Double Denim

Happy New Year!  I can’t believe I’m back at work and Christmas is all over and done with.  I’ve already written about the lovely #stitchingsanta gifts I received and on the sewing front I was also lucky enough to be given :

  • A one day overlocker course at The Fabric Godmother – I know this is the only way I am ever going to make the best use of mine.
  • A walking foot for my sewing machine.
  • A bumper box of assorted pins from Merchant & Mills
  • Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, which I’d heard about from Su over at butterflies and lemon drops.  The book comes with a set of paper patterns and the Esme dress will almost certainly be the first one I try.
  • A post-Christmas present from Gill over at vintagerockchick who sent me a lovely handmade zipped bag, needle case and brooch as a thank you for winning my book giveaway!

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I’ve done almost no sewing over the Christmas break apart from a less than successful top from some rather extravagant silk jersey which I will gloss over for the time being.

Two rather more successful makes were completed in the nick of time to wear on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  I was hemming both of them on Christmas morning!

First up is a third version of the Colette Laurel Dress in a lovely purple stretch denim which I bought from Ditto Fabrics when the Sew Bees visited Brighton on their inaugural meet up.  I washed the fabric twice before I used it (as advised) but I don’t think there was any shrinkage – although the colour does run.  This is quite a ‘springy’ and dense fabric and I found it slightly tricky to get a good finish on the points of the darts.  I unpicked one of the bust darts several times before I decided enough was enough!  The fabric didn’t like being unpicked and I ended up with a couple of white marks on the surface.  In the spirit of Karen’s recent post I am not going to Ablogogise about any shortcomings in my handmade clothes, at least during January, but she does say that it is OK to

share less than glowing details if they will help a reader with a construction, pattern or salutary lesson

I know at least two other people who read this blog bought the same fabric it was acceptable to mention that unpicking is better avoided or at least undertaken with more caution than I exercised!  Thankfully the minor problem was largely resolved when I washed the finished dress because the colour was still running slightly which helped blend in the tiny white marks.

I hadn’t planned to add the cuffs to this version but rather to cut the sleeves slightly longer as I’m not that keen on where the length sits on my arm.  Unfortunately I forgot all about this at the cutting out stage so then had to go with the cuffs.  I did find it quite difficult to pull the gathering threads in the sleeve head and the cuff.  I think they may have become emeshed in whatever provides the stretch in the fabric?  The result was rather uneven gathering on the cuffs but I decided against making a second attempt – I was running out of time and they are perfectly acceptable.

Despite these two issues I really love the fabric and it is a fabulous colour which is hard to appreciate from my photo of the finished dress.  Here it is before it was made up.

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In the end I think the cuffs add a dressier look which was just right for Christmas Day.  This is a REALLY comfortable dress to wear and the fabric feels lovely on, very soft and flexible, and it doesn’t crease.  I could have got away with a smaller size (which I did for my silk party version) but I wanted something suitable for lounging around in (and eating!).  I’ve already worn it three times so this Laurel is definitely a winner.

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The Boxing Day outfit was a second Brumby Skirt made from a mustard denim purchased at The Fabric Godmother’s open day.  I made the first one for Karen’s Made Up Initiative and whilst I loved the shape the fabric I used was just a bit too stiff and I felt like I was wearing a cardboard skirt!

I started the latest version some while ago but due to another cutting out error it had been abandoned until I could face putting it right.  I failed to decipher the notes I had made on my traced out pattern to remind me that I needed to extend the waistband slightly whilst keeping the rest of the skirt the original size – which is what I’d done the first time round!

Before discovering this I had come up with two pretty good (but almost certainly not original) ideas.

  • I’m not great at topstitching and this skirt has two lines of it right down the front.  I used two strips of masking tape to mark the stitching line and off I went, ending up with two pretty perfect lines of topstitching.
  • If you are using denim or other thicker fabric the pattern instructions recommend using fine cord which you zig zag to the fabric and then pull to create the gathers at the waistline.  This worked well with my previous Brumby but I discovered I had no cord to hand.  You need something fairly strong which will not snap so I decided to try dental floss!  It worked a treat and made it really easy to pull the gathers along.

These are not great photos but they give the general idea.  You can see that my presser foot is still stained pink from its recent encounter with some boiled wool!

The waistband went on beautifully the first time round, I pulled out the dental floss (which came out much more easily than cord) and I went to pin the skirt on Doris to see how it was shaping up.  I thought she’d put on weight but it was at this point I realised I’d cut the waistband too short.  Things went a bit downhill after this.  Unpicking, trimming, re-gathering, re-attaching the waistband, taking it off again because it didn’t look right, sewing it on again.  I think all this comes under the salutary lesson referred to above and I would also add that I will use a more substantial interfacing in the waistband if I make this skirt again because it doesn’t stand up well to a day’s wear – unlike the cardboard version which remains completely rigid regardless!

What I love most about this skirt is the pockets which are just fabulous!  I think it is essential to follow the suggestion to stitch a short way along the pocket edge by the seam to reinforce it, especially if you have a tendency to shove your hands in pockets like I do.

Here’s the finished article and it is another really comfortable wear with plenty of room for festive eating.  This photo is actually from the second wearing for a trip to London on Saturday.

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I think it goes very nicely with my fox brooch from Tatty Devine.  The top I’m wearing with the Brumby is this one on which I spent hours getting the curved hem band right and then never wore because it was too long and didn’t really work for me.  I took the bull by the horns, chopped off all that hard work, re-hemmed it (without the band) and now it is just right.

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I read recently about a blogger’s husband who spends up to 40 minutes taking lovely photographs for her.  Ha! This doesn’t happen chez JaneMakes I’m afraid which is why my photographs are taken in front of the mirror with my phone!  I definitely need to up my game somewhat and to that end I’ve ordered a tripod and remote control thingy to experiment with.

Apart from this I’ve not really made any specific sewing resolutions or plans as I’m not that good at sticking to them and once you’ve gone into print there is more of an expectation to achieve!  However, I am determined to continue with limiting/avoiding the purchase of new RTW clothing and, as a result of the cutting out errors documented above, I am going to try and take a more focused approach to my projects!  To assist with this I have a late Christmas present heading my way, the Maker’s Workbook from The Swedish Tracing Paper Shop.

Workbook

I’ve just bought the Grainline Moss Skirt pattern and the new Colette Phoebe from Guthrie & Ghani so hopefully one or both of these will be appearing here soon.  The fly zip insertion in the Moss will be a first for me so I hope I can master that!

 

Made Up Meet Up

Having not only created the Made Up Initiative to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust, Karen from did you make that also organised a Meet Up in London on Saturday for those taking part.

Not one to miss out on the opportunity to spend a day in London, W came with me (not to the Meet Up!).  I wore the Brumby skirt I’d pledged to make and my latest Get Shirty Refashion (not yet blogged) and W wore an eye-catching combination for safety reasons as he was planning to hire a ‘Boris Bike’ for getting around.  I wasn’t keen to join him on two wheels so in the end we agreed to walk.

As we passed Portland Place he spotted three young people playing table tennis in the World Piazza at the front of Broadcasting House.  He will play table tennis at any opportunity so asked if they wanted a game of doubles – and they said yes!

I just loved the very stylishly dressed man who sat down in the foreground with his yellow coat, striped socks and floral tie.  The boys seemed genuinely disappointed when I dragged W away.

The Meet Up was in the Parcel Yard on the concourse at Kings Cross Station.  It was rather exciting actually meeting Karen as I’ve been following her blog for a long time and she is just lovely!  She was a very generous host, not only providing refreshments but also bringing along fabric and patterns from her stash to give away.  Her Vogue dress was fabulous.  You should look at it in more detail here.

At 1.30 there was a draw for the three prizes which Karen managed to broadcast live on Periscope despite the thickness of the building’s walls making internet access somewhat intermittent.

This was the first meet up I’ve been to and it was great talking to other bloggers including these three pictured with Karen.

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left to right Gill from vintagerockchick had made a Mortmain dress but didn’t wear it as she is saving it for her great niece’s christening.  She’d brought along a photograph of the dress and a piece of the fabric which was gorgeous.  Kate from Fabrickated was wearing this coat (but not in the photograph sadly, it was lovely) and Tamsin from pimp my curtains had taught herself to knit recently and made this scarf – which was far too cosy to wear on Saturday.

Next stop was extracting W from a beer festival round the corner from the station and heading for a late lunch at The Grain Store.  Very lively location but rather random service.  We then made our way along the Regent’s Canal to Camden Market before heading back to Victoria.  At the start of this walk we came across a lady in a narrow boat selling home baked cake.  Who could resist?

According to the Health App on my iPhone we clocked up around 23,000 steps during the day which entitled us to do almost none on Sunday!  The Brumby skirt was more comfortable than I thought it would be given the somewhat rigid nature of the fabric, although there was a slight pocket failure when the additional securing stitches on one side came adrift.  Too much shoving of hands in pockets + poor stitching.  Easily rectified.

A great day and a big thank you to Karen for organising the fundraising initiative and the Meet Up.

All Made Up!

I originally posted here about my pledge for the Made Up Initiative set up by Karen over at didyoumakethat?  Her original aim to raise £1,ooo in support of the National Literacy Trust has already been met and and far exceeded which is fantastic.

My pledge was to make the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen by the deadline of 10 September.  This pattern appealed to me the first time I spotted it online, not least because of the great pockets.  I picked Version 1 which is the shortest one with the BIG pockets!

Brumby Skirt

I managed to overcome my reluctance to be forced to sew in order to meet a deadline.   I traced off the pattern in small and made up a toile. I’m not sure if I missed something but the only problem I had was that the pocket facing and lining are not sized and the facing didn’t line up with the skirt front – there was a small piece sticking out at the top.  I just chopped it off. Very daring! Here’s the toile – which I was very happy with.

I decided the small might be a bit snug once the zip was inserted so sized up to medium for the final version.  This turned out to be fortuitous given what happened later.

On to the fabric.  I had three possible choices.

In the end I went for a grey/blue fabric from Ditto in Brighton (bottom right).  I’m not sure if this is a denim or a twill (or something else)?  I was advised in the shop to wash it first and thankfully I paid attention because it shrank quite a bit.  As a result I only just had enough fabric.  I thought I’d have to cut the facings from something else but with a lot of fiddling (and one facing not cut on the grain) I managed it.

The pattern instructions are very clear and everything came together well.  I invested in a new needle suitable for denim which made all the difference.  This is a weighty fabric!  I decided to topstitch in a matching thread because I didn’t want to mess things up with wonky stitching.  I went with the tip to stitch along the bottom edge of the pocket from the side seam for around 2″ to avoid gaping as I noticed this was an issue with the toile.

I was slightly apprehensive about the gathering technique for heavier fabrics using cord which you sew over with a wide zig zag stitch and then pull the cord to create the gathers (I didn’t try this on the toile). I was worrying unnecessarily – it works like a dream!  So effective and really easy, although I did have to cut the cord and extract it in several pieces when I’d finished, rather than just pulling it out in one go as suggested. I’ve not done much gathering before so I was expecting it to be tricky to get the waistband to attach neatly but it all went smoothly.  The fabric looks much ‘bluer’ in these close-ups than it actually is.

At this point things started to go downhill as I attempted the exposed zip insertion!  I’ve never done one of these before but I wanted to give it a go because I had a lovely blue denim zip which contrasted really well with the fabric.  I won’t go into the whole traumatic experience in too much detail because I don’t want to re-live it but I just couldn’t achieve a finish I was happy with – particularly after accidentally clipping one corner of the rectangular space you fit the zip into in the wrong direction!  I still can’t believe I did that! I did manage to stick it all back together with some interfacing and darning but it wasn’t a good start.  Several unpickings led to unsightly fraying at the bottom of the zip space and I suspect the thickness of the fabric didn’t help.

This was where the fact that I had cut the skirt larger than the toile was the saving grace.  I tried it on and realised that it was actually too big so I was able to trim the seam allowances back to get rid of the damage and insert a concealed zip instead.  I started with a navy blue one but that also came out and was replaced with a neutral one.  I used to be terrified of concealed zips but they now seem like a doddle by comparison!  The only problem is that the junction between the skirt and the waistband is quite chunky and a vigorous pull is required to get the zip up past it.

There is no denying that this is a substantial garment – it can actually stand up by itself!  W reckons it is bullet-proof and it is now known as the Kevlar Skirt.  Here’s the finished skirt, with a quick photo of it ‘styled’ with tights and boots which is how I’m intending to wear it, although I changed out of them very quickly to come to work as I had started to overheat!  Thankfully the zip behaved or I would have been trapped in it all day.  I’m hoping its first outing will be for Karen’s Make Up Meet Up on the 12th.  The photos make it look like the hem goes down at the front but rest assured that is an optical illusion!

Despite the zip trauma I absolutely love the Brumby and will definitely have another go at the exposed zip on the next version.  I’m really pleased to have finished this within the Made Up deadline and to be supporting this brilliant initiative.  Thank you Karen.

 

 

Delaying Tactics!

I know I’m not alone in this but as soon as I set myself any kind of deadline I start to find a multitude of things to distract me until I’m up against the wire and have no choice but to burn the midnight oil to get something done.  One of the only times I’ve ever had an empty ironing basket was when I was studying for some major exams about ten years ago.  Even the dreaded ironing was more attractive than revision!

Having made a commitment to finish my first Brumby Skirt by 10 September as part of the Made Up Initiative I had every intention of at least tracing off the pattern and cutting out a toile over the weekend.

What I actually did ……

READING

Having recently finished reading A Place Called Winter, the latest novel by the brilliant Patrick Gale, I decided I would re-visit my collection of his books.  During the weekend I finished re-reading Notes From an Exhibition, which remains my favourite, and assembled a pile of all the others.  The best discovery was that I have a copy of Ease which for some reason I’ve never read.  It has been interesting to read one of his first novels (from 1986) having just read his most recent. I suddenly realised 1986 was nearly 30 years ago which was quite alarming!  I also learned a new word, “pelf”.  I thought it was a misprint but apparently it means “money, especially when gained in a dishonest or dishonorable way”!  As in “pilfer”.

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BAKING

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off I decided to try making some soda bread with added flavourings.  I settled on feta, sundried tomato and olive.  I’ve made soda bread several times but I decided to try a gluten free flour blend this time.

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It looked OK but here’s what W said about the result :

It is somewhere between bread and cake

Definitely not the reaction I was looking for and despite the ingredients it just didn’t taste of very much.  It certainly needed more salt.  Back to the drawing board.

SEWING

I sewed up the gaps in the button band of my latest Refashion and inserted a couple of press studs between the top two buttons so I can sit down in the skirt without embarrassment.  A definite improvement.

I also nearly finished sewing a new Coco top with fabric bought at the Fabric Godmother’s recent open day which I’d cut out almost as soon as I got home.  This is the Coco top I have been wanting to make since first getting the pattern but have never found quite the right fabric to make the funnel neck stand up properly.  I’ve already blogged about the first one which drooped disappointingly and I ended up unpicking the whole thing and re-sewing the neckline.  I have made two others, but both without the funnel neck.

When I laid out the Coco pattern pieces I realised I had probably got enough fabric to make two tops, the second one being from the latest issue of Love Sewing Magazine.  I bought the magazine for the free pattern to make the top on the cover which has an interesting feature at the back but then discovered another pattern inside for a very simple cropped top.

I pinned everything out, got three-quarters of the way through cutting out and then realised I’d planned for the stripes on the funnel neck to run the opposite way to the rest of the garment – and there wasn’t enough left to change direction.  Not to be defeated I cut it out in two pieces and sewed them together.  Can you see the join?

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Going back to the magazine pattern, this was a REALLY quick and easy make and one which would be ideal for a beginner.  Unfortunately I thought I’d make the large version so that it was slouchy and could be worn as a top layer but it really is too big.  When will I ever learn??  I may take it in.

I finished off the Coco top last night and here it is.  The fabric is quite heavy so this is more for autumn/winter wear and I’m planning to make a short black skirt so I can wear it with thick tights and boots.  Very 60s.

Did I mention making a skirt just then?  Back to where I’m supposed to be and I have promised myself that I will get that Brumby toile sewn up this week.  I’ve still got to make a final decision to make on the fabric choice too …

Made Up

Have you signed up to the Made Up Initiative set up by Karen over at Did you make that?  Click on the link – or the logo in my sidebar – for more details.  The goal was to raise £1,000 in a month in support of the National Literacy Trust.  Made Up was launched on 13 August and has already raised £1,335 so who knows where it will be after four weeks!

What Karen is asking everyone to do is make a donation on the JustGiving page and leave a comment stating a self-set challenge – it doesn’t have to be sewing or knitting but having looked at the early pledges most are.  The deadline to complete your challenge is 10 September and there is a prize!

I’ve always been an avid reader so this seemed like a great cause to be supporting.  I’ve signed up to get my Brumby skirt finished by the deadline so I had better get my skates on.  As previously mentioned, I had decided to make it from this fabric from The Eternal Maker in Chichester.  I’m not sure now what it is but I think it might be this cotton/linen blend.

I also wondered about an organic cotton denim I bought from Raystitch …..  And then I went to the Open Day at The Fabric Godmother on Saturday morning and came away with yet another choice, the top one in this pile.

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One of the exciting things about this fabric is that it was cut by Zoe of ‘So, Zo …. what do you know?’ (and creator of Me-Made-May) who was helping to serve the long queue of sewists making purchases!  Another is that it is a truly lovely fabric, a cotton and linen mix with an amazing drape.  A slight disadvantage is that the weave does make your eyes go a bit funny!  I’m afraid there were other purchases made, details to follow in another post.  W was very patient, despite us getting stuck in traffic on the way to Hove.  He found a patch of grass to lie on by the car park and read his book!

I met another lovely blogger on Saturday, Clarinda Kaleidoscope, and we had a chat about exposed zips!  Here’s to more Open Days in the future, the choice of fabrics was amazing.

The final possibility for the Brumby is at the bottom of the above pile and was purchased from Ditto.  We headed over to Brighton after the excitement at The Fabric Godmother to have lunch with my sister and I just couldn’t walk past the door!  I’m really not sure about this one.  I have learned my lesson and now wash everything before I cut it out and it has shrunk A LOT.   It is quite stiff and I may turn it into an apron or bag rather than something to sit around in all day.

Decisions, decisions.  I shall make this particular one tonight.

Here’s some more garden photos, this time from my sister’s town garden in Brighton.  I take these images to make up for the fact that my own garden is rather uninspiring on the plant front!

Sew Creative in Petersfield

We had a trip to Petersfield in Hampshire on Saturday because W had spotted a promotion for the opening of a new cycle shop on Facebook.  I’ve always liked Petersfield because it has lots of independent shops but we hadn’t been for quite a while.  There is a market in the town square on a Saturday selling excellent quality fruit and veg, bread etc. and there was a stall with some lovely baskets.  There are bookshops, quirky vintage stores, galleries, interesting food shops – definitely worth a visit.

After the cycle shop – which was packed with people in lycra – we had a wander round and I came across Sew Creative.  They have been open since last October and sell a range of fabrics, haberdashery and kits.  They also have a great programme of workshops – including some for children and teens which is good to see.  There were sewing machines whirring away in the background on Saturday morning.

Jo, the owner, is really friendly and has just introduced a loyalty card scheme which is a great idea.  The cards are very cute and designed to fit on your key ring.

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I left W sitting on a wall across the road reading a book he’d just bought in The Petersfield Bookshop while I had a browse.  I was very restrained and just invested in some excellent quality calico ready to make a toile of the Brumby skirt from Megan Nielsen.  I bought the pdf pattern the other day and splashed out on having it printed at the local copy shop to save all the sticking together of A4 sheets.  The denim fabric was bought to make a jacket but I’m now thinking of using it for the Brumby.  The enormous pockets on the short version are irresistible!  The skirt has an exposed zip and I found this really nice denim one in C & H Fabrics the other day.

I love the way Jo wraps up your purchases in sheets of pattern tissue.  I haven’t unwrapped it yet!

There are lots of charity shops in Petersfield but I didn’t manage to find any bargains.  I am fast becoming an expert at scanning a rail of men’s shirts to see whether there is a Refashioning project in the making!