31 July 2011

fabrics galore in SW11 & a sewing spot for me!

Visit Battersea much? I don't, but after yesterday's excursion, I might visit more frequently.

Battersea is sort of vaguely on the way to Ikea, which is sort of vaguely on the way to my parents' place (my real destination). So I thought I'd take the opportunity to stop by Fabrics Galore on Lavender Hill.

I'll let the photos do the talking. Suffice it to say, they have a wonderful collection of good quality fabrics. The prices aren't rock bottom, but are really good for the quality on offer. And any shop that greats me with good selection of Liberty (lawns, poplins, twills, jerseys, wools and cord) is a favourite already! Enjoy the tour:

Liberty of London selection

pretty good prices, for Liberty!
Lovely soft lawns in vintagey prints

Good selection of Alexander Henry prints

lovely oilcloth (£14/m)

Cotton and poplin (£6/m ish)

really lovely, soft flannels (some were Jack Wills!)
Plain cottons in lots of colours

Cotton Seersucker

Lots of linen
some of the huge selection of twill

really lovely polyester crepe - coming back for autumn sewing

some of the huge selection of jersey and knits
And there's much more besides: quilting cottons, silks, linings, a beautiful (and sizable) selection of home decor fabrics, fleece, corduroy and much much more (lots of things I didn't even recognise!). The staff were really knowledgeable and cheerful, and the shop was bright, tidy and well laid out. Worth a visit, I think.

Did I buy anything? Only this:
Navy blue cotton Ikat (£7/m) and Liberty poplin (£12/m)
I have plans for a skirt with the ikat, and a dress with the poplin.

In other news, Mr Pins & Needles made me a little sewing spot (well, he assembled all the furniture and set it up for me).

This is a big deal for me as previously my sewing machine lived in a box behind the sofa, and setting everything up each time I wanted to use it was a real bore and would often just put me off doing any sewing at all. Hurrah for Mr P&N, my hero!

I hope you've all had lovely weekends!

speak soon x

25 July 2011

Sewing reference books: what's your bible?

There are so many sewing reference books out there. Some with lots of lovely photos, some with more technical drawings. Some with... well I'm not sure what's going on here!

From Golden Hands Encyclopaedia of Dressmaking (1972)

Last month, I treated myself to a few books to help me understand fitting and some of the problems I've recently come up against. As with reading lots of blogs, I like to see how different experts approach the same problem.

What's your go-to reference book? Which one can't you do without, and why?

Speak soon!

24 July 2011

On the needles...

This is my first knit project for some months. I've decided to try something a little more daring than the usual selection of scarflets and knitted cowls. So my first proper project is the Featherweight Cardigan. I spent a lovely hour in Loop today, choosing the yarn. It felt like I'd only been in there for about 10 minutes - has anyone else noticed how time just flies in yarn/fabric shops? I always intend to pop in for a few minutes, but invariably an hour goes by without my even noticing it.

I chose this:

It's Madelinetosh Prairie yarn, in the Alizarin colourway. There were so many lovely colours, that deciding which to choose was quite hard. Isn't it scrummy?

Having never worked with yarn like this before, I've discovered that I need to wind it into a ball (or cake) before I can whip out the needles! At nearly 800m it could take some time!

Before I go, here's a quick finished item!

I made this following Randi's instructions using some lovely Melody Miller fabrics from M is for Make. Here's a shot of the interior:

It was a super quick make. It took less than two hours to complete and I've used it every day since I made it last Tuesday.

Speak soon x

22 July 2011

Pinky and the waist

Such is the state of the British summer, that any desire I had to sew summery skirts and dresses has all but vanished. I would love to be as optimistic as Karen, but the fact that it's rained almost every day in July is getting to me.
So instead of frocks, I've been thinking quilts and cardis (I've been tempted to start on this). But this might also have something to do with some fitting issues I've had with my Ginger skirt, which is putting me off sewing a bit. Perhaps you can help?

First problem: the colour
a bit too pink
It looked like coral in the shop, but in natural light (or any light other than the light in the shop) it's pink. Very pink. But that's ok - it was fairly inexpensive, and this was my "wearable muslin" anyway.

(Invisible zip: not too bad, ey? Not great either - but it's only my second time inserting one.)

Second problem: the gape
too gapey - side view and view looking down
I am a classic pear shape, so always come up against this problem with higher-waisted clothing. Perhaps this is an obvious one - should I just take it in? But the bottom of the waistband fits just right, it's just the top that sticks out. Any suggestions?

Third problem: too high?

So I know this is a high-waisted skirt, but does it look too high? I think I've spent too long wearing skirts and trousers at just-under-the-belly-button level, so anything at my true waist feels far too high. This feels like it's practically up in my armpits! It's not a great photo, so perhaps not so easy to tell - but what do you think? Do you think that if I just make the whole skirt a size bigger, it will solve the gapey waistline, and bring it down to a more natural feeling "waistline"?

I hope I can get this pattern to work for me. I've seen so many wonderful versions already and I have some cotton/linen blend fabric that I think will look lovely:

Any advice is greatly appreciated, as always.

In the meantime, I'm going to start cutting out fabric for my "call this summer?" quilt. I've chosen to go with a Moda layer cake of their Strawberry Fields line:

It's a delicious collection and I can't wait to get started on it!

after three years, my little african violet has blossomed! hurrah! and what a colour!

Mr Pins & Needles and I are off to Lords tomorrow, so fingers crossed for no rain and a full day of play!

Have a lovely weekend & speak soon!

8 July 2011


Lots of WIPs to see me through the weekend:

Have a lovely weekend & speak soon!

1 July 2011

Sorbetto! and some thoughts on MMJ and some light crafting

A little late to the party, but here's my Sorbetto!

Sweet treats Sorbetto
I used some of the lovely Liberty fabric I received for my birthday. I think the clean lines of this pattern are perfect for showing off a lovely print. Also, the fact that I managed to squeeze this blouse (including self-bias) out of just over half a metre, means it's a great option for pricier fabrics, like Liberty.

I don't have much to say about this pattern that hasn't already been said. It's such a quick and satisfying project. Next time, I'll size up (it's just a little bit snug under the arms) and add more length (I added 2 inches, but that really isn't enough for me). And there will be a next time. I love all the variations I've already seen in blogland, and I can't wait to try them for myself. Thank you Colette - high five!

Me-Made June
I've really enjoyed following MMJ. It's so inspiring to see fellow bloggers proudly wear their handcrafted clothes every day! I hope I'll be in a position to join a me-made month at some point.

It's been interesting to see how the MMJers have identified gaps in their wardrobes, and it's really helped me realise that what my wardrobe needs is not a collection of Liberty-print frocks (lovely as the thought of that is!), but some more practical items to complement what I already have. And since I love and wear colour and prints, "practical" for me does not have to mean "boring" (yay!).

These thoughts have led me to consider the current state of my wardrobe. It's full to bursting - yet every morning, I stand in front of it's open doors, bemoaning my lack of anything to wear. So, I'm using Kendi Everyday's five-step process to help create a wardrobe that works for me. The five steps are purging, assessing, organising, shopping and remixing. Instead of shopping, however, I'm planning to sew the missing/must have items.

A short while ago, I started to learn crochet. I had a brief tutorial during my local WI spring party, then used YouTube to help me along. And TA-DAH! Behold the giant granny square baby blanket:

It's for my soon-to-arrive niece/nephew. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Crochet, it seems, is not scary. It's so addictive! I loved making this.

As modelled by the uber-glam mum-to-be

And in keeping with the handmade gift, I made the card too:

Embroidery was my first craft-love; sadly neglected since I've started sewing. For the hearts, I followed this easy-peasy tutorial by Little Birdie Secret.

And here's something else I made:

isn't this print just TOO cute?!

Much nicer than a normal envelope, no? But the downside is that you have to put the envelope into another envelope before sending it.

Back soon with some finished projects!

Have a lovely weekend & speak soon!