Sewing Group Success!

I am feeling quite inspired and the sewing machine has come out of the loft already.

Thanks for hosting – I enjoyed it so much.

It’s given me the sewing kickstart I needed.

Such a great evening.

A fab evening of chatting, sewing, tea and cake.  Met some really lovely people.

I absolutely loved it …. Can’t wait for the next one!

Karen The Draper’s Daughter and I thought we might be sitting by ourselves eating all the cake at the first meeting of the new Chichester sewing group, so Wednesday night’s turnout was nothing short of phenomenal!  Thank you to everyone who came along and made the evening such a success.  As you can see, the feedback we’ve had since has been really encouraging.

Apart from my recent blog post and a couple of posts on IG we had kept it fairly low key so were pretty overwhelmed when 20 people arrived at the church hall!  Sewists were arriving from about 6.30 – two people had driven over from Portsmouth – and they were still coming through the door with their sewing machines after 7.00 pm.

Karen and I kicked off with a quick introduction explaining the outline plans for the group but making it clear that the future direction will be guided by everyone.  Ideas were already flowing during the evening so I don’t think we’ll be stuck for activities.

Individual introductions took a while but I’m afraid it was all a bit of a blur …. I think Karen and I were in a state of shock!  There were several familiar faces, including old friends, as well as some virtual friends I only knew from IG.  It was so good to finally meet Cathy from @cathysewsstuff.  We’ve been following each other for ages and she was as lovely IRL as I knew she would be.

It was also great to see Anna and Dhurata from The Eternal Maker.  Anna will shortly be celebrating the 10th anniversary of her company and it was a dressmaking course there about seven years ago that encouraged me to start sewing my own clothes after years of only sewing bags, aprons and cushion covers.

We didn’t think that much actual sewing would get done the first night but we were wrong!  Once the introductions were over everyone got stuck in and the sewing machines were whirring.

It was great to see people helping each other.  My friend Sally received some expert advice from Cathy on altering a dress she’d brought along.  This was the first dress she’d ever made and the fit was not quite right.  By the end of the evening she’d unpicked the sleeves, put in some new darts and is already planning her next make. With a little help from her friends another new sewist started and nearly finished a pillowcase dress to take on holiday.    There were some lovely hand painted tea towels being hemmed for a gift, some people were cutting out new garments and there was also some crochet going on.

Karen and I did absolutely no sewing!  We had both cut something out to take along but we ended up speaking to everyone, making tea and cutting cake instead.  There was A LOT of chatting going on in the hall, the atmosphere was amazing!

I was very pleased that some of my ‘surplus to requirements’ fabric on the swap table found a good home, as did some patterns.  In exchange I acquired this New Look pattern which I’m very pleased with as it’s one I’ve thought about buying in the past.

There was also cake.   My kitchen has been like the Bake Off recently what with birthday cupcakes and the sewing group.  The beautiful Victoria Sandwich in the picture was made by Karen.

Here’s some photographs of the evening which hopefully show just how busy it was!

The next meet up will be on Wednesday 12 July, same time (7.00 – 9.00 pm) same place (St George’s Church Hall, Cleveland Road, Chichester).  We’d love to see everyone back – and any new faces too.  There will be a £5 charge each month to cover the cost of hiring the hall and refreshments and what’s left over will accumulate to pay for equipment, tutors, visits etc.  We already have some ideas in the pipeline.

If anyone would like more information just leave a comment below or DM Karen or me on IG – @thedrapersdaughter @janemakes

We will launch straight into sewing next time and Karen and I will definitely get something stitched.

Last but not least, a big thank you to Karen’s lovely daughter who came along to help.  She shifted furniture, made tea and washed up.  We couldn’t have managed without her.

 

Chichester Sewing Group – NEW!!

I’ve previously mentioned my friendship with Karen, founder of The Draper’s Daughter, which started on Instagram when we discovered we both lived in Chichester.  Over the last year or so, inspired by the amazing Stacie of Brighton Sewing Bee and Sewmance fame, we’ve been talking about the possibility of setting up a monthly sewing group here.  I’ve always been envious when I’ve seen photos on IG of what they get up to in Brighton but it is just a bit too far to go for an evening after work.

Life then got in the way and nothing happened for a while but we’ve now bitten the bullet and booked a venue for the inaugural session!

Like the Brighton Sewing Bee, the aim will be to give anyone interested in sewing the opportunity to meet up with like-minded people to make, sew, chat and eat some cake.  There will always be cake!

Photos courtesy of The Draper’s Daughter!

The sessions will be informal and open to everyone regardless of skill level.  We hope that the group will develop gradually to meet the needs of the members.  There won’t be a formal teacher but we intend to invite special guests to share their knowledge and experience and we will also build a skills bank based on members’ interests with the aim of persuading some of them to run sessions from time to time if they are so inclined.  There will be absolutely no obligation to do this!

In the longer term we may be able to provide a couple of sewing machines at the venue but in the meantime just bring your own along and we will arrange for extension cables so that everyone can plug in and sew.  You don’t have to sew on a machine, just bring along your embroidery, knitting, hand stitching or whatever else you are working on if you prefer.  If you have a sewing conundrum you need help with – the group may well be the perfect forum to find a solution.

There will also be a fabric and pattern swap table each month.  I’m sure we all have things in our stash that we know we will never use but could well be just what someone else is looking for.

The first meeting will take place on Wednesday 14 June at St George’s Church Hall from 7.00 – 9.00 pm.  Click here for the address and a map.  There is parking so you won’t have to carry your sewing machine very far.  There will be no charge for the first meeting – have this one on Karen and me.  After that we are proposing a ‘sub’ of £5.  This is definitely not a business enterprise and all funds will be used to cover the cost of hiring the hall, equipment and future activities.

The first meeting will give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and we’d really like to have a democratic process to help decide on a name for the group.  Come along with any suggestions and we can maybe put them to a vote!  We can also talk about everyone’s ideas for possible future activities, speakers, visits etc.

If you are interested in joining us please direct message Karen or me on IG – @janemakes or @thedrapersdaughter – or alternatively email me on janeybmakes@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Autumn Plans

I’ve been rather absent from the world of blogging recently!  Regular readers will know that my summer was rather taken up with supervising Mr Jane Makes’ post heart attack diet and this will be the final update.

  • Total weight loss : 23 kgs (3 stone 6lbs)
  • Total inches off waist : 17.78 cms (7 inches)

I’m pretty stunned (and pleased) that he’s achieved this with only one transgression when he was left unsupervised at a party for a short while and was faced with what I can only describe as a wall of tiny, delicious cakes!  I took one as I ran out of the door to fulfill my daughterly duties and to be honest if I’d stayed longer I’m quite sure I would have stuffed my face!

When I posted this before and after image on IG as part of this year’s #sewphotohop (entitled Wow!) I think I got more likes than I’ve ever had before!

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The before is him looking pretty fed up in hospital faced with a very uninspiring salad.  The after is him in his Lycra about to take his new bike over the Trundle at Goodwood.  He’s still not looking very cheerful but I can assure you that he does smile!  He’s lost even more weight since the after photo was taken.  We’re now working on an entirely new wardrobe and a huge pile of clothes went off to the charity shop the other day.

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Talking of entirely new wardrobes …. I’m working on mine too.  A by-product of the diet has been some unintended weight loss for me which I’m actually really pleased about, except that pretty much everything I’ve ever made for myself no longer fits!  I’ve done one or two alterations but am taking the opportunity to start again.

I have a number of favourite patterns which I know work for me and I enjoy wearing so my starting point is to re-trace and re-make them using fabric already in my stash.  My inital plan was not to buy any more fabric until I’d made heavy inroads into what I already have but I met up with vintagerockchick yesterday and we visited Chichester’s finest fabric emporiums!  More on that in another post.

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First out of the packet was the Esme Dress from Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style.  I’ve previously made two versions which I’ve worn regularly but are now too big.  I’ve altered the blue and white one since this photo was taken but I’m not 100% happy with it.

I traced off a smaller size and made a quick toile from an old bedsheet (my new source of toile fabric having had a clear out of the airing cupboard) to make sure I could get in and out of it (it has no fastenings) and made it up from some cheap and cheerful denim-type fabric from Fabworks.  I washed the fabric before I started but it still turned my fingers blue while I was sewing and the first wash of the finished dress has resulted in some fading.  I’m not too fussed about this – better that than me turning everything I sit on blue – but there was a bit of shrinkage too, although it seemed to stretch out after wearing it for a while!  I love this dress.  It’s so quick to make and this time I added the patch pockets which I really like.  I incorporated in-seam pockets on the original pink version which isn’t part of the pattern but also worked well.

Here’s the finished dress, photography credit to Mr Jane Makes.  Very comfortable to wear, especially when sitting all day at work.

I’m wearing it with a striped top underneath because and my frog brooch which I bought years ago from Accessorize and only recently rediscovered in a drawer!  Also appearing is Erika, the 1960 East German typewriter we found in Oxfam recently.  She’s in great condition and has a new ribbon from Ebay.  She is currently being used to leave each other messages – much more fun than texting.  Just have to remember that she has a German keyboard so the Y and the Z are the opposite way round!

Next up were a new Annie A-Line Skirt, a great little free pattern from Sew this Pattern, and View D of McCall’s 3830 which I’ve made numerous times before.

McCalls 3830

I used another denim for the A-line skirt, this time from Clothkits.  It’s a reversible Railroad Denim which has some stretch in it.  I’m not sure what came over me as it was quite expensive but I got the skirt out of a metre so I can live with it, especially as the fabric is so lovely.  The pattern is straightforward and I really like the bias binding finish on the facing.

I used a heavyweight wool, I guess it’s a boiled wool, from Ditto for the McCall’s pattern.  It’s been on the shelf since last winter.  The jury is still out because I used the same fabric for the waist facing and the result is possibly too chunky.  I’m going to try wearing it and see, I can’t really face unpicking it all now!  It has a lovely shiny red lining and will be very cosy with thick tights when the weather gets cold.  There are one or two previous versions of this skirt that I’m going to refashion to fit me, including this one because I only got around to wearing it a couple of times and this was a special piece of vintage fabric that I’m particularly fond of.

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The best bit about making the wool skirt was discovering a new (to me) way to finish the back seam after inserting an invisible zip.  I’ve always sewn from the bottom of the zip down to the hem but often end up with a bit of a bump at the base of the zip which drives me bonkers, often leading to an unpicking and re-sewing session which usually makes things worse.  I remembered reading somewhere about sewing from the hem up and, hey presto, it worked brilliantly.  I will always do this from now on.

Given the weight of this fabric I think the zip went in pretty well, although I’ve just realised I took this photo of it before I pressed the skirt.

Now lined up for re-tracing and re-making are the following.  The Simplicity skirt will be without the frill on the pockets of course as I’m definitely not a frilly person and I make the top from the Cynthia Rowley pattern rather than the slightly odd shorts!  I’m always put off by the strange illustrations on Hot Patterns but the three-quarter length sleeve top is a good shape.

These will be followed by a first attempt at the new Kitty Dress by Maven Patterns.  There will definitely be a bedsheet toile of this one!

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Very glad to be blogging again!

Birthday Treats

No sewing this weekend. I had to take my mother to hospital for laser treatment on her eye – very quick and successful – and it was a birthday weekend for her and my sister.

There was lots of present wrapping required which is one of my favourite activities. The yellow fish design paper came from the shop at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester but my favourite was the one featuring the grape hyacinth which my sister bought in Pen to Paper in Brighton. It is gorgeous.

Obviously birthdays mean cake so it was time for another recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days. I cheated with the  Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes by using a ready made fresh vanilla custard rather than making my own because I was short of time but they were really delicious. The centre of each cake conceals a whole raspberry, raspberry jam and a custard/cream combination. More cream mixture and a raspberry decorate the top and I added flaked almonds which I think are an essential part of a raspberry trifle.

Back to the sewing machine tonight.

Fabric Shopping

We have a pretty good choice of fabric shops here where I live in Chichester.

  • C & H Fabrics is a chain based in the South and South East of England and stocks fabric, patterns, yarn and haberdashery.
  • Clothkits are based in The Hornet in a converted pub and if you don’t know about the company the website is worth a look to learn about their story. As well as fabric, yarns and haberdashery they run regular courses and the shop is home to Maria Pulley who is a brilliant dress designer. I’ve done a machine embroidery course and another entitled Professional Techniques for Dressmakers run by Maria. I really enjoyed both. I was very enthusiastic about continuing at home with the machine embroidery but the specially purchased darning foot has never been out of the packet. Another challenge for the list.
  • The Eternal Maker is based in Terminus Road, an industrial estate near the railway station. Their cavernous premises houses a very large collection of fabrics, patterns, yarn, haberdashery and a lot of buttons – they also run The Button Company. Their coffee shop serves really good cakes!

Although I do prefer to buy fabric in a shop where I can see and feel exactly what it’s like, I do also buy online and have had recent successes with purchases from Clothspot, Tissu Fabrics (huge range of jersey fabrics) and Raystitch.

I spotted this denim top on Net-a-Porter. I don’t buy clothes from them, I was just idly browsing the web to try and re-stock the fake tan my sister bought me for my birthday last year and it was the only place that had it! I have to say their packaging is gorgeous if rather extravagant. Back to the point, I decided the outrageously expensive top was not dissimilar to this Cynthia Rowley pattern for Simplicity which I have made up before so mounted a search for denim/chambray fabric and came across Sherwoods Fabrics for the first time. They have an amazing range of denim as well as a good selection of other fabrics. Definitely worth a look, although I’ve not ordered anything yet.

Simplicity 2192

Kyrie of kyrie_in_kalamityland has just bought some lovely dark blue gabardine from Calico Laine for £5.99 a metre and it looks like there are some very reasonably priced fabrics on there.

I am also hankering after this fabric from the Village Haberdashery when it comes back into stock and, having checked up on current availability (still Coming Soon), I found this double gauze which I think looks rather fun. I’ve just been working with this type of fabric so I know it makes up well despite its tendency to fray.

Have a great weekend!

 

Zip Perfection

This week’s make is progressing well and after the last rather poorly executed concealed zip insertion this one went in reasonably well. However, compared with Karen from didyoumakethat?, my efforts are nothing! The care and attention to detail she has put into the zip insertion for her beautiful red lace dress are pretty impressive.

Spotty Skirt Spots

The spotty double gauze fabric from Clothkits tends to fray a lot so I’ve been finishing the seams off quite carefully by folding the edges under and using a zig zag to hold everything together. I might post a photo of the inside at the end if it looks presentable enough! The fabric isn’t as see-through as I originally thought but I’m still going with a lining because I think the gauzy nature of the fabric will catch on tights and stop the skirt from moving freely. A happy discovery was that I already had a lining cut out from this pattern which I hadn’t used so that will save some time. I experimented with pinning up the hem last night because I cut the pattern a bit shorter than I meant to so needed to be sure that it was going to be wearable and decent!

I’m still on course with my Me-Made-May pledge. Before the temperature plummeted today I was able to wear this dress. It is the same pattern as the infamous Brighton Pavilion frock but is showing signs of wear having been a favourite for several summers. The fabric came from C & H Fabrics in Chichester and is not a typical choice for me but it is very pretty and goes well with several of my cardigans which makes it quite versatile.

Floral Dress Floral Dress detail

C & H Fabrics currently have a window display showcasing some fabrics by our local famous dress designer and founder of Red or Dead, Wayne Hemingway. The images on their website really don’t do the fabrics justice and the Tulip design is very tempting. I shall have to buy some so I can post a decent image of it.

My latest fabric purchase is from Raystitch. I found this organic cotton denim on their site a while ago but it was out of stock.  I was keen to make another denim skirt in a neutral colour and discovered it was available again. It is lovely and soft but seems very robust. I’m thinking of trying a new pattern as an alternative to the last denim skirt – perhaps this one from Hot Patterns – but may end up sticking with what I know works. I think this is another fabric that needs to be washed before use in case of shrinkage.

No more Morsbags created over the last few days.  I’d like to get another couple finished by the weekend as I have potential recipients in mind.

Life Laundry Weekend

I was distracted from sewing this weekend by some cupboard tidying. My linen cupboard is now so organised that I was almost tempted to take a photograph of the lovely neat pile of towels and sheets! I also cleared out half the book cupboard and now have three black sacks of paperbacks to donate to the charity shop. I’ve been hanging onto them for years but I know I will never read them again and it is great to have cleared a space.

This led me on to a quick tidy up in my sewing room. Nothing got thrown away but I did discover this spotty fabric which I had completely forgotten about. It came from Clothkits in Chichester and is a block printed double gauze fabric. It is very lightweight and also very see-through so I will definitely be lining it.

The actual fabric is a bit blotchier than it looks on the website and there are some unprinted areas which will need to be avoided. I’m not really sure why I bought it but at that price I’m not wasting it!

I will be making a very simple skirt to show off the spots to best advantage and this McCall’s pattern is a favourite because it can be made up very quickly. In fact after the first ever episode of The Great British Sewing Bee I actually timed myself making this skirt to see if I could do it within the time limit they were given to complete an A-line skirt – it think it was two hours. I did manage it, without a lining, and it was wearable. However, it did make me realise that I would never want to take part in any competitive sewing!

This is my Me-Made-May item today. It is the above pattern in striped linen which is lined but unfortunately this makes no difference to the amount it scrunches up after a day at my desk. I was also somewhat optimistic about the weather today and ditched the tights – which I’m rather regretting now.

 McCalls 3830 Striped Linen Skirt

One more Morsebag (number 15) made last thing yesterday because I felt bad about not sewing anything all weekend. It isn’t really this tiny, just folded up, but I thought a small version could be rather fun.

 Morsbag 15

Thanks for the lovely and encouraging comments about the unfinished Brighton Pavilion dress. I won’t let you down.