you like the waffle and bizarre facial expressions you can subscribe to my channel here.

September Sewing Favourites

I’d been hoping to have a September Sewing Favourites video for you last week. I filmed it, edited it and uploaded it to YouTube on Thursday evening. Then got an email to tell me it had been removed for breaching The YouTube Community Guidelines and I have a strike against me, which was upsetting to say the least.

I have no idea what I did wrong. It’s just me, sat in my spare bedroom talking about my favourite sewing pattern of September and tools and techniques I’ve enjoyed using and a bonus non-sewing favourite at the end. They didn’t give me any information about what I’ve specifically done wrong – just called it inappropriate – or I’d change it.

I have appealed the decision and hopefully they’ll at least let me know what I’ve done wrong because at the moment I’m too nervous to make any more videos.

But as I can’t show you the video I thought I’d write a post about my favourite sewing things of September instead.

EDIT: They reinstated my video, hurray!

Pattern

My favourite pattern was New Look 6217. I loved how easily it went together and the simple, wearable style of it. I’ve already worn my first version lots and have a bunch more versions planned.

nl6217-close-up

Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress deserves an honourable mention but it probably should have been my August favourite.

Tools

As I’ve started sewing with knits I’ve actually started using the walking foot I bought yonks ago and it is fab. I tried to alter an H&M vest before I had the walking foot and it went terribly so I really appreciate how smoothly it goes with one. Mine is just a non brand, compatible version I got on Amazon for next to nothing but it seems to work absolutely fine.

Another thing I lumped under the tools category is my, big arse roll of tracing paper as I called it in the video – and the mild swear made me wonder if that’s what earned me to strike but people swear far more than that. But anyway, my big arse roll of tracing paper is fab. I used to use baking/grease proof paper, which worked well but when you make alterations to the pattern the sellotape (cellotape?) doesn’t really want to stick. That’s not a problem with tracing paper. I do cut out using a rotary cutter and pattern weights and I don’t think I’d like using tracing paper with pins but I really like the extra thickness with weights, it gives a nicer edge to align the cutter against. This is the roll I bought, from Amazon as always.

Technique

I have been all about the bias binding this month. On my New Look 6217 as well as binding the neckline I bound the sleeve hems and the actual hem. It was sort of as a way to preserve length and sort of because I just really like the finish it gives. In the video I made a joke in this bit about how if you came too close I’d probably try to bias bind you, which is the only other thing I can think of that got me my strike.

Non-sewing

I am completely addicted to The Spicery and have ordered from them 3 times in September and signed up for a monthly subscription. They sell kits of premeasured freshly ground or whole spices, a shopping list for your fresh ingredients and the method to make fancy dishes and whole meals.

Selection of spice kits from the spicery
One of my many orders, look how nice the branding is

So far the manfriend and I have tried the Vietnamese beef stew, Indonesian Nasi goreng and had a date night in Thailand, which comprised of a coconutty brothy chicken soup to start, king prawn pad Thai for main and sticky mango rice for dessert and it has all been gorgeous. It’s the date night subscription box I’ve signed us up for and we’ve got date night in Bali next but I’ve amassed a bit of a stash with my many orders so there’s also a date night in Trinidad, rogan josh, jerk chicken and many more to come.

Vietnamese beef stew
Vietnamese beef stew

I would highly recommend it to anyone but I think it’d be especially great if you’re dating and want to pass yourself off as a great chef!

So that’s my September favourites, sorry it’s not a video complete with my daft faces, inability to speak correctly and a brief moment where I got distracted by my washing on the line. If YouTube respond to my appeal and they reinstate the video *fingers crossed* or let me know what to take out I’ll update this post with the video and let you know on Twitter.

How about you? Any favourite patterns, tools or techniques this month? I’d love to hear about them or watch a video of them. Though that may lead to me spending even more money than beauty favourites videos do!

Adventures in Pattern Cutting

Or maybe that should be misadventures in pattern cutting…

I went to my first pattern cutting class last Thursday but when I checked in at reception I found out that there was a chance the course wouldn’t go ahead if there weren’t enough of us. They needed 12-14 and only 7 of us turned up so the course has been cancelled.

They put the first session on as we were all there and there was still a chance the course could go ahead if they managed to get some students from some of the daytime art and design courses to come. I really didn’t enjoy the first class anyway and ended up sloping off early so I’m actually relieved that it’s been cancelled, as now I’ll get a refund.

I realised after about 10 minutes that the course just wasn’t going to suit me and the way I learn. There were several “characters” in the class and I could see myself getting frustrated. I also didn’t learn anything. We were shown tools and some standard size 12 bodice blocks(/slopers), then we had a break and when we came back the lecturer was going to get us to trace around them. Then if we got time she was going to talk about pockets.
The whole point of me going on the course was because I want to make my own block because I struggle to alter patterns to fit me. Tracing a pattern isn’t going to help me with that. And surely even if we weren’t going to make the blocks from scratch she should be talking about the basics like dart manipulation before going on to pockets. Maybe she just didn’t see the point of actually starting anything meaty if the course wasn’t going to run but I also didn’t see the point of staying if I wasn’t going to learn anything so I left during the break.

When I got home I bought Patternmaking basics: The Skirt Sloper and Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper from Craftsy instead. If you’ve never heard of Craftsy they are a company who offer online video courses. I have almost finished the skirt sloper course, I got manfriend to take my measurements on Saturday, drafting the sloper took next to no time and my toile fitted without any adjustments needed. The rest of the course is then talking about how to adapt your basic block into other types of skirts and other design ideas like raising or lowering the waist – There is very definitely an empire pencil skirt in my future.

The bodice course is a lot more involved, with most of the course taking you through making the sloper (there are a lot more steps) and then there are other course you can buy that deal more with the design elements. Craftsy were having a sale so I decided to splurge and buy a few of the other courses I know I’d probably end up wanting later on. I bought Creative Necklines and Creative Sleeves. I probably should have bought Creative Darts and Seam Lines but I couldn’t afford all three and sleeves won out, though when I just looked to get the links they’ve all gone down to £19 each now so if it they’re still that price on payday I might invest.

Anyway, this is all just waffle really. Basically, I love craftsy and am going to binge learn pattern cutting. I also picked up Pattern Cutting Made Easy by Gillian Holman, which is nice to have along side the Craftsy courses but I couldn’t have learnt from it on its own. It’s more useful for ideas of things to try. There’s a nice little pleat insert thing it shows you how to make that I’m planning to put on the back of my empire line pencil skirt. If only I had any money left to buy fabric!

Tribute August: Who inspires me

I recently discovered the Sewcialists, an online community of  people who like sewing and social media. It seems like a great way to discover other sewing blogs – both on the blog aggregate and the flickr group – and connect with like-minded people. Each month there is a themed sewalong, with past themes featuring colours and most recently Oonapalooza – sewing something inspired by Oonaballoona. This month’s theme is (was?) to sew something by a blogger, who inspires you.

I was mentally running through my feedreader when it suddenly occurred to me that it was Sarah from A Million Dresses who actually inspired me to finally bite the bullet and buy my sewing machine. And it was through her that I then discovered Dolly Clacket’s blog and then through her the whole online sewing community. So really I should make a Christine Haynes Emery dress in some sort of fabulous print.

Image taken from A Million Dresses

But then I wandered through town on my lunchbreak and saw a dress in a shop window that instantly made me think of Katie, from What Katie Sews. I really admire that she’s so aware of her own style and seems to only sew things that fit it and that she’ll wear. I have tried really hard to only sew things that I know I’ll wear and I have worn most of my handmade makes – my red Anna was only worn once but that’s down to fit and has now been dismantled awaiting a new bodice. And when I think about what RTW (ready to wear – it took me ages to figure that out, I kept thinking the R was retail) get the most wear it’s just not fit and flare dresses these days. I do wear them and I’ve got lots of wear out of my Simplicity 2444 but really knit things get the fastest rotation. I have a knit duck print dress that I wear a lot (I wore it on my first date with my manfriend so it will always have a special place in my heart) and a striped straight dress (shift? Sheath? I have no idea what dresses are what) that also gets worn a lot. So I’m going to have a go at sewing knits and I’m going to count it as being inspired by Katie.

I’ve ordered myself a walking foot and the Coco pattern, I’ll order some ponte di roma tonight and get cracking. If sewing knits isn’t horrific I can see Coco dresses with tights or leggings and boots becoming my autumn uniform.

Another blogger who I find really inspiring is Fiona of Diary of a Chain Stitcher. I really like how she challenges herself to try new fabrics and new techniques. Her technique checklist is a great idea that I’m possibly going to steal. Otherwise I’ll put off lapped zips and slippery fabrics forever.

I’ve also been feeling very inspired by Inge and again Katie with their recent pattern drafting. I have actually registered for a pattern cutting course at a local college – nothing like running before you can walk. It’s a whole year course, broken into three 10 week blocks and I’ve only registered for the first one so far, in case I hate it and don’t want to do any more. I’m really excited though. We start with shirts and blouses so I should probably have a go at sewing one before the course starts on the 18th – eeeek!

Pretty much every pattern I’ve bought has been inspired by seeing another blogger’s version but a couple that spring to mind are New Look 6069, which I bought after seeing this version of Lynne’s from Ozzy Blackbeard. Isn’t it lovely? I haven’t made it yet as I can’t decide on the fabric and I was scared of sleeves so wanted to make Megan before trying anything else sleeved.

Image pinched from Ozzy Blackbeard

And the Deer and Doe Anemone skirt after seeing Paunnet’s versions.

Image from Paunnet.com

I also LOVE this cocktail print FrankenAnna from Tabatha Tweedle of Thread Carefully

The Cocktail Anna Dress - side view
Image taken from Thread Carefully

And this Annalotte with added peplum from Jenny at Sewing Pies.

Tangerine Roses
Image taken from Sewing Pies

I’m sure there are dozens more that I’ll kick myself for forgetting as soon as I press publish on this post but that’s a few of the brilliant bloggers who have inspired me. So I’ve sort of joined in my first sewcialists theme, except not really as I haven’t actually made anything, ooh unless I can count my colour blocked Megan as being inspired by Tilly’s colour blocked version in the book.