Simply Sewing : a magazine review

I don’t usually buy magazines, sewing or otherwise, although I am lucky enough to get a subscription to Selvedge as a birthday present every year.

However, I am occasionally tempted by a nice cover or a free pattern and I recently spotted a sew along opportunity for a Lisa Comfort (from Sew Over It) skirt in Issue 5 of Simply Sewing magazine.  I really liked the shape of this tulip skirt and as there was also a free kit to make a zipped purse I decided to give it a try.

image

I will almost certainly make the skirt, although I’m not sure my usual sewing impatience will allow me to wait until Issue 7 of the magazine to finish it off!  The instructions look really clear and detailed so the project would be ideal for a beginner.   The fabric used for the version in the magazine bears a strong resemblance to something I used for one of my Morsbags.  I’m pleased to see that nautical fabrics are popular given a recent addition to my wardrobe, previously blogged about here.

Onto the free purse kit.  This included fabric, zip, bias binding (for the zip pull and optional decoration) and embroidery thread (also optional).   I’ve never made a zipped purse with a lining before and the instructions were really easy to follow.  There was no mention of using a zipper foot but I used mine anyway.  I didn’t time myself but it can’t have taken much more than half an hour to make.  I traced off the pattern using my fancy new tracing paper which is really nice and crisp and will definitely be useful for non-sewing projects as well.

I’m not a great one for embellishments so I didn’t bother with the suggested embroidery and bias binding flowers.

I realised I had several zips of a similar length which will never get used for dressmaking so I thought I’d make a few more bags.  The second one took a bit longer because I decided to use two different fabrics for each bag piece but it was still a quick make, despite sewing the final seam without realising there was no thread on the bobbin for about 50% of the way round!  I have three more zips and plenty of fabric scraps to use up.

Having singed my fingers a couple of times ironing the pleats in these bags I’ve decided I will be investing in some of those silicone finger guards I mentioned in my last post despite their odd appearance!

The magazine has several other useful projects including some lovely stripy beach-inspired items – deckchair, windbreak and duffel bag, instructions on how to make your own bias binding and articles by Tilly Walnes and Claire-Louise Hardie of The Thrifty Stitcher (and resident expert behind the scenes at The Great British Sewing Bee).  There is also a rather cute toy monkey to make which would make a nice gift.  If I do make the skirt then Simply Sewing will probably have been a good investment and I’ll be recycling it by passing it on to my mother when I’ve finished with it.  NB : These views are entirely my own and I’ve not been commissioned by Simply Sewing to review the magazine!

For a final weekend project I re-covered my vintage sleeve board.  I can’t believe I’ve not been using this more regularly as it really does make ironing sleeves a doddle.  No more creases where you don’t want them.  I used this tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons which was really helpful.  I left the original heat reflecting cover in place because it was very well secured and was holding the padding in place.  I stuck with the instruction to make the cover fabric 5 cms larger than the board itself even though I was working on a smaller scale because the sleeve board is actually pretty much the same depth as my large board.  I used some stripy fabric that I’ve had for a while and seems to be never ending.  It has already been used to make several bags, an apron and re-cover my mother’s wheat bag.

The application of the bias binding was slightly tricky round the curves on the reverse of the fabric and I was worried that the channel would be restricted but the cord I used was quite fine and it went through without any trouble.

I think the outcome was pretty successful and a great improvement on the rather stained original.  I’m not sure I want to tackle a full size board for now although a lovely fabric might make ironing more pleasurable.

Keep cool in this week’s heatwave if you are in the UK!

 

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One fabric … two projects

I had already drafted this post in my head when I read this one from Lesley King where she explains at the end how she likes to wear clothes to work that match the theme of her meetings. It sounds like she has the perfect job for this and her meetings certainly sound more interesting than the ones I go to!

Having said that, one of my many work activities involves racing yachts. Not actually racing them myself as I know pretty much nothing about actual sailing (other than it makes me feel a bit queasy) but I do know a lot about sailing regattas and organising groups of sailors to crew the yachts! Getting them all together in the same place at the same time with the right kit is always a challenge (like herding cats someone once suggested).

I spotted this fabric in C & H Fabrics in Chichester and decided it was a perfect choice. When I showed it to my boss his response was that it would “make nice cushions” so I decided to make him some. I’m not entirely sure whether he thought the fabric wasn’t suitable for a skirt but he won’t be wearing it so it doesn’t really matter!

Boat fabric

I was going to try it out with Tilly’s Delphine pattern but decided that I didn’t want to break the pattern up too much with a waistband so went for something very simple and stuck with the tried and tested McCall’s 3830 which I remembered to cut a bit longer than last time. For a bit of a change I decided to add in-seam pockets which I’ve only ever tried once before on a dress which turned out to be a disastrous sack-like shape and was never worn. I do love pockets!

McCalls 3830

I traced off a pocket pattern from an existing skirt but having sewn them in I realised they were far too big.  Rather than unpick everything I managed to reduce the size in situ with some careful cutting and re-stitching. I used the skirt fabric for the pocket bags because I didn’t have enough of the spotty lining fabric but next time I think I will try using a lighter weight fabric. I’ll also move the pockets up a tiny bit to take account of my short arms! I wish I’d used a more robust interfacing in the skirt facing as it tends to fold over and crease at the waist but it’s not a major issue.  I used bias binding for the hem again as I enjoyed the process last time.  It was great to have something new Me-Made to wear yesterday.

As for the cushions, I kept them very simple with an envelope back. This does use up a bit more fabric but avoids the need for a zip. The main problem here was that the boats appear on the fabric the right way up, sideways and upside down (the last two are not ideal positions for a boat).  Because I decided to squeeze three cushions out of the fabric one of them only has capsized boats on the front!

 Cushions

I washed the fabric before using it for the skirt. It did fade slightly in places but I managed to use that area up in the pocket bags. I didn’t bother with pre-washing for the cushion covers.

Morsbag 16

The Morsbag Challenge has been a bit neglected recently so last night I made number 16 which leaves four more to make. These are all going to be from another striped fabric which was an IKEA purchase destined to make a long cushion for a garden chair which never came to be. Two of the bags are already allocated so I will just have three more to give away (including the one above – unless I decide to keep it for myself).

 

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.

 

Blog Envy

I follow quite a few other craft, sewing and food blogs and I often see things that make me realise how limited my skills are! This bag from Trish Stitched is absolutely fabulous. She is so talented. I really love the clock fabric lining.

You should also check out Tilly’s polka dot version of her new Arielle skirt if you haven’t seen it already. I really like the way the lining is incorporated in this pattern.

My new denim skirt is finished and I am wearing it today with this shirt from Topshop. I’m only showing the shirt because looking at its construction has convinced me that I could make something similar from the stretch shirting I bought the other day.  I was disappointed because the concealed zip in the skirt didn’t go in as well as previous ones but it is amazing what some serious pressing and steaming can achieve and hopefully most people don’t study one’s rear end too closely! I was going to line the skirt but decided to try it without as I can always add one later. So far it is proving very comfortable so I think I’ll leave it as it is.

So far I’m ahead of my Me-Made-May pledge as I’ve worn something handmade every day and the above denim skirt is my make for this week. I wore the grey, part cashmere, top yesterday and I am very pleased with it. Another comfortable make.

Grey Top Finished

I also managed to make four more Morsbags on Tuesday evening (and very early morning on Wednesday) so I was able to give them away that day. Only six more to go.  Here’s the latest batch.

Morsbags 11, 12, 13 & 14

All this is really a distraction activity to avoid having to finish the Brighton Pavilion dress ……

Unfinished Dress

I think I might be more inspired if the weather warmed up.

Too Bright for Comfort!

So far I’ve stuck with my Me-Made-May pledge.  I’m not planning to photograph every outfit (and certainly not me wearing them!) but I will mention the highlights and the less successful ones.

I was very happy in the newly repurposed top with the patch pockets mentioned in a previous post and ended up wearing this on Saturday and Sunday which was rather lazy.   It is very comfortable despite the slightly too-tight sleeves which I think are a result of me forgetting halfway through making it that the seam allowance on Hot Patterns is only ⅜ rather than ⅝.

Pockets

Yesterday was a different story. The sun came out so I decided to pair the new bright green Coco with a floral skirt (Simplicity 2655). Far too much colour all in one go for me and I couldn’t wait to get home and change. This Coco top has not been an entirely happy make. The fabric is a very ‘springy’ jersey which kept curling up at the edges and I don’t really like the feel of it. I had decided to omit the side slits which was a mistake and it just wasn’t the right length. Despite the horrors of unpicking the microscopic stretch stitch that my machine produces I decided to take the plunge so the top is now shorter with side splits (tricky having already trimmed the seams). I think it will be OK in future without the floral accompaniment!

I am playing it safer today with an old favourite from Simplicity 2192. I love this shape and the fabric is a stretch shirting (not suggested on the list of recommended fabrics) which is really comfortable. I did try making it in white linen but somehow it resembled something a dentist might wear so that went to the charity shop!

I showed this next top in its unfinished state in my last post and it was completed on Saturday.   Another unpicking session took place, this time on the sleeves due to less than straight stitching, which resulted in a tiny hole. I was going to try and repair it but in the end I just chopped off the sleeve hem and started again and in fact the new sleeve length is better.  It does look a bit boring on the hanger but I’m looking forward to wearing it because the fabric is so lovely and soft.

 Grey Top Finished

My skirt today is another old favourite (Simplicity 2343 minus the frilly edge to the pockets) which is showing signs of wear so last night I cut out a new version. I don’t normally wash fabric before I use it but I wanted to be sure this denim from Clothspot didn’t shrink or fade too much.  It was fine, just not quite as crisp as it was originally.

I had an unplanned visit to West Dean at the weekend. W, my partner, went out on his bike while I was visiting my parents and decided to implement his Fort Knox security measures on the front door. I had swapped bags and failed to transfer all the necessary keys and was therefore locked out! We agreed that I would drive up to meet him and this gave me the opportunity to visit the Visual Arts students’ selling exhibition to help fund their Summer Show. They were only taking cash so I was restricted to one purchase which was this lovely image by Cathy Griffiths. There was also some beautiful jewellery by Julia Tauber from the Metals Conservation Department.

Finally, one more Morsbag given away and one more made. I’d like to try and finish three more tonight as I have an ideal opportunity to give away four tomorrow which would take my total to 14 given away and only six more to make.

Another Coco, a new skirt and a confession

I have to confess to failing to finish the Brighton Pavilion dress mentioned in my last post. I’m still trying to decide whether to sign up for Me-Made-May before the end of tomorrow and I will need that dress if I’m going to be able to get through a whole month wearing handmade items! If I was Hila over at Saturday Night Stitch with a fabulous new blazer I would be a lot happier.

Whilst sorting through my fabric stash for suitable leftovers for my Morsbag challenge I came across several pieces of dressmaking fabric that had been hanging around for a while. One of them, which I think came from Ditto, is some kind of stretch fabric but not a jersey, it feels a bit more like a thin neoprene to be honest! There wasn’t quite enough for Simplicity 2655 (which is a favourite of mine) so I had to make the facing from a small piece of brown polka dot fabric and my overall pattern matching wasn’t brilliant due partly to the limited amount of fabric and partly to a lack of attention to detail. The overall effect is OK and the design is so bright this will hopefully distract anyone from noticing the pattern matching.

Talking of bright colours, I recently popped into The Cotton Wool Store in Petworth and bought some bright green jersey fabric to make another Coco top. I’m not sure what has come over me recently because I’m not usually seen in bright colours or prints but I seem to have had a complete about turn recently. The top is not yet hemmed but I’ve managed to use another piece of lovely Liberty bias binding for the neckline and I was so pleased with the cuffs on the previous version that I’ve used them again. I think they finish the sleeve off beautifully and they are so simple to do.

On the day I was there The Cotton Wool Store was also holding a sale in the town hall and I just couldn’t resist a visit. I picked up two metres of this amazing silk for £8. It is quite a heavy fabric and the flower pattern looks like it has been printed onto the surface with gold paint. I’m planning a very simple evening skirt.  I think that with the very stiff nature of the fabric a dress or top would make me look like a cardboard cut out!

Fabulous Fabric

On the Morsbags front, the current tally is :

  • Bags made : 10
  • Bags given away : 9
  • Bags still to make : 10

After the trapped pin incident on the first bag I decided to secure the handles in place with a small piece of double sided sticky tape before sewing which was very successful.

All the recipients so far seem to have been delighted and I hope all the bags are being put to good use.