Slight Adjustments

The major dietary changes here last year resulted in a lean and rather athletic Mr Jane Makes who ran his first ever 5K Park Run with no training or preparation and at the moment is beating his personal best each week.  He even runs to the park and back, although this last weekend I went to cheer him on so we only walked there very briskly.  In my view that assisted with his improved performance as he didn’t use up too much energy in advance!

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I have visions of him following in Forest Gump’s footsteps and setting off to run for months – and growing a huge beard into the bargain!  He can also climb the Trundle at Goodwood on his bike with a good deal less effort than before.

A knock-on effect of his diet was me losing weight and discovering that none of my clothes fitted me apart from the ones that had become too tight in recent years but had so far avoided the charity shop.  Given everything else going on over the last few weeks/months I’ve not had much time for sewing so have been managing with a very limited wardrobe of quickly made skirts and dresses in a smaller size plus some charity shop finds.

I really didn’t want to part with a lot of my me-made clothes so I embarked on an alterations challenge.  I’ve quickly discovered I’m not that keen on alterations, at least not a whole pile of them in one go.  I’m pretty sure I could make a simple skirt in the time it takes me to faff around unpicking and resewing seams, facings, linings, hems etc.  One saving grace is that several of my skirts are from the same straight skirt pattern with a facing rather than a waistband so they have all been treated in exactly the same way with one inch being taken in on each side seam.  So far I’ve done these five.

I particularly wanted to rescue the one with the tree pattern as this was a vintage fabric find and I’d only worn the skirt once.  I’m not sure the other fabrics are still available and the striped linen is definitely too good to part with so they really needed saving.  My sewing standards have dipped slightly as I’ve gone along and none of the skirts are finished quite as neatly as they were originally but at least they are now wearable.

Here’s part of the remaining pile of skirts awaiting attention.

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The majority of the rest are going to need a bit more attention as they either have waistbands, in-seam pockets or side zips and panels which will require a bit more of an effort.  It may be that some are destined for the charity shop.  I was hoping I’d be able to shrink the blue starfish print skirt to size.  I’d rushed ahead and made this one wihout pre-washing the fabric and then discovered just how much said fabric shrank after test washing a small piece of it.  I threw caution to the wind and put the finished skirt through the washing machine – it has shrunk, but not enough.

At the start of this challenge I did decide that once I’d completed five alterations I could make something new for the Spring, although I’ve just not been that motivated since losing my Dad in January.

I’m sure sewing with these sausage dogs would cheer me up but I’ve also acquired a half metre remnant of this lovely Sanderson curtain fabric for £10.  I believe it retails at around £60 a metre so it was quite a bargain.  It’s based on a 1950s wallpaper and I’d love to make a full skirt but with only half a metre I’m restricted to something less elaborate.  I’m particularly happy to see this fabric is made in the UK.

The fabric is washed and the pattern pinned onto it.  I’ve got a zip, thread, lining fabric and bias binding for the hem so there’s no excuse.  I’ve also made a new sewing resolution.  Each time I make a skirt I have to make a top that goes with it.  I make far too many random fabric purchases that I turn into skirts and then discover I have nothing to wear with them.  I’ve got some grey cotton fabric that will work well with the boats (and will also be used for the facings).  It was going to be a dress but I realised it had a tendency to crease quite badly and I don’t like a crumpled bottom which is inevitable if you’re sitting at a desk most of the day!

I’m off to Olympia on Saturday for the Knitting & Stitching Show with Sewing Su and Clarinda Kaleidoscope so there may be a few more random fabric purchases made!

 

Sewing Gifts

This is a very belated post for which I apologise, particularly to Sheila from Sewchet.  Sheila is the organiser of the annual #stitchingsanta gift swap which I have taken part in for two years running.

Just before Christmas I came home from work to find a ‘we tried to deliver a parcel’ card on the doormat.  Normally this would mean it had been returned to the main sorting office in Chichester but this time the card included a map of Fareham (a 40 minute drive away) and a bit of scribble I couldn’t read!  To cut a long story short I eventually tracked the parcel down to a post office counter in Chichester that I didn’t know existed within a Tesco Express!

Unfortunately Christmas had come and gone by then.  The final discovery of my parcel really did cheer me up after a less than happy Christmas, especially when I realised it was from Sheila herself!  What an honour!

The unwrapping of all the gifts took some time.  Here’s some of the parcels before I started.

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And here’s everything I found inside!

The little felt robin is so sweet and will be saved until next Christmas along with the festive buttons and the beautiful quilted table runner.  When I finally get around to doing some proper sewing I’m looking forward to trying the pattern weights as I’ve never used these before.  Sheila also include a couple of patterns, a Liberty sewing book which has some great projects, a hand-covered notebook, a tissue holder (I always have tissues in my handbag so this is perfect) and some lovely fabric.  I’ve not measured it but I think there is enough for a little summer dress.

Last but most definitely not least were the mittens made from a recycled sweater.  These are fabulous and I’ve worn them a lot – I had to give them a quick press before I took this picture.  I love the little flower decoration.

Thank you so much Sheila, I really appreciated everything in my parcel!

A Fond Farewell

This is my first blog post of 2017 and has nothing to do with sewing.  I lost my darling daddy on 19th January.  Readers of this blog will know that he had to go into a nursing home last year after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.  I say ‘battle’ but that sounds dramatic and it never was.  He never made a fuss and with some support he coped incredibly well for many years.  He kept his sense of humour all the way through and, thankfully, was still able to recognise us right up until the last few days of his life.

I am missing him so much and  just wanted to take this opportunity to write down some of my special memories of him, so I hope you will bear with me!

He was an only child who grew up in Wimbledon but at the start of the Second World War, at the age of nine, he was evacuated for almost its entire duration.  I think this made him very self-reliant.  When he told us tales of his National Service in the RAF at the age of 18 he always expressed amazement that some of the other lads used to cry for their mums at night!

Here he is in his younger days.  He was a handsome chap, no wonder my mum fell for him.

One of the most impressive things about him was his ability to make or fix just about anything.  When we were very young he built an extension on our house pretty much single-handedly and his DIY skills were second to none.  In their current home he built the kitchen and all the wardrobes from scratch.  He also had a life-long interest in model engineering and spent many hours in his workshop building model boats which were then sailed on the ponds at Wimbledon Common.  My sister and I always had our hearts in our mouths as the boats set out across the water in case they sank (which they sometimes did!).

We never had someone in to mend things – he just rolled up his sleeves and fixed it.  A friend of mine always remembers us breaking down in her old Mini when we were about 18.  We rang my dad and he appeared in his overalls and got us back on the road.

I always say that I spent the first 20 or so years of my life thinking that all blokes could do this stuff and was rather disappointed to discover that they couldn’t!

He was probably the most even tempered person I’ve ever known.  My sister have obviously been talking about him a lot recently and agreeing that he almost never told us off.  The only time you needed to watch it was if you noticed his jaw clenching when he was driving – probably because we were mucking around in the back of the car!  We spent many childhood holidays in Swanage and he used to get home from work on a Friday, load up the back of the Morris 1000 Traveller and off we’d go.  The loading up of the car included my sister and I being settled in the back to sleep on the way down there.  On my sister’s third birthday there was also a tricycle hidden under a blanket next to us and unbelievably we didn’t even notice it!

He was brilliant at reading stories to us and while we were looking through photographs recently I found this one.  I think I was about three at the time and I’m fairly sure that is a Mabel Lucie Atwell book that belonged to my mother.

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As we got older we joined a book club and one of the many books he read out loud was The Borrowers.   I was obsessed with Arrietty and he started writing me tiny little letters in miniature envelopes which I would find by the fireplace in the morning and honestly believed were from her.  How I wish I still had those treasures.  I always imagine that one day I’ll be clearing out a box at my parents’ house and one of them will appear.

His calm nature came into its own when we were teenagers when he could always be relied upon to turn out at all hours of the night to pick us up from parties, sometimes in remote locations.  He never batted an eyelid as groups of our friends staggered out to get a lift home and I remember one occasion when one of the boys was sick out of the car window and my dad just carried on driving.  He always remembered collecting me from a party that had turned out to be in a field and he suddenly spotted a group of us emerging through a hole in the hedge!

Obviously he wasn’t perfect – he was a master of the tactless comment when you were just about to go out for the evening thinking you looked great.  I wore fuschia coloured tights to his funeral as a reminder of the time I went downstairs in some maroon tights and he remarked “did you know all the blood has rushed to your legs?”.  He made dreadful puns at the drop of a hat and continued to make these right up to the end of his life – some of them were so obscure that you wondered how his dear old brain came up with them when he could barely do anything else.  He also remembered all the poems and songs he’d learned as a child and we sat and recited and sang them with him all the time.  And he was still always smiling.

I think we did him proud when we said a final farewell to him last Thursday.  We read poems, sang and one of Mr Jane Makes’ lovely daughters played “Moon River” on the flute, one of his favourite tunes.  My mother was an absolute star and read her poem without faltering (unlike me and my sister) and Mr Jane Makes read the eulogy so beautifully.   We finished with these words of comfort from Winnie-the-Pooh.

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you.

I now need to get on with my sewing, he wouldn’t have wanted me to sit around idle.

 

#StitchingSanta 2016

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Having signed up for Sewchet‘s #stitchingsanta again this year I was determined to be organised and plan my sewing well in advance. However ……. despite the early good intentions I still ended up finishing everything off at the last minute so I’m relieved to know that my parcel has arrived.

Wrapping everything up focused my mind on this year’s gift wrapping theme.  Yes, I always have a theme!  I really LOVE wrapping presents even if I do end up ‘cutting and sticking’ into the early hours.  I try to use up supplies I already have – and always use plain brown paper for the basic wrapping.  This year I wanted to include black and white stripes but, believe me, there was no black and white striped wrapping paper to be had around here apart from some tissue paper from Paperchase which I decided would have to do.   I’ve also bought a few lengths of ribbon and some pink tissue.

I never seem to be in my house during daylight hours at the moment so these photos are rather poor but I think the black, white and pink theme is pretty obvious!

There was only a tiny length of that butterfly trim left from a previous project so my recipient is very lucky!  Stamping shapes out of paper is SO satisfying.  I just wish I’d found the gadget given to me as a present years ago which corrugates paper and card before I wrapped these up.  It’s brilliant and I’m corrugating everything now!

The purchased gifts were scissor-related so I printed a gift tag to match.

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I hope everything is well received.  It’s quite nerve-racking sewing for people who sew!

This will be my last post in 2106 so thank you for all your likes, comments and encouragement.  I hope everyone has a Very Happy Christmas and here’s to a creative 2017.

Time for a Maritime

I sew lots of skirts and dresses but as the cold weather set in  I realised how short of tops I am. During the winter I tend to wear jersey tops, cardigans and the occasional warm jumper (sadly not hand knitted!).

Some while ago I bought the Liesel + Co Maritime top from The Eternal Maker and two pieces of jersey.  They joined the ever increasing pile in the sewing room, possibly to await the unlikely day when I decide that using my overlocker would be a positive experience!  More recently I spotted a remnant of striped cotton jersey in C & H Fabrics which I think was £4.  It’s a lovely quality and really soft and smooth.  It also washed beautifully and there was no battle to get it back into shape afterwards.

The perfect fabric for a Maritime top.

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Based on the measurements on the pack I went for the size 2 which turned out to be the right choice.  The top has three-quarter length sleeves, which is always my preference, and side vents.  It also has a faced neckline which I’ve never done on a jersey top before.  I was slightly dubious but it gives a really neat finish.  The neckline is finished with topstitching but for a smarter top I might try just securing it at the shoulder seams.

I had some iron-on jersey interfacing I bought ages ago to use for the Grainline Morris Blazer (still waiting to be made – I’m using the excuse that I’ve never found exactly the right fabric).  I thought it would be tricky to use because it is very floppy but it ironed on beautifully.  I’m reserving judgement until the first time the top goes through the wash but at the moment I’m very happy with its performance!

This is a very quick top to make (all sewn on my regular machine) and the pattern goes together really well.  I did make a slight muck up sewing the side seams/sleeves at the underarm point but how many people inspect your underarms during the course of the day?  Hopefully not too many.

I particularly liked the sleeves because they are cut exactly the same so there’s no wondering which one is which (something I often get in a muddle with regardless of notches) and I liked the way the vents are finished.  You machine baste the vent closed while you sew round it and then remove the basting stitches.  It gives a really neat and even finish.

Although my fabric was pretty stable I also used a strip of the jersey interfacing on the sleeve and shirt hems – for another really neat finish.  I was rushing to finish the top to wear it to work and couldn’t be bothered to break out the twin needle so just hemmed everything with a straight stitch.  The vents mean that the shirt hem doesn’t really need to stretch and the sleeve hems are quite loose on me so again don’t need to stretch.

I LOVE this top!  I wore it to work two days running which is not something I do very often.  When I’ve got my #stitchingsanta sewing finished, I’ll be making another one (or two).

On the jersey front, I’ve also made the Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I’d spotted several versions on IG and then linked up with @sewing_in_spain and @doobis71 for a Toaster sewing challenge!  Stupidly I hadn’t realised there were two versions so only bought #1.  I really like #2 so may buy that one as well, although I would have saved myself some money if I’d paid more attention to what I was doing.  @doobis71 and I both made #1 and @sewing_in_spain #2.  Check out their versions on IG.

This is another great pattern which is really quick to sew.  I used some jersey from Ditto which is a lovely blue.  I decided to cut the medium which was a mistake as it is a bit too spacious so I’ll size down next time.  I will also reduce the length of the sleeves.  It has a nice cuff feature but I have to fold them back on mine.  It’s essential with #1 to use a jersey that can hold its shape otherwise the funnel neck won’t stand up.  Mine is just about OK but having had success with the jersey interfacing I may well try using some in the neck of the next Toaster.  It’s certainly a cosy sweater and would be lovely in a fleece type fabric.  The pattern recommends fabric with a 20% stretch but I know there are people out there throwing caution to the wind and ignoring this!

It was a perfect top for a recent weekend in Lyme Regis.

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You can see how long the sleeves are in this photo.  I need Twizzle’s arms!

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A Fine Sewmance

Earlier in the year I popped over to Brighton for the first Sewmance event.  It was well attended but I found the venue a bit claustrophobic.  It didn’t matter though because I met up with some sewing friends which is always a good thing.

Stacie from Brighton Sewing Bee found a new venue for the winter event on 12 November and St George’s Church in Kemptown was a great improvement.  Stacie & Co had worked so hard to get the space ready for the day.  When @vintage_charity and I arrived around lunchtime the church, bedecked with beautiful quilts, was heaving!  We bumped straight into Louise, who we’d planned to meet up with,  and then into Zoe with her absolutely adorable new baby – a lovely surprise.  That baby got a LOT of cuddles!

We had a stroll round to see what was on offer, listened to Josie/Fabric Godmother’s Sewing Story and then decided we needed a snack.  I think Stacie and her helpers had prepared all the food – she seems to have boundless energy as well as being lovely.

I spotted someone buying the gold spot/stag fabric I’ve just used for a skirt from Anna at The Eternal Maker – and the same gold zip!  We  had a quick conversation about using gold thread for sewing the zip.  Whoever she was we will be skirt twins.

I also recognised and introduced myself to another Louise from Not Sew Simple whose blog I’ve followed for a while.

Overall we were pretty restrained (although The Fabric Godmother had some very tempting fabrics) and I came away with just two purchases.  The fabric kit for a baby make from The Eternal Maker as mentioned in my last post and these bangles made from knitting needles from Yellow Bear Wares which are very satisfying to wear.  Mostly though we sat – or walked – around and chatted to fellow sewers – which was just perfect.  All the workshops were very busy – especially the ones where you could make your own floral headdress – and there were plenty of these on show.

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It was a real shame the weather was so awful on the day but it didn’t seem to put people off.  Stacie is planning a summer Sewmance, possibly at the same venue, so look out for details of that.

Obviously there were lots of me-made clothes on show in the room.  I decided I wanted something new to wear but with almost no time I went for another Annie A-line Skirt (definitely a TNT) using a really nice remnant picked up in C & H Fabrics a few weeks ago.  I’m hopeless at identifying fabrics but this was a lovely weight with a bit of stretch and the print is a kind of faux tweed.  I love this pattern, it comes together so quickly, although I did decide to add a lining because I thought the fabric might be a bit clingy with tights.

I was pretty happy with my concealed zip and I love the bias bound finish on the waist facing.  I must mention and recommend the iron-on interfacing I bought at The Eternal Maker.  It is woven to replicate fabric and I much prefer the finish to the stuff I usually use which often rucks up at the edges or creases when it’s ironed.

We did find our trip to the loo in the church quite entertaining.  We’d rather hoped it would be through the door marked Alleluia but instead it was quite a route march up and down stairways and through multiple doors, dodging a mop and bucket in the middle of a puddle (of water).  We wondered whether we’d ever find our way back!

Thank you to the amazing Stacie for all her hard work to put this event together.  There was talk of a fabric buying/pattern swapping/sewing chat event in Chichester in the not too distant future.  If anyone would be interested, let me know and we’ll see what we can do.

 

Exciting News!

Well, we think it’s exciting!  This year hasn’t been the best what with my darling dad having to move into a nursing home and poor old Mr Jane Makes having a heart attack but my dad is being well cared for and is as settled as he can be and Mr J-M is a new (and much thinner) chap!

Onto the exciting bit … I have two really lovely step-daughters who I have known since they were little girls and they mean a great deal to me.  I know they read this blog but I’m not just saying that!  They are both grown up now and living in London.  On a recent visit J told us that she and P are having a baby!  Mr J-M is going to be a grandad and I’m going to be …. I’ve not quite decided what yet apart from very pleased!

I’m now planning some tiny sewing but, as this blog is not secret, I won’t necessarily be revealing too much here.  I probably won’t be knitting as I’m far from an expert but when it comes to baby-related fabrics I’m quite beside myself!

My first purchase was a kit at Sewmance in Brighton on Saturday.  I’ll probably do a separate post on that event but here’s a sneak preview of the fabric.  I’ve looked at the instructions and have no idea how I’m going to deal with something so weeny but I’ll give it a go.

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The new arrival is due at the end of March but, given the way time flies, that day will be here before we know it!